AFX (Expedition) vs. Sea Kayak vs. AirFusion Elite

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lee johnson
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AFX (Expedition) vs. Sea Kayak vs. AirFusion Elite

Post by lee johnson » Sat Sep 14, 2013 11:47 am

A general prejudice about kayaks is that hard-shells are better than folding kayaks and inflatables, which one is reduced to using when one does not have storage space for a hard-shell. Moreover, among hard-shells, sea kayaks (17' - 18' for solo paddlers) are superior to mere "recreational" hard-shells (10' - 14' range). Over two days on English Bay here in Vancouver, with similar tides and winds, I took my "cutting edge" sea kayak (17' 6") and my 2007 AFX with BackBone over the same course: about eleven miles. In each case, paddling at a comfortable cruising speed of about 4 mph (7 km/hour), the trips took an identical amount of time: two and three-quarter hours. The only difference in conditions was that, on the day the hard-shell was on the water, its pace was aided by a trailing wind, whereas the day the AFX was out there, I faced a slight headwind.

Don't misinterpret me: the hard-shell sea kayak is simply magnificent, a real beauty, the best hard-shell I have tested among some three dozen in recent years, which is why I was pleased to purchase it. This sea kayak is outstanding for its pace, stability, cargo capacity, and fantastic aesthetic appearance: a "luxury" model, indeed. It is just that the Advanced Elements AFX with BackBone is also magnificent, a real sea kayak with excellent pace itself. In addition, it is portable, lighter in weight, and has greater primary stability, which is important for fishing and photography. Astonishingly, one could buy at least four or five Expeditions for the cost of one good sea kayak. Normally, something like my sea kayak serves as a benchmark against which to measure other kayaks. The AFX, as its performance proves, is also worthy as a standard to which "serious" kayaks should aspire.

In that respect, the new AirFusion Elite comes closer than its original version to the AFX, except for its lack of the much greater carrying capacity of the Expedition. What the Elite offers is similar performance at a lighter weight, making it very attractive as a traveling kayak. And the Elite moves and glides through the water with less effort than anything else I have paddled, including the AFX.

Well, obviously I am a "kayak nut" who appreciates fine watercraft, regardless of the materials from which they are fabricated. But my experience also suggests that traditional prejudices about kayaks need to be modified, especially if one includes AE's thoughtful designs.

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Post by PJohanson » Wed Sep 25, 2013 1:48 pm

Great comparisons, Lee!

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