The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame is one of the top performing inflatable kayaks available. It offers an excellent compromise between the convenience and portability of an inflatable kayak, and the performance of a hard-shell.
This review will cover both the solo and convertible versions of the AdvancedFrame kayak.
- Excellent portability and ease of storage
- Performs like a hard-shell
- Well-built with durable materials
- Ability to use a spray skirt in rougher conditions
- Lots of optional accessories
- More expensive than your average inflatable kayak
(prices updated as of 2019-05-25 at 23:35 – Details)
|Solo (AE1012-R)||Convertible (AE1007-R)|
|Weight||36 pounds||52 pounds|
|Weight capacity||300 pounds||550 pounds|
|Number of passengers||1||1 or 2|
Portability & ease of storage
Like all of the best inflatable kayaks, the Advanced Elements’ kayaks are exceptionally portable and easy to store. The AdvancedFrame convertible kayak packs down to 35″ x 21″ x 12″, while the solo version breaks down to a compact 30″ x 17″ x 10″.
Either model should fit in the trunk of a car with room to spare for your other gear. They’re also very easy to store and can be tucked away in a closet when they’re not in use.
The convertible version weighs in at just over 50 pounds and is a bit on the heavy side. While this isn’t unexpected due to its longer than average 15-foot hull, it’s still something to be aware of.
Built-in aluminum ribs
The AdvancedFrame’s built-in aluminum ribs at its bow and stern are arguably its biggest selling point. This is what gives it the defined shape that is so unusual for an inflatable kayak.
The ribs serve two important functions:
- Create a more streamlined shape that helps the AdvancedFrame efficiently cut through the water.
- Acts as a skeg to improve tracking and prevents zigzagging through the water while paddling.
Many inflatables suffer from poor speed and tracking due to an inefficient hull shape. Anybody who has paddled a more basic inflatable kayak can tell you how frustrating it can be to keep up with other kayaks while you’re swerving through the water at what feels like a snail’s pace.
The AdvancedFrame’s built-in ribs do an excellent job minimizing what is typically an inflatable kayak’s biggest drawback.
Another common issue for inflatable kayaks is the potential for punctures. To combat this, Advanced Elements uses 3 layers of material in the AdvancedFrame for excellent puncture resistance.
The first line of defense is its outer cover. The upper half is a durable ripstop fabric, while the underside is made of heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin. The tarpaulin is not only incredibly rugged, it also has a smooth finish which helps the AdvancedFrame glide through the water.
The second and third layers are the inflatable tube itself and its own cover.
Spray skirt compatible
Another feature of the AdvancedFrame that you won’t find with other inflatable kayaks is the ability to use a spray skirt. This makes the AdvancedFrame a bit more versatile and better able to handle rougher or colder paddling conditions.
Out of all our inflatable kayak reviews, the AdvancedFrame’s built-in ribs make it one of the highest performing kayaks you’re likely to find.
While it’s not going to be able to outperform a high-end composite kayak, the AdvancedFrame kayak can certainly give low to mid-range hard-shells a run for their money.
Besides the ribs, the AdvancedFrame also has an edge over other inflatable kayaks due to its relatively narrow 32-inch wide hull. This means it has less drag while cutting through the water and makes for more efficient paddling.
One downside to the convertible model is that it won’t be quite as maneuverable as the solo model due to its longer hull. But on the plus side, the convertible will track better than the solo.
Like most inflatable kayaks, the AdvancedFrame has good stability on the water. Having said that, it does sacrifice a bit of stability for improved performance.
The narrower than average hull that allows it to slice through the water means that it’s not as stable as some of the wider inflatable kayaks out there.
If stability is your primary concern, you might be better off with a wider kayak. Just know that there’s typically a tradeoff between performance and stability, so a very stable kayak isn’t likely to get from A to B very quickly.
The multiple layers and heavy-duty construction help it to stand head and shoulders above most other inflatable kayaks.
It’s still not quite as puncture resistant as a hard-shell, but the good news is that inflatables are generally easier to repair than hard-shells.
Both the solo and convertible models come with a patch kit that doesn’t require any special tools or skills to use.
The AdvancedFrame is a kayak that performs like a hard-shell but maintains the portability and storage benefits of an inflatable.
It’s a pretty hard combination to beat if you’re a paddler that cares about performance but need something that’s compact and portable.
There are definitely cheaper inflatable kayaks out there, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that performs as well at the AdvancedFrame’s price point.
The ability for the convertible model to be reconfigured for either solo or tandem paddling provides some extra versatile and added value. If you’re going to do a mix of solo and tandem paddling, it’ll help you avoid having to buy a second kayak.
Just keep in mind that if you want to use a spray skirt with the convertible model, you’ll have to pick up one of the optional spray decks.
It comes standard with an open deck that works for both solo and tandem paddling.
And you can pick up a single or double closed deck for colder or rougher paddling conditions:
The Advanced Elements solo and convertible AdvacedFrame kayaks offer a great compromise between the performance of a hard-shell kayak and the convenience and portability of an inflatable. Despite that, it’s not perfect for everybody, so here are a couple alternatives to consider if you’re not sure it’s a good fit for you.
Advanced Elements Sport Kayak (AE-1017)
Advanced Elements’ Sport Kayak is a lighter weight and more affordable version of the standard AdvancedFrame kayak.
Their Sport Kayak model is not quite as capable or as heavy-duty but it’ll still outperform most other inflatable kayaks. It’s built more for lakes and slow-moving rivers than open coastal water.
It’s 10 pounds lighter, weighing in at only 26 pounds, so could be a good option if you’ll have a long carry to your launch point or want to hike into a paddling location.
Advanced Elements AirFusion (AE1040-Y)
If you like the portability of the AdvancedFrame but want even higher performance out of your kayak, consider Advanced Element’s AirFusion kayak.
It’s longer and more streamlined than the standard AdvancedFrame, which gives it a serious performance boost. It’s also more capable than the AdvancedFrame in rougher coastal waters.
The AirFusion is not quite as stable as the standard AdvancedFrame due to its narrower hull. And with a weight capacity of 235 pounds, it might be a bit limiting for heavier paddlers.
Sea Eagle SE370
If you want to save some money but still want a kayak that’s well-made and durable, the Sea Eagle SE370 could make a good alternative.
It’s made out of a durable 38 mil PolyKrylar and has a generous weight capacity of 650 pounds.
The major drawback is that it doesn’t perform nearly as well as the AdvancedFrame. It also doesn’t do as well in coastal water. But if performance isn’t your number one priority, the SE370 is a solid all-around inflatable kayak.