Inflatable Kayaks, SUPS & Canoes Reviews

A true classic! The AdvancedFrame Inflatable Kayak from Advanced Elements

While recently perusing our series of inflatable kayak write-ups, we realized we had overlooked one that has been around for years and truly deserves mention – the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame inflatable kayak. As long-time owners and users, we can attest to the kayak’s performance and characteristics.

Please note: See our new Product Review on the AE1012 AdvancedFrame, which includes new design enhancements.

So, situation rectified. Here are details on the AdvancedFrame AE1012, a 10.5 foot inflatable weighing in at roughly 35 to 36 lbs.

Getting Started

The box as received weighs 43 lbs, measuring 32 x 19 x 11 inches. Inside, the rugged carrying case measures 33 x 17 x 10 inches, and houses the kayak body, seat, repair kit and instructions. The kayak folded size is approximately 30 x17 x 10 inches. The case has just enough room to include a pump and breakdown paddle (not included).


We re-acquainted ourselves with the kayak by reading the updated manual. This, too, has evolved over the years and gives excellent explanations on inflation, usage, refolding, etc.

First step, unfold the kayak. The AdvancedFrame features an “inner rib” in the bow and stern, which is basically a u-shaped aluminum rib, about a foot long and one-half inch wide.

This comes “pre-assembled” meaning it arrives already inserted into two sleeves inside the kayak cover. Unless you remove the inner bladder, they remain in position. When the kayak is pumped up, the inner bladder with rib presses against the kayak cover – that, in conjunction with two bow and stern plastic sheets, give the kayak a sharp silhouette which aids in slicing through the water.

The kayak features 7 inflation chambers – two military valves and 5 twist-loks. The military-style plunger valves are simple to use – twist one way to inflate and the other to deflate. The kayak comes with a screw-on adaptor (found in the repair kit in the mesh pocket behind the seat) which will fit some pumps based on the hose fittings. Otherwise, a standard Boston valve adaptor will friction fit into the opening.

Pump up the first chamber, located on the top-rear of the kayak, until it begins to fill out. Unlike many other brands, the AdvancedFrame series of kayaks features an inner and outer chamber, with a floating “interior wall.” By pumping up the first chamber partly, you “center” the inner wall. Then pump up the second chamber, located inside the kayak behind the seat, until firm to touch (2 PSI). Screw on the black wing nut caps so the plungers aren’t accidentally twisted open later.

Using the same Boston valve adaptor (conical nozzle about ½ inch in diameter), fit it OVER the twistlok valve on the floor cushion. Pump this up until firm (1 PSI) but there should be slight give when depressed. Twist the valve shut. (AirKayaks note: Make sure to tuck the twistlok tube on the floor into the side of the kayak, so that you don’t accidentally twist it open while paddling.) How do you tell if you’ve pumped it up enough? If you lift the kayak up by one handle, and it sags in the middle, it needs more air.

Move onto the two deck lifts inside the kayak “shoulders” then the two coaming areas that run around the cockpit. The coaming tubes and deck lifts “sculpt” the body so that water has a tendency to run off – and not into – the kayak. The coaming tubes also allow one to attach an optional spray skirt.

Last steps, insert the two plastic sheets into the bow and stern sleeves. Then attach the seat by clipping the two straps into the appropriate side clips, and attaching the seat back to the coaming area. Less than 10 minutes and you’re done!

Features and Specifications

The AdvancedFrame AE1012 is constructed with two carrying handles (bow and stern), but it is fairly simple to carry by hooking the side of the kayak over your shoulder.

Bungee deck lacing in the bow – measuring 18 inches wide, tapering to 10 inches wide, and 16.5 inches deep – includes multiple d-rings and quick release clips, allowing one to add on various dry packs and gear – or to attach a nifty Rapidup downwind sail! Four more d-rings can be found on the rear deck.

