I’m a novice, and for transport and storage reasons, I’m planning on starting with an inflatable. I’ve been pretty impressed with the specs and user reviews here on p.net about Advanced Elements. The info on their website, along with their general reputation, looks good to me as well. Since the AdvancedFrame Convertible is a bit longer and heavier than I’d like (and a bit more expensive), I’ve been contemplating either an AdvancedFrame solo model or a Dragonfly2. I’d love to hear from anyone who has opinions about either.
My intended paddling destinations are mostly flatwater rivers and creeks in and around Mobile Bay and its delta, along with some relatively protected saltwater in the area (Bon Secour, Weeks Bay, Mississippi Sound, if you’re familiar with it).
My dilemma is that while I’d like to have the option of bringing a second person (or more gear) along, I’m tempted by the performance aspects of the AF solo. Is anyone familiar with how the Dragonfly2 performs when paddled solo? And does anybody here have experience paddling a closed-cockpit inflatable in light to moderate surf?
I’d appreciate any and all input about these particular models, about Advanced Elements, and about inflatables in general.
Advanced Elements -
The dragonfly series are there lower end boats. The Advanced Frames look like a good value. At 10’, they will be slow. Reviews of the 13’ model seem good - it will be faster. For a lighter weight tandem that is easy to solo, look at the Innova Sunny, or the Sevylor SVX models.
There are many good reasons to go with an inflatable (safety, portablility)- cost savings is not one of them. For a quality boat, expect to pay at least what you would for a plastic boat of similar size.
Excellent IK (inflatable kayak) info can be found a theboatpeople.com.
More entry level. Offers good paddling non the less. The tandem model paddles well but when paddled solo, it can be a bit more sluggish and harder to get around. Quick tip is to stock some gear in the front to help weigh it down so that the overall weight is distributef more evenly throughout the kayak. You will find this to be true in most of the yandem kayaks. The seating positions only allow you to paddle from the rear seat throwing the weight distribution off a little so that most of the weight is in the back causing the front to rise a little out of the water and allow for poorer tracking.
Advanced Frame Series:
The Advanced Frame Convertible is a great kayak in the sense that it allows you different options.
- It comes with an open cockpit which is great especially for sunny days.
- You can purchase the optional zip on deck for either solo or tandem. This allows you to be a little more protected from the elements especially on days with poor weather.
- The different seating position allow you to paddle tandem or you are able to sit in the middle to paddle solo distributing your weight evenly throughout the kayak unlike most tandem kayaks.
The kayak is the heaviest of all the Advanced Elements kayaks at 56 lbs. A carrying cart is a good idea to have to get the kayak from the car to the water or even from an apartment to the car or for whatever distance needs to be covered. Advanced Elements offers a compact cart which you can strap the kayak to while it is in the bag. The cart also fits securely under the bungee deck lacing on the front of the kayak so you can take it with you if you need too.
The Advanced Frame single is a great kayak. It paddles really well and performs much better than a lot of the kayaks out there. It is not slow in the least bit.
The Advanced Frame Expedition is quicker than the 10’ 5" single because it is 13’ long and for the 2007 season the bow and stern have been narrowed a little more for increased tracking and hull speed. It has a lot of on board storage space for extended trips. It weighs only 42 lbs., six more than the 10’ 5" model. Last years version weighed only 38 lbs. and had a polyurethane tube in it compared to the normal PVC tube.
If you are worried about the weight of the Convertible then you can check out the Strait Edge Series:
These two kayaks are sit on tops. They are for more all around paddling. Many get the misconception that they are strictly for Whitewater. This is not the case. They are built to offer more tracking for a sit on top then usual. Most sit on top lack tracking and therefore are used in rougher conditions especially where quick turns need to be made. The Stait Edge kayaks can be used in lakes, rivers up to Class III and Coastal paddling. It wont’t track as well as the Advanced Frames but still allows for a great paddle. They have the option of being self bailing for rougher conditions and non self bailing for calmer conditions. The port holes that drain have caps on them that can be on or removed.
The Strait Edge tandem model incorprates the convertible methodology. It has a third seating position that allows you to paddle solo while sitting in the middle of the kayak. Therefore, your weight is distributed evenly throughout the kayak. It also weighs 47 lbs so it is lighter than the Convertible but it is also a little shorter coming in at 13’ compared to 15’. Overall it paddles really well.
Personally if I was going to be paddling in mostly calm conditions and also wanted storage space for when I paddled solo, then I would choose to go with the Advanced Frame Convertible model. If I wasn’t going on long trips and didn’t quite need the storage space and was paddling mostly in rough conditions, then I would go with the Strait Edge Tandem model. As I stated before, you will get the better tracking out of the Convertible and will have a little more storage room for gear for extended trips. What you need to do is think about where you are going to be paddling mostly and also, how often you are going to use it tandem and about how often it will be used solo. If you are leaning towards paddling mostly solo then you may just want to get one of the single models. If you will be paddling tandem quite a bit then definately go for one of the tandem models.
Hopefully this is helpful in some decision making. And yes, I have paddled all of the models. If you are still having difficulty deciding, look out for any demo days in your area where the companies allow you to test drive the kayaks. Usually you can visit the companies website and it will list demo days. You can also check with local kayak stores and parks to see if anyone is doing a demo day.
Thanks for all the information, both here and on the phone. I hope to be paddling an Advanced Elements kayak (of one variety or another) soon.
AE Airframe Single
I have paddled the 10’5" model for the past 4 years in all kinds of conditions - it is an extremely safe and stable boat! It is not the fastest, a reasonable cruising speed for this boat is about 3-3.5 mph, but it is very comfortable and very rugged. I’m 6’ and about 185 lbs and it is a good fit for me. As a first boat you can’t go wrong with this!
Hey hapi_padlr -
How rough of conditions have you had the AirFrame in? I am a big advocate of the extra safety Inflatables give in rough seas, but I’m curious how well the boat performs in crosswinds, stronger following seas, etc. I would love to here your 2 cents (be they US or Canadian).
I’ve been out on fairly large lakes in 20 knot winds with about a good 3 ft chop (but NOT breaking rollers) and the Airframe felt secure and safe. It rides low enough in the water (and with its short length) that it is relatively immune to cross winds. In following seas it requires some attention to keep your desired heading, but I have never experienced any broaching with it.
Great to hear
Thanks again for everyone’s input. I’m glad to hear that the AdvancedFrame performs well in moderate seas.
I’ve orded an AdvancedFrame solo and can’t wait to get it. I was able to resolve the issue of wanting to have the option of bringing a friend along paddling by buying a used Sevylor that I happened upon locally.