Earlier this year we posted details on Aquaglide’s inflatable kayak and paddle board product line for 2020, which included the introduction of seven new models, a facelift for three models and the retirement of 6 models.
This past week, the first of the new products began to arrive. Our initial choice for review was the Deschutes 110, an open-style, 11-foot inflatable kayak designed for solo paddling. (Please note: some of the information will be repeated from other writeups.)
Getting Started with the Aquaglide Deschutes 110
We unpacked the box and laid out the pieces – inflatable kayak body, backpack, instructions, repair kit, tracking fin, seat, valve adaptor and a plastic splash guard. First thing to note – the kayak is nicely packaged with bubble wrap protecting valves, handles, etc. Also to note – the repair kit features generous-sized repair patches, a valve wrench and glue.
Initial measurements showed the kayak body weighs approximately 18.8 lbs with the seat adding another 2 lbs. The kayak with seat and fin – all in the backpack – weighs 24.45 lbs. Backpack size is roughly 27 x 22 x 18 inches, which can be cinched down. All boxed up, the dimensions are 31 x 18 x 14 inches with a shipping weight of 32 lbs. We were able to get everything – plus a pump and paddle – into the pack.
(AirKayaks Side note #1: When initially removing the kayak from the carrying case, take a good look at how the kayak is folded.)
While familiar with most of the Aquaglide products, we began by reading the included instructions. Here we came to our first issue – the instructions are pretty sketchy for new users. This is compounded by the manual layout in which each section is first written in English, then up-to 17 different languages (including Bulgarian and Estonian), before you get to the next English section. The inflation instructions start on page 16.
Set up is straight-forward and simple – unpack, unfold, inflate.
The instructions say to put the valve in the closed position and to pump up the sides to 3 PSI – but there is no diagram or explanation of what “closed” means.
For those unfamiliar, the military-style plunger valve is simple to use – with your finger, twist the plunger slightly up to the “closed” position to inflate (air goes in but doesn’t come back out) and “down” to deflate or open (air comes out).
The Deschutes 110 military valves require a special adaptor, which is found in the repair kit. The Aquaglide military adaptor couples to the valve with a Boston valve adaptor; this is a common fitting, slightly conical and about 1/2 inch thick. Friction fit the adaptor onto the Boston valve fitting, then attach the fitting to the military valve with a slight twist. It is helpful to use a pump with pressure gauge to ensure the kayak is inflated appropriately.
We closed the valve, attached the pump and began to inflate. It took 34 strokes with a double-action hand pump to reach 3 PSI on one side. This is where we came to our second issue – the hose popped off the friction fit adaptor, and all the air swhooshed out.
AirKayaks Note: The military valve adaptor has a bar across the inside, which pushes open the spring valve, allowing pressure gauges to take a reading. While this is great when working correctly, if you haven’t securely coupled the military adaptor to the Boston valve fitting, the hose can blow off, allowing all the air to escape. If you experience this, recouple the adaptors, pressing on tightly, and make sure you do not pull on the hose to remove the fitting, but twist off the adaptor from the valve. This can also be rectified by gluing the adaptor onto the Boston valve fitting, or roughing up the BV fitting surface so there is “more grab.”
We then inflated the second main tube. Here, we decided to test out our favorite new gadget, the Kokopelli Feather pump. The feather pump is a very small (fits in your palm), rechargeable 12-volt battery that can inflate and deflate.
While it does not have enough torque to open the valve, we put the valve in the open position, held the Feather over the valve and let it rip. After 40 seconds, the tube had fairly much filled out, so we quickly twisted the plunger to the closed position (air doesn’t come back out). We then topped it off to 3 PSI with 10 quick pumps using the hand pump. Very nice! See our detailed review on the Feather pump.
We then inflated the third chamber – the thwart – to 2.5 PSI with a quick 5 pumps.
Next attach the seat – this stays in position utilizing velcro strips on the floor and adjustable side straps. There is one set of d-rings just before the side handles. The seat features clips that quickly connect to the d-rings, which then can be adjusted tighter for firmer support.
AirKayaks note: The instructions have a misprint – or rather a missing word – on the seat position. It should say for solo paddling, the seat should be placed just rear of center for best boat balance. But, this is somewhat of a moot point due to the location of the fixed thwart.
