Jackson Kayak’s smallest “River Runner,” the Sidekick is designed to be as stable and forgiving as possible. With low rocker it’s fast to help keep up with the big boats on your river runs while the tall sidewalls help keep it upright. This high volume little creeker is designed to help your little one enjoy the rivers and creeks that you love but sized for kids so that they can control - and carry - their own kayak. Whether just starting out in the sport or pushing beyond the limits of a Fun 1, the Sidekick is ready to take the smallest paddlers into rougher waters - comfortably.
Submitted by: pikabike on 1/16/2012
When I demo'ed the boat in a pond, it felt very forgiving and was easy to roll. That despite it paradoxically feeling "tippier" than I am used to, mainly because it was the very first time I was near the TOP of the recommended paddler weight range instead of at the BOTTOM. Next I paddled it in a play park, simply running down it with a couple of stops in eddies along the way. The boat handled well and felt comfortable. I decided to buy it (I should note that at the time, I had only taken one WW lesson a few years before but had lots of seat time paddling sea kayaks).
Now that it's been more than 3 years, during which I only practiced in the play park (not playboating, just basic stuff) for a short period each year, I can look back and say that it is a good kayak for learning to handle a short boat in moving water. As stated before, the fairly high sides and bulbous ends make it forgiving despite being narrow for a WW kayak (22.25" beam). In fact, the high volume at the ends means I cannot sink an end while inside the boat (unless in a hole); I had to get out and sit way back on the stern deck to make it sink.
It is easy to roll, and I have no trouble switching back and forth for rolling practice with a sea kayak. Balance brace, flop over and roll the boat back up to balance brace position, butterfly roll...all doable with this kayak. I mention these because the little WW boat is a lot easier to bring to some places, such as indoor pools, than a sea kayak is. So it is versatile enough to serve as river runner, technique honer in and out of micro-eddies etc, and rolling machine.
The only thing I dislike is the outfitting. The thigh braces do not curve down at all, the SweetCheeks beanbag is "grabby" on Cordura or raw neoprene clothing (I prefer slidey), and neither the bulkhead footrest nor the backband stay put well. Both the latter are secured by small cords, and frankly they are not secure enough for an adult's foot pressure. I frequently check them during a session and usually have to tighten them yet again.
So overall, it was a good choice for my purposes. I am now interested in trying boats with slicier ends, but it's probably a good thing I started out with the Side Kick