Kayaking offers a delightful experience to anyone who picks an interest in it. Making the right use of a paddle or pedal-powered kayak is what determines the pleasure of your experience. While traditional paddle propelled models have gained widespread popularity and have been around for centuries, their modern pedal counterparts offer more flexible and pleasurable kayaking time. As you can use your leg muscles-- the biggest ones in the body-- pedaling causes a way less fatigue during long boating sessions.
In terms of size and ergonomics, the pedal model is relatively wide, comfortable and easy to use. It fits in well for beginners and professionals alike giving kayaking a whole new meaning. A good model should offer an impressive experience offering outstanding features and cutting edge specifications.
But, how to get the top-of-the-market deal? And what are the vital information to learn before choosing one? In this comprehensive review, we'll be exploring these questions discussing everything you need to know about these boats. Hopefully, by the end of the review, you'll find out the best pedal kayaks on the market.
How Did We Pick these Products?
We went through several stages of searching, sorting, comparison, field-tests and re-evaluation before we got the final list hand. Initially, we ran a 30-hour of extensive online research looking for the highest-rated paddle kayaks with most positive user reviews. At the end of the initial research, we were able to find top 25 models from hundreds of options.
Next, we wanted to take each of the listed units out for testing how they performed in real-life situations. A group of volunteers helped our team members in carrying out the tests. We closely monitored each boat when driving them in different types of water bodies. They were exposed to both salt and freshwater when we checked their buoyancy rate. Based on their design, ergonomics, build quality, handling, capacity and speed we championed 10 kayaks.
Then we consulted with other industry experts and celebrated marine design engineers of the country to have their insight into our final list. They directed us in ranking the listed products according to their special features. That finalized our top 10 list. However, the rest of the models we tested weren't entirely useless. We mentioned some of them after our review section.
Our Top 10 Product List
So, what is the best pedal kayak? Well, that depends on your requirements and situations. There's no universal or one-size-fits-all model that can serve everyone equally. However, we've put the finest models on the table for you to choose from. No matter what kind of water bodies you are planning to float your vessel, make sure you pick the right type from our ranked models below.
Other Notable Models We Tested and Liked
During our research, we came across a multitude of brands and their popular products. Here are some notable brands that you must look for if you want to do further market research: Jackson Kayak (popular model- Coosa HD), Old Town (popular model- Topwater 106 PDL), Ascend, Lightning Kayaks, Vibe, Feel Free Kayaks (popular model-Dorado 125), Riot Kayaks (popular model-Mako Impulse), Wilderness Systems (popular model- A.T.A.K. 120), Bona (popular model- Bonafide SS127), Dream Kayaks (popular model- Siren), Hobie Cat Company, Pelican (popular model-The Catch 130 HD), Native Watercraft (popular model- Titan, Slayer 10) and Kings Kraft Kayak LLC.
1. Old Town Predator Pedal Fishing Kayak with Rudder
2. Hobie Mirage Compass Sit-On-Top Pedal Kayak
3. Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 13 Kayak
4. Feelfree Lure Kayak with Overdrive Pedal Drive
5. Wilderness Systems Radar 135
6. Hobie Sport
7. Hobie 2020 Mirage Pro Angler 14 with 360 Drive
Why Buy a Pedal Kayak
With a relatively new design and added features, pedal kayaks are known to be better propellers. Here, you'll be using your legs instead of hands and that makes all the difference. Many call them leg or foot-paddle boats for that reason. It's a whole new modern boating experience that will reduce fatigue to a great extent. There are advantages and disadvantages of such boats. Let's begin with the advantages.
Pedaling is more comfortable than paddling. When you are doing the former, you are making use of your largest muscle group. This helps your arms and shoulders from getting stressed up. So, it creates opportunities for people with weak muscle mass to regain control over their extended kayaking sessions.
The versatility of the pedal kayak is yet still another reason why you should buy it. Anglers and everyone alike are able to enjoy the improved propulsion and other user-friendly features. Generally, the length and storage capacity of these boats makes it good for fishing as baits, hooks, tackles, and other fishing materials can be stored easily.
