Nearly eight years ago, Advanced Elements debuted the original AirFusion kayak – an inflatable hybrid designed to rival the handling and speed of skin-on-frame kayaks. The AirFusion was unique in that it featured a blended design of aluminum alloy frame poles and pressurized air tubes, resulting in a high performance rigid frame system.

Advanced Elements AirFusion EVO.

This was followed by the AirFusion Elite, which featured a streamlined set up procedure with fewer poles, a wider beam and integrated rear storage hatch.

At last summer’s Outdoor Retailer show, Advanced Elements unveiled their 2018 inflatable kayak product line with announcement of the new AE1042 AirFusion EVO a 6-8 PSI high-pressure model constructed from dropstitch material, with a Barbie-sized 24″ waistline.

Just this week the first AirFusion EVO arrived, a double cardboard box measuring 37 x 25 x 12 inches and weighing in at 47 lbs.

Getting Started with the Advanced Elements AirFusion EVO

The rugged carrying case/backpack houses the kayak body, seat, repair kit, foam floor, screw-on and Boston pin adaptors, instructions (located in the small plastic pocket inside the backpack), two thwarts, nose and stern bags, and anodized aluminum poles. The kayak folded size is approximately 34 x 17 x 8 inches. Everything in the case weighs 37 lbs, while the kayak with seat is 33 lbs. The case has just enough room to include a small pump and breakdown paddle (not included). AirKayaks note: Take a good look at how the kayak is folded BEFORE setting up, this will help during breakdown.

The manual is pretty well-written though initially a little daunting. (AirKayaks note: Some of the initial AirFusion EVO boxes contained instructions for the droptstitch floor. The AirFusion EVO does not use an inflatable floor, so you can just toss those.) After the first read-through it seemed simple enough – piece together the poles, position the floor, pump up side chambers partially, insert bottom pole through the thwarts connecting both ribs, pump up thwarts, finish pumping up side chambers, pump up bow & stern tubes, attach seat, inflate coaming tube. Done!

AirFusion EVO Setup/Inflation

Unfolding the kayak

Unfold the kayak body, locating the kayak bow (front) and stern (rear) – this is easy as the integrated storage hatch is located at the stern.

Installing the floor

Next, put the foam floor into position, setting the wider end inside the center of the cockpit – this will position the small rectangular cutout over the velcro tab in the floor. Make sure you pull the velcro tab through the cutout. Tip: the foam floor only covers the area where your feet rest.

Inflatable thwarths

Layout the bow and stern thwarts. Each of these is tapered. The front airbag (which also acts as a foot brace) is larger than the rear airbag, while the larger side of each airbag faces the cockpit/center. Lay them out in correct orientation next to the kayak.

Bottom pole pieces

Next assemble the interior ribs; there are three aluminum numbered poles (1, 2, 4) and one sleeve (3); the poles snap together easily and quickly via a shock-cord system.

The AdvancedFrame series of kayaks each feature two aluminum ribs (shown above) – a vertically-positioned, foot-long Vee/U-shaped flat bar that is inserted in the bow and stern of the kayaks. The AirFusion EVO  has the same bow and stern aluminum ribs, except they are tubular, allowing the pole frame to be inserted/attached. In the new AirFusion EVO, these two ribs are already installed.

Installing the poles

Install pole #1 through the front thwart, inserting it through the sleeve on the underside of the front thwart, making sure that the pushpin hole side is pointing toward the cockpit. Then, insert the thwart into the bow of the kayak, pole side down. Open up the front top zipper (a little narrow for larger hands) to access the receiving tube, on the bottom. Slide tube #1 up and insert into the bow bottom tube.

Next insert pole #2. Once again, push this through the sleeve on the bottom of the rear thwart, with the pushpin facing the cockpit. Then insert the thwart into the stern of the kayak, also with pole side down. Open up the rear hatch cover, and locate the rear bottom tube. Again, insert pole 2 into the stationary bottom tube opening.

Installing the poles

Take the connector sleeve #3, and slip it over pole #2 with the pushpin hole facing pole #1, sliding the sleeve back onto pole #2.

Installing the poles

This allows you to grab both poles 1 and 2, and press down until they pop into position, forming one long pole.

Botom pole with sleeve insert

Slide connector #3 over the connection point of the two poles, to lock in place with the receiving push pin.

As an aside, this can be frustrating until you “get the hang of it.” The trick is making sure the two poles are on absolutely equal planes, otherwise the connecting sleeve #3 will not slide. As a suggestion, push down on the poles without putting your fingers underneath, or possibly assemble over a dimple in the ground. If you try to grasp the pole, it will pull up slightly making it impossible to slide. In this case, I stuffed the carrying case under the back end, which gave me enough “lift” to straighten out the tubes. If you continue to have problems, make sure that you haven’t “tugged” the poles out of the front or rear integrated tubes.

Velcro sleeve to hold pole in position

There are two sets of velcro on the floor (one poking through the cutout in the floor and one towards the rear). Wrap these around the center floor pole, forcing the bottom pole to be centered. This performs a similar function to the “backbone” used in the AdvancedFrame series.

Installing the poles

Locate the sleeve on the “underside” of the top bow hull. Take pole #4 and push it through the sleeve, and guide it into the top bow tube, making sure the rounded side is facing the cockpit. I did struggle a bit with this, as the sleeve is quite snug and the pole connection kept getting caught on the fabric hem. Frame is now done!

Printed guiide lines.

Next position the thwarts. This is probably the most critical step in the process to ensure a balanced setup. The instructions suggest lining up the thwarts with the lines printed on the kayak body. While this is easy for the back thwart, the front thwart line is now covered by the floor – so just line it up to the edge of the velcro tab initially. The front thwart is where you will modify for legroom, so this position will probably change. (AirKayaks note: To make it easier, you may want to take a marker to note the location of the front line on the inside of the kayak hull).

The AirFusion EVO features 8 inflation chambers – two side chambers, two thwarts, two bow and stern bags, seat base and coaming tube. This consists of three military valves, two Boston valves and three twistloks.

Closing the military valve.

First, partially pump up the left and right main chambers. The military-style plunger valves are simple to use – twist up to inflate (this is the closed position where air goes in and doesn’t come out) and down to deflate (air goes in and comes back out).

Military valve and adaptor

The kayak comes with a military valve adaptor (found in the repair kit in the mesh pocket behind the seat) which will fit some pumps based on the hose fittings. AirKayaks note: Make sure to attach the adaptor to the pump tether, so that it doesn’t get lost.

Pumping up the side chamber

We pumped up the sides about 20 strokes each with a double action hand pump. As a side note, if you aren’t careful, when you remove the military valve adaptor, make sure to twist carefully, otherwise the adaptor can twist OFF the hose rather than the valve, and you will lose all your air – just like I did.  AirKayaks note: there is a lip protruding from the side of the adaptor, where it can be tethered to the others. If you grab onto this when twisting, the adaptor is less likely to pop off.

Boston valve and adaptor with pin.

Now on to the thwarts which utilize Boston valves – these are two-way screw-on valves. The bottom portion is threaded onto the thwart, while the top valve is screwed open for inflation and then tightened shut after inflation. Air is easily released by unscrewing the base connector. A flap inside the valve opens when air is pumped into the kayak, and falls shut when not pumped so that air will not rush back out. These valves can use the “friction” fit Boston valve connector found on most pumps, or the included “pin adaptor” (located in the repair kit) which looks that same but with a long pin protruding from the opening. The pin pushes open the inner flap, so you get real-time readings on the pump gauge.

Boston valve

Pump up the rear air bag first – 1 to 1.5 PSI. Make sure the thwart is even across the floor, and the side chambers even with the thwarts. We did 3 double pumps, checked to make sure everything was still straight, and then topped off with another 2 pumps to 1 PSI.

Pumping up the side chamber

Inflate the front thwart in the same method. We did 3 pumps, centered it, another 2 and more centering, then a final 2 pumps to 1+ PSI.

There are two velcro tabs under the top hull, before each thwart. Use these to secure the valve “bronchial” tube in position so it doesn’t get in the way when paddling.

