Submitted: 07-30-2002 by Steve
I purchased this boat from REI a few weeks ago and I'm fairly impressed with its performance. Setup was rather easy, I can get the boat ready in the water in about 5 minutes. After a few times it became second nature. My only gripe is trying to center the inflatable floor under the tubes.
It looks like a hardshell kayak: I has D-rings on the bow and stern spray decks, and an inflatable coming, and will have a spray skirt avaliable next month. The aluminum stays and polyethylene sheets inserted into the bow and stern help the boat cut through the water. Performance was better than most inflatables. It tracked fairly straight, although the boat wiggled 5-10 degrees with each paddle stroke. There are small molded skegs under the bow and stern which helped the tracking. The boat turned easily without leaning. Cruising speed was where I was disappointed. I could not keep up with a sit-on-top and each paddle stroke felt like accelerating the boat. There was no perceptable glide and don't even think about paddling against the wind. Fortunately I found a fix: I made a plywood floorboard out of a 2x8 sheet of plywood. It made a night and day difference in the performance. Keeping up with hardshell yaks was not a problem, paddling no longer felt like a workout and the boat actually glided for more than a second before coming to a stop. Paddling into the wind was much easier. The wood floor also sat the paddler up higher and the boat felt tippier until you had the tubes half submerged.
Bottom line is that this is the best inflatable yak you can get for this price. It beats the Stearns(which cost more) hands down. I let someone who had the Stearns IK115 demo the Airframe and he was amazed at how much better the Airframe was. If you do use it on flatwater, a strongly suggest you make (not avaliable commercially) a plywood floorboard for it. It will double its performance (at least that's how it feels). I hope to try some class 2 rivers with it as soon as the spray skits are avaliable. Since I bought 2(one for my girlfriend), I'll be working on making a sailing cat frame for it.