Posted by: airkayaks | November 22, 2020

Aquaglide 2021 Inflatable Kayak Line – What’s New

We recently received information on Aquaglide’s upcoming new inflatable kayak line for 2021.

AquaGlide's 2020 Chinook 120 XL inflatable kayaks

Originally a division of North Sports Inc, the Aquaglide brand has grown steadily to encompass water sports products such as commercial and residential water trampolines, tow toys, recreational water equipment and the highly popular Multisport 270 – an inflatable windsurf/sailboat/pull toy/kayak combo. North Sports was subsequently acquired by Connelly Skis, well known for their water skis and water sports equipment.

Now entering the eighth season, AquaGlide’s paddling line of inflatable kayaks and SUPs has dramatically expanded the options available to water enthusiasts looking for portability.

New Aquaglide Frame Seat in the Blackfoot Angler

For 2021, Aquaglide continues with 20 models for recreational, touring, fishing, whitewater/crossover and backcountry. This includes the revamping of one model, overhaul of three models, the introduction of four models and the retirement of one model. Twelve models remain the same structurally and graphically, with some price increases.

Big changes include a redesigned Blackfoot Angler series and an overhaul of the Chelan touring line; neither of these were updated in 2020. But the biggest news is the introduction of a totally new category of Backwoods UltraLight kayaks, featuring 3 models weighing in at 7.5 lbs to 13 lbs.

2021 Aquaglide Blackfoot 130

The popular Blackfoot Angler series has undergone a major overhaul and now features the Blackfoot 130 and Blackfoot 160 true tandem.

2021 Aquaglide Blackfoot 130 Inflatable Kayak

The Blackfoot 125 has been redesigned as a slightly longer 13 foot by 40 inch width Blackfoot Angler 130 for one paddler, but with space enough to outfit it as a double by adding an extra seat. A new BlackFoot Angler 160 – at a whopping 16 feet with 40 inch width – is a true tandem with all the bells and whistles and an 800 lb payload. The Blackfoot 110 solo has been retired.

2021 Blackfoot Angler 160 Inflatable Kayak

Besides beefed up graphics, new features include a series of low tie-down loops on the floor and side molle plates to provide numerous options for attaching gear. EVA foam traction pads on the floor offer better grip and comfort when standing.

New Aquaglide Frame Seat

The Blackfoots come standard with Aquaglide’s new high-low Frame Seat which features a shelf under the seat for stashing gear.  Street prices on the Blackfoot 130 increased to $1199.99 while the Blackfoot 160 retails for $1499.99.

2021 Aquaglide Chelan Inflatable Kayaks

The Chelan touring series, comprised of the Chelan 120 single and Chelan 140 and Chelan 155 XL tandems, have undergone major upgrades. While each of the kayaks still feature high pressure floors and Duratex tubeless construction, the color and graphics have undergone a total facelift as well as a structural redesign. The Chelan silhouette is now more refined with a lowered nose rocker, providing better tracking and paddling performance.

Molle plate and univeral mount

Each of the Chelans now feature an integrated universal mount on the floor in front of each seat as well as side molle plates with a mesh bag. Each can be used for attaching a multitude of aftermarket gadgets, such as rod holders, camera mounts and cup holders. A series of low tie down loops also provide gear points, and can be used to attach Aquaglide’s new optional Frame Seat (as found with the Blackfoots).

The redesigns come with increased pricing; the Chelan 120, 140 and 155 XL are now priced at $999.99, $1099.99 and $1199.99 respectively.

Both Blackfoot and Chelan backpacks have been upgraded to the new River Crossing bag, an updated version of the previous Crossroads DLX bag found with the Aquaglide SUPS. The River Crossing features a larger capacity, mesh pockets and side panels, full zipper, compression side straps, padded shoulder straps and shoulder belt.

Totally new for 2021 is the Aquaglide Backwoods ultralight kayak line, consisting of the Purist 65, the Angler 75 and the Expedition 85.

The Backwoods series is constructed from a rugged, single-sided or double-side TPU nylon, a heavy duty fabric-reinforced PVC with excellent abrasion resistance that is specifically engineered to take a beating.

2021 Aquaglide Backcountry Purist 65

At 6’6″ by 39 inches wide and under 6 lbs, the Backwoods Purist 65 is a minimalist designed to go just about anywhere. Features include bungee lacing, paddle holders, one Boston valve, a 250 lb payload and inflatable seat cushion and back rest.

2021 Aquaglide Backcountry Angler 75

The Backwoods Angler 75 fishing kayak offers slightly more space and features than the Purist 65. At 7 feet 7 inches long and a 40 inch width, this boat can carry a 300 lbs payload, yet sneaks in just under 10lbs. The Angler 75 has the length, width, and additional buoyancy ideal for larger paddlers or extra gear. Integrated molle plates provide customizable gear organization options. And for increased performance, the Angler 75 includes the Aquaglide weedless ultralight quick release fin.

2021 Aquaglide Backcountry Expedition 85

The group rounds out with the Backwoods Expedition 85. Just under 12 pounds, Aquaglide’s new 8′ 6″ ultralight Expedition 85 is designed for those paddling longer distances or carrying additional gear. Its streamlined shape and extended stern improves glide and tracking, while the i-beam floor adds rigidity, flotation and overall performance. For increased tracking, it also includes Aquaglide’s weedless, ultralight, quick-release fin.

Aquaglide Purist 65

Numerous attachment points – bungee deck lacing and molle plates – make it easy to mount tool organizers, gear bags, radios, cameras and phones. Adjustable back straps on the inflatable seat and backrest allow one to customize for comfort.

All three models come with an ultralight foot pump which requires only a few minutes to inflate. The included storage bag also doubles as a dry bag when on the water and an ultralite inflation device. The Backwoods series has a one year warranty. Prices on the Purist 65, Angler 75 and Expedition 85 are $429, $549 and $799 respectively.

AquaGlide Chnook 100 inflatable kayak

There are no design or structural changes to the current Noyo, Chinook, McKenzie, Navarro or Deschutes lines, though there have been some price increases. The Noyo increased 5% to $399.99, while the Chinook 90, Chinook 100 and Chinook 120 XL increased 12 to 15% at $399.99, 499.99 and 599.99 respectively.

AquaGlide Navarro 145 XL Inflatable Kayak

The decked Navarros – consisting of the Navarro 110 and Navarro 130 singles and the Navarro 145 Tandem – increased a more modest 6%-8% at $649.99, $749.99 and $849.99 respectively.

Aquaglide Deschutes 130 Inflatable kayak - on the water

The Deschutes recreational/touring open-design kayaks – Deschutes 110, Deschutes 130 and Deschutes 145 Tandem – have no design, structural or packaging changes, and the prices are remaining the same at $599.99, 699.99 and 799.99 respectively.

Aquaglide McKenzie Whitewater Kayak

The McKenzie whitewater/crossover series – including the McKenzie 105 single and McKenzie 125 double – have no changes to the design, structure or packaging but prices have increased 6%-11% to $799.99 and $999.99 respectively.

The Duratex Series (McKenzie, Deschutes, Chelan and Blackfoot) come with two year warranties while the covered bladder kayaks (Noyos, Chinooks and Navarros) as well as the new Backcountry line, come with a one year warranty.

Stay tuned, AirKayaks will have some detailed sneak previews on each of the new kayak models before they arrive in early 2021. You can also Contact AirKayaks to get on the notification list for arrival of the 2021 models from Aquaglide.

Advanced Elements of Benicia, California recently introduced two exciting new kayaks as precursors to the 2021 season – the AirVolutions. What makes them so special? The AirVolution solo and AirVolution2 tandem are constructed entirely from dropstitch material. With just two inflation chambers, and inflation pressures of 10 to 12 PSI, the kayaks are extremely rigid.

AirVolution High Pressure Dropstitch Kayak

We initially posted a Sneak Preview on a pre-production sample of the solo AirVolution as well as a complete review on the AirVolution2 tandem.

Hot weather, fires, power outages and inventory shortages prevented us from reviewing the single Airvolution. This week we took the opportunity to check out the Advanced Elements AirVolution AE3029 (Patent Pending), a 13 foot high-pressure inflatable kayak weighing in at roughly 39 lbs.

Getting Started with the AirVolution

The box as received weighs 56 lbs, measuring 39 x 21 x 13 inches.

What's in the box

Inside, is a super-sized, backpack-style carrying case with wheels (6 lbs) , kayak body (37 lbs), an EVA seat (2.2 lbs), pump with gauge (3.25 lbs), tracking fin (0.45 lbs), cinch belts, repair kit (0.8 lbs) and instructions. The kayak with backpack and parts weighs in at 49 lbs, while the kayak body with seat is 39 lbs. The folded kayak size is roughly 35 x 18 x 13 inches.

We began by reading the manual. This includes pump set-up, inflation, deflation, folding, repairs and troubleshooting. And here we come to AirKayak’s Tip #1: No matter how excited you are, take a good look at how the kayak is folded before you set the kayak up, so that you can get it back into the carrying case.

Unfolding the kayak

First step, unfold the kayak.

Closing the valve.

The Advanced Elements AirVolution utilizes two main military valves for inflation, similar to the ones found on many standup paddle boards. These are very simple to use and feature an inflate mode (spring plunger is UP) and a deflate mode (spring plunger is DOWN). By using your finger to gently push on the plunger, it can be moved to the inflate mode (air goes in and doesn’t come back out) and deflate mode (air goes in and comes back out). Before you go to all the effort of inflating the kayak, PLEASE make sure the plunger is in the inflate position.

Pump parts disassembled

Next, set up the pump. The AirVolution comes with a very nifty, collapsible, dual-action pump with built-in pressure gauge. First step, attach the feet.

The bottom of the pump barrel features tabs that match up to slots on the feet; if you look carefully, you will see that two of the slots are longer than the third – meaning the foot will only go on one way. Line up the tabs, push the barrel into the foot and then twist to lock into position. Attach the hose to the side that says Inflate (there is also a Deflate side). There are two pieces of plastic tubes in the plastic packaging – these are screw on handles. The pump parts could be stored in the carrying bag side pocket, but you may want to buy a mesh laundry bag to keep everything together.

Changing the dual action mode on the pump.

The pump features a dual action mode operated by a push button on the side of the pump. Instructions are printed on the pump, but by pushing in the button, you will see the words change from Double to Single, letting you know at all times what mode you are in. In double action mode, air is pumped on the up and down stroke, while in single action air is pumped only on the down stroke, making it easier to get to high pressures.

Attaching the pump hose

We started in double-action mode. Attach the hose to the military valve by twisting on, and start pumping.

Pumping up the main chamber

The instructions say to pump up both chambers (upper and bottom) 10-12 PSI, starting with the upper chamber. As gauges work on back-pressure, in double action mode, it took about 30 strokes before the gauge needle started registering. At 50 pumps we were at 3 PSI and it was still easy. By 60 full strokes we were at 6PSI and pumping was beginning to get tough. At 70 strokes we were at 8 PSI and stopped – while the instructions suggest 10-12 PSI is optimum, our experience is that 8 PSI is just fine.

Pumping up the floor

We then moved on to the second chamber, the floor. As the floor chamber is larger, it took 70 strokes in double action mode before the gauge started moving. At 85 pumps we were at 3 PSI and by 110 pumps (getting tough!) we were at 8PSI and stopped. The last 10 or so pumps were rough – switching to single mode would be much easier.

Using the 12-Volt car pump

At this point we will mention a nifty Advanced Elements product that will cut your inflation time significantly – the AE2003 Advanced Elements 12-Volt car pump which plugs into your car’s power point. While we did not use it on the solo version, we did use it on the tandem. Without using an adaptor, we simply held the pump over the valve while in the up/closed position. In this mode, the pump nozzle presses open the plunger, allowing the air in. It took about a minute for the floor chamber to fill out – you can tell when it’s reached the max as the motor sound changes. Then when the nozzle is not pressing on the plunger, it goes back into the closed position without losing air. Then we continued inflation using the dual action pump.

Screw on the wing caps to keep the valves protected.

Installing the seat

Next, attach the seat. There are no details in the included manual, but Advanced Elements has put together a Seat Guide which we will include below.

Seat back

The seat back features two upper and two lower strap attachments, consisting of two ladder locks each (to total 8) – this is designed to give maximum support. As a starting point, begin by shortening each of the lower two clips on each seat to their shortest position. Then lengthen each of the top straps to about 12 inches, measured from clip tip to ladder lock.

Attaching the seat

Position the seat back a few inches from the rear cockpit. Attach the bottom straps to each of the two upper d-rings at the upper rear of the cockpit opening, and the two top straps to each of the d-rings on the floor. Tighten up the straps so the back is fairly straight, with a slight curve.

If you have straps flopping around, you can tie them up to keep them out of the way.

Removable deep water tracking fin.

Last step, install the fin. Flip the kayak over and point the fin towards the rear.

Installing the tracking fin

Slide the fin into the fin box. The first time was a little tough, and we needed to straddle the back of the kayak and pull – the second time it slid in easily. If aligned correctly, the little tab can be pushed back into position, locking the fin. Pull up to make sure it is truly in the locked position.

Done!

You’re done!

About Drop Stitch Technology

The term “drop stitch” is a method of construction which allows for much higher inflation and pressures than a standard PVC bladder.

Rigidity of drop stitch floor versus standard Convertible PVC floor

Drop-stitch (DS) material is the same used in the inflatable paddle board market, where thousands of threads string the top and bottom panels together, allowing it to be pumped up to higher pressures, thus making it more rigid. The photo above shows a dropstitch floor on top of a low-pressure PVC floor.

Dropstitch material

The AirVolutions are innovatively constructed using PVC Tarpaulin laminated to high-pressure drop-stitch material. This gives a smoother finish, increased rigidity and a sculpted outline for greater paddling performance – almost like two inflatable paddle boards connected on the sides.

The Bump

This is probably a good time to point out a frequently asked question – what are those bumps on the bottom of my kayak?