Position the seat back a few inches from the thwart and attach the clips – taller paddlers may want to position the seat all the way to the thwart.
Now install the unmarked plastic splash guard – which is not mentioned in the instructions. This is meant to stiffen the front visor.
You will notice there is a velcroed flap on the underside of the visor – pull this open, and insert each side of the plastic strip into the two side pockets, then refasten the velcro, securing the strip.
The last step is to attach the removable tracking fin, which enhances paddling/tracking in deeper water.
Make sure the fin is pointing towards the rear of the kayak, then insert the front of the fin into the groove, pushing back and down, until the hole in the fin plate lines up with the hole in the fin.
At this point, push the quick-release fin pin (attached to the fin by a cord) through the hole to secure the fin. Pull up on the fin to make sure you have it locked in position.
As a last check, make sure the drain plug – located inside the back well of the kayak, is screwed in tightly, otherwise water will seep in.
That’s it! Quick and easy, just over 5 minutes and you’re ready to paddle.
Features and Specifications on the Aquaglide Deschutes 110 Inflatable Kayak
The Deschutes 110 is constructed with four molded carrying handles (bow, stern and both sides), but can very easily be carried by hooking the side of the kayak over your shoulder. The side handles are located roughly 65 inches from the kayak snout.
The bow and stern of the kayak feature beefed-up nose cones.
Two splash decks – front and rear – extend partly over the seating well and help prevent water from splashing in. Each has a bungee deck-lacing system for attaching gear. Each deck extends over the seating well roughly 32-33 inches and features 10 soft cloth loops with deck-lacing approximately 20 inches long by 17 inches wide tapering to 4 inches.
The front splash deck features a 5 inch splash guard to help prevent water coming over the deck. There is one more cloth d-ring centered on the bow and stern decks, which can be used to attach gear.
There are two plastic d-rings (one each side) just forward of the side handles, and are used to attach the seat and possibly gear; these are positioned 57 inches from the snout.
There are three military valves for the two side chambers and the thwart.
The Deschutes series features a modified Core 2 seat – basically a stripped-down cross between Aquaglide’s Pro-formance seat (found in the Chelans) and the Core seat (found on the Chinooks). The new Core 2 has a padded, mesh-covered back for breathability, and a padded seat base. There are two side straps with quick-connect clips and adjustable strap lengths. The seat base is 15 x 15.5 inches with two inches of padding. The seat back is 13 inches tall with a 26″ wrap-around back, 1 inch thick. Two velcro strips on the floor and seat base keep the seat from slipping out of position. There are no storage options on the seat back, but possibly one could connect something to the seat buckles. The side straps can be adjusted about 11 inches, with an extra 5 inches of strap left when the seat is positioned fully against the thwart.
The floor in the seating area is constructed from a 1/2 inch grooved, closed-cell EVA foam which is laminated/adhered to the hull; it is not removable or inflatable. The narrow grooves create some grip when entering the kayak, as well as letting small amounts of water to run down the gunnels.
A rigid thwart bar is located on the floor, and could be used as a foot brace. The thwart bar, thwart and laminated EVA foam (termed the Feather Frame) work together to create a lightweight, simple-to-set-up hull that can be easily rolled up, yet still provides a fair amount of rigidity.
An 8-inch diameter inflatable thwart is permanently fixed between the two side chambers. It is positioned 80 inches from the kayak nose and 46 inches from the tail.
Deep inside the rear well is one floor drain plug (not to be confused with self-bailing) which can be unscrewed/opened to let water out.
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 features tubeless, welded, side chambers constructed from 1000 denier 850 GSM Duratex reinforced PVC with a smooth finish.
The hull is a rugged, puncture-resistant 500 denier 600G Duratex reinforced PVC with removable tracking fin and 16-inch landing plate.
The tracking fin is hefty, measuring 5 x 11 inches with a quick-release locking pin.
We did measurement tests. The kayak inflated is just about 11 feet long from end cap to end cap, and approximately 37.5 inches wide (specs say 11 ft x 34 inches wide.) The side bladders are roughly 9.5 inches in diameter, making the sides roughly 9.5 inches above the seating area.
Interior dimensions are approximately 122 inches long by approximately 18 inches at the widest point.
The fixed thwart creates a rear well that is 42 inches long, roughly 17 inches wide tapering down to nothing; 13 inches behind the thwart is open, with the covered area about 7.5 inches deep in headroom.
