Earlier this spring, our first shipment of the new AdvancedFrame Sport DS arrived in port, becoming the fourth addition to the popular Advanced Elements DS series™* of high pressure inflatable kayaks.
Manufactured by Advanced Elements exclusively for AirKayaks.com, the new Sport DS™ features the same footprint as the current low-pressure AE1017 Sport, but with high-pressure floor and upgraded accessories for added comfort and performance.
Following are details on the AdvancedFrame Sport DS AE1017DS, a 10’5″ hi-pressure inflatable weighing in at roughly 28 lbs with an MSRP of $499. (Please note: some of this will be repeated from prior reviews.)
Getting Started with the AdvancedFrame Sport DS Kayak
The box as received weighs 36 lbs, measuring 31 x 18 x 11 inches.
Inside, the rugged carrying case measures 33 x 19 x 11 inches, and houses the kayak body, high-backed lumbar seat, high pressure floor, repair kit, double action pump, gauge and instructions. The kayak and pump in the case weighs 30 lbs, while the kayak and seat alone are 28 lbs. The case has just enough room to include a breakdown paddle (not included). AirKayaks note: Take a good look at how the kayak is folded BEFORE setting up, this will help during breakdown.
AirKayaks note: Our newest shipment now includes the updated high-backed lumbar seat with padded base for greater comfort. The new carrying case now features backpack straps.
AdvancedFrame Sport DS Kayak Setup/Inflation
The instructions are located in a small plastic pocket inside the carrying case. The manual included is for the standard low-pressure Sport, with an additional sheet on using the high-pressure DS floor. The inflation procedure is similar for both versions of the Sport, with the one difference the floor inflation pressure of 4-6 PSI for the dropstitch floor.
Additionally, a short version of the DS inflation can be found on the tag attached to the rear carrying handle.
First step, unfold the kayak. The AdvancedFrame Sport DS – along with all AdvancedFrame models – 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 5 inflation chambers – two military valves and 3 twist-loks. The military-style plunger valves are simple to use – twist up to inflate (this is the closed position where air goes in and doesn’t come out) and down to deflate (air goes in and comes back out).
The pump comes with a screw-on adaptor for the main chamber, but a standard Boston valve adaptor will friction fit into the opening. While the floor also uses a military valve, the adaptor is different; this is found in the repair kit, located in the mesh pocket behind the seat. AirKayaks note: Make sure to attach the floor adaptor to the pump tether, so that it doesn’t get lost. In a pinch, one can duct tape the Boston valve adaptor to the floor, creating a vacuum and allowing you to pump up the floor.
If this is your first setup, attach the gauge (taped to the pump base) between the pump body and hose, making sure you attach it to the INFLATE side of the pump handle. The AdvancedFrame Sport DS features one main chamber, located on the top-rear of the kayak. Pump this up to 2 PSI; in this case, it took about 49 strokes with a double action hand pump. We did stop at about 40 strokes to double check that the bladders were centered inside the kayak cover, and the floor was centered under the bladders.
At this point we should note there are two pieces of velcro holding the bladder cover to the kayak cover – these are located roughly mid-center on the sides. Sometimes these “grab” at the wrong spot, causing wrinkling or skewing. If you experience this, try separating the velcro pieces (you can use two pieces of paper), making sure the kayak is centered as you pump it up. When finished, let the velcro “fall where it may.”
Screw on the black wing nut cap so the plunger isn’t accidentally twisted open later.
Now for the floor. Turn the spring plunger to the UP/inflate position. Included inside the repair kit is another adaptor that locks onto the end of the pump hose. Attach the bayonet fitting into the floor’s military valve with a slight twist until it locks into place.
Pump up the floor to 4-6 PSI; it will be very rigid, but it doesn’t take long at all – we measured about 14 to 16 pump strokes. Remove the floor adaptor and screw on the wingnut cap. AirKayaks note: as there is so much back pressure when removing the floor adaptor, one can accidentally twist the adaptor off the hose, rather than the floor, allowing the air to come back out. By grabbing the “lip” on the adaptor, one can more easily screw off the valve.
Move onto the two deck lifts inside the kayak “shoulders” which use twistlok valves. In conjunction with the thin coaming tube that encircles the perimeter of the cockpit, the deck lifts “sculpt” the body so that water has a tendency to run off – and not into – the kayak. Twist open the orange cap. Then using the Boston valve adaptor (conical nozzle about ½ inch in diameter), fit it OVER the twistlok valve. As each deck lift took only 1.5 pumps to 1 PSI, it is sometimes just as easy to blow them up with your mouth.
