Careful at first with inflatable kayaks, I quickly became a convert after using the Aquaglide Deschutes tandem kayak.
After moving to a house near a few rivers in Minneapolis, my wife and I began looking for a kayak. First we had to choose between two single kayaks or a tandem kayak. I was fine with a tandem kayak as long as we found one that didn't suffer from solo paddling performance.
When I realized that this was a big question, I started researching.
I didn't even look at inflatable kayaks. Particularly with a desire to paddle efficiently, I just thought it was too much to ask of a weak dinghy. I looked and looked at tandem kayaks on the internet. While there were options out there, I just couldn't get over the weight of rotomolded kayaks – most around 70 pounds and some over 90 pounds.
These weights approximate canoe weights and I prefer a kayak for speed, maneuverability and portability. Then I came across Aquaglide's new range of kayaks.
In summary: The Deschutes 145 far exceeded my expectations. The lightweight – 27 pounds! – Watercraft are easy to set up, a breeze and extremely powerful for both Class I and shallow water. It can also be rolled up in a tote bag, which is easy to check at the airport and at 800 dollarsthe Deschutes won't break the bank.
Aquaglide Deschutes 145 tandem kayak rating
Setup & What's Included?
The Deschutes 145 inflatable kayak comes in a 30 x 28 x 16 inch box and includes the kayak, two seats, a storage backpack, a quick release fin and a patch kit. A pump is required to properly inflate the boat and is not included. Aquaglide sold a couple of pumpsor visit your local outdoor dealer.
Note: Make sure you have a pump with a meter. The Deschutes 145 has psi inflation recommendations for each inflatable section. For the best paddling performance, choose the Psi correctly.
When I first set it up it took me about 10 minutes. After a few uses, I now have about 4 minutes to set up. Just lay out the deflated kayak and pump air into the sidewalls and then the bumpers.
Next, install both seats. Each seat has two Velcro lines that match the corresponding Velcro lines on the floor. But there are also left and right straps that are attached to the side walls so that you can adjust the tension of the backrests. That's it!
The Deschutes 145 boat becomes extremely stiff when fully inflated and therefore feels incredibly similar to a standard kayak when paddling. With its installed quick release fin, it can be followed very well in shallow water. When the kayak is removed it reacts surprisingly quickly and can be maneuvered in narrow channels.
When paddling in shallow water, you will need to install the quick release fin. If you need optimal maneuverability in winding or narrow rivers (or if you know you are in shallow water), leave the fin off.
In addition, there are some drain plugs on the back and front of the kayak. When paddling in shallow water, these must be securely closed. If you encounter small rapids and need to quickly drain off incoming water, these can be loosened.
Tandem paddle test
We paddled a few times on a lake, a few times in various shallow and narrow city streams, and once on a wide and slow moving river. We also have plans to hit some faster, bigger water, which will make for an interesting test.
Once in the water, I really forgot that I was in an inflatable kayak. The stiffness is similar to a whitewater raft, meaning that it is taut but also flexible to go up and down rapids. The EVA floor is also flexible, but more rigid than an inflatable floor. I found it comfortable and didn't notice any problems when we moved.
My wife and I sat comfortably in our seats and paddled a straight line with ease thanks to the quick release fin. The kayak is a bit wide (40 inches) so sometimes we would bump our paddles against the side walls because our seats were deep in the boat. Ultimately, however, this wasn't a huge problem.
The front paddler has a foot bumper to provide leverage while paddling. And the rear paddler can use one of the larger internal bumpers as a footrest and for paddling.
Along shallow and narrow streams, the kayak drove high in the water, allowing us to drive over rocky shallows that other kayaks with hard sides couldn't. It's a long boat (14 feet 6 inches) so it's not the nimest kayak. But the downside is that it is really responsive. Length is really the only limiting factor in maneuverability, but that's exactly what you get with a tandem kayak.
In terms of durability, I didn't have any issues. We bumped into fallen trees, sharp rocks on the bank, a few river bottoms, and even ported a few times through thorny forests. There are a few scratches on the sides and bottom but nothing more than cosmetic. It's also worth noting that despite using it in cold water, it never drained me.
There are some storage areas at the bow and stern of the boat a pack sack or PFDs handy. Refueling in mild water with the drain valves closed will keep both areas very dry. In addition, there are bungee deck lines on the front and back of the boat to secure additional equipment. There is certainly enough storage space for overnight stays and expeditions lasting several days.
I also paddled a little alone in this tandem boat and was really impressed. The weight distribution is just right for me at least where the front doesn't rise much. It's still easy to keep a straight line. Also, at only 27 pounds, it's very easy to set up and transport myself.
I haven't experienced many downsides to solo paddling. I have to do more of this, but so far I've really enjoyed my time on this rig. Some tandem kayaks that I've paddled alone have been a bear that made me scared to be scared of a solo ride. However, this was not the case with the Deschutes 145 tandem.
Bonus: Travel on an inflatable kayak
My wife and I will be reviewing the boat on an upcoming flight to Bend, Oregon. I'm pretty excited about kayaking and paddling its eponymous river, the Deschutes, in central Oregon. Obviously, checking a tandem kayak on a flight is just not an option for rotomoulded builds.
But with the accompanying carrying bag, in which everything is, is the Deschutes 145 tandem kayak can be shouldered to an airport and checked! I don't even think airlines will consider this "oversized".
I am currently in my Subaru Outback without a roof rack. Another plus of this inflatable tandem is the ability to deflate and throw it into the trunk. This also makes storage easier, especially during our long Minnesota winter months when there is no point in having a huge kayak that takes up space.
If you have a roof rack or a kayak rack, you can strap it onto the roof of your car. It's strong enough to withstand highway speeds, and it's light enough to get on the roof of your car with little effort.
Another important bonus is that Aquaglide offers a 2 year limited warranty on the Aquaglide Deschutes 145 tandem kayak.
Deschutes 145 Tandem: Cons and Final Thoughts
If you are looking for sheer performance in a single discipline (i.e. whitewater), you will likely find a more powerful rotomoulded tandem kayak than the Deschutes 145. (But I can guarantee it is heavier and more difficult to transport, and almost impossible to review in an airplane .)
A note on size and shape: Sometimes I wish the kayak was a little narrower. The width offers more stability in whitewater, but in mild water it can be a certain range to paddle over the side walls. Although the paddling movement is a little different (wider) than on narrower kayaks, I got used to it. And when it comes to rapids, I'm sure I'm grateful for the stability the width offers.
As a recreational kayaker who enjoys both flat water and river paddling, the Deschutes 145 tandem is spot on. And because my wife and I love to travel, the ability to take it with you practically anywhere is exciting. Overall, the Deschutes 145 impressed us with its simple set-up, tandem and solo paddling performance and rigidity when inflated.
Aquaglide makes several inflatable kayaks. There's the Blackfoot Angler Kayak for fishing, some inexpensive kayaks for flatwater and recreational paddlers, touring kayaks like that Chelan and Navarroand whitewater killers like that McKenzie Kayaks. Overall, the Deschutes kayak lineup is intended for experienced touring and expedition paddlers.
Bottom line: If you're a space-saving, ounce-counting outdoor enthusiast, give up Aquaglide insight.
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