The AirFusion™ Elite is designed to rival the performance and speed of skin-on-frame kayaks while simplifying the setup procedure. Its unique design is a fusion of aluminum alloy frame poles and pressurized air tubes which result in a high performance frame system. A 28” beam makes the AirFusion™ Elite roomier, more stable in rough conditions, and gives it more storage capacity by providing a rear access hatch for easy access to under deck items. At 13’ long, with a narrow beam, the AirFusion ™ Elite maintains the AirFusion’s status as a quick and nimble kayak that tracks like a rigid hard-shell.
Read and submit reviews for the AirFusion Elite.
It paddles well, and I like it in the water, but the set up is difficult and flawed. There are two "tent poles" going down the bottom of the kayak, and they are locked in place via a collar, but the collar only moves if the poles are in perfect alignment. It can take up to 20min to find a position where the collar will finally move, no exaggeration. Also have been trying to join the support forum for a week, to get advice, and they still haven't approved my membership.
I had been using an older Walden Passage sea kayak, which I have loved. The AFE is definitely more maneuverable, and they are comparable for cruising. I needed a folding kayak. I have just begun traveling for 2 – 3 years in my high-top converted van and I cannot put a kayak on top. I still think the AFE was my best choice. My guess is it will get a 10 for durability as well, but I haven't had it long enough to know.
The seating and leg/foot positions are different from what I'm used to, but seem to work just as well as with the Walden; I'm pretty comfortable, although I haven't paddled for more than 2-3 hours at a time, so far.
It does take me longer to set the AFE up than it took to take my Walden off the top of my car. That is not really a problem; I'm not that impatient. However, what really does annoy me is the "drying" time. I won't put the kayak in the bag wet. On 2 of the 3 occasions I have used it so far, it has been raining when I got off the water. I can't dry the AFE in the rain. I have to loosely fold it and set it on the floor of the coach area in my van, where it takes up most of the floor space. Then I have to wait for the sun. Took 3 days last time. I couldn't just leave it outside as I was traveling. Even with the sun, getting the thing dry under and around the tubes is a chore. To reach into the ends, I have to lay fully prone to reach through the stern and bow openings and dry the ends and around the tubes. I've tried it fully deflated, but I think that a little air in the tubes makes it easier. Still, it takes me a good half hour to get it dry inside. I never had to worry about this with the fiberglass; the wind dried it on the way home.
This drying business never occurred to me. I'm surprised no one else has mentioned it in reviews.
I don't see how you can do an overnighter in the AFE because there is not enough space for what one needs – even just a lightweight bag and one-person tent and extra clothing, no way. But then, I haven't tried; perhaps I'm wrong.
So the AFE is not perfect; but it may be the perfect foldable/inflatable hybrid. I am very glad to have it.
The boat has been a joy and has generally met or exceeded my expectations. Its compact duffel was effortless to check in at the airport and its lightweight made it easy to deal with at all points.
It's stability is remarkable even in 4-5 foot seas and comfort level is high. The durability of the skin was often tested on beach landings in some substantial waves and there is no visible indication of wear.
My review is not a ten for only two reasons; as mentioned in a previous post, the seat could be affixed to the floor more securely as it tends to slide forward as the backrest is engaged and I feel that the floor panel could be made of a more rigid material which would eliminate the hull distortion which inevitably slows the boat down.
All in all, it's a great boat for its intended use.
The differences? The new Elite has a categorically greater primary or initial stability. At the same weight (32 lbs.), the wider Elite has larger high-pressure side chambers, rides a bit higher in the water without greater displacement, and easily shows an equivalent hull speed. It has more "volume" and room and now includes a hatch behind the cockpit. It is easier to assemble because the four side poles have been eliminated: for me, ten minutes, which is an excellent assembly time for a combination folding/inflatable watercraft.
It is, in sum, a lightweight, high-performance, portable kayak at an attractive price. With its dedicated skeg, a spray skirt, and a sail, it is a go-anywhere formula for fun.
The original AirFusion was more of a specialty kayak perhaps best appreciated by more advanced paddlers. The new Elite is an "all-rounder" for everyone, thanks to its stability, comfort, and versatility. The original AirFusion's award objectively underlines its top rating of "10." In my experience of both kayaks, the new Elite surpasses its progenitor and deserves to retain this top rating.