With drop-stitch material, the upper and lower panels of tarpaulin (the outer skin that you see) are held together with thousands of threads – this allows the bladders to be inflated to high pressure. In order to insert the valve and pressure relief valve into the drop-stitch material, some of these threads need to be cut away at that spot, creating a bump on the opposite side of these valves. Additionally, to create the V-hull shape at the boat’s entry, threads are also cut away. This is part of the construction process and nothing to be concerned about.

Features and Specifications on the Advanced Elements AirVolution

Carrying handles

There are two neoprene-covered, padded carrying handles (bow and stern) with two soft cones on the nose and tail. (AirKayaks note: The AirVolutions have blue nose cones. Some of the pictures below show the kayak with black nose cones – these were photos taken while paddling the preproduction sample.)

Front deck lacing

The front hull is sculpted, allowing water to drain off. Bungee deck lacing in the bow – measuring 18 inches wide, tapering to 9 inches wide, and 20 inches deep – includes six stainless steel d-rings, allowing one to add on various dry packs and gear. The deck lacing begins 27 inches from the nose.

Comaing lip

The open deck features a curled coaming, also preventing some water from entering the cockpit. The cockpit begins 52 inches from the nose and measures 19 inches wide by 49.5 inches long.

Military and pressure relief valves

There are two military valves and two pressure relief valves, one each for the upper deck and the floor.

The pressure relief valves are triggered at 18 PSI, ensuring the chambers are not overinflated. While the optimum inflation pressure is 10-12 PSI, paddlers may find performance acceptable at 6 to 8 PSI. Please note: while there are two pressure relief valves, it is not a good idea to leave the kayak sitting in the hot sun.

Drain well

One 4-inch deep drain well features a screw-on port to allow water to drain out.

Rear d-rings for seat or gear.

There are 2 sets of d-rings, one set on the floor and one set on the hull, which can be used for attaching the seat as well as gear.

Front d-rings for seat or gear.

The floor d-rings (used for the upper seat straps) are located 32 inches from the cockpit opening while the second set of d-rings are located 16 inches further back, on the upper rear cockpit, positioned 14 inches apart. The d-rings are basically positioned 86 inches and 101 inches from the nose.

Sculpted EVA foam seat

The high-backed seat is constructed from a sculpted EVA foam. The seat back is 16 inches tall, and 19 inches wide by 1 inch thick. The seat base measures 15 inches wide by 12 inches deep, also 1 inch thick. There are four straps on the seat back – two upper and two lower – each with two ladder locks (see photo during the setup section). Four stainless steel clips quickly connect to the kayak’s d-rings. The straps can be adjusted from 4 to 24 inches in length.

Rear deck lacing

Rear bungee deck lacing – measuring 21 inches wide, tapering to 8.5 inches wide, and 20 inches deep – includes 6 d-rings, providing more area for attaching gear. The deck lacing begins 11 inches behind the seating well.

Sculpted hull.

A 9-inch removable, deep-water tracking fin increases paddling performance while the underside features a sculpted hull or “chine”.

Backpack front

The AirVolution comes with an oversized clam shell case with two-way zipper, backpack straps and roller wheels. Case measurements are a generous 40 inches tall by 18.5 inches wide and 11 inches deep. There are two handles – top and one side. The other side features a large mesh pocket 10 x 25 inches with top cinch strap.

Back side of backpack

A clear, plastic front sleeve pocket measures 14 x 8.5 inches with zipper. Two backpack straps with waist belt can be stashed in the 20 inch by 18 inch rear chamber. The straps can be adjusted from 15 to 27 inches in length, while the waistband expands from 32 to 50 inches in circumference. Two integrated interior cinch straps allow one to keep the kayak in position.

One 60-inch cinch strap is provided to tie up the kayak when deflated.

Repair kit

A nifty 9 x 5 x 2.5 inch repair kit contains glue, valve wrench and patch material, but is large enough to keep other small items.

Inlcuded dual action pump

The included dual-action pump can be disassembled into smaller components. When assembled, the pump measures 25 inches tall, 11.5 inches wide at the foot, with a 3-inch barrel. The hose is 48 inches long with one military valve adaptor. The pressure gauge measures up to 20 PSI.

AirVolution High Pressure Dropstitch Kayak

We did measurement tests. The kayak inflated is 13 feet long and 33 to 34 inches wide.

Interior well
Both the bow upper and stern decks are roughly 54 inches long. The interior wells under the decks are wedge-shaped. The bow inner well is about 21 inches wide initially and 36 inches deep with a max headroom of roughly 5 inches. The rear interior well is about 38 inches deep and initially 23 inches wide with a max head room of 4.5 inches, tapering down. The well interior/side walls are about 7 inches deep.

Advanced Elments AirVolution on the water.

With the seat positioned all the way to the back, measurements are 46″ from the seat back to front cockpit. While there is not a foot brace, the front well can be utilized as one. Please note that one can’t really put one’s feet inside the front chamber.

The seat can be moved up about 13 inches, allowing a shorter person to utilize the deck as a foot brace.

Weight limitations suggest 235 lbs for one person, or 300 lbs for person and gear.

Advanced Elements AirVolution On the Water

We each took the AirVolution out for a maiden voyage in mild chop. Both of us felt the kayak paddled and tracked well, was rugged and incredibly stable. It easily rides over swells. The sculpted hull allows water to drain off, and the smooth skin is very easy to dry. Everything in the package looks great, from the graphics and sculpted silhouette to the EVA-foam molded seat and included accessories. I subsequently took the AirVolution out on a calm day. Wow1 The kayak is responsive, has great glide and tracks well. It was a joy to paddle.

Advanced Elments AirVolution on the water.

At 5’4″, I found that moving the seat up 9 inches from the rear well allowed me to be balanced and use the front deck as a foot brace. In fact, I found the floor stiff enough to be able to stand up without any issues.

Advanced Elments AirVolution on the water.

At 6’2″, my husband had the seat all the way to the back. While his knees were slightly bent, he actually prefers that position when paddling. With “water socks” on, he was able to lay his legs down flat. So, I would feel comfortable saying the AirVolution can be paddled by customers up to 6’2″.

He did note that the deep water fin provides improved tracking, but one needs to push the kayak into deeper water when launching so the fin doesn’t “hang up.”

As the seat features a four-way ratchet design with 2 ladder locks per buckle, it is a little daunting at first. To set the seat up properly, you want to even the straps and get the seat back as vertical as possible, then ratchet the buckles to get curvature.

Hooks over the shoulder

While there are no side handles, one can hook the kayak over one’s shoulder while transporting.

There are two things I want to point out. While the carrying case is big enough to fit most gear needed, at 40 inches tall and 49 lbs filled, it is too unwieldy for me (at 5’4) to use as a backpack. The roller wheels are also smaller, and thus suitable for only very flat surfaces. I would consider this a great bag for containing the kayak and gear, but less so for travel. It also may be too large to fit in the trunk of a small car – you may want to check on the dimensions.

The second point is the 10-12 PSI inflation. If you own an inflatable SUP, you know that pumping up to high pressures – while making the board incredibly rigid – is not fun. It can tire you out before you are on the water. While inflating the AirVolution to the recommended pressures will enhance the sculpted silhouette, my husband and I found it to perform perfectly well at 6-8 PSI. So, we are suggesting that you start out lower and go higher only if you feel you need it, or are carrying lots of weight. And as previously mentioned, the use of an electric pump – such as the Advanced Elements 12-Volt, will severely decrease your initial pumping.

Rugged enough for dog claws.

As we get so many questions about kayaking with dogs, we show a picture of a woman paddling her AirVolution with her canine companion. The material is rugged enough to handle dog claws.

Packing the AirVolution Up

Deflating the kayak is pretty simple, and there are diagram instructions in the manual. Open the valves and let the air out. Remove the fin and seats. Flatten the body and start folding up roughly 5 times from the rear, and once from the other end – you basically want it narrow enough to fit in the bag. Then fold over and secure with the included cinch strap. If you need to get out more air, you can put the pump in the deflate mode and pump it out.

Bottom Line on the Advanced Elements AirVolution

The Advanced Elements AirVolution series is the next generation of inflatable kayaks and a wonderful addition to the recreational flat water paddling niche. The sculpted profile, sleek lines and bold graphics are visually exciting – it looks great!

The entire kayak features an innovative construction using PVC Tarpaulin laminated to high-pressure drop-stitch material – this gives increased rigidity and a sculpted outline for greater paddling performance. The v-shaped hull design in the bow and removable deep-water fin increase tracking performance, allowing the AirVolution to slice through the water.

The two-chambered smooth surface is easy to clean off/wipe out, without many areas for water to hide. And there are no twisting issues sometimes found with covered bladder design.

AirVolution is stable!

The high-pressure, dropstitch material feels incredibly rugged, rigid and solid. It’s also very stable and very easy to get into.

EVA foam seat

The sculpted EVA foam seat can be ratcheted four-ways, providing maximum support, adjustability and comfort.

Advanced Elments AirVolution on the water.

Front and rear bungee deck lacing provide plenty of options to attach gear, yet there are still options for storing small items under the decks

And with only two chambers to inflate, the AirVolution is very simple to set up. While the dual-action pump is pretty nifty, this would be a great candidate for one of those high-pressure, electric pumps used in the SUP industry.

Advanced Elments AirVolution on the water.

As a low-profile, open-cockpit, sit-inside kayak, the AirVolution is best suited for recreational, fairly flat water paddling and day use. It is able to handle lakes, Class I to II rapids, inlets and calmer bays.

Airvolution2 is a good choice for larger paddlers.

Larger paddlers looking for a solo option should take a look at the 52 lb AE3030 AirVolution2 tandem (shown above), which will be roomier and hold more gear.

Advanced Elments AirVolution on the water.

2021 street price is $1199 for the solo AirVolution and $1499 for the AirVolution2. For more info or to purchase, see the AirVolution product page at http://www.airkayaks.com.

Also check out two videos on the AirVolution, below.

 

Throughout the past 13 years, Red Paddle Co has been the industry leader in the inflatable paddle board arena, racking up numerous awards throughout the product line. Innovative features include the game-changing Titan dual action pump, Monocoque Structural Laminate (MSL) fusion material technology, Rocker Side Stiffening (RSS) system, the Forward Flex Control (FFC) nose rod on the racing boards and the Compact low-profile boards.

Red Paddle’s philosophy? If you plan on taking to the water on an inflatable board then you need a super durable board that is up for the challenge. And if you haven’t seen them, the Red Paddle endurance videos – pitting Red Paddle boards against teens, dogs, tractors, big rigs, martial arts and more – are definitely a testament to durability.

2021 Red Paddle Co SUP Lineup

The 2021 Red Paddle Co product line continues with 20 models for surfing, whitewater, recreation, touring and racing, ranging in size from 8’10″ to to 22’0.″ This includes revamped graphics unifying the product line appearance while keeping subtle differentiations between paddling categories, as well as added features on many models. Three models have been retired and one reinvented. Prices are remaining the same. Read our writeup on the 2021 Red Paddle Co Product Line – What’s New to find out all the nifty new features and technical upgrades.

2020 Red PAddle Co Compact rolls into a small package

Each year we update our previous posts to reflect the new Red Paddle Co models and product upgrades – use this guide to take away some of the guesswork when looking at the myriad of options with Red Paddle Co iSUPs.

How do you use the following tables? First, ascertain your size from the list:

Big & Tall – 210+ lbs and 6’1? plus inches in height
Average – 140-200 lbs, 5’7? to 6’0? inches in height
Small – Under 140 lbs, Under 5’7? inches in height
Child – Under 100 lbs, under 5’0 inches in height

Then decide the type(s) of paddling you want to do (paddling situations):

Touring – Ocean, waves, long paddles, camping
Recreational – Lakes, sloughs, slower rivers, coastal, calm
Whitewater – Fast-moving maneuvering with eddies, drops.
Downriver – Wide-open moving water.
Surfing
Fishing
Racing
Yoga

Determine what attributes are important (or not!) to you – do you want versatility or storage capacity? Stability or speed?

2020 Red Paddle Co

Rank your experience level, realizing that the more you get out on the water, the better you will get. More experienced paddlers can get away with smaller boards. Last of all, will this be used by various members of the family? Do you want the ability to bring along a child, dog or gear? Might two people be on this together?

Multi Paddlers/Family: Two Adults, Adult and child or dog.
Beginner
Intermediate/Medium
Advanced Paddler

Follow the color key to decide what board is good for varying sizes and activities:

Blue – The board is great!
Green – The board is good.
Yellow – This board is not recommended.

For instance, if you were 5 feet 10 inches with a weight of 180 lbs, and whitewater rivers was the highest priority with a bit of recreational paddling, the Wild 11’0″ would be a good choice. But, if you wished to do predominantly recreational paddling with a bit of whitewater, the Ride 10’6 would be best.

Red Paddle Co 2020 Active inflatable fitness SUP

For easier viewing, the Red Paddle Co boards in the following tables have been separated into four categories: recreational, cruising/touring, specialty and race. If you are having trouble viewing the details in the four tables, follow this link for a larger, zoomable and printable PDF version of the Choosing Your 2021 Red Paddle Co Inflatable Paddle Board iSUP.

2021 Red Paddle Co Recreational Inflatable SUPS.

This section outlines the recreational models, which include the Ride 9’8, Ride 10’6 and Ride 10’8 and Ride XL. This also includes the Limited Edition Ride 10’6″ created to celebrate Red’s 10th anniversary.

2021 Red Paddle Co Recreational SUP Line2021 Red Paddle Co Cruising/Touring Inflatable SUPS.

This portion lists the cruising/touring models, which include the Sport 11’0″, Sport 11’3″, Sport 12’6″. Voyager 12’6″, Voyager 13″2 and Voyager Tandem. It also includes the new Limited Edition Sport 11″3.

2021 Red Paddle Co Cruising and Touring Inflatable SUP Lines

2021 Red Paddle Co Specialty Inflatable SUPS.

The table below outlines the specialty boards, which include the Whip 8’10, Snapper 9’4″. Wild 11, WindSurf 10’7 and Activ 10’8.