Dependent on where the seat is positioned (we put it a couple inches from the thwart), there is roughly 70 inches from the front seat back to the interior snout (29 inches of this is covered deck) or 36 inches to the front “floor bar”. There is 19 inches from the seat back to the rear deck lacing.
Weight limitation is 300 lbs for person and gear.
Deschutes 110 on the water
We took the Deschutes 110 out for a spin a couple of times.
The first time was in slightly choppy water. At my height of 5′ 4″, the kayak felt pretty rugged, solid and rode over the waves well. The kayak had good glide, was very maneuverable and very zippy, though slightly “drifty” in the snout; possibly weight would even this out. As the kayak has more beam than the stated specs (37.5″ rather than 34 inches). I did feel the kayak was slightly wider than optimum – possibly a cushion under the seat or a longer paddle would help. (AirKayaks Update: I did try using the Aquaglide Pro-Formance Seat with inflatable base, as well as a 240cm paddle. The Pro-Formance seat inflated made the center of gravity higher, and thus the kayak felt slightly tippy/unbalanced. The longer 240cm (rather than the standard 230cm) paddle worked best.)
The second time was in calm water, and this time I put a pack under the front deck. The added weight slowed down the kayak slightly, but also improved the tracking.
The floor bar worked fairly well as a foot brace for my height.
The seat was comfortable and provided good support, but it is to be noted there are no storage options on the seat back. There are minimal d-rings on the kayak itself and both the front and rear bungee systems are quite far from the paddler, so slightly inconvenient to access. This would be a good candidate for some aftermarket d-rings, which are pretty easy to install. Read our write up on installing d-rings on an Aquaglide paddle board.
Besides providing more storage area, the rear well behind the seat could easily fit a small to medium-sized dog; the Duratex material is rugged enough to deflect claws.
While the floor felt slightly “gooshy” when getting into the kayak, once on the water it felt surprisingly rigid – in fact, I was able to stand up fairly well despite the fact there was not a high-pressure floor, in fact no inflatable floor at all!
My husband then took the Deschutes out for a spin. The open cockpit allowed him to easily get in and out without feeling cramped, and he found it to paddle very well without experiencing the “drift.” At his height of 6’2″, his legs were too long to utilize the floor bar as a foot rest, but his feet fit over it and he did not notice this as an issue. He also felt it was slightly wide.
One thing to note – the decks dip slightly, which can allow water to pool. While I did not notice water coming into the kayak, if this becomes an issue, a pool noodle underneath – or a pack – would lift the deck allowing water to run off.
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. The bag is spacious enough to carry the seat, a pump and paddle, and opens wide enough to easily get the kayak back into the pack.
Bottom line on the AquaGlide Deschutes 110
The Deschutes 110 is a minimalist that fills a gap in the Aquaglide product line – it’s a no-fuss, simple, easy to set up and quick-to-breakdown, lightweight, recreational kayak. It paddles well and is very maneuverable.
With a “tubeless” construction, the kayak is lighter than those with removable bladders, and less likely to have twisting problems during setup. There are no neoprene knuckleguards or paddleholders, but the Duratex smooth skin is less abrasive to touch and makes drying time much quicker.
The two deck lacing systems can be used to carry a fair amount of gear, as well as the two “under the deck” open areas.
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), or those in need of a quick dip on a hot summer day.
The laminated floor and integrated thwart provide rigidity, without the added time time or expense of an inflatable floor.
The tracking fin increases the handling performance. It’s a good choice for slow-moving rivers, lakes and coastal kayaking, or for some surf or light whitewater – probably through Class II.
Breakdown is just as simple. Drying time is improved by the Duratex smooth-skin, as well as the fact there are minimal areas for water to hide. It rolls up quickly and surprisingly well, easily fitting into the trunk of a small car, an RV or an option for vacation travel.
The Deschutes comes in two other sizes.
Larger paddlers may want to take a look at the Deschutes 130. With a 13 foot waterline and, 39″ width, the Deschutes 130 is capable of carrying 400 lbs. MSRP is $699.99. See our detailed product review on the Deschutes 130.
More questions? Feel free to Contact Us or give us a call at 707-998-0135. You can watch two videos on the Aquaglide Deschutes below: