2010 Jackson Kayak Reviews & Paddle This Tuesday!

We’re really excited to have one of Jackson Kayak’s factory pros in town with us this Tuesday (3/23/10) to fill us in on their line-up for this year! Stephen Wright will be around the shop all day if you have questions, but better yet – he’s taking us out for an after-work paddle so we can use his boats and get a good on-water feel for the new designs. Want to join us? Please do! We’re going to head out from the shop around 5pm and would love to have you give us your thoughts on the new boats too (give us a call if you need to meet us elsewhere so we’re sure not to miss you).

If you want to use your coffee breaks (it IS a Friday after all) for a little “research”, here are some reviews to keep ya’ busy!

The 2010 Stars

We have yet to meet a playboater out there who doesn’t love the Star family. They’re a fantastic playboat and it sounds like Jackson is just raising the bar with the updated 2010 line up. Here’s a quick review courtesy of Phil Boyer:

The shorter bow and stern along with the increased volume around the cockpit allow the boat to spin faster, rotate from bow to stern more quickly and maximize retentiveness – on holes and waves. These enhancements offer many benefits:

-an increase in energy reserves
-longer surfs
-faster boat response from edge to edge
-stable while front, back and side surfing
-secondary stability while surfing
-spins on a dime
-bigger bounce and pop for bigger moves
-ease of dropping the bow or stern for arial moves
-easy to roll from all positions

The 2010 Allstar is a play boat like no other. It will help every paddler become a better play boater.


Need some more “from the water” reviews? Here ya’ go!

The 2010 Funs

This boat is hands down one of our most popular boats: it runs rivers, it plays, it’s (pardon the pun) FUN! Here’s a quick review of the 2010 from Scott Dougherty, owner/teacher of World Class Kayak Academy:

The new Fun series is a terrific improvement on what has been a staple choice for paddlers who prefer a more classic design over the more freestyle specific 2010 Star series. It feels much more balanced in volume distribution between the bow and stern in comparison to the previous model, making it easy to maintain balance when linking ends.

This seemed to contribute to the boat’s stability in the more challenging whitewater, as well, as it felt very comfortable in the rapids on the Upper Gauley. At the same time, the new Fun retains the narrower width and longer length in the tail retaining the design’s ability to initiate stern squirts and stalls easily. Finally, one of the biggest improvements over the previous design in my opinion was the hull. On a wave and in a hole it had the release I seek in a playboat, spinning easily on smaller green waves. This is a quality I enjoy in the Star series, which combined with the length of the Fun series made it easy to catch every variety of play feature all the way down the river. I can see a lot of potential in this boat and look forward to paddling it downriver in big water.


Also check out JK’s announcement of the redesigned Fun series for official specs.

The All New Villian

This is Jackson’s latest creek boat offering and so far all the feedback we’ve heard is nothing but gold! I thought I’d post a review from Stephen Wright, since we’re getting to paddle with him, and his post has a video along with it – and who doesn’t love a good video, right?

The new Villain S rocks my world! This video is of the 49 to Bridgeport section of the South Yuba near Nevada City in California. This is my first attempt at a video with my new GoPro Hero HD helmet cam-I learned the hard way that Transcend SD cards don’t get along with GoPro-it stopped recording after about 1/3 of the run.

The Villain S is SWEET! It’s FAST, nimble, boofs EVERYTHING, stable, forgiving, holds a line at speed yet easy to spin at low speeds, carries TONS of speed through foam and away from drops. This is a great run to highlight how well the Villain S paddles: plenty of rocks and boofs, but lots of boils and pushy curlers as well. Keep an eye out for how easily this boat goes where I want it to-love that. You’ll also get to see my creeking style: boof every rock I can see-I just can’t stay away from them.I have a real problem.


More proof required? Here’s a ladies take on the Villian from Kat Levitt as well as a fairly extensive review from Darin McQuoid.

One more thing

Playak.com posted an article the other day on color customization for Jackson Kayaks. If you have the perfect color scheme in mind, here are the details on how to make it happen. Give us a call and we can get you set up with the prettiest (or coolest, or toughest) boat you’ve ever laid your eyes on!

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End of the Summer Boat Sale!

