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Review of the AdvancedFrame Expedition Elite Kayak on our Alaskan Adventure

Review of the AdvancedFrame Expedition Elite Kayak
on our Alaskan Adventure

In this detailed customer review of the AdvancedFrame Expedition Elite kayak, find out how the kayaks performed on a multi-day kayak expedition through the Brookes Range in Alaska.

If you prefer to read this review of the AdvancedFrame Expedition Elite Kayak:

Hi my name is Geoff Wilson. I’m an Australian polar explorer, mainly. We’ve just finished a rigorous river journey in the Brooks Range in Alaska. Now, what’s made it possible is this incredible kayak made by Advanced Elements out of the US.

So this is the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Expedition Elite inflatable kayak. It’s a phenomenal piece of kit. 13 foot, long 32 inches wide and weighs 42 pounds. So the AdvancedFrame Expedition Elite kayak from Advanced Elements has nine bladders, nine air chambers in it, and that gives it this robustness. It also allows it to carry a phenomenal amount of gear – 204 kilos or 450 pounds of equipment, which is just fantastic for an expedition. 

So starting from the front, one of the most incredible features has been this aluminium frame in the nose which allows it to cut through the water beautifully and gave us great daily mileages. There’s also these plastic inserts which give the front a bit more shape and strength and a really robust handle for dragging over shallow water or in our case dragging over tundra. The bladders give it a really firm feel at the front and a lot of times it’s hard to believe you’re in an inflatable craft. The shape and the type of PVC plastic on the front is incredibly robust and that allowed us to put them through incredible punishment without tearing or creating leak in the hull. Moving down the craft, you have this really nice, tight construction because there’s two bladders on top of the main bladders they give it a rigid construction. The plastic material is absolutely waterproof so you don’t get a lot of water ingress through the top deck, which is phenomenal.

There’s also this very clever little bungee system with clips and d-rings that allow you to lash kit on the deck and keep it secure, even with waves coming right over the front of the craft. A couple of little velcro straps for your paddle storing overnight when you’re on on the deck, and also the zipper goes all the way up to the front allowing a little bit of storage in front of your feet – phenomenal feature of the craft. So another couple of really nifty features of this kayak are the inflatable coaming which you can get very rigid and actually put a skirt over which just minimizes the amount of splash getting in on your kit and onto you. We’re in really cold water, like hypothermia within a couple of minutes, and that became very important.

The other great feature is this neoprene pad which doesn’t look important but after hours of paddling -we were in the kayak for 12 hours yesterday – just nicking this material every now and then with your fingers, if you don’t have gloves on, it starts to wear away the skin – this neoprene pad seems to protect you from that, so Advanced Elements have been very thoughtful putting that in. The adjustable seat is amazing you can move it through the manhole up and back. It also has an inflatable lumbar support that you can blow up by mouth just to create a little bit more comfort while you’re paddling and they can actually be removed as well allowing better access to your storage compartment behind.

So the rear of the kayak behind the sitting position has a really neat aft compartment has a Velcro cover and then a clip and buckle system to allow easy access to storage compartment in there behind. That is another latch down that we’ve put a 4 mm bungee across that allowed us to put lighter articles at the back.

Once again, a really nice firm robust tail, very similar to the bow, with a really strong bladder in there – allows it to maintain that shape okay. Once again, a nice robust handle just like on the bow allows you to lift the back of the kayak. I can get the keel up over shallow rocks and debris. Also, plastic insert allowed us to keep that really firm stern shape.

So Advanced Elements have used a really robust valve system. There’s three in main valves in the vessel and then your small upper deck lower pressure ones. These ones are neat because they’ve got a very nice cover, just stop dirt and muck getting in stuffing up the valve system and obviously really nice closure. Very happy with their valve system.

So finally, the thing that really makes this craft work in an expedition environment is the the actual hull material. This is very, very tough PVC type canvas. It’s got these glued on ribs at the nose to keep it in line and the keel at the back. We had to drag these things across Tundra for kilometers or miles and I was amazed at the beating this took with no piercing of the hull. There’s very few marks on the hull – this craft has done over 250 kilometers through rough stone-based rivers and really copped a beating, so super impressed with this craft. 2 final pieces of kit – the skirt or the bib, which was fantastic. Stopped water ingress when it was raining or rapids over the front of the kayak. And then the paddle we used was an Orbit paddle – it’s a fantastic paddle because it breaks into four pieces, it’s very light and yet very strong – the perfect expedition paddle.

So in summary, Advanced Elements have created the perfect expedition kayak. It can pack away to a point where portaging is really possible and yet when it’s put together and inflated, you’ve got a robust craft – this bottom hull has been bashed over 250 kilometers, we’ve dragged it over tundra, dragged it over riverbeds, and it’s still as tough as the first day we expeditioned on it.

Super impressed, thank you Advanced Elements.

– Geoff Wilson, 5th Element Expeditions

You can watch Geoff’s adventure in Alaska here:

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