Advanced Elements of Benicia, California recently introduced one of two new kayaks for the 2020 product year. The AE3027 StraitEdge2 Pro is a redesign and upgrade to the long-standing, AE1014 Advanced Elements Straitedge2 inflatable kayak for one or two paddlers.
The new AE3027 Straitedge2 Pro features the identical kayak materials and construction as the earlier AE1014, but with upgraded accessories and features. The Straitedge2 Pro now comes with a 4-6 PSI drop stitch floor, rather than the standard 1 PSI PVC floor. The increased floor rigidity enhances the paddling experience with better tracking and glide.
The Straitedge2 Pro arrived this past month so we took the opportunity – during a brief break in the heat spell – to put it through its paces. Here are details on the Advanced Elements Straitedge2 Pro AE3027, a 13 foot inflatable kayak for one or two paddlers weighing in at roughly 42 lbs.
Getting Started with the Straitedge2 Pro
The box as received weighs 59 lbs, measuring 39 x 21 x 13 inches.
A rugged, oversized, backpack-style carrying case (4.5 lbs) houses the kayak body with integrated floor (34 lbs), high-backed lumbar seats (2.5 lbs each), 2 sets of foot pegs, 2 rod holders, repair kit, fin and instructions. The kayak in the backpack with seats and parts weighs in at 45 lbs total.
Straitedge2 Pro Setup/Inflatation
We began by reading the manual, which gives excellent explanations on inflation, seating, peg installation. And here we come to AirKayak’s Tip #1: No matter how excited you are, take a good look at how the kayak is folded before you set the kayak up, so that you can get it back into the carrying case.
First step, unpack and unfold the kayak. (Please note: We will repeat some of the details previously mentioned in other writeups.)
Inside the bag are four identical plastic pegs, each with a foot pad, a lever and a number of holes – these are the foot pegs. By pressing on the lever, the foot pad can be moved forward and backward, locking into one of the openings.
Open the kayak body fully and you will see a series of 6 cloth pockets and tubes on each inner side – these are for the three seating positions. The first and third set are for tandem paddling while the second (middle) set is for solo paddling.
Point the peg with foot pad facing the paddler, and lever facing the bow. Insert the paddler-side end into the first loop, pushing back enough to then push the bow-end of the peg into the pocket. As these are tight, it is easiest to position it in the opening and then push on the foot pad to get it to slide all the way in.
Continue with the opposite side as well as the second set if paddling tandem.
Next step is inflation.
The kayak features 5 inflation chambers – three military valves (both sides and floor) and 2 twist-loks (seats). The military-style plunger valves are simple to use – twist one way to inflate (UP position where air goes in and does not come back out) and the other to deflate (DOWN position).
Each Straitedge2 Pro comes with a military valve adaptor – found in the repair kit located in the mesh pocket behind the seat – which locks onto many pumps with pin/slot hose fittings.
Put the plunger into the closed position. Attach the miltary valve adaptor to your pump and then couple it to one of the main side chambers, located on the rear hull. While there is not a pump included with the kayak, the adaptor features a “lip” that pushes open the spring plunger, allowing a pump gauge to read the back-pressure.
Pump up the first chamber to 2.25 PSI – we did about 45 strokes with a double action hand pump. Please note that if using a pressure gauge, the gauge will not start moving until the tube is filled out – in this case it started moving at about 35 to 40 pumps.
Then pump up the second chamber, located inside the kayak behind the seat, also to 2.25 PSI.
At this point we decided to try out Kokopelli’s new miracle pump, the Feather. The Feather pump is a very small (fits in your palm), rechargeable 12-volt battery pump that can inflate and deflate.
The Feather pump comes with a number of adaptors, but we found it easiest to use no adaptor. While it does not have enough torque to open the valve, we put the valve in the open position, held the Feather over the valve and let it rip. After roughly 39 seconds, the tube had fairly much filled out (you can hear a change in the motor), so we quickly popped the plunger to the closed position (air doesn’t come back out).
We then topped it off to 2.25 PSI with 12 quick pumps using the hand pump – quite a time and energy saver! See our detailed review on the Feather pump.
Screw on the black wing nut caps so the plungers aren’t accidentally twisted open later.
Now inflate the floor.
At this point we want to mention something that is not mentioned in the instruction manual. If you flip the kayak over, you will see a series of 12 “holes”. The Straitedge2 Pro kayak is a “crossover” meaning it can be used for traditional paddling as well as whitewater through Class II. The “holes” are the self-bailing ports with attached plugs. When in turbulent water, the plugs can be opened, allowing water to pass through. When paddling on flat or calm waters, the plugs can be closed so that water doesn’t seep in.
We found out the hard way that one needs to make sure the ports are all opened or closed, before inflating the floor. If you lift up the edge of the floor you can check for that. Once the floor is inflated, it’s not possible to do this.