Get your calendars out and save October 17, 2009 as a day you’re going to want to be in the parking lot of the Kayak Shed! Why, you ask? We’re going to be blowing out our 2009 rental and demo fleet and you’re not going to want to miss it. Have you been waiting for a great deal on a Hobie or Jackson Kayak? Here’s your chance, starting at 9am and going until 4pm.

We’ll also be busting out the grill and beverage cooler for those of you that come out at lunch… but don’t get there too late! Most blow-out deals are going to be one of a kind!

Here’s a list of some of the boats we’ll have available (more may be added!):

Hobie Kayaks: Revolution, Outback, Adventure Island
Jackson Kayak: Hero, Super Hero, Side Kick, Mega Rocker, Rocker, Punk Rocker, Dynamic Duo
Pyranha: Burn S, Burn M, Burn L, Karnali
Wilderness Systems: Tusanami 125, Tarpon 120, Tandem Rec Boat
Dagger: Zydeco
Native Watercraft: Ultimate 14.5 solo
Perception: Torrent, Tandem Sit On Top

Questions? Give us a call!

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Jackson Hero Series Review

Jackson Hero Series Review

We finally got all three Heroes’ in:
Jackson Super Hero
Jackson Hero
Jackson Side Kick

We’ve been working on gathering initial series of reviews as well as feedback on them as people demo them at the Kayakshed.

So, we thought we’d let you know what the scoop is boat by boat.

Let’s start with the little version and go up in size:
Jackson Side Kick:
I have to admit when we first unwrapped the Side Kick I was a little shocked at how small it was. I was under the feeling the Sidekick was going to be a Small adult’s boat not a kid’s boat. It is definitely a kids boat no question. Starting there one word description – WOW! Finally a GREAT kids boat. It’ll fit a similar paddler size as the Fun 1.5 but its way different. The Fun 1.5 was the best kids’ boat to date prior to the side kick. The only problem was that the Fun 1.5 isn’t a river runner. It’s a play boat. Who learns in a play boat? It’s VERY hard to learn in a play boat. The side kick is a safe river running kayak- that’s all I should really need to say in a kids boat ‘but wait, there’s more’.
It rolls great.
It’s stable.
It fits a wide range of kids – so your kid won’t out grow it by tomorrow – and it’ll be a great hand me down for your next kid or friends’ kid.
The deck is nice and peaked so it’ll keep the paddlers visibility open and not constantly splashed by waves.
It surfs!
All in all this is the best kids’ boat I’ve ever seen. This kind of product will help grow the sport and allow more kids to have fun on the water.

Jackson Hero:
There has been a lot of speculation as to the niche this boat falls in. Is it a creek boat? Is it a river runner? Is it a boat for a first timers (newbie) kayak? Is it an over nighter kayak?

To be open, we’re still trying to figure that one out. So far we’ve had 4 different paddlers out in it. All had similar feedback:
S.E- Stable, predictable, fun, and responsive. It fit me right out of the gate. I’m looking for a river running kayak for class 3 a little 4 that I can surf in. Looks like I found it. Only bad thing I have to say is it’s slower than the Pyranha Burn. I floated sideways into a hole and didn’t flip!
J.W.- (Very experienced paddler that’s paddled a ton of different boats.)
“Loved it. It’s stable, rolls easily, surfs, and did I mention stable? I probably won’t take it down anything too class 5-iy. Definitely for those runs that I want something sportier than a huge creeker. Seems big enough for a light over night load. I was surprised how easily it surfed and spun on a wave. Fun all-rounder for sure! I’m buying one”

Jackson Super Hero:
This is the ‘biggie size’ Hero. We received our first one in 2 days ago 4/6/8 consequently, only one person has paddled it – ironically he ended up buying one! Here’s what he had to say:
“I demoed a Mamba, Mega Rocker, and Super Hero. I liked both but the Superhero was a way better boat for me because it is more responsive and surfs. I’m not big on surfing infact I’m just learning to kayak however; I can tell this boat will open a lot of doors for me as I develop more skills. It was very stable. I did flip and pulled a half effort roll …. Came up just fine! Wow. I shouldn’t have been able to pull that roll off, but I did! Easy boat to roll!”

