Jackson Karma Traverse Review

Jackson Karma Traverse Review

Paul Ramseth

If you’re in the market for a whitewater capable crossover / self-support boat the Jackson Kayak Karma Traverse 10 is an excellent choice! I was able to put this boat to the test this January in the depths of the Grand Canyon.

Whitewater Performance

This boat performs incredibly well in big, pushy whitewater. The high-rocker bow helps it to ride up and over features, even with the boat fully loaded. The Traverse is extremely stable and easy to roll, even when weighted down. With having that much mass above the water when upside down, the Traverse almost feels like it could right itself. Even with overnight gear in the stern this boat is easily maneuvered and is very confidence inspiring. The Traverse surfs waves and laterals with ease thanks to the planning hull, and stays on top of river features with the high-rocker bow.

Traverse on Grand Canyon
Luke Hanson running Lava at 40,000 CFS in the Jackson Traverse 10


While not quite as fast as most 12 foot kayaks, such as the Dagger Green Boat or LiquidLogic Stinger, the Traverse 10 was able to keep up through the flatwater no problem. The retractable skeg is an excellent feature that keeps the boat tracking in a straight line, which is especially important when paddling through boils and funky currents. Getting spun out because of pushy boils and currents slows a paddler down significantly. Avoiding this can give you the edge that keeps you in the front of the pack.

Traverse on Dolores
Ben Bellah boofing a fully loaded Karma Traverse 10 on the Dolores River

Hatch/Storage for Overnighters

The hatch of the Traverse is a huge bonus for those looking to do easy multi day trips like the Salt, Grand Canyon, or Middle Fork. It makes easy work of packing the boat each day. The boat I used was outfitted with the Jackson Hard Hatch cover, which is a bit stouter than the rubber hatch cover that comes standard. The Hard Hat is a great addition to the boat and keeps the rear storage area totally dry. Not that it is recommended, but I did not keep anything in dry bags and it all stayed completely dry. The deck of the boat has plenty of places to tie down other items on top of the kayak, including a spot to secure your groover (required on most regulated overnighters). The removable bulkhead foot pegs make for easy packing in the bow of the boat. There is also a spot right behind the seat for a couple of medium sized dry bags. I had 10 days worth of food and gear in the boat and could have doubled that had I packed lighter.

Hard Hat hatch cover
Seen here with Jackson’s Hard Hat Hatch cover ($79.99), the Karma Traverse is the ultimate Grand Canyon self support boat. The hatch features integrated straps allowing paddlers to keep their groover on the outside of the boat and save space in the rear storage area for other essentials.

The Jackson Karma Traverse is a great design for those looking to paddle on lakes, whitewater or crush multi days. At just over 10 feet in length the boat has the ability to crush miles of flatwater while still providing superb handling and maneuverability in whitewater. It is easy to pack with overnight gear and is very fun to paddle.

Words by 4CRS customer Paul Ramseth

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