With the Backbone, this kayak keeps pace with (and weighs the
same as) hardshells in the same price range. It won't match
expensive boats, but a typical 12' plastic sit-inside kayak feels very,
The real pros & cons: Setup time with the backbone is a little
under 10min with practice, tear-down is more like 5 - a little
annoying, but you get used to it. Transport is incredibly
convenient, especially if you DON'T use the bag. The interior
doesn't have the same side legroom as hardshells due to the tubes,
the footrest is so-so, and the seat is pretty good. A typical 230
paddle feels a bit short, but workable. The bladders have quite a bit
of protection, so I think it would take a direct hit on something
very pointy to actually cause trouble - but I wouldn't try it on
The only real issue I have had is, when paddling hard, water can
pool on the deck and run to the end of the zipper where it drips
into the cockpit and then goes to the lowest spot in the boat: my
b*tt. AE has added a riser in the Limited Edition Expedition to
make the water run to the sides, and there are some DIY solutions
I will be trying (the simplest being to prop a water bottle under the
end of the zip).
I'm happy with the performance (with the backbone) without the
cost of a roof rack, and don't plan to upgrade until I hit the lottery
and can blow a lot more cash.
We are sailboat owners and
novice kayakers. Wanted
kayaks which were easy to use
and easy to transport by land
and by boat. This kayak really
fits the bill. Can be easily
hauled in the car and fits nicely
up in the v berth when not
inflated. It is also super stable
and tracks well. We use our
kayaks on both rivers and
inland ocean waters.
We took them out on Lake
Powell, handled well in wind
and waves. Track well. They
will be perfect for day trips or
overnights. We will be using
them on the Sea of Cortez this
winter. The pump up seats are
wonderful - the foot brace
works perfectly - The only
think we added was more
cushion to the seat - not for
comfort, but for height. We
are both short and it's easier
paddling when you sit higher -
easier on arms, neck and
This is the first kayak that I have owned. I have rented a few times. I wanted to give this kayak alot of test runs before reviewing. I entered a kayak fun race series in the area. The course is about 2 miles. I had no problem keeping up with the other 10-14 foot kayaks, and honestly if I was in better shape I could have won. The 18 foot kayaks are super fast, but I wasn't far behind.(we all start at the same place and time, about 30 kayaks). So if you are worried about being able to keep up, this kayak will do just fine with other recreational kayaks. Its really rugged and have run it up on a few things with no problems or tares. The hull is way thicker then you would think. This really is a great product, and I don't have to get a roof rack.
We absolutely love these kayaks. They are more stable in the water than any hardshell we have used and we can pack them up and taken them anywhere without messing with a rack. It was a great
decision - and they look way cooler than other inflatables!
First kayak I ever owned. Inflates easily and quickly with
easily understood directions. Spacious cargo areas for all
your extras. Although it is a one person kayak, you may need
a helper to carry it.
Additional note to my previous review.
I found the AE 1009 very stable. However, I tried fishing from it by casting sideways with a ten foot long surf fishing rod and reel. Very large rod and reel. The boat did move side to side a lot and since the fish weren't biting I didn't get to test hauling in a 30 inch redfish. I made all my casts inline with the bow and felt very stable. I don't think the boat is designed to support a 20 lb. fish with 20 lbs of pulling force on a 10 foot lever perpendicular to amidships. Nonetheless I did risk hooking one with the idea of keeping the bow under my rod at all times. In terms of normal paddling and boat wash catching me from the side I felt secure.
I'm a novice with this inflatable AE1009 model and have used it only once but plan on using again just a soon as possible. I took it out on to Aransas Bay, Texas to the north end of Dagger Island. I had a 5 mph wind to contend with but it had little effect. Tracked beautifully and was easy to paddle. Had I not been island hopping to wade fish I would have explored most of the Redfish Bay and Dagger Island area without strain. I didn't run aground until the depth was about 2 inches or so. I weigh 180 lbs. and was carrying a small amount of gear. I cringed running over barnacle beds three times and was worried that I had ripped the bottom up. Upon inspection I saw no significant damage. The manual doesn't tell you the exact location of each and every inflation port and I missed one. Even inflated to about 80 or 90 percent it handled well. Once I figured it all out, I prefer it to a standard kayak due to the portability. I transported it in the trunk of a Mercury Tracer with room to spare. I found the small chambers that inflate with the screw valves to be more easily inflated with my mouth. I used a inexpensive double action pump to inflate the main chambers pretty quickly. It was easier to get in and out by unzipping the cover over the leg area. Being 52 and not quite limber, getting in and out was a grunt since I was so low to the ground and it would move around even with the bow beached. I suppose this is true of any kayak. I'm very happy with my purchase. Consider it very reasonably priced for the performance I experience and plan on taking anytime I get near water since it packs down to the size of a large suitcase.