AF Convertible storage space - Update

AE1007-R(2005-Present), AE1004-R(2002-2004)

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evgenk
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AF Convertible storage space - Update

Post by evgenk » Wed Aug 03, 2011 8:48 am

Hey everyone, now that I've taken my Convertible on at least 5 camping trips I can report back with some definitive info on the storage space in this amazing craft. Since I saw lots of questions about storage space on this board I figured I'd share my findings with the rest:


Solo configuration
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Cargo space is never an issue in solo configuration. However I find that the following strategy works best: pack all your gear in smaller dry bags which you can all put into a large back pack in order to carry your gear to the water or while portaging. When loading the kayak, empty back pack and put all dry bags into any available space under the top deck. When full, my large back pack never fits under the top deck.

If you end up with extra items that won't fit under the deck such as a camping chairs you can simply tie them down to the front top deck with bungee cords. The idea here is to keep your center of gravity low. This doesn't matter as much in sheltered lakes or rivers, however when you face the big waves in open water you do want your center of gravity nice and low. I’ve taken my Convertible into open water with 4 foot waves and never had an issue …


Tandem configuration
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AF Convertible provides sufficient storage space for day trip with a small backpack strapped to the front top deck however the same cannot be said if you are packing enough cargo for multi-day camping trip. With two people in the kayak you just don't get much storage under the top deck. I can squeeze a small dry bag in the front, that's about it. If you can pack all your gear into two back packs + 2 camping chairs you should be fine. I use one 100L and one 65L backpacks. The 100L one + 2 camping chairs are tied down on the front deck, while the 65L pack is tied down on top of the rear deck. Be warned though, with this setup the kayak is nowhere near as stable so be extra careful especially while getting in or out as tipping the kayak in shallow water with underwater rocks all around may not be a very pleasant experience ... you can get hurt.

Paddling in the open water this way can be pretty nerve wrecking as well since it would be extremely hard to flip the kayak back should you tip over due to all that extra weight that sits on top of the top deck. I've tipped once by accident while getting into the kayak by myself in shallow water with all the gear tied down to the top decks and let me tell you, I wouldn't have been able to flip it back unless I had solid ground under my feet.

I've paddled through 3 foot waves in open water using the setup above once and this is not something I'd be looking forward to doing again. The extra weight on the top deck manifested itself in all sorts of unpleasant ways and the kayak did not feel very sturdy and stable. Waves hitting it form the side were twisting the kayak and a couple of times I've almost tipped.

So, if paddling tandem with lots of gear, don't get too far away form the shore and stay away from open water. If you happen to tip over, just swim to shore with your kayak, flip it back and keep going.

There's ample storage in this kayak for a day trip in a tandem configuration which is exactly what it was designed for. Loading all the gear for a multi-day camping trip is simply asking too much of this kayak and though still possible your safety could be compromised - use your own judgment here.

I have found a way of overcoming the storage issue by simply towing a cheap inflatable boat with gear behind me. It is a bit harder to paddle this way due to the resistance of another boat however it's much safer and you can take few extra things with you.


Conclusion
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This kayak works great for solo multi-day trips no matter what kind of water you face as well as tandem day trips but don't ask it to haul enough gear for 2-3 days unless you take all necessary precautions.

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sonar
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Post by sonar » Wed Aug 03, 2011 9:14 am

Hi Evgenk
A very nice well put together and informative posting.

This should help a lot of people as there were an lot of questions answered.

evgenk
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Post by evgenk » Wed Aug 03, 2011 11:41 am

Thanks for the kind words Sonar :-)

An addition to my post:

Just read through a blog by borisf on this board about his trips yet again and in the pictures he posted I noticed that he had dry bags attached perpendicularly to his kayak's top deck in front of both paddlers. Spreading the weight more evenly like that would probably make the kayak a bit more stable...

It's also possible that he packs less gear than I do on his trips ... yet again goes to prove that everyone's mileage may vary.

Here's a link to his post:
http://www.advancedelements.com/phpBB2/ ... php?t=1139

nickeldime
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Post by nickeldime » Wed Aug 03, 2011 12:55 pm

The storage space may not be ideal with the AF Convertible, but you can definitely pull off multi-day trips with it if you pack light. We recently did a 2-day trip down the Russian River in California and were able to fit all of our gear on just fine. We had a 35L dry bag in the front, a 10L dry bag in the rear, and a "hobo dry bag" in the middle (trash compactor bags inside a duffle bag). The water was very slow, so the risk to tipping over was minimal.
Image

evgenk
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Post by evgenk » Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:09 pm

Thanks for replying nickeldime!

Your other bag looks like about 35L as well ... So it looks like you managed to pack everything in about 80L which is extremely light in my world ... with that little weight distributed evenly over the kayak I don't think you would have any issues even with fairly good chop in open water.

For trips with my wife I always manage to fill up both of my packs which is about 160L - double from what you have ... hence the issue with all that weight on the top deck negatively affecting the kayak.

