Kayaking has been around for thousands of years, and now the popularity of it as a sport keeps changing and growing. There are many types of kayaks and various means of propelling yourself through the water.
One such way is with pedals. Companies have developed high-tech pedal systems, which allow you to propel yourself through the water much faster than if you were paddling.
We have meticulously examined and tested numerous pedal-powered kayak models to find the best five.
Below is a complete guide on the best we found and all the other things you need to know when looking to buy a kayak.
What is a Pedal Kayak?
Pedal kayaks have been designed to use pedals as their means of propulsion rather than paddles. The way they work is, they have fins or a propeller on the underside of the hull and a pair of kayak foot pedals on the deck that allow you to power your way through the water.
The advantage of this means of propulsion is it frees up your hands to do other things such as bird watching, photography, or the most common use for this type of kayak. Fishing.
A fishing kayak with foot paddle is also another way to give the lower body a good workout. Another positive for this type of Kayak is you can still get out on the water if you have an injury and are unable to use your upper body strength.
When they are used for fishing, these pedal kayaks make things much easier because you can change location without having to lay your rod down and pick up the paddles. You can also control the kayak as you cast or land your catch.
Space inside the kayak can be used more effectively. Your gear can be laid out and remain in that position until your days fishing is over. The only thing you need to consider is the pedals will eat up some space inside your kayak.
A kayak with foot pedals was developed with fishing in mind, so there can be extra features included in them that you might not find on a regular kayak. Designated rod holders being one such extra.
Another slight difference would be the seating position; now, you could find you sit in a more elevated position with a more solid backrest. This seat would also be adjustable to allow for different sized people to reach the pedals.
A pedal-powered kayak is also more full because you no longer have paddles to keep you steady. Some are even large and wide enough you can stand with no fear of the kayak tipping over. (Read What are the Best Fishing Shows On TV)
Aside from the pedals, the one most significant difference in how the kayak is maneuvered is the addition of a rudder, so when choosing a kayak with pedals, you should check this item comes with the kayak.
Best Pedal Kayak Reviews
1. Perception Kayak Pescador Pilot Fishing
If you are an angler who is looking for a fishing kayak with pedals, then you might not need to look any further. The Perception Pescador angler 12′ sit-on kayak offers some of the best bang for your buck that you can get on the entire kayak market.
This Pescador pilot review looks at a model that comes in a little cheaper than other models with the same specs at around $1500 base price, but it doesn’t skimp on any features or quality.
The pedaling system allows you to go in reverse as well as forward, and there are plentiful amounts of storage space with bungee nets and rod holders to make your kayak fishing much more comfortable.
- 4-rod holders
- One-handed rudder control
- High stability
- Removable pedal drive
- Removable chair made from breathable mesh
- Gear tracks, fishfinder consoles, and cup holder fitted
- 2 large storage areas
- Enough space for 2 people
- Suitable for standing
- Only suitable for calmer waters or lakes
- The rudder can be finicky to use
- The Pilot system drive needs careful attention during installation when new
- On the heavy side
- Rod holders on the large side
- Length: 12 foot 5 inches
- Width: 33.75 inches
- Depth: 16 inches
- Weight: 85 pounds
- Weight Capacity: 475 pounds
- Construction: Polyethylene
All through testing for the Perception Pescador Pilot foot pedal kayak review, the kayak was continually looked at for being one of the best-looking kayaks in the group.
Although looks have no bearing on performance, we were glad to find it handled and performed as well as it looked.
Although a little heavy, the kayak 450lb capacity with plenty of gear and two persons could be easily swallowed up with the Pedal Perception kayak carrying capacity of 475lbs.
It is hard to see how they managed to fit so much into a peddle kayak that comes toward the bottom end of the price scale. It sure is affordable, but cheap it most certainly isn’t.
2. Hobie Mirage Compass Pedal Kayak w/Reverse Drive
The Hobie Compass is the latest edition to Hobie range of pedal drive kayaks. It comes with its renowned MirageDrive kayaks pedal drive system with Glide Technology for smooth movement in the water.
It comes with an oversized cockpit for standing and can be steered in a tight turning circle. Although it isn’t as well equipped as other Hobie models, it is still a Hobie, and it has a price to match.
The Hobie compass price can range a little under the $2300 mark so that it could be a little out of range for a lot of people.
- Removable drive system
- Mirage GT Pedal drive
- Comfortable mesh seat
- Lots of cargo space
- Hobie H-track accessory mounts
- Retractable rudder
- 2-rod holders
- Fixed seat position
- No carrying cart included
- No built in tracks
- High price for many consumers
- Length: 12 foot
- Width: 34 inches
- Weight: 87 pounds rigged
- Weight Capacity: 400 pounds
- Construction: Polyethylene
Although smaller than some models, the Compass pedal drive fishing kayak does weigh in heavier and has a lower overall carrying capacity.
Like others of this spec, it is only suitable for calm waters, and due to its size, it isn’t ideal for trips overnight where you would expect to be carrying camping gear.
For a day’s fishing, the seat is comfortable and can be turned to a bench seat when not paddling.
It does have fewer features than other models, which are cheaper, but the Hobie tries to make up for these shortfalls by name and build quality.
