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Submitted: 06-08-2007 by JAB
I took delivery on my AE Expedition last week and have had it on the lake twice so far. I have to say, I'm very impressed with the build quality and performance of this boat. The AE is not like any other inflatable I've ever seen. And this Expedition, which is new for 2007, appears to be an improvement even over their other earlier models. Next generation, if you will. The look and handling is far better than you might expect. I didn't purchase the backbone, but even without it, I feel the boat tracks more than adequately. The seat has its own inflatable lumbar support, which is pretty cool, and foot support is provided by an adjustable padded bar which attaches to the side tubes. Inflation is a breeze, taking maybe 10 minutes with the hand pump before I was on the water.
I think the secret to good performance with the Expedition is to make sure it's properly and fully inflated. The manual warns against over inflation, but I think it would be hard to over inflate the main tube using the hand pump. The floor is another matter. The floor is a separate piece and looks a lot like a thin air mattress. Putting too much pressure in it can cause the welded seams that make up the individual tubes to separate. I saw this happen with an AE Double I had a chance to paddle awhile back. Bottom line is, just take it easy with the floor, you'll be fine. The best test for proper inflation is to simply pick up one end of the boat. If it doesn't bend in the middle, you're good to go.
The only nit-pic that comes to mind is that I wish the deck bungees were located a bit closer to the cockpit. It's a bit of a stretch to lean forward to grab a water bottle.
The perfect paddle for this boat is the Lendal 4-piece. Most 4 piece paddles are junk. But the Lendal is a beauty. It's expensive, but when locked together, it's absolutely ridged. Broken down, it will easily fit in the storage bag
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