I’ve had the Kilroy for a long time, and it was time I got the HD version of it.
In this Jackson Kilroy HD review, I’ll tell you what I like most about this boat, and what could be improved.
[Spoiler Alert: The Kilroy HD is a great kayak for calm water. It has amazing customization options, tons of storage space, superb stability and maneuverability, good speed… It’s one of the best fishing kayaks for lakes and slow-moving rivers]
Things to Consider before Buying a Kilroy HD
First of all, the Kilroy HD is made for calm waters − not for fast-moving rivers.
You should also know it’s a heavy boat at 93 lb, and loading it on top of an SUV won’t be fun.
That said, its weight allows for huge storage space, as well as great stability to stand on it.
Finally, remember to have a place to keep it out of the sun. Otherwise, the sun rays will warp the hull over time, and there’s no warranty for such negligence.
- Length: 12 ft 10 in
- Width: 36 in
- Weight: 93 lb
- Load Capacity: 450 lb
Like most other fishing kayaks, the Jackson Kilroy HD is made of high-density polyethylene.
Tough as nails, the hull will handle any on-water collisions, rocks, tree branches… and anything you throw at it.
It will virtually last you a lifetime.
Also, I like the fact that the Kilroy HD has a replaceable skid plate on the stern so that you can drag your boat without damaging the hull. This is a heavy boat, but thanks to this you won’t have to invest in a kayak cart.
At 12 ft 10 in long, the Kilroy HD is a pretty fast boat.
This makes it great for slow rivers, lakes, and even ocean fishing.
It’s not as fast as the Vibe Sea Ghost 130, but it’s still faster than my Jackson Big Rig.
Even when paddling against the current, I can still get a decent speed out of it.
The Kilroy HD turns pretty well.
You can do a U-turn within 4 feet or so, avoiding obstacles won’t be a problem as long as you don’t take this boat on fast-moving rivers.
Remember this boat is made for calm bodies of water. If you want a boat for swift-moving rivers, I’d suggest the Coosa HD instead.
The seat of the Jackson Kilroy HD is super comfortable.
You can adjust it back and forth thanks to the center gear track, and choose between the low or high seated position. I really like the small orange hooks which make adjusting the seat’s position super easy.
For tall guys, I find it incredibly comfortable, particularly because it gives you so much space in front and won’t hurt your knees.
Of course, the foot braces are also adjustable or you could remove them if you’ve got no use for them (I don’t).
On the back of the seat, there’s a system where you can put tons of accessories, and it comes with an included dry bag. I don’t like this bag though and I don’t use it.
Underneath the seat, there’s a nice storage area with some bungee cords to secure tackle boxes.
Alternatively, you can remove the whole seat area to put an Orion cooler and sit on it, for example.
Stability and Tracking
The Jackson Kilroy HD is stable enough to stand and cast.
Even big guys won’t flip this boat, but of course it’s not as stable as the Bonafide SS127.
This means you’ll have to get used to the secondary stability so that you don’t lean too much to one side or the other.
For ocean kayaking, this boat is a beast. It handles the waves easily, and I got caught in some big waves and got out unscathed. This is a great kayak for saltwater.
Regarding tracking, I’ve got no complaints about it. It goes pretty straight and doesn’t get blown away.
My only quibble is it doesn’t have a rudder. So if you’re going ocean fishing, I’d recommend mounting a rudder as a precaution in case the wind picks up.
As mentioned before, the Kilroy HD is a very durable boat.
It will last you a lifetime, and if ever you get any problems Jackson are known for their customer service and exceptional warranty.
Overall, the fact it’s made for open water means you won’t hit rocks often, so the hull will probably never puncture.
Also, I generally recommend avoiding dragging your boat to preserve the hull, but since the Kilroy has a skid plate, you can drag it easily (but be careful to drag it properly to not damage the hull).
The Kilroy HD is a heavy boat.
As such, it’s not as portable as the older Kilroy version or other light fishing kayaks.
I don’t have any issues loading it on top of my car, but at 93 lb I know many people will need help.
