Jackson Sidekick or ?????

I rented a Jackson Sidekick and a (too-long) paddle and have taken it out twice now. First at a pond, then at a WW park.

The boat fits well, is lightweight (good for carrying upstream), and is easy to roll. Seems to be really stable and forgiving, which is good for me now.

I’m inclined to buy one at this point. There aren’t a lot of narrow WW boats around. The only other one I know of is the Dagger Remix, which I may not fit inside (haven’t sat in one yet).

Other candidates? I really dislike the sitting-in-a-barrel-up-my-ribcage feeling of the wider boats.

Short people
Short people got no reason to live

Short people got no kayaks to love

They got little bitty kayaks that go flip, flip, flip

Don’t want no short people round my white-water :slight_smile:

Good luck in your search.


Thanks, Randy…er, Mark
Sure is nice being able to just slide it in the back of my truck. No racks, no trailer, no strapping. Nothing.

Liquid Logic Remix?
The Remix 47 would be a definite boat to try. I don’t think Dagger makes anything that small. You might also look around for a used LL Trigger. There is one on Boatertalk for $500.

You’re right: it’s Liquid Logic
Brain fart.

There’s a shop that sells both LL and Jackson, so I can directly compare the fit. Just need to make a 2-hr drive there.

Not sure if they’d
meet your needs or be the type of WW boat you’re looking for but there is also the Wavesport Fuse line - the smallest being the 35 which is dubbed a kids boat, the next size up is the Fuse 48.

Good luck.

The Jackson Sidekick is I think the hands down winner if you are looking for a full on ww river runner and you are petite. I have the full size Hero (I am not petite :o) ), and it’s a great boat. I had a very petite woman in my beginner’s whitewater class this Spring who had just bought a Sidekick and she did fantastic in that boat. I’ve never seen such a good fit in a river runner for a very small adult. Diesels and Mambas are great river runners but they just don’t make that small size in them.

There are appropriate sized Funs and also the Wavesport Fuse boats mentioned above. I also have a Fun and love that boat to death, too (I’m a real Jackson fan). It’s going to be more playful and sporty…so if you are just starting and want more forgiving, go with the Sidekick. If you are more aggressive and want to do more playing, then you might see how well the right size Fun fits you. Despite it’s different shape, I think it’s still surprisingly forgiving and still easy to roll.

Another trick is to either get the 200 (double size) Sweet Cheeks or just add foam under the seat to raise you up. Guys wouldn’t want to try this, but for women who have a lower center of gravity and often shorter torsos, raising the seat can improve the overall fit of the boat without actually making it more tippy for a woman.

Oh - also the Hero/Sidekick hull is suprisingly fun, too. I use my Hero only for big/steep water and primarily paddle the Fun, but when I am in my Hero, I am always surprised at how fun it still is on a wave. I used to have a Diesel as my river runner boat, and really liked it, too, but I think the Hero offers more fun, more forgiving edges and volume distribution. It basically just does everything BETTER.

I’m not a fan of the Remix, although boat choice always come down to individual fit and preferences. Even if the small Remix fits your size well, I think the hull design on the Hero will serve you better IF you want to work/play a river.

That’s my WAY more than 2 cents!

Not sure of long-term goals
The Sidekick fits great. I need to secure the hip pads farther forward and higher up than the Velcro pieces indicate where they should mate, but that’s about the only change to the fit I made. The hip pads do attach to the other Velcro piece, just not as a perfect mate.

A very nice person who led me on a run down the WW park section of the river said I looked well-balanced in the boat. So it’s a go trim-wise.

The only question is what I will want to do in the long term with WW. Right now I am doing it to get moving water experience (no ocean currents or waves here). Just basic stuff like moving in, out, and across eddies precisely, surfing, rolling “for real”. I like the WW park because there’s no shuttling, which means I will actually get out and practice regularly.

The Sidekick should be fine for the above. After I get the basics down cold, I might well be interested in a few playboat-y things such as spinning around and enders (hope I am using the right term for it). But not the really acrobatic stuff. I don’t know how well the Sidekick is suited to those things. It would probably be easy to sell even if it’s not a great choice for those.

I’ve sat in the Fun 1.5. It didn’t fit me as well as the Sidekick…seems that I was getting pinched in the hips. The Fun 2.0 is kind of big.

Oh, the second time I ran one rapid, I suddenly found myself going backwards! The neat thing was that though I was caught by surprise, I still felt in control of the boat. (Not that I did everywhere else! There was this rock…)

which playpark (nm)

Sidekick spins…
The Sidekick will side surf and spin nicely. The only thing is you will not be able to do anything vertical in the Sidekick (or at least not without playing in some MONSTER water).

