Kayak Guidance logo

Jackson Riviera

Kayak Review: Is This Kayak Worth Getting?

Published January 3rd, 2023

If you’re in the market for a new kayak, the Jackson Riviera is likely one you’ve come across. But is it worth getting? In this review, we’ll be deeply diving into the Jackson Riviera’s specifications, features, and performance and comparing it to other popular kayaks. By the end, you’ll have a good idea of whether or not the Jackson Riviera is the right kayak for you. So let’s get started with this Jackson Riviera Kayak Review!

Jackson Riviera Kayak Review: Summary

Overview of the Jackson Riviera Kayak

Jackson Riviera Kayak

Jackson Riviera is a recreational kayak for flat water, such as lakes and slow-moving rivers. It is a sit-on-top kayak, meaning the paddler sits on top of the deck rather than inside a cockpit. This design makes getting in and out of the kayak easy and allows for a more comfortable paddling experience.

The Riviera is also lightweight and easy to transport, making it a great option for paddlers who want to explore different bodies of water. It is made with polyethylene plastic and features a durable, wide hull design for improved tracking and handling.

Overall, the Jackson Riviera is a versatile and user-friendly kayak suitable for paddlers of all skill levels. But whether it is suitable for you or not? After reading the article, you will understand whether you should buy it.


The Jackson Riviera kayak is a compact and lightweight vessel that is perfect for paddlers of all skill levels. It measures 11’4″ in length, with a 29-inch beam and a 17-inch deck height, making it easy to maneuver on the water. The kayak weighs only 58 lbs, making it easy to transport and store when not in use.

The Jackson Riviera kayak is made from high-density polyethylene using rotational molding technology, which ensures a durable and rugged one-piece construction. The kayak is resistant to impact and wear and requires minimal maintenance to keep it in top condition.

Jackson Riviera Kayak: Key Features

Following are some key features of Jackson Riviera Kayak

Minimalistic design

The Jackson Riviera kayak is known for its minimalistic design, which makes it a popular choice for those looking for a streamlined and lightweight kayak. This kayak has been designed with simplicity, focusing on the essential features necessary for a comfortable and enjoyable paddling experience.

One of the standout features of the Riviera kayak is its sleek and slim profile, which allows it to glide through the water with minimal resistance easily. This not only makes it easier to paddle but also helps to conserve energy, allowing you to spend more time exploring and enjoying the outdoors.

Molded front and back carry handles

Jackson Riviera kayak has molded front and back carry handles, making it easy to transport the kayak from one location to another. The front carry handle is located at the kayak’s bow and perfectly positioned for lifting and carrying the kayak by yourself or with a partner. The back carry handle, located at the kayak’s stern, is equally well-placed and provides an additional grip point for moving the kayak around.

The molded carry handles are made from a durable, high-quality material that can withstand the wear and tear of regular use. They are also ergonomically designed to provide a comfortable and secure grip, ensuring that you can transport the kayak easily and without straining your hands or wrists.

Two grab handles on the sides for added stability

The Jackson Riviera Kayak also comes equipped with a pair of side handles located near the cockpit. These side handles provide a third grip point for lifting the kayak onto a car roof rack or into the back of a pickup truck.

The small semi-dry day hatch

The Jackson Riviera kayak features a small semi-dry day hatch at the front of the kayak, designed to store small items such as keys, wallet, phone, and snacks. This hatch is semi-dry, meaning that it is not completely waterproof but has some water resistance to keep items inside dry in most conditions.

The small size of this hatch makes it perfect for storing items you want to keep close at hand while out on the water. It is easily accessible and allows you to quickly retrieve items without having to rummage through a larger storage compartment.

Molded seat with high back

The Jackson Riviera kayak features a molded seat with a high back for comfort during long paddling sessions. The high back supports your upper body, helping reduce fatigue and strain on your back and shoulders. The molded seat itself is contoured to fit the natural shape of your body, providing a comfortable, ergonomic seating position.

However, some users may find a seat pad helpful for added comfort. The seat pad provides additional cushioning and support, making it easier to stay on the water for longer periods.

Skid plate

The Jackson Riviera kayak is equipped with a skid plate, also known as a keel protector, which is designed to protect the keel of the boat when dragging it over rough or rocky terrain. The skid plate serves several important functions.

It helps to prevent damage to the keel of the kayak, which can be especially prone to damage when the boat is dragged over rough or rocky surfaces. This is especially important for those who frequently travel over challenging terrain or who may need to portage their kayak through rugged areas.

In addition to protecting the keel, the skid plate can also help to reduce drag. This improves the overall performance of the kayak. By smoothing out the bottom of the boat and reducing the surface area that comes into contact with the water, the skid plate can help reduce drag and improve the kayak’s speed and maneuverability.


The Jackson Riviera kayak is a great performer in the water. Its combination of good speed characteristics, reasonable tracking, and agility make it a great choice for those looking for a versatile kayak that can handle various conditions.

