Submitted: 06-04-2010 by mceb
My wife and I are both new to kayaking so we did lots of research last fall before deciding on the AF convertible and are completely satisfied with our decision. We also purchased the optional 2 person deck.
Our usage the kayak is recreational - day trips in calm lakes and smaller/calm rivers with only mild current. We've already been in shallow water in an upstream river (about a 1 foot of water) and the kayak performed very well. We do keep our eyes open for underwater obstacles when we are in low water.
My wife is 5'and I'm 5'7" so we fit inside with no problems. We also have a good amount of room left for cargo bags which is great since we tend to over-pack a little for day trips. We have a 10L deck bag on the front deck under the lash cords, an 8L dry bag under front deck at my wife's feet. There is room for another 8L bag at my feet if we don't use the thwart (which we haven't so far). We also keep a foot pump behind the rear seat in the event we need some extra air in the middle of a trip.
Stability of the boat is incredible. We have no feeling of tipping at all. The boat tracks well and paddles very easily. I do most of the paddling work from the rear seat and my wife adds where she can. We tend to avoid windy conditions but I've been able to handle a little wind with a little extra effort too. Comfort is also incredible. My wife has some back problems so were a little concerned about that but everything has been fine there too.
After setting it a couple times the process becomes very easy. We use a small rechargeable pump to get the bigger chambers inflated 1/2 to 3/4 way up then top off with the hand pump. The rechargeable pump really helps out and saves time and effort.
Normally we look for a grassy area near the launch to setup. We have a tarp in the car in case a site has nothing but dirt but so far we've always been able to find a grass area. If there is a distance to the put-in I have found that I can carry the inflated kayak myself by unzipping the deck to gain access to the far side. I pull the kayak up on to my shoulder (resting the big gray tube on my shoulder) and it's pretty easy to just walk around with it. The whole setup process takes about 10 minutes.
Deflation is easy too. I use the hand pump in deflate mode to suck out any remaining air. We pull out the floor and wipe down inside with a towel. Then we fold and wipe/dry each section of the underside.
We've decided not to put the kayak into the bag. I know it can be done but for us it's just easier/faster to wrap the folded kayak with 2 adjustable fabric straps (the general tie-down straps with adjustable slider). This method makes it very easy to carry the folded kayak and load into trunk too by grabbing the 2 straps like a handle. It might help to air things out a little too with this outside the bag method. We do use the bag to carry all of the accessory parts - the deck, the seats, the floor, the pumps etc. The whole break-down process is also about 10 minutes.
The only small modification we have done is to add a few bungee cords across the rear deck tying them to the 4 D rings that came attached to the deck there. It helps to hold down a small item similar to the front deck elastic cords.
Overall we are thrilled with the kayak and are having so much fun. All the materials are heavy duty quality and the boat is great looking on the water. Many people ask questions about it while we are setting it up or breaking down. Great job Advanced Elements, thanks!