What if we told you we could help you find the best pedal kayak for your specific budget? Don't get a kayak that you'll leave in storage for years! For our guide we dedicated many hours(over 50) comparing 20 different kayaks and choosing our winners for this year.
Based on our analysis our top pick for this year was the BKC UH PK13, with its affordability, depth of pedal strength and features we couldn't resist!
Our seasoned editors have picked and rated these products for each specific category and area of expertise to recommend you the best models and products we can. We receive commission from some of these affiliate links.
Best Overall: 1. BKC UH-PK13 Pedal Drive Kayak
"A exceptional pricetag and a great length with pedal drive"
Runner up: 2. Hobie Mirage Outback Kayak
"Last years number one, more expensive but unbeatable pedal drive"
Best Smallest: 3. Native Watercraft Slayer 10 Propel Kayak
"Smaller but still feature rich with incredible pedal drive and storage"
Longest Length: 4. Hobie Mirage Pro Angler 12
"At 14 feet long the Angler 12 is the largest model available"
Best Storage: 6. Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 13
"Unbeatable storage with incredible space and additions"
The BKC UH-PK13 is the best choice if you love long outings and are a angler or just enjoy pedal kayaks and are looking for the best kayaking experience.
Our most prolific and most recommended best pick this year, is a kayak made by the renowned kayak company BKC. This is a great seaworthy pedal kayak, which provides stability and speed easily. With its dual rod holder, awesome tackle storage and interesting colors like blue camo, grey camo, blue, grey, yellow and red, this ones sure to make you feel proud. Be it for fishing or exploring the waters, the BKC pedal drive option and the lightweight hull will make it through without challenge.
This kayak also comes with a paddle and the seat is incredibly durable. They have truly outdone themselves with this mode, you wont have to worry about tipping over since the stability is perfect and the storage space is massive with a front tank well and back bungees. Lighter than most models in its size range and easy to carry and put on a roof.
Be it for fishing or exploring the waters, the BKC pedal drive option and the lightweight hull will make it through without challenge. This kayak also comes with a paddle and the seat is incredibly durable. They have truly outdone themselves with this mode, you wont have to worry about tipping over since the stability is perfect and the storage space is massive with a front tank well and back bungees. Lighter than most models in its size range and easy to carry and put on a roof.
One of the best kayaks and best rated versions of the Hobie Pedal series.
The Hobie Mirage outback is consistently seen as one of the best pedal kayaks out there and makes our list every year. This year is no exception the Hobie outback comes with its Mirage Drive system. The Mirage Drive system is heralded as one of the fastest paddling systems with the only negative being the inability to reverse. The kayak comes with a Vantage CT seat which is extremely comfortable and durable.
Hobie are known as the pioneers of pedal kayaks in the market and with the outback they show they known what their doing. The Mirage Outback Crew comes with 81 lbs fitted hull, 3 way connector for Lowrance Ready, and Thru Hull wire plugs.
The standard features include large bow hatch, which is covered, a two – piece paddle with on – hull storage and mesh covered stowage pockets. What’s more, the Hobie Mirage Outback Kayak It weighs 99 pounds, offers a carrying capacity of 400 lbs and is 12’ 1” in length, 33” in width and 15” in height.
The Hobie is a great choice for almost any type of water from freshwater, ocean, and inshore waters. The kayak has great turning and the rudder system is very slick and designed to be easy to use. Hobie has truly knocked this model out of the park.
The perfect choice for any occasion, this kayak boasts of great stability and features to provide you with a stress free experience.
The Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 13 is one of the most durable pedal kayaks out there today. It's a plus for any fishermen out there or person that just enjoys pedal kayaking. It comes with native watercraft propel drive system which has one of the best quality pedal systems out there today and allows you to go both forwards and backwards.
The impact resistant rudder is great for a durable option which leaves you unafraid of it hitting things like rocks in shallow water. There is also ample storage space. The propel is 13'2" with a weight of 85 pounds and a capacity of over 400 pounds. The seed is a custom durable seat from native watercraft. The kayak is extremely stable and offers a very dry ride when fishing. If you want a great fishing kayak for the money look no further.
The largest kayak from Hobie and a great comprehensive choice.
The Hobie Mirage pro angler is another offering from Hobie kayaks that is utterly exceptional in every way. Make no mistake that this is the Cadillac of premium fishing kayaks. Though the price tag matches its quality do not be afraid. The kayak comes with its patented Mirage Drive and glide technology pedal drive system. It also offers the Vantage seating system which makes it feel as if you're on your couch at home kayaking.
