At the recent 2017 Outdoor Retailers Show in Utah, Advanced Elements debuted one of their cutting edge new models for 2018 – the high-pressure AirFusion EVO inflatable kayak with dropstitch bladders.
Nearly six years ago, Advanced Elements debuted the original AirFusion kayak – an inflatable hybrid designed to rival the handling and speed of skin-on-frame kayaks. The AirFusion was unique in that it featured a blended design of aluminum alloy frame poles and pressurized air tubes, resulting in a high performance rigid frame system.
The original design was followed three years later by the AE1041 AirFusion Elite. The Elite featured a streamlined set up procedure with fewer poles, a wider beam of 28″ and an integrated rear storage hatch.
The new, patented AE1042 AirFusion EVO design kicks that up a notch, with high-pressure, left and right drop-stitch side chambers which can be inflated from 6 to 10 PSI. Drop-stitch (DS) material is the same used in the inflatable paddle board market, where thousands of threads string the top and bottom panels together, allowing it to be pumped up to higher pressures, thus making it more rigid.
According to Ryan Pugh, designer at Advanced Elements, the leading factor in developing the EVO was to keep improving on the AirFusion design, maximizing performance and simplifying setup. The EVO features 6 inflation chambers (two side chambers, booster seat, two thwarts and the coaming tube) versus four side chambers in the previous model. The DS tubes are removable, allowing one to replace just a part – rather than the entire kayak shell – if ever needed.
As the DS chambers are more rigid, the kayak is less finicky to set up – originally, one had to air up the kayak slowly, reposition chambers and then top it off. According to Ryan, the EVO is much simpler – just install the poles, air up and go.
In the case of the AirFusion EVO, the DS material on the side chambers also creates a narrower profile without decreasing the interior width. The EVO as currently designed is 24 inches wide.
Additionally, an extra “DS booster” chamber on the seat base, keeps one off the floor.
The outer shell is now constructed from a polyurethane tarpaulin, which – in conjunction with the DS side chambers – gives a smoother finish, increased rigidity and a more hydrodynamic outline.
The EVO still features three aluminum ribs on the floor and under the hull, providing a sculpted look as well as a v-shaped keel, which aids in slicing through the water.
Other features incorporated from the prior models include a foam floor, integrated storage hatch, bungee deck lacing, coaming tube for attaching a skirt, two landing plates, lower seat back and the ability to use an optional tracking fin.
How does it handle on the water? According to Ryan, “It paddles great. I took out a sample earlier this spring and it handles nicely, glides through the water. I didn’t notice any change in stability with the width reduction. In fact, I felt it only improved the way the kayak paddles.”
- Length – 13 feet
- Width – 24 inches
- Weight – 32 lbs.
- Carrying capacity – 235 lbs
- Folded size – 35 x 21 x 9 inches
- Inflation Chambers – 6 including the seat base.
Price: $1199, availability Spring 2018.