Close the valve, attach the hose, and start pumping. It took us 32 strokes to reach 4 PSI and another 4 to reach 6 PSI – but those are a tough 4! You may not need to go over 4 PSI as the floor is pretty rigid, particularly if you’re on the smaller side – try it and see what you think. Remove the floor adaptor and screw on the wingnut cap. TIP: Put the adaptor in the mesh pocket behind the seat, so you don’t lose it.
Then attach the seats. Once again, there are a series of three clips on the top of the side chambers – the first and third are for tandem paddling, while the center (second) is for solo paddling. You will also note that one seat has a mesh pocket on the back, while the other has two “tubes”. Slide the two white plastic rod holders into the tubes. Decide which seat you want in the front and back and then clip into the appropriate clips.
Then pump up the twistlok on each lumbar seat to 1 PSI. Twist open the lock and inflate. While it’s easiest to just to use your mouth, (only a few puffs) you can also use a Boston valve adaptor to slip over the valves. Twist it shut and tuck the tube behind the seat so it doesn’t get in your way.
For more support, you can also clip the backstraps on each seat to d-rings located on the kayak. The front seat back straps clip to the d-ring on the center buckle while the rear paddler back straps clip to the d-rings behind the seat by the floor.
If you plan on recreational paddling, the last step is to install the fin – this is not used if you plan on mild whitewater. Flip the kayak over. Point the fin towards the stern. Then take the bow side of the fin and push into the slot, then push down and towards the rear, lining up the hole with the pin slot. Push the retaining pin through the hole until you feel it click, then pull up to make sure it is securely attached.
Less than 10 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 on the left), 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 (shown above on the Convertible kayak drop stitch floor on the top, low-pressure PVC on the bottom), 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. 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 on the Straitedge2 Pro
The AE3027 Straitedge2 Pro features tubeless construction, which saves on weight.
The kayak upper is comprised of a rugged, PVC tarpaulin.
The sculpted hull is a rugged, puncture-resistant PVC tarpaulin with electronically welded seams and a removable 9-inch tracking fin. There are two 16-inch landing plates/runners. Two sets of three 1-inch drain holes with plugs are positioned each side.
A “vee” shaped hull displacement system in the bow – termed the Straitedge Tracking System – features an integrated aluminum rib which helps slice through the water.
There are 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 as long as the center seat is not installed.
There is a front splash deck measuring 20 inches. Bungee deck lacing in the bow – measuring 9 inches wide, tapering to 5 inches wide, and 10 inches deep – includes 4 d-rings and a tensioner, allowing one to add on various dry packs and gear. The deck lacing begins at the back of the front handle and is positioned roughly 50 inches from the front paddler.
Six sets of large seat buckles – three each side – are located on the upper side tubes, placed 63, 83 and 104 inches from the nose. Each has a smaller additional d-ring.
Two sets of 16-inch long plastic foot pegs feature 16 holes spaced 3/4 inches apart. Due to the pocket and loop positions, not all the holes can be utilized, but can be adjusted about 9 inches.
Six sets of pockets and loops are positioned on each of the side chambers, allowing one to attach the foot pegs. The three pockets are located 25″, 41″ and 68″ from the nose, while the loops are located 35, 55 and 81 inches from the nose.
There are 4 velcro paddle holders. These are located 70″ and 90″ from the bow, two each side.
Three sets of 8″ velcro strips (1 inch wide and 10 inches apart) begin at the 49″, 68″ and 92″ mark from the nose. These are used to fasten the seat base so it doesn’t slide.
Two high-backed, padded lumbar seats with breathable mesh 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.”
The Straitedge2 Pro now features a 2-inch padded seat base to compensate for the rigidity of the floor. Seat back dimensions are 16 inches tall and 20 inches wide, curving. The seat base is 17 inches wide, 13 inches deep. The seats can be adjusted about 10 inches in location, based on strap length.
Double gusseted, mesh pockets, measuring 4 x 8 inches are on one seat back; one features a drawsting closure, the other a velcro flap. Here you will find the repair kit and military valve adaptor.
The second seat features two long pockets on the back, which house the 12-inch plastic rod holder inserts. Two sets of stainless steel d-rings are located behind the rear paddler on the lower side walls, at 28 and 40 inches from the tail.
There are three military valves and two twistlock valves.
A rear splash deck measures 25 inches deep and features a second bungee deck lacing, also measuring 9 to 5 inches wide, 10 inches deep with 4 d-rings and a tensioner. The deck lacing begins at the back of the rear handle and is positioned roughly 27 inches from the rear paddler.
The traditional Advanced Elements carrying case has been updated, 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 40 x 23 x 11 inches.
We did measurement tests. The kayak inflated is just over 13 feet long and is 36 to 37 inches wide. The side bladders are roughly 9 inches in diameter, making a well about 8 inches deep. Interior dimensions are approximately 144 inches long by 17 inches wide.
