I received my Kilroy LT kayak in mid-November after nearly a three month wait after ordering it. From where I sit right now, that wait was well worth it. This particular kayak is made with a thermoformed ABS plastic, not the typical roto-molded polyurethane that a vast majority of todays’ kayaks are made from and since it is ABS, it is significantly lighter than other kayaks its size. The surface of it is as smooth as glass and the color of this particular one, a bright lime green, just visually pops right out at you. It is also extremely visible when on the water over long distances.
After seven fishing trips totaling nearly 50 miles, I can tell you the Jackson Kilroy LT paddles like a dream. It tracks very true and when you stop paddling, it glides what seems like forever. It is very maneuverable; it turns easily several degrees with one strong paddle stroke on one side; and it can be easily floated into tight places such as near docks, downed timber or in marinas with extremely small inputs from your paddle. It should be noted that this boat also glides backwards very easily and tracks pretty true as you reverse yourself, say, in an attempt to stay over that group of stripers you just paddled over. The only noise comes from my sonar transducer arm which hangs over the side via a Mad Frog extension arm and that is very slight. This kayak easily hits 3.5 miles an hour with ten strokes (5 each side) and it can average a very steady 3.2 mph with an easy, sustainable paddling rate. For a sixty-five year old kayak fisherman, I do appreciate being able to cover more miles with the same exertion as my former go-to kayak, a Native Watercraft Ultimate 12. Top speed so far? 5.2 mph but for me, that is an unsustainable rate (for long distances, for me). A constant 3.0-3.5 mph is easily achievable. And it is sustainable for the long haul.
A closer look, bow to stern:
Looking from the front, the bright lime green deck meets the bright white hull in a very sleek looking V that easily slices through both flat water and whitecaps with aplomb. Up top, a very sturdy and rigid carrying handle is rock solid, making the kayak easy to lift and maneuver. Two similar handles are on each side, amidships and the fourth handle is found on the rear. Each side handle also features a bungee beneath them to secure your paddle if you wish.
A huge difference between this Kilroy LT and its polyurethane brethren is the front deck ‘cap’, or Tech Deck, which is made from ABS plastic too, not polyurethane. Jackson tells me it is cut from the same piece that forms the top decking.
The Tech Deck is also the same color instead of a black poly deck featured on the standard Kilroys. It is held in place by five heavy-duty bungee loops, and since the whole cockpit is symmetrical, it can easily fit on the rear deck is you so choose. The Tech Deck sports a solidly mounted Go Pro camera mount giving you the ability to mount a camera (many cameras fit other than Go Pros) to catch those special occasions on ‘film’. The front decking also sports a reflective rope to slide thin gear under and also a crisscrossed bungee to secure, say a bow line or a dry bag if you choose to do so. The Tech Deck also sports two flat areas, one on each side with a small V-shaped bungee over each one to secure a small lure box, your lunch, your drink or just about anything small you can think of that you want to keep handy. Two strong bungees on the floor can also hold your included 32-ounce Jackson water bottle in place.
There is also a small ‘glove compartment’ that easily accommodates maps, fish lip grips, a flashlight or strobe signal beacon. This is a very thoughtful and useful addition that is also easily accessible from the captain’s seat. One other great addition is included on top of the Tech Deck, a 6“ x 7 ¼” x 1” inch thick foam block with five scored lines in it, which allow you to quickly and easily insert the hooks of your favorite lures into it easily. This is valuable especially if time is of the essence and you need to get another lure quickly into the water instead of placing it back into your tackle box. It also serves as a perfect mount for my Suunto Marine Compass. If the foam block becomes damaged or unusable due to heavy use, it is held in place by a Velcro strap and can be easily and inexpensively replaced.
Two 8 inch gear tracks are located just behind the deck lid on each side, giving you room to mount a sonar transducer, rod holders, or anything else that strikes your fancy. Two more gear tracks are located in the rear on each side just behind the seat.
In the rear of the boat resides a dry storage compartment, sealed by a heavy duty rubber lid. The OD measures 10 ¼ inches, the ID is 9 ¾ inches wide which, for me, accepts my 10 liter cold weather emergency dry bag, a paddle float and an extra Firefly 3 Solas strobe light by ACR for a worst case scenario. This compartment is easily opened and accessible from the water if the need arises.
