AirFusion vs Expedition

Get advice on which kayak may be best for you. Compare the different models. "VS."

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AirFusion vs Expedition

Post by visaj » Fri Jul 09, 2010 7:29 am

Hello everybody!

I'm looking for a foldable kayak for everything from short day trips to expeditions spanning for multiple days. I will mostly be paddling on lakes and sea shores, perhaps throw in some nice, calm river too. Point being, I don't expect encountering very bad weather, high waves or raging rapids on my trips.

I've been eyeballing both AirFusion and Expedition, they both seem to be formidable creations. I've read everything I have found about the kayaks in the Internet, so now it is time for discussion. I hope you can help me choose the right kayak for me.

First some background:

I'm not very experienced paddler, but I've been around in a kayak for a few occasions and had a day of white water training (which was, btw, awesome :). I think I'd enjoy having a light and nimble 'yak, hence I'm rather drawn to the sleek AirFusion. There have been a few reports about tracking problems and tendency for weathercocking. I'm sure most of this can be avoided by correctly balancing the craft. Also, if I've understood correctly, the AirFusion has fittings in the stern, that could be used to install a rudder or a makeshift skeg, in case I feel the tracking needs improving. Perhaps a strap-on skeg might be an option, too?

My biggest concern about the AirFusion is cargo space. Is there enough of it? I am of small stature, about 170cm (5'7") tall and weigh 60kg (133lbs), so that should leave some space for the equipment in the hull too. I have also years of backpacking and bike touring experience. During my tours, I've learned to pack rather lightly and efficiently. Do you think it is possible to fit equipment and food for a lengthy (~5 days) trip to the AirFusion? What do you think, would a deck bag bring enough additional space for it to work? If I just could see one in "flesh", it would be easy to approximate the available space... Unfortunately our local dealer does not stock them.

A few days back, I had a test paddle in a AdvancedFrame Convertible. I found it very stable and surprisingly quick. However, given my diminutive size, I found that the kayak was rather wide and the cockpit was a tad too high for my preferences. I felt like I had to reach a bit with each stroke in order to avoid hitting the kayak with my paddle. Of course, I could add padding under the seat to improve my position, but I don't think raising the centre of mass is a very good choise for the stability of the craft. Hence, my biggest doubt about the Expedition is the size of the cockpit.

To sum up my research:

+ better looking
+ lighter
+ better manoeuvrability

+ more stable
+ better tracking?
+ more cargo space
- deck too wide/high?

It seems to me, that I'm trying to justify buying a AirFusion to myself. :)
Are the problems I've found real and if yes, do you think they can be solved satisfactorily? Any other thoughts, something I've missed? I'm grateful for all input!

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Post by PJohanson » Fri Jul 09, 2010 2:24 pm

Ideally, you'd paddle each of them first before choosing.
Is weight a factor? The AirFusion is easier to carry.
Is adequate space for camping gear the deciding factor? The Expedition has more space and decks that can carry a drybag.

Ultimately, it's not like you'll regret either of these models. They are both very good kayaks, in my opinion.
Be sure you have safety gear and practise using it, right? Accidents happen.

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Post by visaj » Mon Jul 12, 2010 8:50 am

Heh, no worries.
I know it's important to get acquainted with a new kayak. I was planning on practising flipping the thing a few times and getting back in. If I'll choose AirFusion, I'll perhaps try if it possible to learn to roll it.

A decent pfd and a water pump are of course on my shopping list.

I'd say space for camping gear is definitely a requirement. I'd probably manage with sub-adequate space under the deck and just pack on deck for longer trips. Weight is also a factor, I'm dreaming of being able to put the kayak and all other gear into a (really heavy) backpack so I could take the kayak to some remote lake or river. I guess the difference between AirFusion and Expedition with backbone will be somewhere around 7 kilos (15 lbs).

I am tempted by the AirFusion's agility, but I'm not sure that it has the space necessary for even lightweight camping. Sadly, I haven't been able to see either of the kayaks in "flesh", only Advanced Frame I and Convertible.

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Post by PJohanson » Fri Jul 16, 2010 11:37 am

Packing gear on deck changes the balance of a kayak. Packing gear inside the kayak changes how it rides, too. I recommend that before going on any trips, you try loading the kayak and paddling it in safe conditions, maybe even practising tipping over. Heavy things go inside, and as low as possible.
When I put bags on the deck of my Expedition, it feels a little tippy. The bags stick up into the wind.

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Post by MDO » Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:01 pm

We loaded our compartments, and both decks (front and back) of both our AF (mine) and Exped. (my husband's) for a 2-day camping trip last fall. It worked surprisingly well. The exped. was especially 'loaded', but still was quite maneuverable. It is a great kayak, quite stable even in fairly large waves.

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Post by dutch clouds » Mon Nov 01, 2010 1:30 am

Some thoughts on the subject from an Expedition owner.

I would not be concerned about cargo space in the Fusion if you have the right equipment and experience. My camping gear and food for lightweight summer trips of 4-5 days in the mountains fits into a 30 liter daypack. There is space behind the bladders as well which you can access after you reached camp.

My main concern about the Fusion would be durability and behavior in strong winds. Small poles, high pressure, new model, reports …

The Expedition is too wide for my taste as well, 6â€￾ tall, but humans easily adjust. A longer paddle and/or body rotation will help so does investing in a lightweight paddle. I find 15 mile trips in the Expedition well within its range. A sore butt is the only “problemâ€￾ compared to a hard-shell. The seat is too soft and unlike a hard-shell does not “glideâ€￾.

The weight of the expedition should definitely be taken into account. If you see yourself walking more than a few hundred yards you better have a healthy back and the right mindset. I use a lightweight barrel carrier with extended straps that fits the duffel bag. Camping gear goes in front before my breast. I limit the walk inns/outs to some five miles.

Finally, the Expedition is not watertight and if you seal the silly zips of the Fusion "permanently" this vessel might be, a great bonus.

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