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Aquaglide Chinook 120 Review

A casual tandem at a competitive price that's built for comfort rather than speed,
Aquaglide Chinook 120
Photo: Aquaglide
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Price:  $600 List | $599.95 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Durable design, casual comfort, good value
Cons:  Not fast, difficult to dry, bag isn't great
Manufacturer:   Aquaglide
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 16, 2021
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62
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 14
  • Handling - 25% 6
  • Comfort - 25% 7
  • Ease of Set Up - 20% 6
  • Portability - 20% 5
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Aquaglide Chinook 120 is a durable tandem boat that's comfortable to paddle, if not the fastest kayak on the water. It has real cushion seats and a solid amount of legroom for those days when you just want a laidback paddle. Floating well above the water, wind is the enemy of this craft. Its top fabric takes on water, but a drainage hole in the floor helps when it's time to head home. We're also not fond of trying to fit this big boat back into its bag. Still, this two-person boat is available for a pretty reasonable price and it's made of thick, durable fabrics with easy-to-use Boston valves.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Aquaglide Chinook 120
Awards  Best Buy Award Best Buy Award  Top Pick Award 
Price $599.95 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$539.00 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$314.19 at Amazon$278.99 at Amazon$238.11 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
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Pros Durable design, casual comfort, good valueHandles well, high durability, fast, stable, fabric is water resistantComplete package, doesn't soak up water, spacious, can paddle solo alsoEverything included, affordable, durable, easy backpack carry, everything becomes part of the kayakExtremely portable, maneuverable, stable, easy set up
Cons Not fast, difficult to dry, bag isn't greatHeavy, floor difficult to inflate, hard to drainSmall paddle blades, unimpressive attachments, materials less durablePoor paddle, rides high, blunt bow, fabric retains water, difficult to drainLow durability, poor tracking, weight doesn’t include pump or paddle
Bottom Line A casual tandem at a competitive price that's built for comfort rather than speed,With excellent handling, a long lifespan, and great comfort, this kayak will go the distanceEverything you need to get out on the water with a friend or by yourself for a great priceFor a decent kayak at a fraction of the cost of the competition, we love this backpack yak from SevylorGetting on the water miles from any roads has never been easier than with this extremely portable kayak
Rating Categories Aquaglide Chinook 120 Advanced Elements A... Intex Excursion Pro K2 Sevylor Quikpak K5 Advanced Elements P...
Handling (25%)
6.0
9.0
7.0
6.0
4.0
Comfort (25%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
5.0
4.0
Ease Of Set Up (20%)
6.0
5.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Portability (20%)
5.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
9.0
Durability (10%)
7.0
8.0
4.0
6.0
3.0
Specs Aquaglide Chinook 120 Advanced Elements A... Intex Excursion Pro K2 Sevylor Quikpak K5 Advanced Elements P...
Measured Weight (boat and storage bag only) 37.6 lb 33.25 lb 34.6 lb 23.4 lb 5.25 lb
Capacity Tandem; 550 lbs Single; 300 lbs Tandem; 400 lbs Single; 250 lbs Single; 250 lbs
Kayak Size (length x width) 12' 1" x 3' 2" 10' 3" x 2' 9" 12' 6" x 2' 8" 10' x 2'8" 7' 6" x 2' 11"
Packed Size (length x width x height) 26" x 14" x 24" 33" x 16" x 15" 26" x 19" x 19" 22" x 17" x 9" 14" x 12" x 7"
Included Accessories Quick-release fin, PVC rod holder sleeves, and repair kit Repair kit Paddles, pump, repair kit, GoPro/phone mount, fishing rod holders, and pressure gauge Pump and paddle Repair kit
Material/Construction 600D hex ripstop polyester (fabric top) Aluminum ribs in bow & stern, PVC-coated polyester 3-ply PVC vinyl laminate with polyester core Heavy duty polyetster bottom, 24-gauge laminated PVC Polyurethane-coated ripstop polyester
Features Paddle keepers, foot braces, adjustable backrest, skeg, drainage hole, carry handles Adjustable backrest, bungees, pressure relief valve in floor, skeg Adjustable backrest, drainage hole, foot braces, carry handles, fishing rod holders, phone/GoPro mount, skeg, tracking fin, converts to solo boat Backpack carrying system turns into seat , storage area, bow and stern bungees, accessory D-rings, spray skirt, skeg Rubber-molded handle, mesh carry bag doubles as onboard storage, accessory D-rings

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Chinook 120 is a convertible tandem kayak with an impressive 550-pound capacity. It weighs 37.6 pounds and is made of 600D hex ripstop polyester on top with a PVC bottom. It features a drainage hole, paddle keepers, adjustable backrests and foot braces, a removable skeg, bungee cords, and carry handles.