2021 Red Paddle Co Specialty SUP Line

2021 Red Paddle Co Racing and Packable Inflatable SUP Lines.

The last table below outlines the packable and racing boards. The Packable series includes the Compact 9’6 and Compact Sport 11’0. The Racing Series includes the Elite 12’6 and 14’0 and the Dragon 22’0.

2021 Red Paddle Co Compact and Racing SUP Lines

Most boards come with the popular – and now updated – Titan 2 dual barrel pump (Voyager Tandem comes with two Titan 2 pumps) and the Roller Backpack – the two larger boards – RIde XL and Dragon come with two Titan 2 pumps and a carrying tarp.

Why are there varying board thicknesses?

Some of the larger boards feature heavier, drop-stitch materials, thus making the boards thicker.

2020 Red Paddle Co Voyager Inflatable SUP

What does this mean? The thicker the board (and larger the board) the greater the air volume. This will increase the board rigidity at lower pressures. The Sport 11″0 and 11’3, Ride 10’6 and 10’8 boards – constructed from 120mm materials – will have roughly 20% greater rigidity than the 100mm material boards (Whip, Snapper, Ride 9-8), thus will carry more weight, but will be slightly less maneuverable. The 150mm material boards – such as the Wind, Elites, Sport 12’6 and Voyagers – will exhibit roughly 50% greater rigidity. But, the 100mm boards (as well as the 150mm Elites, Sport 12’6 and Voyagers, but not the Snapper) have been beefed up with the Rocker Stiffening System (RSS), which also gives them an additional boost over the 100mm boards built by other manufacturers.

2020 Red Paddle Sport 11-3 Limited Edition Inflatable SUP

How does the width affect the performance?

Optimal width – measured at the widest point on the board – is typically 32 inches for most paddlers. Narrower boards (such as the race boards) will be faster but less stable. Wider boards have more volume, thus increasing stability and carrying capacity.

How high do I really need to pump this up for best performance?

Recommended pressure is 18-20 PSI, with an optimum of 18PSI. We suggest starting off at 15 PSI, and then deciding if you need to go higher – no sense spending time and effort reaching the highest PSI, when it may not get you any better performance. For instance, as a smaller person, I generally don’t pump up my boards higher than 12 PSI. And one of our customers – at 6’3″ and 300 lbs – found his 12’6 was perfectly fine at 20 PSI.

You can read more about SUP pumps in our Guide to Choosing a Pump for your High Pressure Inflatable SUP.

2020 Red Paddle Co Dragon Racing inflatable board

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you can view details on the various Red Paddle Co Inflatable SUPS at http://www.AirKayaks.com. Half of the 2021 Red Paddle CO inflatable SUPs (Rides, Voyagers, Sports, Compacts) are arriving late October, with the rest to follow in March 2021. AirKayaks is currently accepting pre-orders on the incoming 2021 models – order yours today to ensure you get one.

You can also read our writeup on the 2021 Red Paddle Co Product Line – What’s New to find out all the nifty new features and technical upgrades.

Still having trouble? Feel free to Contact us via email, or give us a call at 707-998-0135.

Posted by: airkayaks | September 22, 2020

2021 Red Paddle Company Inflatable SUP Boards – What’s New

We recently received details on Red Paddle Co’s inflatable SUP lineup being introduced for 2021. Red Paddle Company inflatable boards are well-known throughout the world for their ruggedness, innovation and performance – each Red board is the result of rigorous quality assurance during the 72 hours of build time. Red Paddle Co’s private board facility is touted to be completely waste free with all materials being reused or recycled.

2021 Red Paddle Co SUP Lineup

Throughout the past 13 years, Red Paddle Co has been the industry leader, racking up numerous awards throughout the product line, including Gear of the Year from Outside, Men’s Journal and Backpacker magazines. Innovative features include the game-changing Titan dual action pump, Monocoque Structural Laminate (MSL) fusion material technology, Rocker Side Stiffening (RSS) system, the Forward Flex Control (FFC) nose rod on the racing boards and the Compact low-profile boards.

Rolling up the compact

In 2020, Red Paddle Company raised the bar by offering an unheard-of 5 year warranty on all Red Paddle boards (with product registration), the result of the Red Paddle TEC quality assurance program. They also introduced the Compact Sport 11. Like it’s smaller sibling the Compact 9’6″, the Sport Compact rolls up to half the size of a standard inflatable paddle board, perfect for larger paddlers.

2021 Red Paddle Pre-Orders

Red Paddle’s philosophy? If you plan on taking to the water on an inflatable board then you need a super durable board that is up for the challenge. And if you haven’t seen them, the Red Paddle endurance videos – pitting Red Paddle boards against teens, dogs, tractors, big rigs, martial arts and more – are definitely a testament to durability.

The 2021 Red Paddle Co product line continues with 20 models for surfing, whitewater, recreation, touring and racing, ranging in size from 8’10″ to to 22’0.″ This includes revamped graphics unifying the product line appearance while keeping subtle differentiations between paddling categories, as well as added features on many models. Three models have been retired and one reinvented. Prices are remaining the same.

Across the line, several new features have popped up.

Flat Bungee Deck Lacing System

The standard bungee deck lacing has been replaced with a cleaner-looking, self-closing, flat bungee system with 6-point attachment. The straps are now larger, creating more tension which helps your gear stay in place.

Exteneded deck pads

The deck pads have been extended and now wrap slightly around the board edge. This increases the grip and gives a cleaner look.

Tubular Ergonomic Carrying Handles

Carrying handles are now tubular, making them more ergonomic, easier to grip and more comfortable.

RSS Side BattensOn boards featuring the RSS Rocker Stiffening System – Ride 9-8, Sports, single Voyagers, Elites, Dragon and Whip – the fiberglass battens have been remodeled. Now in a day-glo orange color scheme (so they are easy to find), the battens are constructed from a recyclable polycarbonate that is durable and can be easily coiled. This ensures that the battens don’t break if someone attempts to roll the board up without removing the battens. This also makes them slightly easier to install; instead of pushing the entire length of batten into the pockets, one grabs the batten near the pocket and gives short pushes.

Titan 2 Pump

The Titan pump (see details below) has undergone a major upgrade to become the Titan 2 pump and is included with all 2021 Red Paddle boards.

Other innovative features are applicable to individual models and will be outlined below.

2021 Red Paddle Co Ride All-Round Series

2021 Red Paddle Co RidesThe Red Paddle Co 2021 recreational line encompasses all-round paddling for a wide variety of paddler sizes and water conditions, beginning with the best-selling Ride “all-around use” trio – the Ride 9’8″, the Ride 10’6″ (also in a Special Edition model, ) and the Ride 10’8″. The big boy “party animal” – the 17 foot Ride XL – is for multi-paddlers. The 14-ft Ride L has been retired.

Twin Fin System on Rides

Besides unifying graphic facelifts, the flat bungee system, tubular handles and extended deck pads, the most noticeable change to the Rides is the move from an integrated three fin design to two. While the new fins are slightly larger than the older (6 inch base with 4.5 inch height) the redesign makes the boards more playful with better tracking, as well as making them easier to roll up. The Ride XL fins remain the same as 2020, with four fins.

Prices remain the same for 2021 at $1199, $1299 and $1349 for the trio and $3299 for the big guy. The 3 smaller Rides will be available in the second half of October 2020 while the Ride XL will debut in March 2021.

Ride 10-6 Package

A new Ride 10-6 Package has been added to the product line. For an additional $100 (package price of $1399) the Ride 10-6 comes complete with Red Paddle Alloy breakdown paddle ($139 value) and a coiled leash ($49 value). This is only in the blue color, and will be available in late November, 2020.

2021 Red Paddle Co Sport “Glide” Series

2021 Red Paddle Co Sport LineupThe “glide series” consisting of the three Sport models -the Sport 11, Sport 11’3 (also available in a Special Edition model) and Sport 12’6– are rapidly becoming the SUP of choice for flat water paddling. This series has undergone the same cosmetic facelift with flat bungee system, new battens, tubular handles and expanded deck pads.

Sport Speed Tail water disruptor

Biggest news is a new Sport Speed Tail water disrupter on the underside which improves water run-off, making them more efficient to paddle.

The board silhouette has been slightly redesigned with the nose and tail outlines softened from the original squared-off shape. The fins and boxes remain the same.

Prices also remain the same at $1449, $1499 and $1599 respectively. The Sport 11’0″ and the 11’3″s  will be available in the second half of October 2020, while the Sport 12’6 will arrive late November, 2020.

Sport 11-3 package

The Sport series now includes a new Sport 11-3 “complete package” available only in the blue color. For an additional $129 (package price of $1629) the Sport 11-3 comes complete with a Red Paddle Carbon 50/Nylon breakdown paddle ($179 value) and a coiled leash ($49 value). This package will be available in late November.

2021 Red Paddle Co Voyager Touring Series

2021 Red Paddle Co Voyager Lineup

The Red Paddle touring series continues with three models – the Voyager 12’6″, Voyager 13’2 and fifteen foot Voyager Tandem. These three have undergone distinctive graphic and color redesigns along with the extended deck pads, tubular handles, updated battens and flat bungee lacing on the nose.

V-Hull Water Displacement

The biggest change is a new v-hull water displacement system to the underside of the nose in the two smaller models. The sculpted bottom breaks the surface tension of the water, increasing glide and enhancing tracking, allowing paddling to be more efficient.

Concave cargo spaace on Voyager

By removing dropstitch material in this location to incorporate the displacement system, the hull upper also becomes slightly concave, increasing luggage capacity and allowing for better seating of gear.

Relocated handles on Voyagers

The side carry handles have been moved up slightly so as not to get in the way of the paddler.

Rear 6-Point Attachment System on Voyagers

Rear cargo area includes the new 6-point attachment system, but not the lacing.

Dual Fin System on Voyagers

The 2021 Voyager 12-6 and 13-2 now sport a twin fin system. Two US fin boxes with shorter 8″ custom red fins allow paddlers to maneuver through shallower waters. The dual system also provides more traction as well as stability when loading up gear.

There are relatively no changes to the Voyager Tandem except for the graphics redesign, flat bungee system and extended deck pads.

Prices remain the same at $1599, $1649 and $1999 respectively. The Voyager 12’6″ and 13’2″ series will be available in the second half of October 2020, while the Voyager Tandem will be available in March 2021.

2021 Red Paddle Co Compact “Packable” Series

2021 Red Paddle Co Compact LineupThe Compact Package Series – consisting of the Compact 9’6″ and the Sport 11’0″ Compact – have undergone graphic changes and include the extended deck pad and flat bungee system.

Compact Click Fins

The Twin Click Fin system now has an updated fin box and click fins with enhanced securing system, minimizing the chance for loss. The box has been moved slightly to make it easier to roll up.

The board prices remain the same at $1899 and $1999 respectively. Both will be available in the second half of October, 2020.

2021 Red Paddle Co Specialty Boards

2021 Red Paddle Specialty Boards

Included in the Specialty Series are five models featuring the current Whip 8’10″ surfer, the Snapper 9’4″ youth model, the 10’7″ WindSurf and the Activ 10’8″ yoga fitness model. The Wild 9’6″ downriver/whitewater board has been totally transformed into the Wild 11’0″, while the Wind 10-7 has been retired.

Each of these models sport extended deck pads, graphic design and color updates; the flat bungee system is only on the Wild and Snapper.

Like the Ride models, the Snapper 9’4″ and Activ 10’8″ moved from an integrated three fin design to two. The slightly larger fins make the boards more playful with better tracking, as well as easier to roll up.

All models retain the same pricing for 2021 with the prices running $1199, $1349, $1049 for the Whip, Activ and Snapper respectively. The Wild 11 and WindSurf 10’7” also remain the same at $1399 and $1599. The specialty boards will be available in March 2021.

2021 Red Paddle Co Race Series

2021 Red Paddle Race Boards

The 2021 racing series consists of three models – the Elite (in two lengths) and the multi-paddler 22-foot Dragon. The Max Race has been retired, leaving the Snapper as the only junior board in the lineup.

Besides graphic/cosmetic redesigns, the two Elites now come in just one width; the Elite 12-6 features a 28 inch width while the Elite 14-0 has a 27 inch width. All models have virtually no changes, except for the Dragon 22’0″ which sports redesigned graphics more in keeping with the other race boards. Prices remain at $1599 and $1699 for both Elites and $2499 for the Dragon. The race boards will be available in March 2021.

2021 Red Paddle Co Titan 2 Pump and Accessories

All boards now come with the new Titan 2 Pump, with the three larger boards – Ride XL, Dragon and Tandem, coming with two Titan 2 pumps. The All Terrain Roller Backpack comes with most boards – the two smaller Snapper and Whip boards come with the standard backpack while the two largest – Dragon and Ride XL – come with a carrying tarp.

Titan 2 Side View

In the accessories line, the Titan pump touts the biggest changes, reinventing itself as the Titan II. While the pump still features a dual action mode with multiple adaptors, the hose connection has been redesigned with the same adaptor on each end – no matter which side you pick up, it will connect with the board or the pump with a twist on adaptor. This eliminates some of the threading problems associated with the screw-on fitting by the pump handle.

Titan 2 Pump Folded

The pump was made more compact, allowing it to be rolled more easily inside the board. This was accomplished with removable handles that have a “nesting spot” on the side of the pump base, and fold up feet. The gauge now sits down in the pump for greater protection.

Integrated Pressure Gauge

Other improvements include a left/right switch to move from double to single action, rather than the original plug system. The pumping angle has been changed slightly for a more ergonomic stance. The pump itself is slightly taller than the original Titan, thus providing a bit more volume with a smaller profile.

The Titan II will not be available for separate purchase in 2021, it is only available with a board purchase and will be available with all boards arriving in October 2020 and later.

2021 Red Paddle Pre-Orders

The Red Paddle Co accessory line – such as the cargo net, Schraeder valve adaptor, coiled or flatwater leashes, breakdown paddles and standalone All Terrain and Original wheeled backpacks – remain the same as well as the Red Paddle Original accessories line.

The 2021 Red Paddle Co Rides, Sports, Voyagers and Compacts are in transit, with an expected availability in the second half of October– pre-orders are being accepted. To order or for more information, visit the Red Paddle Co product pages at AirKayaks.com.

