need newbie recommendation

I’m a newbie looking for a packable inflatable I can use to go around the coast of SE Alaska and maybe take on trips.

I’ve been looking at the low enders-Sea Eagle 330 package and Advanced Elements Lagoon 2. I’m surprised the the number of good recommendations I’ve found on the Sea Eagle 330 but it does look a bit mroe like a large pool float thean the Lagoon2.

The Lagoon 2 weighs a good 10 lbs more but carries 150 lbs less. The 330 also has a 3 yr instead of a 1 yr warranty like the Advanced Elements. I can’t find any comparisons on how they track, etc.

Does anyone have any experience/recommendations with these?


lesser of two evils.
A coworker owns the advanced elements boat you are interested in. He has used it on a few easy rivers and only almost died a couple of times but found out how truly horrible they are in any sort of wind last year. He was out in fairly mild 10-15kt winds and couldn’t go straight across the wind or make any progress into it.

The sea eagle inflatable should be a good choice if you limit it to small ponds or heated swimming pools in SE alaska.

what would you recommend instead
we were trying to keep the pack weight down so we can take it in to some hike to only lakes and streams.

Also living in AK, we try to keep shipping ripoffs to a minimum and often stay with Amazon…

for small lakes and streams
the advanced elements boats are way nicer than the sea eagle. The frames on my coworkers boat got bent fairly easily in a rocky river. The newer skinnier models like the elite look like they would track better in wind. I think anything that’s truly back packable is going to be a big compromise for paddling.

Pakboat - NM

If you’re serious, look at the Innova
designs. They split the difference between Sea Eagle and hardshell sea and touring kayaks in performance.

Sea Eagle tries to stake out a price point in the market, and for less serious conditions, that’s OK.

But if you’re talking Alaskan coast and similar waters, only the very best inflatables are even worth considering. And bring both your wallets.

Where around the coast of AK?

– Last Updated: Apr-03-13 5:45 PM EST –

Do you have a particular stretch in mind, or distance? There may be folks on this board with local knowledge of the offshore stuff.

maybe Aire Superlynx + a sea eagle 330?
Ok-looking to go mostly around Juneau and further out as we hopefully improve. Occasionally to pack into some of the lakes around Juneau. It would be me and the boyfriend or just me and a large dog.

I looked at Innova and they seem about as good as Aire but they only have a 2 yr warranty.

If I went all out I could get an Aire Super Lynx for around $1750 or so delivered with a 10 yr unlimited warranty. At 46 lbs it’s at the upper end of packable for me when alone but doable for short walks to the water. Definitely not for me packing into a lake by foot.

I want something safe but don’t want to buy something that could take us forever to grow into skill-wise. It feels like I’m looking at maybe one really good kayak and one cheap one that I actually can pack into a lake on foot… AAAggghhh!

Growing skill-wise
It appears that there are a number of guiding outfits that take tours out of the Juneau area. If offshore paddling is your goal, I suggest that you talk to them BEFORE buying a boat. Given the water temps around there, what you regard as better skills may not be nearly good enough.

And start saving for a dry suit.

second the suggestion of a folder
There’s a vast difference between an ultralight inflatable craft that you might want to pack into a small alpine lake or shallow stream and a kayak that is rugged and maneuverable enough for the rough water, winds and strong tides of coastal Alaska.

I agree with the suggestion to look at folders like the Pakboats rather than inflatables. The new Pakboat XT-135 models, properly outfitted (and as Celia points out, this will include a drysuit, and I would add a sea sock) are seaworthy enough for the Pacific coast. Since they are replacing the soon-to-be-discontinued XT-15, you

may be able to find discounted deals on the latter. We’ve had an XT-15 for nearly 3 years and it’s a fully competent touring kayak that is under 40 lbs. It tracks beautifully even in wind and strong current and handles rough water well. With its ladder-like aluminum frame and six inflatable sponsons, it handles pretty much like an equivalent sized hardshell, though I feel it and my other folders take steep waves even better than my hardshells by absorbing some of the force (the sponson buoyancy helps this too).

Feathercraft is coming out with a sturdier skinned version of their 25 lb Kurrent folder that could be ideal for all of your planned usage, but that will run you close to $4,000, properly outfitted.

A skin on frame folder is going to be safer and easier to handle in wind and tidal conditions than any inflatable that I’m familiar with. Also a much dryer ride since you can use a sprayskirt over the models with standar cockpit coamings.

already have the drysuit + PFDs
I lucked out and a coworker who got outfitted last year is moving down south. She already sold everything else.

Really looking to pretty much hug the coast and hoped to take my lab and/or boyfriend along. Any suggestions that would accommodate them?

It looks like there are several outfitters in Juneau-but almost all the ads go to the same company that doesn’t really start business until May. Juneau is basically a small town not connected by road to anywhere. I didn’t get any responses to my inquiries with them so I started looking for advice here.

Dogs plus sea water plus kayak

– Last Updated: Apr-04-13 2:12 PM EST –

Not a great plan.

But hugging the coast is not necessarily one either. That is where all the rocks and breakers and tide changes are the most dangerous, unless you are talking very well protected bays.

