Looking for my first inflatable kayak. Have narrowed the choice to the advanced elements convertible tandem or the aquaglide columbia tandem. Both are 15 feet long . I have seen the aquaglide but not the AE. Workmanship of the Aquaglide appears good. My wife and I will be using the kayak on lakes or rivers,possibly WW1 also. Both are about the same price if I get the DS floor in the AE. Any advice appreciated.
one vs. the other
The AE is more versatile in that it offers the backbone option to increase rigidity and has sprayskirt options. The Columbia has niether. Whichever you get, be sure to get a good pump and inflate them well. And always have a patch kit with you.
Be prepared, if you have not yet paddled inflatables, for the fact that they don’t track anywhere near as well as hardshells and skin-on-frames and are quite slow. They are also a wet ride and neither model has scupper drains (thus the AE with skirt option might be the better choice).
In case you haven’t considered
AIRE products, here is one in a similar price range to the AE you mentioned. The Sawtooth is a part of their “Tributary” line which has a great reputation for value for the money.
This is a salf-bailer meaning water you take in from the sides will drain out the bottom. This MAY mean a bit wetter ride, but when not overloaded, the water that comes IN the drain holes typically stays on the sides.
A more costly but more versatile option would be the Pakboat XT-16, a hybrid skin on frame folding and inflatable kayak (it has a metal frame, nylon/rubber skin and inflatable sponsons along the side.) It can be set up to be either a solo or tandem boat and will give a dryer ride and much more storage capacity. I've owned two Pakboats, including the slightly smaller XT-15 solo -- very nice kayaks and they perform near as well as hardshell boats in tracking and speed.
And if you want a top of the line tandem inflatable you could take anywhere, the Feathercraft Gemini:
Look at The Boat People
I like my Innovas. Have a Helios 380 and Safari.