Tupelo 12.5

Any reviews or feedback on Jackson Tupelo 12.5 would be appreciated. Thank you

RE: Tupelo
I am getting into kayaking this year, Tupelo has been recommended as a calm water kayak which is what I am looking to do. After some research, I plan to purchase this kayak in the coming days. Really like the seat, very comfortable

Tupelo 12.5

– Last Updated: Apr-01-16 1:34 AM EST –

Very wide and therefore slow, really far too short of a boat for such a big guy. Lacking safety features namely no perimeter lines for re-entry nor a bow bulkhead. A bow flotation bag would be mandatory or you would be unable to recover the boat in deep water if flooded or capsized. You will not be able to keep up with companions paddling longer boats -- consider that if you plan to join group outings.

This is more a model for sitting than moving and distance. Oversized cockpit will not support a reliable spray deck. Width and flat hull will make it somewhat unstable in rough water (including power boat wakes and wind produced waves). You can't always count on "calm water."

Jackson makes nice quality boats but this model is not all that different from any other 12 foot rec boat. Pretty much their version of the ubiquitous Pungo 120.

Don't get me wrong -- a lot of people like this sort of boat, but they have limitations you ought to be aware of before making the decision. If you are aware of those and it still sounds like what would suit you, choose that boat. You did not mention whether you have test paddled anything, particularly that model. Doing so would be advisable.

Also, take user reviews with a grain of salt. Paddling is fun no matter what you are in and 90% of reviews are by people who have never been in anything other than the boat they just bought and they have nothing to compare it with. 5 star raves for crappy Walmart plastic junk boats are not uncommon. In fact you are more likely to see lower reviews on higher quality and better performing boats because experienced kayakers who try them are more discerning and first timers who try them can be freaked out by the sense of "instability" whereas the deceptive "stability" of wide flat boats makes them more comfortable and apt to be higher rated (for LACK of performance).

But what feels "stable" at first can quickly morph into "frustratingly slow and boring" for many people. My first kayak was 2 feet longer and 5" narrower than the Tupelo and I felt like it was a slug by my third year of paddling it -- traded it in for increasingly sleeker boats until my favorite now is 18' by 21".

Only you can assess what your long term relationship with and usage of the boat might be. Your best shot at figuring that out would be to actually paddle it and some other styles and sizes to get a feel for how they handle.

So far so good
I got one for my wife. She wanted something cheap but I knew better and wanted to have something she had a better chance of enjoying. I have had whitewater boats, and touring boats. I had a loon that while I enjoyed the open cockpit I HATED on the open water because it was a barge.

I have not had a chance to paddle it for an extended period of time. I’m waiting to write a review until we get more time in the boat.

My initial impressions were very favorable. It had good stability, tracked well, yet maneuvered well also. She also liked it and felt comfortable in it.

We needed something with a wider cockpit and could accommodate a 300LB paddler. This fit the bill at a reasonable price and a quality build. Do I expect it to be a race boat? Not at all. However those 21" hulls wont support a paddler my size.

I believe it will be a good rec touring boat, also suitable for the Ohio rivers that are mostly flat.

Don’t know if you read my post above yours, but you do need to get a bow flotation bag for your wife’s boat if you plan to take it out in any river that is deeper than a couple of feet. Otherwise, it will sink and be unrecoverable if it takes on a lot of water or flips. Cheap insurance and a basic safety item.

Bow flotation
The 12.5 Tupelo I tried has a foam divider that is positioned between the legs. Sales person tells me this will keep the bow afloat in the same manner as the bow bulk head… Thought?

I highly doubt it
That’s not going to keep the bow from filling with hundreds of pounds of water. You may have to get split bags, which they do make for white water boats.

have you actually paddled it?
So Willow,

I must ask, since you are so critical of the Tupelo, have you actually paddled it? Because if you haven’t, how can you actually make any accurate evaluation about it?

It obviously isn’t a high end touring kayak. Its not intended to be. Is it a safe comfortable boat that outperforms cheap pool toy or big box store boats? Definitely.

The foam pillar
Provides structural support so the bow deck can’t collapse on your legs. It probably provides enough positive buoyancy to keep the boat from sinking to the bottom, but it will not keep the cockpit coaming above water meaning you can’t bail it out on the water.

A bow bulkhead means about 1/3 of the kayak will not have water in it. How is a skinny piece of foam supposed to displace as much water as a sealed off section?

not all that different
Boats with the same dimensions and profiles are extremely similar in performance. The Tupelo is not going to be all that different from a WS Pungo 120 (12’ x 29"), an Eddyline Sandpiper (12" x 28") or a Necky Rip 12 (12’ x 28") , all of which I have either rented or test paddled. In fact, I’m sure that Jackson has introduced the Tupelo to compete with the wildly popular Pungo 120, which it matches in all specs and price point.

A Tupelo will also be somewhat slower than the WS Tsunami 125 and Perception Carolina 12, both of which are a step up in features being 12’ x 26" and having dual bulkheads and deck lines. I’ve paddled those too, enough to be able to detect the difference between them and the 3" wider boats.

If our discussions of this model you’re focusing on strike you as criticism, I’m sorry. But as a beginning paddler you need to know that there are large and important differences in both performance and safety features between different class categories of kayaks that are generally not clear to newcomers to the sport. Many people start out with rec boats – some are happy with them forever and never want nor need to change to anything different because of the locations and style of paddling that they stick with.

But some people find the limitations on performance and minimal safety features that are inherent in the shorter recreational boats to be inconsistent with what they eventually want to do as they get more into the sport. We are just trying to make you aware of what those might be.

You’re the only one who can make the decision as to whether this is the best long term choice for you. But that decision will be better if you are well-informed about what that boat can and can’t do and how it compares to other design categories.

Of course, boat choice does not lock you in. You may find, as many have before you, that after paddling for a while you want different features and performance from a boat, at which point you can trade up to another boat. If the Tupelo penetrates the market as well as the Pungos have, you should have no trouble re-selling it.