Also, they allow you to have your hands available for many fishing activities while it is being paddled with your legs. As your legs gradually pedal the vessel, you can make use of your hands to cast in your net into the water and watch the fishes sink in. In doing this, you don't have to worry about the stability of the kayak. You also don't need a paddle to have you secured or avoid being dropped in the water.
In terms of size, pedal kayaks still stand out from other models in that they are a bit wider and longer. The width makes them more stable to use as they stand firm without tilting to one side that is common with other non-pedal models. You can use a pedal kayak sizing guide before purchasing one.
The seating structure of the pedal kayaks is also one good reason why you should buy one. They come with very comfortable seats that offer adjustments and upgrades.
Propulsion Types of Pedal kayak
The propulsion systems of these watercraft vary as much as their types and forms. This difference is based on the operation. However, generally speaking, there are two major types of propulsion systems that we will be exploring here.
01. Push Pedals
Pedal kayaks that have the push pedal propulsion are moved forward or backward by different body movements. To push such a boat, you will need to push your feet forward or backward causing the hull of the boat to either move forward or backward. What this means is that the more you push the boat using the drive kit, the more it moves. Movement of the kayak stops as soon as you stop pushing forward. This is what brings us to the disadvantage of this propulsion which is that it requires a whole lot of momentum and energy to be exerted for it to move and keep moving. Usually, these boats have a double pedal design for using both legs.
02. Rotational Pedals
Kayaks with rotational pedals or rotating propellers (also known as underwater "flippers"), on the other hand, move in a walking motion. They have rotational paddles that are used to gather momentum around the boat as it is being continually pushed forward in a cycling motion with the legs. This way the boat gathers enough momentum to keep it moving even after you stop pedaling it. So, when you stop pedaling, the kayak still moves at a speed that gradually drops and after a certain period of time, it comes to a halt. While this propulsion enhances speed, it requires a whole lot of space for efficiency.
Pedal Kayak: A Comprehensive Buying Guide
Everyone has a different reason for buying a kayak. So, knowing the purpose is as much important as having a basic knowledge of this product. Once the purpose is known, the next step is to know the basics. Here, we will be discussing some points to consider when buying these boats.
While pedal kayaks generally are known to be more stable than other types, the stability of one model differs from that of another. Fishing kayaks should be stable allowing you to perform certain actions without wiggling the boat. You should be able to pedal like a shark-- silent, stable, smooth and fast.
The speed is also a factor to consider. This type of boat should offer you more speed than the ones with foot pedals. This is where the propulsion also comes to play. Remember that models with rotational pedals are more likely to offer better speed than those with push pedals.
The capacity of a boat refers to its size and storage. If you need a kayak for fishing, then it is very important that you go for one that has a large storage capacity. That way more fishing materials can be stored and installed without hampering the pedaling.
04. Material & Durability
The material and durability are important factors here. Make sure to go for a model that is made of quality materials. A wide range of materials are used for making these types of boats, for example, wood, composite glass, fiberglass, and thermoformed polyethylene. For the inflatable models, PVC, Hypalon, and Nylon are used in general.
A pedal kayak made of quality materials is bound to last longer than one made from less quality materials. The durability should also be taken into consideration for saving money and time of maintenance.
05. Tracking & Turning
While many experts are of the view that the paddle kayaks have better tracking and turning abilities than the pedal counterparts, this might not be so. Design improvements have been consistently improving tracking and turning of these boats. Modern steering systems can make turning super easy. Make sure you go for models that are a bit wider with better hull sizes for smooth turning and tracking experience.
06. Hull Size & Shape
Although the pedal kayaks come in various sizes and shapes, they all serve the same purpose. So, go for a shape you like most and a size that matches your capacity. Don’t go for large-sized pedal kayaks that you won’t feel comfortable to handle. Choose one that fits the purpose. For better control, go for inflatable models, they are highly portable and will offer a lot more fun.
07. Seating & Transport
In terms of seating position and portability, you are going to find lots of different models. Most pedal kayaks have a sit-on-top design. There's hardly any sit-in model if any. If you have a fishing purpose, get the one that offers more space with a smaller yet comfortable seating position. For pleasure boating, choose one with wider and spacious seats.