In tandem mode, when the front and rear seats are placed just over the velcro, there are approximately 60 inches of legroom room from the front seat back to the interior nose; 46 inches of this is open. The pegs can be positioned from 33 to 41 inches from the seat back. The front seat can move about 5-6 inches either way, though moving back the seat can impinge upon the rear paddler’s foot pegs.
We measured 40 inches from seat back to seat back in this position, with pegs located 29 to 38 inches from the rear seat back. There were 37 inches behind the seat to the inner tail with 16 inches under the splash deck.
By putting the rear seat all the way back, the measurements changed to 49 inches seat back to seat back and 38 to 47 inches to the pegs. One is not able to use the back straps in this manner, but something could probably be fashioned if needed.
When solo paddling, with the seat set over the velcro strips, there is 72 inches from seat back to inside snout, with 32 to 41 inches from seat back to peg rests. There are 59 inches behind the seat to the inside tail. This can be somewhat repositioned by adjusting the seat straps.
Weight limitations suggest 500 lbs for persons and gear.
Packing Up the StraitEdge2 Pro
Packing up the kayak is fairly simple. First, the smooth skin allows water to drip off rather than sink in.
Remove the pegs and seats. Open the valves and push out the air – you can also put the pump in the deflate mode and pump out any remaining air. Fold the kayak in half the long way (bring one side over the other side.) Then fold the nose in until it reaches the first plug on the second set, and the tail until it reaches the other first plug on the second set. Then fold in half and put in the bag.
Advanced Elements Straitedge2 Pro On the Water
Each of us took out the kayak solo on a somewhat choppy day.
Despite my shorter size of 5’4″, the kayak was quite easy to paddle, and rode easily over swells headed into the wind, and also handled well downwind. The peg system is simple and convenient, very easy to adjust.
The dropstitch floor makes a huge difference in this situation as it does with longer kayaks. In fact, I found the floor stiff enough to be able to stand up, albeit for a short time.
While I was apprehensive about carrying such a large kayak alone, it can be managed by hooking the body over one shoulder if the seat is not attached in the middle position; this becomes tougher in a stiff wind. For those who don’t want to attempt it, the Advanced Elements AE3010 dolly cart is a marvelous portable breakdown wheel-set that easily straps onto the kayak hull, allowing one to portage through all types of terrain.
My husband at 6’2″ found the Straitedge2 Pro to be very roomy, easily paddled, maneuverable and tracked well. He noted that in swells, with the lower side tubes, you will take on water. While the raised floor keeps you above the accumulated water, you may get initially wet – so expect that. He liked the foot peg system – his only mild criticism was the lack of a side handle which would make it easier to carry solo.
We then took the Straitedge2 Pro out as a tandem on the same choppy day. I set up the kayak with the rear seat not all the way back. We found the StraitEdge2 Pro to be comfortable, stable, rugged and paddled well. It felt perfectly roomy in front, and he felt the same in back. Gear could still be placed behind the rear paddler seat as well as on the deck uppers. Paddled tandem, the kayak is pretty zippy paddling straight, though turning around is slightly less maneuverable.
As we get so many questions about kayaking with dogs, we show a picture of the clan trying to get into the act. The material is rugged enough to handle dog claws.
Bottom Line on the Advanced Elements Straitedge2 Pro Kayak:
The Advanced Elements Straitedge2 Pro inflatable kayak is a nice kayak!
The kayak is comfortable, paddles well, looks good, is rugged and quite stable. It is able to handle lakes, Class I to II rapids, calm inlets, bays and coastal ocean.
As a tandem, it is roomy, paddles smoothly and is zippy. With averaged-sized adults or smaller, there is probably enough extra space to carry a small dog or child with judicious seat placement.
When paddling solo, the kayak’s long length provides ample amount of storage space, making it an excellent choice for a solo paddler interested in camping excursions as well as anglers wanting to set up a fishing kayak with lots of gear.
The dropstitch floor – in conjunction with the low profile and open cockpit – keeps the kayak quite rigid, making it easier to get into. This is a great choice for those with physical difficulties or those who dislike being enclosed.
The high-backed lumbar seats with the new padded base are very comfortable and a huge improvement over the standard Advanced Elements seats. The foot peg systems are easy to use and adjust.
The addition of floor ports provides the versatility to use the Straitedge2 Pro in mild whitewater, letting water pass through.
The smooth skin and sleek design make breakdown very simple – just wipe it off.
The new backpack-style carrying case is much easier to carry, as well as being roomier, thus easier to repack. This is a great choice for travel – it’s perfect for RVs and easily fits in the trunk of a small car.
All in all, the Straitedge2 Pro from Advanced Elements is a great multi-purpose kayak for families, people of all ages and paddling needs. It’s pretty simple to set up, easy to take down, can convert from double to single, and can accommodate many paddler sizes – this is also a great solo kayak for the “big and tall”
You can also watch a short video clip on the StraitEdge2 Pro, below.