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AF 10.5 Backbone report

Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2008 3:58 pm
by river_rat
Since getting my AF 10.5 a month or so ago I've gone out at least 10 times and am loving it. I ordered a backbone and it arrived yesterday (when I told my friend I was getting a backbone. her comment was: oh, yeah... so when are you getting a life! Sweet girl). Anyway here's the report for those interested.

Set up: 10 minutes instead of 5. When I get better I think I can get that down to 8 minutes, maybe 7.5

Performance: Wow. What a difference a backbone makes. Great tracking, a bit faster, and you sit higher which is nice. Better leverage on the paddle. And, no, you can't feel it under your butt.

One drawback. I also got the wheeled bag in hopes of a trip from Nashville to Chincoteague soon. The bag, the kayak, the paddle, the backbone, and the footpump weighs in at 51+ pounds. As I'm sure you know, anything over 50 is like, $50 extra to check. I'll either have to leave the backbone home (the pump weighs less than a pound) or get a dragonfly. Hmmm....

A couple of small things. The cockpit copings don't really stay inflated and ditto the port deck support chamber. Neither are crucial but... has anyone else had this? Is it the pump attachment nozzle thingies?

Anyway, bottom line: backbone good. And yes, I am also getting a life...


Posted: Fri Aug 08, 2008 4:13 pm
by river_rat
I meant to say, coaming chamber, lift chamber, and twist valves.

Posted: Sat Aug 09, 2008 12:57 pm
by waddle
Thanks for the report on the backbone. I wasn't sure if it really would make a difference with a 10.5, but now I'll consider it.

I haven't noticed loss of air with the deck support chamber, but after a few outings, I did notice that my cockpit coaming doesn't stay as firmly inflated. Could be the twist valves leaking air? Good to know I'm not the only one, though. I don't think it'll be an issue, unless we use a spray skirt.

More on the backbone

Posted: Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:27 pm
by river_rat
First, the deck lift chambers seem fine. It's just the coamings that don't stay very inflated. No bigee. It's important to get the backbone centered. I put it in, then inflate the main chamber about 80 percent. I'll eyeball it till it's as centered as it can get and even roll it over to see how centered it is on the bottom of the hull. THen I'll inflate all the way and check again. It pays to give it a minute or two of extra attention. Hooked up with a 10 foot and 14 foot hard kayak team today and had not trouble keeping up. They really liked my inflatable and one of the women wants to get one.

Posted: Tue Aug 12, 2008 9:32 am
Very glad to hear that you enjoy the backbone. For the coaming chambers the twist valve needs to be screwed down all the way. If it isn't then it may leak possibley. If the coaming chamber is losing all it air right away, there could be a leak in the tube. After you inflate the coaming chamber, you can take some soapy water and rub it around the twist valve to see if ait is coming out. If you see soapy bubble forming then maybe we need to replace the twist valve.


Good for 180lb?

Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:05 am
by ztbishop
Hi, I was reading that the backbone helps a LOT for the long models, but for the 10.5' would it make a big difference for someone weighing 180lbs?


Posted: Thu Apr 02, 2009 8:12 am
by river_rat
Hi, the quick answer is yes. I weigh 180 lbs myself and I wouldn't dream of going out in my 10.5 without first installing the backbone. When I first got it, my plan was to A-B test it, that is, try it with and without. I put it in, starting off, and the difference was so dramatic I saw no point in taking it out to test it without. I bought another 10.5 to take friends out and got a backbone for that one as well. Now, mind you, I was quite happy before I got the backbone; it's just that I was a whole lot happier with it. Cheers


Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:06 am
Just wanted to thank you for the advice. Based on this thread, I ordered the 10.5 and the BB.
Last Saturday, I tried the 10.5 without the BB while paddling on a calm lake with 8-knot winds. I paddled for 6 hours, and I thought I was thoroughly happy with the kayak without the backbone.
On Monday, I tried it with the BB under the same weather and lake conditions for 6.5 hours. Tracking was better, but being a beginner myself, I think tracking had more to do with my paddling technique. Gliding, on the other hand, was amazing with the BB. No longitudinal flex at all, and I could see the bow cut through the waves. In the calm inlets, the glide doubled at least when I stopped paddling. My top speed without the BB was probably 3 knots; with the BB, it was 5 knots.
A fellah in a speedboat also agreed to buzz me so that his wake hit the kayak (abeam) in the port side yesterday. The stability was just as good as it was without the BB.

Installation wasn't as tricky as I thought from reading other posts here! I took out the floor and installed the BB per the AE instructions that came with it. I filled chamber #1, half-filled chamber #2, checked the BB alignment with the landing plate and the sked, finished filling chamber #2, tucked in the floor, and inflated the floor. The BB stayed rock-solid the entire trip, too.

One other plus I haven't read about elsewhere. The BB comes in a long, narrow mesh bag. I used the bag to carry my gear in my left hand while carrying the kayak and paddle on my right shoulder. It held a soft-sided luncheon cooler, two 1-liter thermoses, and a pair of small binoculars, and the filled bag fit neatly between my knees while I paddled.

Again, thanks for the advice! So easy to install the BB and so dramatic a difference in performance, I'll never paddle without it again.

Posted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:20 am
by diemonde
Not been for a paddle, but installed the backbone. I think a lot of people take a backbone and therefor I would recommend putting pockets on the floor (just like the pockets for the bow and stern) in the next model of kayaks. That way you are always sure that the backbone is aligned.

And because I don't want to go to the patent-bureau just send me a free convertible when you are using this idea :-)

good idea but...

Posted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:29 am
by river_rat
The problem with pockets is that they might make it difficult to install as the backbone has to be extended to put together and take apart. I just inflated the boat in my living room, installed the backbone, made sure it was centered by feeling for the skeg and the front runner beneath it, then marked it with a permanent marker. That way, I'm always sure it will be centered.

Posted: Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:09 am
by diemonde
If you would have just a little bit room it would be enough to make it work. As an addition a through and through pocket in the middle (lenght and width) can take care of the little room it would have for shifting.

Posted: Fri Aug 14, 2009 12:43 am
by diemonde
As I commented in one of the other backbone topics:

Let's not forget that with the backbone wrong people can get a bad experience out of the kayak and decide to drop AE brand.