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New to this community & getting ready to buy an IK

Posted: Tue Aug 18, 2015 7:35 pm
by SurfCruzer
I'm quite intrigued by the AE design but have not been able to find one to look at or try. My paddling experience has always been with hard shell rentals, often a tandem with a movable rudder. Every time we go out we come back talking about buying our own. We have no interest in buying a new car, truck or trailer to accommodate transporting a hard shell but worry we may be disappointed in the performance we will get from an inflatable. We do love the idea of traveling with a kayak folded up in the back of our car and at our disposal.

Most of our paddling is in sloughs, estuaries, ocean bays and so on. We would not be going into the ocean in extreme conditions, but the ocean on a calm day would probably be our most frequent paddle since we live at the coast. I guess if we get the IK we might find ourselves on some lakes when we travel, but probably not on rivers much, certainly not anything of a very high rating.

So, with that scenario set, we are now looking at the AE tandem convertible as a possible good choice for us. We are considering the DS floor vs. the DS with backbone vs. the standard floor with backbone vs. the standard floor alone. It seems they would each perform quite differently.

We are also considering the upgraded lumbar seats, the decks, the spray skirts, foot pegs, et. al.

We would love to hear what those of you who have paddled this boat in similar situations have to say regarding our options and how the boat has performed for you under these conditions.

Thanks for any great stories you all may have to tell. I feel it is actually a bit crazy of me to even consider this kind of purchase without giving it a go around, but as it is, I guess I must rely on the story-telling of others to guide me through this process.

Posted: Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:03 pm
by PJohanson
Are there no paddle festivals in your area? Those days are a good chance to try different models of kayak. A local canoe & kayak store might have a demo model of an Advanced Elements kayak.
If all you get to see of inflatable kayaks is another brand, don't consider them all the same. I've tried other brands and this brand has very good construction.
I've paddled in the Convertible model and liked it better than the hardshell tandems I've rented. The DS floor will probably feel the most like a hardshell hull, more than the standard floor alone.
Spray skirts aren't really needed for the kind of paddling you describe. As for footpegs, you can make do at first with a drybag to press your feet against.
Dunno how big & strong you are, but I'm not a big person. When I'm moving these kayaks in their bags I like to strap 'em to a luggage roller if I'm walking any distance.

Posted: Tue Aug 18, 2015 11:33 pm
by SurfCruzer
Thanks so much for your reply and for the tip on paddle festivals. I just looked and we do have one; looks like it happens in the spring though, not sure I want to wait that long.

I've not found any local shops with any inflatables that are not just in box. Nobody seems to want to sell them badly enough to unpack them. I hear you on all brands not being equal; the AF design is the first I've seen that looks as if it may perform better than a rubber raft.

I've been in hard shells without enough skeg or keel to track well and I felt like I was paddling a leaf across the wind.

Just looking at it, it appears that the backbone makes a pretty good keel, but I'm wondering whether the DS floor is just too flat to track/glide well. I've not found may photos of the bottom of these boats but did find one of the DS floor and it looks very flat. I'd love to see some good comparison photos of the bottoms with and without the BB.

Yes, I'm not a big person either (5'4" female). This boat would be at the top end of what I would lift. Thinking that I would probably not be going out solo though. Even if I would be using it as a single, I would be with another person in their own boat. Safety first, buddy system in place, you know. I do think a luggage roller would be a handy item.

Thanks again for your reply.

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:10 am
by Nighthawk700
SurfCruzer wrote:I've not found any local shops with any inflatables that are not just in box. Nobody seems to want to sell them badly enough to unpack them.
Are you near any REI stores? (You don't mention which country you are from, this is a US chain) They sell some of the AE models; that's where I got my convertible from. I've seen them inflated in the store from time to time. A previous poster mentioned they allowed him to inflate one in the store to get a better feel for it (link below). They also have a very good return policy in case you find this doesn't meet your needs.

I got, and really like the lumbar seat and foot pegs. The spray skirt doesn't seem worthwhile unless you are heading out in rougher conditions. The decks definitely are a nice addition.

See: ... php?t=1848

Good luck!

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 9:46 am
by rlpugh1
From what you are describing, the AFC would be the perfect choice for your paddling. You will probably want the zip in deck conversions (single and/or double) depending on how often you will be paddling solo or tandem. As far as the DS or Backbone goes, you will want to consider one or the other because they are not meant to be combined.

Here is a comparison of the two that I wrote in a different section of the forum:

The backbone and the drop-stitch floor both provide these same benefits: added rigidity and enhanced tracking. They also provide these benefits almost equally, so using both together would be a redundancy.

So why have two items that provide the same benefit? Well...the backbone is the cheaper of both options (by far!) and it creates a V shaped hull, which is what enhances the tracking. The down side is that you have to install and remove it every time you set up and break down the kayak. Additionally, its really not advised to have a hard keel-beam running down the center of your kayak if you are paddling a lot of shallow waters with hidden "surprises" beneath the water's surface. Also, the backbone could potentially get damaged in a heavy surf beach landing.

The drop-stitch floor on the other hand creates a hull with chine, which is what enhances the tracking. Its benefits are the fact that you do not have to install and remove it during setup or breakdown, and it is high pressure which reduces the risk of over inflation. The downsides are that it is much more expensive than a backbone and the fact that you'll probably need extra padding under your butt because the floor is rock hard and can get a bit uncomfortable after a few hours of paddling.

From what you described, I think that the backbone would be the way that you want to go.

