Posted by: airkayaks | March 12, 2013

Product Review: Enhanced Spray Decks for the Advanced Elements Convertible Kayak

When recently writing up a review on the new Advanced Elements AE1007DS Convertible DS kayak, we had a chance to use the optional updated Convertible AE2021 Single Spray Deck and AE2022 Double Spray Deck, which transform the Convertible kayak from an open design to an enclosed one or two seater.

Convertible kayak with single deck installed.

The spray decks keep water and wind out during chilly or inclement weather, while the coaming tubes allow you to attach optional spray skirts for even more protection from the elements. There are two deck options – the single for solo paddling and the double for tandem paddling.

Convertible kayak with double deck installed.

Installing the Convertible Spray Decks

Decks fold up into a mesh pounch

The decks are quite portable. They each arrive rolled up in separate mesh bags measuring 25 x 8 x 3 to 4 inches – the single deck weighs approximately 4 lbs while the double deck weighs 3.85 lbs.

There are no instructions included, but installing the decks are pretty simple. The kayak needs to be fairly deflated to get the zippers attached – I have managed to install them inflated but it’s tough, and you don’t want to put too much pressure on the zippers. If your kayak is already inflated, then deflate the outer main valve enough that it is “saggy.”

Make sure the kayak is not fully inflated.

Your Convertible has a “hidden” half zipper running around the open cockpit, which matches up with the zipper on the spray deck.

Attaching the double deck.

To install the double deck, roll out the deck across the kayak, with the velcro strip towards the kayak bow and the zipper head towards the stern. There is a matching zipper head on the kayak zipper.

Attach the zippers.

Insert the flat zipper end on the deck into the zipper head on the kayak, and then the flat zipper end of the kayak into the zipper head on the deck. Pull the zippers around until you reach the front velcro tab – unbuckle the clip, slip the velcro underneath and then reclip. The velcro tab helps keep water from dripping in at the “connection points.”

Continue by pumping up your kayak in the standard manner – the outer valve first, then the inner and then the floor. Inflate the deck lifts. Then, inflate the four coaming tube twistloks (2 per seat) using the conical Boston valve adaptor, which slips over the twistloks. Each tube inflates with just one or two pumps. The coaming tubes help deflect water, but also can be used to attach optional spray skirts. Install the thwart, attach the seats. Done!

Rolling out the single deck

The single deck has a slightly different set of instructions – while you might be able to utilize the new rear hatch-access, it is tough getting to some of the inflation valves. First pump up the inner main chamber until it starts to fill out, then pump up the front deck lifts. Now follow the same instructions for attaching the deck (attach the two zippers, zip up the deck and place the velcro tab under the buckle).

Finish pumping up the kayak

Finish pumping up the kayak using the outer main chamber, then the floor. (Please note: if using the dropstitch floor rather than the standard floor, pump this up initially after the inner chamber, as the inflation valve is at the far rear and not easily accessible when the deck is in place).

Inflate the coaming tubes

The single deck does not use the thwart, so pump up the two coaming tubes around the cockpit opening and attach the seat. Done!

Install the seat

Features and Specifications of the Convertible Spray Decks:

The deck material is the same diamond ripstop material and comes in two colors – red (available late spring 2013) and blue (currently available) – to match the standard Convertible AE1007, as well as the Convertible DS Series AE1007DS. Both decks have outer dimensions of 86 inches long by 25.5 inches wide, with cockpit openings of 30 x 18 inches.

New mesh pocket on the double deck.

The double deck has one “stiffening rod” in the center between the two seating areas, which helps maintain shape/prevent water from pooling. The front paddler has approximately 53 inches of leg room from the seat back to the front interior, while the back paddler has approximately 43 inches. There is 19 inches of “deck top” between the two paddlers. The new double decks feature a mesh pocket measuring 13 x 4 inches, with a velcro closure, in front of the rear paddler. Surrounding this are four d-rings spaced 14 x 16 inches apart, perfect for attaching gear and bungee lacing.

Single deck with bungee deck lacing and arched riser.

The single deck has undergone a major facelift. One arched “deck-riser” aluminum stay is located in front of the paddler, giving enough lift that water will run off rather than pooling. The is one front d-ring, and another 4 d-rings spaced 11-14 by 12 inches apart with bungee deck lacing – this is a great touch because it is impossible to reach the front bungee deck lacing while paddling, and the addition of the fifth ring allows one to use a Rapidup sail while solo paddling.

Velcro hatch cover on single deck.

Behind the paddler, a new roll-top Cargo Hatch Access allows one to easily store or retrieve gear.

Rear roll-top hatch access on single deck.

The roll top opening is 16 x 9 inches, with a velcro-ing hatch cover. This is surrounded by an additional 4 d-rings spaced 15 to 18 inches by 12 inches, allowing one to add even more bungee lacing or more gear attachments. There are 57 inches of legroom in front, and 32 inches of potential interior storage space behind the seat, or 36 inches on the upper hull.

Convertible Kayak with Spray Decks on the Water

Paddling with single deck installed.
Both the single and double decks are easy to put on, take up minimal space, and can provide much additional “deck top” real estate for storage.

Thick cording runs the kayak circumference, covering the zippers to further deflect water; the only thing to note is that water can drip in through the small rear gap where the two zippers come together. The new arched riser in the single deck should negate problems some customers had with the old decks in which water sometimes pooled. Please note that we have not experienced pooling, but also have not been out in very choppy weather.

Paddling with double deck installed

The addition of the decks also gives a slight structural boost to the Convertible.

Convertible Kayak Spray Decks – Bottom Line:

Convertible with double deck installed.

The new spray decks are a great addition, and really kick up the versatility of the Convertible as well as giving it a streamlined look. The enhanced single deck – particularly in a Convertible with the dropstitch floor or backbone – turns the kayak into a great solo option for bigger and taller people, and those that plan on long-term excursions. Perfect when you want to 1) keep out of the sun 2) protect from wind 3) reduce the amount of water entering the kayak or 4) store gear undercover or 5) add a spray skirt. And then there are some people (like me) who prefer the more enclosed feeling. These are just two more options that further expand the versatility of the Advanced Elements Convertible, making it a classic, all-time winner.

Watch our YouTube video on the Convertible spray deck installation and features.

For more info visit the product pages for the AE2021 Convertible Single Deck and the AE2022 Convertible Double Deck at http://www.AirKayaks.com as well as the Advanced Elements AE1007 Convertible Kayak. While the new decks are currently available for the blue Convertible DS Series, the new “standard” orange convertible decks will be available late spring, 2013. MSRP $59.99 and $82.99.

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