Stay tuned to see our AirKayaks Guide to Choosing Your 2021 Red Paddle Co Inflatable SUP – coming out shortly.

Advanced Elements of Benicia, California recently introduced one of two new kayaks for the 2020 product year. The AE3027 StraitEdge2 Pro is a redesign and upgrade to the long-standing, AE1014 Advanced Elements Straitedge2 inflatable kayak for one or two paddlers.

Advanced Elements StraitEdge2 Pro Inflatable Kayak

The new AE3027 Straitedge2 Pro features the identical kayak materials and construction as the earlier AE1014, but with upgraded accessories and features. The Straitedge2 Pro now comes with a 4-6 PSI drop stitch floor, rather than the standard 1 PSI PVC floor. The increased floor rigidity enhances the paddling experience with better tracking and glide.

The Straitedge2 Pro arrived this past month so we took the opportunity – during a brief break in the heat spell – to put it through its paces. Here are details on the Advanced Elements Straitedge2 Pro AE3027, a 13 foot inflatable kayak for one or two paddlers weighing in at roughly 42 lbs.

Getting Started with the Straitedge2 Pro

The box as received weighs 59 lbs, measuring 39 x 21 x 13 inches.

What's in the box.

A rugged, oversized, backpack-style carrying case (4.5 lbs) houses the kayak body with integrated floor (34 lbs), high-backed lumbar seats (2.5 lbs each), 2 sets of foot pegs, 2 rod holders, repair kit, fin and instructions. The kayak in the backpack with seats and parts weighs in at 45 lbs total.

Straitedge2 Pro Setup/Inflatation

We began by reading the manual, which gives excellent explanations on inflation, seating, peg installation. And here we come to AirKayak’s Tip #1: No matter how excited you are, take a good look at how the kayak is folded before you set the kayak up, so that you can get it back into the carrying case.

Unfolding the kayak

First step, unpack and unfold the kayak. (Please note: We will repeat some of the details previously mentioned in other writeups.)

Two sets of foot pegs.

Inside the bag are four identical plastic pegs, each with a foot pad, a lever and a number of holes – these are the foot pegs. By pressing on the lever, the foot pad can be moved forward and backward, locking into one of the openings.

Installing the foot pegs.

Open the kayak body fully and you will see a series of 6 cloth pockets and tubes on each inner side – these are for the three seating positions. The first and third set are for tandem paddling while the second (middle) set is for solo paddling.

Installing the foot pegs.

Point the peg with foot pad facing the paddler, and lever facing the bow. Insert the paddler-side end into the first loop, pushing back enough to then push the bow-end of the peg into the pocket. As these are tight, it is easiest to position it in the opening and then push on the foot pad to get it to slide all the way in.

Continue with the opposite side as well as the second set if paddling tandem.

Next step is inflation.

Closing the valve.

The kayak features 5 inflation chambers – three military valves (both sides and floor) and 2 twist-loks (seats). The military-style plunger valves are simple to use – twist one way to inflate (UP position where air goes in and does not come back out) and the other to deflate (DOWN position).

Military valve adaptor.

Each Straitedge2 Pro comes with a military valve adaptor – found in the repair kit located in the mesh pocket behind the seat – which locks onto many pumps with pin/slot hose fittings.

Attaching the hose

Put the plunger into the closed position. Attach the miltary valve adaptor to your pump and then couple it to one of the main side chambers, located on the rear hull. While there is not a pump included with the kayak, the adaptor features a “lip” that pushes open the spring plunger, allowing a pump gauge to read the back-pressure.

Inflating the side chamber

Pump up the first chamber to 2.25 PSI – we did about 45 strokes with a double action hand pump. Please note that if using a pressure gauge, the gauge will not start moving until the tube is filled out – in this case it started moving at about 35 to 40 pumps.

Then pump up the second chamber, located inside the kayak behind the seat, also to 2.25 PSI.

Using the Feather pump

At this point we decided to try out Kokopelli’s new miracle pump, the Feather. The Feather pump is a very small (fits in your palm), rechargeable 12-volt battery pump that can inflate and deflate.

The Feather pump comes with a number of adaptors, but we found it easiest to use no adaptor. While it does not have enough torque to open the valve, we put the valve in the open position, held the Feather over the valve and let it rip. After roughly 39 seconds, the tube had fairly much filled out (you can hear a change in the motor), so we quickly popped the plunger to the closed position (air doesn’t come back out).

We then topped it off to 2.25 PSI with 12 quick pumps using the hand pump – quite a time and energy saver! See our detailed review on the Feather pump.

Screw on the black wing nut caps so the plungers aren’t accidentally twisted open later.

Now inflate the floor.

Self-bailing ports can be open or closed.

At this point we want to mention something that is not mentioned in the instruction manual. If you flip the kayak over, you will see a series of 12 “holes”. The Straitedge2 Pro kayak is a “crossover” meaning it can be used for traditional paddling as well as whitewater through Class II. The “holes” are the self-bailing ports with attached plugs. When in turbulent water, the plugs can be opened, allowing water to pass through. When paddling on flat or calm waters, the plugs can be closed so that water doesn’t seep in.

We found out the hard way that one needs to make sure the ports are all opened or closed, before inflating the floor. If you lift up the edge of the floor you can check for that. Once the floor is inflated, it’s not possible to do this.

Pumping up the floor

Close the valve, attach the hose, and start pumping. It took us 32 strokes to reach 4 PSI and another 4 to reach 6 PSI – but those are a tough 4! You may not need to go over 4 PSI as the floor is pretty rigid, particularly if you’re on the smaller side – try it and see what you think. Remove the floor adaptor and screw on the wingnut cap. TIP: Put the adaptor in the mesh pocket behind the seat, so you don’t lose it.

Attaching the seats.

Then attach the seats. Once again, there are a series of three clips on the top of the side chambers – the first and third are for tandem paddling, while the center (second) is for solo paddling. You will also note that one seat has a mesh pocket on the back, while the other has two “tubes”. Slide the two white plastic rod holders into the tubes. Decide which seat you want in the front and back and then clip into the appropriate clips.

Inflating the lumbar support

Then pump up the twistlok on each lumbar seat to 1 PSI. Twist open the lock and inflate. While it’s easiest to just to use your mouth, (only a few puffs) you can also use a Boston valve adaptor to slip over the valves. Twist it shut and tuck the tube behind the seat so it doesn’t get in your way.

Seat buckles.

For more support, you can also clip the backstraps on each seat to d-rings located on the kayak. The front seat back straps clip to the d-ring on the center buckle while the rear paddler back straps clip to the d-rings behind the seat by the floor.

Attaching the fin.

If you plan on recreational paddling, the last step is to install the fin – this is not used if you plan on mild whitewater. Flip the kayak over. Point the fin towards the stern. Then take the bow side of the fin and push into the slot, then push down and towards the rear, lining up the hole with the pin slot. Push the retaining pin through the hole until you feel it click, then pull up to make sure it is securely attached.

Quick to set up.

Less than 10 minutes and you’re done!

About Drop Stitch Floor Technology

The term “drop stitch” is a method of construction which allows for much higher inflation and pressures than a standard PVC floor.

In a standard PVC floor (as shown above on the left), long “I-Beams” run the length of the floor, connecting the floor ceiling to bottom. This allows the floor to maintain a fairly uniform thickness, but if one of the I-Beams pops (due to over-inflation) the floor will become more like a blob.

Rigidity of drop stitch floor versus standard Convertible PVC floor

With drop stitch construction (shown above on the Convertible kayak drop stitch floor on the top, low-pressure PVC on the bottom), thousands of tiny threads connect both the top and bottom layers, creating a stronger link that can withstand much higher pressures. Higher pressures make for a more rigid floor, which can enhance paddling performance. This is the technology used in inflatable SUP paddle boards. The image below is from an Airis Inflatable Sport Kayak showing the interior drop stitching.

Airis Inflatable Sport window showing the drop stitch threads

Features and Specifications on the Straitedge2 Pro

The AE3027 Straitedge2 Pro features tubeless construction, which saves on weight.

Rugged hull material

The kayak upper is comprised of a rugged, PVC tarpaulin.

View of hull bottom.

The sculpted hull is a rugged, puncture-resistant PVC tarpaulin with electronically welded seams and a removable 9-inch tracking fin. There are two 16-inch landing plates/runners. Two sets of three 1-inch drain holes with plugs are positioned each side.

Advanced Elements StraitEdge2 Pro Inflatable Kayak - Paddled solo.

A “vee” shaped hull displacement system in the bow – termed the Straitedge Tracking System – features an integrated aluminum rib which helps slice through the water.

Molded rubber handles

There are two molded rubber carrying handles (bow and stern), but it is fairly simple to carry by hooking the side of the kayak over your shoulder as long as the center seat is not installed.

Front bungee deck lacing.

There is a front splash deck measuring 20 inches. Bungee deck lacing in the bow – measuring 9 inches wide, tapering to 5 inches wide, and 10 inches deep – includes 4 d-rings and a tensioner, allowing one to add on various dry packs and gear. The deck lacing begins at the back of the front handle and is positioned roughly 50 inches from the front paddler.

Rear seat straps

Six sets of large seat buckles – three each side – are located on the upper side tubes, placed 63, 83 and 104 inches from the nose. Each has a smaller additional d-ring.

Foot pegs installed

Two sets of 16-inch long plastic foot pegs feature 16 holes spaced 3/4 inches apart. Due to the pocket and loop positions, not all the holes can be utilized, but can be adjusted about 9 inches.

Foot peg pocket system

Six sets of pockets and loops are positioned on each of the side chambers, allowing one to attach the foot pegs. The three pockets are located 25″, 41″ and 68″ from the nose, while the loops are located 35, 55 and 81 inches from the nose.

Seat straps

There are 4 velcro paddle holders. These are located 70″ and 90″ from the bow, two each side.

Velcro floor strips for attaching seats.

Three sets of 8″ velcro strips (1 inch wide and 10 inches apart) begin at the 49″, 68″ and 92″ mark from the nose. These are used to fasten the seat base so it doesn’t slide.

Two high-backed, padded lumbar seats with breathable mesh features adjustable side straps which quickly clip into position while rear stiffening rods create a comfortable option for those needing a bit extra back support than the standard seat offers. The seat back has an inflatable bladder with an extra long 36 inch TwistLok hose, allowing you to change the support level from 1-5 inches while kayaking! In addition, a side zipper allows you to open and move the bladder up or down until you “hit the right spot.”

Padded seat base.

The Straitedge2 Pro now features a 2-inch padded seat base to compensate for the rigidity of the floor. Seat back dimensions are 16 inches tall and 20 inches wide, curving. The seat base is 17 inches wide, 13 inches deep. The seats can be adjusted about 10 inches in location, based on strap length.

Mesh pockets on back of one seat.

Double gusseted, mesh pockets, measuring 4 x 8 inches are on one seat back; one features a drawsting closure, the other a velcro flap. Here you will find the repair kit and military valve adaptor.

The second seat features two long pockets on the back, which house the 12-inch plastic rod holder inserts. Two sets of stainless steel d-rings are located behind the rear paddler on the lower side walls, at 28 and 40 inches from the tail.

There are three military valves and two twistlock valves.

Rear deck lacing and pocket

A rear splash deck measures 25 inches deep and features a second bungee deck lacing, also measuring 9 to 5 inches wide, 10 inches deep with 4 d-rings and a tensioner. The deck lacing begins at the back of the rear handle and is positioned roughly 27 inches from the rear paddler.

Unpacking the kayak.

The traditional Advanced Elements carrying case has been updated, now coming with two adjustable shoulder straps, allowing one to use it as a backpack. There are also two top carrying handles. Bag size is a generous 40 x 23 x 11 inches.

Advanced Elements StraitEdge2 Pro Inflatable Kayak - Side view

We did measurement tests. The kayak inflated is just over 13 feet long and is 36 to 37 inches wide. The side bladders are roughly 9 inches in diameter, making a well about 8 inches deep. Interior dimensions are approximately 144 inches long by 17 inches wide.

In tandem mode, when the front and rear seats are placed just over the velcro, there are approximately 60 inches of legroom room from the front seat back to the interior nose; 46 inches of this is open. The pegs can be positioned from 33 to 41 inches from the seat back. The front seat can move about 5-6 inches either way, though moving back the seat can impinge upon the rear paddler’s foot pegs.

We measured 40 inches from seat back to seat back in this position, with pegs located 29 to 38 inches from the rear seat back. There were 37 inches behind the seat to the inner tail with 16 inches under the splash deck.

By putting the rear seat all the way back, the measurements changed to 49 inches seat back to seat back and 38 to 47 inches to the pegs. One is not able to use the back straps in this manner, but something could probably be fashioned if needed.

When solo paddling, with the seat set over the velcro strips, there is 72 inches from seat back to inside snout, with 32 to 41 inches from seat back to peg rests. There are 59 inches behind the seat to the inside tail. This can be somewhat repositioned by adjusting the seat straps.

Weight limitations suggest 500 lbs for persons and gear.

Packing Up the StraitEdge2 Pro

Packing up the kayak is fairly simple. First, the smooth skin allows water to drip off rather than sink in.

Folding up the kayak.

Remove the pegs and seats. Open the valves and push out the air – you can also put the pump in the deflate mode and pump out any remaining air. Fold the kayak in half the long way (bring one side over the other side.) Then fold the nose in until it reaches the first plug on the second set, and the tail until it reaches the other first plug on the second set. Then fold in half and put in the bag.

Advanced Elements Straitedge2 Pro On the Water

Each of us took out the kayak solo on a somewhat choppy day.

Advanced Elements StraitEdge2 Pro Inflatable Kayak - paddled solo

Despite my shorter size of 5’4″, the kayak was quite easy to paddle, and rode easily over swells headed into the wind, and also handled well downwind. The peg system is simple and convenient, very easy to adjust.

The Advanced Elements StraitEdge2 Pro Inflatable Kayak is stable.

The dropstitch floor makes a huge difference in this situation as it does with longer kayaks. In fact, I found the floor stiff enough to be able to stand up, albeit for a short time.

