Submitted: 03-08-2012 by hmbrw2002
I have owned this kayak for 4yrs. At the time I bought it my wife an I lived in an apartment so an inflatable was our only option. I was impressed with the reviews I read so I bought it online.
Set up is fairly easy. I can do it now in about 10mins with backbone installed. Installing the backbone is not hard but you have to be careful to align it PERFECT down the center line. Not rocket science; just a little adjusting. It won't track right if you don't. Once in place it won't budge so no worries there.
In the water it is remarkably fast considering how big it is and how high it sits off the water compared to some touring kayaks. Me and my wife and two dogs fit easily on it. It tracks very straight. On a trip to Manatee Springs last year we had a group of about 50 kayaks. It was a 10 mile trip. Bad weather rolled in 1/4 way into it. Half turned back (only to find they actually turned into the lightning and rain. Wooops.). We and the other half of the group continued forward into 20-30mph sustained winds with 40+mph gusts head on. It was brutal. Many of the hard shells were paddling and not making any headway at all. We however were in the front of the group only to have the Hobie paddle Mirages ahead of us by not by much. When we made it to the end everyone was unbelievably amazed, including the guide, with how well the AE performed. Make no mistake, it was tough, but the performance was really good for any kayak much less inflatable.
Break down is easy, but you will need to let it dry off in the sun. That takes about 1hr. It folds up nicely and stores in my closet.
Now that we bought a house I own two hard shells as well and use those a lot now, but the AE will always be my go to for long trips and travel.