At this point, you may want to flip the kayak over, to check for alignment. The shape of the bottom tube can be seen, and it should run straight through the center, through the bow and stern runners. If not, go back and reposition the thwarts. We should also mention there are two velcro patches – midcenter – between the outer hull and the dropstitch side tubes. If you are having trouble getting things straight, then slip a piece of paper between the two pieces of velcro, so it doesn’t “grab.” Then center the kayak, finally removing the paper sheets, letting the velcro “fall where it may.”

Pumping up the thwart

Finish topping off the main chambers to 6 to 8 PSI; this took another 10 full strokes each side to reach 7 PSI.


Now the seat! The instructions say to “position the seat back at the back edge of the foam floor, to ensure that the EVO remains balanced.”  We spoke with Advanced Elements, and they say it’s not critical, just a good starting place. If you don’t have enough leg room, the front thwart can be pushed forward and the seat a bit back.

Pumping up the seat base.

The seat base uses the third military valve. It took us about five strokes, but wasn’t centering correctly within the side walls. We let some air out and repumped. It is important to keep this straight as it becomes a “spreader” so the two side walls don’t have a tendency to close in.

Attaching the seat buckles.

Next attach the four seat clips, with the two smaller clips to the rear, and the two larger clips to the front; the front clips are located on the upper side walls.

Bow and stern inflation bags.

Now inflate the bow and stern bags, which use twistlocks. At this point, we have another AirKayaks note. In the initial shipment, the two bags did not come pre-installed; in subsequent shipments they will. As the kayak was now fully inflated, it was impossible to put the bags into position. So, we let out some air and managed to get the back bag into the stern cone via the storage hatch cover. But we could not get the front one in place, and did not relish deflating the entire kayak and starting fresh. A quick call with Advanced Elements and we found the bags were more for cosmetics, smoothing out remaining wrinkles. So we opted to leave out the front bag. In the future, if you remove the bags for cleaning, to reinstall, make sure the bags are running horizontal (the long way) with the tube side up, and in front of the tube ends. You can watch an Advanced Elements video on the bag installation.

Locate the twistlok tube protruding from the stern, inside the hatch cover. Twist open the cap. Then use a standard Boston valve adaptor (conical nozzle about ½ inch in diameter, WITHOUT a pin), fit it OVER the twistlock valve and inflate to 1 PSI. Or the easiest method is just to blow it up by mouth, which takes a few puffs. Then twist the valve shut.

If you are inflating the bow bladder, access that from the front zipper. Inflate using the same method.

Twistlock valve

Almost there! Last step is to inflate the coaming tube, which also uses a twistlock – this helps keep water from running into the seating well, and also allows one to use an optional spray skirt. This only takes one or two puffs by mouth.

The Advanced Elements AirFusion EVO is easy to carry.

You’re done! While it took me about an hour, between reading the manual and taking notes, I imagine one can get it down to less than 15 minutes once the process is understood.

AirFusion EVO Inflatable Kayak Construction

Semi-smooth polyurethane tarpaulin outer skin.

The AirFusion EVO kayak material is a semi-smooth polyurethane tarpaulin outer skin. Polyurethane is more supple so wrinkles smooth out better, creating a more hydrodynamic hull.

Dropstitch side chambers

The two main inner inflation bladders are constructed from PVC dropstitch material. The term “drop stitch” is a method of construction which allows for much higher inflation and pressures than a standard PVC bladder; this is the technology used in most inflatable paddle boards. With drop stitch construction, thousands of tiny threads connect both the top and bottom layers (in this case the left and right), creating a stronger link that can withstand much higher pressures. The drop stitch material also creates a narrower chamber, so the kayak beam is narrower.

Unlike some dropstitch kayaks, the EVO main tubes are separate from the kayak body, and removable, meaning they can easily be replaced it needed without replacing the entire kayak body.

Higher pressures make for a more rigid silhouette, which can enhance paddling performance. Additionally, the chambers can be constructed much thinner than standard PVC kayaks, allowing the kayak to be narrower, and theoretically more streamlined.

AirFusion EVO Features and Specifications

Molded rubber handles

There are two molded rubber handles located at the bow and stern – this would be great if you were paddling with someone else, but it is just as easy to carry the kayak hooked over your shoulder.

Front zipper to access interior

The front access zippered opening is 10 inches long, beginning 21 inches from the nose cone.

Front bungee decklacing

A front bungee deck lacing system with 6 d-rings begins roughly 49 inches from the nose, measuring 12 inches deep and 14 to 16 inches wide. It is located approximately 32 inches in front of the paddler’s seat back. There is approximately 66 inches from nose cone to cockpit, with roughly 30 inches of usable space to attach gear.

Anodized aluminum poles.

Numbered aluminum ribs – made by a company specializing in folding frames – are anodized making them resistant to salt spray. The longest rib length is 33.5 inches, while the rib storage bag measures 37 by 6 inches and weighs 3.1 lbs with poles.

Cockpit with coaming tube

The tapered cockpit opening of 33 x 17 inches (at the widest point) will take an optional spray skirt.

Closed cell foam floor.

The 38 x 16.5 inch floor is made from a 3/8 inch closed cell foam, and covers just the seating area. There is 48 inches between the two printed floor lines.

Padded seat with drop-stitch base.

The padded seat features a high-pressure dropstitch seat base covered with a 3/8 inch diamond-groove pad. The seat base can be inflated 4 inches deep and measures 13 inches deep and 16 inches at the widest point. There are four side straps (2 forward and 2 rear) that can be adjusted to ratchet the seating tension. Two d-rings on the front clips are used to tie-off the cords for the optional tracking fin.

Mesh pocket on back of seat.

The seat back wraps 17 to 18 inches and is 9.5 inches tall. There are three gusseted pockets on the back of the seat – two mesh drawstring (perfect for water bottles) and one with a velcro flap that houses the repair kit.


There are four d-rings on top of the hull, directly behind the paddler. These are positioned 15 to 17 inches apart and 9 inches deep.

There are 55 inches from the rear cone to the cockpit, with approximately 10 inches of space which can be used for gear, without covering the storage hatch; there is 28 inches of space if you cover the cockpit.

Using the roll-top integrated storage

An integrated rear cargo hatch is located 18 inches behind the paddler. The opening measures 15 x 8.5 inches with a 10 inch roll-top closure and velcro cover with handle. Inside is approximately 24 inches in length, starting at 9-10 inches in diameter and tapering down, for stashing interior gear. (AirKayaks note: the interior space is not sealed off. Anything that needs to stay dry, should be in dry bags.)

End cap

Two end caps give a streamlined finish to the kayak bow and stern. A small hole in the rear end cap was designed to accept the optional AirFusion tracking fin.

Hull underside.

There is no integrated tracking fin, but two 16-inch integrated landing plates/runners are located on the hull underside.

Backpack carrying case.

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 36 x 16 x 11 inches and looks like it will house a pump and paddle.

AirFusion EVO - Birdseye view

We did measurements. The kayak measured 13 feet 2 inches from end cap to end cap and 24-25 inches wide on the exterior. Interior width at the widest point is 16 inches. With the thwarts removed there is roughly 115 inches interior length, but much is too narrow to use.

With the thwarts positioned on both printed lines and the kayak seat back about 3 inches in front of the rear floor sleeve, we measured 6 inches of space behind the seat, and 38″ seat back to front thwart/brace. By moving the seat all the way back, and the thwart all the way forward, there is approximately 42 inches of interior space without bending one’s knees.

Payload is 235 lbs paddler and gear.

Paddling the AirFusion EVO Inflatable Kayak

Advanced Elements AirFusion EVO on the water.

I took out the EVO in small waves, due to boating activity. The thwart was too close, so I deflated the chamber slightly, moving it back a couple inches.

As I started paddling, the kayak pulled to one side and had a tendency to turn around when stopped. As I had deflated and inflated the kayak a few times, I took it back to shore, flipped the EVO over and could immediately see why – the bottom pole was not centered evenly down the kayak. So, I deflated the thwarts slightly, re-centered them making sure the pole was straight (you can use the nose and tail runners as a line of site.) I then reinflated the thwarts and went back out.

Advanced Elements AirFusion EVO on the water.

