There's not a whole lot of water in the Sidney, Neb. area – and even fewer kayakers - so the best way to coax a paddling companion to tag along is by providing the equipment. This inflatable kayak would serve that purpose. I tied my Perception down on my car's rooftop, packed the deflated kayak in the back of my car and headed up north to the Black Hills in search of water. And because I suddenly had access to a second boat, I was able to entice a friend to join me.
The kayak-in-a-bag experiment started at Angostura State Recreation Area, a reservoir with 36 miles of shoreline outside of Hot Springs, S.D. It was like Christmas day as I stood near the lakefront and unpacked the much-anticipated gem from inside its duffel. I unfolded it, inserted the hand-pump adapter inside the chambers, and within a few minutes I was staring at a full-size kayak. In fact, it only took about five minutes to fill the seven total chambers. Chamber one and two fill the main chambers that run on either side of the boat's interior, similar to float bags. Chamber four and five inflate the coaming chamber, which is useful should you want to attach a spray skirt (sold separately).
A separate air mattress lays across the bottom of the boat for extra support. It also doubles as a sleeping pad should you find yourself in need of an extra. And the seat simply clips into place. The adjustable straps can be tightened to your liking for extra back support. The last and final two-second step is to place the plastic inserts labeled "bow" and "stern" into their respective places – and you're well on your way to a fun outing!
Blow up chambers – it's not a lot of hot air
The Advanced Elements™ Spring™ valve is compatible with most standard pumps. Just push in and twist to activate the spring-loaded opening, insert the foot or hand pump adapter and pump away. It's as easy to deflate by pressing in the same spring-loaded button and flattening it out until it's exhausted of air. Using a compression pump is not recommended since the boat fills so quickly, and it would be easy to overfill it.
And featuring…the nuts and bolts
The Advanced Elements inflatable uses a three-layers system that's difficult to puncture, so you'll feel confidant as you glide over shrubs and sticks in swampy water. Layer one, the hull (kayak bottom) is made of a super-thick 1mm 1,000-denier polyester wall with reinforced PVC tarpaulin. Layer two, the tube covering, is made of high-density PU coated polyester. And layer three, the main chamber, is made of heavy-duty 30-gauge PVC. Plus, the hull has double-material reinforcements at the bow and stern and welded-on landing plates for protection when beaching.
The AdvancedFrame™ holds an impressive 300-lbs. maximum weight capacity. I noticed a slight sagging where the hips align with the hull, but that may have been due to not inflating the kayak to full capacity. Besides, although visible from the outside, I couldn't feel the sagging from inside the boat.
There's plenty of on-board storage room for smaller items and dry bags behind the seat, inside the mesh pockets on the back of the seat and underneath the bungee deck lacing. The neoprene paddle guards along the coaming keep hands from getting scraped up along the sides while paddling. There aren't any foot pegs, but a tight cinching of the adjustable seat seems to give you the back leverage needed to paddle. Or you could opt to purchase a friction fit foot brace add-on from Advanced Elements.
Add-ons – those little special extras
AdvancedFrame™ sells a number of useful features to complement their boat, like a spray skirt, which keeps the waves out and the warmth in. You can also upgrade the seat to one with an inflatable lumbar for even more back support. Remember to buy a bellows foot pump or a double-action hand pump to make inflating a breeze. And search cabelas.com for a PFD, a paddle, dry bags and a hydration system of some sort. Don't forget the sunscreen and hat. And waterproof gloves of some sort are advisable when paddling in cooler temperatures.
The solver of small setbacks
I've done a lot of solo kayaking, which I prefer from time to time, but there are occasions when company would be appreciated. Owning only one kayak makes it difficult to entice family and friends to tag along. "Come on! It will be fun for you to watch from the shore as I paddle around the lake." Try this line and you're almost guaranteed an invitation's rejection. The AdvancedFrame™ is not only a price-friendly solution to this predicament, but a space saver to boot during transport. It also solves that problem of not having a rooftop carrier, and alleviates the hassle of transporting two kayaks.
The AdvancedFrame™ kayak also minimizes what I'd call the pack-rat guilt syndrome (PRGS); that nagging internal voice that demands you use every item you've packed for your vacation. With its inconspicuous size, no one ever has to know you've hauled it across four states just so it could sit in your car's trunk. And since it fits easily inside your car or truck, there's no added gas cost associated with the drag created from carrying a boat on your rooftop.
The kayak in a bag also minimizes the neck ache from keeping your head turned and eyes peeled on the kayak on your rooftop while you stand in a 45-minute grocery line waiting to buy that stick of butter. The odds of a rooftop kayak theft increase incrementally over long distances and with each stop. If the kayak isn't visibly lounging on your rooftop as a thief attractant, that worry is suddenly removed and space is freed in your mind for more enjoyable thoughts.
And lastly, purchasing this boat is a great way for the beginning paddler to test the water before diving in headfirst. And this boat so closely simulates the experience of paddling a hard-shelled kayak, you'll be encouraged to continue the sport instead of being thwarted.
A balancing act it isn't
My friend, a first-time kayaker, told me he felt much more comfortable and secure in this boat versus my topsy-turvy whitewater boat. Perhaps the hard-edged bow and stern contributed to its stellar tracking performance. And the built-in aluminum ribs certainly help, considering they give definition to the bow and stern. The skeg tracking fin also contributes to the kayak's grace out on the water.
So what are you waiting for? It's high time you replace the excuses that hold you back from experiencing kayaking with this more tangible and fun AdvancedFrame™ Inflatable Kayak. Buy it today. You won't regret your actions.
View our collection of Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayaks
10'5"L x 34"W.
Maximum weight capacity:
|The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame™ Inflatable Kayak will be available in retail stores and online starting on January 01, 2009. Search cabelas.com using keyword "inflatable kayak" or item number: 02-0371. |