Aquaglide Chinook opinion
The Chinook 120 inflatable kayak is a good choice for paddlers looking to spend quality time on the water. It’s a great recreational or Class I-II whitewater rafting kayak. This kayak seats two adults and a pet or lightweight gear. It’s a durable construction and supported by a 1-year limited warranty.
A few weeks ago, I got the chance to try an Aquaglide Chinook 120 inflatable kayak for an entire day.
I was very much looking forward to it, since the Chinook sits somewhere between the entry-level kayak (Intex Excursion Pro) and the high-end kayak (Sea Eagle 380x).
Aquaglide is not a well-known brand. I’ve never sat in one before, which made the experience all the more interesting.
If you’re thinking of getting this kayak, you’ll want to read my review of the Aquaglide Chinook below.
Features of the Aquaglide Chinook kayak
Aquaglide’s Chinook series of kayaks is a line of sit-on-top recreational kayaks meant for lakes and mild rivers. It is positioned as a mid-range boat.
After testing the Chinook 120, I think it is a versatile kayak with well-designed features you don’t see on many kayaks.
The Chinook 120 previously went by the Chinook XP Tandem XL but was renamed as the former for marketing purposes in 2019. I tried the 120, but they also have two shorter models: Chinook 90, Chinook 100.
The only difference between them is their size.
As with most inflatable kayaks, the Chinook consists of 3 air chambers:
- 2 side chambers
- 1 floor chamber
The side air chambers of the Aquaglide Chinook inflate to 2.0 psi. When you compare that to the 1.1 psi of the Intex Excursion Pro, and the 3.2 psi of the Sea Eagle 380x, you can see that in this regard as well, the Chinook is positioned right in the middle.
The floor inflates to 1.0 psi, so it is not rock solid. You will not be standing up in this kayak.
All of the air chambers have Boston valves, which work as expected and make inflation and deflation as quick as possible.
The body of the Chinook is made of PVC internal bladders with heat-welded seams, covered by 600 denier polyester to prevent abrasion and direct exposure to UV. You can bring your dog along in the Chinook and not have to concern yourself that he’ll scratch the boat with his sharp nails.
The polyester cover is removable, which helps reduce drying times.
The floor is actually an I-beam floor, which is encased in a polyester material. It is removable, which is a good thing. Otherwise, it would never dry out. There are also 2 zippers to gain access to the PVC floor bladder, so you can replace it if it develops a leak. It is a very short zipper, though.
This floor cover is porous though, and causes drying and possible molding issues.
The bottom hull uses Aquaglides Evobeam technology, which creates a U-hull shape for better tracking. Beside the removable fin, it also has two lengthy drag strips (abrasion guards), which:
- Protect the boat when running it onto the beach
- Assist tracking
The front and back of the kayak have splash guards, ensuring the cockpit remains relatively dry.
These splash guards have elastic straps for fixing light gear or a pump.
Aquaglide places sturdy molded handles at the ends AND the sides of the kayak, making it easier to carry if you are solo.
Paddling Performance and tracking (going straight)
You can expect very good paddling performance from the Chinook, courtesy of the body shape, fin, and drag strips.
It’s not faster than high-performance inflatable kayaks, but still perfect in regards to recreational purposes.
Like most inflatable yaks, it’s very stable.
It performs well on lakes and rivers, even in waves and aggressive waters.
There are no self-bailing scupper holes, though, so don’t go whitewater kayaking with it. Class I or II rapids should be OK.
The Chinook includes comfortable seats with a high backrest, mesh storage pockets, and fishing rod holders to cap the versatile design.
The Chinook 120 sits two adults and gear. It’s surprisingly roomy, even with 2 adults seated in the kayak as you can see below.
If you are going to do a lot of 2-person paddling, this is the size I would choose. The Chinook 100 would be a tight squeeze, but still doable. The 90 is for solo paddlers.