The EVO is fast. Once it is properly set up (!) it has a nice glide, rides over swells easily, paddles beautifully and tracks well into the wind and across the wind. When one stops paddling the nose stays true. With a downwind it has a tendency to drift a bit – this decreased when we took it out with the optional removable skeg. This is a “must have” for those planning on being in rougher waters.

I took the EVO out in a bit of wind, and clocked myself at a 2.5 mph average with a burst speed of 4.5 mph – in calm water, it would be faster.

The hull is rugged and will pass over barely submerged rocks without a blip. The smooth skin also sheds water easily when back on shore.

Getting into the kayak was slightly difficult as the narrower beam and slightly curved hull made it a little tippy, especially in waves. Once out on the water it felt more stable.

Taller paddler sitting in the EVO

My husband did not have an opportunity to test it out. But, he did sit inside it. For his 6’2″ frame, we positioned the seat all the way back, and the thwart as far up as it could go, but he still had a little trouble wriggling his way into the cockpit.

I did speak with Jeremy at Advanced Elements, who is also 6″2″. He was able to get in by pushing the seat all the way back, and the thwart all the way up, with knees slightly bent. On flat water with a slight breeze, he took it through several steps – casual paddling, dead sprint with good full strokes. He felt the EVO paddled well, had good glide, was fast and when coming to a stop didn’t drift. He did feel it slightly tippy at first, having just finished paddling the wider (34″ beam) AdvancedFrame, but felt fine fairly rapidly.

Packing Up the AirFusion EVO Kayak

Folding up the kayak

To pack up your EVO, reverse your steps. Here are a few simple tips:

Any lingering air can be pumped out using the “deflation” mode of your pump. There is a lot of pressure on the center floor beam (poles 1 and 2). You can simplify the breakdown by pushing in the center pin and twisting the tube out of the pushpin position while the kayak is still inflated. I did need to pull out the foam floor, in order to get a grasp on the tube, but it then easily turned. Then when deflated, push the sleeve back all the way to separate the poles. To prevent losing the small sleeve #3, put it back on pole one and lock in place.

Short on time? Simply deflate the main air tubes, unsnap the floor tube, fold the kayak in half (with upper hull on the outside) and put back in your vehicle (as long as it’s big enough). You can then lay it out to dry later.

Bottom Line on the AE3042 AirFusion EVO Inflatable Kayak

The EVO is a great kayak for those that have a little bit of experience – it’s fast, is very sleek and has great glide.

Easily fits in the trunk of a small car.

Despite the longer 13 foot beam, it is easy to haul around. And with a combined weight of 37 lbs for the kayak in the upgraded backpack, it’s a good candidate for travel, and easily fits in the back of a small car.

Advanced Elements AirFusion EVO on the water.

The updated design with simplified set up, rigid dropstitch side tubes, replaceable main chambers and a smoother, more hydrodynamic outer skin give the EVO a performance edge.

Printed guidelines.

Attention to small details – such as built in sleeves, printed alignment lines, detailed instructions and the shock cord system – make the set up simpler.

Advanced Elements AirFusion EVO on the water.

The integrated storage hatch is quite useful for storing gear, though with the open interior, anything perishable should be stored in dry bags.

Installing the poles

This is not the kayak for those that want a “pump and go” – to get the best performance, one needs to take a little more time with setup. But the pay-off is worth it.

The addition of the optional skeg will help immensely in wind and larger swells.

If you are concerned about stability with the narrower beam, prefer simpler setup options, plan on carrying lots of gear, or you are a taller/larger paddler, then the Expedition Elite (shown above) may be a better, more comfortable choice.

We’ve said this before and it’s still true – Advanced Elements truly brings about the “EVOlution of inflatable kayaks” with constant innovation and excellent customer service; the AirFusion EVO earns them another notch.

Advanced Elements AirFusion EVO on the water.

Street price is $1099. For more details or to purchase, visit the Advanced Elements AE31042 AirFusion EVO product page at Or stay tuned, we’ll have the video up shortly.


Our latest AirKayaks video on the AdvancedFrame Ultralite inflatable kayak from Advanced Elements – weighing less than 20lbs.

At 10 feet 5 inches in length, the new AE3022 AdvancdFrame Ultralite has the same footprint and larger cockpit-opening as the longstanding AE1017 Sport – but at a significant weight savings.

The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralite’s hull is constructed from a lighter-weight ripstop material upper with a polyurethane tarpaulin underside. Left and right bladders are also made of a lightweight – yet rugged – polyurethane rather than PVC. Both bladder covers on the AdvancedFrame Ultralite feature open ends without a zipper, allowing the bladders to be pulled out for cleaning or replacement.

Instead of the traditional low-pressure PVC floor, the AF Ultralite sports a foam floor similar to that found in the Lagoon series. To compensate, the high-backed seat features a 1.5 inch EVA closed cell foam seat base.

The switch to open bladder cover, foam floor, polyurethane bladders and polyurethane tarpaulin hull provide most of the weight savings, making the AdvancedFrame Ultralite roughly 10 lbs lighter than the Sport, and nearly half the weight of the AdvancedFrame.

Other features include a thin aluminum bar riser and cross bar which together provide a pitched deck, allowing water to run off. A second set of bungee deck lacing is found on the rear deck upper.

The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralite will appeal to adventurous souls looking for a performance-oriented kayak with a more back-packable design as well as paddlers with physical disabilities requiring lighter-weight options and easier entry.

Also read our detailed writeup – Product Review: New AdvancedFrame Ultralite 17.5lb Inflatable Kayak from Advanced Elements

– which covers setup, features, specifications and performance.

To purchase or for more info, visit our Advanced Elements  AdvancedFrame Ultralite Inflatable Kayak product page at

At last summer’s Outdoor Retailer show, Advanced Elements unveiled their 2018 inflatable kayak product line with announcement of the new AE3022 AdvancedFrame Ultralite – a redesigned version of the AdvancedFrame Sport, weighing in at a minimalist 17.5 lbs.

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralite Kayak

We avidly waited for the first shipment to arrive in early March. The boxes had not been off the truck for two hours, before we were headed down to the beach.

So following is our “hot off the truck” review of the new Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralite – a 10 ft 5-inch performance kayak.

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralite

The box as received weighs 29 lbs, measuring 32 x 19 x 11 inches.

What's in the box

The rugged carrying case/backpack houses the kayak body, seat, repair kit, foam floor, screw-on adaptor, instructions (located in the small plastic pocket inside the backpack), foot brace, deck riser and deck pole. The kayak folded size is approximately 29 x 18 x 9 inches. Everything in the case weighs 21.5 lbs, while the kayak with seat is 19.5 lbs. The case has just enough room to include a small pump and breakdown paddle (not included). AirKayaks note: Take a good look at how the kayak is folded BEFORE setting up, this will help during breakdown.

AdvancedFrame Ultralite Kayak Setup/Inflation

Unfolding the kayak

First step, unfold the kayak. The AdvancedFrame Ultralite – along with all AdvancedFrame models – features an “inner rib” in the bow and stern, which is basically a u-shaped aluminum rib, about a foot long and one-half inch wide.

This comes “pre-assembled” meaning it arrives already inserted into two sleeves inside the kayak cover. Unless you remove the inner bladder, they remain in position. When the kayak is pumped up, the inner bladder with rib presses against the kayak cover – that, in conjunction with two bow and stern plastic sheets, give the kayak a sharp silhouette which aids in slicing through the water.

Installing the floor.

Now unroll the foam floor, centering it under the two main chambers, with the narrower side pointing toward the nose. The first time this can be a little tricky – smooth out the hull so it’s not wrinkled and then try to evenly position the foam. This can be fine-tuned later.

Putting the valve in the closed position

The kayak features 2 inflation chambers utilizing military valves and 1 twist-lok. The military-style plunger valves are simple to use – twist up to inflate (this is the closed position where air goes in and doesn’t come out) and down to deflate (air goes in and comes back out).

Boston valve and screw on adaptors

The kayak comes with a screw-on adaptor (found in the repair kit in the mesh pocket behind the seat) which will fit some pumps based on the hose fittings. Otherwise, a standard Boston valve adaptor will friction fit into the opening. AirKayaks note: Make sure to attach the screw-on adaptor to the pump tether, so that it doesn’t get lost.

