They’ve been making a lot of waves on the water, due to the sheer volume of them out there.
Their cheap price and accessible features make them the ideal purchase for kayak beginners.
More recently however, manufacturers are looking to bring a more advanced feature set to inflatables, to help them rival the more solid based kayaks of the upper price ranges.
If you could get the best of both worlds, then I can only see the popularity of inflatables going in one direction, and that’s through the roof.
If you’ve taken the time to explore the numerous reviews on our site, then you’ll recognize the brand name Advanced Elements.
Of their products, we’ve focused on the high end, luxury inflatables, aimed at those who have a little more bang in their budget, and want a few superior features and a greater degree of comfort in their kayaking.
Well, now it seems that Advanced Elements are bringing aspects of their luxury design, to a cheaper model.
Introducing the Advanced Elements FireFly Inflatable. Looking to incorporate the luxury feature set of the StraightEdge and AdvancedFrame models into a budget package, Advanced Elements have come up with the FireFly.
Throughout the course of this review, we’ll be taking a look at the features that made the cut, and whether Advanced Elements have made a wonderful mistake, in creating a budget kayak that is going to take away from their high end sales.
For all the information you need to make an informed purchase, join us after the jump.
The most common complaint around inflatable kayaks is their inefficient and squiffy tracking.
This is mainly because their bow and stern have no real defined point, that will cut through the water in a set direction.
Their rounded edges give the kayak license to move and sway, which is not what you want when you’re trying to get anywhere fast.
Advanced Elements addressed this issue in their high end inflatables by using aluminum frames to help give the kayak form and direction.
Where the aluminum was too expensive to bring to this lower end model, they haven’t forgotten the importance of good tracking.
As a result, they have used built in rigid panels to define the bow and stern, as well as including a landing plate and tracking fin to improve performance.
By adding this seemingly minimal features, you reap a massive benefit, as you’ll feel a greater degree of response and sensitivity of your kayak when out on the water.
Where the AdvancedFrame and StraightEdge models have an ultra puncture resist material frame, the FireFly features a similar durable coat. Although it’s not as heavy duty as it’s older more expensive brothers, it still delivers a degree of durability that isn’t seen in other kayaks in a similar price range.
By using this coating, rather than something more heavy duty, the lightweight feel of the kayak is maintained, meaning that paddling for those who are less physically able isn’t a problem at all.
The coating houses twistlok valves, along with high flow spring valves that give an outstandingly quick set up time.
Lightweight and fast to inflate means you can go from car boot to open water in under ten minutes, well, depending on where you park…
Once again, Advanced Elements consider your safety. With the bright yellow color given to the exterior, you aren’t going to sail by unnoticed. This reduces the risk of accidental collisions when out on the water, because you are so highly visible.
Also, the addition of the landing plate, and the natural buoyancy of the kayak, if you do fall in, clambering back on board is safe, easy and stable.
If I ever find a kayak that is without fault, you will be the first to know. Unfortunately, today is not the day that I tell you I’ve found it, as the FireFly suffers from a few bug bears that warrant talking about.
The first big issue, is the lack of a designated seat. Where obviously there is a cockpit for you to get into, there isn’t a back to the seat, so the kayak offers very little support.
This really takes away from the comfort of the vessel, particularly on long outings.
Where’s there’s nothing stopping you bringing something aboard to lean on, it really takes away from the finish of the kayak, and I’m really surprised that Advanced Elements didn’t work in the successful detachable seats of their higher priced models.
Also, when clambering into the cockpit, your legs are covered over. This can make getting out a difficult task for you, and a hilarious spectacle for other water users.
If maintaining an air of sophistication and grace about yourself is high on your priorities, this probably isn’t the kayak for you.
To sum up this kayak, I have mixed feelings. Where it combines some excellent features from the more expensive models at around a third of the cost, the lack of any kind of seating is a big mistake.
You’re basically sitting in a very expensive inner tube.
Where the advanced features make it stand out from the other entry level kayaks, the lack of the seat makes me question whether it’s worthwhile.
You can of course, buy an inflatable seat, but how that will fit in with the covering cockpit I don’t know. I’d imagine things would get pretty cramped.
If you already own a cheap inflatable, then there’s no need to get your wallet out.
If however, you’re looking for a first kayak, you can do a lot worse in terms of tracking and stability. Whether you value a seat is really the deciding factor.
Weighing in at a very reasonable $200, the FireFly has a lot too offer despite it’s baffling choice of seating.