We’ll keep you posted on reviewing all three Heroes as we’re able to spend more on water time in them.
So far I’m calling the Hero series a home run.

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Hotel Charley 3: The Lost World

Jessie Coombs and gang are up to it again! Hotel Charley 3 – Sweet kayaking film that the Kayakshed is going to premiere Saturday, April 26, 2008 Hood River, OR. River City Saloon. Hope to see you there!
Here’s what Jessie has to say about it:

I just finished putting together the premier tour for Hotel Charley 3: The Lost World.
The new title from Clear H2o Films that is set to release April 22nd is The Lost World, Hotel Charley vol. 3. The meat of the feature length film features Kayak First Descents of wild, free flowing rivers from the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland, the extremely remote Twang Region of India, and a kayak descent down the soon to be dammed inner gorge of Brazil’s longest river, the Rio San Fransisco. In search of this proverbial Lost World that exists in the world’s last unseen gorges are film producers and 2006 National Geographic Adventure Heroes Ben Stookesberry and Jesse Coombs. Along with Jesse and Ben is a cast of characters that is as diverse as the locations in the film. From the ultra talented paddlers of Team Jackson Kayak including Eric jackson, Dane Jackson, Nick Troutman, Joel Kowolski, Chris Korbulic, and Darin McQuoid pushing the envelope in roadless Northern Newfoundland; to the stories and supper smooth of Indian/ Nepally Kayaker Lama Kundan in the farthest off corner of India situated between China and Bhutan. In addition to the feature length film, the DVD the lost world will be jam packed with Bonus features including more incredible multi-day kayaking expeditions from Southwest BC, the Wind River Range of Wyoming, and Colorado’s Southern Rockies. If that’s not enough Jesse and I want share our 3 week attempt to train writer Thayer Walker to become a class V boater; we called it the Crash Course. As a self proclaimed class 4 boater, Thayer spends 14 river days training in class 5 water in order to become a battle ready Expedition Boater. This is in addition to a Men’s Fitness feature article of the same name that hit the stand in April 2008.
We look forward to seeing you at the premier and on the river!
Jesse Coombs

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Jackson Hero

Finally! We just received our first shipment to the Kayakshed of the Jackson Hero. Looks better than expected. Don’t get me wrong I was expecting a good river runner / creeker. However this looks like a GREAT river runner / Creeker. What do I mean? Well I was expecting a down tuned boat … something like the Mamba or the Diesel. No offense Mamba or Diesel owners but those boats are more designed for entry paddlers. Not that a highly skilled paddler can’t have a ton of fun in them – but hey confluence didn’t design those boats for you. They designed them for the entry market.

Back on track. The Hero is looking amazing it has edges! They go from bow to stern and look aggressive to do something and yet soft enough to not tangle you up. The Bow looks like a Pyranha M3 of years past. Lots of volume and edges. The Stern is very rounded with again lots of volume. The Boat is shorter than I had imagined which sets it apart from it’s competitors(Pyranha Burn, Wave Sport Diesel, Dagger Mamba). That’s cool. It almost makes it’s own category. Like the Pyranha Ammo does. In fact to describe the Hero I’d have to combine the Ammo, Burn, Nomad, and the Fun. Mix them up and there you go – you got the Jackson Hero.

Can’t wait to get it on the water. We just unwrapped the boat and are waiting for more. Will give you more feedback after we get to paddle it!

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New Jackson Hero Sneak Peak

Jackson Kayak has done such a great job inovating our sport over the past several years. They truly have done an outstanding job. Their initial strength was the Classic Fun Series. Then they revised both their Funs as well as their Rockers. Both have set a new standard in kayak design. Now it looks like they are taking their Hero Series seriously. From the limited photos I have seen the boats look great.

Check out the photo of the Jacksons with their newest edition…. the Hero. Looks great. From this view it kind of reminds me of some classic older designs. Kind of like a sportier rocker classic. Has anyone paddled one yet? Looks like a great improvement. The old Hero Series … well … lets keep it PC and just say had room for improvement. This is Looking rely good. Look forward to paddling one!