Pump up the kayak

Unlike the rest of the AdvancedFrame series, the Ultralite features both a left and a right main chamber – one valve for each side. To begin, pump up each side until it starts to fill out – in this case we pumped up each side about 15 strokes each with a double action hand pump. This gives the kayak just enough form to install the deck pole and deck riser.

Fabric sheath for deck riser bar

Look inside the kayak nose, and you will see a cloth tube opening.

Install the riser bar

Push the deck bar into the tube until it can go no farther.

Install the deck lift

Locate the two webbing slots on each of the main bladders, roughly under the end of the deck pole. Take the deck riser bar, and insert each side into the webbing, with the center notch cradling the deck pole.

Pump up the kayak

Now, go back and re-pump up each side about 10 pumps, and then re-arrange the tubes and floor so that the tubes are centered inside the kayak cover, and the floor is centered under the tubes – if you flip over the kayak, you can sometimes see the floor indentation to check.

Finish pumping up each side chamber to 2 PSI. Screw on the black wing nut caps so the plunger isn’t accidentally twisted open later.

Install the plastic bow and stern inserts

Install the bow and stern plastic inserts into their sleeves.

Inflate the foot brace

Next pump up the inflatable foot brace. This uses a twistlok valve. Twist open the orange cap. Then using the Boston valve adaptor (conical nozzle about ½ inch in diameter), fit it OVER the twistlok valve and inflate to 1 PSI. Or the easiest method is just to blow it up by mouth, which takes about 6 puffs. Friction fit the foot brace into the snout. (AirKayaks note: if you are a bit taller, it is quite likely you won’t need to use this.)

How do you tell if you’ve pumped it up enough? If you lift the kayak up by one handle, and it sags in the middle, it needs more air.

Install the seat

Then attach the seat by clipping the two straps into the appropriate side clips. While there is an elastic “attachment” at the back of the seat, there is no place to attach it on the Ultralite – this is used on the other AdvancedFrame models.

Lightweight and easy to carry

Just over 5 minutes and you’re done!

AdvancedFrame Ultralite Kayak Design and Construction

Ripstop materia

The AdvancedFrame Ultralite upper hull is constructed from a lighter-weight 300 denier nylon ripstop material rather than the standard 600 denier; while one would think this is half the thickness, the weave is actually more dense, making it tougher.

Polyurethane tarpaulin hull.

The underside consists of a polyurethane tarpaulin rather than PVC, which is thinner but has a higher weld strength.

While the rest of the AdvancedFrame series features an inner and outer chamber with floating wall, the Ultralite features left and right bladders, also made of a lightweight – yet rugged – polyurethane rather than PVC. Both bladder covers on the AdvancedFrame Ultralite feature open ends without a zipper, allowing the bladders to be pulled out for cleaning or replacement.

AdvancedFrame Ultralite Features and Specifications

Plastic bow and stern inserts

Two plastic sheets in the bow and stern – in conjunction with the interior aluminum ribs – provide added structure and rigidity.

Molded rubber carrying handles

The AdvancedFrame Ultralite is constructed with 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.

Front bungee deck lacing with d-rings

Front bungee deck lacing with 6 d-rings starts 28 inches from the bow, measuring 14 to 10 inches wide by 11 inches deep.

Neoprene knuckle guards

The wide 40 x 18 inch cockpit opening features a low profile coaming tube to keep water from running in. Neoprene knuckle guards span each side, measuring 29 x 7 inches at the widest points.

Velcro paddleholder

One set of velcro paddle holders are positioned on the right side of the kayak, at 41 and 84 inches from the bow.

Closed-cell foam floor

Instead of the traditional low-pressure PVC floor, the AdvancedFrame Ultralite sports a closed-cell foam floor similar to that found in the Lagoon series.

High-backed padded seat

A high-backed, stiffer, padded seat, features adjustable side straps which quickly clip into position.

Mesh pocket behind seat

The seat measures 17 inches tall, the back wraps 20.5 inches and is 1.25 inches thick with breathable mesh. The seat base measures 19 inches at the widest point, by 13.5 inches deep. A 1.5 inch EVA closed cell foam seat base compensates for the thinner foam floor. A gusseted, mesh pocket is located on the seat back; this houses the repair kit and screw-on adaptor. There is one d-ring for attaching gear.

Inflatable foot brace

The inflatable foot brace measures 9.5 inches tall by 9 inches wide, and can be inflated up to 6 inches deep. The brace friction fits into the snout.

Rear bungee deck lacing.

A rear set of bungee deck lacing with 4 more d-rings begins 3 inches behind the cockpit opening, measuring 10 inches deep by 12 to 16 inches wide.

Integrated tracking fin

The hull features electronically welded seams, with beefed-up bow and stern, integrated 2.5 x 7.5 inch tracking fin and landing plate.

Backpack carrying case.

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 36 x 16 x 11 inches and looks like it will house a pump and paddle.

Other features include a thin aluminum bar riser (as found on the Expedition Elite) and an anodized aluminum cross bar (as found on the AirFusion) which together provide a pitched deck, allowing water to run off.

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralite Kayak

We did measurement tests. The kayak inflated is 10′ 3″ long and roughly 33 inches wide. There are 46 inches of the upper hull before the cockpit, and 36 inches of upper hull behind the cockpit. The side bladders are roughly 8 inches in diameter, making a well about 11 inches deep with the deck lifts.

Interior dimensions are approximately 76 inches long by 15 inches wide. With the seat positioned all the way back, there is a well approximately 23 inches deep by 12 inches wide (tapering down) and 9 inches tall, behind the seat. Seat back to interior snout measures 50 inch inches forward without the foot brace, which can be shortened to 35 inches with the brace. The seat can be repositioned up to 12 inches forward by shortening the side straps. Weight limitations suggest 225 lbs for person and gear.

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralite Kayak On the Water


Advanced Elements Ultralite on the water.

I was very interested in seeing how the Ultralite paddled, and immediately hopped in despite the wind kicking up. It’s zippy, tracks well and is very maneuverable. For my size of 5’4″, it is quite roomy – and it’s easy to carry. Heading into the wind, the Ultralite rode over small swells easily, still tracking pretty smoothly. Downwind was just as nice with just a slight bit of drift.

Advanced Elements Ultralite on the water.

I next took the Ultralite out on a very calm and balmy day – this is where the Ultralite REALLY shines. It was fun, responsive and quick. The open-style cockpit was refreshing and roomy – really a joy to be on the water. For my size of 5’4″ the inflatable foot brace made a huge difference in paddling comfort, by giving me something to push against.

Open cockpit design

My 6’2″ husband took the Ultralite out next with the seat positioned all the way back, and the foot brace removed. The open cockpit design made it easier to maneuver his larger frame, while allowing him to bend his knees slightly. He also felt the kayak paddled and tracked well. His only critique – despite wearing low-profile paddling shoes, his 10.5 shoe size forced his feet together into the snout, making it slightly uncomfortable.

Advanced Elements Ultralite on the water.

It is to be noted that the backbone and dropstitch floor – while technically usable – are not suggested. The backbone will have a tendency to move around slightly, and there is not enough head room to use the high-pressure floor at full inflation. The Ultralite also can not use a spray skirt.

The Advanced Elements Ultralite weighs under 20 lbs.

Oh yes, and did I forget to mention how incredibly lightweight this kayak is!

Packing Up the Ultralite Kayak

Packing up the AdvancedFrame Ultralite is easy. Open all the valves to let the air out – this can be helped by using the deflate mode on your pump. By removing the floor and rolling it up, the folded package will be smaller.

Packing up

Tighten and close the valves so air doesn’t creep back in, and then simply fold in half the long way, then fold the two ends towards the center, just behind the landing plate and fin. Then fold in half again. This should slip back into the bag if you’ve removed all the air.

Bottom Line on the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Ultralite Inflatable Kayak

Advanced Elements Ultralite on the water.

