After scouring the internet for all things related to kayaks, I settled on the idea of getting an inflatable kayak. You may say, “But isn’t that just a glorified raft?” If you have any doubts that an inflatable kayak is feasible, you should see my new favorite blog (and the inspiration for this blog). That blog covers inflatable kayaking in British Columbia and is a visual delight. Thanks to a big sale at REI, I purchased an Advanced Elements AdvanceFrame Expedition inflatable kayak. This 13 foot kayak comes highly recommended and should fit my needs fairly well. I toyed with the idea of getting a hardshell kayak, but it just wasn’t feasible with our current apartment living (even with the underground parking area for storage). Perhaps one day after we get a real home…
Here is a run down of what I got:
- Advanced Elements Expedition 13′ inflatable kayak
- Carlisle Magic Plus 240 cm paddle
- Astral Buoyancy LDB PFD
- Advanced Elements foot pump
- 10 L SealLine Baja Dry Bag
- Safety whistle
Overall, I am happy with the kayak and anxious to get out on the water. It takes about 20-30 minutes for me to inflate the kayak (which I am sure will get faster with experience). It is cumbersome to carry (at 46 lbs), but the duffle bag seems sturdy and holds everything I need. If necessary, I think I could haul all of this out to my launch point and pack it in the storage areas of the kayak. For longer trips, I would probably store that equipment in the car.
I am 6′ 2″ 180 lbs, so a kayak with sufficient leg room was important. After unzipping the forward storage area, you can see that there is an adjustable footrest that can accomadate anyone’s preferences. Even with long legs, there is a bit of storage left over up front. There is bungee deck lacing on the bow, but it is far too forward to be comfortably accessed while sitting in the kayak.
There is more storage room behind the seat, and this area is more easily accessed while sitting in the kayak. The back of the seat has an inflatable lumbar support and a pocket containing a small repair kit. The main chambers run the sides of the boat and are inflated to 2 psi. The floor and other chambers that sit atop the main chamber all are inflated to 1 psi.
The underside is fairly plain, but does have a landing skid on the front and a rear skeg-like fin to help in tracking. The bow and stern of the kayak have aluminum ribs that help maintain the shape of the hull. There is a ‘backbone’ available that you insert underneath the floor to help make the kayak a bit more rigid. We’ll see if I feel that is necessary.
Now all I need is fair weather over a weekend for me to escape to the water and try things out. Our last snowstorm seems to have finally blown through the area, and the snow has melted. The rivers have been ice free for a few weeks now, so I think I need to take a trip down to Lake Calhoun and see how that looks. I want to get some practice in before I try to go on a trip with the River Ramblers in May.