First Kayak - Aquaglide CHELAN 155 or Saturn OK420?

I am seeking your advice, as I have never owned a Kayak.
I am planning to get something to be used mainly in Long Island sound where at times the current and wind can be strong).
I would use mainly for 1) Fishing solo and 2) to take my kids or wife out for some fun near the shore.
I am looking for something easy to put on top of a Subaru outback and to travel with.
A boat is not an option. Also a paddle kayak is not an option as it is above my budget and too heavy to carry. I am not going to use it very often, and I would like to start with something simply.
Initially I was thinking about the Chelan 155, but in this forum someone said that for the ocean or the sound it is not ideal and that the Saturn is a much better option.
Thanks for guidance and suggestions!

Let me start by saying I don’t know the 2 inflatable kayaks you are looking at to provide comments about them.

For some basic info, you might want to check out an article on kayaking and small living spaces in California Kayaker Magazine issue #9, readable online at California Kayaker Magazine - South West's source for paddlesports information (download the PDF format). Talks about some of the pros and cons of inflatables, along with other options for transport and storage issues you may not have considered.

This guy has some interesting thoughts related inflatable kayaks that might be worth watching: Choosing an inflatable kayak. What promo videos don't talk about - YouTube

Being new to kayaking, it might be good to also read the article on basic types of kayaks in issue #10 of California Kayaker. Good to understand the types of kayaks and what conditions they are meant for.

One comment related to inflatable kayaks is that they are often much more impacted by wind than hard shell kayaks - a strong wind will blow them downwind more than a hard shell.

And I supposed most kayaks come with thick enough walls that it isn’t an issue, but the thought of fish hooks in an inflatable makes me cringe.


Used kayaks would be within your budget since the two you are looking at are between $800 and $1400 new. We usually advise beginners to take that route rather than drop a lot of money on a new craft. You will really not know exactly what suits your intended purpose until you have actually been out on those waters.

By the way, do you have canoe or kayak experience and have you actually paddled in Long Island Sound, with an outfitter or experienced guide? It’s not really a place to venture without some instruction and some knowledge of potential hazards and conditions. One of my earliest kayaking mentors 20 years ago was a fishing guide and maritime Master Captain who lived on LIS and I spent several weeks paddling with him at various locations along the Connecticut shore and on the Housatonic. You have to be aware of tides and motorized traffic as well as the potential for getting too far off shore due to changing conditions.

And be aware of water temperatures especially if you are going to get an inflatable sit on top kayak, in which you will be wet much of the time. Though the coastal LIS water temps are in the high 60’s from mid June to September, being wet in windy conditions is something you have to be sure you have protective clothing for. Both boats are “self bailing” so they will have wave water flushing through with the scuppers open. Make sure you are confident you are able to paddle the boat back to shore in wind and current conditions before you take your family out in it. With double the weight it will be even more difficult to track it in against the elements. Inflatables, with a few exceptions, behave more like rafts than kayaks due to the width and fat profile.

i generally prefer a sit inside kayak for coastal use that can support a spray skirt to keep me dry, as did my fishing guide buddy.

In terms of transport, I have mostly had smaller vehicles including a couple of Subaru wagons and currently a Mazda CX5 and I have carried 18’ sea kayaks on all of them. I have a mix of hardshell, and folding kayaks and one inflatable (a tandem Feathercraft Java which has a partial metal frame to further stiffen to inflation structure). So I don’t understand why you may think your transport situation prohibits a hardshell boat. Is it more an onshore storage issue?

I’m an average sized (5’ 5" 145 pounds) 72 year old woman and I can solo load any of my boats on a roof rack. The heaviest is about 50 pounds but most range from 32 to 46 pounds.

From what I understand, the Aquaglide boats are better made and more durable than the Saturns and that is reflected in the price.

Thank you Peter and Willowleaf, this is very helpful. To your questions, I kayak in the past, but only in rivers or lakes. I went out a few times in long island sound spearfishing, diving from a boat, or swimming from shore. I know the danger of the other boats, and I check the tides as well. But to your point, I will go out gradually to test everything. Good point also regarding the “self bailing”: My initial thoughts are that I am willing to get wet if it allows the water to get out, should I get some waves (but not sure of the waves in the sound).
Great to hear that the kayak fits on the roof without issues. I was more concerned about the possibility to bring the kayak somewhere else, therefore having to drive on the highway with it on top.

They’re both okay for LI Sound on placid days/days without serious chop…Both will flounder somewhat on the ocean, so long as you don’t expect to log any substantial touring miles…Both will be fun with kids/riding light ocean surf–Neither will crash through (or even over)stiff incoming ocean surf without taking on plenty of water.

The Aquaglide’s self-bailing is slightly better than the Saturn…And if price is not a factor between the two, I’d go with the Chelan. Better accessories/amenities/valves that seemingly don’t make much of a difference, but go a long way as you expand your experience in inflatable kayaking. Versatility over bare bones/having to add on later$.

Saturns are a knock-off(rip off?) of Sea Eagle’s old proprietary line. The lay ups are almost exact. There is not such a drastic difference between the two('Cept the price, as they probably both come out of the same/similar factories in China.) But Sea Eagle is based in LI Sound. Having used a Sea Eagle in rough stuff(and on LI Sound, for that matter)I can tell you they are quite beamy to negotiate; so I expect any Saturn 420 to have the same yaw when not equiped with a directional skeg. I would say, base your decision on whichever offers the better warranty (Again, Aquaglide, I’d guess.) Both being longer, heavier inflatables roll-up tightly like a giant enchilada. Which is fine for going from car trunk to put in–Just don’t expect to back pack the Appalachian Trail with either.