The seat is not mentioned in the instructions, but is very simple. First, inflate the lumbar portion of the seat, which also uses a twistlock. This also can be adjusted later for comfort.
Then attach the seat by clipping the two straps into the appropriate side clips. The straps can be lengthened or shortened later, dependent on the paddlers size and comfort.
Last steps, insert the two plastic sheets into the bow and stern sleeves.
Just over 5 minutes and you’re done!
About Drop Stitch Floor Technology
The term “drop stitch” is a method of construction which allows for much higher inflation and pressures than a standard PVC floor.
In a standard PVC floor (as shown above, PVC on left, DS floor on right), long “I-Beams” run the length of the floor, connecting the floor ceiling to bottom. This allows the floor to maintain a fairly uniform thickness, but if one of the I-Beams pops (due to over-inflation) the floor will become more like a blob.
With drop stitch construction, thousands of tiny threads connect both the top and bottom layers, creating a stronger link that can withstand much higher pressures.
Higher pressures make for a more rigid floor, which can enhance paddling performance – the photo above shows the Convertible drop stitch floor sitting on top of a PVC floor. This is the technology used in inflatable SUP paddle boards. The image below is from an Airis Inflatable Sport Kayak showing the interior drop stitching.
Features and Specifications of the AdvancedFrame Sport DS Kayak
The kayak consists of three layers. Inflatable PVC side 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 and 16.5 inch landing plate.
There is an integrated 2.5 x 7.5 inch tracking fin.
The AdvancedFrame Sport DS is constructed with two molded rubber carrying handles (bow and stern), but it is fairly simple to carry by hooking the side of the kayak over your shoulder.
Front bungee deck lacing begins 30 inches from the kayak bow, and measures 12 to 13 inches wide by 6 inches deep.
There are two plastic d-rings featuring a new, lower profile, making it easier to attach the optional accessories, as well as four cloth loops. One quick release clip and tensioner allows one to easily stash gear on the hull. The front decking system is roughly 36 inches from the paddler.
The wide 43 x 20 inch cockpit area features a low profile coaming tube to keep water from running in.
Neoprene knuckle guards span each side, measuring 21 x 7 inches at the widest points.
Two sets of velcro paddleholders – one on each side of the kayak – are located 40″ inches from the bow and 44″ from the stern.
The high-backed padded lumbar seat features adjustable side straps which quickly clip into position while rear stiffening rods create a comfortable option for those needing a bit extra back support than the standard seat offers. The seat back has an inflatable bladder with an extra long 36 inch TwistLok hose, allowing you to change the support level from 1-5 inches while kayaking! In addition, a side zipper allows you to open and move the bladder up or down until you “hit the right spot.” AirKayaks note: Our newest shipment now includes the updated high-backed lumbar seat with padded base for greater comfort.
Seat measurements are 14 x 21 x 0.5 inches for the base, while the back is 15 inches tall, by 21 wide and 1 inch thick; there are two mesh pockets on the seat back which allow you to bring gear or supplies – one houses the repair kit. Two side cinching ladder locks can be used to attach more gear, or to use optional fishing rod holders.
Four more d-rings are located just behind the cockpit, measuring 10 inches deep by 12 to 15 inches wide. This is located just behind the paddler and could be a great candidate for some additional bungee deck lacing.
There are two military valves and 3 twistlock valves (2 deck lifts and seat).
AirKayaks note: The traditional Advanced Elements carrying case has been updated for this newest shipment, now coming with two adjustable shoulder straps, allowing one to use it as a backpack. There are also two top carrying handles. Bag size is a generous 36 x 16 x 11 inches and looks like it will house a pump and paddle.
We did measurement tests. The kayak inflated is 10’4″ long and roughly 33 inches wide. There are 43 inches of the upper hull before the cockpit, and 36″ upper hull behind the cockpit. The side bladders are roughly 7 to 8 inches in diameter, making a well about 8 inches deep with the deck lifts.
Interior dimensions are approximately 65 inches long by 17 inches wide. When the seat is positioned just behind center (seat back is roughly 5 to 6 inches from the back coaming), there are approximately 46 inches from the seat back to the inner nose with 13 inches covered. Another 18 inches is located behind the seat to the inner tail, creating a storage well about 15 inches wide, tapering. By adjusting the seat straps, the seat can be repositioned roughly 2-3 inches back or another 8 inches forward. Weight limitations suggest 235 lbs for a person, or 250 lbs for person and gear.
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Sport DS Kayak On the Water
We took out the “new” Sport DS on a mildly choppy day with a light breeze. While we were always fans of the standard AE1017 Sport, we were very interested in seeing the upgraded package in the Sport DS.
