Review by 4Corners Riversports customer Nils Blegen
In December, I decided to jump onboard the Dreamline trip that Steve Fisher had put together for the Zambezi. It was a last minute decision, but once I figured out that it was possible (vacay from the office job), I bought my ticket. I then checked a map to see where exactly Zambia was. If you had asked where I was going and showed me a map, I would have pointed somewhere at the African continent.
Coming from Durango, I let the team know that I would need a boat, so they made an exception for me since they knew they had an extra Jackson Antix. When I showed up to Zambia, I still had not seen one up close. I knew that it was new for this year and some combination of a play boat and river runner, but that was about it. I knew I was in for big water so once I saw it I started to giggle, thinking that I was surely about to be thrown around like a rag doll in the Zambezi juice. I felt good about it though— it looked like a rocket to me, and I had started trying to learn squirts in the Durango park just before winter so it seemed appropriate to check out a squirty new design.
The fit was another reminder for me that I personally fit in Jackson boats really nicely and with no effort. I’m 6’ 1” and 180 pounds. I’ve paddled both a medium Karma and a medium Rockstar and hopping in the Antix with the seat in the center position was perfect. I didn’t need to do anything for outfitting. I pulled the foot rope up and I was connected and comfortable in all the places that count.
Once I was on the water, it was clear that my initial thought was correct—I was going to get tossed around a bit. However, I quickly realized that I had a lot of say as to where and how it would happen. Even though I probably got knocked over 2 dozen times during the week, the boat was ALWAYS on point in all the right ways. I always was able to quickly get on line and get moving. I was surfing everything I wanted and when I got thrashed around I was always able to roll up and correct whatever I needed. I felt like the boat had the edges of my Rockstar and would turn on a dime, but would also let me carry momentum and punch through the giant waves and eddy-walls. When the stern was underwater (simply from high volume rapids), I still felt like I had a say in what was happening. Even when I got rocked, it was all good, as the boat was really easy to course-correct as well as exceptionally easy to roll. I nailed a couple big moves that I was really excited about and I think that was partly due to being in a really well designed kayak. The edges were really there when I needed them and the sporty feel kept me smiling ear-to-ear in massive water through the whole trip. I ran #9 and surfed Oblivion, and the Antix took good care of me even when I was thinking I might be done for ☺
The Antix is a great all-around kayak, and I think it’s cool they are starting to make these designs. It’s easy to get in and get playful while still having some directional stability and speed. This boat is a great solution for upper Animas marathon jams and big water Smelter carving. Certainly a cool option for beginners, since the play boat/creek boat dynamic can sometimes be a one-or-the-other barrier to entry into the sport. I really don’t have any criticism for the boat. If I was asked what I would change about it, I wouldn’t know what to say other than I’d like to check out a little more volume in the boat, so I’m excited to paddle the large.
- Versatile (surfs and boofs)
- Faster than a play boat
- Playful feel—being one with the river ☺
- Responsive edges
- Squirrely at times (which is a pro unless you’re not expecting it ☺)
- Not much storage capacity
- More time spent upside down than a river runner with more stern volume