Having a boat that can get vertical like in sternsquirts can be a lot of fun and help improve your comfort and technique. Sternsquirts - where you cross an eddyline and drop the upstream edge while doing a stern pry which scoops the stern into the water and makes you vertical - these you can do in the Fun or Fuse boats. Learning to sternsquirt is GREAT practice for your roll (because you invariably flip a TON when learning them), and that in turn gives you practice rolling in current.

If you tried a Fun 1.5 and it was snug in the hips…The Jackson hip pads are easy to change the thickness by adding or subtracting foam inserts (no glueing necessary)…so you might want to take another look and see how many foam inserts are in the hip pads and try again with adjustments. (I wasn’t sure if anyone would have shown you this in the store or not). Don’t worry at all about where those hip pads hit the velcro - they will stay in place even if using much less velcro. I almost always find I want mine higher and further forward than “stock” as well…perhaps a male/female difference.

On the other hand, getting a Sidekick and then getting a slicier boat IN ADDITION later on is a great way to go! If you end up running a lot of whitewater, it’s nice to have a beefier river runner as well as a smaller play boat…but makes the most sense for most to start with the beefier (= more forgiving) boat.

Well, good luck choosing!


I’d assume that the Hero/Super Hero comments would also apply to the Sidekick.

“You’ll probably like this boat if: you don’t like to flip-over, you want a boat that’s easy to paddle, you think of yourself as a class 2/3/4 river runner.

You probably won’t like this boat if: you want something responsive or want a river-runner that can play

I’ll admit it – I judged this book by its cover. I wanted to dislike the Super Hero, but after paddling it I just couldn’t – it’s just so darn easy to paddle. I’ve never felt so stable in a boat in pushy water. It was almost as if waves and holes had no affect on the line I was trying to hit. This boat is predictable, extremely stable, turns well, rolls pretty easy, and is the most user-friendly river runner out there. This is a great choice for the class 2/3/4 paddler looking to paddle down the river in comfort. It’s not the fastest river-runner but it is responsive and turns well. It tends to lose it’s carving momentum once it crosses the eddy-line, so paddlers may need to throw some extra strokes in to prevent slipping out the back of an eddy in faster water.

The Dagger Mamba was our go-to boat for beginner’s last year- it was stable, held its speed, and carved well. The Heros do not carve as well as the Mambas, and are not as fast, but are more stable.

Can you outgrow this boat? Maybe. It’s not designed to be a playboat, so if you like playing your way down a river, this isn’t the boat for you. It would be a fun boat to creek something like the Tellico in, but if you were looking to get into advanced creeking, the Burn or Jefe would probably be a better choice. It’s the perfect size boat to learn to boof though.”

maybe a Pyranha Inazone
From the kayaks mentioned so far I’ve paddled the Fun 1.5. I liked it but it was a little snug in the hips even without the pads. I also felt that at my weight (110lbs) it was a little too playful. I’ve also sat in the Fuse 35 and smallest Remix. The Fuse 35 was very comfortable and a little roomier than the Fun 1.5. The Remix really dissapointed me because the smallest size is really small and the next size is really big. I have really short legs and my feet were well past the footpegs. Also the seat was much smaller than the one in the Fun 1.5. Although if the seat was replaced it would be a nice fit.

You might want to also consider a Pyranha Inazone. I have a 212 which I really like. There is more volume and room than most of the other kayaks in the size range. It wider, about 24in, but feels and fits like a much narrower kayak. Also the ends are slicier so I would think you can do more with it (I can’t so its just a guess). The good thing is that you can buy them used.

On the Inazone
I have the 220, tho’ admittedly I may have grown into the slightly greater volume of the 222 over the last year and a half… anyway, it’s a great boat for getting started and learning the basics to get into some class 3, but a playboat it ain’t. If true play features are needed, other boats in the Jackson or Riot line would be better.

Glad to hear the Inazones are easily available used there - the 222’s and below get snapped up in a day around here and the 212’s in hours. Pyrahnna is making them again apparently though.

By the way, I hear they sleeked up the newer Heros so they aren’t so darned big feeling, but I tried the original one and it felt like a baraclounger ride for me at 5’4". Probably something I’d appreciate if I found myself accidentally going down a class 4 stretch, but other than that kind of purpose I didn’t much like the boat. Also thought it rolled less spiffily than I’d want in a real situation. Pikabike is as I recall shorter and weighs less.


