I am a new paddler looking to buy my first kayak. I was researching and it seems that my best option thus far with a budget of about 800 is an Advanced Elements Inflatable. I would like to know if anyone has any suggestions as to whether the Advance Frame Kayak or the Ultralite Expedition Kayak is better. I am looking for ease of manueverability and speed (as much as one can expect with an inflatable). Any advice would be helpful.
Don’t buy an Advanced Frame
Hey, just a warning. I bought one of the Advanced Frame models and though it paddled fine it broke after only four uses. The design flaw is that the entire assembly of float tubes, floor, and deck is held together by one large zipper on the bow of the kayak. This zipper must be closed when the boat is fully inflated, which makes it very tight. After only a few uses it broke one day while I was assembling it. Problem is, once that zipper breaks your kayak is finished (and they wouldn’t do anything to help me either). Personally, unless you weigh over 220 I’d go with the Innova Safari or the Innova Helios for a budget of around 800, but steer clear of the advanced frame.
Are there specific reasons why you're thinking of an inflatable rather than a hard shell boat? I see in your profile that you're interested in paddling "lakes/flatwater" and "slow rivers", in which case either a hard shell rec boat or a full grown sea kayak just might work even better for you (unless you just can't transport a hard shell boat for some reason).
In terms of cost, you may well be able to find a good used hard shell boat for about the same cost as the inflatable you mentioned. There are often some very nice used boats being offered for $800, give or take a few dollars.
For instance, on the Pnet classified ads right now, there's this boat in Maine:
It's just a bit more expensive, but it looks like it could work for you.
In the Maine listings at craigslist.com, there's a Perception Eclipse/Sea Lion for sale, but there's no stated price...just a "Make me an offer I can't refuse" note:
There may also be local ads you can look through if you're interested, or even local outfitters who might have bulletin boards for classified ads.
If you look in the Pnet classified ads for neighboring states, you may also find something close enough to make it worth the drive to see/try the boats.
In any event, good luck finding a boat, and I hope you can get on the water soon! :-)
The reason I am looking at inflatables is that I have very limited storage space and I move around a lot. I am currently in Kentucky and will be moving to Maine in the next seven weeks or so for six months and after that I will be moving to Texas. I also drive a Pontiac Grand Am, and roof racks for cars like this start at around 400, which is already half my budget for a kayak in the first place. I really love kayaking, and want to get into the sport, any suggestions?
I have had an Advanced Frame for 3 years, and have had it out in rivers and lakes approximately 70 times. I had to replace the floor once. Customer service is excellent from my experience. Since the kayak is 34 inches wide, it will not move as fast as a hardshell, and I would guess that the Expedition will go faster due to its 2 and 1/2 feet additional length. The Advanced Frame has good maneuverability although it has no rocker(curvature for fast turning). When I get it home I have to dry it out completely on the inside with a towel, which takes a little effort. I am very pleased with my boat and its portability, but am curious about the Expedition version and will try one at at the next REI Demo days in May.
I like my A.E. too.
But i like my Innova even better.
For $800. you could get an Innova Sunny or Solar 405 (a double – only available from one distributor here in the U.S.).
Both Innova boats are easily converted into a solo.
A.E. = Hyundai
Innova = Volvo