Posted by: airkayaks | November 13, 2011

Product Review: The Advanced Elements Convertible Kayak for One or Two Paddlers

We recently had an opportunity to  re-acquaint ourselves with a very popular all-time classic – the Advanced Elements AE1007 AdvancedFrame Convertible inflatable kayak, which features three seating positions to allow solo or tandem paddling. Here are details on the AdvancedFrame Convertible AE1007, a 15 foot inflatable kayak weighing in at roughly 54 lbs.

Getting Started

The box as received weighs 62 lbs, measuring 37 x 22 x 11 inches. Inside, the rugged carrying case measures 37 x 19 x 9.5 inches, and houses the kayak body, seats, thwart, repair kit and instructions. The kayak with case and parts weighs in at 56 lbs.

Setup/Inflatation

We began by reading the updated manual. This, too, has evolved over the years and gives excellent explanations on inflation, usage, refolding, etc. 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.

First step, unfold the kayak. (Please note: We will repeat some of the details previously mentioned in other writeups.) The AdvancedFrame series of kayaks feature 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. (Please note: We removed the rib from the kayak for illustration purposes, it comes assembled.)

The kayak features 6 inflation chambers – two military valves (kayak main body) and 4 twist-loks (floor, thwart and two deck lifts). The military-style plunger valves are simple to use – twist one way to inflate and the other to deflate. 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.

Pump up the first chamber, located on the top-rear of the kayak, until it begins to fill out. Unlike many other brands, the AdvancedFrame series of kayaks features an inner and outer chamber, with a floating “interior wall.” By pumping up the first chamber partly, you “center” the inner wall. Then pump up the second chamber, located inside the kayak behind the seat, until firm to touch (2 PSI). Screw on the black wing nut caps so the plungers aren’t accidentally twisted open later.

Using the same Boston valve adaptor (conical nozzle about ½ inch in diameter), fit it OVER the twistlok valve on the floor cushion. Pump this up until firm (1 PSI) but there should be slight give when depressed. Twist the valve shut. (AirKayaks note: Make sure to tuck the twistlok tube on the floor into the side of the kayak, so that you don’t accidentally twist it open while paddling.) How do you tell if you’ve pumped it up enough? Lift the kayak up by one handle, there will be a slight sag in the middle, but it should only be slight, otherwise it needs more air.

If the kayak does not appear to be pumping up evenly, make sure that the bladder is centered in the cover, and the floor is centered in the kayak. Additionally, there are four velcro side strips that keep the kayak bladder in position inside the cover; sometimes the velcro strips have to be slightly repositioned if the cover is “wrinkling”.

Move onto the two deck lifts inside the kayak “shoulders.” The deck lifts “sculpt” the body so that water has a tendency to run off – and not into – the kayak.

Last steps, insert the two plastic sheets into the bow and stern sleeves. Then attach the seats by clipping the two straps into the appropriate side clips. If you will be paddling tandem, use the 1st and 3rd clip arrangement, then pump up the thwart and place it behind the front seat, attaching to the velcro side strips.

The thwart acts as a back rest support for the front paddler and can be a foot brace for the rear paddler. If you will be paddling solo, use the center position. Less than 10 minutes and you’re done!

Features and Specifications

The AdvancedFrame Convertible AE1007 is constructed with two carrying handles (bow and stern).

Bungee deck lacing in the bow – measuring 20 inches wide, tapering to 10 inches wide, and 16 inches deep – includes four d-rings and quick release clips, allowing one to add on various dry packs and gear – or to attach a nifty Rapidup downwind sail! Four more d-rings can be found on the rear deck; these are positioned at 17 inches wide, tapering to 10 inches and 13 inches deep.

The 86 x18 inch cockpit area features a hidden zipper running the perimeter – this is used to attach optional single or double decks. The optional decks act as further protection from the elements, and also have coaming tubes around the cockpit, allowing one to attach optional spray skirts.  A front center zipper can open up an additional 21 inches for easier entry or for those interested in a more open feeling.

The padded seats features adjustable side straps which quickly clip into position. The seat base measures 14 x 16 x 0.5 inches while the back is 13 inches tall, by 22 wide and 0.75 to 1 inch thick; there is a mesh pocket on the seat back which houses the repair kit.

The kayak consists of three layers. Inflatable PVC bladders are housed in a zippering fabric cover, allowing the bladders to be replaced if necessary. The covered bladders sit inside the kayak outer shell. The kayak upper is comprised of 600 denier polyester/PVC laminate in a diamond ripstop material.

The hull is a rugged, puncture-resistant PVC tarpaulin with electronically welded seams, integrated tracking fin and landing plate.

We did measurement tests. The kayak inflated is just slightly under 15 feet long and 33 to 34 inches wide. The side bladders are roughly 7 to 8 inches in diameter, making a well about 7 inches deep. Interior dimensions are approximately 86 inches long by 18 inches wide.

The three seat attachment points are located at 19, 47 and 69 inches from the interior rear of the kayak. The thwart measures 17 x 8 x 10 inches – it is best to place it in the more horizontal position as more of the velcro will be utilized to keep it in position, but if needed, an extra 2 inches of legroom can be gained by positioning it “more vertical.” In tandem mode, when the front seat is placed against the thwart, approximately 53 inches of legroom is available, while the rear paddler has 43 inches from the seat back to the thwart (expanding to 45 inches by rotating the thwart).

When solo paddling, there is approximately 57 inches from the seat back to the interior front end, and about 36 inches behind the seat. The thwart is not used in the solo position. 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.

One final comment – we are always asked if this can be broken down to fit in airline luggage, and the answer is yes. By separating the components, one can put the kayak hull in one suitcase, and the other parts in another.

On the Water

We first took the Convertible out as a tandem. The kayak is very comfortable, stable, rugged and paddles well. It was quite roomy for the two of us (5’4″ and 6’2″). With two paddlers, you are limited to carrying gear on top of the kayak, but there is so much front legroom that one could stash a pack and use it as a foot brace.

In fact, my only “complaint” (this is too strong a word) is the lack of a foot brace – particularly when out solo. I attempted to use the thwart as a foot brace sideways, but I was still too short to reach. By using the foot brace, thwart on end and a filled cargo bag, I did finally get some traction – I guess my point is to be creative. (AirKayaks note: Advanced Elements will be introducing an adjustable foot peg/brace for this kayak. Availability is expected in January 2012).

Each of us took the kayak out solo. Once again, it is stable, paddles well, but is slightly sluggish – at least with the standard PVC floor – but there is an incredible amount of room for gear. We swapped in the new 7 PSI high-pressure dropstitch floor and – wow –  what an enhancement. Fast and smooth, turns well.  Back on shore, I was slightly apprehensive about hauling such a large kayak around without help, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it was manageable by hooking over one shoulder. 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.

Lastly, I took my buddy, Eddie, out for a spin. During this trip we used the dropstitch floor, but I wouldn’t hesitate to bring him along using the standard PVC floor with a small rug or thick covering.

Bottom Line:

The AdvancedFrame Convertible AE1007 inflatable kayak is a truly great kayak. First developed in 2004 as an elongated, enclosed version of the AirFrame, the design has evolved into the current day model. As with its sibling, the AdvancedFrame, the Convertible is an inflatable classic, offering performance, quality and price. In our opinion, it’s the best value for a tandem on the market, and is certainly one of our biggest sellers.

The kayak is comfortable, paddles well, looks good and is quite stable. It is able to handle lakes, Class I to II rapids, inlets, bays and coastal ocean. With years of experience using the AdvancedFrame series of kayaks, we’ve been out in all types of weather from calm water to swells. The kayaks have battled rocky beaches and shallow waters, thick tules, white caps and wind. They’ve been tossed into the back of a pickup – they’re rugged.

As a tandem, it is roomy, paddles smoothly and is fairly zippy. As a solo, it is less zippy with the standard PVC floor, but with the new high-pressure dropstitch floor, it becomes a great single kayak. I highly recommend this optional accessory.

Versatility is another aspect that makes the Convertible such a popular kayak. Numerous optional accessories – such as the high-back lumbar seat, an inflatable foot brace, single and double decks, spray skirts, kayak dolly or compact cart, rapidup sail, the backbone and 7 PSI high-pressure dropstitch floor – can enhance the paddling experience and performance.

This is a great choice for travel –  it’s perfect for RVs and easily fits in the trunk of a small car. 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.

All in all, the AdvancedFrame Convertible from Advanced Elements is a great multi-purpose kayak for families, people of all ages and paddling needs. Just ask the Mutone family of Michigan!

Watch our YouTube video on the Convertible kayak!


For more info see http://www.airkayaks.com

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