Done!

While I was apprehensive about carrying such a large kayak alone, it can be managed by hooking the body over one shoulder if the seat is not attached in the middle position; this becomes tougher in a stiff wind. For those who don’t want to attempt it, the Advanced Elements AE3010 dolly cart is a marvelous portable breakdown wheel-set that easily straps onto the kayak hull, allowing one to portage through all types of terrain.

Advanced Elements StraitEdge2 Pro Inflatable Kayak - paddled solo

My husband at 6’2″ found the Straitedge2 Pro to be very roomy, easily paddled, maneuverable and tracked well. He noted that in swells, with the lower side tubes, you will take on water. While the raised floor keeps you above the accumulated water, you may get initially wet – so expect that. He liked the foot peg system – his only mild criticism was the lack of a side handle which would make it easier to carry solo.

Advanced Elements StraitEdge2 Pro Inflatable Kayak - paddled tandem

We then took the Straitedge2 Pro out as a tandem on the same choppy day. I set up the kayak with the rear seat not all the way back. We found the StraitEdge2 Pro to be comfortable, stable, rugged and paddled well. It felt perfectly roomy in front, and he felt the same in back. Gear could still be placed behind the rear paddler seat as well as on the deck uppers. Paddled tandem, the kayak is pretty zippy paddling straight,  though turning around is slightly less maneuverable.

Rugged enough for canine passengers.

As we get so many questions about kayaking with dogs, we show a picture of the clan trying to get into the act. The material is rugged enough to handle dog claws.

Bottom Line on the Advanced Elements Straitedge2 Pro Kayak:

The Advanced Elements Straitedge2 Pro inflatable kayak is a nice kayak!

Advanced Elements StraitEdge2 Pro Inflatable Kayak - paddled solo.

The kayak is comfortable, paddles well, looks good, is rugged and quite stable. It is able to handle lakes, Class I to II rapids, calm inlets, bays and coastal ocean.

Advanced Elements StraitEdge2 Pro Inflatable Kayak - Paddled tandem.

As a tandem, it is roomy, paddles smoothly and is zippy. With averaged-sized adults or smaller, there is probably enough extra space to carry a small dog or child with judicious seat placement.

Advanced Elements StraitEdge2 Pro Inflatable Kayak - Paddled solo.

When paddling solo, the kayak’s long length provides ample amount of storage space, making it an excellent choice for a solo paddler interested in camping excursions as well as anglers wanting to set up a fishing kayak with lots of gear.

Side poickets for attaching foot pegs.

The dropstitch floor – in conjunction with the low profile and open cockpit – keeps the kayak quite rigid, making it easier to get into. This is a great choice for those with physical difficulties or those who dislike being enclosed.

Installing the seats.

The high-backed lumbar seats with the new padded base are very comfortable and a huge improvement over the standard Advanced Elements seats. The foot peg systems are easy to use and adjust.

The addition of floor ports provides the versatility to use the Straitedge2 Pro in mild whitewater, letting water pass through.

The smooth skin and sleek design make breakdown very simple – just wipe it off.

Carrying the backpack

The new backpack-style carrying case is much easier to carry, as well as being roomier, thus easier to repack.  This is a great choice for travel – it’s perfect for RVs and easily fits in the trunk of a small car.

Advanced Elements StraitEdge2 Pro

All in all, the Straitedge2 Pro from Advanced Elements is a great multi-purpose kayak for families, people of all ages and paddling needs. It’s pretty simple to set up, easy to take down, can convert from double to single, and can accommodate many paddler sizes – this is also a great solo kayak for the “big and tall”

Street price is $899. For more info or to purchase, see the Advanced Elements Straitedge2 Pro AE3027, product page at http://www.airkayaks.com.

You can also watch a short video clip on the StraitEdge2 Pro, below.

Advanced Elements of Benicia, California recently introduced two exciting new kayaks as precursors to the 2021 season – the AirVolutions. What makes them so special? The AirVolution solo and AirVolution2 tandem are constructed entirely from dropstitch material. With just two inflation chambers, and inflation pressures of 10 to 12 PSI, the kayaks are extremely rigid.

We initially posted a Sneak Preview on a pre-production sample of the solo AirVolution.

The Airvolution production models arrived this past week so we took the opportunity to check them out. Here are details on the Advanced Elements AirVolution2 AE3030 (Patent Pending), a 14.5 foot high-pressure inflatable kayak weighing in at roughly 52 lbs.

Getting Started with the AirVolution2

The box as received weighs 68 lbs, measuring 45 x 23 x 15 inches.

What's in the box

Inside, is a super-sized, backpack-style carrying case with wheels (7 lbs) , kayak body (47 lbs), 2 EVA seats (2.2 lbs each), pump with gauge (3.25 lbs), tracking fin (0.45 lbs), cinch belts, repair kit (0.8 lbs) and instructions. The kayak with backpack and parts weighs in at 62 lbs, while the kayak body with seats is 52 lbs. The folded kayak size is roughly 44 x 18 x 10 inches.

We began by reading the manual. This includes pump set-up, inflation, deflation, folding, repairs and troubleshooting. And here we come to AirKayak’s Tip #1: No matter how excited you are, take a good look at how the kayak is folded before you set the kayak up, so that you can get it back into the carrying case.

Unpacking the kayak

First step, unfold the kayak.

Closing the military valve

The Advanced Elements AirVolution2 utilizes two main military valves for inflation, similar to the ones found on many standup paddle boards. These are very simple to use and feature an inflate mode (spring plunger is UP) and a deflate mode (spring plunger is DOWN). By using your finger to gently push on the plunger, it can be moved to the inflate mode (air goes in and doesn’t come back out) and deflate mode (air goes in and comes back out). Before you go to all the effort of inflating the kayak, PLEASE make sure the plunger is in the inflate position.

Pump parts disassembled

Next, set up the pump. The AirVolution2 comes with a very nifty, collapsible, dual-action pump with built-in pressure gauge. First step, attach the feet.

Assembling the pump.

The bottom of the pump barrel features tabs that match up to slots on the feet; if you look carefully, you will see that two of the slots are longer than the third – meaning the foot will only go on one way. Line up the tabs, push the barrel into the foot and then twist to lock into position. Attach the hose to the side that says Inflate (there is also a Deflate side). There are two pieces of plastic tubes in the plastic packaging – these are screw on handles. The pump parts could be stored in the carrying bag side pocket, but you may want to buy a mesh laundry bag to keep everything together.

Changing the dual action mode on the pump.

The pump features a dual action mode operated by a push button on the side of the pump. Instructions are printed on the pump, but by pushing in the button, you will see the words change from Double to Single, letting you know at all times what mode you are in. In double action mode, air is pumped on the up and down stroke, while in single action air is pumped only on the down stroke, making it easier to get to high pressures.

Attaching the pump hose to the military valve.

We started in double-action mode. Attach the hose to the military valve by twisting on, and start pumping.

Pumping up chamber 1.

The instructions say to pump up both chambers (upper and bottom) 10-12 PSI, starting with the upper chamber. As gauges work on back-pressure, in double action mode, it took about 50 strokes before the gauge needle started registering. At 75 pumps we were at 4 PSI and it was getting tough. We switched to single action – 45 more strokes took us to 10 PS.

Inflating the floor chamber

We then moved on to the second chamber, the floor. As the floor chamber is larger, it took 100 strokes in double action mode before the gauge started moving. At 120 pumps we were at 3 PSI and we changed to single action mode. Another 25 strokes took us to 5 PSI.

Using the 12-Volt car pump

At this point we will mention a nifty Advanced Elements product that will cut your inflation time significantly – the AE2003 Advanced Elements 12-Volt car pump which plugs into your car’s power point. We hooked up the 12-volt and then – without using an adaptor – simply held the pump over the valve while in the up/closed position. In this mode, the pump nozzle presses open the plunger, allowing the air in. It took about a minute for the floor chamber to fill out – you can tell when it’s reached the max as the motor sound changes. Then when the nozzle is not pressing on the plunger, it goes back into the closed position without losing air. Then we continued inflation using the dual action pump.

Screw on the wing caps to keep the valves protected.

Attaching the EVA foam seat

Next, attach the seats. There are no details in the included manual, but Advanced Elements has put together a Seat Guide which we will include here.

Strap attachments on seat.

Each of the seat backs feature two upper and two lower strap attachments, consisting of two ladder locks each (to total 8) – this is designed to give maximum support. As a starting point, begin by shortening each of the lower two clips on each seat to their shortest position. Then lengthen each of the top straps to about 13 inches, measured from clip tip to ladderlock.

Attach the bottom straps to each of the four upper d-rings and the top straps to each of the d-rings on the floor. Check each seating fit and adjust forward if needed.

AirVolution2 set up as a solo

If planning on paddling solo, position the seat just rear of center. Attach the top straps to the first set of upper d-rings, and the lower straps to the rear set of lower d-rings. Tighten up the straps so the back is fairly straight, with a slight curve.

If you have straps flopping around, you can tie them up to keep them out of the way.

Last step, install the fin. Flip the kayak over and point the fin towards the rear.

Slide the fin into the fin box. If aligned correctly, the little tab can be pushed back into position, locking the fin. Pull up to make sure it is truly in the locked position.

Ready for the water.

You’re done!

About Drop Stitch Technology

The term “drop stitch” is a method of construction which allows for much higher inflation and pressures than a standard PVC bladder or floor.

Rigidity of drop stitch floor versus standard Convertible PVC floor

Drop-stitch (DS) material is the same used in the inflatable paddle board market, where thousands of threads string the top and bottom panels together, allowing it to be pumped up to higher pressures, thus making it more rigid. The photo above shows a dropstitch floor on top of a low-pressure PVC floor.

The AirVolutions are innovatively constructed using PVC Tarpaulin laminated to high-pressure drop-stitch material. This gives a smoother finish, increased rigidity and a sculpted outline for greater paddling performance – almost like two inflatable paddle boards connected on the sides.

Features and Specifications on the Advanced Elements AirVolution2

There are two neoprene-covered, padded carrying handles (bow and stern).

Soft nose cones

There are two soft cones on the nose and tail.

Front bungee deck lacing

The front hull is sculpted, allowing water to drain off.  Bungee deck lacing in the bow – measuring 20 inches wide, tapering to 9 inches wide, and 20 inches deep – includes six d-rings, allowing one to add on various dry packs and gear. The deck lacing begins 20 inches from the nose.

OPen cockpit with coaming lip

The open deck features a curled coaming, also preventing some water from entering the cockpit. The cockpit begins 45 inches from the nose and measures 21.5 inches wide by 91 inches long.

There are two military valves and two pressure relief valves, one each for the upper deck and the floor.

Pressure relief valve

The pressure relief valves are triggered at 18 PSI, ensuring the chambers are not overinflated. While the optimum inflation pressure is 10-12 PSI, paddlers may find performance acceptable at 6 PSI. Please note: while there are two pressure relief valves, it is not a good idea to leave the kayak sitting in the hot sun.

Drain well with plug

One 4-inch deep drain well features a screw-on port to allow water to drain out.

D-ring placement

There are 4 sets of d-rings, two sets on the floor and two sets on the hull, which can be used for attaching the seats as well as gear.

Seat clips and d-rings

The two pair of floor d-rings (used for the upper seat straps) are 45 inches apart, with the first set located 27 inches from the cockpit opening (72 inches from the nose) and the second set located 20 inches from the back cockpit opening (55 inches from the tail).

The two pair of upper d-rings (used for the lower seat straps) are 45 inches apart, with the first set located 46 inches from the cockpit opening (90 inches from the nose) and the second set located 39 inches from the tail.

The d-rings are basically positioned 72″, 89″ 117″ and 132″ from the nose.

EVA foam seat

The high-backed seats are constructed from a sculpted EVA foam. The seat back is 16 inches tall, and 19 inches wide by 1 inch thick. The seat base measures 15 inches wide by 12 inches deep, also 1 inch thick.

Seat back

There are four straps on the seat back – two upper and two lower – each with two ladder locks. Four stainless steel clips quickly connect to the kayak’s d-rings. The straps can be adjusted from 4 to 24 inches in length.

Rear bungee deck lacing – measuring 18 inches wide, tapering to 11 inches wide, and 9.5 inches deep – includes 4 d-rings, providing more area for attaching gear. The deck lacing begins 15 inches from the tail.

Backpack front

The AirVolution2 comes with an oversized clam shell case with two-way zipper, backpack straps and roller wheels. Case measurements are a generous 45 inches tall by 18.5 inches wide and 15 inches deep. There are two handles – top and one side. The other side features a large mesh pocket 31 x 15 inches with top cinch strap.

Back side of backpack

A clear, plastic front sleeve pocket measures 16 x 9 inches with zipper. Two backpack straps with waist belt can be stashed in the 21 inch by 18 inch rear chamber. The straps can be adjusted from 15 to 27 inches in length, while the waistband expands from 32 to 50 inches in circumference. Two integrated interior cinch straps allow one to keep the kayak in position.

Two 60-inch cinch straps are provided to tie up the kayak when deflated.

Repair kit

A nifty 9 x 5 x 2.5 inch repair kit contains glue, valve wrench and patch material, but is large enough to keep other small items.

Inlcuded dual action pump

The included dual-action pump can be disassembled into smaller components. When assembled, the pump measures 25 inches tall, 11.5 inches wide at the foot, with a 3-inch barrel. The hose is 48 inches long with one military valve adaptor. The pressure gauge measures up to 20 PSI.

We did measurement tests. The kayak inflated is 14.5 feet long and 37 inches wide.

The bow upper deck is roughly 45 inches long. The interior well underneath is about 32 inches deep and 23 inches wide, with a max head room of 4.5 inches, tapering down to the sides. The well interior/side walls are about 9 inches deep.

The rear upper deck is roughly 35 inches long. The interior well underneath is about 22 inches deep with a max head room of 5 inches, tapering down to the sides.

