As mentioned in previous posts, Aquaglide, Inc of White Salmon, Washington has recently introduced a new line of inflatable kayaks for 2014. The Aquaglide product line consists of 12 models with MSRP pricing from $199.95 to $1099.95.
Our first shipment included the Chinook 2. Part of Aquaglide’s “pricepoint” series, the Chinook kayaks are economically-priced recreational models in two sizes – 10 and 13 feet.
Following is our writeup on the Chinook 2, a 27-lb, 10 foot tandem model selling for $399. Featuring multiple seating locations, the Chinook 2 can be paddled by one or two persons.
Getting Started with the Aquaglide Chinook 2:
We unpacked the box and laid out the pieces – inflatable kayak, drawstring duffel bag, instructions, repair kit, two foot braces, tracking fin and two seats.
Initial measurements showed the kayak body weighs 27 lbs, with a case size of roughly 29 x 16 x 16 inches, while the kayak with seats and braces weigh 32 lbs. Boxed up, the dimensions are 30 x 17 x 16 inches with a shipping weight of 40 lbs.
(AirKayaks Side note #1: When initially removing the kayak from the carrying case, take a good look at how the kayak is folded This is probably the most overlooked step and it is VERY helpful when trying to get the kayak back into the bag.)
Chinook 2 Kayak Inflatation and Setup:
The included instructions are adequate and include diagrams with inflation details.
Set up is straight-forward and simple – unpack, unfold, inflate.
There are three inflation chambers utilizing Boston valves – the floor and two side chambers. Boston valves are two-part, screw-on valves. The bottom portion is threaded onto the kayak, the top valve is screwed open for inflation and then tightened shut after inflation. Air is easily released by unscrewing the base connector. How does it work? A flap inside the valve opens when air is pumped into the kayak, and falls shut when not pumped so that air will not rush back out.
(AirKayaks Side note #2: The Boston valves have a tether that keeps the valve attached to the kayak, ensuring that the valves don’t get lost after deflating. Make sure that the string does not get in the way when screwing on the valve base, and the valve is not cross-threaded, or you may have some air leakage.)
With the base portion screwed onto the kayak body, and the top portion screwed open, locate the Boston valve adaptor on your pump (conical nozzle about 1/2 inch in diameter) and friction fit it into the valve opening.
We pumped up the floor until firm (1.0 psi with slight give) using a standard double action hand pump – this took about 25 to 27 pumps. We then pumped up each of the side chambers (2 PSI) and screwed on the valve caps – each side chamber took about 45 full pumps. (AirKayaks side note #3: If using a pressure gauge, please note that – since the gauges work on back pressure – the gauge will only register as you are pushing in air, and will drop to zero when you stop.)
Next attach the seat(s) – these stay in position utilizing velcro and adjustable side straps. Here is where we came to the first issue. The instructions say to attach the front and rear seat straps – but there are no rear straps. This is not major, as the front straps alone are more than adequate for attaching the seats. The seating positions will be dependent on the size of the paddlers. For your first set up, try placing the rear seat back about 6 inches from the end of the velcro strips, and the front of the forward seat about 10-12 inches from the front end of the velcro.
Attach the front seat quick-connect clips to the first set of d-rings, and the rear seat clips to the fourth set of d-rings; once you get into the kayak, you can tighten up the side straps until you reach the support level that is comfortable for you. For solo paddling, you want to place the seat slightly rear of center.
Next place the foot braces on the velcro strips – you can reposition these when you get into the kayak, so that your legs are slightly bent when pressing against them.
The last step is to attach the removable tracking fin, which enhances paddling/tracking in deeper water. Remove the retaining pin from the fin slot by pulling on the string. Make sure the fin is pointing towards the rear of the kayak, then insert the front of the fin, pushing back and down, to lock the back end. Then slide forward until the holes line up, and replace the retaining pin. At this point, pull up on the fin to make sure you have it locked in position. Tie the string around the grommet just forward of the fin, keeping it loose – this ensures that you don’t lose the pin but have enough “string” to attach.
That’s it! You’re ready to paddle.
Features and Specifications on the Aquaglide Chinook 2 Inflatable Kayak
The Chinook 2 is constructed with four molded carrying handles (bow, stern and both sides), but it is fairly simple to carry by hooking the side of the kayak over your shoulder.
Two spray decks – front and rear – extend 20 inches and help prevent water from splashing in. Each has a bungee deck-lacing system for attaching gear – the front deck lacing is 10 x 12 inches tapering to 3 inches, while the rear is 10 x 13 inches tapering to 2 inches.
There are two sets of velcro paddle holders, one set for each side.
Twelve d-rings (6 each side) are positioned roughly 11-12 inches apart, allowing one to attach/reposition the seats, or for securing gear.
Three Boston valves with retaining rings are used on the inflation chambers.
The padded, Aquaglide whitewater seats feature adjustable side straps which quickly clip into position; the straps can be adjusted up to 15 inches. Each of the seats comes equipped with 2 fishing rod holders, one d-ring on each side and a deep mesh storage pocket (measuring 5 x 8 x 9 inches) for gear. The 1-inch thick seat bases are 15 inches wide by 16 inches deep, and the backs are 12.5 inches tall in a stiff foam, encircling 26-inches wide.