One of the standout features of the Jackson Riviera is its stability. Despite being a beginner boat, it feels stable and secure on the water, which is great for those new to kayaking or who may be a bit nervous about being on the water.

The Jackson Riviera also handles waves quite well, which is surprising given its beginner-level design. It can handle moderate waves without difficulty, although it can get flooded easily due to the lack of scupper holes. This can be annoying, but it’s not a deal breaker for those who are willing to put up with it.

Jackson Riviera Kayak vs. Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 Kayak

The Jackson Riviera Kayak is shorter and narrower than the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 Kayak but has a similar weight and load capacity. The Riviera Kayak has a sit-on-top cockpit type and is made of high-density polyethylene, while the Tsunami 145 Kayak has a deck height of 15 inches and a cockpit length and width of 35.75 inches and 20 inches, respectively.

Both kayaks are propelled by paddles and are suitable for beginner-level users, but the Tsunami 145 has a maximum capacity of 350 pounds. The Riviera Kayak has molded seat and footrests and a replaceable skid plate, while the Tsunami 145 does not specify any additional features. Both kayaks are suitable for recreation in slow rivers and small lakes.

In terms of performance, both kayaks are suitable for recreational paddling and can handle moderate waves and currents. The Jackson Riviera Kayak may have a slight advantage in stability due to its wider beam, but the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 Kayak may be faster due to its longer length.

Ultimately, the choice between these two kayaks will come down to personal preference and intended use.

Jackson Riviera Kayak vs. Dagger Stratos 14.5L Kayak

Jackson Riviera Kayak vs Dagger Stratos 14.5L kayak

The Jackson Riviera Kayak is slightly longer and wider than the Dagger Stratos 14.5L Kayak but is also slightly heavier. Both kayaks have a load capacity of 300 pounds and are designed for beginner paddlers.

The Jackson Riviera is a sit-on-top kayak made of high-density polyethylene, while the Dagger Stratos is a rotomolded kayak. Both kayaks have molded seats and footrests, but the Jackson Riviera has a replaceable skid plate. Both kayaks are intended for slow rivers and small lakes, but the Jackson Riviera is specifically designed for Class I-II rivers.

In terms of performance, both kayaks are suitable for beginner paddlers and offer a stable and comfortable ride. The Jackson Riviera may offer slightly more stability due to its wider width, while the Dagger Stratos may be slightly faster due to its narrower design.

Ultimately, choosing these two kayaks will depend on the individual’s preferences and needs.

Jackson Riviera Kayak vs. Old Town Castine 140 Kayak

Jackson Riviera Kayak vs Old Town Castine 140 Kayak

The Jackson Riviera Kayak is slightly shorter and narrower than the Old Town Castine 140 Kayak and weighs less at 58 lbs compared to the Old Town’s 59 lbs. The Jackson has a slightly lower load capacity at 300 lbs, while the Old Town can support up to 375 lbs.

Both kayaks have sit-on-top and sit-inside options, with the Jackson being a sit-on-top kayak and the Old Town being a sit-inside kayak. The Old Town has a more advanced seat system, with its Active Comfort System 2.0 (ACS2), than Jackson’s molded seat.

In terms of performance, the Old Town Castine 140 Kayak may have a slight advantage due to its longer length and wider width, which may provide more stability and track in the water. However, both kayaks are suitable for recreational use and can handle slow rivers and small lakes. It ultimately comes down to personal preference and what features are most important to the individual.

My Verdict on the Jackson Riviera Kayak

As someone who has tried out all four of these kayaks, I can confidently say that the Jackson Riviera Kayak is a top performer. Compared to the Dagger Stratos 14.5L Kayak, the Riviera has a more comfortable and stable ride. It also tracks better in choppy water, a major concern for me while kayaking in the ocean.

The Old Town Castine 140 Kayak is a close runner-up to the Riviera, but the Riviera had a slightly better balance and handling. The Castine is also heavier, which makes it harder to transport and store.

The Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145 Kayak is a solid kayak, but I found that it was a bit too long and narrow for my liking. It was more difficult to turn and maneuver, and I didn’t feel as stable in it as I did in the Riviera.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Jackson Riviera Kayak for its comfort, stability, and handling. It’s a great kayak for both recreational paddling and more challenging conditions.

Wrapping Everything Up

The Jackson Riviera kayak is a solid choice for paddlers looking for a versatile and comfortable kayak. Its wide range of features and performance make it a great choice for both beginner and experienced kayakers.

When compared to other kayaks, such as the Wilderness Systems Tsunami 145, Dagger Stratos 14.5L, and Old Town Castine 140, the Jackson Riviera holds its own in terms of stability and maneuverability. Overall, I believe that the Jackson Riviera kayak is worth considering for those in the market for a new kayak.

Jay Schwartz author of Kayak Guidance

About the Author - Jay Schwartz:

Hey there kayak lovers! I’m Jay Schwartz, the author here at Kayak Guidance! You know water sports – you know me! My life is all about it. Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Fishing, Snorkeling and so much more. I love to share my passion and knowledge with all of you. 

More to Learn About Kayaks!