Performance Comparison


The Chinook is a solid leisure tandem option for calm days on flat...
The Chinook is a solid leisure tandem option for calm days on flat water.
Photo: Jason Peters

Handling


If you're here looking for speed and accuracy in a tandem kayak, the Chinook is unlikely to live up to your expectations. It rides high above the water and paddles more like a leisure cruise than a targeted expedition, with a flat, inelegant nose that rides on the water rather than slicing purposefully through it. At just over 12 feet, the Chinook does an alright job tracking through the water — as long as you're not fighting big wind. Because it rides so high, it's more likely to be caught in crosswinds. Velcro adjustable foot braces add a little bit of stability while you paddle, but without anything to brace your knees against, they're more of a formality. We enjoy paddling this boat most when the water is flat, the day is calm, and we've got a picnic along for the ride.

The adjustable foot braces help a little but don't really turn this...
The adjustable foot braces help a little but don't really turn this boat into a performance model.
Photo: Jason Peters

Comfort


With real cushioned seats and fully adjustable backrests, the Chinook is a pretty comfortable boat to paddle. It's one of the widest boats we tested, at 3'2", which does make paddling a little less comfortable than narrower boats but adds stability that makes it possible to really relax within. Velcro strips on the bottom of the seats let you place them wherever you want, but they are more challenging to adjust once you're out on the water. An optional center pillow-like inflatable can act as a third seat for a very small paddler, though including this starts to make the boat feel very small. With two people, it's just big enough to be comfortable. Conversely, solo paddling feels difficult and cumbersome in this wide rectangular watercraft.

Fully cushioned seats with adjustable velcro placement help the...
Fully cushioned seats with adjustable velcro placement help the Chinook be more comfortable.
Photo: Jason Peters

Ease of Set Up


Like so many other inflatable kayaks, the Chinook uses the right side, left side, floor inflation system. This system works just fine and is simple to get used to and use. Using Boston valves is not our favorite solution, though. Because Boston valves have two caps (one for inflation and one for deflation), they also have two leashes. More than once, these string leashes got in the way of attaching the valve, causing a leak in the system.

Three chambers to fill before you can get out in the Chinook.
Three chambers to fill before you can get out in the Chinook.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

We love that the floor has a drain on one end, though the open concept cockpit doesn't really need one as you can simply remove the floor section. The top fabric isn't waterproof, though, and will get wet as you paddle, taking longer to dry. We also had a tough time fitting this boat back into its stuff sack, with its single-end opening.

Portability


The Chinook weighs 37.6 pounds with all its components assembled. This is a bit above average among tandem models we tested, though it's certainly doable. It's easiest to carry when already set up via the bow and stern handles and utilizing the paddle keepers along the sides. The duffel bag it comes in is closed by a drawstring with a weak toggle that tends to slide open during carrying. We ended up putting a knot in it every time to prevent it from spilling everywhere.

Paddle keepers make it easier to carry the Chinook from your car to...
Paddle keepers make it easier to carry the Chinook from your car to the water and back.
Photo: Jason Peters

Durability


Made of durable 600D ripstop fabric on top and PVC-like material on the bottom, the Chinook is confidence-inspiring. A repair kit is included to patch minor leaks. However, if you happened to pop one side of your kayak while out and about, it would be extremely challenging to paddle back to shore with just half of your boat inflated. This is the major flaw of the left side, right side inflation method. A handful of kayaks use the inner chamber, outer chamber strategy instead, meaning that if you did manage to rip a hole in your kayak, you'd still have an inner chamber of air giving body to your boat and letting you get back to land more easily.

Thick materials help the Chinook be fairly durable.
Thick materials help the Chinook be fairly durable.
Photo: Jason Peters

Value


If you're after a comfortable, durable boat for two (or two and a dog or child), the Chinook is a solid purchase. It doesn't come with everything, so you'll still need the paddles, pump, and PFDs, but we think that what you get for the price is a fair bargain.

Conclusion


The Aquaglide Chinook 120 is a comfortable tandem for leisurely endeavors. Though it converts to solo paddling, we far prefer it with a friend. It's wide, stable, and open enough to enjoy a picnic on the water with a friend. If you're hunting for a casual, pleasant boat for relaxation, this is a good choice and a solid value.

The Chinook is a solid tandem for relaxing days on the lake.
The Chinook is a solid tandem for relaxing days on the lake.
Photo: Jason Peters

Maggie Brandenburg