This year, Aquaglide – a division of North Sports – launched their inflatable kayak line with a series of 13 models. The Columbia line sports two high-pressure tandem models – the Columbia Two HB and the Columbia Tandem HB.
A popular question is – which one should I choose?
The Columbia Two HB (photo above) is a 13.5 foot touring model with a sleek silhouette and long waterline; the Columbia Tandem HB (photo below) is a 15 foot stretched-out version. While there are many similarities, some of the differences are quite subtle. Ultimately it comes down to a personal preference, so 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, splash decks, deck lacing, molded rubber handles, multiple d-rings, neoprene knuckleguards, velcro paddle holders, drain plugs, removable fin, foot braces and the same backpack.
Both the Columbia Two HB and Columbia Tandem HB utilize velcro floor strips and multiple d-rings to create infinite seating positions for one or two paddlers. And while they both sport an open design – making it easy to get in and out of – Aquaglide will be introducing single and double spray decks for the two models, allowing one to be in a more enclosed cockpit and utilize spray skirts.
At 13.5 feet in length with a weight of 44 lbs in the pack, the Columbia Two HB is lighterweight and shorter – easier to carry around solo in windy weather. It paddles well and has a great glide. With both seats positioned at their outer ranges, the Columbia 2 is a good tandem option for normal-sized adults, yet still is quite handle-able by one person as a solo. This is a great choice with people concerned about kayak size and weight, who don’t plan on long days of tandem touring, who want an open design yet the (upcoming) flexibility to be enclosed. As a solo with a 400 lbs capacity, it still has room for gear or a child/dog. And it costs slightly less.
The Columbia Tandem is 1.5 feet longer and weighs 5 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. As a tandem with a weight limit of 600 lbs, there is plenty of room for gear or – with the included third jumper seat -a third smaller being. Yet the Columbia Tandem is also versatile enough to be paddled by one.
We put the Columbia Two HB and Columbia Tandem HB 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.
We took measurements.
The Columbia Two HB had 32 inches from front seat back to the foot brace (this can be extended by removing the foot brace). There was 42 inches from front seat back to rear seat back, and 8 inches behind the seat before reaching the rear splash deck.
The Columbia Tandem also 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 extra 1.5 feet in the Columbia Tandem HB gets you another 8 inches of space between the seats, and 6 inches more rear storage space. Of course, the seats can be moved around for optimum seating based on paddler preference; this exercise was to outline the capacity limits. Both kayaks have the same amount of upper deck space and bungee lacing.
Bottom Line on the Columbia Two vs. Columbia Tandem Inflatable Kayaks
Columbia Two HB: Fast, sleek, good glide. Shorter, easier to haul around in wind, lighterweight. Enough room for two standard-sized adults and a small amount of gear, an adult with child or dog, or as a roomy single for large and small adults with plenty of room for gear. Slightly lower pricepoint of $899.
Columbia Tandem HB: Faster, sleeker, better glide, higher carrying capacity. Heavier, longer, harder to carry solo in windy conditions. More interior gear capacity – a couple more d-ring and cloth loop attachments. Good touring choice for day trips or extended excursions. Maximum versatility – it’s a good choice for two paddlers needing to bring along a child, dog or extra gear, or for two larger/taller adults as a tandem. Easily switches to a solo option with mega-room for equipment. Includes a third jumper seat. Slightly higher pricepoint at $999.
Of course, you can read all the details on each model. Check out our Detailed Product Review: Columbia Tandem HB Inflatable Kayak from AquaGlide. or the Detailed Product Review: Columbia Two HB Inflatable Kayak from AquaGlide.