Actually, I used my OK420 almost all the time without the skeg and handled pretty well. On thing though is I did make a seat for it, and added thigh straps. I ran it on the Rio Chama several times with a pretty good load on it as well as day paddles on assorted whitewater river in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas. It lasted for about 10 years before I popped a seam. Not too shabby for $600.
1-11-2021 12-17-58 PM



My comment about the skeg was because the OP stated this would be a first kayak, and that they would be beginner/novices. And other than being curious about their boat(s) of choice handling in untamed conditions, they did not indicate they’d be using the boat in ww, but rather more for family fun/flatwater touring. (I never use a skeg myself with either inflatable kayaks or hardshells, believing there’s no substitute for learning proper paddle strokes. And I

certainly never use one in ww, where they can catch on rocks.

Many first timers to inflatables get turned-off using a wider beamed boat, mainly because they have not yet learned to compensate for yaw, nor discovered how to propel themselves effectively. A skeg for them to start with could then be a help.

You have come a long way Grasshopper.

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The OK420 as opposed to the FK Saturns have the floor raised 2" off of the bottom, so unless you really overload it it runs on the tubes, so it tracks nice and it was pretty fast compared to ones where the floor was right on the bottom. If you sit down in it like a kayak, I can see the disadvantages of the wider beam, but with my frame and tractor seat setup, you could paddle it with a 250 cm double blade or single blade it.

This is super helpful! Do you by any chance know anything about the aquaglide Chelan 155 if floor is also raised etc compared to the OK420? I am trying to find pro and cons of these two models.

Dude, I’m not knocking it. If it works for you at your size, great. I’m aware of the upgrade. I’d still prefer the Aquaglide/a drop stitch floor like the SE 420 X has(You know, the folks who Saturn lifted their designs from.) But we have no idea what size the OP/his family is…(Or If we even hear back from him again.) Personally, I’m 6’ and I don’t want to know about ANY paddle craft more than 36" wide/requiring more than 230 cm kayak paddle. (I can always use my real canoe when I want to go single-blading.) I’ve owned, tried, seen a good many IKs over the years. Year-round and under all conditions…If that makes me the man who knew too much, then I’ll quit this topic now.

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Ah, there you are!

Here’s the difference IMHO:

The Chelan is the sleeker design for touring, less succeptible to windage, bow deck splash, and I believe faster of the two on flatwater. (Given two equal paddlers of equal ability “racing” side by side.) This is a difference only if you plan on covering some miles/camp cruising. For just day tripping/knocking around, both seem reasonably well made and equally sturdy.
Both can go on the ocean/play surf fine with equal aplomb. If I were fishing solo a lot, I’d take the Chelan…If I were regularly running Class 3 - 4 whitewater, I’d take the Saturn (more raft like.) Good luck.

Hi Andy,

I just bought a Chelan 140 last summer. It’s comfy, well made, well equipped, very stable, super easy to set up, and not too hard to dry out afterward. It’s a good choice for recreational kayaking and fishing on flat water when the weather is nice. When fishing with my 7 year old, I install the front seat facing towards me and all the way forward. That way I can help him and take pictures.

There are a few caveats to keep in mind though. For starters, the bottom is a flat, drop stitched plank and the bow is designed to ride over waves rather than cut through them. It tracks OK on flat water thanks to the skeg, but wind and waves push the bow around. It’s also quite slow compared to other boats I’ve paddled before (albeit all hard shells). There’s no spray deck option and the sit on top design doesn’t give you much protection. So a nice leisurely paddle can turn into a wet and tiring chore if you get caught out in a change of weather.

Those scupper drains add drag and if you open them, the bottom of the boat will fill with water, to a level a couple of cm above the top of the floor. It’s a lot of water and it sloshes around. So I’d only use them in an emergency if the boat gets flooded somehow. But you would be wise to avoid taking a Chelan out in conditions where that would happen.

If wind and current are a concern, I would stick to protected waters or consider something better suited to ocean kayaking. This is my first IK, so I can’t really comment on the Saturn.


I’m a big fan of the Saturn Ocean Pro 420. I’ve been paddling for 25+ years and with many different hard shells and inflatables and for paddling performance the Ocean Pro is great. Strong 1100 DTEX pvc, Halkey valves and new this year are the one way self bailing scuppers. I’ve used this kayak everywhere including some big waves on the ocean, lower American Class 3, Lake Tahoe when the whitecaps kick up in the afternoon and it’s a well designed kayak. The guy above claiming Saturn stole Sea Eagle’s designs is nonsense. Sea Eagle never made a kayak like the Ocean Pro. Regarding the raised floor: this kayak’s tracking, glide and speed is very good. Love the twin fin setup as it’s gives one options depending on the water. When I’m on a lake or river, I run one fin in back and when on whitewater, fin is removed, but that depends on water depth as I have run a single fin. Going on year 7 with the Saturn and it get’s used a lot and despite getting banged around, it has never leaked. The drop stitch floor is thick and firm. As a fyi, Sea Eagle ticked off a lot of their customers with their refusal to offer any help with their faulty glue seam separation on the 380/430 series. I’m in Sacramento and if you or anyone wants to paddle the Ocean Pro, message me. Heck of a kayak and with Saturn’s direct to customer model, there is big bang for the buck at The Ocean Pro shows $649. + $100. shipping which is substantially less than a comparable Sea Eagle kayak and one get’s heavier pvc and name brand valves.

If you look for a used Chelan 155, the older models have option for single or tandem spray decks. Later models removed the d rings for mounting