Best Pedal Powered Kayaks

10 Best Pedal Powered Kayaks in 2019

For most people, the best pedal powered kayak is, I’m guessing, a square boat in the shape of a giant white swan with two newly wedded lovebirds in it.

Maybe they’re wearing berets and accordion music is playing. I don’t know, that’s what use to come to my mind when I thought of a pedal powered kayak.

If I’m not being judged on manliness, I actually love that hoaky side-by-side model, and you might as well, but not a lot of people know that there are some very serious kayaks that are pedal powered.

It’s kind of like when the first electric cars came out -- they were pretty dorky looking, (no offense to prius owners, my aunt has one and she loves it) but now there are a variety of electric cars, some with amazing performance standards.

Ten years ago the only car that could do 0-60 in 2.5 seconds was the $1.7 million Bugatti Veyron. Today a Model S does it in 2.28 at less than a tenth of the cost.

Pedal powered kayaks are the same way. Welcome to the 21st century.

editor's choice

Native Watercraft Slayer 10

Native Watercraft Slayer 10 Propel Pedal Fishing Kayak (Hidden Oak)
  • Remarkable storage capacity for a 10 foot boat.
  • Native’s unique pedal drive goes forward and backward.
  • Groove track mounts for limitless customization and personalization.

best value

Wilderness Systems Radar 135

Wilderness Systems 9750907143 Radar 135 Fishing Kayaks, Sonar, 13'6"
  • First ever tri-powered kayak (pedal, paddle, and motor capable).
  • State-of-the-art outfitting and comfort.
  • Flat, stable platform.

How to Find the Best Kayak For You

Before I start, let’s just get this out of the way:

The best pedal kayaks are not cheap. Even a “cheap” pedal kayak isn’t cheap. There’s so much more that goes into a pedal kayak than a normal paddle kayak and because of that there is a wider possibility for things to go wrong.

If you’re trying to pinch pennies on a pedal kayak, you’re doing it wrong.

Check out one of our other guides on standard, fishing, or tandem kayaks if you aren’t looking to spend much money because even bargain deals on pedal kayaks are going to be relatively expensive compared to standard kayaks.

Now that we have that out of the way we can talk about the advantages of a pedal kayak.

Advantages to Pedal Kayaks

1. Speed and Endurance

You don’t walk with your arms, you walk your legs, and for that reason your legs are a lot better equipped for long steady chugging than arms are. On the straight away, and especially for those without good upper body strength, a pedal kayak is going to be faster over the long haul.

2. Hands free propulsion

So much room for activities!

With a pedal kayak your upper body is unburdened of the need to propel and steer yourself which means you can do whatever else you want with them: Fish, take pictures, drink, give your loser buddy and his paddle kayak the bird, dance, play tiddlywinks, I could on but I think I’ve already overindulged. I hope this is as entertaining for you as it for me.

Seriously though, fisherman and photographers especially love pedal kayaks and for those with any sort of upper body injury or disability they are a godsend.

3. Fewer Skills Needed

How well developed the paddler’s technique is has a lot to do with how fast and agile a paddle kayak will be, whereas there is virtually no technique to speak of in pedal kayaks; you just turn the pedals -- that’s it. It may take you a minute to figure out the rudder and the steering system but I’m not exaggerating when I say a minute. There’s nothing to it, you just put it in the water and go.

11 Best Kayaks in 2019

A pedal powered kayak is a great beginner kayak -- they’re sturdy and there is no learning curve. They’re also great a second kayak for individual and/or specific needs. Here are the 11 best pedal powered kayaks that we could find.

Wilderness Systems 9750907143 Radar 135 Fishing Kayaks, Sonar, 13'6"

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 13’6
  • Weight: 90 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 325 lbs
  • Accessories: S.M.A.R.T. Hull Technology, flat platform, SlideTrax rails, multi-storage options, scupper options, 6:1 gear ratio
  • Price: $$$$

S.M.A.R.T. stands for stability, maneuverability, acceleration, responsiveness, and tracking which is kept in mind throughout the entire design and Wilderness Systems delivers on those metrics. There are 6 different gears for acceleration and speed, the boat tracks well, and the steering system responds immediately to your piloting.

