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Submitted: 05-20-2013 by ljleejohns
The original 13' AirFusion won a design award after its introduction in early 2010. In the spring of 2013, it was succeeded by the equally high-performing but more stable and comfortable AirFusion Elite. They look alike; so, what else is still the same? Most importantly, their ease of paddling: they are "energy-efficient" kayaks that glide across the water at a sustained cruising speed (circa 4 mph) with less effort than my big sea kayak and dozens of other hard-shells and inflatables I have used in recent years.
The differences? The new Elite has a categorically greater primary or initial stability. At the same weight (32 lbs.), the wider Elite has larger high-pressure side chambers, rides a bit higher in the water without greater displacement, and easily shows an equivalent hull speed. It has more "volume" and room and now includes a hatch behind the cockpit. It is easier to assemble because the four side poles have been eliminated: for me, ten minutes, which is an excellent assembly time for a combination folding/inflatable watercraft.
It is, in sum, a lightweight, high-performance, portable kayak at an attractive price. With its dedicated skeg, a spray skirt, and a sail, it is a go-anywhere formula for fun.
The original AirFusion was more of a specialty kayak perhaps best appreciated by more advanced paddlers. The new Elite is an "all-rounder" for everyone, thanks to its stability, comfort, and versatility. The original AirFusion's award objectively underlines its top rating of "10." In my experience of both kayaks, the new Elite surpasses its progenitor and deserves to retain this top rating.
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