Submitted: 04-28-2003 by Larry
We are retiring and will be traveling in a van or tiny LeSharo RV. We want to be able to get on the water. We have and like WS Altos but do not like carrying the boats on the roof. We tried a 24 foot bus last winter with the Altos hanging from the ceiling and a Suzuki in the back. We need to go smaller. Folding or inflatable kayaks can ride inside the van. So yesterday we bought two AirFrames. They are a bargain at $360 and even better with the 20% off sale at EMS. Two boats out the door for $610. No paddles or pump though.
We are very impressed with the ruggedness of these boats. The outer shell is very tough, top and bottom. The air tubes are all inside of heavy canvas shells. Between the water and the air is THREE layers. The outer shell, the cnavas tube covering and then the PVC air tubes. It would take a very serious collision to cause a puncture. The two main air tubes have good valves.
Attention to detail is the best I have seen on anything short of a Lexus, The designers of this boat get an A++ for materials, concepts and effort.
Then we paddled. I started out in a 20 MPH head wind. Good workout. Then we got into a Class 0 river, upstream. We had to give up sooner than ever before. We turned around. Back in the lake with a tail wind, my wife now paddling we agreed that these are not the boats we wanted. It tracked well. They are extremely comfortable. Terrific quality. But they are somewhat sluggish. I would compare them with under ten foot recreational kayaks, like an Otter. For some people I would highly recommend these boats. But we will return ours tomorrow. I am leaning toward roof racks for our WS Altos. I felt that the AirFrame would permit only about half of the paddles that we would do in our Altos. The AirFrames on the other hand would be much better for down river runs. We do many up and then back down stream Class 1/2 rivers so we don't need to car ferry.
Incidentally the AirtFrame is always described as 29 or 30 pounds. In the bag ours weigh 41 pounds. Not that light, not for backpacking and unwieldy for plane or bus travel.