AE Expedition

For all you inflatable gurus. I took a small dive and purchased the AE Expedition.I found it at a good price on line. My question.Is the aluminum back bone needed?I can purchase locally at the same price as online so I have not ordered yet.

I am 30 minutes from Galveston bay, Lake Conroe & Lake Livingston along with many bayous & rivers. So my paddling opportunities are endless.

I have read the reviews but any hints and suggestions would be appreciated.


Kayaker Kooman

I am no expert on inflatibles.
Infact, Ive never even paddled one. But I think the back bone is optional since it came out long after the kayak model did. I just gives it alittle more rigity. Good luck with your new touring kayak. :slight_smile:

is it the Advanced Elements one?
any inflatable kayak needs to be stiffened somehow…

with either extra air filled tubes running the lenght (and then they might not be sturdy enough) or with some sort of other type of reinforcement-fiberglas rods aluminum etc…

with out that rod the boat might just fold in half if you start hitting some bumpy water…

the secret to getting an advanced elements baot to paddle well is: 1/8th plywood cut to fit the bottom of the boat…works wonders…

AE backbone
It’s not an absolute necessity. Some people swear by them, and they will improve the rigidity of the boat, but the AE lines track and handle pretty well without them. If there’s no price difference to getting it locally then I would try the kayak without it first. It doesn’t sound like you’re going through any really rough waters where it might make a significant difference.

Just my $0.02.

good luck!

AE kayak and backbone
So I have an AE convertible and a backbone. I use it in flat water and in the ocean.

The backbone is not mandatory, but is helpful. For longer paddles and for rough water, the backbone seems to make the kayak cut through the water better and ride over waves a little better.

I’m happy with my backbone, and plan on continuing to use it.



The Backbone is helpul…
…if you have the kayak under inflated. The kayak when inflated properly with the correct pressure will perform wonderfully and will not fold as some have stated. It is not a necessity. The Backbone is a nice enhancement that does help with longer paddles. It will slightly improve the overall speed, tracking and performance of the kayak. It is mostly helpful if the kayak is not inflated properly. You will notice a big difference in this case.

You do not need 1/8" plywood as someone else has stated. That defeats the purpose of portability of the kayak and it is also not necessary. There are many old reviews of the kayaks from years ago in which some people tried this. The reason is because they never had the kayak fully inflated.

Make sure you have the correct pump. If you inflate with a 12v electric pump, it will not completely inflate the kayak. They do no supply enough pressure. You will need a Double Action Hand Pump or Bellows Foot Pump to complete the inflation process and receive full pressure.

For more helpful hints and advise from fellow paddlers, you can visit Advanced Elements website and join their forum and/or email Advanced Elements directly.


You can make your own cheap.
I have 4 inflatables. From low-end Sevylor/Stearns to $700-$1300 custom made rapid runners. However, no AEs. But from what I’ve heard, you can find a $3 length of PVC at your local box-hardware store, sand and glue caps on the ends of the plastic pipe to get the same effect. Also, if your boat didn’t come with footpegs/inflatable foot pads, go to a site like and click on their accessories. This might help even more. Myself, I just paddle skeg-less duckies real aggressively.

A couple of issues.
If you get PVC piping, it is much more flimsy then the high grade aluminum used in the backbone. The Backbone has ends pieces that are like a shovel or paddle. These pieces wedge between the outer shell and the tube to secure the backbone in place so that it doesn’t shift on you when paddling. Also, the Backbone breaks down into 4-5 pieces depending on what size you get for your respectable kayak. The idea is portability and strength. I wouldn’t want to carry a 10’ + pipe with me to put in the kayak. Novel approach, just don’t think you will get the desired effect.


Granted, those are good issues, but
my suggested solution costs only about $3 - $12, to experiment with (and not an additional $99 for something that probably should have been built into the boat to begin with.) But then again, I also stated I don’t own an AE and I have nothing against or for them. It seems to me, if someone is at all handy (and so inclined) they can look at the on-line instruction manual for this aluminum “backbone” and attempt to recreate the piece themselves with the lightest material they could find – end paddles included. Couplings can keep it portable. Most kayakers I know (both hard and softshell) have no problem with making their own personal modifications inside the boat as long as they don’t damage it. But hey, who knows. If the original poster is that overly concerned about what looks good on the inside hull of their boat, then maybe they’ll just poney up the cash. Since they obtained the boat at a reduced price to begin with, I assumed they were economical and didn’t have extra money to burn like you.