Russian stores may sell both old and new L-1, but Russian forums participants will tell which model/year it is, "new" or "old". If this boat is very popular in Russia (which it is not, AFAIK), there will be many reviews, comments and suggestions on the Russian web regarding "new" L-1 (introduced in 2006 or earlier, according to this magazine).kahunafan wrote:many (not all) of the things you mentioned have been fixed in the "Advanced" version and the "new" Ladoga converted many a paddler here that had the same issues with the "old" model (including ver positive tests in major national kayak magazines where the L-1 Advanced won over e.g. the Cooper and Fujita PE 500 but not the FC Whisper, if you understand German see http://www.out-trade.de/download/KM_Test_Faltboote.pdf - one can always argue over those tests, but at least ist shows that this is no bad boat by far...).
Be aware that, as far as I know, you will/can still get the "old" model in Russia, so a newly build L-1 initially bought there might be very likely the non-advanced version (take that into account when you look at Russian sites/discussions). And prices over here in Germany are quite different as well (L-1 ~$2000, Cooper ~$2400, Kahuna ~$4500.
May be I misunderstood tests results in the magazine (couldn't read the whole article). There is a Price/Performance index(i.e. price divided by performance) - the lower is the score, the better (kind of "Bang for the Buck", only inversed). L-1 is relatively cheap in Germany. I wouldn't consider buying it for $US 2000 in Canada, but in Germany other boats cost much more, you're right. So L-1 scores the best "bang for the buck" at 1.9. Cooper costs more, but scores same "bang" at 1.9, which means to me that its performance is better. Wisper is so expensive that despite good performance it scores the worst "Bang for the Buck" mark - 2.9. Well, nobody says that Wisper gives you the best bang for the buck - it does give the best "bang", though.
There is also another mark - Total of all parameters, and again, the lower, the better, right?
Wisper is #1 at 1.9,
Puffin is #2 at 2.1 (I'm confused again - c'mon, this is hardly a folding kayak at all - just kidding, nice boat if you don't have to paddle longer than 2 days),
Cooper #4 (poor Cooper - boat faster than #2, same assembling time as #2, much easier to assemble than #3, capable of longer trips than #1 and #2, but testers sure know better).
Fujita F500 #5.
Regarding 2006 "new" Advanced L-1 - I don't know, honestly. Different shape of rudder blade, carrying handles in bow and stern and anodized ribs are the only new additions that I can see on the photos. I see same frame, with same tricky connectors, same spraydeck with tiny cockpit (I forgot to mention this - yes, it is very small), with lame plastic rim, placed too far aft in the boat. This is what I see and recognize. I have reasonable doubts that with this frame assembling has become much easier since the 1st model, or that it is easier than Cooper or F500.
I assume, nobody in these tests evaluated long-term durability (say, 2 weeks) and repairability. I wonder if anybody has seen those rivets on L-1. They are not "pop rivets" familiar to me. It looks more like a nail going through the frame tube, mushroomed on the other end. Has anybody tried replacing them? Well, you should, then. Doing it in field will be a lot of fun. I did it at home.
Replacing sponsons on L1... Well, you'd better forget about it. They are built-in.