Also, not sure where you are located, but there are going to be a couple of demos going on in Oregon in September. I am not sure if they will have an AFC there, but they should have one of the AdvancedFrame models, so you could at least see the construction quality and feel how one of the shorter models paddle.

Posted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 10:06 am
by Nighthawk700
rlpugh1 - Any word on when the DS floor will be available? Last I heard was July 31st, but still haven't seen it offered anywhere. I do a lot of paddling in places where I've touched the bottom, so I think I'd be better off with that than with the backbone.

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 2:01 am
by SurfCruzer
Thank you all for your replies, very helpful. I even learned a new term as I have not heard the term "chine" before, so had to look it up. I'm still not certain I understand it exactly, as it pertains to the DS floor shape.

I'm in Santa Cruz CA, just south of the Bay Area.

I did go to the REI "over the hill" but they didn't have any in stock and the sales clerk told me they are always just in the boxes anyway and that I would not be able to see it out of the box. Honestly, I used to be a big fan of REI but this trip was a big disappointment; the store being virtually empty on a Wednesday morning and the sales clerks being occupied doing just about anything else other than waiting on me. That is not the kind of service I am used to with them. But I digress . . .

I'm glad you mentioned their return policy though; there is value in that and I had sort of written them off as a source, based on that experience. Perhaps I should reconsider.

There is an outfit about 4 hours north of me that seems to sell a lot of AE IKs and accessories, but they are online only, and in spite of the fact that they are located right on a large lake, they do not have any demos. I was willing to make the trip in order to see the boat in person, but they said no.

Are these boats really so good that they sell themselves sight unseen?

Thanks so much for that detailed comparison of the two floors. It is very helpful, now I need to go read more about chine to see if I can figure out exactly what it means in terms of performance.

I tend to favor the concept of the DS floor given that it is simpler and a little lighter, but do wonder if the backbone and basic floor would be better for the bay in terms of tracking and gliding.

Thanks again for all the replies and information.

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 10:00 am
by rlpugh1
Since you are having a tough time finding one that you can check out, the next best option might be to check out the testimonials from AE Ambassadors. The link directs to the Tsunami Rangers (which hail from your area). They are an extreme sea kayaking squad that have started to use the AFC when they travel so that they don't have to haul their own,or rent, sea kayaks. They have been so pleased with the performance that they chose to endorse AE as Ambassadors.

Posted: Thu Aug 20, 2015 10:45 pm
by SurfCruzer
Well, that is an impressive endorsement. Thank you for the link.

I will keep checking back. Still undecided about whether to get the basic floor and BB or the DS. That is the biggest decision , everything after that is simple by comparison.

Oh, except maybe paddles . . . all I know about paddles is that when I rent a kayak they hand me a paddle and I use it. Any comments on paddles?

Posted: Fri Aug 21, 2015 8:37 am
by rlpugh1
You want a paddle at least 230cm in length to accommodate the width of the kayak. A 4-part paddle would be nice too as it can then pack down inside the bag with the kayak.

Posted: Sat Aug 22, 2015 9:39 am
by PJohanson
I recommend the Advanced Elements 3034 Touring paddle. It takes apart into four pieces that fit into any of their kayak bags.
Here on the forum I reviewed two of the AE paddles. The review also appears at my paddle group's website at

At kayak stores they let you pick up and handle paddles. Any two-piece paddle that feels good in your hands will work, but a cheap one from a hardware store will feel heavy and as clunky as paddling with a snowshovel.

Three of my friends who have bought carbon paddles love the lightness -- one bought a bent-shaft style and raves about it. All three paddlers used a carbon paddle first with a rented kayak or at a paddlefest, decided they liked it, then bought the paddle.

Posted: Sat Aug 22, 2015 10:23 am
by SurfCruzer
Thanks for the thoughts on paddles. Good ideas all around.

Anyone else around to weigh in on the DS vs. basic floor with or without the BB?

Anybody have both and switch it up for different conditions?

Oh, and I forgot to ask earlier, but do you know what floor the Tusnami Rangers were using or have chosen for future use?

Posted: Thu Oct 13, 2016 5:16 pm
by PJohanson
SurfCruzer, you were asking about chine.
Chine is a word used to describe the shape of a boat hull.

If you look at a piece of water pipe, it's long and straight, and the curve is the same all the way around. Cut through that pipe anywhere, and the cut ends look like a circle.

If you look at a kayak, it too is long and straight, but it is not curved the same all the way around. Cut through a hardshell kayak about where the paddler's knees would be, and you'll see the hull (bottom of the boat) is not a plain half-circle.

Most hardshell kayaks have a keel down the middle of the hull.
On the sides of the hull, some kayaks have a change in the curve. This change is called a chine and it runs along the side of the hull. It can look like a ridge or groove or simply an angle where the side of the hull abruptly bends to become the bottom of the hull.
Some hardshell kayak hulls are designed to have one chine, some are multi-chined, and some have almost no chine.

When the DS floor is inflated in an Advanced Elements kayak, the rubbery hull is shaped by the floor. Instead of the hull simply being flat between the two sides, the floor pushes the hull down a little, to make a chine all the way along both sides.
This chine works like a keel does, to keep the kayak going straight. It also works to make the kayak more responsive to steering when the paddler is leaning slightly.

I like chine. My sea kayak, a Necky Eliza, has chine and it feels very responsive to my movements. My new Advanced Elements inflatable, a Lagoon, has a stiff foam floor, unlike my old Dragonfly (the old version of this model) which had an inflated floor. I can feel the chine from this stiff foam floor, affecting the glide and straightness and steering of my new Lagoon when I'm on the water.

Sorry this is so long. I hope it makes sense.