The new Sport DS didn’t let us down – it’s zippy, tracks well and is pretty maneuverable. For my size of 5’4″, it is quite roomy – and it’s easy to carry. Heading into the wind, the Sport DS rode over small swells easily, though I paddled a little harder.
With the high-pressure floor, the kayak felt solid. To begin with, the dropstitch floor is remarkably rigid, allowing one to sit up slightly higher. Paddling is a bit smoother and faster than the standard AdvancedFrame Sport. Years ago we did tests to compare the standard PVC floor to the dropstitch floor; we were running from 3.1 to 4.3 mph with the PVC, while we ran 3.6 to 4.7 mph with the dropstitch floor. There is also an intangible that I can’t quite put words to – one feels very confident in the kayak construction. Over long periods of time, the floor can be slightly tough on the rear, so extra padding might be helpful. While in the past I have used the backbone – which is also a great product – I find the simplicity of the dropstitch floor more to my style, and the added weight savings of 4-5 lbs more to my liking.
My 6’2″ husband took the Sport DS out next. In the past, he has been cramped in the AE1012 AdvancedFrame which features the same basic footprint of 10’5″.
But, by putting the seat all the way back, and paddling with low-profile water shoes, he had no problems; the open cockpit design allows him to bend his knees slightly, maintaining comfort. He also felt it paddled very well, and noted it is much easier for his larger frame to get in and out of the cockpit.
In fact, he loved it.
I next took the Sport DS out on a very calm and balmy day – this is where the Sport DS 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 DS features the same footprint as the AdvancedFrame AE1012, the wider cockpit allows it to “open up” a little more. The addition of Advanced Elements’ optional inflatable foot brace made a huge difference in paddling comfort, by giving me something to push against.
Packing Up the Sport DS
Packing the AdvancedFrame Sport DS up is easy. Open all the valves to let the air out. Tighten and close the valves so air doesn’t creep back in, and then simply fold in half the long way, then fold the two ends towards the center, just behind the landing plate and fin.
Then fold in half again.
This should slip back into the bag if you’ve removed all the air. AirKayaks note: If you have problems, put your pump into the DEFLATE mode and pump the rest of the air out of the kayak.
Bottom Line on the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Sport DS Inflatable Kayak
The AdvancedFrame Sport DS AE1017 inflatable kayak is a great kayak at an excellent price; a stripped-down classic blending performance, price and simplicity. It’s the perfect choice for those wanting performance as well as fun, without the extra weight or “bells and whistles.”
The kayak is comfortable, paddles well, looks good and is quite stable. The open cockpit design of the AdvancedFrame Sport DS AE1017 will appeal to those who want ease of entering/exiting, making it best suited for lakes, bays, calm rivers and inland waters.
Numerous optional accessories – such as the inflatable foot brace (shown above with an AdvancedFrame Ultralite kayak) – can enhance the paddling experience and performance.
The rigidity of the high pressure floor provides better tracking and increased glide with minimal increase in weight.
The high-backed lumbar seat is extremely comfortable once you find your “sweet spot” – this can entail opening the zipper and raising or lowering the inflatable bladder, and playing around with the bladder thickness. The high back offers more support than the standard seat while the long twistlok allows one to adjust the seat inflation while paddling.
Anglers will also like the ability to add their own optional rod holders to the seat backs (not included).
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. And at 28 lbs including the seat, it won’t break your back.
If you plan on milder kayaking activities (lakes, calm rivers, inland waters), prefer the ease of a lighter-weight kayak, feel more comfortable in an open design, or are on a tighter budget, the Sport DS will be a great choice – and loads of fun.
If you want a bit more flexibility in paddling conditions, or the ability to use an optional skirt, check out the longer 10’10” AdvancedFrame AE1044DS in the XL version (shown above). For more options, the XLC Version with zip-out deck (shown below) allows you to bring more gear or a small paddling friend.
All in all, the AdvancedFrame Sport DS is a great multi-purpose kayak for people of many ages and experience levels. Novices and first-time users will be on the water in no time, while experienced paddlers will find the portability and low-profile hull a great boon. It’s a winner and in our opinion, one of the best values on the market today.
The MSRP package value on the AdvancedFrame Sport DS is $731 and available only at AirKayaks.com for $499. For more information or to purchase, visit the AdvancedFrame Sport DS AE1017DS product page on AirKayaks.com, Or watch our YouTube video, below.
Sport DS™ is a trademark of Harris & Lamb, LLC/AirKayaks.com