“But it’s a Sit In Kayak” (SIK). Yes, it IS a sit in kayak. This review in no way wants to start up the arguments of SIKs vs SOT (Sit On Tops). My first kayak, the aforementioned Native 12, is a sit in. I have owned two Native Manta Ray 14’s and a Wilderness Systems Tarpon 120, great SOT kayaks in their own rights. I should tell you that I currently work, part time, at The Outside World, an outdoor adventure store located in Dawsonville, GA (with a second location in Columbus, GA). One of the main bread and butter products we sell are kayaks and we even have an indoor pool with a wave generator for white water kayak instruction or to allow buyers to try out various kayaks for comfort, stability, etc. The Outside World features Hobie, Native, Jackson, Wilderness Systems, Perception and Hurricane kayaks. Why would I choose the Kilroy LT amongst all these other great brands?
Well, the cockpit is what put this kayak in the top “I WANT THIS ONE!” spot when I finally made the decision to purchase a new kayak. The cockpit features a very comfortable, adjustable, high/low seat, storage tubes and brackets/bungees that hold four rods and reels, internally. The easily adjustable foot pegs are well placed and are very solid, but a bit on the smallish side. The cockpit also features a very sturdy standing deck with a standing assist strap for those times you just need to stand up and stretch your legs, or to more easily cast your fly fishing lures or to get better ‘sight fishing’ views. This kayak is very stable on the water. So stable the standard poly Kilroy has probably become one of the most popular kayaks used for duck and goose hunting…stable enough to stand up and easily fire a 12 gauge shotgun! When seated, your rear end is just at or just below the waterline, your body mass is much lower than on a sit on top, giving you both more primary and secondary stability overall. A sit in kayak protects you better from the sun, the wind and the rain too. The front deck cap also protects your feet from the wet, the cold and the sun. When it is cold, you will definitely appreciate the warmth and dryness this kayak provides.
In addition to the built-in rod tubes, Jackson also uses a bungee that runs the full length of the cockpit down each side, which holds your lure boxes or other equipment securely against the hull, out of the way. The seat also holds two large Plano lure boxes, one on each side, secured with a bungee loop under the seat. There is also ample storage area beneath the seat, especially if you use it in the high position. The seat itself is very comfortable, it will allow plenty of air circulation in warm weather, and if you do spill something in your lap during your on-water adventures, you don’t have to sit in it all day. If this seat could be tilted back, just a small amount, its comfort rating would go from an 8.9 to a full 10!
(Camera flash indicates light reflective piping on seat edges. Also, under seat pouch is visible)
The seat is also held in place with a strong one-inch cam strap. There is also a small ‘pouch’ in the center underside of the seat that accommodates my tool pouch that has scissors, hemostats and needle nosed pliers. On the rear of the seat, introduced this year, is a very water resistant SealLine pouch, capable of holding several liters of gear. (Gloves, stocking cap, scarf, power bars, etc. live in mine right now for cold weather fishing). This bag features a waterproof-type zipper, but is not guaranteed to keep everything dry if it is submerged. However, from what I can see, it will remain waterproof through almost any rain storm or wind blown water you may encounter during normal operations. A bungee on the back side of the bag is good to place to store a paddle float or a raincoat, for example.
On the lumbar area of the seat, an inflatable Therm-a-Rest lumbar cushion is included. This is a real winner for those long days on the water. The seat can be moved up, or down, from inside the cockpit while on the water, with a few practice tries in shallow water recommended first. One other addition I need to mention. The seat features a built-in line cutter that easily cuts mono, fluorocarbon or braided fishing line easily and precisely. You can move this to anywhere on the seat structural bars where it is easiest, for you, to access.
Behind the seat, the standing deck continues almost back to the bulkhead that forms the aft watertight compartment. On this deck lives a heavy-duty bungee cord that will hold a wide variety of things. My bungee easily secures a milk crate, as shown below, which hold a small cooler and spare rods and reels.
