Wife and I went to Costco Diamond Monday 6/8/09 and there were Alaska series Kenai drifter 14-26 rafts w/rowing frame on sale for a crazy low price.
It's an amazing deal IMO...................but I mentioned to the vendor that I had an AIRE and he went deep-kimchi on them and said that were much much inferior to his craft. He went on and on and on and on and on...............................and on and on.
Bottom line in my opion is, the warranty that the maufacture gives, is usually a decent indicator of quality. AK-series 5yrs vs. AIRE 10yrs. My main concern is the way he represented his product. I researched many rafts before chosing an AIRE and asked Mark and Tracy at Alaska Raft and Kayak a hundred questions over multiple visits to their shop.
Professionals that they are, I never heard a negative comment about others........but simply the diiferences between designs and manufacturing................I never felt pressure to "pick mine or you suck".
I think the AK-series is a slammin-deal for the price and I think that everyone should have them on your list of ones to look at. I just freakin hate when someone is so negative about others in the sales-pitch. I am very happy I went with an AIRE. Got the Super Puma and love it!
Buy what works for you but don't buy the hype and pressure.