Submitted: 12-30-2004 by Mike
I bought my AE airframe in September and have had it out a few times. I read a few hundred reviews over server several sites on the airframe and I wanted to address a few issues. First is inflating the chambers with the small twist valves, many reviews said it was next to impossible. I bought a foot pump with an adapter that fits over the valve and once the chamber is filled to desired level, continue to add air as you twist the valve closed. This will keep air from escaping as you twist the valve shut.
Another item was getting the boat dry after use. I get as much water/moisture off the boat as possible, deflate the air chambers and remove the floor. I use a sponge to gather any water that has accumulated between the floor and the side air chambers and then I rub a thirsty terrycloth towel around the entire boat and pack it up. I have not had any problems with mold/mildew or stink on the boat.
As far as the handling of the boat is concerned, itís great for what it is (an inflatable). I have paddled hard kayaks and they are faster and track better. However the AE airframe is a bit more stable and the fact that you can pack it up is great for people who live in tight spaces (myself included). I have added some simple things for safety and function. First, I added a deck line around the boat in case I make a wet exit, it will be much easier to grab a hold of the boat and I added a line to tie the boat to the dock if needed. These two additions cost less than $5.00. I also added shock cord to the D-rings on the stern (back) of the boat. This allows me to secure a paddle float and a hand bilge pump readily accessible if I need to make a wet entry.
One of the negative things about the boat is the storage. AE advertised that this boat has a lot of storage. I disagree (I am comparing it to the storage on a hard shell). To remedy this problem, I invested in a deck bag and so far I am able to bring everything that I need. The only negative that I have not found a fix for as yet is coming back to shore; with a hard shell I was always able to slide up on the shore and with the airframe, It seems that I can't quite make it up on the shore. I bottom out a bit and have to step into the water and pull the boat upon to shore. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
This review was based on paddling in the bays of San Diego. I will write again as I experience new adventures in my airframe. All in all, a really good kayak.