The storage area is very per slice Lee built to allow you to incorporate for rods, different vertical storages for 2 rods, and an area for easy access to tackle.
The added features that it has that is in on most other kayaks is the atrial mounting system this allows you to increase the kayak's versatility and have a more streamlined experience. There is also a tracing keel for improved tracking. Finally it is built and ready for fishfinder installation. The pro angler has a carrying capacity of over 600 pounds. If you're looking for a fishing pedal kayak you would be hard-pressed to do any better than the pro angler 14.
The perception kayak pescador pilot is one of the best bang for your buck that you can get for a pedal kayak on the entire market. The price tag is slightly cheaper than the other models listed the make no mistake it comes with the same amount of features and a renowned quality.
The pedal drive system is comparable to the native watercraft system and allows you to reverse. The pilot comes with ample storage and different features and bungee's and Rod holders to make your fishing experience truly great. The kayak has a length of 12'5" and weighs 85 pounds.
A larger great choice from Native Watercraft for the 13 foot model
The Native Watercraft Slayer Propel 13 is on of the best pedal kayaks in the 13 foot category. Make no mistake this kayak is large and not for a smaller frame, it contains a large amount of extra space for different dry storages and additional space made especially for storage of fishing goods and accessories.
The Hobie Mirage revolution is a phenomenal choice for a fishing trip. With the quality that comes with the Hobie kayak the revolution mixes in comfortable seating and extreme convenience. The Mirage is a little smaller than the other models listed here at 11'6" however it's light weight hall takes your peddling energy and rewards it with increased acceleration and increased maneuverability.
The kayak comes with below deck storage and a wide array of deck features and leasing options including an optional kayak sail kit. The revolution may be the smallest kayak we've mentioned today however for its size it's definitely one of the most feature-rich.
Since pedal kayaks are a fairly new technological inovation alot of people are lost as to how to choose the correct model. Here we compile a list of factors and things to go through to help you choose.
Push pedals are easy to use, the motion is simple, by just pushing the pedals in you get propulsion. However, pushing pedals for a long time can result in adverse health effects on your back just like regular kayaks since you are not fully extending the legs. Some of the most common side effects of pushing forward pedals include leg and foot cramps, muscle injuries, back pain and early fatigue especially in the joints of your legs and feet. For the rotational pedals, the legs and feet move fully resembling walking thus resulting in less stress on your legs, feet and joints.
Considering the fact that these two systems are human driven, they are supposed to lose the least energy possible during exertion. An average person can only provide around 0.25 horsepower in an unsustainable manner.
For the rotational pedals, the user is able to engage uninterrupted motion; meaning that the generated energy is not lost rather it is preserved. In rotational drive pedals, the pedals are an efficient means of the body transmitting power to the propeller with minimal energy loss. Lets now consider that with push pedal driven kayaks, most of the body's generated energy is lost; meaning that the driver losses a lot of energy especially while trying to accelerate. Continuous loss of energy with every pedal usually results in early fatigue and a less efficient system.
Overall the difference between the two is pronounced. A rotational pedal driven kayaks motion mechanism involves a rotational propeller that is continuous and thus wastes little body energy, while the push pedal kayak combines push pedals with two side moving flaps thus making it the least mechanically efficient. There are many experts that have argued that the push pedals system is as efficient as the rotational pedals however comparing the two mechanically, rotational pedal driven kayaks are more efficient.
A very important factor when it comes to stability for pedal kayaks is the hull size.
Most kayak fishers that are beginners and starting to pick up the sport may be uncertain on the water. its common that they don't understand that a kayak that DOES NOT have a wide flat bottom and you can use to lean side to side could actually be a large advantage and INCREASE the kayaks stability in rough waters not decrease it. We recommend you choose hull size dependant on the type of waters you will be using the kayak for.
A flat, round shape of the hull often used in agile kayaks for small rivers makes the kayak more maneuverable though provides less tracking.
When it comes to pedal kayaks there are a few name brands that stick out. Over the years we have seen that the kayak market is getting flooded with more and more brand names though the pedal kayak market continues to stay somewhat unsaturated. Some brand makers have perfected the system while some continue to strive to achieve the best pedalling experience.
The Two brands that continue to stick out above the others are:
Hobie Kayak- Mirage Brand
Hobie kayaks have been making high quality products for years and that brand reputation has carried on to their pedal kayak offerings. Known as some of the most reliable pedal kayaks Their offerings include many different versions which are updated on a somewhat regular basis to include the latest in technology. Their main differentiation is the mirage drive technology they have implemented to improve pedalling performance. This works in a push manner where your feet push pedals inwards and the mechanism moves flippers that cross over each other displacing water and propelling the kayak.
