As posted earlier this year, Aquaglide’s inflatable kayak and paddle board product line for 2020 underwent a major makeover, with the introduction of seven new models, a facelift for three models and the retirement of 6 models.
As some of the new products have arrived, we’ve begun a series on the new Deschutes models. Our first two reviews included the Deschutes 110 and Deschutes 130, so we finish up our series with the Deschutes 145, an open-style, 14.5 foot inflatable kayak designed for tandem paddling. (Please note: some of the information will be repeated from other writeups.)
Getting Started with the Aquaglide Deschutes 145
The kayak is nicely packaged with bubble wrap protecting valves, handles, etc. We unpacked the box and laid out the pieces – inflatable kayak body, backpack, instructions, repair kit, tracking fin, two seats, valve adaptor and a plastic splash guard. The repair kit features generous-sized repair patches, a valve wrench and glue.
Initial measurements showed the kayak body weighs approximately 26 lbs with the seats adding another 4 lbs (2 lbs each). The kayak with seats and fin – all in the backpack – weighs 34 lbs. Folded size of the kayak body is 26 x 22 x 9 inches. Backpack size is roughly 27 x 23 x 18 inches, which can be cinched down. All boxed up, the dimensions are 30 x 28 x 16 inches with a shipping weight of 45 lbs. It’s a squeeze, but if you fully deflate the kayak you can get optional paddles and pump 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.)
The Deschutes 145 comes with an instruction manual, but as previously mentioned, the instructions aren’t detailed enough 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 are no details explaining this in the instructions.
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 145 military valves require a special adaptor, which is found in the repair kit. It must be friction-fit to 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 60 strokes with a double-action hand pump to reach 3 PSI on one side.
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 again 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 42 seconds, the tube had fairly much filled out (you can hear a change in the motor), 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 15 quick pumps using the hand pump – quite a time and energy saver! See our detailed review on the Feather pump.
We then inflated the third and fourth chambers – the thwarts – to 2.5 PSI with a quick 5 pumps each.
Next attach the seats – these stay in position utilizing velcro strips on the floor and adjustable side straps. There are two sets of d-rings on the main tubes. The seats feature clips that quickly connect to the d-rings, which then can be adjusted tighter for firmer support.
Position the seat backs at the thwarts and attach the clips.
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 down and back, until the hole in the fin plate lines up with the hole in the fin.
Then 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 under 10 minutes and you’re ready to paddle.
Features and Specifications on the Aquaglide Deschutes 145 Inflatable Kayak
The Deschutes 145 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 88 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. The front deck extends 36 inches over the seating well. The bungee system features 10 soft cloth loops with deck-lacing approximately 24 inches long by 15 inches wide tapering to 3 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 deck, which can be used to attach gear.
The rear deck extends 28 inches, with 8 soft cloth loops, a bungee system measuring 13 inches by 13 to 5 inches, and another centered cloth loop.
There are two sets of plastic d-rings (two each side) on the main tube for seat attachment; these are positioned 60 and 109 inches from the nose (64 inches from the stern).
There are four military valves for the two side chambers and the two thwarts.
The Deschutes series feature a modified Core 2 seat – basically a stripped-down cross between Aquaglide’s Pro-formance seat (found on 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 6 inches forward of the thwart, based on the d-ring positions.
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 front foot brace. The thwart bar, thwarts 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.
Two 8-inch diameter inflatable thwarts ares permanently fixed between the two side chambers. The front thwart is positioned 76 inches from the kayak nose and the rear thwart is 40 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 14 feet 8 inches long from end cap to end cap, and approximately 39 inches wide midcenter, expanding to 40 inches wide towards the stern. The side bladders are roughly 10 inches in diameter, making the sides roughly 10 inches above the seating area.
Interior dimensions are approximately 130 inches long by approximately 20+ inches at the widest point.
Dependent on where the seats are positioned (we put them against the thwarts), there is roughly 70 inches from the front seat back to the interior snout (30 inches of this is covered deck) or 40 inches to the front “floor bar”, with 39 inches from the bar to the interior snout (this could be used for storage). Interior width for the front paddler is 18 inches and head room under the deck is roughly 8 inches.
There are 41 inches from the rear seat back to the first thwart, which can be used as a foot rest/brace, with roughly 21.5 inches of interior width.
The back fixed thwart creates a rear well that is 35 inches long to the interior tail, roughly 18 inches wide tapering down to nothing; 12 inches behind the thwart is open, with the covered area about 7.5 inches deep in headroom.
As there are minimal d-rings, storage options are limited to the front and rear deck lacing. The front lacing is 40 inches from the front paddler, and the rear lacing is 27 inches from the rear paddler.
Weight limitation is 600 lbs for person and gear.
Aquaglide Deschutes 145 on the water
We took the Deschutes 145 out for a spin a couple of times.
The first time was in mild chop. Both of us felt the Deschutes 145 paddled well, felt rugged, and rode over the swells easily. While not quite as maneuverable as the smaller Deschutes, it still handled very well and had a good glide. The seats provided good support, further enhanced if placed against the thwarts.
At 5’4″, sitting in the front was comfortable and I was able to use the floor thwart bar as a foot rest. My 6’2″ husband was in the back. While he was not uncomfortable, with the seat all the way back to the thwart, his knees were somewhat bent.
We were using a mixed pair of 230 and 240cm paddles, and both seemed adequate in length.
The next day was very calm. After eyeing the size of the kayak, I decided to try it out solo. I sat in the back seat, with a 240 cm paddle. Despite the long length and very fixed seating positions, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it actually paddled well. Despite the nose positioned fairly high out of the water, the kayak had a pretty good glide, was maneuverable and tracking was pretty straight. By scooting up a tiny bit, I was able to use the front thwart as a brace.
I then tried standing up in the kayak – while the floor had a slight ripple, I was able to stand up fairly easily.
While the seats are comfortable and provide good support, there are no storage options on the seat back. With minimal d-rings on the kayak itself and both the front and rear bungee systems located some distance from the paddlers, accessing gear is a little difficult. 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.
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, simply fold it in half (or bring the sides into each other) and roll it up.
Bottom line on the AquaGlide Deschutes 145
Like its two smaller siblings, the Deschutes 145 is a no-fuss, simple, easy to set up and quick-to-breakdown, lightweight, recreational kayak for two. It paddles well and is very maneuverable, and also gets to pinch-hit as a solo kayak with PLENTY of room for gear.
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. While the storage areas are fairly far from the paddlers, the addition of after-market d-rings would really enhance the kayak.
The fixed thwart positions could be limiting to some taller paddlers – for ultimate comfort, the Deschutes 145 is probably best for small to average sized adults. As it can be paddled solo, this would also be a candidate for an adult with child or dog.
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 thwarts 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.
Street price is $799.99. For more details or to purchase, visit the AquaGlide Deschutes 145 product page at AirKayaks.com.
The Deschutes comes in two other sizes for solo paddling.
Smaller paddlers, or those needing less space, may want to take a look at the Deschutes 110. With a 11 foot waterline and, 37.5″ width, the Deschutes 110 is capable of carrying 300 lbs. See our detailed writeup on the Aquaglide Deschutes 110. MSRP is $599.99
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. and offers huge amounts of storage space. See our detailed writeup on the Aquaglide Deschutes 130. MSRP is $699.99
Stay tuned, we’ll have our own Deschutes 145 video out within a couple of weeks, as well as a comparison of the Deschutes 110 versus the Deschutes 130. More questions? Feel free to contact us or give us a call at 707-998-0135. In the interim, you can watch this video on the Aquaglide Deschutes 145: