We continue with our series on the new Aquaglide line of inflatable kayaks. Our first several reviews focused on the Chinook price-point line, then moved to the flagship Columbia line of high pressure inflatable touring kayaks. This was followed by the Deschutes line of high-pressure, recreational models for 1 to 2+ paddlers.
The first Deschutes review was on the Tandem HB, a 12-foot long inflatable kayak designed for one or two paddlers, with extra space for gear, child or pet. We now follow-up with the Deschutes Two HB, (shown above) a smaller 10-foot long inflatable kayak with multiple seating locations, allowing it to be paddled by one or two persons. (Please note: some of the information will be repeated from other writeups.)
Getting Started with the Aquaglide Deschutes HB Two:
We unpacked the box and laid out the pieces – inflatable kayak, backpack, instructions, repair kit, foot braces, tracking fin and two seats.
Initial measurements showed the kayak body weighs approximately 27 lbs, with a backpack size roughly 27 x 23 x 14 inches. The kayak with seats, fin and braces – all in the backpack – weighs 38 lbs. Boxed up, the dimensions are 36 x 24 x 14 inches with a shipping weight of 49 lbs. Folded, the kayak body is 27 x 22 x 6 inches.
We were able to get everything, including an optional pump, into the backpack. Paddles can be placed in the side mesh pocket.
(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 two inflation chambers utilizing Boston valves – the two side chambers – while the high-pressure floor features a military valve. There are two more small chambers with twistlock valves, for the seat bases. The floor is pumped up first.
The military-style plunger valve is simple to use – with your finger, twist the plunger slightly to the “up” position to inflate (air goes in but doesn’t come back out) and “down” to deflate (air comes out).
The Deschutes Two HB floor requires a military valve adaptor, which does not come with most standard pumps. Here is where we came to our first issue – no military valve adaptor was included. We were aware of this from our previous writeups on the Columbia series, and pulled one out of our parts box. (AirKayaks note #2: As previously mentioned, we spoke with AquaGlide. The first couple of shipments did not include the adaptor, but subsequent shipments will. We did obtain a number of fittings that we will be including with the first shipments.) Lock the adaptor onto the military valve with a slight twist, and push the conical adaptor in to friction fit the two. Since the main chambers are inflated to 2 PSI, it is helpful to use a pump with pressure gauge to ensure the kayak is inflated appropriately.
The floor is held in place with one adjustable, velcro strap. From our prior experience, we found it best to loosen up the straps, otherwise the floor could be inflated “lopsided.” Pump up the floor to at least 6 PSI – this took us about 40 complete pumps with a double action pump. While the instructions say it can be inflated up to 12 PSI, at 6 PSI it is extremely rigid; most people will not need it to be higher than this. Inspect the floor to see that it is centered evenly in the kayak cover, and then tighten the strap. Replace the valve cap cover.
Move on to the side chambers, which use two Boston valves. 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 #3: 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. Also make sure the ring plate or “base” ring is also screwed on tightly.)
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.
The instructions suggest pumping up each side about one-third, working back and forth to prevent twisting. We pumped up the side chambers about 20 strokes each side, and then pulled on the sides and front spray deck to straighten everything out, and make sure the bladders were centered over the floor. Another 12 pumps each side, again pulling and straightening. A final 7 strokes each side brought us to 2 PSI – the kayak felt nice and firm.
(AirKayaks side note #4: 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 seats – these stay in position utilizing velcro and adjustable side straps. First, inflate the seat base. The Pro-Formance seat uses a twistlock valve. The Boston valve adaptor will not friction fit over the twistlok so you will have to do one of three things – have another paddler hold the valve over the twistlock; carefully negotiate holding the adaptor and twistlock together with one hand while pumping with the other; or give up and blow it up with your mouth.