The AdvancedFrame Ultralite AE3022 inflatable kayak is a real joy to paddle! It’s a great, streamlined kayak at a very good price, the perfect choice for those wanting “fun on the water” without the extra weight yet just enough “bells and whistles.”

Advanced Elements Ultralite on the water.

The kayak is comfortable, paddles well, looks good and is pretty stable. The open cockpit design of the AdvancedFrame Ultralite AE3022 will appeal to those who want ease of entering/exiting, though taller paddlers with a larger shoe-size may feel cramped.

Lightweight and easy to carry

The switch to open bladder cover, foam floor, polyurethane bladders and polyurethane tarpaulin hull provide most of the weight savings, making the AdvancedFrame Ultralite roughly 10 lbs lighter than the Sport, and nearly half the weight of the AdvancedFrame.

Numerous optional accessories – such as the high-back lumbar seat or rapidup sail (shown above on the AdvancedFrame model), can enhance the paddling experience and performance.

The AdvancedFrame Ultralite is best-suited for lakes, bays, calm rivers and inland waters. This is a great choice for travel or remote trips– the carrying case is rugged enough to check as baggage, it’s perfect for RVs and easily fits in the trunk of a small car. And at 21.5 lbs including the seat, brace and backpack, it won’t break your back.

Street price is $599. For more info or to purchase, see the AdvancedFrame Ultralite AE3022 product page on, or watch our YouTube video, below:, an internet-based retailer of inflatable kayaks, paddle boards and paddling gear, today announced the addition of a fourth inflatable model to the popular Advanced Elements DS series™* of high pressure kayaks – the AdvancedFrame Sport DS™.AirKayaks Sport DS Inflatable Kayak from Advanced Elements

Manufactured by Advanced Elements exclusively for, the new Sport DS™ features the same footprint and silhouette as the current low-pressure AE1017 Sport, with upgraded accessories in a Limited Edition blue.

The concept behind the new Sport DS™ was explained by Chuck Lamb, co-owner AirKayaks, “The AdvancedFrame Sport is a time-proven, excellent-performing kayak with thousands of loyal owners. At 10′ 5″ long, it represents a great balance of size, weight and tracking ability for those that don’t need a lot of “bells and whistles. But, what if you take a great design like the AdvancedFrame Sport, and repackage it with upgraded accessories so that it will have even more universal appeal? That is exactly what we did with the Sport DS™.”

The Limited Edition Sport DS™ Series includes the following accessories (a $284 value) with each kayak:

According to Lamb, “The Sport DS™ is pretty snappy, maneuverable and paddles well – in short, it’s fun. The enlarged cockpit opening provides easier entry and taller paddlers may be happier as their knees can be bent without hitting the upper deck. It’s an excellent choice for beginners and experienced kayakers alike, looking for a great performing kayak at an economical pricepoint.”

The Sport DS™ joins the two AdvancedFrame AE1044DS-XL™ and XLC™ kayaks as well as the Convertible DS™ tandem kayak.

The two AdvancedFrame AE1044 DS™ models are an elongated version of the classic AE1012 AdvancedFrame. The longer, streamlined body – in conjunction with the high pressure floor – provides better tracking and increased glide with minimal increase in weight, as well as being comfortable enough for both taller and smaller paddlers. The kayaks now come standard with an adjustable foot brace.

While the DS-XL™ cockpit geometry is the same as the standard Advanced Frame, the DS-XLC™ (Cover) has a removable deck similar to the AE1007 Convertible. This allows you to use the kayak as either a semi-enclosed kayak like the DS-XL™ or as an open-frame model with easier access and – depending on your preferences – more paddling comfort.

The three kayaks join the popular Convertible DS™ – a 15 foot inflatable kayak with high pressure floor for solo or tandem paddling. The Convertible DS™ also comes with two high-back lumbar seats and double action pump with gauge, and is exclusive to AirKayaks. Matching blue single and double decks for more enclosed paddling, are also available.

A limited amount of AdvancedFrame Sport DS™ and Convertible DS™ kayaks (current stock is almost sold out) are in transit and available in late April. The AdvancedFrame DS XL™ and XLC™ are in stock. Street prices are $499, $899, $599 and $699 respectively. For more details or to order, visit the Advanced Elements Product Pages at, or click on the links above.

Well-known for eye-catching graphics and innovative technology, Hala Gear is one of the few standup paddle board companies focused on the inflatables market – most feature hard-shells with a few inflatables thrown into the mix.

Carbon Nass 12'6" with optional seat.

Founded in 2011 by Peter Hall, Hala Gear headquarters is based out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The company philosophy is centered on performance, durability and quality – in fact, each of the Hala inflatable boards carries a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.

For 2018, Hala has 20 models for surfing, whitewater, recreation, touring and racing, ranging in size from 6’11” to 14’0″.  We awaited our first shipment of Hala inflatable SUPs, which included the Carbon Nass 12′ 6″.    

With its sleek lines, vibrant graphics and unique carbon stringer, we opted to try this out first. So, here is our product review on the Carbon Nass inflatable SUP, a 12’6″ by 30″ touring model from Hala Gear.

Hala Carbon Nass 12′ 6″: Getting Started

The box as received weighs 44 lbs, measuring 37 x 22 x 13 inches.

Carbon Nass - What's in the box

Inside the box is the SUP body, high-pressure dual-action pump, pressure gauge, roller backpack, cinch belt, removable blue race fin, instructions and repair kit with valve wrench and patch material (no glue) – as well as a bonus 12-volt car pump. Once rolled up, the SUP board and pumps fit into the backpack, as well as optional breakdown paddles under 37 inches.

Weight is 39 lbs for backpack, board and pump, which all easily fit in the back of a small car. The board alone is approximately 30 lbs, while the pump is 2.5 lbs and the backpack nearly 7 lbs.

Unfurling the Hala Carbon Nass

For your first set up, remove and unroll the SUP body. Lay it out face up so that you can access the military valve.

Closing the military valve.

The Hala Carbon Nass 12’6″ utilizes one spring-loaded military 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.

If using only the dual action pump, you will pump up the board in the UP (inflate mode) position.

Using the 12-volt pump

If you are near your vehicle, you can start off with the included 12-volt car pump, which uses a slightly different process. Insert the cord into the car power point, and then extend the pump to the board (it has a 6 foot cord), with valve in the DOWN (deflate mode) position. Why do you do that? The pump does not have enough torque to open the valve when running. While the pump does come with a couple of adaptors, they do not couple with the board’s valve, one just needs to hold it over the valve, and turn it on. Immediately the pump will start inflating the board until it fills out (about 1 to 2 PSI ) taking one minute – you can hear a change in the motor. At that point, turn the 12-volt off but QUICKLY turn the plunger into the UP (closed) position so that the air doesn’t come back out. (AirKayaks note: the included instructions are in Chinese, so not that helpful. But, the instructions for both pumps are imprinted on the dual action pump.)

Hala SUP pump

Now we move over to the dual action pump. The Hala boards come with a single action /double action hand pump. One selects the mode by moving the red lever on the pump. Begin with the lever pointing towards the right which is the double action side. This means the air is pushed in on the up and the down stroke. This can become tough to pump as you get up towards the 5 PSI range. With a simple “twist of the knob” towards the left, the pump becomes a single action pump – pushing air in on the down stroke only, making it easier to reach the higher ranges.

Attaching the hose

Attach the hose to the pump, making sure there is no cross-threading. (AirKayaks note – we did cross-thread the hose and lost some air).  Then attach the integrated adaptor on the end of the hose to the board by pushing in and turning. You’re ready to pump!

At this point, we made our first error. There are two sides to the pump – one says IN and the other says OUT – featuring an inflate mode and a deflate mode. Having used many inflatables for years, we attached the hose to the IN side, assuming that was short for “inflate.”


We merrily pumped along before noticing that the board was soft. At that point we started testing the air coming out of the hose, and realized that on this pump, IN meant air was sucked in, and OUT meant air was pumping out. So, we went back to the 12-volt technique to refill the board, and – older and wiser – attached the hose to the OUT side. A much easier way to tell is that the gauge will be upside-down if you have it on the wrong side.