In tandem mode, when the front seat is ratcheted close to the upper d-rings, approximately 41 inches of legroom is available from the seat back to the front cockpit, while the rear paddler has 42 inches from the seat back to the front seat back. There are 5 inches behind the rear seat. The front seat could be moved up about 10 inches. Please note that one can’t really put one’s feet inside the front chamber.

The Airvolution2 set up as a solo

When solo paddling, with the back of the seat roughly 3 to 4 inches before the drain well, there is approximately 56 inches from the seat back to the front cockpit, and about 36 inches behind the seat. This can be somewhat repositioned by adjusting the seat straps.

Weight limitations suggest 500 lbs for two persons, or 550 lbs for two persons and gear.

Advanced Elements AirVolution2 On the Water

We first took the AirVolution2 out as a tandem on a mildly choppy day. First impressions – this is one rugged and rigid kayak. The sculpted hull is sleek and the kayak looks great!

AirVolution paddled tandem

The AirVolution paddles and tracks very well, is pretty zippy, though slightly less maneuverable.

It was roomy for the two of us (5’4″ and 6’2″). I managed to get my seat up close enough to use the cockpit as a foot brace, while my husband had his feet fairly straight.

Carrying the tandem

While there are no paddle holders, we stuck the paddles under the front well or bungee deck lacing when carrying. And with the front and rear handles, it is quite easy to carry.

Deep water tracking fin and sculpted hull

We do want to point out that the 9-inch tracking fin improves paddling performance, but you will also need to launch it in slightly deeper water, and be aware if the water level gets too low.

Paddling the AirVolution2 as a Solo

Each of us then took the AirVolution2 out solo. My husband at 6’2″ found the AirVolution2 to be very roomy, paddling and tracking well. It easily rides over small swells without a blip. He did feel that a 240cm paddle might be better when paddling solo.

Despite my shorter size of 5’4″, the kayak was quite easy to paddle; the dropstitch material makes a huge difference in this situation, as standard low pressure floors in longer kayaks can be sluggish. In fact, I found the floor stiff enough to be able to stand up without any issues. That said, with no foot brace and the long interior space, the AirVolution2 would not be my first choice for solo paddling – the AirVolution single is a much better fit.

There are a few things I want to point out. While the carrying case is big enough to fit most gear needed, at 45 inches tall and 60 lbs filled, it would not be possible for me to carry solo – this is a bag for Paul Bunyan. The roller wheels are also smaller, and thus suitable for only very flat surfaces. I did try to pull it along a gravelly surface, and only succeeded in abrading the base. Thus I would consider this a great bag for containing the kayak and gear, but less so for travel.  It also may be too large to fit in the trunk of a small car – you may want to check on the dimensions.

Using the kayak dolly to transport the AirVolution2

Determined to use it alone, I grabbed an Advanced Elements collapsible dolly cart. Bingo. By strapping the dolly to the nose, I was able to put the paddles in the kayak and wheel it around.

Using the kayak dolly

An added bonus is that the dolly frame can slip under the front deck well, and the wheels under the back well while paddling. Or, it could just be packed back into the plastic carrying case and strapped under the bungee deck lacing. We would suggest maybe placing a thin towel around the parts if stashing under the well, so that pointed edges or wheel rubber don’t mark up the body.

The second point is the 10-12 PSI inflation. If you own an inflatable SUP, you know that pumping up to high pressures – while making the board incredibly rigid – is not fun. It can tire you out before you are on the water. While inflating the AirVolution2 to the recommended pressures will enhance the sculpted silhouette, my husband and I found it to perform perfectly well at 6 PSI in both single and tandem mode. So, we are suggesting that you start out lower and go higher only if you feel you need it, or are carrying lots of weight. And as previously mentioned, the use of an electric pump – such as the Advanced Elements 12-Volt, will severely decrease your initial pumping.

As we get so many questions about kayaking with dogs, we show a picture above with my (past) buddy Eddie, out for a spin in another Advanced Elements kayak, the Convertible with dropstitch floor. The material is rugged enough to handle dog claws.

Packing it Up

Deflating the kayak is pretty simple, and there are diagram instructions in the manual. Open the valves and let the air out. Remove the fin and seats. Flatten the body and start folding up roughly 5 times from the rear, and twice from the other end. Then fold over and secure with the included cinch straps. If you need to get out more air, you can put the pump in the deflate mode and pump it out.

Bottom Line on the Advanced Elements AirVolusion2 Kayak:

The Advanced Elements AirVolution series is the next generation of inflatable kayaks. The sculpted profile, sleek lines and bold graphics are visually exciting.

Very stable

The high-pressure, dropstitch material feels incredibly rugged, rigid and solid. It’s also stable.

And – forgetting about the inflation – with only two chambers the AirVolution is very simple to set up. While the dual-action pump is pretty nifty, this would be a great candidate for one of those high-pressure, electric pumps used in the SUP industry.

The two-chambered smooth surface is easy to clean off/wipe out, without many areas for water to hide. And there are no twisting issues sometimes found with covered bladder design.

Paddling the AirVolution2 as a Solo

As a low-profile, open-cockpit, sit-inside kayak, the AirVolution is best suited for recreational, fairly flat water paddling and day use. It is able to handle lakes, Class I to II rapids, inlets and calmer bays.

Easy to get into

It’s also very easy to get into.

As a tandem, it is roomy, paddles smoothly and is zippy. Yet it’s versatile enough to be used solo with mega-room for gear.

Smaller paddlers looking for a solo option should take a look at the 38 lb AE3029 AirVolution single (shown above), which will be easier to carry and a little bit less exertion to pump up. The single version is

Street price is $1299 for the AirVolution2 and $1099 for the solo AirVolution. For more info or to purchase, see the AirVolution2 product page at http://www.airkayaks.com. 

We recently posted our Sneak Preview on the new series of Moki inflatable kayaks from Kokopelli Packraft – two exciting new models we’ve seen for 2020. What’s so special? The new Moki Series expands the Kokopelli product line, providing a traditional paddling experience.

Moki with spray deck.

Last month, the 2020 models started rolling in. We began the series with the new 13.6 lbs XPD, so we now turn to the high-pressure Moki inflatable kayak, a 12 ft 2-inch model with zip-off deck and spray skirt.

Getting Started with the Kokopelli Moki Inflatable Kayak

What's in the Moki box.

We unpacked the box and laid out the pieces – inflatable kayak body with high pressure floor, EVA seat, removable deck, spray skirt, foot brace, coaming tube, pump with gauge, repair kit, roller backpack, fin, deck rod, repair kit and instructions. The fin and the repair kit are found in a pocket inside the backpack.

Boxed up, the dimensions are 36 x 25 x 15 inches with a shipping weight of 58 lbs. The kayak weighs 33 lbs with the seat, floor, brace and fin – add another 1.75 lbs for the deck and 1 lb for the coaming and spray skirt. All packed up in the bag, everything weighs 46 lbs. The folded kayak size is 29 x 21 x 9 inches.

The generic instructions for Kokopelli’s inflatable kayak series include inflation and deflation techniques, deck, seat and skirt installation, but lack details on actual set up; we will outline the steps we took, below. In general, set up is straight-forward – unpack, unfold, inflate.

Folding the kayak.

The first step is to unfold the kayak.

Closing the valve.

The Kokopelli Moki utilizes three main GRI push-push valves for inflation. These are very simple to use and feature an inflate mode (spring plunger is UP) and a deflate mode (spring plunger is DOWN). By using your finger to gently push on the plunger, it can be moved to the inflate mode (air goes in and doesn’t come back out) and deflate mode (air goes in and comes back out). Before you go to all the effort of inflating the board, PLEASE make sure the plunger is in the inflate position.

Setting up the pump.

Next, set up the pump – this is not mentioned in the instructions. The Moki comes with a very nifty, collapsible, dual-action Nano pump and built-in pressure gauge. Fold down the feet and attach the hose to the side that says Inflate (there is also a Deflate side). There are two pieces of plastic tubes in the plastic packaging – these are screw on handles. Unfortunately, there is no place to attach/store the handles when removed so you may want to buy a mesh laundry bag to keep everything together. Or, don’t even bother attaching the handles as the pump is pretty easy to use without them.

The Nano pump dual action mode is operated by a lever on the side of the pump. There are no instructions on using this, but point the lever to the right for double action (air is pumped on the up and down stroke) and to the left for single action (air is pumped only on the down stroke, making it easier to get to high pressures.)

Attaching the pump to the kayak.

We started in double-action mode. Attach the hose to the military valve by twisting on, and start pumping.

Pumping up the floor.

The instructions say to pump up the floor first to 8 PSI, followed by both side tubes to 3-4 PSI. (We did follow these instructions, but will slightly modify them). It took us roughly 45 easy strokes to reach 8 PSI on the floor. Please note that the gauge works on back pressure, so it was 20-25 strokes before the needle started moving.

Pumping up the side chambers.

We then pumped up one of the side chambers. It took us another 125 very easy pumps to get to 3.5 PSI. While this sounds like a lot, the Nano pump is very easy to use and we never switched to single action mode – pumping took about 2+ minutes. Please again note that you will not get any needle movement until about 100 pumps. Screw on the wing cap to keep the valve protected.

Using the Feather pump.

At this point we decided to try out Kokopelli’s new miracle pump, the Feather. The Feather pump is a very small (fits in your palm), rechargeable 12-volt battery pump that can inflate and deflate.

The Feather pump comes with a number of adaptors, but we found it easiest to use no adaptor. While it does not have enough torque to open the valve, we put the valve in the open position, held the Feather over the valve and let it rip. After 55 seconds, the tube had fairly much filled out (you can hear a change in the motor), so we quickly popped the plunger to the closed position (air doesn’t come back out).

We then topped it off to 3.5 PSI with 45 quick pumps using the hand pump – quite a time and energy saver! See our detailed review on the Feather pump.

At this point we realized that the kayak looked off-center – this can easily be seen by turning over the kayak and looking at the floor indentation. We let air out of the side chambers, repositioned the floor to look even, and then alternated pumping up each side. Bingo – everything was in line. So our suggestion is to inflate the floor, then partially inflate each chamber, check the alignment, and then finish inflating.

Attaching the seat.

Next, attach the seat by positioning it just “rear of center”. Two top buckles feature quick connect clips that slip onto d-rings on the side handles. Two lower buckles attach to d-rings behind the seat. AirKayaks note: two of the clips were not on the buckles, we found them on the ground, so please watch out for loose clips.

Installing the foot brace.

Next, attach the foot brace. A series of daisy-chain links are located under the deck on each side. The foot brace also features quick-connect clips that can be placed on any one of the links, dependent on the position you find to be most comfortable.

Attaching the fin.

Next, attach the fin. Point the fin towards the rear. You will notice a little tab on the fin box, slide that open. Then drop in the fin, pushing back slightly. If aligned correctly, the little tab can be pushed back into position, locking the fin. Pull up to make sure it is truly in the locked position.

Moki is easy to carry.

If you don’t plan on using the deck or spray skirt, you’re done – less than 10 minutes!

Installing the deck bar.

To install the deck, slip the unnamed fiberglass rod into the two pockets on the underside of the deck.

Attaching the spray deck.

Attach the zipper and run it around the deck – while we were able to do this when fully inflated, it is best to do this slightly underinflated as the tension on the zipper teeth can be strong.

Installing the coaming

Next open both velcro tabes on the cockpit opening and install the white plastic coaming tube. This is quite easy until you come to the curve. When you come to the velcro opening, guide the tube through and around the corner. This is easiest using a “push from the rear” and “feed from the front” approach. Then pop the tube ends together – this does take some strength and the plastic tubing can cut your fingers. Reseal the velcro tabs (this may take some tugging.) The coaming tube performs two functions – without the skirt it prevents some water from dripping into the cockpit, and it is also used to attach the included spray skirt.

Putting on the Moki spray skirt

To put on the spray skirt, sit inside the kayak and place the skirt over your body. Grab the skirt and – putting your hands behind you, lock the skirt over the coaming.

Putting on the Moki spray skirt

Pull hard against the coaming, keeping the spray skirt in position, and slide up until your hands are near the front, popping it over the coaming.

Features and Specifications on the Kokopelli Moki Inflatable Kayak

Hull material

The Moki is constructed from an 840 denier nylon upper with two separate internal PVC bladders, and a 1000 denier reinforced PVC bottom. The deck material is treated with a water-resistant PU coating which helps wick away water.

Drop stitch material

The 2.5 inch deep inflatable floor is made of a rigid high-pressure drop-stitch material to give the kayak a more rigid hull, enhancing speed and tracking in the water.

Side handles and d-rings.

There are four molded rubber carrying handles – front, rear and each side – each with d-rings. The two side handles are positioned 68 inches from the nose.

Bungee deck lacing.

The front deck has a 6-point quick-attach bungee storage system measuring 17 inches long by 16 to 6 inches. This begins 16 inches from the nose. A male-female 0.75in (1.9cm) buckle at the end allows for quickly securing gear.

Deck Riser.

The cockpit opening has a 3-inch splash visor, and starts 39 inches from the nose, extending back 68 inches.

Velcro paddle holders.

Two velcro paddleholders are located on the right side. Each one is 10 inches long, and they are positioned 62 and 87 inches from the bow.

Foot brace

An adjustable 3 x 8 inch foot brace with quick-connect clips attaches to a daisy chain system, located on the side chambers. This allows the brace to be adjusted based on the leg length of the paddler.

Military valve.

There are three main inflation chambers using a GRI push-push valve – floor and both side tubes.

Molded EVA seat.

The seat is constructed from a sculpted EVA foam. The base measures 13 x 10 x 2 inches while the seat upper is 18 inches at the widest point, and 15 inches tall. Four straps with quick connect clips allow the seat to be firmly ratcheted to the d-rings on the side handle (upper straps) and the d-rings behind the seat (lower straps). The rear d-rings are located 50 inches from the stern. The seats are adjustable forward and backwards based on the paddlers height.

Storage compartments on back of seat.

The seat back features a variety of storage options including bottle holder, rod sleeve and a 10 x 7 x 4 inch zippering pocket with mesh sides.

Velcro strips on the floor

Two 20-inch long velcro strips begin just rear of the side handles. These are 1.5 inches wide, 3 inches apart, and keep the seat base from sliding.