Would you be so kind to share what type of gear you pack with you?

nickeldime
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Post by nickeldime » Wed Aug 03, 2011 1:32 pm

Hi evgenk,

My wife and I do a lot of (somewhat) ultralight backpacking, so packing light on the kayak is no different. We have a few Excel spreadsheets with each item and it's weight spec'ed out so we know exactly how much weight we're carrying. Here's the list, which may not look surprising, but we've had to question each item and ask "is it worth it?" and "how can this be lighter?"

sleeping bag x2
sleeping pad x2
tent
alcohol stove & fuel
cooking p0t
plastic silverware
plastic cups
nalgene bottles
water filter
matches
flint & steel
headlamp x2
beanie
hiking pants
socks & underwear
fleece sweater
shirt
rope
pocket knife
swiss army knife
compass with mirror
toothbrush x2
toothpaste
flask (with scotch)
sunglasses
sunscreen
first aid kit
hat
lightweight camp towel
hankies
toilet paper
duct tape
soap
cameras
map
zip ties
camping sink
inflatable pillows
wood saw
trash bag
food
bug spray
sandals
swim shorts
fishing rod and gear

evgenk
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Post by evgenk » Wed Aug 03, 2011 2:02 pm

Funny thing is that my list of gear doesn't look that different ... it's actually a bit shorter and the flask of scotch is replaced with a plastic bottle filled with vodka :-)

I guess I gotta replace some of my gear with lighter equivalents. What kind of a tent do you use?

nickeldime
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Post by nickeldime » Wed Aug 03, 2011 3:07 pm

I spent a lot of time trying to reduce the weight of items. For example, instead of using a MSR stove that runs on white gas (heavy stove and gas must be stored in heavy metal bottle), I use an alcohol stove made from a used can of cat food (light stove and fuel can be stored in plastic bottles). Plastic silverware instead of metal, eat/drink everything from plastic mugs, etc. It was pretty easy to shed a few pounds of gear just by pinching an ounce here and there.

I use a 3-season, 2-person North Face tent. It's nothing special, and weights 7 lbs (3.17 kg), but I don't use a ground cloth and I leave the rain fly at home if there's no rain in the forecast to save weight.

evgenk
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Post by evgenk » Thu Aug 04, 2011 11:06 am

Thanks for the advice! I guess I'll have to go through my gear and see what I can "lighten up". Biggest problem is convincing my wife not to take too much stuff :-)

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PJohanson
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Post by PJohanson » Sun Aug 07, 2011 10:28 am

I agree, the big issue with camping is choosing to take less stuff. It's so nice to be comfortable while camping! But the light-weight tent and sleeping bag and stove are worth it. They're smaller and easier to carry. For clothing, I wear merino wool shirt, sweater, and tights with River Pants (that shed water and evaporate dry quickly) from Moutain Equipment Co-op in Canada. Wool clothing is warm even when damp unlike blue jeans, and it doesn't stink the way polyester or polypropylene does.
Dry bags are essential. I put my few clothes into a plastic bag inside a dry bag. Ditto for my sleeping bag. While camping last week, a rain squall sent a sudden stream of water right through my tent, but since all my gear was in dry bags, my stuff was dry.

JimD
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Post by JimD » Sun Aug 07, 2011 4:05 pm

Ditto for my sleeping bag. While camping last week, a rain squall sent a sudden stream of water right through my tent, but since all my gear was in dry bags, my stuff was dry.
I've not been camping since before I bought the kayak, and without that warning I'd probably have ended up with everything soaked. Thanks PJ, I'll remember to seal up the bags after I have what I need in future!

evgenk
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Post by evgenk » Mon Aug 08, 2011 8:07 am

Dry bags are essential if you plan on using a canoe or a kayak to get to your destination and even if you are hiking. Mishaps happen when you least expect them and in the wilderness they could cost you your life in extreme cases. My moto is: be prepared for the worst.

During one of my first wilderness trips years ago I got caught in a rain storm in the middle of a lake in a canoe, with all my gear inside a regular back pack ... by the time we got to shore and setup a tarp I was left with no dry clothes to change into, the wind picked up and I was freezing cold even though it was just under 20 degrees Celsius. Luckily I was able to borrow some clothes from a friend however if I didn't I would have been forced to turn back as I wouldn't have been able to make it through the night. Hypothermia can happen even in fairly warm temperatures if you are all wet and facing strong winds - it all depends on how quickly you body loses it's heat.

Lesson learned! Since then, I always ensure my clothes and sleeping bags stay dry no matter what happens. When traveling with my wife which requires two back packs I always split all gear in two so that if I end up losing one of the back packs it doesn't turn into a survival situation. I pack half the clothes into each pack, half the food, one sleeping bag in each, tent into one and the tarp into the other and so on ... I also have a very light and compact rain jacket which folds into a size of a large fist and weights close to nothing - it has saved my bum a countless number of times and I never leave without it.

Also ensure all your packs or dry bags are tied to the boat ... this way if you do end up tipping over you don't lose anything.

All those survival experts like Ray Mears and Les Stroud make it seem all too easy to survive with nothing but a knife and piece of flint, but trust me, you don't ever want to end up in that situation!

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PJohanson
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Post by PJohanson » Tue Aug 09, 2011 1:08 pm

Worth mentioning after evgenk's note about having essential gear in each pack -- the clothes in my emergency dunk bag are loose enough to fit either my partner or me. It's no fun tossing my dunk bag at a soaking wet friend, saying "here's what you need" and finding out my old wooly t-shirt and wooly socks are too small for him.
He's also the reason I put more than one energy bar in the dunk bag, cuz big guys seem to need twice as much to eat as I do.

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