From Jackson’s site:

We needed a straight up river running kayak that paddles like a Jackson, rolls like a Jackson, and is comfortable like a Jackson. We started with the new Fun hull and built the boat up from there. This boat is the perfect companion for the paddler wanting a predictable, stable, carving, easy to paddle river runner that won’t hit a plateau before you do. Whether looking to creek the local run, or overnight the canyon, this full volume, planing hull, nimble, quick, safe kayak is your ticket. This will be a top selling kayak in 2008 and beyond, and sets a new standard in just how fun and versatile a river runner can be.

Some specifics:
The Hull: Cross-linked plastic for durability and shape retention (no oilcanning). Planing hull for great initial stability, surfing, and a predictable ride that the Fun and Star paddler can jump into and feel right at home. The same performance characteristics found in the Fun hull is all standard with the ideal drop chines that are effective but out of the way for creeking, and thruster chines for extra speed and directional control for front surfing (yes you can spin it too!). For those creeking this boat, look for effortless boofs that come from a properly positioned rocker break. David Knight is a genius, and his genious shows through on this hull!

The Side Walls: the side walls bring true Jackson Kayak rolling ability to play here with the addition of a rigidity bar for those wanting to seriously creek it (Team JK’s Jesse Coombs is already asking when he can “stomp the big ones” in it!) The flair in this sidewall is just right to give the beginner roller that extra confidence, while adding a secondary stability level that keeps you right side up and paddling. The angle is also set to make side surfing a hole (on purpose or not) easy, smooth, and non-grabby. There is nothing to catch while running slides for those who will be creeking this boat.

The Deck: Ample footroom is the first thing you’ll notice. Put your BIG booties/river shoes on and you’ll be comfortable, and safe. That foot-room also provides you with the volume to keep you on the surface for safety and confidence. The stern has the volume needed to keep you looking downstream after drops instead of back into the hole! You’ll love how the Super Hero busts through holes and stays on the surface and upright like Superman busting through a wall with a smile on his face! The smooth, well designed deck keeps your knuckles and elbows free and clear of impact on even the biggest drops.

The Outfitting: Boat Armor and Uni-Shock bulkhead on the adult models. Four swimmer and portaging friendly grab handles/attachment points, and a stainless steel security bar for safety in the most challenging situations. Side Kick outfitting is specially designed to keep weight to a minimum to assure easy carrying for kids.


2008 SIDE KICK- for Kids and VERY small adults
Length = 79” (or 6’ 7”)
Width = 22.25”
Height = 13.0”
Volume = 50 gallons
Weight: 27 pounds
Paddler range
Weight: 50-130
Legs: 20”-32”
Feet: kids-men’s 9


2008 HERO- for medium sized women and adults
Length = 90” (or 7’ 6”)
Width = 25.5”
Height = 15.0”
Volume = 75 gallons
Weight: 42 pounds
Paddler range
Weight: 120-210
Legs: 26”-37”
Feet: up to men’s 14

Super Hero

2008 SUPER HERO- larger adults
Length = 95” (or 7’ 11”)
Width = 26.5”
Height = 15.5”
Volume = 87 gallons
Weight: 47 pounds
Paddler range
Weight: 170-300
Legs: 28”-40”
Feet: up to men’s 16

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Team JK’s Heather Herbeck Returns from Mexico

