Inflatable Kayak Buying Advice

NorthernRealness

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Hey All,

New to the boards here. I just bought myself a Wilderness Systems Pungo 125 last summer and really enjoyed it. Now I'm looking at getting an inflatable kayak as a second boat for guests visiting my place primarily, or my own personal use for whitewater.

I've narrowed it down to two options, either Sea Eagle 380x, or Aquaglide Chelan 140 (2021). They are similarily priced from what I find online. Right now the AG 140 seems hard to locate in stock.

One major difference between the two is their load capacity ratings. The SE is rated for 750lbs, while the AG is 400lbs. I wonder if this has anything to do with the difference in materials used. Both mention 1000 denier drop stitched floors, but not sure of the difference in materials for the side tubes. My impression is that the materials quality is better on the SE. As also evidenced by the difference in warranty 3 year for SE vs 2 year for AG.

I considered the AG 155, but I want the flexibility to use the new boat for single and tandem use, so the AG 155 seems a little big for single use.

I like the flexibility of being able to use in whitewater and the SE is rated to class IV, whereas all I can find for the AG is "mild whitewater".

I prefer the feature set of the new AG though, including the foot braces, higher seats, webbing loops, side handles for solo transportation etc.

Anyways, these are some of the things I'm considering between the two. I would greatly appreciate any input/insights anyone could offer.

Thanks!
 

cougarmeat

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NorthernRealness, I see this is your first post so welcome to the forum. I am not a whitewater paddler, but I’ve spent many hours in whitewater boats during rolling lessons/training. I wouldn’t associate anything inflatable with whitewater -as far as kayaks go. Sure, the rafts are inflatable. But I’d think the solid shell of a regular whitewater boat would be desired.

Usually, the foldable/inflatable craft was sought when a full size boat - like a sea kayak - would be difficult to transport. But unless you are flying somewhere, it seems full size, solid, whitewater boats are easy to transport on the roof of a car (or back of a pickup).

If there is a premium price for an inflatable boat, perhaps you could consider a less expensive solid boat and use the money saved to pay for a car rack.

Why wouldn’t a non-inflatable boat work for you?
 

NorthernRealness

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Hi Cougarmeat. Thanks for the welcome!

The hardshell won't work out because I don't have a roof-rack for transporting 2 kayaks. I have my Pungo 125 which goes on the roof, on foam blocks tied down, so the inflatable would go in the trunk.

As for whitewater, it wouldn't be my primary use, but I like the idea of being able to use it for that as well. The SE is rated to handle class IV as I mention, the AG should be able to handle whitewater as well, maybe not class IV, but I'm inexperienced with whitewater at this point anyways, so not planning to jump into class IV anytime soon. And I've watched some videos on YouTube of people riding whitewater in the SE 380x and it looks to handle it quite well from what I see.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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About the inflatable and Class IV WW:
I was reminded of something from years ago. I was crewing for a few days on the (very nice and ocean-proven) Nicholson 35 of an acquaintance.
At the time, Bill Tilman was at the top of my heroes list, and building a sailboat was a hazy dream. I asked the Nicholson owner: "What changes or modifications would you make to this sailboat if it was going to Patagonia? "
His answer" "My first modification would be to remove myself!"
:)
 
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NorthernRealness

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LOL I get that. I'm more just looking for the flexibility to handle some reasonable WW. Just starting out, but II-III looks good enough for me.
 

JohnAbercrombie

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LOL I get that. I'm more just looking for the flexibility to handle some reasonable WW. Just starting out, but II-III looks good enough for me.
Sounds reasonable.
I'm not an 'inflatable guy' at all, but the technology has improved in several directions, it seems. Please let us know what you decide and how it all works out.
And, welcome to WCP!
:thumbsup:
 

CPS

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I haven't seen Sea Eagle inflatables in the flesh, but we carry Aquaglide kayaks at my work. The Chelans are pretty skookum material, and would handle some "mild" whitewater for sure. I don't know that it's the boat I would opt for,

Star Inflatables, which is a product offered by NRS, is probably what I'd go for if I was after an inflatable kayak for whitewater. They have a bit more of a rafting heritage that shows up in their inflatable offerings. They're still quite nice on flat water too.

Regarding warranty length, most issues with defective boats show up the first time you inflate them. So the difference between a 2 year warranty and 3 is perhaps not as significant as it seems.
 

rider

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Welcome to the forum!
Here's my 2 cents as mostly ocean paddler that has done about 3 seasons of active whitewater up to 3+/4- in a normal hardshell creeker.
First feature I would look for in an inflatable in terms of whitewater use is whether it is self bailing, and disqualify any boat that isn't. Nobody wants the shitshow when your boat fills up with water mid rapid and you have to pull off ashore and dump it out. Only excusable in open canoes but even they generally have electric bailing pumps these days. The Sea Eagle is advertised as being rated up to class 4 and self bailing, the Aquaglide is advertised for class 2 and i didn't see any mention of being self bailing. The other brand of quality inflatables that was sold locally for a while through MEC was Innova, their Safari model was also self bailing and rated up to class 3, i think. The other option , if you have the space to store 2 boats, is to get a proper roof rack, keep the Pungo as the guest boat and get a rec/whitewater hybrid boat for yourself. There are a few models out there, if you want to improve your paddling skills, this type of boat will have outfitting that allows much better contact and control for maneuvering, rolling, etc.
Cheers :+)
 

Peter-CKM

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@rider I think the OP also plans to use the inflatable as a flatwater guest boat. Any feel for how these white water boats with self-bailers are as flat water boats? Does the bailer make for a wet ride? Presumably they have little tracking?
 

rider

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The Sea Eagle is advertised to have a detachable skeg, same with the Innova Safari. Most hardshell hybrid boats have drop skegs. I am only guessing about wetness and self bailers, but.... probably, depending on how heavy the person is and how textured the water is.
 
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NorthernRealness

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The Sea Eagle is advertised to have a detachable skeg, same with the Innova Safari. Most hardshell hybrid boats have drop skegs. I am only guessing about wetness and self bailers, but.... probably, depending on how heavy the person is and how textured the water is.
Thanks for the good info and considerations.

Yes, I plan to use the new inflatable as a guest boat for flat and/or WW. I considered a roof rack, but the cost for the rack and the J hooks were about $1000 and I'm trying to minimize expendidtures.

For the self-bailing, I was aware of that feature in my reading on the Sea Eagle. I forgot to check the Aquaglide for that. I don't see it either. That would be deal breaker for me, as I understand the value that brings for WW use. The self-bailing holes on the SE have caps. So on flat water, you could stay dry, then remove as needed for WW.

So given the apparent lack of self-bailing on the AG, I think I plan to go with SE. I'm actually now considering buying the Sea Eagle 300x for myself for WW, and the larger, but somewhat lower quality/cheaper Sea Eagle 370 for flat water guest use (single or tandem), and possibly light WW use as well, as it's rated to class III apparently. With shipping and tax, would be about $2,000 for the two of them.
 

NorthernRealness

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Thanks for the good info and considerations.

I forgot to check the Aquaglide for that. I don't see it either. That would be deal breaker for me, as I understand the value that brings for WW use.
Correction, the AG Chelan series does have self-bailing ports.

So the debate continues LOL
 
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Kayak Jim

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Here's a Sea Eagle for sale in Comox. Maybe they would ship to Ontario?

 

NorthernRealness

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Here's a Sea Eagle for sale in Comox. Maybe they would ship to Ontario?
Thanks for this. I actually ended up buying both the SE 300x for solo use for WW and flat. And also the AG Chelan 155 for tandem mostly flat water use. I couldn't decide on just one lol
 
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