Advanced Elements Unisex Adult AirFusion Elite Kayak - Yellow,
- Aluminium frame and high pressure air chambers provide a hull speed comparable to a hard-shell
- Compared to Frame and Skin Kayaks, the high pressure air chambers reduces the number of frame parts for a faster set up time
- The heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin outer provides extreme puncture resistance
- Because of the narrow beam, it paddles like a rigid hard-shell kayak
- No roof rack needed; pack in the boot of your car or fly it to remote destinations
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Advanced Elements new AirFusion Elite is an evolution of the original Airfusion kayak. This new model is 3" wider than the original, providing a larger cockpit & increased stability. The side poles have been remove for a simpler, quicker setup. The main air tube diameters have been increased for extra rididity and the rear thwarte size reduced for additional storage space. The design rivals the handling and speed of skin-on-frame kayaks, with a simpler setup procedure. It features a unique design fusion of aluminium alloy frame poles and pressurized air tubes, resulting in a high-performance, rigid frame system. Measures 396cm length by 71cm width; 106kg max capacity.
1x Carrying bag
1x Repair kit
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The boat itself is pretty good, though you have to be scrupulous in ensuring balanced inflation in each tube to get it right and aligning and disassembling the aluminium floor frame is a major faff.
Update - I have upped my rating to four stars on the basis of Advanced Elements' excellent customer service. One of the poles was damaged so I contacted AE who put me in touch with their European distributors who really were very helpful and efficient. Really impressed.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Having said all that, these are good kayaks for the Pacific Northwest with our crazy tides and rocky beaches. Just a bit frustrated with the assembled quality on the latest purchased unit.
I really wanted a foldable kayak that was a bit longer and had a narrower beam so it would be faster and I could conceivably use it for exercise. This thing is certainly no surf ski, but it passes the test. I've taken it out several times and I've been happy with it's performance. I'm not getting a great workout, but I'm getting exercise and I could get a good workout if I were more disciplined. For less that $1000 this kayak is a bargain compared to other "performance oriented" foldable kayaks, though I wouldn't be surprised if those other kayaks do actually have much higher performance. (My next buy will probably be a Trak ($3k+), but I'm still very glad I started with this one. It meets all my needs right now and I think it's a great entry model for a less experienced kayaker like myself.)
I took this to a kayak race this weekend. I was worried I would be the slowest guy out there. It turned out that most the other people had wide sit-on-top kayaks, so this was one of the faster kayaks on the course (though there were some guys with performance hard-shells that were faster and one guy with a surf ski who blew everyone else away).
On the performance point, it's narrow enough, but I wish it were narrower and longer (I really want a surf ski, but can't store one). In theory, you can brace your feet against the front thwart to engage your lower body in paddling, but in practice this hasn't worked very well for me yet. Maybe I just need to keep working on adjusting the seat and the front thwart, but it would be nicer if it all worked more easily. I have found the seat to be perfectly comfortable and the kayak is generally comfortable. My feet have gone numb while paddling a couple times, but I think that's another problem that will be solved if I can perfect the distance between the seat and the front thwart (which is designed to be adjustable, and pretty easily at that). The kayak does feel pretty firm when assembled, but it's still noticeably looser than a hard shell. I don't know how much that slows me down but I suspect it has an effect. My kayak always seems to pull a bit to the right (even with the skeg). I suspect I can fix this by identifying and correcting the asymmetry in the setup/inflation process, but I haven't figured it out yet.
The setup process definitely has a learning curve. The first time I set this up it took me over 45 minutes (maybe an hour). I might already be below 20 minutes now, and I think I can still get faster. Buying the AE pump with the pressure gauge dramatically speeds the setup process. I had another pump with out a pressure gauge, and I tried just buying a separate gauge, but going back and forth between pumping and testing really slows you down.
I wouldn't call this kayak "high maintenance" but I think it requires a certain amount of thoughtfulness, understanding, and management to set it up properly and keep it working properly. Even without "making a mistake" you can end up setting it up improperly if the thwarts or side tubes end up inflating into the wrong places or shapes. Your thwarts can easily end up akimbo or too high. The velcro systems holding the side tubes together mostly works fine, but it's complicated and it seems like it has a predisposition to becoming asymmetrical. As mentioned above, I think some asymetry caused by the side tubes is making my kayak pull a bit to one side (just a bit).
I live in an apartment, so storage is critical. I looked at the "modular options" (especially Point 65 Martini) but I'm very glad I went with this one. I think it would be much harder to store a modular kayak. I had also demo-ed an Oru. I'm happy I ought this rather than the Oru. It feels more sea worthy. The Oru probably took up a little less space space when collapsed, but it was comparable. That said, this kayak is still a lot of weight and volume to handle & store. I upgraded the bag to the backpack that AE sells. Even now that I have the backpack, I still prefer to use a dolly to wheel this around when I can, rather than put it on my back. With the original "suit case" style bag, it's really pretty taxing to carry the kayak far (for a fairly fit 160 lb guy) but it is doable (you might need to take breaks) The kayak by itself would probably be manageable, but once you add on all the ancillary weight (pump, dry bag, paddle, skeg, bilge pump, dry towel, etc) it gets heavier. The bag with all the gear in it weighs in right under 50 lbs. I can carry that on my back well enough, but it's slow, a bit awkward, and grows increasingly uncomfortable the further/longer I need to go. Also, the bag that this comes with is a little small, so you can squeeze everything in but its neither easy nor quick, and you're still left with some ancillary gear that can't fit. The backpack that AE sells is bigger and better. I can fit everything in the backpack (including ancillary gear) but I still wish they made the backpack 10% bigger and then added some tightening straps so it's easy to get stuff in and then easy to secure it all firmly wight the tightening straps.
One thing that immediately stood out to me after buying this was that I should buy the optional skeg so it would track better. I also needed to buy the pump with a pressure gauge that AE sells. The instructions for inflating it state a specific pressure needed. You'll want to buy a pump that can fit a Boston valve and has a pressure gauge. I bought the one from AE, and I'm glad I did. It has worked well so far. I also upgraded my bag to the backpack that AE sells. I feel like all these items should have been included with the kayak, rather than me having to buy them separately. The true cost of the kayak turned out to be several hundred more than I'd anticipated. I'll probably eventually buy the spray skirt that AE sells as well. You should plan to buy a paddle and a bilge pump as well. The I bought the collapsible dolly to wheel all the weight around. I'm not saying AE should provide all of this, but the skeg and the back pack version of the bag seem like they should be included in the base package (this does seem to be one of the higher end kayaks that AE sells so you kind of expect them to take care of you).
All that said, I'm very happy wit this purchase, and I'm looking forward to years of use out of it.