Is the Expedition a Best All-Round Kayak?

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lee johnson
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Is the Expedition a Best All-Round Kayak?

Post by lee johnson » Thu May 05, 2022 1:17 pm

Of course, there cannot be only one "best all-round" kayak because we all come in different sizes. Above every other consideration, we should choose kayaks that suit our height and weight. For those 6'+ and 200 lbs.+, for example, medium and small kayaks make no sense, regardless of type or design. I am just over 6' and around 225 lbs. I have owned or tested 60 kayaks in the past decade and a half and have been happiest when the watercraft accommodated my frame. The two that stand out are a 17'6" hard shell with large cockpit and the Advanced Elements AFX Expedition. To cut to the chase, after six years, I sold the magnificent hard shell but have retained the Expedition because of its nearly equal performance and much greater portability for this inveterate traveler. There is a case to be made for the AFX as a leading candidate for best all-round kayak for the larger paddler. As we all know, the AFX holds up to 450 lbs. of paddler and gear and is thus admirably suited for overnight camping trips to remote places. It comes in a new bag that can be carried like a suitcase or slung over the shoulders like a backpack. It is worth comparing my 2021 "Elite" and its drop-stitch floor to my 2007 Expedition and its patented BackBone and air mattress floor. The advantage of the "Elite" and its drop-stitch floor is a faster set-up time and incomparable primary stability. Unless you get wet, you can leave the drop-stitch floor in place between paddling sessions. The older air mattress floor with BackBone, which is highly recommended, takes a bit more time to install and align. The rewards for the extra effort are a hull speed up to 10% faster than the drop-stitch floor and a V-shape to the hull for better tracking compared to the flat shape of the drop-stitch floor and its side chines. Recently, I faced high winds and whitecaps so severe that paddling directly into them was almost impossible. I was glad to have my 2007 Expedition with BackBone on that occasion because I felt that the newer "Elite" would have spun around on its comparatively flat hull. The "Elite," though, is so close in its performance under more normal conditions that its faster set-up is a real advantage, so much so that some people who have used the BackBone and then the drop-stitch floor have ended up routinely preferring the newer arrangement. I think both are "keepers," and if I anticipate unruly conditions, I will choose the BockBone in my older model. Otherwise, the new "Elite" is compelling for its convenience. Tip: the drop-stitch floor is hard, like a board, and you might want to put a foam pad on the seat to make your butt more comfortable in long paddling sessions. The older air mattress floor is, of course, much softer but requires, in my experience, the BackBone to improve its hull speed and tracking. Final thought: The AFX Expedition, whether older model with BackBone or newer model "Elite," is portable, performs and tracks well in all but the most extreme conditions (true of all kayaks, even sea kayaks), and is perfectly suited to larger paddlers who are looking for that best all-rounder. I have sold or given away most of the eighteen kayaks I have owned in the past fifteen years but have kept my 2007 and 2021 Expeditions. That tells you all you need to know!

lee johnson
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Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 2:51 pm
Location: vancouver canada

Re: Is the Expedition a Best All-Round Kayak?

Post by lee johnson » Fri May 20, 2022 3:10 pm

Another final thought: the new AFX "Elite" Expedition kayak has a holder cemented into the stern for the installation of a rudder. The AE rudder could be a very useful accessory for the flat-bottomed "Elite" and its drop-stitch floor and greatly enhance tracking in windy conditions. With the rudder, the "Elite" must surely track as well as the rudderless, older AFX with BB and air mattress floor. The rudder here, as is true of the skeg for the AirFusion EVO, acts a lot like a keel for longitudinal stability. Over the years, I have found the skeg to be almost a necessity for the EVO, and I may try a rudder for the "Elite" AFX - and probably end up using it routinely. Gotta like the way AE's people come up with solutions to our little problems!

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PJohanson
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Re: Is the Expedition a Best All-Round Kayak?

Post by PJohanson » Sun Jun 26, 2022 10:26 am

I agree with Lee!
Though I've paddled only some 30 or more models of kayaks, not the 60 he has tried, I agree that the Expedition is a TERRIFIC all-round kayak.
There are models of kayak that are best for a specific purpose, and the specific purpose of the Expedition is to be a folding kayak. It is so portable, and it is a great combination of folding ability and good on the water. I have used mine in conditions where being a folding kayak wasn't important, and oboy! the Expedition out-performs a lot of boats for a variety of paddling needs.
I need stability, as someone without a good sense of balance, and the Expeditions has stability.
I need a boat that steers well, and the Expedition turns and makes me feel in control, even without a rudder.
When paddling with friends in 10-foot and 13-foot recreational kayaks, my Expedition at 13 feet is sleek and faster. When paddling with friends in 16-foot and 18-foot kayaks, my Expedition keeps up at ordinary paddling speeds. The width of the hull encourages a steady paddling speed that i can keep up ALL DAY.

lee johnson
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Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 2:51 pm
Location: vancouver canada

Re: Is the Expedition a Best All-Round Kayak?

Post by lee johnson » Thu Jun 30, 2022 6:39 am

Great comment, PJ! I am also a fan of the Lagoon, of which you are queen or empress, at least! Given my physical size, though, the Expedition is best for me. A few weeks ago, my brother and I paddled an "old" Expedition (yellow) and a "new" Expedition Elite (blue) on a Chain of Lakes in Minnesota. He ended up preferring the Elite and its drop-stitch floor - for its simplicity and ease of assembly. I still retain a fondness for the BackBone and its slight edge in hull speed and tracking. My brother lives near the new AirKayaks in Ft. Worth TX and will probably pick up a couple of the "new" Expeditions. I should add that he is even large than I am, and so an Expedition is the perfect choice for him. In sum, I agree with you that as an all-rounder, the Expedition is hard to beat.

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