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Backbone confusion!!

Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 10:21 am
by jon
Last year i purchased a "cheap" inflatable tandem canoe from ebay just to try it out. It was great but had a few problems

- it was only made of a single layer of PVC and i was always afraid of puncturing it!
- there was no tracking fin and a nicely rounded bow and stern did nothing to help keep us straight. The canoe would instantly spin 180 degrees if the front paddler stopped paddling!
- it didn't glide!!

So i set my mind on purchasing two single canoe/kayaks. Hard-shell is not an option for me so i looked at other inflatables including AE, Stearns, Seyvlor. I sat and read hundreds of reviews ( was especially useful) and 95% of them were postive. The other 5% seemed to be down to flaws with earlier models, lack of inflation, lack of reading instructions etc!

So i was settled on an Advanced Elements DragonFly or or Adv Frame. I decided to go for the AF even though it was more expensive it would me more durable and probably the better investment in the long run! This brought me to this forum where i spent a few hours reading all the posts in a hope to get some more information. This is where the issue of the backbone arose.

I'm extremely confused as to whether or not I could do with one. Some reviews say it really helps the tracking/performance while others say if you properly inflate the boat you don't need one. Other reviews say it helps you sit up higher whilst some say it is uncomfortable and a hassle to install.

I can also see a case for having a backbone in the longer expeditiion/tandem models. If I inflate the Kayak as per the instructions is it still required?


Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 10:28 am
As long as the kayak is inflated properly, you really don't need the backbone. It will increase the tracking a performance a little which is more noticable in the longer kayaks. It is a nice enhancement to the kayak. It creates more of a V shaped hull which increases overall performance. Start out by trying the kayak without one. You will more than likley notice that the kayak performs great without one. If you think that you need a little extra omph at a later point, get the backobone. Maybe try to find a used one or one on sale.


Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 10:32 am
by jon
Thanks Jeremy,

This is what I through originally but some reviewers seemed to think it was definite requirement to have one! I think i might buy one with my two kayaks and maybe compare the two side by side!


Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 9:23 pm
by paddlepr
Could you post the results of your experiments. I guess it would really help many of us that have the AF. I mainly paddle in Bay waters and if the backbone helps somewhat in performance it will helpful for my trips.


Posted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 11:51 pm
by jon
Will be a month or two before I get my AFs but when I do I will post a mini-review!!!

Ill be mostly paddling on slow rivers and lakes/reservoirs!


backbone confusion

Posted: Sun Apr 27, 2008 6:23 am
by jcoop77
With my AF convertible, I did buy the backbone, but have only been using it intermittently, trying to judge the difference.

until now my observations have been:

- with the convertible in two person config, the spine seems to add performance. I suspect that it might be because there is less energy absorbed in the ( albeit imperceptible if the inflation is high enough) flexing of the boat. I did do a comparison "side by side" in two person mode. After ten minutes out, going back in and putting in spine then immeditaely testing. It seemed to get more performance from the same paddle effort.

- with the convertible in one person config, it makes less difference, if any, under normal conditions. However, yesterday I was out on a small lake alone with the strong wind (12-15 knots?) and I believe that having the spine in boat actually helped the perfomance of the boat.

I purchased the spine and I am glad that I did. Whether I would do it for a shorter boat.. ( convertible is 15 feet long) is something I can not judge.

DS versus BB

Posted: Wed Oct 16, 2013 3:23 pm
by Arthur Blue
Having recently got a DS floor for my AF I can't say that I notice any great difference in handling compared to the standard floor plus BB ( though the BB may have the edge in largish seas ) However by providing a firmer footing the DS makes it easier to get in and out of the kayak, and when setting up it saves the hassle of centralising the BB and tucking away the floor above it. There is also one less package of bits to carry... not a big thing if you can park near to the water, but it may save two trips if you also have a daysack or the like. And an advantage
if taking the boat on public transport.

All in all an advantage, but at a price.

Posted: Thu Oct 17, 2013 11:21 am
by NaturalPath
Yep, I agree with you Arthur. I've been saying this for a long time now. Backbones are not required in the shorter kayaks. If I had a Convertible, then I would definitely get one. I would go even further to say that the Drop-Stitch floor is, nice to have but, also at a price. I've never had any problem with my regular inflatable floor, except for the fact that you do need to take more care inflating it, so that you don't over-inflate.

Posted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 4:42 am
by Arthur Blue
With the AF the standard floor without BB is fine for most occasions, and you could put a lozenge-shaped piece of ply below it for low cost stiffening. The BB and/or DS give a little edge, but you don't have to have them. And the boat will get you home without any air in the floor at all, if you do happen to overinflate.

Posted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:11 am
by NaturalPath
Again, very true Arthur. As far as stiffening goes, I put a piece of indoor/outdoor carpeting over top of my regular inflatable floor, and I love it. It does stiffen up the floor a bit, and it also protects the exposed floor from possible damage. Also, it makes cleaning out the kayak a bit easier because the low pile of the carpet tends to catch most of the sand and debris that comes in on my feet.

Posted: Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:59 am
by Arthur Blue
For those like Jon who are wondering about the AF contra other types of kayak I think that it's a very safe little boat. If you do puncture the outer skin, which is unlikely, you've still got the dual main tubes, which are protected by a tough cover, intact, and probably also the floor. This provides a lot of reserve buoyancy, and the craft will probably still be paddleable even if the cockpit is swamped. It's also a surprisinglystable craft, and a lot easier to turn than a long hardshell.
Its biggest drawback is that there isn't a lot of interior stowage space, though there is room for a daysack, thermos, spare shoes, and jacket.
Tight for camping but sufficient for day trips.