The 30 x18 inch cockpit area features two inflatable coaming tubes to keep water from running in. A front center zipper can open up an additional 24 inches for easier entry or for those interested in a more open feeling. A rear zipper opens an additional 11 inches – this becomes handy for storage behind the seat, or for carrying large packs. Neoprene padded knuckle guards cover both sides, preventing knuckle abrasion when paddling.

The padded seat features adjustable side straps which quickly clip into position. The seat base measures 13 x 15 x 0.5 inches while the back is 13 inches tall, by 21 wide and 1 inch thick; there is a mesh pocket on the seat back which houses the repair kit.

The kayak consists of three layers. Inflatable PVC bladders are housed in a zippering fabric cover, allowing the bladders to be replaced if necessary. The covered bladders sit inside the kayak outer shell. The kayak upper is comprised of 600 denier polyester/PVC laminate in a diamond ripstop material.

The hull is a rugged, puncture-resistant PVC tarpaulin with electronically welded seams, integrated tracking fin and landing plate.

We did measurement tests. The kayak inflated is 10’ 5 feet long and 33 inches wide. The side bladders are roughly 7 to 8 inches in diameter, making a well about 7 inches deep. Interior dimensions are approximately 65 inches long by 16 to 17 inches wide. When the seat is positioned towards the back of the coaming area, there is is approximately 49 to 50 inches from the seat back to the inner tip, leaving about 16 to 17 inches open behind the seat inside the cover. This can be somewhat repositioned by adjusting the seat straps. Weight limitations suggest 235 lbs for a person, or 300 lbs for person and gear.

On the Water

The kayak is comfortable, stable, rugged and paddles well. In the past four years, we’ve taken it out in all types of weather from calm water to swells. It has scraped through shallow water, been dragged on rocky beaches, run through duckweed and tules, hauled around in a pickup truck and battled white caps and wind.

For my height (5’4”) the kayak is very comfortable and easy to carry. I’ve been out for short jaunts and 10-12 mile treks. At 6’2”, my husband can paddle in it for short periods, but after that feels cramped – taller paddlers (over 6 feet) and those opting for multi-day trips should consider upgrading to the AE1009 Expedition which is much roomier and has more real estate for storing gear.


I typically used the optional backbone with the kayak – it’s a very subtle enhancement in the shorter kayaks such as the AdvancedFrame or Sport, but one I feel is very real. The backbone is pieced together under the floor, giving a totally rigid bow-to-stern silhouette, with a slight vee shape to the hull – this allows one to pick up about 0.4-0.5 mph more in speed. Recently I started using the high-pressure dropstitch floor; while more expensive, it offers a weight savings of 4 to 5 lbs, simplicity and the same enhanced performance.

Bottom Line:

The AdvancedFrame AE1012 inflatable kayak is a winner – a great all-around kayak. First developed in 2002 as the AirFrame kayak, Advanced Elements has tweaked the design over the past 9 or 10 years until the AdvancedFrame evolved into an inflatable classic offering performance, quality and price. In our opinion, it’s the best value on the market, and is certainly one of our biggest sellers.

The kayak is comfortable, paddles well, looks good and is quite stable. It is able to handle lakes, Class I to II rapids, inlets, bays and coastal ocean. Numerous optional accessories – such as the high-back lumbar seat, an inflatable foot brace, spray skirts, rapidup sail, the backbone and high-pressure dropstitch floor – can enhance the paddling experience and performance.

This is a great choice for travel – the carrying case is rugged enough to check as baggage, it’s perfect for RVs and easily fits in the trunk of a small car.

All in all, the AdvancedFrame is a great multi-purpose kayak for people of all ages – one of our youngest paddlers was 7 years old, and our oldest customer to-date was 94. Unless you are a larger paddler or plan on longer paddling excursions with multi-gear, the AdvancedFrame is is a great choice.

For more info see or watch our YouTube video


  1. I have just purchased this brilliant kayak. I was going to purchase the Sevylor Pointer K1, but the Advanced Frame is a far superior model.

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