Posted by: airkayaks | May 16, 2015

Product Review: New Panther Compact Inflatable Kayak from Aquaglide

As mentioned in previous posts, Aquaglide, Inc of White Salmon, Washington has recently introduced several new inflatable kayaks for 2015. The Aquaglide kayak product line consists of 15 models with MSRP pricing from $199.95 to $1199.95.

AquaGlide Panther inflatable kayak

Our first shipment included the new Panther inflatable kayak. Part of Aquaglide’s “pricepoint” series, the Panther is a cross between the Columbia XP One and Chinook One inflatable kayaks, scaled down for “smaller” people – both youth and adults.

Following is our writeup on the Panther, a 24-lb, 9 foot solo model selling for $349.

Getting Started with the AquaGlide Panther Inflatable Kayak

We unpacked the box and laid out the pieces – inflatable kayak, backpack, instructions, repair kit, tracking fin and seat.

What's in the box.

Initial measurements showed the kayak body weighs 19 lbs, with a folded size of roughly 25 x 17 x 10 inches, while the kayak with seat in the drawstring sack weighs 24 lbs. Boxed up, the dimensions are 27 x 20 x 10 inches with a shipping weight of 29.5 lbs.

(AirKayaks Side note #1: When initially removing the kayak from the carrying case, take a good look at how the kayak is folded This is probably the most overlooked step and it is VERY helpful when trying to get the kayak back into the bag.)

AquaGlide Panther Inflatation and Setup:

The included instructions are adequate and include diagrams with inflation details.

Unfold the kayak

Set up is straight-forward and simple  – unpack, unfold, inflate.

Boston valves

There are three inflation chambers utilizing Boston valves – the floor and two side chambers. Boston valves are two-part, screw-on valves. The bottom portion is threaded onto the kayak, the top valve is screwed open for inflation and then tightened shut after inflation. Air is easily released by unscrewing the base connector. How does it work? A flap inside the valve opens when air is pumped into the kayak, and falls shut when not pumped so that air will not rush back out.

Attaching the Boston valve

According to the instructions, the floor is pumped up first, then the two side chambers. First, attach the Boston valves by screwing them onto the kayak.

(AirKayaks Side note #2: The Boston valves have a tether that keeps the valve attached to the kayak, ensuring that the valves don’t get lost after deflating. Make sure that the string does not get in the way when screwing on the valve base,and the valve is not cross-threaded, or you may have some air leakage.)

Pumping up the floor

We pumped up the floor until firm (1.0 psi with slight give) using a standard double action hand pump – this took about 20 pumps.

Pumping up the side chamber

We then pumped up each of the side chambers to 2 PSI – this was about 20 to 23 pumps each side – and screwed on the valve caps. (AirKayaks side note #3: If using a pressure gauge, please note that – since the gauges work on back pressure, the gauge will only register as you are pushing in air, and will drop to zero when you stop.)

pan19

Next attach the seat using the strap webbing and the two side cinches.

Seat clips

Weave the webbing through the cinch opening, and back over itself so it tightens.  Position the seat so the back of the seat is lined up with the rear velcro paddleholders, for starters – this can be repositioned dependent on paddler size.

Installing the seat

Then clip the two back clips to the rear d-rings. Once in the kayak, the side straps can be pulled on to tighten the seat back.

Installing the fin

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, pushing back and down, to lock the back end. Then slide forward until the holes line up, and replace the retaining pin. At this point, pull up on the fin to make sure you have it locked in position.

Easy to carry

That’s it! You’re ready to paddle. It’s very simple, and very quick.

Features and Specifications for the AquaGlide Panther Kayak

Padded cloth handles

The Panther is constructed with four padded, cloth carrying handles (bow, stern and both sides), but it is fairly simple to carry by hooking the side of the kayak over your shoulder.

Front bungee deck lacing and raised visor

A front splash deck with raised visor extends 28 inches from the bow, and prevents water from splashing in. This has a bungee deck-lacing system for attaching gear, measuring 19 x 15 inches, tapering to two inches.

Rear bungee deck lacing

A 19 inch rear splash deck houses a second bungee deck lacing system, measuring 3 to 13 inches, by 10 inches.

Velcro paddle holders

There are two sets of velcro paddle holders, one set for each side.

Two rear d-rings are positioned behind the seat, roughly 32 inches from the stern, and can be used for securing gear.

The front seat cinches are located 45 inches from the bow.

Boston valves

Three Boston valves with retaining rings are used on the inflation chambers.

Padded seat.

The padded, Aquaglide Panther Core seat is a slightly scaled down version of the standard seat, and features adjustable side straps which are threaded into position; the straps can be adjusted several inches.

Seat with mesh pocket and fishing rod holders

The seat comes equipped with 2 fishing rod holders, one d-ring on each side and a deep mesh storage pocket (measuring 5 x 8 x 9 inches) for gear. The 1-inch thick seat bases are 16 inches wide by 16 inches deep, and the backs are a lower 9.5 inches tall in a stiff foam, encircling 26-inches wide.

Recessed drain plug

The 78-inch long inflatable floor is designed as “raised seating”, creating a front and rear well that will collect any water that splashes inside. A rear drain plug (not to be confused with self-bailing) can be opened to let water out.

Rugged outer material

The kayak consists of two layers. Three inflatable PVC bladders (floor and both sides) are housed in a zippering fabric cover of commercial grade Duratex hull material blended with a rugged 600 denier polyester, allowing the bladders to be replaced if necessary.

