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Submitted: 08-04-2007 by Tip

This was my first kayak.

My requirements: (1)No toy inflatable (2) no need to strap down on roof (3) capable of lake/pond, and lite ocean paddling. (4) A company that would stand behind its product and had a good reputation in the market(5) Would work well as a solo or tandem. (6) Technically current for its price point (7) Family/Friend Friendly - I can let others use without freaking out.

OK -- Did a lot of checking out...and for the money, honestly do not think anything can touch this. Not the lightest kayak offered but packs up great and light enough to heft into my trunk, unload at some Cape Ann, MA locale, pump up and off I (or we) go.
As known, does not have the speed of rigid kayaks...but not a slug at all. As another suggested, if purchase inflate the main tubes. I was told that the test was for one to pick up in front and another in back, and it should not crease.

The real test: After the initial weekend using, took out in a Cape Ann inlet with my dog...and over the next hour found myself starting to hum a song from a child hood movie favorite "Babes in Toyland". (slowly, slowly, he sank into the sea...) Fortunately there were two air channels so made it back to shore, but quite the scene with my my first mate being my dog who has guilt about abandoning the ship (over and over!!). After I got back -- was pretty angry when discovered a seam leak. So, called Advanced Elements, and waited to see how they would handle. I was most impressed. They immediately sent me a new one, even though I was able to repair the current one. The guy was not defensive, very apologetic and let me know how much they are focused on quality (already knew that as they include a very detailed factory quality tick sheet that had the factory initials at each step).

Oh, while it retails for $600, with a little hunting, should be able to pick up for less. (think annual REI 25% off one item sale, ebay, after establish reputation of vendor). Have yet to determine if getting the backbone -- again the guy at the company was very open about which models it seemed to help the most - and he relayed that it was not the clear step up that it is on a couple shorter ones (If you have one with this kayak -- share your thoughts!) although it appears to add some rigidness.

Taking it to the Adirondack's next week for a week...(lake and stream) may add more after that. Finally, thanks to paddling.net - you all rock for balancing often conflicting needs - hosting solid unbiased information vs. the need for legal tender.

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