Bungee deck lacing.

The rear deck also includes a splash visor and 6-point quick-attach bungee storage system measuring 19 inches long by 17 to 6 inches. An 18-inch long, two-way zipper provides easy access to the well behind the seat.

Deep water fin.

A removable, 9-inch deep tracking fin helps in paddling performance. There is one drain plug near the stern, and a 16″ front runner on the underside.

Attaching the spray deck.

The removable spraydeck is also constructed from an 840 denier nylon upper that is PU treated and can be zipped on and off depending on weather conditions. The deck features one long zipper.

With the deck on, there are another two paddle holders on the right side, 22 inches apart and located 62 and 86 inches from the nose.

Two openings allow one to access the side chamber valves.

Riser bar for deck

A fiberglass rod can be inserted into two pockets on the underside of the deck, providing some rigidity so that water doesn’t pool.

Moki with spray deck

The cockpit opening with deck installed measures 36 inches by 16 inches at the widest point. A mesh pocket is located just in front of the paddler.

Plastic tubing can be inserted into the coaming – each end features velcro closures.

The lightweight Alpine spray skirt is constructed from 4-way stretch, hydrophobic nylon that is highly UV resistant. Adjustable, reinforced shoulder straps and an elastic waistband allow the skirt to be worn with a rain or splash jacket. When not in use, it can be stored in the seat back pocket.

Kokopelli's Moki Roller Backpack

The included clamshell backpack measures 36 x 23 x 12 inches and features roller wheels for travelling across hard surfaces. Four handles are located on each side, wit a fifth on the back. Padded backpack straps with breathable mesh and d-rings – as well as an adjustable waist strap – can be stowed inside a 22 x 22 inch velcro back pocket for travel. Four buckling tension straps (two each side) can be ratcheted to secure the gear. There are two internal straps to buckle in the kayak and a 10 x 12 inch internal pocket with velcro. A business card ID pocket is located on the back.

Kokopelli's Dual Action Nano PumpThen dual-action Nano pump features an inflate/deflate mode, single or double action stroke,  a gauge, removable handles and fold-up feet, creating a small package profile of 14 by 6 inches with a weight of 2 lbs.

We did measurements. The kayak is 12′ 2 inches long with a 36 inch exterior width.

With the seat positioned 11 inches from the back of the floor velcro, there is 68 inches from the seat back to the interior snout. The brace loops are positioned 33, 36, 39 and 42 inches from the seat back.

There are 38 inches of interior space behind the seat measuring roughly 13.5 inches wide, tapering to a point.

The side tubes are approximately 9 to 10 inches wide, creating a well 10.5 inches deep.

The interior width is 15 inches at the widest point. The high pressure floor is 100 inches long, roughly 2.5 inches deep. Total interior length is 110 inches.

Weight limitations are 500 lbs for person and gear. There is a three year warranty.

Kokopelli Moki on the Water

I first took it out in mild chop. This is one rugged, well-built kayak with lots of thoughtful details! The deck opening is roomy enough to slide into.

I took it out both with – and without – the deck. The deck opening is roomy enough to slide into. The seat is comfortable and the brace works well. Paddling is smooth and tracking is pretty straight. With the deck off, the kayak cockpit is quite room and easy to get into.

My 6’2″ husband found it to be comfortable, roomy enough for his height and it paddled well. He did not paddle it with the deck on, as he prefers more open designs, and he was very impressed with the quality and construction. For some reason, we didn’t get any video footage of him paddling, but he is shown above so that potential paddlers can get an idea of the foot room.

 

We were able to get on the zippering deck while fully inflated, but it is probably not a good idea due to the tension at the corners.

We did want to point out a couple of potential issues with the deck. As there is no “zipper pocket,” the likelihood of water dripping through the opening is pretty good – possibly some duct tape on those choppy days would help.

The fiberglass “deck lift” rod runs laterally, fixed into pockets, to keep the deck from sagging and retaining water. The pocket ends are exactly where the paddle hits, and could fray with time. For those concerned, you may want to replace the rod with an upright pool noodle which would lift the deck and reduce drag on those points.

Rolling up the Kokopelli Moki

Packing up the Kokopelli Moki is simple – pop the GRI valves into the deflate mode and push the air out. If you really want to remove air, put the Nano pump hose on the deflate side, and pump out any remaining air.

Unfolding the kayak. 

Bring the sides to the center, fold up both ends, then fold in half to the center and fold over.

Bottom Line on the Kokopelli Moki Inflatable Kayak

The Kokopelli Moki is a rugged, well-constructed inflatable kayak that is loaded with features and looks good! It is easy to set up, tracks well, and is fun to paddle. The Moki is Ideal for kayakers looking for a more versatile inflatable kayak package.

The bundled package – with high pressure floor, removable spray deck, brace, Alpine spray skirt, EVA foam seat, collapsible Nano pump and wheeled backpack – is great. Each component appears to have been scrutinized and designed for comfort and performance.

Multiple d-rings, front and rear bungee deck lacing, and seat-back storage provide a wide range of attachment points for gear.

The floor velcro system, foot brace and adjustable seat straps provide ultimate versatility to customize the seating arrangement for varying paddler heights and sizes.

The high pressure design with deep water tracking fin and narrow trim improves on-water performance, giving it maneuverability, speed and stability. And it’s stable.

The ability to use or remove the included spray deck/spray skirt provides a wide range of paddling scenarios, making it perfect for hot summer days, blustery fall weather or wind and chop. It’s ideal for flat open waters, touring, and ocean paddling. Without the deck, the open design is also perfect for those who have physical disabilities or dislike being enclosed.

Smaller paddlers or those requiring lighter options, may want to take a look at the Moki’s new sibling, the Moki Lite. Weighing in at 26 lbs, the 10’3″ Moki Lite features a dropstitch floor and is a streamlined, simpler version of the Moki, Retail price is $699.

MSRP on the Moki is $799. For more information or to purchase, visit the Kokopelli Moki product page on AirKayaks. Or give us a call at 707-998-0135. See a video on the Kokopelli Moki, below:

 

 

During one of our many trips to Advanced Elements earlier this year, we were invited to take a look at an upcoming new product.

Wow! Our first view of the AirVolution prototypes, Advanced Elements’ new 12-14 PSI high-pressure, dropstitch inflatable kayaks. The series consist of the 13′ AirVolution solo and the 14’6″ AirVolution2 tandem.

Pumping up the AirVolution

Advanced Elements subsequently send us a preproduction sample of the AirVolution single to test out.

Our first take on the AirVolution? This is a wonderful addition to the recreational flatwater paddling niche. It’s a rugged, stable, simple-to-setup kayak that paddles well – and it looks great!

The entire kayak is innovatively constructed using PVC Tarpaulin laminated to high-pressure drop-stitch material – this gives a smoother finish, increased rigidity and a sculpted outline for greater paddling performance. The v-shaped hull design in the bow and removable deep-water fin increase tracking performance, allowing the AirVolution to slice through the water.

Drop-stitch (DS) material is the same used in the inflatable paddle board market, where thousands of threads string the top and bottom panels together, allowing it to be pumped up to higher pressures, thus making it more rigid.

With only two chambers to inflate, the new AirVolution high-pressure inflatable kayak features a streamlined set up procedure, allowing one to get out on the water quickly. Two pressure relief valves ensure the kayak is not overinflated, releasing at roughly 18 PSI.

The open-deck design provides ease-of-entry, while a drain well with plug ensures that you stay drier.

The sculpted EVA foam seat can be ratcheted four-ways, providing maximum support, adjustability and comfort.

Front and rear bungee deck lacing provide plenty of options to attach gear, yet there are still options for storing small items under the decks

We took the AirVolution out for a maiden voyage. Both of us felt the kayak paddled and tracked well, was rugged and incredibly stable. The sculpted hull allows water to drain off, and the smooth skin is very easy to dry. Everything in the package looks great, from the graphics and sculpted silhouette to the EVA-foam molded seat and included accessories.

At 5’4″, I found that moving the seat up 12 inches from the rear well allowed me to be balanced and use the front deck as a foot brace. I also was able to easily stand up.

At 6’2″, my husband had the seat all the way to the back. While his knees were slightly bent, he actually prefers that position when paddling. Since I know we will get asked this, for reference we measured the seat back to the front deck as 45 to 46″. With “water socks” on, he was able to lay his legs down flat. So, I would feel comfortable saying the AirVolution can be paddled by customers up to 6’2″. Cockpit actual dimensions are 19 inches wide by 48 inches long.

He did note that the deep water fin provides improved tracking, but one needs to push the kayak into deeper water when launching so the fin doesn’t “hang up.”

One thing I wanted to point out – as the seat features a four-way ratchet design with 2 ladder locks per buckle, it is a little daunting at first. To set the seat up properly, you want to even the straps and get the seat back as vertical as possible, then ratchet the buckles to get curvature.

The AirVolution comes with a dual-action hand pump with gauge, deep water fin, and a roller backpack. While we did not have the production version of the pump or backpack, even the prototype samples looked good. Payload on the single kayak is 235 lbs person (300 lbs person and gear) while the double is 500 lbs persons (550 lbs persons and gear). Weights are 39 lbs and 48 lbs respectively.

Retail price on the AirVolution single is $1099 while the AirVolution2 Tandem is $1299. The AirVolutions are in transit with estimated availability date of 6/26 to 6/29 – preorders are currently being accepted and they’re moving!

AirKayaks New Product Intro Special: Get $100 off an AirVolution kayak, now through July 15th. Use coupon code AIR100 at checkout!

Stay tuned! We will publish a complete Product Review on both AirVolutions when the final production models are in stock. For more details or to purchase, visit the AirVolution and AirVolution2 product pages at AirKayaks.com. You can also watch two videos on the AirVolution.

We recently posted our Sneak Preview on the new XPD inflatable packraft from Kokopelli Packraft – one of the exciting new models we’ve seen for 2020. What’s so special? While the XPD packraft is based on the Kokopelli Rogue-Lite profile, the XPD features a more beefed-up PVC construction for rigorous use on flat water and lakes through Class II.

Kokopelli XPD Packraft

Last week, the 2020 models started rolling in, so we begin our 2020 Kokopelli reviews with the 13.6 lbs XPD, which can be inflated to higher pressures of 2.75 PSI.

Getting Started with the Kokopelli XPD

We unpacked the box and laid out the pieces – inflatable packraft body (13.7 lbs), inflatable seat base (8 ozs), repair kit (4.1 ozs), Nano dual action hand pump with gauge (2 lbs), instructions and two 2 cinch belts( 1.6 oz each).

Whats in the Kokopelli XPD box.

Boxed up, the dimensions are 29 x 20 x 8 inches with a shipping weight of just under 20 lbs. The packraft folded is roughly 24 x 20 x 8 inches, rolled it is roughly 25 x 8.5 inches.

The generic instructions for Kokopellli’s PVC series include inflation and deflation techniques, seat and backband installation (not found on the XPD but used in the Recon) but lack details on actual set up; we will outline the steps we took, below. In general, set up is straight-forward – unpack, unfold, inflate.

Unfolding the Kokopelli XPD Packraft

The first step is to unfold the packraft – it is remarkably flat – and orient yourself; the rear/stern is wider and has the inflation valve.

Clsoing the valve

The Kokopelli XPD utilizes one main GRI push-push valve for inflation. These are very simple to use and feature an inflate mode (spring plunger is UP) and a deflate mode (spring plunger is DOWN). By using your finger to gently push on the plunger, it can be moved to the inflate mode (air goes in and doesn’t come back out) and deflate mode (air goes in and comes back out). Before you go to all the effort of inflating the board, PLEASE make sure the plunger is in the inflate position.

Next, set up the pump – this is not mentioned in the instructions. Unlike most of the packrafts – which use inflator bags – the XPD comes with a very nifty, collapsible, dual-action Nano pump and built-in pressure gauge. Fold down the feet and attach the hose to the side that says Inflate. There are two pieces of plastic tubes in the plastic packaging – these are screw on handles. Unfortunately, there is no place to attach/store the handles when removed so you may want to purchase a mesh laundry bag to keep them together. Or, don’t even bother attaching the handles as the pump is pretty easy to use without them.

Kokopelli Dual Action Nano Pump

The Nano pump dual action mode is operated by a lever on the side of the pump. There are no instructions on using this, but point the lever to the right for double action (air is pumped on the up and down stroke) and to the left for single action (air is pumped only on the down stroke, making it easier to get to high pressures.)

Attaching the hose.

We started in double-action mode. Attach the hose to the military valve by twisting on, and start pumping.

Pumping up the Kokopelli Packraft

And pumping. As the packraft tubes are good sized, it took us 175 pumps to get to the recommended 2.5-3 PSI. While this sounds like a lot, the Nano pump is very easy to use and we never switched to single action mode – pumping took about 2+ minutes. Please note that – as the pump gauge works on back pressure – you will not get any needle movement until about 140 pumps. Screw on the wing cap to keep the valve protected.

Stem valve

Next, partially inflate the seat base. This uses a stem-valve also called Twistlock.

Inflating the seat base

Twist the end of the stem to open the valve and then partially inflate with your mouth, re-twisting the stem to put it in the closed position – this took about 6 puffs.

Installing the seat base

Place the seat to the back of the raft, valve up, and weave the webbing through the ladder lock.

Inflating the seat base

Then inflate to a max pressure of 1.3 PSI – another 4 puffs. While you won’t be using a gauge, you can’t really over-inflate it this way.

Very easy to set up

Guess what – you’re done! This is one of the simplest set-ups we’ve gone through.

Kokopelli Feather Pump

At this point we decided to try out Kokopelli’s new miracle pump, the Feather. The Feather pump is a very small (fits in your palm), rechargeable 12-volt battery pump that can inflate and deflate.

Pumping up the Kokopelli Packraft

We opened the main valve and pushed out all the air. The Feather pump comes with a number of adaptors, but we found it easiest to use no adaptor. While it does not have enough torque to open the valve, we put the valve in the open position, held the Feather over the valve and let it rip. After 1 minute and 12 seconds, the tube had fairly much filled out (you can hear a change in the motor), so we quickly popped the plunger to the closed position (air doesn’t come back out).

