BackBone vs. Dropstitch Floor

AE2023-AF1, AE2023-AFX, AE2023-AFC, AE2023-DF2.

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Post by MDO » Sun Sep 02, 2012 5:44 am

Thanks again Frank!

I've had my AdvancedFrame (and my husband's Exped) for 3 years now, and got the DS floors about 3 weeks ago, before heading to a river trip. Initial trial with the DS floor only were fine, but we found that over long paddles, the kayaks were significantly slower without the Backbone. This was most obvious when crossing a very windy lake with our friends who have the exact same kayaks. I must say though, that while going down in the shallow rocky river (Rivière Jacques Cartier, QC) negotiating rapids with the DS floor only was fantastic. We also noticed, particularly in the Exped, that the kayak was bending in the middle, and as a result, my husband kayak sides were actually so close to the water that at any wave, water got in. Overall, we both agreed that we missed our backbones.

When I read your post, I was very excited. Yesterday was a paddle we have done a few times before, down the very slow Indian River and into Rice Lake (Ontario). Not only did the paddling seem a lot easier, the kayaks kept their line a lot better. We made it to the lake without any effort, and decided to kept going, all around Sugar Is., then back, slighlty against the wind. We wondered how come we were so little tired....

We both did notice that we were sitting higher in the kayaks. For me, because I am short, this is a great improvement as well. My husband, who is tall, found it pleasant as well, but wondered if this made the kayaks more 'tippy'.

So, overall verdict on the DS floor: Lighter than older floor, and easier to set up. Used alone, makes the entire gear a lot lighter, faster to haul and to set up or down. When used alone, they are fine for short paddles on calm water. They make the kayak absolutely great in shallow rivers with rapids (we negotiated level I and level II rapids no problems). For longer paddles, they make the boat much slower, and less efficient in windy-wavy situations. In the Exped, it does not seem stiff enough to prevent kayak from bending in the middle ('taco-like'?).

Verdict of DS floor + backbone combined: Wow. Best ride ever!

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Post by FrankP » Tue Sep 04, 2012 5:19 am

Glad you liked the combination. Yesterday my wife and I went out on Lake Michigan in Door County, Wisconsin. I checked the marine forecast and weather on several sites. Predictions were for 1-3 ft waves and winds around 10 MPH from the SSE. When we arrived the waves seemed higher.

Buoyed by our earlier success with waves about 1-2 ft and higher winds in a smaller inland lake and the BB & DS floor we launched. We did take a wave into the two cockpits but we got through the surf fine. It may be time for 2 skirts. The wave heights seemed to increase from 1-2 ft to 2-3 ft and once in a while a 4 foot wave would come in. We had so much fun. Best ever. The Convertible tracked so nicely. Most times we were angled to the waves and they had almost no effect on our direction.

We paddled for over 3 hours. Into and with the wind. The combination of the BB & DS floor works very well. I do sit slightly higher and notice I don't catch my fingernails on the deck zipper as I paddle. My wife used to comment on that problem a lot and has not since we set up the boat this way.

With 2-3 ft waves and swells the boat seems to have no difficulty going right through. I do not feel the boat is more tippy than it was sitting slightly lower. The Kayak gives you plenty of confidence as built but this configuration seems to add to your overall feeling of security, pleasure and efficiency on the water. Going over 3 ft waves with no flex in the kayak makes for easier paddling and that more secure feeling. BTW, I only had the DS floor at 5 PSI so it would be a bit softer and easier to sit on for over 3 hours. We did not notice any difference between 5 PSI and 6.5 PSI in performance.

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DS and BB combined: Not recommended?

Post by output555 » Thu Aug 18, 2016 4:50 am

I recently bought an AF DS-XL with the drop-stitch floor upgrade. I noticed there's a big warning with the DS floor to not use in combination with the backbone. This concerns me as several folks here have tried it and highly recommend it. Why does the company warn against it? Jeremy, can you answer this?

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Post by JCOOLEY » Fri Aug 19, 2016 10:23 am

It causes un-needed stress on the outer cover. It stretches it out more than it should. The backbone and the Drop-Stitched Floor are designed and intended to be used as one or the other. They both serve a similar purpose in increasing the overall performance of the kayak.

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Any updates on DS + backbone?

Post by pepperberry » Tue Oct 03, 2017 1:18 pm

Reviewing the posts on this topic, there seem to be several positive reviews for the backbone + DS floor used in combination - although most posts are from several years ago. I also note advice from Jeremy Cooley that the combination is NOT recommended by AE and may over-stress the outer cover.

Does anyone who has been using the DS + backbone combination have any updates on long term use? Any premature failures or other problems? Have you continued to use both? Any tips from experienced users on the best way to do this?

I'm new to IKs, looking to buy an AE AdvancedFrame convertible for coastal use, and can see benefits in both the backbone (tracking in adverse conditions) and the DS floor.

Great forums. Thanks for any further input!

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Post by rlpugh1 » Tue Oct 03, 2017 5:15 pm

Really, using both together is a redundancy. The backbone and the Dropstitch floor provide essentially the same result in terms of performance of the kayak...almost neck and neck. Really, the defining difference between the two, aside from price point, is that the backbone has the slight edge on tracking while the DS floor provides more stability and a little more rigidity than the backbone. Again, it really is a redundancy to use the two together. One important thing to consider when choosing between the two is the type of paddling that you'll be doing. If you're going to be in shallow waters with any kind of large hidden objects (logs, etc) OR if you'll be doing any beach landings in heavy surf, you do not want to use the backbone as it's a hard keel beam running down the center of the kayak. I can't emphasize it enough though, the two items do not need to be used together nor is it advised.

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BB or Dropstitich? One is Enough.

Post by lee johnson » Fri Oct 06, 2017 6:52 am

A BackBone is efficient
And by itself sufficient,
And then the Dropstitich floor
Is fine with nothing more.
Each is its own abundance.
Combined, why, that's redundance.
Your kayak even works
Just great without these perks!

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Post by rlpugh1 » Fri Oct 06, 2017 9:13 am

Absolutely great Lee! :D

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