Two full-length Velcro strips run along the floor, so you can place the seats wherever you like. You can even reverse the front seat for children, or if you want to relax with a picnic on the water.
The kayak comes with two footrests that can also be attached anywhere on the velcro strip. You can find the perfect spot for them and not be confined to just a few positions as in other kayaks.
At 28 lbs (12.6 kg), the Chinook 120 may well be the lightest inflatable kayak of this size. It is genuinely effortless to take from A to B, making it very portable. Even children will be able to carry it easily.
Accessories in the box
The Aquaglide Chinook comes with some accessories, but not everything you will need to hit the waters.
The package includes:
- Two seats with a high backrest, fishing rod holders, mesh storage pocket
- Two footrests
- Quick release fin
- Repair kit
- Storage bag for packing and transporting the gear
However, you can see that there are no paddles or pump in the package, so you will have to buy them separately.
Setting up and dismantling the Aquaglide Chinook
It takes about 8 minutes to inflate the 3 air chambers of the kayak. As I mentioned, the tubes are fitted with Boston valves, which work well.
After you inflate the kayak, you just put the seats and footrests in, and you are ready to go.
When you are ready to go, things will get a bit slower.
The polyester shells of the main tubes and floor take a while to dry, so if you are in a hurry, you will need to unfold the kayak at home to dry it fully. Otherwise, it will start developing mold.
Taking the floor out is a lot of help in cleaning the boat and drying the floor quicker. I noticed that some debris gets stuck in between the floor and side tubes, so make sure you clean that area out as well.
There is a drain plug on the bottom hull for draining water out of the cockpit, which is convenient.
There’s also a storage bag so you can pack with ease. It fits the kayak easily but can be a bit tricky to add the footrest and both seats. It takes a bit of ingenuity to fit everything in. Still, it always fits and closes and has two straps so you can wear it like a backpack and be on your way.
Aquaglide Chinook specifications
The Chinook line of kayaks consists of 3 sizes: 90, 100, 120.
The 90 is a solo kayak, while the 100 and 120 are tandem kayaks.
|Capacity||250 lbs. (113 kg)||400 lbs. (181 kg)||550 lbs. (250 kg)|
|Dimensions||9′ x 35″ x 12.5 ” (274 x 89 x 32 cm)||10′ x 36″ x 13.5 ” (319 x 91 x 34 cm)||12′ x 37″ x 12.5 ” (370 x 93 x 32 cm)|
|Weight||19 lbs. (8.7 kg)||23 lbs. (10.4 kg)||28 lbs. (12.6 kg)|
|Vinyl||PVC covered with 600d polyester||PVC covered with 600d polyester||PVC covered with 600d polyester|
Here is the instruction manual of the Aquaglide Chinook in case you want to have a look.
The manufacturer – Aquaglide
Aquaglide is a manufacturer of inflatable kayaks, SUPs, and inflatable water parks.
They were established in 2003, and are based in Oregon, USA. Being based in the US means that they will honor their warranty, and you can get real support if you have questions.
A 1-year warranty covers the Chinook against manufacturer defects. Normal wear and tear are not covered, of course.
Opinion of the Aquaglide Chinook
The Chinook from Aquaglide is a versatile recreational kayak fit for flat water and mild rivers. It’s stable and comfortable even in choppy waters and tracks well.
It has several extra features that make it better than a beginner kayak, but doesn’t hit the high-end mark. As the pricing shows, it is a mid-tier kayak.
Is the Aquaglide Chinook worth it?
If you already have an air pump and kayak paddles, I think it is worth buying the Chinook. I liked it so much, that it made my list of the best inflatable kayaks of 2021. However, since the package does not include these essential items, I feel the price of the kayak plus these accessories (adding $150-250) makes it more expensive than what it can offer.
As an alternative, consider the Sea Eagle 380x, here is my detailed review of the kayak. It is a high-end boat that costs just a little more but includes every accessory you need to start paddling.