Pumping up the Carbon Nass

That settled, we did 50 pumps using the double action side until it became somewhat tough – we were at 5 PSI. We switched to the single action mode, and with another 50 pumps were at 8 PSI. An additonal 50 pumps took us to 11 PSI – once again it was getting tough.

Pumping up the Carbon Nass

We then switched to single-action half-strokes – another 25 took us to 12 PSI.

The higher the pressure, the stiffer the board. Hala’s recommended pressure is 12 to 15 PSI; if you are a smaller person, you can easily get away with the lower-end PSI – no sense in spending more time pumping than one needs to. So, a total of about 175 strokes taking several minutes, along with the one-minute 12-volt prefill.

Those that really want to make it easy, should take a look at the AquaGlide 12-volt HP 2-Stage Turbo, which will fill up to 20 PSI.

Removable 9-inch center touring fin.

Last step, install the tracking fin. The 12′ 6″ Carbon Nass uses a US Fin Box – this is a common, slotted box that allows one to use various fin styles. The Carbon Nass comes with a blue 9-inch, Sarusurf race fin which quickly snaps into position without need for hardware or tools. The fin includes a finger screw to ensure the fin is secure.

Attaching the center fin

Note that one side of the fin has a pin, the other a screw and fin plate. Remove the fin plate and screw. Point the fin towards the tail, and insert the side with stainless steel pin into the rear slot – pushing back.

Attaching the center fin

Attach the screw into the fin plate, and use this to guide the plate into the “forward” slot. Push down on the fin, then screw through the fin hole, into the fin plate, tightening with your fingers – this gives a pretty snug fit. As a precaution, pull up on the fin to make sure it is truly attached.

Carrying the Carbon Nass iSUP

That’s it! About 10 minutes with an excellent upper arm workout, you’re ready for the water.

Hala Carbon Nass 12’6″ Inflatable SUP: Board Design and Construction

As shape, thickness and construction all make a difference in a board’s performance under varying conditions, we’ll first give a little insight into the thought-process behind Hala boards.

Drop stitch material

First, the Hala boards – like most inflatable SUPs – are constructed using “dropstitch” technology. The top of the board is held together with the bottom via thousands of “stitches.” These threads are “double stitched” so if one were to break, another holds. This allows the boards to be pumped up to high pressures of 15 PSI.

Carbon stringer on the Carbon Nass

Hala boards have three general construction types – carbon, core and fusion. Hala’s performance touring boards are constructed with Fusion Technology, a double-layer, machine-laminated process which reduces the amount of glue used, creating a lighter board that is structurally sound. This is beefed-up with the Carbon Technology. The Carbon series – including the Carbon Nass – feature a unique carbon/aramid (kevlar-type) woven stringer, strategically placed and machine compressed at 200,000 lbs to give an extra layer down the central length of the board, both top and bottom. Aramid is a light-yet-durable material well-known for its strength, and is used in bullet-proof vests and body armor. Aramid rolls more easily than carbon, but carbon creates the stiffness. Put the two together and think “rigidity, durability and performance.” Hala flex tests have shown the carbon technology to be up to 3 times more rigid than standard inflatable SUPs.

Side rails

The weakest link in an inflatable paddle board is the rail (side edge) area – where the top and bottom panels join together. Some iSUPS are constructed with one rail layer – Hala features two layers of taping to ensure minimal chance of air leakage due to punctures.

Besides construction type, the rocker (how straight or curved is the side view from nose to tail) makes a difference in board attributes. Hala has three generic types – glide, progressive and full. The Carbon Nass features the Glide Rocker, depicted by a slight rise in the nose and tail, which increases glide and speed, yet still allows some maneuverability.

Hala Carbon Nass 12-6 Features and Specifications

At first look, the board is actually incredibly simple and streamlined.

Military valve

There is one military valve for inflation, located a couple inches from the snout on top of the board. This sits next to a molded rubber nose handle.

Bungee deck lacing system

A bungee deck-lacing system with four metal d-rings begins 25 inches from the nose, measuring 18 to 22 inches wide and 15 inches deep – a perfect spot to attach gear.

Carbon stringer on the Carbon Nass

The woven carbon/aramid stringer is positioned on both sides of the board, beginning 28 inches from the nose and measuring 11 x 86 inches.

Diamond groove deck pad

A textured, traction deck pad is 88.5 x 24.5 inches, beginning 5.5 inches back from the bungee deck-lacing.

Central carrying handle

In the center is a soft, padded handle, positioned 26 inches from the top of the traction pad.

Attaching an optional kayak seat

Two more d-rings are located across from the central carrying handle, with another set located farther aft for a total of 4 sets of d-rings. These are positioned 25, 40, 79 and 104 inches from the snout. The two back sets can be used to attach gear, but also can be used to attach an optional kayak seat for “sit-on-top” paddling.

Cloth d-rings

At the top of the traction pad are two cloth loops, 1-inch in diameter, positioned 9.5 inches from the beginning of the deck pad. These can be used to attach gear, but are also strategically placed for use as a foot brace when paddling seated. AirKayaks note: Hala does offer an optional seat, but they do not offer an optional foot brace. This could easily be fashioned with a piece of piping covered with a pool noodle or pipe insulation.

Rear raised stomp pad

A rear stomp pad with 1 inch rise begins about 5 inches from the bottom of the deck pad. A “foot index” – basically a slightly raised 7 x 3 inch oblong – is located 7 inches before the stomp pad. This allows one to easily move back to the center of the board without having to look.

Rear handle and ankle leash d-ring

A rear carry handle with ankle-leash d-ring is located at the tail.

9" flexi touring fin

There is one removable, deep-water blue flexi fin measuring 9″ inches, in a US fin box.

Hala inflatable SUP pump

As previously mentioned, the board comes with a dual-action, high-pressure pump with gauge, featuring both inflate and deflate modes, as well as a small 12-volt pump. (AirKayaks note: There is an additional o-ring included with the pump. This allows you to use the pump with other board valves which might have slightly different configurations.)

Hala Backcountry Comfort Roller Pack

The included “Hala Backcountry Comfort Rolling Backpack” features a 2-way zipper with a neat slanted feature, that allows one to really open the bag enough to get the board back in easily. Integrated roller wheels allow one to pull the bag across harder surfaces such as sidewalks, parking lots and airports.

Backstrap stash system

A nifty velcro panel on the pack back houses padded, adjustable shoulder straps and waist strap; to use as a backpack, simply pull off the panel to easily pop out the straps, then velcro back into position. When traveling, the straps can quickly be hidden behind the panel so as not to “snag” on other objects. There is one interior zippering clear pocket measuring 14 x 9 inches, perfect for stashing the fin. Inside, an integrated cinch strap system allows one to strap the board into position, while five outer compression straps allow one to tighten up the load. One upper and one side handle allow one to carry the bag in alternate positions. The bag weighs nearly 7 lbs with approximate measurements of 37 x 18 x 11.

Hala Carbon Nass

We did measurements. The board length came in at roughly 12.5 feet, and just over 30 inches in width, and 6 inches deep – pretty much on target with the advertised specs. Carrying capacity is estimated at 350 lbs.

Hala Carbon Nass 12′ 6″ on the water.

We took out the Hala Carbon Nass for a short time on both calm water and some chop.

Hala Carbon Nass inflatable SUP on the water.

First off, the board felt a bit more stable than I expected (nice). On calm water, the Carbon Nass handles like a dream – very smooth glide, good tracking. The board was also fairly maneuverable. In chop, the board also handled well.

Attaching a kayak seat.

I headed back in to try a kayak seat. While not the seat sold by Hala (I had an AquaGlide Core seat) just about anything with good support will do. The seat straps can quickly clip to the two sets of rear d-rings. In sit-on-top mode, the Hala Nass handles just beautifully – smooth and fast with great turning capabilities.

Hala Carbon Nass inflatable SUP on the water.

As whitewater, waves and rivers are not an option here, I spoke with Jake Castle at Hala about his experiences with the board. First of all, this is Jake’s favorite touring board. Why? Having taken it on lakes and rivers, he feels the Nass 12’6″ offers a really good balance between stability and speed, that much more versatile and maneuverable than other touring boards such as the Nass T.