Team JK’s Heather Herbeck sends in this note and article from Mexico December 9, 2007
By Heather Herbeck
I just wanted to let you know how our trip went back to Mexico. It has been my goal since the last time I was in Mexico with you and other Jackson Team members to come back and show Nate the “goods” that the Alseseca offers. We met up with Rafa over the weekends we were there and hit many of the sections of the Alseseca that we explored last year.
Before I get into the river reports, I want to thank you, once again, for making such great boats. The first day of paddling in Mexico, I had a vert. pin situation, ending up pulling my skirt and watching the Rocker go over the next horizon – an unrunnable, perhaps the mankiest drop I have ever seen. It took us 3 hours to z-drag the Rocker out of a gnarly seive. Once pulled out of the water, we noticed an indentation along the side of the boat, however within minutes, the dent was out and the boat was in tip-top shape. Thanks EJ!
I am sending you some photos from the trip, but there are many more photos along with the trip reports on http://www.liquidkayak.com/.
The most exciting thing for me about our trip back to Mexico was the last canyon (on the map, this section was the deepest canyon of the Alseseca), which Rafa, myself, Ikrt, Taylor and Nate explored. If you remember, this was the last stretch of the Alseseca that Ben wanted to explore, however with limited time, we didn’t get to it last year. This section started with a 100 foot waterfall, the most beautiful horizon line I have ever seen. We repelled downstream of this falls about 120 feet into a deep, deep canyon . . . the trip report will be up on http://www.liquidkayak.com/ soon. (The last three or four attached photos are of this last section) A beautiful, huge waterfall followed by a 35 foot waterfall a little ways downstream. And a Class V rapid about a 200 feet downstream of this . . . the gradient we noticed from the map was definatetly stacked in the first three drops.
I left Mexico last year, wanting to get back into the Alseseca and explore the last section that Ben had hoped to get on with the crew last year – so with that accomplished, I left Mexico this year with three goals in mind for when I get back – The Tomata Gorge, The Trucha section (that stretch looked so good, but with limited number of crew – because Nate was out sick – we didn’t hit it) and some waterfalls that Nate and I scouted. Can’t wait!!!
I hope you are well.***All photos in this report are courtesy of Nate and Heather Herbeck.
Heather Herbeck
Heather in her Jackson Rocker.
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Win a trip to Rock Island

Straight from Jackson:

Get your Hero, Super Hero, or Side Kick Gift Certificates Today!
December 2, 2007
Your favorite dealer (Obviously KayakShed) can now take orders for your new Hero, Super Hero, or Side Kick! Just call them up and tell them that you want to purchase your new Hero and that you want a gift certificate for your deposit. They will send me your information and we will send you a FREE T-Shirt of your size in the model you bought! You will also be entered into a drawing where you will get a trip to Rock Island to help make your boat and paddle with the Jackson family and Jackson team!

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Steel Rescue via Jackson Mega Rocker

Steel Rescue
Last fall the Hood River experienced massive flooding. It rained for days and days, snow melted, glaciers collapsed, boulders tumbled, dams burst and…well you get the idea. Hood River county ended up having the biggest flood losses in the state. It was massive flooding, with that came a lot of debris in and along the river. Now you might expect trees and wood, but we’re talking metal grates, cars, and the many random pieces of ‘stuff’.

Most of the random pieces have been addressed by local property owners picking up after the receding waters. Still there were the many large chunks of debris that were not being addressed. At low water, aside from being garbage in the river, are more an eyesore than a hazard. But once our water rises again this fall, these pieces create an awful and dangerous hazard on this popular kayaking run.

Steve Stampflield, Coordinator of Hood River Watershed Group, started working with Pacific Corps to address some of the debris removal. Pacific Corps decided to donate the use of a helicopter to lift large debris from the Hood River. Some of the large debris needed to be accessed via Kayak. So Steve teamed up with Kayak Shed’s John Hart – that’s me (In the Jackson Mega Rocker)– along with Farmers Irrigation District which supplied ropes cable and great support. We ended up connecting a rope and cable to one of the more difficult pieces so that next month the whole grate will be lifted out by a helicopter.

Yep it was fun. Even though it was a hot day I was glad I had my Kokatat drysuit on. The Rock the steel is wrapped on is actually a great surf wave when the water is high. So, you can see how dangerous the grate could have been / was.

Thanks to Kirby Neumann-Rae from the Hood River News for the photos!

Thanks for reading, John

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Outfitting Jackson Kayaks

There have been a lot of questions on how to do this right. So, here’s a couple hints on how to do it right:
How to Outfit your Jackson Kayak

Jackson Kayak has improved comfort and performance in kayaking. They have designed what is called “boat armor” outfitting that works great and is easy to use and modify. Jackson Fun and Jackson Star series are outfitted with Sweet Cheeks seat cover, the Happy Feet foot system, and adjustable hip-pads, seats and backbands. These are all designed to be comfortable, lightweight and easy to use. Here are a few tips to get your Jackson Kayak fit for you.