Pros - Can manuever well in shallow water with the pedal system.
- The fins can be folded up against the hull when launching or within shallow water.
Cons - Will not track very well because it does not have a rudder.
- Back and forth motion can be hard on the knees and patela area.
- No reverse function.
Native Watercraft- Propel Brand
The Propel brand has been around for about the same time as the Mirage brand, it sits about on par with the Hobie kayaks though the Hobie kayaks are larger in the number of different models they offer. The propel Has the propel pedal drive system which uses a propeller to push the kayak forward. A great extra feature is that you can also go backwards in the kayak!
Pros - Tracks well within any configuration.
- Can be used to pedal in reverse.
- The drive unit installed can be easily flipped out of the water while your in the boat and you can then continue on with a paddle. The point above makes launching the kayak easy.
Cons - Needs about a foot of clearance to not hit the bottom of body of water.
There are primary and secondary forms of stability. Looking at the secondary point of stability it refers to which angle the boat will capsize at. With regards to this, v shapes can be the best for tracking and a good secondary point of stability however they are bad for the first point of stability. The best for primary stability can be the flat hull however they have bad marks for secondary stability which means the kayak will turn quicker but wont track well on a straight path and capsize in rough waters.
The increase in Primary stability from flat hulls can be great for very calm waters and be comfortable for beginners however when the waters shift to being rough this same primary stability can cause kayaks to capsize and tip over. For rough waters you would want to choose a stronger secondary stability.
"Primary and secondary stability:
Primary (sometimes called initial) stability describes how much a boat tips, or rocks back and forth when displaced from level by water movement or paddler weight shifts.
Secondary (final) stability describes how readily a boat capsizes. Primary stability is often a big concern to a beginner, while secondary stability matters more to experienced travelers who may frequent rougher waters. Primary stability increases as the boat's volume moves away from the centerline. For example, catamarans offer high primary stability and little secondary stability, given that their volume is on either edge of the boat." kayaking
Having a pedal kayak eliminates the added stability benefit of a paddle. The pedal positioning also makes a user take up less surface area for their weight and cause the slightest movement to shift weight to a portion of the kayak whereas for the paddle kayak when your feet are spread out your weight is spread throughout the kayak.
This debate have gone on for a long time. The consensus that you find is a large dependency on the actual driver. Whether the driver has a stronger upper body or lower body can have a huge differences. There are cases of paddlers leaving pedalers in the dust and vice versa. Looking at it mechanically and from a design perspective considering the fact that pedal kayaks are less stable in the water and the fact that they must be wider to enhance stability, they are likely to be slower.
They also feature rudders for steering purposes; these rudders increase their friction within the water thus decreasing the kayak’s speed by an average of 10%. Also the added width makes them heavier, making them slower in the water. The above reasons make them put a lot more pressure on the user resulting in earlier fatigue. These kayaks are usually used for recreational purposes such as fishing and touring and not racing.
Through a survey of users the average speed of the Hobie Outback was found to be about 3.5 mph with about 6-8 mph top speed between 15-20 minutes.
As a comparison the Trident Prowler 13 which is a paddling kayak is reported to maintain a average speed of 4 mph
As a comparison a Mirage Adventure with a sail kit can achieve consistent speeds of about 15-20 mph with a wind rudder and sail kit
Longer kayaks make it much easier to get from point a to point b because of their longer hulls, usually a rule of thumb is the wider the hull of a kayak the slower the kayak will be. Alot of other factors can influence your kayaks speed including the hulls materials, fiberglass and kevlar and thermoformed plastic are better and make your kayak faster.
In this section, we shall address how a pedal kayak is different from a paddle kayak in terms of tracking and turning. Considering the directional control of these two kayaks, the pedal driven kayak feels a little more unstable than the paddle driven one. It is for this reason the pedal kayaks hull must be built a bit wider to enhance stability while on the water. You will commonly see pedal kayaks being slightly wider and a bit bulkier. This is to try to make up for the stability issue. Although the pedal kayak is being propelled by one of your strongest body parts, your legs, the ability to steer is always more limited than the paddle driven kayak. A paddle gives the user ample ability to effectively control tracking and turning while propelling the kayak. Although pedal driven kayaks are equipped with a hand activated rudder steer stick, its operation in terms of tracking and turning is far less useful than in a paddle kayak.When comparing paddle kayaks to pedal kayaks, the paddles facilitate quicker and more efficient turning than the pedals. For instance, people using a pedal driven kayak usually cling to the sides of the kayak to keep it balanced unlike those in the paddle driven kayak who keep it balanced using their paddles on each side.
