Introduced nearly a decade ago, the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame inflatable kayak series (originally called the AirFrame) has expanded over the years to include four models – the two 10.5 foot AdvancedFrame and Sport models, the 13 foot Expedition, and the 15 ft tandem Convertible.
One of the most popular questions is between the AdvancedFrame and Expedition – which one should I choose? While the lower pricepoint on the AdvancedFrame is appealing to many, the smaller size may not be as comfortable to some, or carry enough gear.
The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame (photo above) is a 10.5 ft recreational and touring model while the Expedition (photo below) is an elongated 13 ft version with upgrades. Though they have many similarities, there are just as many differences. Ultimately your choice comes down to a personal preference, but here are some things to think about.
Both kayaks are made from the same materials, use the same valves and have the same 1 PSI PVC floor i-beam construction with 2 PSI side chambers. Both come with bungee deck lacing, molded rubber handles, multiple d-rings, neoprene knuckle guards, integrated tracking fin and carrying case. Both have the integrated aluminum rib/plastic inserts in the bow and stern to sculpt the shape. Both have the same size cockpit seating area with coaming tubes to attach optional spray skirts. Both models can use optional backbones and high-pressure floors for added rigidity and tracking, as well as a myriad of Advanced Elements accessories to enhance the paddling experience.
At 10.5 feet in length with a weight of 34 lbs in the pack, the AE1012 AdvancedFrame is lighterweight and shorter – easier to carry around solo in windy weather. It paddles well. This is a great choice with small or average-sized people concerned about kayak size and weight, who don’t plan on long or multiple days of touring and don’t need room for lots of gear. And it costs slightly less.
The Expedition AE1009 is 2.5 feet longer and weighs 10 lbs more (13 feet and 44 lbs). The longer waterline makes it a great choice for extended (and short) range touring. It paddles well and has great glide. Upgraded accessories – such as a foot brace and high-backed lumbar seat – come standard.
We put the AdvancedFrame and Expedition next to each other to get a better feel – in this photo shoot we had the AdvancedFrame DS (blue model with high pressure floor) available – the AFDS is identical in size to the standard red version. We set them up, mid-handle to mid-handle, and positioned each of the seats towards the back of the cockpit area.
We took measurements and then did the ultimate test – my “6’2″, 180 lb, 10.5 shoe-size” husband was asked