Submitted: 11-17-2004 by ES
I'm quite familiar with kayaks of all sorts, worked in the industry for a while. So, while I am a bit biased, in that I know too much for my own good, or my wallet's own good, I'm more disappointed in the dragonfly than any other kayak I can think of.
AE's designs I've been a fan of from the start-the airframe provides far better tracking, handling, durability, and most everything except for weight compared to other inflatable kayaks. All that I have seen have been well made besides the commendable design and price, and I considered about as good a deal for a general purpose inflatable as you can get.
But, alas, not so with the dragonfly. Yes, it provides an immense number of features for the same price as the airframe, but in truth, it is a rip off. Advanced elements abandons the squared off ends that gave the airframe it's exceptional tracking for it's length. They abandon the tough construction and the dual chambered floatation. Instead they opt for a cheesy compass, a minimal bit of deck rigging, a pump that would cost less than 20 bucks, and paddle that is worth less than two.
That is my biggest gripe-sure, the tracking is atrocious, but that I can deal with. What I can't deal with is a paddle that weighs about as much as an iron rod, and is about as efficient in the water, too. The thing isn't symmetrical, so it'll twist your wrists, the incredibly heavy shaft goes all the way to halfway down the blade, so you get the maximum damage to the already impossibly high swing weight (essentially, that means you're swinging a whole bunch of weight around at the end of the paddle, and that swinging is the effort of paddling, not the pure weight of the paddle). Oh, and the whole thing shakes and jiggles because it doesn't fit together well.
Bottom line: If anybody wanted to buy that boat, I would not let them walk away without getting a better paddle. If they're getting another paddle, they can get a vastly better boat from the same company for the same price.
It's a no brainer. Donít buy this boat. Sure, performance isn't as important in a rec boat, but you are needlessly making yourself work so much harder than you ought to, it just makes it less fun. And that's what we're after, right?