Finally a Kayak That Fits

At Penobscot River, Big Pock Falls in Maine. Photo credit: Dan Bennis

Jackson Little Hero Specs:

  • Length: 7’ 1”
  • Width: 24”
  • Height: 14”
  • Weight: 34 lbs (~37lbs with bulkhead)
  • Volume: 64 gallons
  • Ideal Paddler Size: 90 – 135 lbs, up to 150 lbs

 

Reviewer Specs:

  • 5’3” Female
  • 105 lbs
  • Paddles class III/IV
  • Other boats: Pyranha Rev S, slalom kayak, and canoes

 

Outfitting

The Little Hero has the standard Jackson kayak pull and cinch backband and bulkhead. Jackson went back and forth on making the Little Hero with footpegs or a bulkhead like they use in the Hero. Most people wanted the movable bulkhead, and that’s all they offer on 2012 kayaks. You can add foam in the front of the kayak like a bulkhead if you find a used boat with footpegs.

As someone with a short torso, I always need to raise my seat. I have the Jackson Sweet Cheeks 150 in all of my kayaks, and this one is no exception. Experienced paddlers will gain great edge control and easier rolling. Beginners may find it tippy and need time to adjust to the new center of gravity.  Due to the short length, the Little Hero is sensitive to seat placement. If you’re having trouble steering, check to make sure you’re centered in the kayak.

Overall, I like the outfitting and find it fits smaller people with minimal effort.

How it handles

The Little Hero is a mix between a creekboat and a riverrunner. It has planing hull with forgiving edges placed higher on the sides, requiring you to lean the kayak over to

Running Canada Falls in Maine. Photo credit: Dan Boisvert

engage the edges. If you are nervous about leaning the kayak over, you will miss out on very snappy turns and great secondary stability! I enjoy the Little Hero as a class IV technical creeker. While the pros may take it on class V, it’s a bit short to punch the big holes. On a creek run you’ll enjoy great stability and maneuverability. In big water, it’s not the fastest boat and, with the high volume and short length, you will feel like a cork if you stop paddling. It’s still fun in big water; it boofs well and I find I can get the kayak airborne off the top of waves. It’s very easy to roll, but seems to roll better with a roll that doesn’t put you on the back deck. If you want to surf every wave, the Little Hero isn’t the ideal kayak. Once you engage your edge, you tend to get surfed right off the wave, so carving is difficult. On the other hand, if you are lazy with your ferry edge/angle, you will get surfed and ferrying will be slow. This kayak excels at jet ferries!

Overall

The Little Hero is an excellent kayak for small women and men that would like to be in a correctly sized kayak. If you’ve always been below your kayak’s weight range, you may find this kayak more difficult than what you’re used to. For me, this kayak excels in class III/IV water–especially rocky technical rivers. Aggressive beginner paddlers will also excel in this kayak because it’s forgiving enough to allow quick progression to harder rivers.

-Barrett got into whitewater canoeing with Outward Bound and 3 years later has completely embraced the paddling scene in New England. She paddles and teaches kayaking with the Appalachian Mountain Club Boston Paddlers.”

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