While I did not bring out my furry paddling buddy, Cleo, I would have no hesitations in bringing out a canine companion; doggy claws are no match for the board’s rugged construction, and the slightly wider silhouette is more forgiving to “sudden movements” when spying some fish.

Hala Carbon Nass 12′ 6″ Inflatable SUP: Packing it Up

Packing the board up is easy. Remove the tracking fin. (Make sure to screw the fin/plate back onto the fin so it doesn’t get lost. Then simply open the valve and much of the air will swoosh out.

Folding up the Hala Carbon Nass

The instructions suggest wrapping the board around the pump, but they also say you may need to pump any remaining air out. We opted to leave the pump out “just in case.” With the board face side-up and the valve still open, fold up the end of the board to the US fin box, then tuck the tail under. Once started, simply keep folding tightly, kneeling on the package to keep pressing out excess air.

Rolling up the Hala Carbon Nass inflatable SUP

At the end, loosely replace the valve cap to protect the valve. If you’ve rolled tightly, you can easily cinch the roll together and put into the pack, along with the pump.

Bottom line on the Hala Carbon Nass 12’6″ Inflatable SUP

The Carbon Nass 12′ 6″ is a great, all-around performance board – a recreational athlete that excels at coastline touring, lake crossings, downriver paddles or island-hopping expeditions.

Hala Carbon Nass Inflatable SUP

The Glide rocker – with a slight nose lift, flat center and minimal tail rise – optimizes speed, glide and traction.

Hala Carbon Nass inflatable SUP on the water.

The wider 30-inch bullet-shaped silhouette provides greater stability than many racing boards without sacrificing performance, though beginners might feel more comfortable on the wider Carbon Hoss.

Woven carbon stringer

Toss in the central carbon stringers, and you have rigidity and stiffness while still maintaining portability – and without adding unduly to weight.

Easy to store gear

Not limited to day trips, the Hala Carbon Nass has numerous features designed towards excursions. A front bungee deck lacing system and eight centralized rigging points can be used to stow gear, creating a speedy touring model for day trips or overnighters.

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

When the wind kicks up, or you need a break, by adding an optional kayak seat and paddle, the Carbon Nass makes a great sit-on-top vessel – zippy with great tracking – extending the usability.

Easily fits in the trunk of a small car.

And the included Backcountry Comfort roller bag easily fits in the trunk of a small car, yet quickly converts to a backpack, making it a great option for RVing, back-country treks or remote vacations.

MSRP is $1499. For more information or to purchase, visit the Hala Nass 12′ 6″ inflatable SUP product page at Or give us a call at 707-998-0135. Stay tuned – we’ll have the Carbon Nass 12″6″ video out in a few weeks.

Posted by: airkayaks | February 9, 2018

Closeout Sale on 2017 Red Paddle Co Inflatable Paddle Boards

AirKayaks is pleased to announce a special purchase of remaining 2017 Red Paddle Co inflatable standup paddle boards, now 20% off, with savings as high as $380 – including a carbon breakdown paddle.

Considered the number one inflatable paddle board, Red Paddle’s SUPS are known for their ruggedness, featuring quadruple rail construction, double layering, thick traction pads and fins. Each board comes with the Red Paddle Titan pump, allowing one to inflate a paddle board to 18 PSI in less than 10 minutes.

In 2017, Red Paddle SUPs racked up a number of accolades including Gear of the Year from both Backpacker Magazine and Men’s Journal. The newly-introduced Sport 11’3 was named Outside Magazine’s 2017 Board of the Year and the Digital Trends “2017 Best Recreation Gear of the Year” award went to Red Paddle’s Ride 10-6 inflatable SUP.

2017 Red Paddle Co Product Lineup

The 2017 line featured 22 models with the addition of five new boards in the U.S. – the 10’7″ Windsurf, the Sport 11’3, the Race 14′ and the multi-paddler Ride L and Dragon.

AirKayaks is  clearing out the 2017 inventory. Now is your chance to get one of the best inflatable SUPs on the market, with prices ranging from $939 to $1529. The incredibly popular Ride 10-6 is now $1039, the Explorer 12-6 is now $1279, while the Elite 12-6 is at an all-time low of $1299. AirKayaks also has a few remaining 2016 boards – such as the Sport 11 and the WindSUP 10-8 at $999 – as well as closeout Titan pumps ($99) and Roller Backpacks ($89.95).

If that isn’t enough, AirKayaks is throwing in a free adjustable, breakdown carbon SUP paddle – a $159 value with each 2017 board. Check out the remaining available inventory on the Red Paddle Co product pages on – but don’t hesitate. When they’re gone …. they’re gone.

Each board comes with the rugged Titan hand pump, cell phone case, repair kit, instructions and wheeled roller backpack. Not sure which one is right for you? See our 2017 Guide to Choosing Your Red Paddle Co Inflatable Paddle Board.  Or, give us a call at 707-998-0135, email or visit the website at

Up to 20% off, free paddle, free shipping in the continental US and no US tax – what are you waiting for!


This past spring, we received first-hand information on Advanced Elements’ new two-person inflatable kayak model, the 13-ft AdvancedFrame 2. Available in limited quantities, the AdvancedFrame 2 combines features from several current models. The kayak is a lightweight and compact version of the popular Convertible kayak with the silhouette of the Expedition, has a floor and seating setup similar to the Lagoon 2, with a higher 450 lbs weight capacity.

AdvancedFrame 2 versus Convertible kayak

Before they arrived, we began fielding numerous questions on which to choose – the Convertible (shown in blue on the bottom) or the AdvancedFrame 2 (shown in green on top). Here are some things to think about.

What’s the same?

Both the Convertible and AdvancedFrame 2 utilize the same type of hull material and three-layer construction, consisting of a kayak outer cover, with PVC side tubes in their own covered fabric sheath. Both have an integrated tracking fin, landing plate and beefed up bow and stern. Both have the removable bow and stern aluminum ribs, and plastic bow and stern stiffening sheets. Both kayaks come with two seats, repair kit, instructions and carrying case (though the carrying case for the AdvancedFrame 2 is generously oversized). Both have 6 inflation chambers – two military valves and four twistloks. Both have two molded rubber handles – bow and stern – and front bungee deck lacking with d-rings and quick-connect clips as well as four rear d-rings. Both have velcro paddleholders.

Both can use the optional rapidup sail, backbone, high-pressure floor and foot pegs.

This is where the similarities end.

AdvancedFrame 2 Seating and Floor

At 13 feet in length, the AdvancedFrame 2 is 2 feet shorter than the Convertible, and at 43 lbs with seats in the carrying case, weighs 9 lbs less. While the Convertible features a 1-PSI PVC inflatable floor with i-beam construction, the AdvancedFrame 2 floor does not inflate; it is constructed from a half-inch thick closed-cell foam – similar to that used under sleeping bags (see photo above). The lower “center of gravity” in the AdvancedFrame 2 is compensated for with inflatable seat bases, while the Convertible features a non-inflatable 1-inch seat base with a stiffer, higher back. As the foam floor “rolls” up, the folded dimensions are not quite as compact – hence the larger carrying case.

Convertible with double deck installed

While both kayaks have open seating areas, the AdvancedFrame 2 has a slim, one-inch coaming area that helps to keep out water, but can not use a deck or spray skirt. The Convertible features a zippered perimeter that allows one to attach optional single and double spray decks (shown above) as well as optional spray skirts.

The Convertible has more flexibility in seating positions, featuring front, rear and center clipping positions. The AdvancedFrame 2 does not have the center clipping position, and the seat straps are not quite long enough to adequately center the seat for solo paddling, unless one purchases the optional seat-link kit.

The AdvancedFrame 2 also includes one PVC-tube strapped to the side chamber which can be used as a fishing rod holder.

Weight limitations suggest 400 lbs for paddlers, or 450 lbs for paddler(s) and gear on the AdvancedFrame 2, while the Convertible has a 550 lb payload.

Bottom Line:

AdvancedFrame 2

If you plan on doing mostly tandem recreational paddling on calmer waters, don’t need all the whiz-bangs, prefer to sit with a “knees slightly bent” position, don’t need the higher weight capacity or added interior length, prefer something slightly lighter-weight, or price is an issue, then the AdvancedFrame 2 (photo above) might be your best choice at $499.

