Pakboat Puffin Swift vs. AE Convertible

-- Last Updated: Nov-27-11 11:48 AM EST --

I just recently have come across the opportunity to pick up one of either of these two foldable/inflatable models. Both of them are used and both are in very good condition. The price is right and I'm likely going to buy one or the other of them this week.

I'm not looking for anything terribly expensive, so these seem to be the right deals for me. This boat would not be my primary (or even secondary, for that matter) paddling boat. I have sea kayaks with which I am quite happy. This boat is going to be for those times when I am traveling and cannot take my big boats with me, but may want to have the opportunity to paddle.

Right now I am leaning toward the PakBoat Puffin Swift (14'), but I have also heard good things about the Advanced Elements Convertible (15').

Thoughts? Recommendations? Pros? Cons?

Thanks in advance for your help.

info about the AE…
Not telling you which to choose (kind of a rookie here), but I can tell ya the goods and bads I know about the AE…I have an Advanced Elements Expedition, pretty much the single seat version of the Convertible.

Good Stuff - if you get good at the assembly, it’ll take about 10 minutes or less; packs up neatly into one bag; outside surface won’t crack (could tear or rip, but it’s easy to fix); ridiculously huge weight capacity (450 lbs or 204 kg for mine; 500 lbs or 227 kg, possibly more for the Conv.); large opening to enter the cockpit; if you’re larger than normal like me you may feel squished by the inner tube, but it will conform to your body once it’s in the water; I haven’t had to contact the company, but they have a great reputation in customer service (even for secondhand owners); quite comfortable especially if you add a little pad to the flooring of the seat; if you tip over, you did it on purpose (haha!).

Bad Stuff - gains 5-10 lbs when it’s wet; requires full disassembly and some extra work to thoroughly clean it; not much outside storage (but a lot of space to tuck stuff inside); can be affected by the wind; water can leak inside where the zippers meet the coaming of the cockpit (avoided by plugging the little hole…a lot of ideas can be used); a little slower than high-end hard-shells; the rubber on the bow and stern can crack if you hit enough debris (fixed mine with duct tape!).

I hope some of that helps you out!

If the intended purpose is for travel then I would go with the Puffin Swift. The AE Convertible is a fun boat, but it folds into a very large package, and is difficult to get fully dry and back into the bag.

Though I admit I have not owned an AE boat, I do have a Pakboat (the XT model, but it’s the same materials and basic construction)and am familiar with the AE’s from paddling with and around people that have them. The AE’s seem to me more like toy kayaks, for light recreational day use in protected conditions. The Pakboat products impress me as more rugged, more portable and performing more like a hard-shell boat. The Pakboat Puffins also have far more storage capacity and can be paddled with the deck off or on. Due to the frame design, the PBs seem to have more inherent structural rigidity than the AE models and therefore less resistance when paddling. They are more of a skin-on-frame plus sponsons, whereas the AE boats are primarily inflatables with some nominal framing.

There are a number of YouTube videos of people paddling Puffins and AE kayaks – if you watch them you can see that the AE’s appear to be more sluggish and don’t track as well.

But most of all, the Puffin is HALF the weight of the AE Expedition. That alone is worth selecting the Pakboat.

I used the AE convertible for a year as a first yak and I’d say given your experience go with Pakboat for it’s better performance. Convertible would be fine for rec use, camping etc. but coming from sea yaks you’ll be happier with more performance.

I would rate the AE as more bombproof and rugged than a pakboat. I’ve been out on overnights with people in them many times with no issues. Last trip I took with a pakboat there were some issues. I would still go with the pakboat though, it’s an all around better boat.


Of the two you mention, I would opt for the Pakboat - I think the AE Convertible is too big. Have you looked at the 13’ AE Airfusion? - it looks much better than the convertible.