For starters, position the the back of the rear seat as far back as you can (seat back almost to the back visor) and the back of the front seat lined up with front of the side handles; this can be fine-tuned later. Attach the front seat quick-connect clips to the 1st and 3rd set of d-rings (metal clips to the first, plastic to the third). Take the rear seat and clip the front connects to the 4th set of d-rings, and the rear straps to the 6th set; once you get into the kayak, you can tighten up the side straps until you reach the support level that is comfortable for you. If solo paddling, position the seat so you are just 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.
As a last check, make sure the side drain plugs are screwed in tightly, otherwise water will seep in.
That’s it! You’re ready to paddle in less than 10 minutes.
Features and Specifications on the Aquaglide Deschutes Two HB Inflatable Kayak
The Deschutes Two HB is constructed with four molded carrying handles (bow, stern and both sides), but – if not in a windy situation – can also be carried by hooking the side of the kayak over your shoulder.
Two spray decks – front and rear – extend partly over the seating well and help prevent water from splashing in. The front deck has a bungee deck lacing, measuring 10 inches deep by 12 inches, tapering to three. The front deck extends 22 inches with raised visor, while the back extends 19 inches with no visor.
Padded neoprene “knuckle guards” run 57 x 6 inches on each side chamber, with two sets of velcro paddle holders – one on each side.
There are twelve inner plastic d-rings, six on each side for attaching gear as well as the seats (one set is hidden under the rear splash deck). These begin 32 inches back from the bow, and are spaced 11 to 16 inches apart.
Two Boston valves with retaining rings are used on the side chambers, a military valve for the floor, and two twistlocks for the seat bases.
The padded, inflatable Pro-Formance seat features adjustable side straps which quickly clip into position (Airkayaks note: the metal clips go towards the front, the plastic clips toward the rear). The straps can be adjusted up to 15 inches. The seat back is 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. Two mesh pockets and two side d-rings are found on the front of the seat base, as well as a velcro strip for attaching an optional cup holder.
The seat bases are 16 inches wide by 16 inches deep and can be inflated up to 5 inches, dependent on your comfort level. The backs are 12 inches tall in a 1-inch thick padded foam with “breathable” mesh, encircling 26-inches wide. A velcro tab locks the twist-lok into position so it doesn’t accidentally “get bumped” while paddling.
The floor is constructed from a 6-12 PSI high-pressure, drop-stitch material, and is designed as “raised seating,” creating two 3″ deep side-well cutouts that collect any water splashing inside; each side-well has a drain plug (not to be confused with self-bailing) which can be opened to let water out.
Two 75-inch velcro strips are centered 3 inches apart on the floor, and are used to position the seats and foot braces.
The foot braces are padded – 10 x 3 inches long – with extending strips 8 inches in length.
The backpack is quite roomy. Two-way zippers run along three sides, allowing the pack to be completely opened for easy access and stowage. Top, side and rear carrying handles provide a myriad of handling options, as well as two padded, adjustable backpack shoulder straps. A drawstring mesh pocket, approximately 14 x 18 inches deep, is perfect for storing a hand pump. Two adjustable cinch straps allow one to tighten the pack. Pack measurements are approximately 28 inches wide x 15 inches deep x 26 inches tall.
The kayak body consists of two inflatable 24-gauge PVC bladders (both sides) 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 two landing plates.
The tracking fin is hefty, measuring 5 x 12 inches with locking pin.
We did measurement tests. The Deschutes Two HB kayak inflated is 9′ 11″ long and approximately 37 inches wide (specs say 10 ft x 34 inches wide.) The side bladders are roughly 10 inches in diameter, making the sides roughly 9 inches above the seating area. Interior dimensions are approximately 100 inches long by approximately 16-17 inches, fairly evenly down the body of the kayak.
Dependent on where the seats are positioned (we’ll use the layout mentioned above), set up as a tandem, there is approximately 34 inches from the front seat back to the furthest position of the brace, with an additional 12 inches if you don’t use the brace. The back of the rear seat has about 5 inches open to the visor, with roughly 12 inches more under the visor. There is 38 inches from seat-back to seat back, in between. All this can be repositioned.
