Advanced Elements Island Voyage 2
This is a tough, well-constructed, thoughtfully designed kayak. It will never beat my hardshell sit-on-top kayak in a race, but that's just fine. My SOT will never be able to be checked onto an airplane like a suitcase!
Which is exactly what I recently did with this kayak. I took it on a trip from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City, where I spent a pleasant weekend kayaking Lake Hefner. The kayak, PFD, paddle, and a set of paddling clothes all came in at under 50lbs, the limit for most airliners.
For a budget inflatable, the Island Voyage tracks reasonably well and handles itself in brisk winds much better than I expected. It sets up and packs down very easily and quickly, both in about 15 minutes. While my 60lb, 13ft SOT can be a bit of a beast to transport, my Island Voyage can just be tossed into the back of my car at a moment's notice.
I also really appreciate that Advanced Elements offers replacement parts for just about anything that could get lost or damaged, most importantly the bladders! This is NOT something offered by most other inflatable kayak manufacturers, especially in the sub-$1,000 market.
I also like that Advanced Elements isn't so large a company that you can't speak to them directly. When I called their shop, just to ask some general questions about the Island Voyage, the guy I spoke with actually let me know that there was an unused customer return available on their website, that I could buy at a pretty good discount. That is outstanding customer service, IMO.
I'm planning a trip overseas next year, to kayak some lakes and Class 1 rivers. I'm confident that the Island Voyage will help me realize this dream, with money left over to spend on the trip!
When I decided to purchase an inflatable kayak for travel, I wanted it to meet the below requirements. The Island Voyage was the only one I found that met them all.