What makes the steering difficult on the pedal kayak compared to a paddle kayak is debatable, a rudder can only be so large at the bottom of the kayak and you can only dedicate so much effort to adjusting it. Also the effect of a paddle on the far side of a kayak is more pronounced in turning then in the centre bottom of the boat.
With a paddle you can make sharp turns whereas with a pedal kayak and a rudder you may have to do some adjustments similar to what you would see on a boat. Not quite like the titanic trying to avoid an iceberg but the difference is pronounced!
The pedal kayaks steering rudders are controlled by your hand through a lever usually located in the cockpit of the kayak. A well know statistic is that rudders embedded on these pedal kayaks cut down the kayak’s speed by an average of 10% thus making it harder for the user to get to the top speed they desire. Last but not least, while using the pedal kayak on shallow waters or in reedy waters, the rudders are likely to get stuck in mud and obstacles or rake themselves on the reeds bringing you to a halt.
Getting a pedal driven kayak in the water can be hectic especially if you don’t have the man power to assist you. Their wide hull makes them heavier than the paddle kayaks.
Besides their wider hull, they are also equipped with steering rudders as well as a pedal drive attachment which adds up to its heavy weight.
On top of that the rudder provides another protruding object that could cause problems if it were to get hooked on something. Their transport to and from your location to the beach can only be done by a big vehicle and not a simple roof rack on a small car. Upon reaching the beach, you may also need assistance to get it into the water.
Launching and beaching for the pedal kayak is just like it is for any other kayak. It can be smoothly driven into the water. However, it is advisable for the user to carry a secondary propeller such as paddle in case the pedal system fails.
Kayaks have the ability to take you anywhere you want to go but for pedal kayaks, visiting some areas especially shallow water areas and areas with sea weeds can be problematic. The reason behind this limitation is that shallow waters make the propellers prone to obstruction from mud and obstacles underneath the water. Upon reaching shallow waters, you are advised to use a paddle rather than the pedal so as to ascertain that the underneath mechanisms are not destroyed or clogged. This makes them unusable for fishing in shallow waters and vegetation rich areas.
Pedal kayaks are not meant for white-water or fast running water navigation. They have minimal free-board which makes them easily filled with water from running water streams. Further, pedal driven kayaks’ are almost impossible to navigate in moving water since the re-positioned driver’s feet from the foot of the hull obstructs the ability to adequately balance and control the boat.
It’s often argued that pedal kayaks are the best when it comes to fishing since they only utilise your legs for motion which keeps your hands free to fish! This also allows the user to pedal and fish at the same time. Although both hands are free, at times you might find yourself with just one hand free and the other holding onto the kayak’s deck or leaning on it to keep balance. However, fishing with a Pedal Kayak is a little more fun than using the paddle kayak since you can move along while fishing in comfort unlike with the paddle kayak.
The only limitation of the Pedal Kayak is that is doesn’t have the reverse capability thus going backwards can be a bit of a hassle. This issue is solved if you choose a rotational pedal kayak.
Standing up and fishing while in a pedal kayak can be achieved when you are sure that nothing will destabilize you. It is always advisable to remain seated while fishing however many kayaks advertise themselves as being great for stand up fishing. Although it’s argued that the Pedal Kayak is large enough to ensure stability even when standing, anything can cause you to lose balance and end up falling in the water.
We have discussed various attributes that make people choose a particular kayak. No matter what the reason of preferring a particular kayak, energy used to drive them should be considered. Our bodies are all we have and inflicting unnecessary stress on them can add up in the long run. Some kayaks can be more ergonomical and efficient than others and keep you from getting tired. With regards to the speed factor, it is debatable whether pedal kayaks are faster or slower than paddle kayaks but this can greatly depend on the users personal strengths and weaknesses, if you have chicken legs you may want to spring for the paddle kayak. There are many factors to consider when choosing your perfect pedal kayak, the best advice is always choose one that feels right for you and comfortable regardless of what someone tells you is the best or worst model.
Andrew is a seasoned kayaker with 15 years of experience under his belt. He began kayaking as a way to reduce work stress but quickly became an avid kayak fisher and lure expert. He currently enjoys both lake and ocean kayaking and loves to write and share his experiences.