Submitted: 09-01-2011 by Ruby
The previous reviewers did a great job of describing all the great features, and some of the shortcomings, of the convertible (15 footer). My wife and I have one of these and an Expedition (13 ft., solo). We love them both. We bought the seats with lumbar support and highly recommend them. I also use an inflatable seat (REI) behind my back for added support for my upper back. The seats, when properly positioned offer great seating for every need from aggressive paddling to relaxed lounging. One of both of us can easily fall asleep on a warm day on a lake or slow running river. I started paddling canoes in 1952 and have canoes almost continuously since then until last year when we sold our Kevlar We-no-nah. We love our new AE Convertible so much more. It's easy to store and fits inside our Toyota van. In fact, both kayaks easily fit in back with all the gear we need for camping. It's a relief not having to load and unload and transport a canoe strapped to the top of the car. I put a closed-cell foam pad on the bottom last weekend and took our 12-year-old Golden retriever on a 4-hour paddle. She was a bit skittish at first but settled down. The AE is SO stable that I never had to shift my weight around to compensate for her movements. Not so with a canoe. We've used the kayak as a floating platform for swimming offshore. It's so stable we can stand on the gunwales and dive into the water and it would appear to be almost impossible to tip it over. Getting back in is simple. This would be a great floating dock for children too. Just anchor the kayak in deep-enough water and let the kids jump all over it. The kayak appears slightly more stable with the backbone in, though , given how rigid it is when inflated properly, I hardly notice the difference. I bought the AE handpump with pressure indicator. The indicator works when inflating the floor, but not the main bladders. I have the decks but have never used them. I get a little wet when paddling, but usually cover my legs with a towel when it's hot to prevent sunburn so I don't mind the water. When it's cold I wear neoprene leggings and top so I don't feel the water then either. The kayak paddles easily and tracks at least as well or better than any hard shell I've ever paddled. I'm 5'9" and have a 230 cm paddle. I'd prefer a 240 as I start scraping the side of the kayak towards the end of the day when I'm tired. Buy the lightest paddle you can afford! All the shortcomings other reviewers mentioned are there but they're of little consequence to us considering all the great features. I can't recommend this kayak highly enough.