The 99-inch long inflatable floor features a 1-PSI PVC i-beam construction with a covering, offering protection from claws or fish hooks as well as integrating the floor with the walls and providing a slightly stiffer construction. The floor is designed as “raised seating,” creating a front and rear well that will collect any water that splashes inside. Two 71 inch velcro strips are centered on the floor, and are used to position the seats and foot braces.
A rear drain plug (not to be confused with self-bailing) can be opened to let water out.
The carrying case is a simple, drawstring duffle with two carrying handles.
The kayak consists of three layers. Three inflatable PVC bladders (floor and both sides) are housed in a zippering fabric cover of commercial grade Duratex hull material blended with a rugged 600 denier polyester, allowing the bladders to be replaced if necessary.
The hull is a rugged, puncture-resistant material with removable tracking fin and landing plate.
The tracking fin is hefty, measuring 5 x 12 inches with locking pin.
We did measurement tests. The Chinook 2 kayak inflated is 10 feet 2 inches long and 37 inches wide (specs say 10 feet by 34 inches). The side bladders are roughly 11 inches in diameter, making the sides 9 inches above the seating area. Interior dimensions are approximately 99 inches long by approximately 16 inches at the widest point (when solo paddling) or 14 to 15 inches wide if used as a tandem.
When set up as a tandem – dependent on positioning the seats – there is 42 inches from the back of the front seat to the end of the bow seating well, 35 inches from rear seat back to front seat back, and 21 inches behind the rear seat to the end of the seating well.
When set up for solo paddling, there is 36 inches behind the paddler, and about 59 inches from seat back to interior bow. Weight limitations are 400 lbs for persons and gear.
Chinook 2 Inflatable Kayak on the Water
I first took out the Chinook 2, solo paddling on a slightly choppy day.
The kayak paddled smoothly, with minimal wagging in the nose – this could also be helped with a little weight in the front. The kayak felt very roomy, very stable, and the seats are sturdy if you cinch them tight, though I had to move the seat a bit to clear the molded side handles. The kayak turns easily and rides waves well.
One issue – with my lower center of gravity (5’4″) and the kayak width of 37 inches, I was forced to use a high-angle paddling stance to try and clear the side walls.
I took it out a second day with my fuzzy paddling buddy, Cleo. The materials are rugged enough to handle jumpy claws, while the kayak was stable enough to handle 32 lbs hanging off one side. The Chinook 2 is roomy enough for an adult with one or two small dogs, or a child.
My husband then took it out solo; with his taller clearance (6’2″) it was quite comfortable for him and he had no issue clearing the side chambers while paddling. He found it paddled well, was easy to get in and out of, and roomy despite his height.
We took the kayak out as a tandem. With our combined heights, it was a bit tight. Both of our knees were fairly bent, so we had to readjust our paddling stances to clear our knees. While it is do-able, it wouldn’t be comfortable paddling for a long period of time. Two smaller paddlers (kids, small adults about 5’5 or less, or adult with child or dog) would be fine. Larger paddlers should look into the Chinook Tandem model for 2-3 kayakers; the extra couple of feet make a big difference.
I then took the kayak out again solo, this time with a seat featuring an inflatable seat base (such as those found on the Aquaglide Columbia series). Bingo! The added height of 4 inches raised me up just enough that I was easily able to clear the bladders while paddling, yet was still down low enough that the kayak felt stable.
Chinook 2 versus Chinook Tandem
So which kayak should you choose – the Chinook 2 or Chinook Tandem? At 10 feet and 32 lbs (kayak with seats in bag), the Chinook 2 is a great option for roomy solo paddling, a kayaker with small child or dog, or two small adults. The smaller package size makes travel and storage a bit easier.
The Chinook Tandem at 12.5 ft and 41 lbs (kayak with seats in bag) is a versatile “family option,” best for two adult paddlers, one paddler needing plenty of room for gear, or two adults and child or dog.
For more info, read our detailed review on the Chinook Tandem inflatable kayak.
Chinook 2 Inflatable Kayak: The Bottom Line:
The Chinook 2 is a great kayak at an economical price – the kayak is lightweight, very stable, very easy to inflate and paddles nicely. It tracks well, with just the slightest wag.
The Chinook 2 also has numerous “fine details” normally found in higher-priced models, such as built in fishing rod holders, foot braces and multiple gear attachment points. The velcro strips on the floor make it very easy to readjust seating and bracing as needed, providing infinite combinations.
While billed as a tandem, we would characterize the Chinook 2 as a great value for a solo kayak, roomy enough for larger paddlers, or those carrying lots of fishing or camping gear.
As a tandem, the Chinook 2 would be a good choice for an adult with child or dog or two small adults (probably 5’5″ and under).
It’s a good choice for slow-moving rivers, lakes and flat coastal kayaking, or for some surf or light whitewater – probably through Class II.
The open design will appeal to those who need easy entry and exit – such as seniors or those with physical disabilities – as well as paddlers in need of a quick dip on a hot summer day.
And it’s highly portable, easily fitting into the trunk of a small car, an RV or an option for vacation travel.
And at only $399, the Chinook 2 is a truly versatile option with lots of amenities – at an entry level price. For more details or to purchase, visit the AquaGlide Chinook 2 product page at AirKayaks.com. Need more info? Watch our YouTube video on the Chinook 2 kayak, below: