We recently acquired a pre-season AE1017 AdvancedFrame Sport to try out. The AF Sport is one of two new inflatable kayak models being introduced for the 2010 Advanced Elements line.
The Sport is modeled after its big brother, the AE1012 AdvancedFrame single, but without all the “bells and whistles.”
We compared both kayaks but please note, this was a pre-season model and might undergo tweaks and changes before the initial production run arrives.
What’s the same in both kayaks?
Diamond ripstop material, molded rubber handles, tracking fin and landing plate. Length and width are roughly the same at 10′ 5 inches by roughly 32-33 inches wide. Cargo space behind the seat, mesh pocket on the paddled seat, 4 D-rings on the back top deck. Aluminum rib inserts and plastic sleeve inserts. Neoprene knuckle guards. Military-style valves and twist-lok valves, inflatable floor cushion. Three layers of fabric. Interior dimensions are roughly the same at 56×17, though the Sport seems slightly wider (about an inch) inside and out.
So what’s different?
The Sport features one main inflation chamber, one twistlok floor valve, and two twistlok deck lifts. The inner main chamber is integral to the interior fabric cover – it does not have the ability to be removed, as can be done in the AE1012. Weight capacity is 250 lbs person and gear (215 lbs person) versus 300 lbs for the AE1012. The Sport has a thin, non-inflatable coaming lip around the cockpit which will not accept a spray skirt. The top decks do not zipper open. The cockpit opening is a generous 42 x24 inches. The bungee deck lacing area is about half the size in the Sport. There are two sets of velcro paddle holders. By removing some of the features and enlarging the deck opening, the weight is 29 lbs in the carrying case, or 26.5 lbs for the kayak itself versus 35 to 36 lbs for the AE1012. MSRP pricing will be $399 for the Sport. Both the inflatable foot brace and the backbone will work with the Sport.
On the water:
We took out the Sport two different days. The first day was a bit choppy with some swells. While the Sport was fine, I would prefer the AdvancedFrame in these situations; the Sport’s lighter weight compelled us to paddle harder, and we took on some water.
The second voyage was on a calm river/slough. This is where the Sport REALLY shines. It was fun, responsive and quick. The open-style cockpit was refreshing and roomy – really a joy to be on the water. While the Sport uses the same inner tube as the AdvancedFrame, the wider cockpit allows it to “open up” a little more, making it wider by about an inch. This time I added the Advanced Elements inflatable foot brace, which helped out immensely.
If you can afford the extra money and weight is not an issue, go for the AE1012 AdvancedFrame. It’s a great kayak, great performer and is versatile enough to use in mild whitewater, lakes, coastal routes, and bays – where the ability to use a spray skirt might be a plus. Its added weight makes tracking a bit better.
If you plan on milder kayaking activities (lakes,calm rivers, inland waters), prefer the ease of a lighterweight kayak for backpacking or hauling around, feel more comfortable in an open design, or are on a tighter budget, the Sport will be a great choice and loads of fun.