It must be said, though, that if you do somehow turtle (or capsize) in a sit inside kayak the techniques you use to re-enter a sit in kayak vary considerably from the techniques used to get back onto a sit on top kayak. These techniques should ALWAYS be practiced when you first obtain a SIK. Watching YouTube videos on kayak re-entry is not enough to gain competency at these possible life saving maneuvers. You need to get out there, get IN the water, and go from there. I also advise ALL SOT owners to do the same. Watching recovery techniques on your computer and doing it in the water are not ever, ever the same. Get out there and practice it. It’s also fun to do too! Knowing how to do it, how to do it quickly and efficiently without panicking could save your life. Enough said on that.
A couple of points to remember about ABS kayaks. I have been told that this particular kayak will withstand any type of ‘blow’ it receives in normal use; such as hitting a log or a rock. It would not be a suitable kayak for whitewater-type fishing expeditions. You may have to change how you launch and retrieve it, since the main enemy of an ABS boat is dragging it over rough surfaces, such as concrete boat ramps, etc. If the plastic is scored or scratched deeply, that crack could eventually open, causing leakage. Although it may be easier to repair than a standard kayak, just by altering your launching and recovery techniques slightly you should be able to avoid this type of damage leading to a need for repairs.
So there you have it. The Jackson Kilroy LT, a thermoformed ABS sit in kayak that offers great on the water stability, maneuverability, comfort, inside rod and reel storage, a high/low seat, standability, and very good protection from the wind, sun and rain and yes, most of us can carry it if necessary! Sit in kayaks allow you to put your shoulder inside the cockpit to allow easy carrying vs. lugging it like a 13 foot long suitcase.
Jackson Kilroy LT stats:
Length: 12 feet, 10 inches
Weight: 56 pounds
Width: 32 inches
Height: 14 inches
Capacity 400 pounds
What comes with my new Kilroy LT???
YakAttack Gear Tracks (4)
Paddle stagers (2)
Two layer standing pad
SealLine Seat Pouch
Therm-a-Rest inflatable lumbar support
Ram Rod holders w/Screw Balls (2)
Plano 3640 waterproof lure box (1) w/Jackson logo
32 oz Nalgene waterbottle w/Jackson Logo
Large Jackson logo sticker (1)
There are several add-ons available for the Kilroy via the Jackson website,
No review would be complete without a list of picks and pans, or plusses and minuses. The former list is long, the latter? Not so much. It is difficult to fault a nearly perfect boat! ☺
ABS makes it much lighter than comparable boats (20 pounds or more!)
Bright, visible colors.
Inside rod/reel storage for 4 units.
A high-low seat.
A solid, firm floor that allows standing.
A dry storage compartment in the rear.
A Tech Deck up front includes a glove compartment and room to keep ‘stuff’ real handy. You could also mount a sonar unit up there if you desire to do so.
Very stable platform, paddles easily and tracks beautifully, forward or backwards.
Minuses: (minor in my humble opinion).
The seat sits level, being able to tilt it up rearwards would be great.
Smallish foot pegs, yet solid. (The ones in my old Native Ultimate 12 were the size of 10-11 sized men’s shoes). With the seat in the upper position, only my heels contact the footpegs.
A word about the author of this article.
Pat Roddy, a 40-year medical field health worker, recently retired from caring for the injured and ill and now spends most of his time discovering how to catch more fish in his new kayak, a Jackson Kilroy LT. He has been fishing from kayaks for nearly 10 years now and fishes mainly flat water but also fishes calmer rivers, the Gulf Coast and numerous private farm ponds that do not see much fishing pressure.
The Kilroy LT in this article was purchased from Jackson Kayak and was not donated or given to the author. It was heavily rumored that this Kilroy was the first one released to the general public (I am sticking with that story, too) and it was produced in Jackson Kayak’s brand new facilities that are still yet to fully open. (Jan 2016 is projected date).
Pat does spend a couple of days a week up at The Outside World in Dawsonville, GA, helping the public purchase kayaks, or adding accessories to them and yes, even an occasional repair is done.
The author lives in Buford, GA, just minutes from his favorite fishing areas, primarily Lake Sidney Lanier and the Chattahoochee River that forms that lake and drains from it, all the way to Apalachicola, FL. His wife of 45 years, Linda, resides with him and encourages his fishing/kayaking time as much as possible.