Thursday, September 1, 2011

Review of Advanced Elements RapidUp Kayak Sail

At the end of last season, I purchased an Advanced Elements Rapid Up Sail for my Pathfinder II kayak. Since then I have had the opportunity to sail it in various wind conditions and finally understood its pros and cons. For those who haven't seen the Advanced Elements Rapidup Sail, here it is on Amazon:

Below is a video of the RapidUp Sail:

The following site has a very nice description of the RapidUp sail:
Installing the Rapid Up sail on my Pathfinder was easy. The Pathfinder has 4 D-rings at exactly where the RapidUp's attachments are. Here is how it looks installed on my Pathfinder. Even if your kayak only has 2 D-rings, the two clips on each side can be length adjusted to attached to a single D-ring.

Having had some experience with the Advanced Elements RapidUp Sail, here are my observations:

  • The Rapid Up sail is best used for going directly downwind. However, it can travel nearly cross wind, as long as there is some downwind breeze to catch. Unlike a sailboat, which goes faster cross wind, my Pathfinder rigged with a RapidUp sail will travel slower cross wind than downwind.
  • If you are looking for a sail that make you go faster than the other kayakers, or experience exhilaration like you do when windsurfing, this is not the one. The problem is the flexible frame inside the sail. As easy as it is to fold up, in winds higher than 12 to 14 MPH, the RapidUp starts to bounce around and the top edge starts to curl down. The flexibility need to fold the sail causes the frame to give in higher winds. So you don't really go faster in winds higher than 14 MPH. In similar strength cross winds and high chops, the Rapid Up sail gets pushed down into the water by the wind and causes extra drag. Others have mention that it is not easy to close the sail in high winds and I agree.
  • The Advanced Elements Rapid Up sail can be best categorized as a muscle offload device. In around 8 to 10 MPH wind, the sail alone will cause my Pathfinder to travel at 1 to 2 MPH. This provide noticeably easier paddling effort to achieve 3 to 4 MPH, which is the speed of an intermediate kayaker. I have also figured out how to use the kayak paddle as a rudder by keeping it always in the water and steering with it. This makes slow travel downwind possible without any padding, which is pretty cool. I am sure other more streamlined kayaks will go faster with the RapidUp.
  • The beauty of the RapidUp sail over other downwind kayak sails such as the WindPaddle ( is that the RapidUp is completely attached to the kayak, thus freeing your hands to paddle or steer.
  • The greatest feature I find of the Rapid Up sail is that it can be folded up easily while going upwind. Along with the negligible weight of the sail, taking the Advanced Elements RapidUp Sail out on each and every paddle is a no brainer!
There are a few other options for kayak sails and this site has a nice evaluation of each:

For a portable sail kit that can go upwind, check out Sailboats To Go (scroll down on the site to see the various models):


  1. Hi Kevin. I really enjoyed reading your blog. I found so much useful information here and I am very grateful to you. I hope you can answer my questions. I bought Pathfinder II few days ago and and it came without a pressure gauge. I ´m looking for the one that can accurately measure low value(2,2 psi) or foot pump with pressure gauge( foot pump because some of the best places for kayaking in Sweden are not accessible by car and I already have a 12v pump (without pressure gauge). Any recommendations?
    Is there some other way of checking pressure or how accurate can be using that pvc ruller that came with kayak)? Thank you and good luck.

  2. Hi there,

    Thanks for the nice note. I have only used the pvc ruler once and it seemed to be accurate. However, I have never seen any pump that fits the special valve that is on the two side chambers. I believe that they are called Hackley Roberts valves but I am not sure. Anyway, I end up using the pressure gauge, which has the special valve, as a go-between from the pump to the valve.

    The manufacturer Red Star has been very responsive with sending replacement parts, at least to U.S. addresses. Here is their web site. It might be worth contacting them.

    However, it seems that the boat division has been discontinued, which is more the reason to get replacement parts now:


  3. Wow, this is a nice innovation. That should at least lessen the inconveniences associated with deploying the conventional kayak. Performance-wise though, how does it compare?