Why Choose This Model?

The Wilderness Systems Radar 115 is an awesome kayak. Period. It’s certainly fishing kayak by design and anglers will love all of the features but it’s a very capable boat regardless of your purposes. This is the most kayak for your dollar.

2. Perception Pescador Pilot

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 12’0
  • Weight: 95 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 475 lbs
  • Accessories: single handed 360 degree rutter, ergonomic captains chair, gear tracks, 4 rod holders, 1 cup holder, front and rear storage
  • Price: $$ 

This kayak is packed to the gills with fishing features like gear tracks and rod holders for avid anglers. It also comes complete with the Pilot Drive pedal drive system which are pretty slick pedals for the price.

Why Choose This Model?

At 95 lbs this boat is pretty heavy but pedal systems aren’t light and you won’t find anything much lighter around this price point. Prepare to real in the hogs with the Perception Pescador Pilot.

Hobie Mirage Sport Red Hibiscus

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 9’7
  • Weight: 61 lbs
  • Material: Rotomolded polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 225 lbs
  • Accessories: MirageDrive system, 2 rod holders, compact backup paddle, sealable storage compartment, rear bungee storage area
  • Price: $$$$

Hobie’s patented Mirage Drive system is something that people really love. Instead of a standard propellor, the mirage drive has 2 fins that move back and forth propelling the boat forward and minimizing drag. They also allow you to move in shallower water and protect the propellers better than other pedal systems.

Why Choose This Model?

Hobie is one of the most trusted brands in human and wind powered watercraft -- these people know boats inside and out. Only those who have had the pleasure of piloting a Hobie know what I’m talking about. Get one for yourself and you’ll know what I mean.

4. Riot Mako 12'' Impulse Pedal Drive

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 12’0
  • Weight: 71 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 350 lbs
  • Accessories: Superior Tracking Rutter, 5 year hull integrity guarantee, 2 year pedal drive guarantee, extra wide design
  • Price: $$

Riot Kayaks is known for making awesome ocean kayaks so it’s no surprise that the Riot Mako 12” was designed as a seafaring kayak. Riot also offers warranties: 5 years on the hull and 2 years on the pedal drive. This is nice because the pedal system is easily replaceable and can extend the life of the boat well beyond 10 years if you’re careful with it.

Why Choose This Model?

When you look at the kind of dugout canoes that people used to ride around in and then you look at something like the Riot Mako you’ll be amazed at how far the technology has come. This boat is extremely sturdy even in the surf and for what you get the price is a steal.

Hobie Mirage Revolution 13 Kayak 2018-13ft5/Slate Blue

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 13’5
  • Weight: 64 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 350 lbs
  • Accessories: Mirage Drive system, 4-way adjustable Vantage CT seating, Large covered bow hatch, 2-Mesh storage pockets
  • Price: $$$$

This is one of the only non-fishing kayaks that made the list but it definitely isn’t the only Hobie (it still works quite well for fishing, though). As I talked about above, Hobie’s Mirage Drive pedal system is one of a kind and people seem to really like it. At 13 feet 5 inches in length and weighing just 64 pounds this kayak FLIES in the water.

Why Choose This Model?

The Hobie Mirage Revolution 13 is an awesome kayak for long adventures AND it does well in shallow water which is something that no other pedal kayak can say.

Hobie Mirage Outback Kayak Ivory Dune

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 12’1
  • Weight: 99 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 400 lbs
  • Accessories: Mirage Drive Pedal System, Rod Holders, Mesh Covered Storage Pockets, Cup Holder, Rudder Control, Utility Trays, Cargo Area with Bungee Tie-Downs, Twist and Stow Rudder
  • Price: $$$$

Surprise surprise, another Hobie. I have no problem shamelessly promoting Hobie because I think they make a great kayak. This is one of the more expensive kayaks on this list but for one thing, you’re getting a Hobie, and for another, you’re getting a ton of fishing features for the anglers out there.

Why Choose This Model?

If you’re looking for something longer than the Hobie Sport as well as something that you can fish in, the Hobie Mirage Outback is for you -- it’s one of the best pedal kayaks out there.

7. Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-PK13

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 12’9
  • Weight: 81 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 420 lbs
  • Accessories: Blow-molded hull, adjustable seat, rod holders,
  • Price: $$

At 13 feet long and 81 pounds this kayak is like a 1950’s Cadillac Sedan: Long, luxurious, and pretty fast on the straightaway. You’ll love the adjustable seat and the massive amount of storage that it has. Hell, you can put your dog in the back, even if it’s a big dog.

Why Choose This Model?

I’ll keep this one simple: This kayak was made to go long distance. It’s long, comfortable, and has plenty of storage space. Don’t be afraid to take the Brooklyn UH-PK13 and put some distance between you and the shore.

8. Native Watercraft Slayer

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 10’0
  • Weight: 94 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 500 lbs
  • Accessories: Padded deck, open bow trunk, PFD storage, scupper plugs, groove track mounting rails
  • Price: $$$

People say that the Native Watercraft Slayer is like a high end recumbent bike, and I’d say that’s a pretty good comparison, only it carries WAY more gear. This 10 foot long kayak handles exceptionally well for a pedal kayak and you can get it going pretty darn fast if you’re willing to get in a little workout.

Why Choose This Model?

By my estimation, the Native Watercraft slayer is the most beautifully designed kayak on the market. If you end up owning one you might catch yourself looking at it for a second longer than normal while thinking to yourself, “dang, that’s a good looking kayak.” And it’ll be all yours.

9. Ocean Kayak Malibu Pedal Kayak

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 12’0
  • Weight: 100 lbs
  • Material: Single layer polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 450 lbs
  • Accessories: Padded pedals, pilot and rear passenger seating, Click seal hatch under seat, 3 cup holders
  • Price: $$$ 

This is a comfortable and capable kayak that handles well in wind and chop. It’s 12 feet long so it slices through the water at high speeds if you get your legs pumping and the fact that it weighs 100 pounds isn’t much fun to carry but my god it handles well in the waves.

Why Choose This Model?

Ocean kayak makes a similar paddle version called the Malibu Two which is a tandem kayak but the Malibu Pedal is the upgraded version. Although it can only have one pilot and a dog or maybe a child riding on the stern, it carries just as much gear and is a lot more versatile. If you can foot the bill I’d go with the Malibu Pedal over the tandem.

10. Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-PK11

Model & Accessory Specs:

  • Length: 10’8
  • Weight: 60 lbs
  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Maximum Capacity: 325 lbs
  • Accessories: Sealable front storage, bungeed rear storage, flat deck, flush mount rod holders, aluminum frame seat
  • Price: $$

Plenty of storage, rod holders, all the bells and whistles etc. -- these are all great but what makes this exceptional is that you feel like you can turn on a dime. The handling is just as good as kayaks that cost twice as much.

Why Choose This Model?

Brooklyn Kayak Company makes 2 pedal kayaks and the only difference is that one of them is 13 feet long 80 pounds and this one is 11 feet long and 60 pounds. Go with the 11 if you’re sold on BKC but want something lighter and nimbler in the water.

Benefits of Owning an Amazing Kayak

At this point you might be thinking, “this is a great list of the best pedal powered kayaks, but why should I get one?”

There are a bunch of good reasons but here are just a few:

Pedal powered kayaks put the power in the your legs, making for a more efficient ride and a great leg workout.

Pedal powered kayaks leave your hands free to take pictures, catch fish, or just about anything you want.

Pedal powered kayaks are incredibly versatile and are the most advanced mode of human powered aquatic transportation known to man!

They’re certainly an investment but trust me when I say that they WILL exceed your own expectations when it comes to how easy they are to get around with AND everyone else on the water is going to be jealous.

10 Best Kayaks: Your Ultimate Guide in 2019

Let me tell you a story about a guy named John.

John considers himself an outdoorsman and wants to get into kayaking to experience nature and do a little fishing. John went to Walmart and bought the cheapest piece of junk that he could find and punctured it with a fishing lure on his first outing.

Don’t be like John and waste your money on cheap kayaks. Get something that works, but more than that, get something that you are going to love.

Here’s to pedal kayaks, the future of aquatic travel!

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