Kayaking is a fantastic way to enjoy the natural beauty of different environments. A kayak allows you to reach scenic beachside campgrounds, quietly explore an estuary, enjoy breathtaking views that can’t be seen from shore, get in a morning workout around the lake or just reflect. This group allows the opportunity for those using inflatables to meet and have a great time.
The major advantage of the inflatable is ease of storage and portability. I (Orlando) became interested in kayaking after doing it on various vacation trips. I eventually wanted to own one but had little storage room and I own a smaller car. When researching my options I came across inflatable kayaks and I learned that there were a number of choices. One company I discovered was Advanced Elements. What drew me to them is that they offered unique design features that were designed to make their kayaks more efficient in the water. One key feature are the removable aluminum ribs located fore and aft which help with cutting through the water. The model I eventually purchased was the AE 1012. It has a PVC coated outer shell with internal inflatable chambers and flooring. The kayak easily folds up and I can tote it around in my car along with the paddles quite easily. Set up is very simple as well and once you get the hang of it, can be up and running in about 5 minutes!
The major downside with inflatables is speed. They are no where near as fast as a hard shell so don't expect to be winning any races but that's not what it's all about anyway. Another disadvantage is that not all lakes in California allow inflatables for various reasons. I recommend that you check with the particular lake you're interested in before heading out.
Many of us who regularly paddle in an inflatable kayak know how strong, sturdy and stable they can be. Here are the details of the kayaks that both Donna and I use. Please note we have no affiliation with Advanced Elements. This is just the brand we happen to own.
Specifications of our own kayaks:
Donna (owns 2 models):
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Sport Kayak Model AE 1017 - Length 10.5', Width 32" Weight 26 Lbs Capacity 250 lbs.
West Marine Scout Advanced Frame Kayak - made by Advanced Elements for West Marine and is similar to the AE 1012. Length 10.5'; Width 32", Weight 32 lbs., Capacity 300 lbs
Orlando (also owns 2 models)
Advanced Elements AE 1012 - Other than minor surface detailing, it's same as the West Marine Scout but has the Adv Elements label. Length 10.5'; Width 32", Weight 32 lbs., Capacity 300lbs
Advanced Frame Convertible Tandem - Can be configured to be paddled as solo or tandem. Also has a cover that can be zipped onto the hull allowing it to be a closed deck kayak if you wish. The covers also come in solo and tandem configurations. Length 15', Width 32", Weight 52 lbs, Capacity 550 lbs.
Advanced Elements produces quite a variety of kayaks and the models listed above are made for recreational touring. If you're interested in fishing, speed, white water kayaking or expedition touring there are other models better suited for those interests. In addition, Advanced Elements sell accessories such as attachable sails, inflatable foot rests and support, various types of internal decks, skirts and many other things. If you want more details about AE kayaks check out Airkayaks.com.
There are many other choices besides Advanced Elements and no doubt are just as good. If you have any info that you can pass along, we encourage you to do so.
I am unable to find anywhere in San Diego that rents Inflatable Kayaks. They are sold at most local sport stores. REI and West Marine are two stores that I've seen them in. You can easily find them at online sports stores as well as Amazon. Also think about Craigslist as an additional option. I found both of mine that way and saved a considerable amount of money. Brand new, models like we own can start out $400 for the AE 1017 and go as high as $900+ for others.
Flotation devices are recommended and required at many locations. A standard life vest is suitable for paddling but there are models specifically made for paddling. They are designed to allow easier arm/shoulder movement and improved comfort for sitting inside a kayak.
Lastly, our meet ups will take place in relatively calm waters such as bays and lakes.
Note: Paddle Board riders are welcome to join our group as well.