Inflatable kayaks seem to be the kayak to own at the moment, with masses of first time buyers flocking to get their hands on these lightweight, ultra portable designs. The appeal of the inflatable is obvious, you have all the freedom of a rotomold or fibreglass kayaks with none of the travelling restrictions. An inflatable kayak will compress down to fit in the trunk of your car, or in some cases, even into a duffel bag. Removing the need for complex roof racks and heft lugging of equipment down to the waters edge, with inflatables it’s just a case of pump up and go.
However, inflatables aren’t all plain sailing. Many of these models suffer with a poor tracking ability, and aren’t usable on many water types because of how light weight they are. Where they may be cheap, if you’re looking to head down the rapids or out to sea then they are far from cheerful.
It’s because of this mixed bag of features that you may be reading this review. Throughout this article we are going to take an in depth look at the Advanced Elements Lagoon 1 Person Inflatable kayak. As a reputable kayak manufacturer, we will be investigating whether they have succeeded where other brands have failed, and produced the perfect inflatable. With information on the price, features, positives and negatives all below, all you have to do is read on to get everything you need to make a balanced and informed purchase.
Advanced Elements have done a sterling job with their latest inflatable. Just by looking at the kayak, you can tell that they have tried to address the most comment complaint with inflatables, poor tracking. Building the perfect kayak means that you have to strike the perfect balance between tracking speed and maneuverability. The kayak had to be able to move quickly and smoothly, but still be able to respond to your turning instructions. With inflatables, they are almost too sensitive to turning, with the front end wiggling all over the place when you’re trying to make progress. Advanced Elements have addressed this issue by adding in rigid panels on the bow and the stern to improve tracking. The Lagoon 1 cuts through the water with ease, without straying from your intended course.
As well as increasing tracking abilities, the Lagoon 1 also boasts a very stable cell foam bottom. This foam bottom means there’s less for you to inflate but the kayak is just as buoyant, so it’s really win win. The rest of the set up is incredibly straight forward, with quick inflating twistlok and high flow spring valves as standard across the kayak. These combine to make a quick and easy inflation, so you’ll be out on the water where you want to be in no time at all, without the risk of the kayak being poorly inflated and flimsy.
Finally, a point I always like to make. This kayak is safe, simply because of the way it’s colour, bright orange. This luminous coat of paint could be the difference between collisions with other water users and a peaceful outing. While kayaking, you are so close to the water it’s easier for users of larger boats to not see you, which can cause river crashes and an unplanned swimming session. When your kayak is this orange, that just isn’t going to happen. So stay safe by going bright.
All in all the Lagoon 1 delivers a safe, stable and speedy package, which as a trifecta, is very rare to come across.
Unfortunately, with the wealth of positive features, there have been a few things that Advanced Elements haven’t quite got spot on with the Lagoon 1. First of all, it’s the price. With a current asking price of just over $325, it’s really expensive for an inflatable kayak. Where you can argue it’s not entirely inflatable with the stability additions, they aren’t $200 worth of additions. When you compare it to the Intex range, be it the challenger or explorer series, it’s over twice the expenditure, and in my opinion it does not quite justify that amount. Due to this price, I think that the majority of first time buyers will overlook this model in favor of the cheaper choices on the market.
So with the price aside, it’s onto design flaws. Now in general, I think that Advanced Elements have made a very attractive looking kayak, and it looks a lot sportier than the majority of inflatable kayaks. This bonus in terms of aesthetics actually hinders the functionality of the kayak, particularly in terms of cockpit ergonomics. If I had to use only one word to describe the cockpit, it would be cramped. There isn’t enough space for a tall guy such as myself to comfortably spread out which is going to make any extended periods of time on board a bit of an ordeal. Added to this is the lack of any kind of on-board storage. Other models come with compartments or cargo nets to help lock down anything you might be carrying out on the water with you, with the Lagoon 1, this isn’t really an option.
I can say with no hesitation that the Advanced Elements have made marked improvements on inflatable kayak design in general, and that has to be applauded. However, this improvements may improve the aesthetics of the kayak, but they do the ergonomics no favors. Combine that with the jumped up price, and I think that on the whole, this is one that can be missed. For beginners, it’s better to head for a cheaper option, and for the more advanced, an inflatable isn’t what you want for improving your skill set. If you want to make your own mind up, then it’s going to cost you $325, which is more than twice the cost of the kayak I’d recommend you buy, the Intex Challenger K1 at just $119. You can put the saved $200 to use on fuel or improving your kayaking equipment. Or you know, buy two of them.