Saturday, April 04, 2009

Advanced Elements Test Trials

A few weekends ago I was happily looking forward to be finally back on the water. Instead, Louise sprained her ankle at the gym, and another winter storm blew in bringing snow, wind and cold temperatures. And then the next weekend I got the flu and another windy storm blew in.
25 days of flu-suffering later, the stars have aligned and we headed to Cadboro Bay to test some Advanced Elements kayaks that Paula acquired.

It was also the chance to test out some new gear, like my new hat. Bernie said it was the dorkiest hat he has ever seen.

Okay, maybe the hat wasn't working out so well, but the kayaks didn't do so bad. Louise headed out in the AdvancedFrame Expedition kayak...
...while Lila and I tried the Straitedge2...
...while Paula led the way in her Dragonfly.

These are perfect boats for slowly meandering along the shore. Terrific initial stability and maneuverability means that an utter novice could hop into in one and have some fun right away.

We put in at Sheep Cove...
...and played musical kayaks: Lila moved into the Dragonfly, Louise and Paula into the Straitedge and I tried the Expedition.

I liked both kayaks. The Straitedge was a lot of fun and tracked reasonably well. The Expedition tracked a little less well, but both were very easy to correct and keep on course. I did have issues with the seats and really did not feel comfortable. We're going to try these kayaks again soon, and I'll have to pay a little more attention to the seat adjustments and see if that helps.
Still, they're well-built kayaks and if they fit the style of kayaking you want to do, then are probably worth the investment.

Trip length: 4 km
My photos are here.


  1. Hey Victoria Gang - was your new Expedition tested with or without a BackBone? That would make a difference, in my experience, with tracking.

  2. We tested the Expedition without a BackBone. Still decent for tracking, from what I've noticed so far -- better at least than the Dragonfly.
    I plan to pick up a BackBone from West Marine this summer and try using it. From all reports, the BackBone effectively adds a keel to the Expedition, which improves tracking. It also adds weight, maybe ten pounds, which brings the total combined weight up to about 53 pounds. (Yes, I will weigh the whole thing when the BackBone is installed.)
    My guess is that for outings when I'm hauling the Expedition around in its bag on a luggage roller, onto and off buses, that the BackBone may get left at home. But if the Expedition is going to be left inflated for a good while, then I'll be wrestling the BackBone into place for sure. Shall see what happens.

  3. Where can I get a hat as dorky as that? It puts my Tilley Hat to shame! A life goal . . .
    Actually, I could tell, from the photos, that your Expedition was "spineless": once a BackBone is in place, the kayak will ride higher in the water. Also, from the photos, I could see that people were sitting too far forward in the cockpit of the EXP. In my experience, sitting back as far as possible really improves the tracking and settles down the "waggle" of the stern and keeps the craft gliding on course. But all these little matters will be left in the wake as people become more comfortable with the new kayaks. I find the EXP to be totally comfortable for me, btw - thanks, in part, to its footrest and roomy cockpit. I'm 6'1" 225 lbs - but, even so, fit nicely in my Skedaddle, which is simply a hoot to use - and just the thing for rivers that aren't too wild. I like your movie of your Skedaddle on the stream - truly inspiring.

  4. Yeah, there was some room to move the seat back in the Exp, and that's exactly what Paula and I talked about for the next time I give it a try. I think we're planning another group test in a week or so. Check back again soon! :)