Growing up within sight of the Snake River, water sports were a big part of both our childhoods. We love spending time on the water and have considered purchasing a boat over the years. But you know the old saying, “a boat is a hole in the water you throw money into”. We have never completely ruled out having a boat someday, but it has never felt like the right time to throw money into a hole. Still, we miss being able to be on the water.
Last fall, Jason began searching for a way to get us on the water for minimal expense and in a vessel we could easily carry on RV trips. After a lot of research, he decided on a Sea Eagle 370 inflatable kayak. He chose Sea Eagle for their reputation for a quality product at a reasonable cost. Inflatable was the logical choice for its light weight and minimal storage requirements—perfect for RV travel. And we made the joint decision to start with a tandem model instead of a solo. I had zero experience in kayaks and/or canoes and I wasn’t sure how comfortable I would be piloting solo.
Sea Eagle 370 Specifications
- Capacity: 3 persons or 650 lbs.
- Hull Weight: 32 lbs.
- Deflated Dimensions: 31″ x 19″ x 8″
- Exterior Inflated Dimensions: 12’6″ x 2’10”
- Chambers: 3
- Tube Diameter: 10″
- Air Valves: 5 deluxe one way
- Inflation Time: 8 minutes
- Seam: High frequency welded
- Material: 38 mil PolyKrylar
- White Water Rating: Class III rapids
Jason added on the Pro Package which is Sea Eagle’s most popular package. It included upgraded seats with better back support. After upgrades and tax, our kayak cost $430.92 (free shipping). It shipped within one day of order and arrived just 10 days later—impressive considering this was over the insane 2020 COVID Christmas season.
We Hit the Water
Our kayak arrived at the end of December when daytime highs were a chilly 39 degrees. It was a long wait for our maiden voyage, but we were finally able to hit the water in early May. The kayak was easy to inflate and we were on the water and having fun in no time. It didn’t take long for us to learn how to paddle together and we considered our first trip out an unqualified success (we joked that success was measured by: we didn’t capsize, we didn’t throw each other overboard, and no one had to pick us up 200 miles downstream!)
We’ve had the kayak out about a dozen times now providing us ample time to find some favorite routes and adequate opportunity to critique our Sea Eagle. It helps that the Snake River is a short drive from our house and that we have multiple launches to choose from. Our favorite adventures involve a longer drive, but these local routes are very convenient and allow us to get out often.
Chief Timothy Wildlife Area
Our favorite kayak route for late spring was the islands and sloughs around the Chief Timothy Wildlife Area just a few miles west of Clarkston, Washington. An old primitive boat launch close to the parking area provides an easy put in and we always enjoy the variety of birds we see. Some favorites include pelican, osprey, kingfisher, heron, red-winged blackbird, and even a black-necked stilt!
Nisqually John to Blyton Landing
One of the things we love the most about our inflatable kayak is the ease with which we can do shuttle trips. We drop the truck off at our exit point and then transport the deflated kayak in the trunk of our car to the put-in spot. The kayak inflates quickly and we are on our way. This allows us to cover more ground without having to retrace our route at the end of the day. It also lets us go with the current instead of against it (at least in theory).
A shuttle that we’ve done a couple times is from near Nisqually John Landing to Blyton Landing on the Snake River west of Clarkston. Both locations are Army Corps of Engineer boat launches complete with pit toilets and large parking areas. We immediately cross over to the opposite side of the river where we can watch the abundant wildlife where side canyons drop to the shores of the Snake. This ends up being about a 7 mile route. Unfortunately, there isn’t much current to help us out thanks to the slack waters behind Lower Granite Dam. The river is wide here and we’ve had gusting head winds slow our progress and make for some rough paddling. Fortunately, the Sea Eagle handles the waves well.
Asotin Slough to Beachview Park
During our record breaking heatwave the first of July, a favorite shuttle was from the Corps of Engineers launch at Asotin Slough down the Snake River to Chestnut Beach in Clarkston. We start the route by paddling to the Idaho side of the river and enjoying the scenery of Hells Gate State Park with its massive basalt columns that tower over the river banks. Near the Hells Gate Marina, there are two different beaches that we can stop and enjoy a swim at. This really helps break up the paddle on a 110 degree day! From there, we cross back over to the Washington side where we parallel Clarkston’s beautiful Greenbelt Trail to Chestnut Beach below Beachview Park. There we enjoy another swim and then load the kayak onto our awaiting truck. This is a roughly 6.5 mile route and is a great way to enjoy a warm summer’s day.
Jason spent a fair amount of time in a canoe during his youth, so he was confident he would enjoy the kayak…and to be fair, Jason is really just a big kid. He likes anything that can be considered ‘play’. My water sports experience was primarily limited to fast moving bass boats. I suspected I would enjoy a kayak, but I had no paddling experience to draw from. Turns out I love the kayaking experience! We both love the physical activity as well as the peace and quiet associated with a non-motorized watercraft. I am currently planning our fall 2021 travels and kayaking is going to be a big part of those adventures.
What We Like About Our Sea Eagle
We have found there is a lot to like about our Sea Eagle. Simply put, we love it and have been very happy with our purchase. Here are some things we really like:
- Excellent beginners kayak—a lot of entertainment for a low entry cost
- Good quality for the price point
- Light weight and compact—everything fits in a bag! The size and weight make it great for shuttle trips with our Honda Accord and it will easily stow into our RV’s pass through storage compartment.
- Inflates quickly and easily
- Seats are comfortable for being inflatable
- Doesn’t feel tippy and is stable in rough water thanks to the large side air chambers
- Effective and simple to operate air valves
- High frequency welded seams which Jason felt would be more durable for our storage conditions (vs glued seams)
- Responsive customer service
What We Don’t Like About Our Sea Eagle
Honestly, there is nothing we strongly dislike about our Sea Eagle. But a few minor annoyances include:
- Paddling not as efficient as in a hard-shell kayak
- We suspect a hard shell-kayak would track better, although we do “ok” with proper weight distribution
- Minimal storage space—this kayak is rated for 3 people, but even Sea Eagle clearly states “most easily fits two adults”. There is no way you are fitting 3 average height adults in this kayak. It is comfortable for Jason (5’10”) and me (5’6″) with just enough room for our 30 liter dry bag.
- Moderately poor instructions provided for how attach the air valves to the kayak during assembly. On a positive note, Sea Eagle’s Customer Service was incredibly responsive as we worked through this issue.
Must Have Accessories
There are two accessories that we consider essential for enjoying our kayak, life jackets and a dry bag. Jason and I are both strong swimmers, but we always wear a life jacket. We ask that you please consider doing the same. We want everyone to have a great time and stay safe during their adventures! The waterproof dry bag allows us to carry a few essential items such as food, water, foot pump, and sunscreen. We purchased a 30L and that size seems to work well for us in this size kayak.