View of underside

The hull is a rugged, puncture-resistant material with removable tracking fin and landing plate.

Removable tracking fin

The tracking fin is hefty, measuring 5 x 12 inches with locking pin. The kayak floor features a 1-PSI PVC i-beam construction with a covering, offering protection from claws or fish hooks as well as integrating the floor with the walls, providing a slightly stiffer construction.

Compact backpack

The backpack is a scaled down version of the Columbia and Chelan backpacks. 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 16 inches wide x 11 inches deep x 21 inches tall.

AquaGlide Panther inflatable kayak

We did measurement tests. The kayak inflated is 9 feet long and 32 inches wide. The side bladders are roughly 8 inches in diameter, making the sides 7 inches above the seating area. Interior dimensions are approximately 78 inches long (length of floor bladder) by approximately 17 inches at the widest point.

When set up as described above (seat back by rear paddleholders), there is 25 inches of open space behind the paddler, with another 12 inches under cover (tapering down) and about 48 inches from seat back to interior bow – 18 inches of that is under cover. The seat can be moved a total of roughly 16 inches in location.

Weight limitations are 170 lbs for persons and gear, though persons over 140 or so lbs should probably look at the Chinook XP One.

What’s Different Between the Panther and Chinook XP One Kayaks

We often get questions – what are the similarities and differences between the Panther and the Chinook XP One.

chin31b

As mentioned previously, the Panther (shown above) is a scaled-down cross between the Chinook and Columbia inflatable kayak series.

Both kayaks utilize the same materials and basic construction, both are the same price, both have Boston valves, Core seats and a removable tracking fin. Both are approximately the same weight of 24 lbs with seat in carrying bag. Both have velcro paddleholders, raised seating and one rear drain plug.

AquaGlide PAnther XP One inflatable kayak - birdseye view

The Panther (birds-eye view above) is slightly longer by a few inches (9 feet) and narrower by a few inches (32 inches). The front splash guard is longer, with more bungee deck lacing, and features a raised visor. The Core seat is shorter by a couple of inches and features 4 attachment points, The side tubes are smaller in diameter, making the side walls lower. The Panther comes with a scaled-down version of the Chelan and Columbia backpack. Payload is a max of 170 lbs for person and gear, though probably people under 150 lbs would be the best fit.

AquaGlide Chinook XP One inflatable kayak

The Chinook XP One (birds-eye view above) is slightly shorter by a few inches (8 ft 8 inches) and wider by a few inches (36 to 37 inches). The front splash guard is shorter, and does not have a raised visor. It uses the standard Core seat found on the Columbia, but with only two attachment points. The side tubes are the standard 10 inches, so the seating well is deeper, such as on the Columbia. The Chinook series comes with a drawstring satchel with handles. Payload is 250 lbs for person and gear. For more info, read our Detailed Chinook XP One Product Review.

AquaGlide Panther Kayak On the Water

AquaGlide Panther on the water

I took the Panther out in calm water. For my height of 5′ 4″, the smaller side tubes and lower side walls made the kayak feel quite roomy. It also makes it easier to clear the sides when paddling. The Panther actually paddles pretty straight, with some slight nose wag. And it’s very nimble and very maneuverable.

Despite the smaller and lower back height of the seat, with the four-way cinch, it provided good support.

With the seat placed further back, as a small adult, I could easily see bringing a small dog for a leisurely paddle. While I did not bring mine out, past experience with some of the larger models show the materials are rugged enough to handle jumpy claws, and stable enough to handle 32 lbs hanging off one side.

I took the kayak out one more time in some swells – while the Panther rides waves well, it was slightly tougher to handle, and I paddled harder to keep on track. Back at shore, I stuffed some weight into the snout. Besides acting as a foot brace, this certainly helped the paddling performance, by seating the snout a bit better in the water.

Bottom Line on the AquaGlide Panther Inflatable Kayak:

AquaGlide Panther inflatable kayak

The Panther is an economically-priced, good, entry-level, recreational kayak for smaller people, teens and children.

It’s lightweight, very stable, easy to inflate. It tracks fairly well, with some wag – this can be toned down with weight in the front.

The lower side walls and narrower width allow shorter kayakers to easily clear the side tubes with their paddle.

Easy to get into

The open design will appeal to those who need easy entry and exit – such as seniors or those with physical disabilities – as well as paddlers in need of a quick dip on a hot summer day and those that are uncomfortable feeling enclosed.

Built-in fishing rod holders, bungee deck lacing and d-rings provide multiple options for storing or attaching gear, making it a great choice for a lazy day on the water,  leisurely cruise around a lake or some light whitewater.

The extended splash guard with raised visor provide protection from some waves and chop.

AquaGlide Panther inflatable kayak

The kayak is roomy enough for a small adult and gear yet can still be handled by older children. Larger adults (over 140 lbs) may want to consider AquaGlide’s Chinook XP One – while the same price, the Chinook features larger side tubes for more buoyancy. Both are good choices for slow-moving rivers, lakes and calm bays, or for some light whitewater – probably through Class II.

Easily fits in the trunk of a car.

The included backpack makes it a great choice for backcountry hiking or plane travel, while the compact size easily fits in the trunk of a small car, RV or closet.

AquaGlide Panther inflatable kayak

And at only $349, the Panther is a great option for those that want to get out on the water, have some fun, without breaking the budget. For more details or to purchase, visit the AquaGlide Panther product page at AirKayaks.com.

Need more info? Watch a YouTube video below on the AquaGlide Panther, featuring Angie Williamson, at North Sports.

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