If you never heard of Advanced elements brand maybe you need to know one thing: One of the founders is Charlie Hall who invented the waterbed. He met his partner Clay Haller and both founded the company in 2001. Almost 20 years later they are part of the big three leader companies in inflatable kayaking. Their products are very well designed thanks to Ryan Pugh and their water crafts are price accessible and sturdy.
Advanced Elements EVOType:
- Lightweight and easy to transport
- Easy & Quick setup
- weight: 32 lbs - Dimensions (folded) 35" X 21" X 9"
Why I Choose The Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayaks
I am a casual paddler which likes small distance daily trips during warm months of the year.I live in a city apartment and i own small car too so this made me fan of inflatables and foldables in general. In 2016 i bought my first AE kayak (Expedition) and I became huge fan of their products. The next year I had that itch to step up my kayak game and there was hesitation between hard shell and inflatable.When Advanced Elements announced their flagman kayak Airfusion Evo I was really impressed so i decided in their favor. Few months later in July 2018 the long awaited box was delivered to my door. The next day I made a test paddle in the nearby lake, then in the Black sea. and after more than a year and 250 km later i am amazed how well designed an inflatable kayak can be. Lightweight and fast, compact and sturdy owning an EVO helps me really well with the decision to postpone previous intention to buy a hard shell one.
The Specifics Of The EVO
This kayak have drop stitch vinyl v shaped hull, aluminum frame poles and all its wrapped in Polyurethane tarpaulin which is very tough. EVO is 13 feet (4 meters) long and 24 inches (60cm) width. Weight is 32 LBS (14.5 KG), and has load capacity of 235 LBS (106 KG).
The 5 air chambers are inflated with three types of inflating valves:
- Main chambers have two Military grade Halkey Roberts type valves (maximum 6 PSI)
- There is also 2 Boston valves for front and rear air thwarts and twist lock valves for coaming and 2 smaller additional airbags located on bow and stern. I guess sounds complex to inflate but actually its quite easy and relatively fast.
Evo is a hybrid between foldable and inflatable.The aluminum poles makes a long barebone from bow to stern and gives you sturdy watercraft that doesn’t twist in the currents and wind.Also there is skeg for improved tracking.
Another great feature is the rucksack or backpack that comes with the kayak. It is quite roomy and it can fit the kayak, skeg,4 part paddle, PFD and a drybag which is very convenient for storing in your closet and transporting it with any car.
EVO Assembly Time
In terms of assembly and inflate time you need around 25 minutes despite what manifacturer advertise. Because of the high pressure dropstitch technology the two main chambers are the easiest part of inflating.The hardest one is assembling and dissasembling the aluminium poles. There are small sand particles that during a paddle fall between the joints and if you don’t put vaseline or lubricant in general before that, you gonna need pliers to put the kayak back in the bag.
And let’s not forget the skeg which adds up to the assembly time. But it’s worth it…
Pros And Cons Of The EVO Inflatable Kayak
If you have paddling buddies with hard shells and you are with an inflatable, it takes more paddling strokes because you’re the slower paddler and most of the times you chase them or they wait for you. But if you are in an Evo you won’t have such problem. This is the main feature that outshines every other inflatable kayak especially the classic air chamber ones. Airfusion EVO is fast as a hard shell, tracks well and is very maneuverable. Not only because of the great design, but the skeg makes the real difference. You feel completely different when every stroke is efficient, especially when you are tired and the arrival point is not near. The skeg keeps your course straight and you’re prepared for every wind or current change. Evo is light and without it in windy conditions paddling is not very pleasant. Tracking in calm water without a skeg is bearable but you’ll never know when and how the weather will change.
The skirt and skeg are those features that really helps in fast changing weather conditions and i recommend not to be cheap,buy them and have them always in your disposal.
The downside is that EVO doesn’t have much capacity for all your camping gear.You can fit the pump and few water bottles in the rear hatch which is not waterproof, also a small drybag in front, but overall the load capacity is not enough.You can put two more drybags attached to the outside hull straps but the weight affects the speed.
Also if you don’t have experience with narrow hull types of kayaks I recommend a few test paddles because there is balancing learning curve. In the begining I capsized on purpose few times just to know where my tipping point is, and on the third paddle i surfed the waves like a pro. Great for bracing and not so great for eskimo roll.If you are beginner i recommend EVO as watercraft to grow skills , not a stable recreational kayak for an easy peasy paddle close to the shore.If this was a car – it’s definitely a sports one, so you don’t play safe.
The PROS of AE Airfusion Evo are:
- Great speed and tracking.
- Good build quality.
- Rugged boat that no rocky shore gonna do a damage.
- It needs longer drying time after use, no drain cap so inside drying is really slow
- It’s too small and uncomfortable for big, tall and heavy paddlers
- Not enough cargo space
Despite the few cons overall I think this is an awesome watercraft for an inflatable, Evo gives you the freedom to be fast, adventurous without the hassle of having storage and special transporting gear.