Advanced Elements Convertible an unbiased review from a standpoint of an angler.
Reading this review please keep in mind that English is not my first language.
I purchased the Convertible in the early spring 2008. Since that time, I used it multiple times on lakes and rivers. The idea of writing a review came to my mind because I well remember the time I spent researching this kayak before I purchased it. I remember all those unanswered questions I had.
I see three reasons to buy an inflatable kayak instead of a hard shell one.
- ease of storage
- suitability for transport long distance (even on a board of a plane) and shuttling (even in a taxi)
- no need for a roof rack and no nervousness that accompanies transporting 15 feet kayak on a roof of the car
I was never able (I never really tried that hard) to put the kayak back to the original bag after use. In my opinion it only makes sense to use the bag to keep and all the gear you will need. Add couple of towels for wiping the kayak after use, gloves, electric pump that will accompany the hand pump and you will find the bag full. I simply just slide the folded kayak into the trunk of my car and put the full bag on a back seat. The folded kayak does not take much space; I could easily fit 2 or 3 of them in the trunk of my Taurus.
Paddling: I should mention that I am not an experienced kayaker at all. I was just looking for a recreational boat that is easy to carry and store but would also let me float a river with another person and fish. Paddling solo and tandem is surprisingly easy and pleasant. My paddles are 230 cm and I hope I will get a chance to try 240 cm one day. Because this boat is quite wide, I suspect that 240 cm paddles would work slightly better.
Tracking: If the kayak is properly inflated, it tracks surprisingly well. The length of it probably helps, but the skeg does its job well too. I use this kayak as a solo most of the time and do not see a reason to buy the backbone. It may be that used as a tandem the backbone would improve the performance.
Inflating: I use rechargeable pump to inflate the two main chambers and the floor. To top of the main chambers I use the largest dual action hand pump I could find, $10 at Wal-Mart. With this type of a pump, you pump as much as you can, it is basically impossible to over inflate the main chambers. The floor should be only inflated until it reached proper shape, but it should be still quite soft. By pushing the top of the floor with your fist you should be able to feel the bottom of it. Over inflating the floor will destroy its internal structure.
There are two more important things to watch while inflating. The floor should be centered as well as possible, otherwise the tracking will suffer. Also, try to have the side chambers straight - the tubes should be kink free. At times, this is not easy. Push the bow and stern all the way in, before inflating the kayak. Again, the tracking will suffer if this is not done right.