Transportation is a big concern for kayak owners. Most people choose convenient car mounts for carrying the hull. For those who use inflatable models, the car's back deck is enough to store the entire thing. Some inflatable models can be folded and carried around like a backpack.
08. Launching & Beaching
As with other boats, the launching and beaching for a pedal model is not complicated at all. However, you can make use of a secondary propeller if your pedal kayak has a poor launching and beaching ability.
09. Accessory Mounts
Pedal kayaks usually have necessary mounts for housing loads of accessory. Fishing with a 2-person boat with pedals offers you enough space and facilities onboard to keep other accessories as they are bigger than the solo models. It's a convenience that few other boats in this category offer.
The price is a factor to be considered when buying pedal kayaks. Make sure you have a budget prepared beforehand and check for the price to quality ratio to be sure you are getting the quality at the right price. If you want quality, there is no super cheap option that would offer you a boat under 1000 bucks. But, we found that there are good models coming under 3000 and even 2000 bucks.
Care & Maintenance
This review will not be complete if nothing is said about maintaining pedal kayaks. Maintenance is not only the key to keep the boat in the best working condition, but it also saves a lot of money by keeping it fit for over a long period of time. There are a number of ways to maintain these pedal boats, but let us run through some of the basics of maintaining a pedal kayak.
- Clean the kayak after every use: As soon as you are done making use of the kayak, make sure you have it cleaned up. Take away every dirt from it and ensure that it is in the right condition for the next time.
- Check if all attachments are in place: After every use, make sure you check the boat if all attachments are secured in their place. Also, make sure there are no leakages or breakage, and if you find any, you should fix it immediately. You might need to get some aftermarket fixes in that case. You may also use homemade or DIY repair kits to fix the damage.
- Avoid sharp objects from coming in contact with the boat: Make sure that the boat is stored in a secure place after every use. Keep it from coming in contact with any sharp object that may scratch or dent it.
Tips on Using Pedal Kayaks
We have come to understand that the tips and tricks of usage of one user place him in a superior position from another. In order to get this advantage over others, here are a few tips and tricks that will help you perform like a pro:
- Avoid using a pedal kayak at night: Except for having adequate lighting facilities, you should avoid taking your boat out at night.
- Make sure to stick with the manufacturer’s guide: Many users fail to understand that not all boats in this category are the same as they are built by different manufacturers. Paying attention to the manufacturer's guide would give you the right information about your boat and how to maintain it properly.
- Don’t neglect the safety precautions: Be it a beginner or professional model, safety precautions are important for you when using a pedal kayak. Make sure to keep yourself safe from fatal accidents by complying with all safety precautions.
What Else Do You Need?
It is fun and advantageous to own a pedal-propelled kayak as you get to use your legs for pushing your vessel forward while the hands remain free for other activities. These boats make fishing much easier, more comfortable and also productive. With all of the knowledge of buying these watercraft and how to use and maintain one, you might ask if there is anything else you need when starting your journey on a boat like this.
Yes, a life jacket and some dry bags can be some additional requirements to ensure your kayaking experience is more pleasurable. While the dry bag offers you additional storage options, the life jacket is a lifesaver. Remember you are working on water and anything can happen when you are there. So, never forget a life jacket for yourself and anybody onboard.
At the Kayak Fisherly, we worked hard to come up with the best pedal kayaks of the market. It took weeks of hands-on testings and data analysis. Our goal was to provide you with authentic information regarding these modern watercraft which have broken traditional boat propelling norms. Our elaborate product comparisons, feature-analysis, and first-hand user-experience would guide you in the right direction. Whatever models you are buying, make sure you take necessary safety measures before you hop on to one. Get to know the weather and the water body before you launch your boat. Apart from that, take note of our tips on the care and maintenance of these boats to get the most out of them.
Furthermore, you can find out more about the topic by reading reviews and ratings of customers who have used any model from our list. Also, you can leave a review after you might have purchased and used one.