Moving the Seat
The first thing you need to do when you get in your Jackson Kayak is make sure your knees fit comfortably in the knee cups. Move the seat forward or backwards until your bent knees are supported comfortably in the padded knee braces. You also want your boat to “trim ou” in the water when you sitting up straight (the parting line of your kayak should be the same height out of the water in the front and back).
If you are short and heavy with alot of room in front of your feet, move your seat forward to the front notch. If you are medium height and weight and have some room in front of your feet, keep it neutral. If you are tall and lightweight and have no room in front of your feet, move it to the back position.
To adjust the seat forward and backwards, move the hip-pads out of the way. Reach in the side of the seat and loosen the thumb screws that stabilize the seat. Move the seat forward or backwards and tighten the screws when you have found the perfect position.

Happy Feet
The Happy Footbag has a beanbag compartment with a valve and an air bladder with a pump. To form it to your feet, open the blow tube valve and blow air into the beanbag. Fold the front of the footbag in on itself to make a small pocket that goes across the entire front of the bag. Tuck your toes into the pocket you made and push your feet into the beanbag until they make comfortable foot pockets with your legs in the thighbraces. Close the valve and your footprint will be placed in the Happy Feet Footbag. Suck the remaining air from the beanbag tube and close it tight (keep it closed from now on unless you want to change it).
Next, make sure you are sitting up straight and tighten the backband. Using the bulb (make sure the valve is closed) pump up the air bladder. Tighten the bag until you have the right amount of pressure to give you the control you like. When you get to the bottom of the rapid or into an eddy you can hit the release valve. This allows for excess room to lift your knees out and relax.

Sweet Cheeks
The Sweet Cheeks is an adjustable, inflatable, nylon, beanbag seat cover for firm butt support. It is a perfectly locked down pad that won’t slip around on your seat. The bottom of the pad is made of Velcro and it stays in place firmly on the Velcro in your kayak. It deflates to form around your rear and makes a perfect bucket seat. The Sweet Cheeks is great because there are no pressure points and it prevents you from sliding around on your seat.
When you sit on the Sweet Cheeks your legs make the beans into a wedge in front of your crotch to prevent you from slipping forward. The back of the Sweet Cheeks meets up with the backband behind your rear for firm support and to protect your tailbone.
To use the Sweet Cheeks, open the valve and inflate it about 4 breaths. Get into your kayak. When you sit down the air will rush out of the tube while the beans rush around and settle. When the majority of air is out, lock the beans in place by sucking the remaining air out like a vacuum pack and closing the valve.
If you want to be higher up in your boat for better leverage and knee support, blow air into the Sweet Cheeks before getting into your kayak to allow more beans under your butt cheeks. Suck most of the air out before you get into your boat. Get in and wiggle around just a little to make it comfortable.
For a lower seat, blow lots of air in. Get in your boat and wiggle around while the air is being forced out. When all the air is out, lift yourself off the seat while staying in the boat. Blow two or three breaths of air in and sit down again. Wiggle around while the beans form around you and move from under your butt. Do this as many times as you want until you are the height you want to be.

Adjusting the Backband
Backbands can be easily adjusted while sitting in the kayak. The “prostraps” or nylon straps on the sides of the backband should be loose so that you will be able to tighten the backband far enough to pull you forward in the seat
Once you establish proper seat position, sit up straight and pull the prostraps that are above the knee braces. These are connected to the backband so that when you pull in towards the center of your boat it tightens the backband up against your lower back. Pull until you get good support and lock the cord into position by pulling forward and out to the side.

To adjust the hip-pads, loosen the webbing securing the hip-pad to the seat. Pull the Velcro hip-pad off the seat. They are designed with a pocket on the backside. Each boat comes with 2” and 4” foam shams. To prevent your butt from coming out of your seat and prevent side to side movement, add or remove shams into the back pocket until your hips are supported snugly in the seat. If the hip-pads are too tight, pull them off the Velcro seat pan and rotate the front of the hip pads upward. Move the entire hip-pad back far enough to prevent it from extending beyond the front of the seat.
When you find a comfortable position, secure the webbing around the side of the seat and tighten the strap down. The hip-pads will stay in place with the full Velcro coverage.

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