This year, Aquaglide – a division of North Sports – launched their inflatable kayak line with a series of 13 models. Two of the high-end models – the Deschutes Tandem and the Columbia Tandem – are high-pressure versions that can be ulitized by 2+ paddlers.
We often get questions – which one should I choose?
The Columbia Tandem (photo above) is a 15 ft touring model with a sleek silhouette and long waterline, while the Deschutes Tandem (photo below) is a 12 ft recreational model built for comfort and stability. While they have many similarities, there are just as many differences. Ultimately your choice comes down to a personal preference, but here are some things to think about.
Both kayaks are made from the same materials, use the same valves and have the same 6-12 PSI high-pressure floor with 2 PSI side chambers. Both come with two ProFormance seats, fishing rod holders, spray decks, deck lacing, molded rubber handles, multiple d-rings, neoprene knuckleguards, velcro paddle holders, drain plugs, a third jumper seat, removable fin, foot braces and the same backpack. Both the Deschutes Tandem and Columbia Tandem have a carrying capacity of 600 lbs, and utilize velcro floor strips and multiple d-rings to create infinite seating positions for one or two paddlers while still leaving room enough for gear, a child or furry friend.
At 12 feet in length with a weight of 42 lbs in the pack, the Deschutes Tandem is lighterweight and shorter – easier to carry around solo in windy weather. The wider beam is slightly more stable, but it’s not quite as nimble. It paddles well, with less glide. This is a great choice with people concerned about kayak size and weight, who don’t plan on long days of touring, who want an open design and aren’t concerned about colders waters or wind, who want to have some fun on the water, or maybe a day of fishing, without sacrificing versatility – it can be paddled by one or two, yet still has room for gear or a third smaller being. And it costs slightly less.
The Columbia Tandem is 3 feet longer and weighs 7 lbs more (15 feet and 49 lbs). The long waterline makes it a great choice for extended (and short) range touring. It paddles well and has great glide. There is plenty of room for gear or a third smaller being, yet is versatile enough to be paddled by one. While it sports an open design – making it easy to get in and out of – Aquaglide will be introducing single and double spray decks, allowing one to be in a more enclosed cockpit and utilize spray skirts.
We put the Columbia and Deschutes Tandems next to each other to get a better feel. We set them up, mid-handle to mid-handle, and positioned each of the rear seats back as far as they would go, and the two front seats at the same spots in the kayaks. We then placed the front foot braces as far up as they would go. (AirKayaks note: We did not have four of the ProFormance seats available at the time of the photos below. So we put two Whitewater seats in the front to set up the Tandems.)
We took measurements.
The Columbia Tandem had 32 inches from front seat back to the front foot brace (this can be extended a couple of inches by removing the brace). There was 50 inches from front seat back to rear seat back, and 14 inches behind the rear seat before reaching the rear splash deck.
The Deschutes Tandem had 43 inches from front seat back to the front foot brace. There was 54 inches from front seat back to rear seat back, with no open room behind the rear seat (there is some interior room).
Despite the extra 3 ft length in the Columbia Tandem, the Deschutes Tandem has more interior space. The Columbia’s streamlined snout tapers down dramatically from a wide center point to nearly nothing, decreasing the amount of usable interior – but aiding in performance. This also provides more exterior storage as both bow and stern splash guards have deck lacing. The more “oval” shape of the Deschutes gives a wider beam for a longer amount of the kayak, thus providing a bit more paddling room width when taken out tandem. But it has less exterior storage with only deck lacing on the front splash guard.
Of course, the seats can be moved around for optimum seating based on paddler preference; this exercise was to outline the capacity limits.
Bottom Line on the Columbia vs. Deschutes Tandem inflatable Kayaks
AquaGlide Columbia Tandem: Faster, sleeker, better glide. Open design with ability to use upcoming optional single and double spray decks. Heavier, longer. More exterior gear capacity. Good touring choice. Slightly higher pricepoint at $999
Aquaglide Deschutes Tandem: Not as fast, more stable. Open design with roomier interior. Shorter, easier to haul around in wind, lighter-weight. Good recreational or fishing choice. Slightly lower price point at $899.
Of course, you can read all the details on each model. Check out our Detailed Product Review: Columbia Tandem Inflatable Kayak from AquaGlide and the Detailed Product Review: Deschutes Tandem Inflatable Kayak from AquaGlide.