If you plan on paddling in a variety of conditions both tandem and solo, like the optional flexibility of being enclosed with closer storage options and the ability to use a spray skirt, need the higher weight capacity and weight is not an issue, then by all means go with the Convertible at $699 (shown above), which is a long-term winner.

For more info, or to purchase, visit the AdvancedFrame 2 or the Convertible product pages on

Posted by: airkayaks | January 26, 2018

Guide to Choosing Your 2018 Hala Gear Inflatable Paddle Board

Well-known for eye-catching graphics and innovative technology, Hala Gear is one of the handful of standup paddle board companies focused on the inflatables market – most feature hard-shells with a few inflatables thrown into the mix.

Founded in 2011 by Peter Hall, Hala Gear headquarters is based out of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The company philosophy is committed to performance, durability and quality – in fact, each of the Hala inflatable boards carries a three-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Hala 2018 Inflatable SUP Lineup

For 2018, Hala has 20 models for surfing, whitewater, recreation, touring and racing, ranging in size from 6’11” to 14’0″. This includes the introduction of 3 new models – the Carbon Playita 9’0″, Rival Nass 12’0″ and Rival Playa 11’0″ – and some minor revamped graphics on several of the boards. Boards range in price from $999 to $1599.

As shape, thickness and construction all make a difference in a board’s performance under varying conditions, we’ll first give a little insight into the thought-process behind Hala boards.

Hala boards have three general construction types – carbon, core and fusion. The Carbon boards feature a carbon/kevlar-type woven stringer, strategically placed to give an extra layer down the central length of the board – think “rigidity and performance.” The Core boards are constructed with two layers of drop-stitch material and are typically found in the boards that will see more hard “core” action – think “bombproof.” The Fusion SUPs utilize a newer laminating technology that saves material and weight, think “lighter” and “value-priced.”

Besides construction type, the rocker (how straight or curved is the side view from nose to tail) makes a difference in board attributes. Hala has three generic types – glide, progressive and full. The Glide Rocker feature a slight rise in the nose and tail, which increases glide and speed, yet still allows some maneuverability. The Full Rocker boards have a more precise and pronounced curvature from tip-to-tail for superior maneuverability and surfability – great for surf and whitewater. The Progressive Rocker sits in-between the two, allowing the boards to be playful yet maneuverable – more “all-round.” The photo above shows the Glide Rocker, followed by the Progressive Rocker, then Full Rocker.

Hala Back Country Comfort Rolling Backpack

All 2018 Hala iSUPs come with the Back Country Comfort Rolling Backpack or Travel Tough Backpack – both feature integrated wheels, making it easier to thread through airport lobbies, while still comfortable enough to pack into the remote country. All boards come with the Hala pump and pressure gauge, a nifty little 12-volt car pump that allows you to fill out the board quickly, repair kit and instructions. The Rival series and Asana fitness board – called the Straight-To-The-Water package – also include an adjustable, aluminum breakdown paddle.

With all the models, activity types, sizes and features, how does one choose the best board? We’ve put together a comparison chart on each of the boards – use this guide to take away some of the guesswork when looking at the myriad of options with Hala 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


Hala Carbon Hoss Inflatable SUP

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

  • Touring – Ocean, waves, long paddles
  • Recreational – Lakes, sloughs, slower rivers, coastal, calm
  • Whitewater – Fast-moving maneuvering with eddies, drops.
  • Downriver – Wide-open moving water.
  • Surfing
  • Fishing
  • Racing
  • Yoga/Athletic
  • Expedition – island hopping, camping, long paddles
  • Adaptive – boards more appropriate for handicapped paddlers or those with special needs

Determine what attributes are important (or not!) to you – do you want tracking or maneuverability? Stability or speed?

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. (AirKayaks note: While several of the boards are “not recommended” for advanced paddlers, this is based on the premise that advanced paddlers are looking for more performance-oriented boards. Certainly, advanced paddlers would be able to use any of the 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?

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.

Hala Radito

For instance, if you were 5 feet 10 inches with a weight of 180 lbs, and running whitewater rivers was the highest priority with a bit of recreational paddling, the Radito would be a good choice. But, if you wished to do predominantly recreational paddling with a bit of whitewater, surfing and a little bit of fishing thrown in, the Carbon Straight-Up 10’6″ would be a better all-round board.

For easier viewing, the Hala boards in the following tables have been separated into three categories: Carbon, Rival Fusion and Specialty/Core. If you are having trouble viewing the details in the three tables, follow this link for a larger, zoomable and printable PDF version of the Choosing Your 2018 Hala Inflatable Paddle Board iSUP.

And many thanks to Hala Gear’s technical guru, Jake Castle, who played an integral part in piecing together this information!

(AirKayaks note: There are an additional 6 Hala Boards focused on surfing, that we have not included in this list).

2018 Hala Carbon Inflatable SUPS

Hala Carbon Nass Inflatable SUP

This section outlines the Carbon models, featuring the carbon stringer for rigidity and performance. This includes the Carbon Nass-T 14’0″, Carbon Nass 12’6″, Carbon Playa 10’11”, Carbon Hoss 11’0″ and the Carbon Straight-Up 10’6″.

Hala Carbon Construction Paddle Boards2018 Hala Comparison - Carbon SUPS

2018 Hala Fusion Inflatable “Straight-to-the-Water” SUP Packages

This section outlines the Rival Fusion “price-point” models which are durable yet lighter-weight, and come packaged with an aluminum breakdown paddle and more streamlined backpack. This includes the Rival Hoss 10’10”, Rival Straight-Up 10’0″ and the two new models, the Rival Playa 11’0″ and Rival Nass 12’0″.Hala Fusion Construction Line UpHala 2018 Rival Fusion Inflatable SUPs

2018 Hala Specialty/Core Inflatable SUPS

Hala Asana Inflatable SUP

The table below outlines the specialty boards, which include the Core models with a more rugged construction. This includes the Asana 10’6″, Fame 11’3″, Daze 11’11”, Radito 10’0″ and Atcha 9’6″.

Hala Core Construction Paddle BoardsHala 2018 Core Inflatable SUPs

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you can view details on the various Hala Inflatable SUPS at Or feel free to contact us with questions at, or call 707-998-0135.

Posted by: airkayaks | January 12, 2018

Video: Red Paddle Co Sport 11’3″ Inflatable SUP

Our latest AirKayaks video on the Sport 11’3″ inflatable paddle board from Red Paddle Co.

The Sport 11-3 inflatable standup paddle board from Red Paddle Company – a sleek, streamlined flatwater cruiser for those wanting performance and carrying capacity.  Winner of Outside Magazine’s 2017 SUP of the Year award, the Sport 11-3 is rapidly becoming the SUP of choice for flat water paddling, just as the iconic Ride 10-6 is for all-water paddling. It’s one of our favorites!

The slightly wider 32-inch beam, bullet shape and long water line provide great performance, while the squared off tail enhances stability. Yet at a mere 21 lbs, it’s easily handled by smaller paddlers.

It’s great for shorelines, rivers, calm and choppy waters.

Also read our detailed writeup – Product Review: Sport 11’3 Inflatable Paddle Board from Red Paddle Co – which covers setup, features, specifications and performance.

To purchase or for more info, visit our Sport 11’3 Inflatable Paddle Board product page at

Posted by: airkayaks | January 4, 2018

Video: Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak

Our latest AirKayaks video on the AE1012 AdvancedFrame inflatable touring kayak from Advanced Elements, which updates our previous video from 2007.

The AdvancedFrame inflatable kayak from Advanced Elements, a classic model blending performance, price and portability. At 10 ft 5 inches, a weight of 33 lbs and a 350 lb payload, the AdvancedFrame is perfect for all ages and experience levels. It’s maneuverable, speedy, and glides through the water. Great for lakes, small rapids, rivers, bays and coastlines.

Also read our detailed writeup – Product Review: New Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak – which covers setup, features, specifications and performance.

To purchase or for more info, visit our AE1012 AdvancedFrame product page at

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