I have had my Expedition for almost a year now and use it on average about once a week.
It mostly gets used for flat-water river paddling, but I have taken it down some very minor rapids and taken it on the ocean in 2m swell a few times.
I do not have much experience with other kayaks, and that experience comes from over ten years ago, so is pretty irrelevant.
Speed, handling, stability: These kayaks are super stable.
My girlfriend and I both have them and neither of us has fallen out yet.
Generally speaking you can get in one of these and pay zero attention to staying upright.
Even paddling side on to the larger swell has proven completely fine so far.
My analysis of speed is based on matching strokes with other paddlers randomly encountered while out and about.
This doesn’t account for the technique or strength of the paddler.
Based on this very floored analysis it would appear that the expedition is significantly faster than any of the modest sit on tops, but noticeably slower than a racing kayak (no surprise there!)
Storage space and comfort: At 6’1″ tall I need some leg room, and the expedition has it.
I have also tried the regular advanced frame and that was a squash for me.
If you are 6′ or above I would strongly recommend the expedition unless you are comfortable having your legs bent for the entire trip.
This said if I am wearing shoes then there isn’t a huge amount of space down at the nose of the kayak.
It has the length but the width starts to pinch out.
If I’m not wearing my shoes then I can stuff them down to the end of the nose one on top of the other and still fully stretch my legs out.
There is a decent amount of space behind the seat. I often use the kayak to paddle out to snorkelling spots so will have fins, dive boots, mask and snorkel, towel, rash shirt, lunch, water, anchor, dry bag behind the seat.
Inflation: Inflation is very easy on all the critical chambers.
Once you have the pressures and order memorised then setup from boot to water is about five to ten minutes.
Pack up is very fast, less than five minutes. I generally just fold mine up loosely and put it in the boot of the car.
If you wanted to break down all the paddles and pack everything into the bag each time then it would take a little longer.
Storage and transport: I store mine under a games table, it could just as easily go under a bed.
Living in Western Australia I wouldn’t want to store it in the garden for fear of sun damage.
Transport is a major advantage of these.
I have a two door four seat car and can fit three of these kayaks and three people in the car!!
It’s a bit of squash with backpacks as well…but it’s possible and that’s fantastic!
Early in 2016 we flew to Tasmania primarily for a hiking holiday, but I also decided to take the kayak along since a couple of the areas visited had some rather fantastic river.
This was great.
I checked it in as a second bit of hold luggage and once we arrived it just lived in the boot of the rental car and was available whenever I wanted it.
Not only that but I didn’t have to consider if kayaks would be available for rent, and if so if they would be any good.
I wish I had known about these kayaks when I lived in the UK and didn’t have a car.
It would have been possible to take the kayak out on public transport, jump in a river, and paddle down to the next town and get public transport home again!
If you want to try something like this then I would advise buying a hiking backpack big enough since the bag the kayaks come in really isn’t comfortable as a backpack.
Pressure: The instructions are pretty insistent that the kayak shouldn’t be over inflated and so I bought the pressure gauge that attaches to the hand pump and observe this closely, except on the combing chambers which I just guestimate since you lose air while closing them anyway.
As already mentioned I live in Western Australia and it gets hot here in the summer, consistently over 40C. As such I don’t like to take the kayaks completely out of the water for any length of time.
Generally we just leave them half in and half out.
All the air chambers are in contact with each other (except the ones around the cockpit) and so we have trusted to the water keeping them all cool.
We haven’t had any problems so I guess it’s working.
Leaving them in the water can be a bit of a pain if you’re at the beach and can’t find a landing spot that’s sheltered from the waves.
Overall: For me the combination of performance, storage, and transport makes this kayak an excellent fit.
It’s possible that its performance will be below that of a $3,000 hard shell equivalent, but I can’t keep such a thing in my boot, I can’t take it on a plane, and I would be worried about damaging it on bumpy four wheel drive tracks.
The Advancedframe Expedition Elite Inflatable Kayak was ideal for Karl, but it might not be the right fit for you.