In January 2007, we headed south for a well-deserved month-long vacation in the sunny Caribbean. Of course being avid paddlers, kayaking was a central part of the vacation. It was also an excellent opportunity to try out the Advanced Elements’ inflatable kayaks. It was an excellent trial as the trip involved many aspects that make the new inflatable boats so appealing and advantageous to many paddlers.
Our first hurdle was getting kayaks all the way down to the U.S. & British Virgin Islands. The Advanced Elements inflatables were perfect for the task as they fold up and pack away in their own compact easily carried tote bag. The 13′ Advanced Expedition model weighs 42 lbs thereby meeting the airline weight restrictions for a single piece of luggage. Deflated and folded into its carry bag, each kayak & bag weighed about 45 lbs and measured 36″L x 20″H x 12″D. About the size of a large suitcase, the ‘boat n’ bag’ easily fits into the trunk or back seat of any car and is easily stowed away out of sight at home.
Having arrived in the beautiful Caribbean islands, we put the new AD Advanced Frame Expedition 13′ kayaks to the test. This was not some pleasure paddle around a pond or calm lake either: this was the Caribbean Sea in the Atlantic Ocean. How did these new boats fair?
The kayaks arrived unscathed in St. Thomas (USVI) having flown from Toronto to Philadelphia to St. Thomas. The $20 wheeled luggage carriers we picked up at the last minute worked beautifully as we simply wheeled our boats like suitcases. A double action hand pump was used to quickly inflate / deflate the kayaks 9- separate air chambers in about 10 minutes. The adjustable seat was inflated & clipped in, foot pedals were adjusted, our gear was loaded and we were off kayaking the Sir Francis Drake Channel of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands for a month.
The kayaks built-in aluminum bow & stern ribs and an integrated skeg helped increase hull speed and helped the kayak to ‘track’ (go straight). While their performance wasn’t at the level of a Sea Kayak, it was a pleasant surprise! Back support and overall comfort was good, and the boat’s semi-rigid hull seemed to conform to the waves as it rolled over them. We quickly realized landings were not an issue either as the boats heavy duty PVC Tarpaulin hull material seemed impervious to any wear.
The inflatable kayaks 600 D polyester rip-stop fabric deck stood up fine against the suns hot rays. We would recommend spraying on a coating of 303 Protectant or McNett UV Tech a couple of times annually to protect and prolong the kayaks fabric long term. We also suggest a fresh water rinse after each trip if the boats are used in salt water.
Overall, Advanced Elements 13′ Expedition model exceeded our kayak expectations. The kayaks hybrid / folding frame design set-up & down quickly. The boats and duffle bag were easily transported through airports and streets with a compact roller cart. No extra bag charges were incurred as the boat’s travel weight was less than 50 lbs.
Advanced Elements quality seems high as the kayaks withstood 30-days of daily use. Set-up and take down was a breeze taking less than 10 minutes. Best of all the boats were comfortable and user-friendly… would I travel with Advanced Elements Kayaks again?
You bet! – “A boat in a bag… who da thought?”
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