Bluewave Glider Drop Stitch Kayak

A review based on 3 years experience

Review by Daniel Woodley. Published to Off Topic on the 6th of July 2023.

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I’ve paddled over 500 miles in the Bluewave Glider drop stitch kayak, mostly on the middle Thames around Henley, Maidenhead and Windsor, and also a few miles on canals, lakes and smaller rivers.

This is my honest review.

In a hurry?

Here are the key points:

  • Best for serious paddlers who wish to cover distance efficiently, it’s not a toy.
  • It’s rigid (10psi).
  • I found it unstable/wobbly at first.
  • The most comfortable seat I’ve ever experienced – with a high, supportive back.
  • Easy to assemble, deflate and can be wiped clean in minutes.
  • I found that it stays in a straight line with minimal effort.

Video Review

Watch my 9 minute video review of the Bluewave Glider drop stitch kayak:

Key Points/Specs

Important stuff:

Length: 3.9m.

Width: 0.7m.

Weight inflated: 14.3kg.

Material: Drop stitch, all three chambers can be inflated to 10psi.

Seat: High back, four connection points.

Seat cushion: Yes, removable.

Foot rest: Yes, removable.

Carry bag: Yes, revised with the latest version, now has wheels and shoulder straps.

Max load: 225kg.

Photos

Carrying the kayak

Carrying the kayak

In the boot of a Ford Focus

In the boot of a Ford Focus

Underside of the kayak

Underside of the kayak

Kayak valves

Kayak valves

Bag with shoulder straps and wheels

Bag with shoulder straps and wheels

Bluewaver Glider on the water

On the water

Pros and Cons

I’ve completed over 500 miles of paddling in this kayak and here are the pros and cons based on my experience:

Pros

I’ve found this kayak very easy to assemble – it only has three chambers and the pump is decent, taking 4-5 minutes to fully inflate the kayak.

The seat is easy to clip in and is very supportive, it has a high back and doesn’t slip or slide out of place, even after many hours of kayaking.

The material on the kayak doesn’t absorb moisture, and dries out quickly and resists mould; I usually tip the kayak upside down to drain any water and then go over the surface with a towel.

The Bluewave Glider is narrow and stays on heading; I’ve never had issues keeping it going in a straight line.

It’s lighter than the two previous inflatable kayaks I owned. It also has handles at each end, so two people can easily carry it.

Once deflated, the kayak is compact, I can fit the kayak, bag, pump and seat in the boot of my car with plenty of room to spare.

Cons

If you want a fast kayak that cuts through water like a hot knife through butter, then you need a narrow kayak and those are always unstable and feel tippy. This kayak from Bluewave is no exception – at first I found it very wobbly and difficult to keep upright but after the first hour or so, I got the hang of it. I still have to take extra care when entering and exiting the kayak. This is not a family kayak where you can move about in it without a care in the world, you need to stay focused to keep it steady.

It doesn’t have side handles, these would make it easier for one person to carry it.

It’s slow to turn – this isn’t a whitewater kayak but rather a long-distance tourer designed for large lakes and slow-moving rivers.

The updated version of this kayak comes with a rucksack bag complete with wheels, while my older version has a junk wrap-around bag. If you’re buying second-hand I suggest you double check it comes with the newer bag which is miles better.

Maintenance Tips

I’ve never had any issues with cleaning, storing or maintaining the kayak and after each session, I do the following:

  • Open the drainage cap and turn the kayak over.
  • Hold the kayak up at one end to drain any water. Then hold the opposite end up to drain water from that end.
  • Repeat holding each end up until all the water has drained out of both ends.
  • Go over the kayak with a towel.
  • Release air from the three chambers, then use the pump in reverse to pull out any remaining air.
  • Fold the kayak and place it into the bag with the pump, seat, footrest etc.

At the end of each paddling year (usually late Autumn), I hose the kayak down to remove any debris from the seams and buff the surface with a PVC cleaner, I then put the kayak into long-term winter storage.

Who I Recommend This Kayak To

This kayak isn’t suitable for everyone; the main issues are stability and cost.

If you just want to poodle about on a lake for a few minutes and relax with your feet up, you may find the Bluewave Glider both expensive and too wobbly.

However, if you want to cover serious distances and want a kayak that is narrow, firm, cut’s through the water and paddles efficiently and in a straight line, this one is for you.

I don’t recommend the Glider for casual users, it’s better suited to those who have previous experience in a kayak and/or plan on covering lots of miles on slow-moving rivers or large lakes.

Alternatives to Consider

I owned two other inflatable kayaks before purchasing the Glider by Bluewave and neither were made from drop stitch. Both were considerably inferior in terms of performance with one being so cumbersome, it went drastically off-heading with every stroke of the paddle. The second kayak I previously owned was over-engineered with lots of air chambers and a separate floor that was awkward to set in place and difficult to dry.

If you just want a casual, stable kayak for poodling about on a lake, consider a traditional inflatable “dinghy” type kayak but if you want to cover some miles but are looking for something less tippy than the Glider, consider this alternative from Bluewave:

Bluewave Cruiser

Bluewave “Cruiser” | Sold Via Amazon

The Bluewave Cruiser is similar to my Glider but instead of three drop stitch chambers, it has one drop stitch floor chamber and two tube chambers (one on each side); this improves stability considerably.

The kayak has all the other features of the Glider; a decent carry bag, a good seat, paddle, foot rest etc. and is available in one or two-person sizes.

What is Drop Stitch?

Drop stitch material is often used in the construction of stand-up paddle boards and more recently in kayaks.

The video below explains what drop stitch is:

Author: Daniel Woodley

Daniel has over 18 years of experience in the construction, home improvement, and landscape garden industries.

He also enjoys scrambling and hiking in Snowdonia and the Lake District.

Away from the mountains, Daniel often kayaks on the rivers Thames and Wey.

More About Daniel Woodley.

Daniel Woodley

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