Pumping up the Kokopelli Packraft

We then topped it off to 2.75 PSI with 35 quick pumps using the hand pump – quite a time and energy saver! See our detailed review on the Feather pump.

Features and Specifications on the Kokopelli XPD Packraft

Large pontoons with welded seams

The XPD Packraft features 12-inch side tubes and a floor constructed from a commercial grade, 1000 denier, reinforced PVC (0.9mm) – this is the same material used in commercial rafts.

Underside of the Kokopelli XPD Packraft

The seams are welded and the pontoon-to-floor attachment point is glued to the sidewall and then reinforced with v-seam tape around the entire interior of the packraft. This ensures durability and the highest-quality, air-holding properties, capable of holding 300 lbs.

The Kokopelli XPD Packraft is rugged

The v-tape provides added strength to the floor seam, so that the floor doesn’t tear out when stepped into. The oversized tubes ensure stability on the water as well as providing some protection from swells.

GRI push push valve

There is one main inflation chamber using a GRI push-push valve.

Easy to carry

The Kokopelli XPD does not have carrying handles (weight savings) but is ultralight and easy to carry under you arm, or hooked over your shoulder.

Multiple stainless steel d-rings

There are four 1-inch stainless steel d-rings (mil-spec webbing bound) on each side of the bow; they are located 11 and 25 inches from the nose, measured around the perimeter. These can be used for attaching gear, a bike, a running line, the Animas or Delta bag.

Attachment points

There are two more d-rings and two ladder lock buckles located mid center, about 3 feet back from the nose.

Multiple attachment points

Another set of two d-rings and 1-inch ladder lock buckles is located just behind the paddler on the upper stern, or about 21 inches from the tail. All these can be used for attaching the optional Kokopelli backband.

Inflatable seat base

The inflatable seat is made from a lightweight 210 denier diamond-ripstop nylon material, and measures roughly 24 x 18 inches, lifting the paddler up about 4 inches from the floor. It uses a twistlock stem valve. One rear ladderlock in the interior wall is used to attach the seat.

Repair kit

The standard repair kit features a nice-sized dry pouch with patch pieces, stickers, alcohol pads, a scraper to flatten down any repair, and a valve wrench. The pouch measures 8.5 x 7 inches.

Nano pump

At only two pounds, the included Nano dual-action pump is compact and portable. The packed size is 17.75 x 6.5 x 4 inches – or nearly 12 inches wide when assembled. Both feet fold up, and the handles screw on. A lever near the handle allows you to switch from  double action to single action mode. Hose length is 46 inches and it features one attached valve adaptor which works with the main chamber.

Kokopelli XPD Packraft

We did measurement tests. The packraft shape is based on the Rogue Lite packraft. The XPD inflated is 7 feet 4 to 5 inches long and about 35 to 36 inches at the widest point, or about 33 inches wide mid-center. The side bladders are roughly 11 inches in diameter, making the sides about 9 inches above the seating area. Interior dimensions are approximately 49 inches in length and 14 inches at the widest point, tapering to 9 inches in the very front.

Weight limitations are 300 lbs for person and gear. There is a three year warranty on the packraft itself, while optional tizip is one year.

Kokopelli XPD Pack Raft On the Water

Kokopelli XPD Packraft on the water

Both my husband and I took the XPD out in some chop. Once I got my paddle stroke going, I was surprised at how well it paddled. There is some slight wag in the nose – as to be expected – but after a couple of strokes it tracked pretty well. It’s also fairly smooth and speedy. The tubes are high enough that we had minimal water splash. For my size of 5’4″, it was pretty roomy – I even had space for a small dog in front or some gear. I had some concern about the stem valve sticking up from the seat – either getting in the way or getting rubbed open – but it was not noticeable while paddling.

Kokopelli XPD Packraft on the water

Chuck then took the XPD for a spin. While his knees looked bent (he is 6’2″) he said it felt fine, and he also felt it paddled pretty well. The open cockpit design made it very easy for him to get in and out. He also felt the red color is nicely visible, the material feels rugged – and it’s incredibly maneuverable!

As the XPD does not have self-bailing ports, nor a spray deck, it is best suited for calm lakes, bays and rivers. While rugged enough to handle some whitewater or surf, expect to get wet.

Packing Up the Kokopelli XPD

Rolling up the Kokopelli XPD Packraft

Packing up the Kokopelli XPD is simple – open the seat twistlock, pop the GRI valve into the deflate mode and push the air out. If you really want to remove air, put the Nano pump hose on the deflate side, and pump out any remaining air.

Rolling up the Kokopelli XPD Packraft

Fold in the sides and roll up, using the two compression straps to keep the pack in place. The seat can remain in the packraft, or be removed, and the Nano pump can be rolled up inside the raft. Kokopelli suggests that deflation be done on a tarp, so that stones, sticks, etc are not rolled up into the package.

Bottom line on the Kokopelli XPD Inflatable Packraft

Kokopelli XPD Packraft on the water

The Kokopelli XPD inflatable packraft is definitely worth a second look. It’s paddles very well for a short/lightweight vessel, filling a niche for recreational flatwater paddling that is portable and fun.

Rugged.

The XPD has been pitted against environments all over the world, from shallow rivers, sharp coral reefs, snow and ice, ocean sounds to slot canyons. In fact, the XPD was designed and tested with input from special operations teams. And it’s even rugged enough to hand over to the kids or to take a furry companion.

Kokopelli XPD Packraft on the water

The high pressure design – with a moderate trim, extra-large pontoons, slight rocker on the bow, and a large-volume stern – improves on-water performance, giving it the maneuverability of a kayak and the stability of a raft.

Kokopelli packraft rigged up.The heavyweight material is perfect for gluing on Scotty mounts and other accessories, allowing one to personalize the rig.

Kokopelli XPD Packraft is lightweight

Yet light enough to be easily carried or tossed around.

Kokopelli XPD Packraft on the water

The open or “bucket” style packraft helps paddlers minimize weight and shortens setup time while making jumping in and out of the packraft easy. The open design is also perfect for those who have physical disabilities or dislike being enclosed. It is easily paddled by large and small, older and younger.

Kokopelli XPD Packraft on the water

It’s very simple to set up, easy to get into, maneuverable and zippy. As someone once said, “It turns on a dime and gives you back change.”

Kokopelli XPD Packraft on the water

The Kokopelli XPD is available in two colors – red and green – both with and without tizip. MSRP is $749 and $899 respectively.  For more details, visit the Kokopelli XPD Product page at AirKayaks.com, or give us a call at 707-998-0135.

You can also read about the 2020 Kokopelli Product Line and our Guide to Choosing Your 2020 Kokopelli Packraft.

We also have a limited amount of past season 2019 Kokopelli Packraft models at 15% off, with prices as low as $699.

As the weather heats up in the Northern Hemisphere, thoughts turn to outdoor activities and “fun-in-the-sun.” If you’ve arrived at this blog article, you’re already intrigued with the idea of paddling across a lake, down a lazy river or along a coastline, and are looking into inflatable kayaks. Maybe you have limited space, want to pack into the back country, need lighter weight options or travel in an RV.  Regardless of the motivation, there are a myriad of choices which can be daunting.

AquaGlide's 2020 Chinook 120 XL inflatable kayaks

To help you narrow down the field, AirKayaks has put together a table comparing our 2020 inflatable kayak options – the table is located at the bottom of this article. The kayaks have been divided into four sections sorted by price – Under $500; $500 to $749; $750 to $999; and $1000 and up.  Within each of those four sections, we have sorted by manufacturer, model name and stock number, price range, number of paddlers, kayak lengths, widths, weights, payloads, # of chambers, inflation pressures, design style and kayak type.

AirKayaks originally posted this article in 2019. We have updated it to reflect the kayak choices and changes for 2020. To help you get going, we describe the attributes of each style first. For further information on inflatable kayak choices, benefits and definitions, please also see our popular guide to Choosing an Inflatable Kayak – What You Should Consider.

Enclosed Design Inflatable Kayaks

AdvancedFrame DS-XL inflatable kayak

The enclosed hull design is similar to many hard shell kayaks; this is shown above in the Advanced Elements AE1044 AdvancedFrame DS-XL kayak.  The snugger cockpit design keeps excess water and wind from entering the kayak, and also less direct sun. Many of them have coamings (the gray tube in the photo above, encircling the cockpit) that allow you to attach a spray skirt.

 

Optional spray skirt

What is a spray skirt? This is an accessory that attaches to the kayak around the coaming, and then again to your body (shown above on an Innova Swing). The function is to keep out even more wind and water.

AquaGlide's new Navarro series of inflatable kayaks

Many of the enclosed decks can be zipped open for easy entry or to cool off, but the benefits of the enclosed design include the ability to kayak in windier and colder climates/situations (shown above, the Aquaglide Navarro series).

A closed-design tandem can also be paddled solo, but it is not as balanced as the paddler must sit in the rear fixed cockpit, rather than the optimal position “just rear of center.” Typically, adding weight to the front will help balance out the kayak (as shown with Eddie sitting in the front cockpit of an Innova Swing 2 kayak).

Open Design Inflatable Kayaks:

Moki on the water

This includes the largest number of kayaks. The open design consists of a kayak with higher walls – which keeps out some water – but a much more open design (shown above on the Kokopelli Moki with removable spray deck and spray skirt. The benefits include the ability to adjust the seat for optimal performance and easily store additional gear.

AquaGlide Chelan 155 HB XL Inflatable Kayak

Open-design kayaks large enough to be paddled tandem can also quickly convert to solo usage by moving the seat without cockpit restrictions. This is shown above on the AquaGlide Chelan 155 HB XL for 1-3 paddlers – it is paddled solo by removing one seat and repositioning the other seat.

afdsb

While these designs are open, some have optional spray decks, which can be attached to make them enclosed if desired. The photo above shows an Advanced Elements Convertible DS paddled tandem in the open design as well as solo with the enclosed deck.  In the Comparison Table, these are labeled “open/enclosed” if they come with a zip-out deck, or “open (1)” if an optional spray deck is available.

Four self-bailing plugs and one rear drain plug

Some of the open design kayaks are also self-bailing, meaning they have open ports in the floor. These are best for fast moving water such as rivers/whitewater; as the water comes in, it will also pass out. Some self-bailers are called  “crossovers” as they have plugs in the floor which can be left opened or closed.  The plugs should be closed in calmer conditions so water doesn’t come back in, as shown above.

Sit-On-Top Inflatable Kayaks:

Advanced Elements StraitEdge2

Advanced Elements StraitEdge 2 for 1-2 paddlers

The Sit-On-Top features the most open design of all. Side walls are lower or the kayak has a slightly recessed seating well. These are great for recreational situations where the weather or water is warm (unless you plan on gearing up with a dry suit), for wave-running, some whitewater, or where you want to be able to dive or jump into the water and cool off. Shown above is the Advanced Elements StraitEdge 2 (now replaced by the high-pressure StraitEdge2 Pro) inflatable kayak. Since these are simpler in design, they are often the easiest to set up and the lightest weight – though not always!

Hala Carbon Nass inflatable SUP as a sit-on-top

While we don’t go into details in our Comparison Table below, another sit-on-top option is an inflatable standup paddle board with an optional attached seat. The photo above shows a Hala Gear Carbon Nass inflatable paddle board with an optional seat attached.

High Pressure vs Low Pressure Inflatable Kayaks

At this point we want to mention high-pressure versus low pressure inflatable kayaks. To keep the kayak afloat, air chambers are inflated to a recommended PSI (air pressure per square inch). We typically consider anything under 3PSI to be low pressure. Low pressure kayaks are often less expensive to construct, and are great for recreational use, though won’t paddle quite as well as some of the more rigid (high-pressure) kayaks.

Rigidity of drop stitch floor versus standard Convertible PVC floor

In general, the longer the kayak, the more one needs high pressure so that the kayak won’t be “saggy.” The image above shows a low-pressure 1-PSI PVC floor (on the bottom) versus a 4-6 PSI drop-stitch, high pressure floor.

AquaGlide Blackfoot 125 Angler HB for 1-2 paddlers

This is further illustrated in the image above, showing an AquaGlide Blackfoot 125 HB inflatable fishing kayak which is 6 PSI for the floor and 3 PSI on the side walls.

AirFusion EVO - Birdseye view

On the following table, we list PSI as floor PSI/side chamber PSI. While some of the kayaks are all-around high pressure (such as the Advanced Elements EVO above) others feature high pressure floors.

PackRaft Inflatables

koko-cast1

Last, we mention one of the lesser-known innovations, the inflatable Packraft kayak. By “definition,” Packrafts are dinghy-style inflatables light enough to carry for long distances; most weigh less than 10 lbs and can be easily backpacked into remote areas.

While originally geared towards backpacking, bikepacking and whitewater, some of the newer models are focusing on flatwater touring and come with tracking fins.  Kokopelli Packraft has come out with a tandem version – the Twain. The photo above shows the 85-inch Kokopelli Rogue Lite solo kayak, which weighs in at 5.7 lbs. The Packrafts are available in both open style and enclosed style (decked).

2020 Comparison Table Guide to Inflatable Kayaks at AirKayaks

As previously mentioned, we have divided our 2020 inflatable kayak list into four sections sorted by price – Under $500; $500 to $749; $750 to $999; and $1000 and up.  Within each of those four sections, we have sorted by number of paddlers, manufacturer, model name and stock number, kayak lengths, widths, weights, payloads, # of chambers, inflation pressures, design style and kayak type. If you have trouble reading it, here is a printable PDF version. For further information on inflatable kayak choices, benefits and definitions, please also see our popular guide to Choosing an Inflatable Kayak – What You Should Consider.

2020 Inflatable Kayaks Specs 12020 Inflatable Kayaks Specs 1 2

To find out details on each of the models listed above, visit the website at www.AirKayaks.com. Or feel free to give us a call at 707-998-0135.

Enjoy!

Older Posts »

Categories

%d bloggers like this: