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(The Gear Loop) - Cast your eyes across a body of water on a sunny day and the chances are you’ll see paddle boards. A lot of paddle boards. They’ve become ubiquitous as the pleasure craft of choice over the past few years, but where does that leave the trusty kayak? After all, you can paddle further, faster and cope with choppier waters on a kayak, so why then does everyone gravitate towards standing up?

Convenience, that’s why. Inflatable paddle boards fold up small and can be thrown in the back of a car along with the other beach essentials, whereas a traditional kayak needs a to be lashed to the roof of a car, which isn’t ideal if your route to the water involves anything more than a country lane.

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The Gear LoopAquaglide Navarro 145 inflatable kayak review photo 2

This is where the Navarro 145 from Aquaglide slides into view. It’s an inflatable one or two-person kayak that uses paddle board technology to provide a very stable yet capable ride. We took it for a paddle to see if it has a place in our inflatable watercraft line-up.

Our quick take

If you’re looking for an inflatable to enjoy those summer days on calm lakes and rivers, a paddle board might be a better option for you, but if you’re looking for something a bit sturdier to tackle the days when there’s a bit of chop or fancy tackling a more adventurous trip, then the Navarro 145 could be the perfect craft for you. Plus, the option to have solo or tandem paddling arrangements makes it super versatile.

However, we were al little miffed it didn’t come with the required pump and valve adaptors, while supplying a paddle also seems stingy at this price point.

Aquaglide Navarro 145 inflatable kayak review: a great paddler but it's not perfect

Aquaglide Navarro 145 inflatable kayak

3.5 stars
For
  • Easy to paddle
  • Spray deck compatible
  • Solo or tandem paddling
Against
  • No pump and paddle
  • Quite cumbersome when deflated
  • Higher PSI would provide more rigidity

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In the Loop

Everything you need to know about the Aquaglide Navarro 145 inflatable kayak:

  • Designed for recreational one or two-person touring and all-around use
  • Capacity: 1 or 2-person, 500 lb (227 kg) max weight
  • 4.37m long
  • A 16.3kg overall weight
  • Package includes kayak, 2 seats, 2 footrests, quick-release fin, storage bag, repair kit
  • Requires Halkey-Roberts and Boston Valve adaptors to inflate properly

Design and inflation

The first thing that struck us when unboxing the Navarro 145 was the heft of the package. This isn’t something to haul a couple of miles to your launch site. The kayak packs down into a 50cm x 50cm x 30cm lump that weighs in at 16.3 kg. A carry bag is included which has some beefy straps but there’s no room inside for a pump or paddle.

The Gear LoopAquaglide Navarro 145 inflatable kayak review photo 11

Inflating the Navarro for action is a fairly straightforward procedure - unfurl the kayak and get pumping… except it isn’t quite that simple. Aquaglide doesn’t include a pump in the Navarro kit, which is disappointing given the price, however we can just about see the reasoning behind this. 

Many people are turning to electric pumps these days as a sweat-free alternative to getting their iSUPs and kayaks inflated, and in fairness to Aquaglide, we did exactly that. Set the desired pressure on the pump and let it do the work. 

Aquaglide's Navarro relies on three separate bladders to keep you afloat: two large tubes flank an inflatable flat floor.

The Gear LoopAquaglide Navarro 145 inflatable kayak review photo 17

The tubes are inflated to just 2PSI, which we’ll admit did seem on the low side and we actually pumped them to 3PSI to ensure we had a bit more support.

The floor is then inflated to 6PSI, which created a nice firm foundation to attach the included seats to. The floor uses a paddle board-esque drop stitch construction to maintain rigidity.

An oddity that baffled us was that the tubes and floor used a different type of valve. The tubes use a Boston style valve, whereas the floor uses a fairly standard iSUP Halkey Roberts valve. Why they are different is a mystery to us, but luckily our electric pump had the necessary adaptors. The valves are hidden under a zipped flap at the stern, which keeps them out of harm’s way and prevents any unwanted deflation. 

The Gear LoopAquaglide Navarro 145 inflatable kayak review photo 14

Following this, the seats attach to the floor with two strips of Velcro that run from the bow to the stern, and this means they can be placed anywhere along the kayaks length which made getting a proper weight distribution a breeze. 

Backrests are then buckled to the corresponding points on the tubes and tensioned up to support your back. Footrests attach in the same manner as the seats and contributed to a very comfortable paddling experience. 

Performance minus a paddle

All that’s required now for a fun day on the water is to assemble the paddle… but hold on, that’s not included either! We could excuse the lack of a pump, but no paddles? It seems unlikely folks are going to have a preferred aftermarket paddle at this price point, and it just adds more expense and complications if you’re a first time buyer.

The Gear LoopAquaglide Navarro 145 inflatable kayak review photo 7

After sourcing some paddles of our own, the Navarro 145 proved a very pleasant kayak to mooch around in. It handled choppy lochs with ease, while those on paddle boards were doing their best not to end up in the drink. Plus, it was surprisingly manoeuvrable given its length. We’d wager this was down to the lack of any kind of keel, which means it could turn on a tight axis easily.

However, the fin at the rear and mini fin at the front kept the Navarro tracking straight, even with some uncoordinated paddling. 

We paddled both in tandem and solo and the experience was favourable across the board - the single deck cover zipped over the entire opening and made the Navarro feel like it could tackle quite gnarly conditions while keeping the paddler dry. 

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If you wanted to, a spray skirt can be added to keep out any errant waves or spray. If any water does get in, there’s a drain plug at the rear. 

We did notice that the deck cover felt a little too big for the opening, as it bunched up around the zip. It didn’t impact performance in any way, though, but a slight question mark over the design.

With a weight limit of 227kg, the Navarro makes an excellent companion for some epic adventures. Whip out the second seat and there’s plenty of space for camping kit. We’d love to head off down some remote lochs in the Highlands and climb some of the most isolated mountains that are easier accessed by water than foot. 

The Gear LoopAquaglide Navarro 145 inflatable kayak review photo 12

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To recap

The Navarro 145 is an excellent alternative for those looking to take to the water in search of adventure. It tracks very well and offers a stable platform for either solo or tandem paddlers. The lack of a pump or paddle is frustrating and the use of two different valves means more adaptors to remember. However, the included seats are comfortable. highly adjustable and coupled with the spray deck (available separately), the Navarro is a solid all round package if you’re looking for an alternative to an iSUP for more adventurous trips.

Writing by Matt Buckley. Editing by Leon Poultney.