The reason the outfitters haven't started is probably the temperature of the water. What is the offshore ocean temperature right now where you want to paddle? I am betting it is in fast hypothermia range.

I am not being nasty, but I do not get the sense that you have the education about the ocean required to start going offshore with a dog and boyfriend in tow.

no seasonal businesses start until
there are enough people to support the business, which begins around may. The population more than doubles for the summer as do the small businesses.

I put newbie in the title, said we are just starting out and said I wanted to buy something decent that would be safe but not well beyond a newbie ability to use. We have been out a few times with rentals and classes.

Has anyone paddled in AK before?

she might be better off with the dog than with the BF!

risks / challenges
I have a pair of inflatables (low end Advanced Elements - no frame), a folding boat (Trak), and hard shell sea kayaks. Inflatables are slow as molasses and very much impacted by wind. The Trak acts like a sea kayak, but you need to be aware of extra safety issues (not just the risk of punctures, but also that you really need to use float bags and be aware of what it takes to drain the boat without bulkheads in a rescue).

If I was paddling coastal AK waters, my first choice would be the hard shell touring kayak. Second would be the Trak, and then I would limit myself some. If the inflatables was all I had, I’d find a pond or other protected water to explore. I would mot bring a dog on any of these.

Truthfully, you are trying to get a boat that will do everything, and that just doesn’t exist. Neither inflatable boat you mentioned is one I would take on open ocean (even if you are on the somewhat protected inside passage). Carrying on a hike to a pond or small lake, probably fine.

Taking a dog on a kayak takes a bit of dog training and a special dog, doesn’t work for everyone. I would lean toward a sit on top kayak as a way to take the dog for coastal paddles in somewhat protected areas (but not for open coast - AK has a reputation for some quick weather changes and extreme conditions).


– Last Updated: Apr-04-13 4:07 PM EST –

There's somebody in Juneau selling a Feathercraft K-1 for $2,000. I had one that exact same year model and it would certainly work for the coast (in fact the one I owned I bought from a guy who used it for a monthlong trip to the Inside Passage and Kenai Peninsula). It has a super sturdy frame and a very good rudder. If it is in good shape (and the aluminum frame is not corroded together) that is a decent price. They are nearly $5,000 new now.

There is also a CD Storm hardshell for $750 that would do the trick. You don't mention your size -- both boats could be a handful if you are under 5' 5".

I used to paddle with a guy who had a boat similar to the Storm -- he had a very docile Keeshond who rode in the stern hatch with him when he paddled, wearing its own PDF (he filled out the hatch with flotation bags to prevent flooding it and made a sort of sea sock for the dog to sit down in.) If your dog is small enough and well-behaved, that could be an option once you have your skills tuned up.

Buy both the K-1 and the Storm and you could eventually paddle the coast with dog and beau.

As you have no doubt picked up from our comments, the idea of paddling a $200 to $500 inflatable out in coastal Alaska is tantamount to thinking you could drive a golf cart on the racetrack during the Indy 500.

OK - got it on the business

– Last Updated: Apr-04-13 3:58 PM EST –

I should have realized that.

Re the rest, you are trying to gain safety by the boat you buy. It is a normal response, but it doesn't work when you are talking ocean. Add in cold water and relatively remote areas in terms of others who might see if you are in trouble, and it really doesn't work. Preparation and skills do.

Here's an example - one that could easily be the start of dozens or hundreds of stories that made headlines on the evening news over the years. You go out with dog and boyfriend and the ocean does what she likes - whatever weather report you started with is no longer correct. The wind is coming up in a direction that pushes you away from a safe landing, and is creating waves that are bigger than you can manage with yourself plus entourage. It doesn't take gale force winds to start pushing water into quite noticeable waves over a long distance without land barriers.

Someone stiffens up, or shifts weight, or a particularly big wave comes in and swamps the boat. Some or all of your entourage ends up in the water, and is is damn cold and the dog will start being hypothermic within maybe 20 minutes at the temperatures I expect the water is now. (Did you check this yet?) Water robs body heat 25 times faster than air does, and you can't put the dog in a dry suit.

And while you are sorting out how to get the boat(s) upright, two people and a dog into them and emptied out out of water, the wind is still blowing you away from shelter. It often switches that way in the afternoon.

Here's the question - if you have not learned how to handle that, and if you have added impediments like the dog that will confound any typical rescue procedures for kayaks on open water - how do you save the dog? Let alone you or the boyfriend.

No boat in the world can fix this without you having the skills. Someone will mention sit on tops, which should ideally simplify getting on board. But I can tell stories of people who could not manage that themselves, let alone help a dog do so. And even if you all get back up there, you still have to paddle back against the wind and waves that capsized you in the first place, with a dog that is shivering dangerously.

An inflatable offers more protection in some respects that a full out sea kayak, but add the dog and you really haven't made things a lot better.

I wish this was far-fetched. Unfortunately it is not. This happens, and you need to take this whole thing a lot more deliberately to make sure it doesn't happen to you. At the very least, leave the dog at home until you are safe out there. He/she should not have to risk sharing in your learning curve the hard way.