When paddling solo, attach the seat just rear of center (line up the front of the seat to the front of the side handles for starters) and attach to the 2nd and 4th d-rings. This gives roughly 59 inches from the seat back to the inner snout (49″ from seat back to the furthest brace position), and roughly 38 inches behind the seat – 10″ of that measurement is under the spray deck. Once again, all can be repositioned. Weight limitations are 400 lbs for person and gear.
AquaGlide Deschutes Two HB on the Water.
We each took out the Deschutes Two HB solo in fairly calm water.
My husband took the kayak out first. At 6′ 2″ in height, the kayak was roomy enough for him. He thought it paddled well, with some wag in the front – this could be decreased with some more evenly dispersed weight. It was easy to get in and out, and he was able to stand up without flipping the kayak. At his taller size, he felt he “might” be able to include a small child or dog, but was not certain. It certainly was roomy enough to carry some gear.
I then took the Deschutes Two out for a spin alone. At my height of 5′ 4 inches, it was quite spacious, well made, and rigid. I also felt it was a bit “drifty” and could use a bit more weight in the front. But it was easy to paddle, stable (I also stood up in it) and turns on a dime. And there was plenty of room for me and a small person or dog.
We then tried the Deschutes Two HB as a tandem. While it was manageable for me in front, my husband’s knees were bent so high that it impacted the ability to paddle. Our thoughts are that two small adults – my size and less – should be fine, but any larger should consider the 12 foot Deschutes Tandem.
Lastly, I took the Deschutes Two out in pretty choppy water. Even in a brisk wind, it is easy to carry due to the smaller footprint. While it rides over the waves well, I did struggle a little more and paddled harder – weight in the front would certainly help this.
To test out this theory, I brought along my furry paddling buddy, Woody. Bingo, his added front weight of 40 lbs evened the load, translating to smoother paddling. The materials were rugged enough that I had no worries about sharp claws, and the kayak was stable enough to handle constant jumping without a hitch.
Deflation is simple – just open the valves. The kayak is very easy to fold up, and actually rolls up to a much smaller package than one would imagine possible. The bag is spacious enough to carry the seats, braces and a pump, and opens wide enough to easily get the kayak back into the pack.
Bottom line on the AquaGlide Deschutes Two HB Inflatable Kayak
The Deschutes Two HB is a good, recreational inflatable kayak – particularly for those paddling solo and needing room for gear, for two small adults, or for an adult and child/dog. Larger paddlers needing a tandem option would be happier with the Columbia Two HB or the Deschutes Tandem HB.
The open cockpit design will appeal to those who are uncomfortable being enclosed, paddlers who need easy entry and exit (such as seniors or those with physical limitations), those in need of a quick dip on a hot summer day, and kayakers who do not require decked options due to rough waters, or cold weather.
Numerous “attentions to detail” have been incorporated, such as fishing rod holders, multiple d-rings, drain plugs, paddle holders, deck lacing and infinite seating positions. When cinched, the seat back provides a good amount of support, while the inflatable seat base is a real plus, allowing one to vary inflation pressures. It also quickly converts from tandem to solo paddling.
The wider body on the Deschutes makes this a good recreational kayak, for those that don’t plan on long hauls. The shorter length – and lighter weight – will appeal to those looking for ease and simplicity. And it’s extremely maneuverable, opening up the possibility of some light white water, though it is not self-bailing.
The high-pressure floor – in conjunction with the all-over wider beam – provides extreme rigidity and excellent stability.
This is a great option for solo fishing, with room for gear, and it’s a good choice for rivers through class II, lakes, coastal paddling and inlets.
The Deschutes Two HB is highly portable – it rolls up surprisingly well and can fit into the trunk of a small car or an RV. By separating components, it could also qualify for check-on luggage for vacation travel.
Street price is $799. For more details or to purchase, visit the AquaGlide Deschutes Two HB product page at AirKayaks.com. Stay tuned, we’ll have the Deschutes Two HB video out within a couple of weeks.