But once Dennis traded up to his Advanced Elements kayak, we've all been much more impressed with the possibilities of inflatables. The day we first inflated it—we paddled Elk Lake during the only sunny break that day offered—we knew that this was something a fair bit of thought had gone into. The bow and stern are reinforced and shaped with small aluminium inserts and it comes with a small skeg. The shape is very much that of a traditional kayak, and the shape and structure of the tubes make it quite a nice kayak overall. Dennis, I know, has a few things to say about the cockpit and a few other points, but I'll let him talk about those himself.
Someone who has really been impressed by his kayak is Paula. So this week she bought one of her own. Purchased (on sale) from West Marine, it's an Advanced Elements kayak re-branded as a West Marine one. West marine call this the Skedaddle 1 (crappy name in my opinion). Advanced calls it the Dragonfly—a much nicer name.
This kayak lacks the aluminium reinforcements front and rear, and the front end is both pointed and sweeps forward up and out of the water quite a bit. This means it spins on a dime and gives nine cents change, but it also means that there is no resistance to lateral motion while paddling. Paula resorted to tiny strokes twice as often to reduce this side to side twisting. AE has put a small skeg on the rear and attached a shallow plastic keel to the front (a keel about 30 centimetres long) to help with tracking, but the boat still tends to skitter about with each stroke. A blunter and firmer bow shape would probably have been more to the point.
But the Skedaddle/Dragonfly does pack up very small and weighs only 20 lbs.--making it possible to haul on the back of a bike or on public transit. When Paula travels to Mississauga next all, she hopes to take it with her on the GO train to Union Station and then to paddle out from there into the Toronto Islands. Size-wise, at least, this is a strong probability.