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 inflatable kayaks – part of Aquaglide’s “pricepoint” series. The Chinook kayaks feature economically-priced recreational models in two sizes – the 10 foot Chinook 2 and 12.5 foot Chinook Tandem. Our first write-up featured the Chinook 2; for the second review we focus on the Chinook Tandem 2+ person model. Featuring multiple seating locations, the 12.5 foot AquaGlide Chinook Tandem sells for $499 and is roomy enough to handle three.
Please note that many of these instructions have been repeated from the first writeup on the Chinook 2.
Getting Started with the Aquaglide Chinook Tandem:
We unpacked the box and laid out the pieces – inflatable kayak, drawstring duffel bag, instructions, repair kit, two foot braces, tracking fin, two main seats and a jumper seat.
Initial measurements showed the kayak body weighs 34 lbs, with a case size of roughly 29 x 16 x 16 inches, while the kayak with seats, fin and braces weighs 41 lbs. Boxed up, the dimensions are 31 x 18 x 17 inches with a shipping weight of 50 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.)
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 38 pumps. At this point we realized we broke rule # 2 – the tether had caught under the valve and we could hear air escaping. By slightly unscrewing the valve, we were able to remove the jammed tether without much repumping.
We then pumped up each of the side chambers (2 PSI) and screwed on the valve caps – each side chamber took about 60 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 14 inches from the end of the velcro strips, and the front of the forward seat about 14-15 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 so that your legs are slightly bent when pressing against them – you can reposition these when you get into the kayak.
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 Tandem Inflatable Kayak
The Chinook Tandem is constructed with four molded carrying handles (bow, stern and both sides), but can also be carried by hooking the side of the kayak over your shoulder.
Two spray decks – front and rear – extend 18 to 19 inches and help prevent water from splashing in. Each has a bungee deck-lacing system for attaching gear – approximately 10 x 13 inches tapering to 3 inches.
There are two sets of velcro paddle holders, one set for each side.
Fourteen d-rings (7 each side) are positioned roughly 14 inches apart except for the rear set (9 inches), allowing one to attach/reposition the seats, or for securing gear.
Three Boston valves with retaining rings are used on the inflation chambers.
The two main, 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.
A third, padded jumper seat – perfect for kids – measures 10 inches wide, by 16 inches long and 4 to 6 inches deep; this features a twist-lok inflation valve with velcro to position on the floor. A velcro tab locks the twist-lok into position so it doesn’t accidentally “get kicked” while paddling.
The 123-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 96 inch velcro strips are centered on the floor, and are used to position the seats and foot braces.
The two foot braces are padded, 10 x 3 inches long with velcroed strips 8 inches in length.
A rear drain plug (not to be confused with self-bailing) can be opened to let water out. While the plug was located inside the seating well, we found it easier to screw it on from outside the kayak.
The carrying case is a simple, drawstring duffle with two carrying handles.
The kayak consists of three layers. Three inflatable 24-gauge 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 plates.
The tracking fin is hefty, measuring 5 x 12 inches with locking pin.
We did measurement tests. The Chinook Tandem kayak inflated is 151 inches long (12 ft 7 inches) and approximately 37 inches wide (specs say 13 feet by 34 inches). The side bladders are roughly 10 inches in diameter, making the sides 9 inches above the seating area. Interior dimensions are approximately 123 inches long by approximately 17 inches at the widest point.
When set up as a tandem – dependent on where the seats are positioned – there is 46 inches from the back of the front seat to the end of the bow seating well, 56 inches from rear seat back to front seat back, and 22 inches behind the rear seat to the end of the seating well. When using the jumper seat, the rear paddlers legs can fit around the side.
When set up for solo paddling, there is 48 inches behind the paddler, and about 73 inches from seat back to interior bow. Weight limitations are 550 lbs for persons and gear.
AquaGlide Chinook Tandem on the Water.
We took the Chinook Tandem out for a spin in a number of configurations – solo, tandem, and tandem with furry friend.
My husband and I took out the Chinook Tandem for a short jaunt – the kayak paddles well, tracks straight, feels solid with lots of room. The velcro strip paddle holders are long enough to hold the paddles, and the seat allows you to sit high enough that knuckle-rub was not an issue – at least for me in front. My husband thought it was slightly wide, and felt he needed a longer paddle. As I am the one – with lower center of gravity – that usually has issues, I think we may not have positioned his seat far enough back.
We then dragged Woody out for a ride. Despite Woody’s major attempts to jump in the water, the kayak remained quite stable. And the material was rugged enough that claws were not an issue. The kayak has enough interior space that I could easily see two adults and a child, or lots of camping gear – particularly with the weight capacity of 550 lbs. The jumper seat is slim enough that the rear paddler’s legs can slip around the sides, though the use of the jumper seat can inhibit use of the rear foot brace.
I took the kayak out solo – with the ability to move the seat and foot brace to an optimal position, it really paddles nicely. When paddling solo, one is positioned closest to the beam of the kayak, so it felt slightly wide – using the Aquaglide Pro-formance seat, or adding a little more cushion base, would ease this.
Last of all, the kayak is very easy to fold up, and actually rolls up to a much smaller package than one would imagine possible.
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 2 inflatable kayak.
Chinook Tandem Inflatable Kayak – Bottom Line
The Chinook Tandem is a great inflatable kayak choice – particularly for price-conscious individuals wanting good performance, stability, extensive storage space/carrying capacity and the flexibility to paddle single, tandem, or tandem with child or dog.
Numerous “attentions to detail” have been incorporated, such as fishing rod holders, multiple d-rings, drain plugs, paddle holders and infinite seating position and deck lacing. The seats also provide a good amount of support if you cinch them tight.
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.
The Chinook Tandem is highly portable – it rolls up surprisingly well, easily fitting into the trunk of a small car, an RV or an option for vacation travel.
And at only $499, the Chinook Tandem is a truly versatile option featuring lots of amenities at an entry level price. For more details or to purchase, visit the AquaGlide Chinook Tandem product page at AirKayaks.com.
Need more info? Watch our YouTube video on the Chinook Tandem, below: