First, a disclaimer: We are not affiliated with Advanced Elements in any way, nor do we receive any compensation from them.
RVers will understand this, but for those who follow this blog and don't own an RV, space is ALWAYS at a premium, especially regarding storage. Sometimes it can be made a bit easier depending on the type of vehicle you tow. Roof racks, pickup truck beds and even small trailers can provide welcome relief for folks trying to bring things like bikes or boats to be used once we get to our destination.
We tow a Mini Cooper. A Mini Cooper CONVERTIBLE. No significant trunk, and the rag top doesn't allow for a roof rack.
So it's really important that we find recreational items that fit in the basement bays and storage cabinets inside our Tiffin. Now the good news is that Tiffin, unlike many other RV manufacturers, puts a great deal of thought into making sure you can stuff an inordinate amount of junk in everything they make. They even call it the “Store-It-All Guarantee”. And we've been impressed with their efforts in that regard. An earlier post on our Montague full-size folding bikes shows how great Tiffin is at making use of limited space.
But what about something for the water? Clearly, we have no ability to bring a canoe, kayak or boat with us, given our choice of tow vehicle. So it all comes down to what can be stuffed into a basement bay on our 36LA.
Enter Advanced Elements. They are one of a couple of vendors offering INFLATABLE kayaks that, when not in use, simply fold up into their own carrying bag for relatively easy storage. These are not some glorified pool toys; these are serious watercraft. Advanced Elements makes kayaks for calm waters like lakes, inlets and bays (more our style), all the way up to Class III whitewater (not a chance). They make single person kayaks as well as 2-person tandem kayaks for couples like us who like to spend time together.
We chose their Lagoon 2 tandem model. We chose it over their other tandem model in the base class due to it's simplicity. We have no need to have 3 positions for seating, as there is little chance one of us would take it out alone. The Lagoon 2 has two distinct openings for each person, as you can see in the picture below. Each seat has an inflatable bottom for super comfortable kayaking, with a semi-rigid back that provides great support. The seats lock into their respective openings to keep them from sliding around while paddling and keep the seat backs upright.
There are two primary air chambers in the Lagoon 2; both are filled by an ingenious spring valve which recesses into the opening to quickly deflate, and with a simple turn rises up and provides a lock to keep the air from escaping after you remove the filling hose. There are screw-on caps to each valve as a backup in case the valves fail. Advanced Elements offers either a double action hand pump or a bellows-type foot pump for about $15-$20 bucks, or you can buy one on your own as long as it has the right size hose opening. Our foot pump came with about 6 different tips to use when another product might need to be inflated. The coaming around each paddling position is inflated by mouth valves. All in all, it takes about 5-7 minutes to take it out of it's carrying bag, unfold it, and inflate it. And even less time to take it down and store it.
And this thing is built like an inflatable tank. The top uses two materials; a high denier Polyester Rip Stop and a PVC laminate. The inner tubes are covered with high density fabric as well. But it's the bottom of the hull that makes this so sturdy, yet packable. It is made of a flexible PVC Tarpaulin material which will protect you from the occasional underwater rock or other obstruction. The bow and stern are rigid casts that can stand up to rocky shores, and also house the control fins built into the bottom. These fins allow the Lagoon 2 to track well even in windy conditions. Our initial voyage in Lake Lanier off the boat ramp at Little Hall COE park was on a breezy day with winds gusting to 14 mph, and we had no trouble tracking straight and true.
Now to the boring but necessary specifications:
Length = 12'
Width = 34”
Weight = 37 lbs (Easy enough for me to lift into the back seat of the Mini, or into a large basement bay)
Max Capacity = 350 lbs of people or cargo
Folded size = 35” X 19” X 7” (the 7” depth does NOT take into consideration storing seats in the carrying bag)
Cost = $530
It also comes with it's own repair kit! There is also bungee deck lacing on the Lagoon 2 for storage of a small cooler, etc, and Velcro straps to hold your paddles in place. Paddles are optional, but a bit pricey beginning at $50; we went to Academy Sports and bought two 4-piece 87” Magellan paddles for about $30 each. They store much easier in the basement bay without having to use our pass-through storage. Most other paddles are two-piece and some are even a single 92” long paddle. Our Magellan paddles came in mesh storage bags about 2' high.
This is a beautiful piece of engineering, and very comfortable to use and enjoy. Using the carrying handles at each end makes it very easy for two people to carry down to the shore and launch. It moves easily through the water, and is very stable from side-to-side. Our first trip was about a mile out against the wind, and another mile back. Very easy and very enjoyable. The seat support for the bottom and back is outstanding. We showed this to a couple of other campers staying in nearby sites; one couple who has another brand of inflatable kayak and another who uses rigid, single person kayaks. They were both very impressed with the Lagoon 2 and Advanced Elements overall.
As are we. This product definitely gets two thumbs way, way up from Parental Parolees!
We're Dave and Barbara Richard, and we're planning the ultimate retirement experience - travel the U.S. and Canada in style in a Tiffin Open Road 36LA Class A motor home, play golf and stop at every weird and wacky roadside attraction we can find.