This past spring, we received first-hand information on Advanced Elements’ new two-person inflatable kayak model, the 13-ft AdvancedFrame 2. Available in limited quantities, the AdvancedFrame 2 combines features from several current models. The kayak is a lightweight and compact version of the popular Convertible kayak with the silhouette of the Expedition, has a floor and seating setup similar to the Lagoon 2, with a higher 450 lbs weight capacity.
Before they arrived, we began fielding numerous questions on which to choose – the Convertible (shown in blue on the bottom) or the AdvancedFrame 2 (shown in green on top). Here are some things to think about.
What’s the same?
Both the Convertible and AdvancedFrame 2 utilize the same type of hull material and three-layer construction, consisting of a kayak outer cover, with PVC side tubes in their own covered fabric sheath. Both have an integrated tracking fin, landing plate and beefed up bow and stern. Both have the removable bow and stern aluminum ribs, and plastic bow and stern stiffening sheets. Both kayaks come with two seats, repair kit, instructions and carrying case (though the carrying case for the AdvancedFrame 2 is generously oversized). Both have 6 inflation chambers – two military valves and four twistloks. Both have two molded rubber handles – bow and stern – and front bungee deck lacking with d-rings and quick-connect clips as well as four rear d-rings. Both have velcro paddleholders.
Both can use the optional rapidup sail, backbone, high-pressure floor and foot pegs.
This is where the similarities end.
At 13 feet in length, the AdvancedFrame 2 is 2 feet shorter than the Convertible, and at 43 lbs with seats in the carrying case, weighs 9 lbs less. While the Convertible features a 1-PSI PVC inflatable floor with i-beam construction, the AdvancedFrame 2 floor does not inflate; it is constructed from a half-inch thick closed-cell foam – similar to that used under sleeping bags (see photo above). The lower “center of gravity” in the AdvancedFrame 2 is compensated for with inflatable seat bases, while the Convertible features a non-inflatable 1-inch seat base with a stiffer, higher back. As the foam floor “rolls” up, the folded dimensions are not quite as compact – hence the larger carrying case.
While both kayaks have open seating areas, the AdvancedFrame 2 has a slim, one-inch coaming area that helps to keep out water, but can not use a deck or spray skirt. The Convertible features a zippered perimeter that allows one to attach optional single and double spray decks (shown above) as well as optional spray skirts.
The Convertible has more flexibility in seating positions, featuring front, rear and center clipping positions. The AdvancedFrame 2 does not have the center clipping position, and the seat straps are not quite long enough to adequately center the seat for solo paddling, unless one purchases the optional seat-link kit.
The AdvancedFrame 2 also includes one PVC-tube strapped to the side chamber which can be used as a fishing rod holder.
Weight limitations suggest 400 lbs for paddlers, or 450 lbs for paddler(s) and gear on the AdvancedFrame 2, while the Convertible has a 550 lb payload.
If you plan on doing mostly tandem recreational paddling on calmer waters, don’t need all the whiz-bangs, prefer to sit with a “knees slightly bent” position, don’t need the higher weight capacity or added interior length, prefer something slightly lighter-weight, or price is an issue, then the AdvancedFrame 2 (photo above) might be your best choice at $499.
If you plan on paddling in a variety of conditions both tandem and solo, like the optional flexibility of being enclosed with closer storage options and the ability to use a spray skirt, need the higher weight capacity and weight is not an issue, then by all means go with the Convertible at $699 (shown above), which is a long-term winner.