This past week we received our first shipment of AquaGlide splash decks – optional accessories which can turn your AquaGlide kayak from an open design to an enclosed one or two seater. The decks can be used with the Chelan, Columbia XP and Columbia HB series inflatable kayaks.
There are two deck options in three lengths – a single for solo paddling and a double for tandem paddling – sized to fit the single, two and tandem sizes. The spray decks keep water and wind out during chilly or inclement weather, while the coaming tubes allow you to attach optional spray skirts for even more protection from the elements.
We initially looked at the Tandem spray decks, a single and a double-seater sized for the Columbia XP, Columbia HB and Chelan Tandem XLs.
Installing the AquaGlide Spray Decks
The decks are quite portable. They each arrive rolled up in separate, draw-string, carrying cases measuring 42 x 3 x 12 inches and weighing in at 9 lbs each. (AirKayaks note: As the cases are identical, you may want to mark them 1 and 2 for differentiation.)
Each deck comes with a repair kit and a set of 14 clips.
There are no instructions included, but once you get the hang of it, installing the decks is pretty simple. We began with the double deck.
Remove the deck from the bag, and drape it over the kayak, aligning ends with the raised visors. (AirKayaks note: As we learned the hard way, there is a right and wrong way to orient the decks. Make sure that the plastic zippering “map case” is positioned in the bow, and that the twistlok valves on each of the coaming areas are on the back side of each cockpit opening.)
With the kayak fully inflated, take each of the clips and attach them to the cloth d-rings, located 6 on each side, and one each on the front and back raised visors. To make things easy, the clips can be left in position – if you purchase both decks, you’ll then have one full extra set if any clips are lost.
The visor portion is quite simple, but not intuitive at glance. Roll over the deck bow so that it slips over the raised visor – repeat this in the stern.
You will notice that each of the d-rings lines up with velcro strips on the spray decks.
Run the velcro loops through the clips, and fasten shut, pulling slightly to make it taught.
Next, inflate the two coaming tube twistloks (1 per seat). The coaming tubes help deflect water, but also can be used to attach optional spray skirts. 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. As it only takes several puffs, it’s probably easiest to manually blow it up. Twist the lock shut.
Fasten the velcro flaps over the zipper on each coaming tube. Re-center the seats if necessary. And you’re done!
The single deck is installed in exactly the same manner, once again making sure the map case side is towards the bow. Clip the seat to the 3rd and 5th d-rings, cinch up the velcro strips, and inflate the coaming tube.
Features on the AquaGlide Tandem XL Decks
The AquaGlide decks are made from the same material as the Columbia series kayaks – a commercial grade Duratex hull material blended with a rugged 600 denier polyester.
The double deck measures 110 inches long and 43 inches wide, featuring two full aluminum risers that span the width of the deck, and four partial risers. The two full risers can be removed if one wants to fold the deck down into a smaller package for storage.
Zippered access to the snout measures 23 x 14 inches with a double pull and handle. A plastic zippering pocket to hold maps and small gear, measures 7.5 x 11 inches.
The front seating well is 11 inches deep and measures 35 x 23 inches at the widest point with a coaming perimeter approximately 100 inches. There is enough room to put a small pack in the snout, accessed via the zippering opening.
There are two sets of side velcro paddleholders.
The rear seating well is 14 inches deep and measures 35 x 22 inches at the widest point; the coaming perimeter is 101 inches.
The single deck is loaded with storage/attachment options. The deck features three full aluminum risers that span the width of the deck, and 3 partial risers. The full risers can be removed for easier storage.
Zippered access to the snout measures 23 x 14 inches with a double pull and handle. A plastic zippering pocket to hold maps and small gear, measures 7.5 x 11 inches. In front of the zippered access is a set of bungee deck lacing 12 inches by 12-13 inches wide.
There is 40 inches from the seat back to the map case, and 55 inches from the seat back to the bungee lacing.
The seating well is 13 inches deep and measures 35 x 22 inches at the widest point; the coaming perimeter is 99 inches.
There are two sets of side velcro paddleholders.
Directly behind the seat is another zippering compartment measuring 17 x 8 inches – this is particularly helpful if trying to access the rear interior d-rings. Another set of bungee deck lacing is located 17 inches behind the seat back, and measuring 12 x 15 inches.
Please note: We did not get a chance to take a look at the Chelan or Columbia Two or Solo versions; features listed above might not be the same.
Removing the Aquaglide Decks
Removing the decks is quite simple. Open up the twistlocks and un “velcro” the straps. Fold the deck in half and roll up – it will easily slip back into the carrying case.
AquaGlide Spray Decks on the water
We tested these out on the Chelan Tandem XL using the single deck option. The deck risers – in conjunction with the raised visors – sculpt the deck body so that water will not pool. AirKayaks note – as these are clipped into position, rather than zippered into position, water can still come in up the side chambers during rougher water.
The cockpit area is quite roomy. With the decks in place, we did notice using a “higher angle” paddling stance to clear the sides. While this does not seem to be a problem in the ProFormance seats with raised bases, we have not tested it out with the lower-profile Core seats.
AquaGlide Kayak Spray Decks – Bottom Line:
The new spray decks are a great addition, and really kick up the versatility of the Columbia and Chelan Tandem kayaks. The double deck features some “on top” storage options, while the single spray deck provides mega-opportunities for attaching gear – certainly great for long-term excursions. Paddlers will find the decks protect one from rain or too much sun, allow one to add an optional spray skirt, and provide ample space for storing gear (both undercover and on the hull).
Pricing on each of the decks is $129.95