– Last Updated: Aug-06-08 8:15 AM EST –

River runner for starting and all around. Slicey dicey playboat becomes more fun later where you can milk a river feature. There is only so many times one can shoot through the same set of rapids before it loses its interest. :)

Of course, I started with an undersize playboat which made a very mild class II "exciting", more than I wanted at the time. LOL!

There are loads of old and current boats that are in the river runner class. WW boats are way ahead of the curve when it comes to small paddlers.



– Last Updated: Aug-06-08 9:17 AM EST –

is small(and narrow, for a modern WW boat). It's based on the new(2007) Fun hull, but with a high-volume deck.

2008 SIDE KICK- for Kids and VERY small adults
Length = 79” (or 6’ 7”)
Width = 22.25”
Height = 13.0”
Volume = 50 gallons
Weight: 27 pounds
Paddler range
Legs: 20”-32”
Feet: kids-men’s 9
Weight range: 40-120 pounds

important point: old hero…new hero
Actually, the pre-2008 Hero shouldn’t even have the same name as the 2008 Hero. This is really a completely different boat. The old Hero was NOT a good boat AT ALL. The new one is great, but they probably should have just killed the name along with the old design.

So that is an important word of caution! If anyone thinks they are finding a good deal on a used Hero…better check the hull out to make sure WHICH Hero you are getting. It won’t be hard to tell them apart. Again - totally different boat, and I would not in any way recommend the old Hero!

Clear Creek
It’s pretty shallow now.

"There is only so many times one can shoot through the same set of rapids before it loses its interest. "

That’s exactly what I was thinking about. I’ve read that WW boaters tend to lose interest in the sport within about 4 years. That’s not very long!

Although there are many playparks in CO, only one is less than 45 minutes’ drive away. There needs to be enough play to the boat (assuming I get my skills there) so I can make do with what’s close. And if it is small enough I can throw it inside my truck for road trips to the ocean, I’ll go play in the waves, too. The two times I’ve done that, I liked it better than river paddling.

Watch Out…

– Last Updated: Aug-06-08 7:27 PM EST –

you may turn into a surf paddler!!!

I guess it could be worse... Maybe a drug addict rather than an surf adrenaline junkie... The latter is much cheaper if not that much more socially acceptable. ;)


Who has learned to use spf 50 plus and cover head to toe while out surfing instead of being in bed on a "sick day..."

Sat in a Remix 47 today, and more
I took the rented Sidekick out for a 3rd outing in a different setting, a powerboat-heavy reservoir with a river inlet that I’ve paddled up before (using a sea kayak). Water levels for August have been higher than usual; they play around with the levels a lot–it was dismally low in April when it should have been really high.

But I digress. First thing that happened was the wind kicked up to where the lake was covered in whitecaps. I knew it was going to be a b*tch paddling to and from the river inlet (ya know, these things don’t track nearly as well as 16-footers…) but I went anyway. It took seemingly forever but I got there and was a little disappointed. The wind helped push me upstream but the current was slow overall anyway. I could paddle upstream till the shallow ledge, so I turned around and repeated. But there wasn’t much to it. There were eddies but not a huge difference with that slow current. I could be real sloppy about going in and out of them and it just didn’t matter. NO need to watch the edging. Oh, well.

The most interesting part of the outing was when I got back to where I’d started, I decided to backpaddle against the wind waves. The Sidekick was throwing a lot of spray at my face going forward, so I turned around and went backwards. Oddly enough, I swear it was easier paddling into the wind stern-first. I kept feeling the rear end lift up and ride right over the little waves instead of smashing into them as the front end did.

The powerboat wakes turned out to be disappointing as well. I was thinking I could ride their wakes with this little boat like I had done with a sea kayak and cruise-ship wakes in the Lynn Canal (near Skagway). Nope. Bo-ring; the wakes just petered out too quickly.

Some of you must be laughing. Hey, I’m just trying to use what’s readily available.

After my pathetic experiment, I drove to the shop to return the Sidekick. They had a Remix 47 that I sat in. Holy crap, I actually fit in that thing. But my legs were too long for the farthest footpeg. First time THAT’s ever happened!!! Would be easy to work around that with some minicell stuffed in the front end and removing the pegs. My impression of the boat was that the plastic seemed less stiff than in the Sidekick. Might be something else to consider. It did have room to place a water bottle, something that had been a pain in the Sidekick (I stuffed one between the rear floatbags). I think it’s actually a little lighter than the Sidekick, despite being 8 inches longer.

They have one I can rent, so I’ll do that soon. I’m really glad that this shop has both to rent, because I had thought the closest dealer with both was a 2-hr drive away.

And…I am really looking forward to paddling a sea kayak again! It’s been a week.