If you’re skinny then having a pickup truck will be much easier to put your kayak at the back.
That said, loading and unloading is fairly easy with the molded-in handles at the bow and stern. It also has molded-in hidden handles on the sides to carry it on your shoulder or put it sideways in the bed of a truck.
Features and Accessories
The Jackson Kilroy 2022 comes with a few handy accessories, such as a stand-assist strap and Omega Rod Holder.
Apart from that, it doesn’t come with a paddle and it has no rudder.
I do like the fact that it comes with a cup holder, though.
Now, for the most important part of al…
The Jackson Kilroy has great fishability.
It’s got tons of storage options, with a big open area at the bow and stern so you can access your gear on the water.
It has a strap to slip your paddle in and out when fishing, with some padding to avoid making noise and scaring the fish.
It has a big padded area to stand on and gear tracks on each side that go all the way back. You can mount all your fishing gear on these tracks.
You have multiple molded-in rod staging options at the bow and stern of the boat, as well as some tethering cordage to secure dry bags or to put branches to make a blind if you go hunting.
There’s an Omega rod holder and a Jackson Kayak cup holder that you can mount anywhere on the tracks.
The footrests have padding if you want to use them as a hook keeper or fly patch, or they can be removed if you want a more open cockpit area (I do).
There are 2 rob tubes on each side of the gunnel, with rod tip protectors.
The stern is a mirror image of the bow, with power pole mounting options but it’s not rudder ready.
Overall, you can put so much gear in this boat without ever having to drill. It’s super versatile and perfect if you want to go fishing, hunting, or camping.
Who is the Jackson Kilroy HD for?
I think you’ve understood by now, but the Jackson Kilroy is made for calm waters.
If you’re a serious angler who will fish on slow rivers, lakes, and ocean, the Kilroy is for you.
If you need tons of open storage space, and the versatility to fish, hunt, and go camping, then you’ll find it perfect for your needs.
I will say though that the Kilroy isn’t a cheap boat − so if you have a limited budget you might consider another boat.
The Bonafide is specifically made for stability.
It’s so stable big guys won’t even manage to flip the boat while standing and leaning to the side.
This also makes it much slower than the Kilroy.
It’s slightly lighter and easier to carry, but 10 lb doesn’t make that much of a difference.
It doesn’t track as well, and it doesn’t have a rudder either.
Overall, if you’re looking for absolute stability or you’re a big guy, I’d go for the faster Kilroy HD.
- Maximum stability for big guys
- Subpar tracking
Read my detailed review of the Bonafide SS127.
Feelfree Lure 13.5 V2
The Feelfree Lure is another great kayak for calm waters.
The seat is actually less comfortable than on the Kilroy, and it’s also slower.
The Kilroy turns much better than the Lure, which is important on rivers with lots of obstacles.
The lure is just as fast as the Kilroy, but it’s way more stable.
For big guys, the Lure will be better than the Kilroy if they’re looking for stability and speed. The SS127 is more stable, but slower.
Regarding storage, the Lure has watertight hatches which are great in case you do flip the boat.
Finally, it has slightly fewer customization options, which explains the price difference.
- More stable
- Less comfortable
- Watertight hatches
Jackson Coosa HD
If you’re looking for a great boat for river fishing, you need the Coosa HD.
This boat was made for fast-moving waters, and it is super maneuverable.
You can read my full review of the Coosa HD here.
Regarding stability, it’s not as good as the Kilroy, but it’s still good enough to stand on.
Finally, if you plan on using your boat in calm waters, I would just grab the Kilroy HD which is faster and tracks much better. The Coosa HD is only better in swift-moving waters.
- Made for river fishing
- Slower, less stable
- Subpar tracking, not for open water
Wrapping It Up
Overall, the Jackson Kilroy HD is a great boat for open water fishing.
It will handle the waves like a champ while tracking and turning well.
I like the huge open storage, and I love the adjustable seat.
If you have the budget for this baby and you plan on fishing in calm water, I’d say go for it.