For the asking price, you would at least expect some means of carrying the kayak. As it is, this will be immediately on the cost that pushes the price even higher.
3. Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC UH-PK11 Pedal Drive Solo Rover 10-Foot 6-Inch Solo Kayak Propeller-Driven Sit On Top Single Fishing Kayak with Pedal Drive
The Brooklyn kayak comes with lots of features in its small size. However, it is capable of being ideal for fishers or the distance traveler while remaining compact.
They sit on a type of kayak that comes with a streamlined roto-molded hull, which is UV resistant, so it can cope with sitting in the sun for extended periods. It can also cut its way through mild choppy waters with ease.
It comes with built-in handles to carry it across dry land, but for one person, this could be too much at 60lbs.
What is most exciting is the kayak propeller, which is a high-efficiency type. The pedals have straps so you can keep your feet secured even if wet.
The kayak is at home being steered in sharp turns, or log sweeping arcs thanks to its hand-operated rudder.
There are also scupper holes and plugs in the sides for any built-up water to escape; this can help to keep the deck dry in case you want to stand, and not included in many other kayaks with pedals.
- Generous Cargo
- Sit-on design – Adjustable Ergonomic Seat
- Flush mounted Rod holders
- Tracks well
- Comfortable seat
- Waterproof compartments
- Hard to stand
- Heavy for size
- Stiff drive system
- Hull Weight: 60 lbs. (empty) 80 lbs. With pedals.
- Max Load Capacity: 420 lbs.
- Hull Length: 10-ft 6-inch
- Width: 34 inches
- Seating Capacity: 1
- Hull Material: High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
- UV Protection
The Brooklyn Kayak pedal drive comes with plenty of storage space for tackle boxes, and rod holders are placed on either side.
You can troll with the pedals hands-free or relax back in the comfortable chair, or even take o that fish you are trying to land.
With a very affordable price tag, which is around the $1500 mark, it does have plenty to offer, but there are better featured and larger options for this price range.
4. BKC UH-PK13 Pedal Drive Solo Traveler 13 Foot Kayak – Pedal Propeller Drive Single Sit On Top Fishing Kayak
Because of its size, this pedal-driven kayak is ideal for hitting the ocean. It is both speedy and has lots of stability. It comes with dual rod holders and masses of storage space.
One notable feature of this foot paddle kayak is the flat hull design, and it is this that gives it so much stability. The seat is ergonomic and adjustable with a padded seat and headrest for those long trips.
The construction is blow-molded and comes with a rear storage compartment to the rear and bungees at the front for smaller items.
- Adjustable, elevated seat
- Flush mount rod holders
- Stable hull design
- Rudder mounted in the hull, not suitable for shallow water
- Hatches are cheaply made
- No fitted rails or tracks
- Hull Weight: 80 lbs. (empty) 154lbs. with pedals and fully rigged
- Max Load Capacity: 550 lbs.
- Width: 34 inches
- Hull Length: 13 Foot
- Seating Capacity: 1
- Hull Material: High-density polyethylene (HDPE)
- UV Protection
- Color Options: Blue, Green Camo, Gray Camo, Red, Yellow, Blue Camo
Like other BKC kayak models, this pedal drive kayak comes in at a low price of around $1600. Although this is highly affordable for many, it does reflect on features that are lacking or the fact you can remove the propeller and the kayak pedal drive kit, but the rudder remains fixed.
This can easily catch when loading or unloading to the water. Cargo space is adequate, but for the size of the kayak, it doesn’t offer masses more than some smaller offerings.
Although it is designed for sea use, it might be more suited to casual users rather than avid sea anglers who will go on longer fishing trips.
5. Hobie Pro Angler 12
The Hobie fishing kayak is the last in our pedal kayak reviews; it was designed for the keen angler who wants the very best. It comes from one of the best kayak brands who are veterans in the kayak building game, and this model is at the very top of what they do.
It comes with big boat features but in a much smaller package. The MirageDrive 180 pedal-driven kayak system is highly efficient and can give you forward and backward thrust as well as being able to maneuver in tight spots.
Standing is easy for something of this size and builds stability, and the seat gives you plenty of elevation and position to power through the kayaks pedals. There are also rails you can add on anything you wish, and the plates are drillable, so no angler is tied to proprietary fittings. (Read Vibe Sea Ghost 110 Review)
It is easy to see Hobie did something right when they designed this kayak. It was released in 2015, and it is still going strong, and like they always say, if it isn’t broke, then don’t fix it.
- Quick on the Water
- Lots of Storage Space 3 covered compartments
- Very Sturdy
- Lots of customization options
- Very Stable
- Retractable Skeg and Rudder system
- 2 dry hatches
- 2 pop-out tackle boxes
- Heavy for its size
- Length: 12 Feet
- Width: 36 Inches
- Weight Empty: 98 lbs. Fully Rigged: 120 lbs.
- Maximum Capacity: 500 lbs.
The Hobie Pro can carry a tremendous amount of weight and 500 lbs. It is way above other kayaks 350 lb — capacity, which is typical.
It can handle some mild waves while out at sea, but it is more at home on calmer lake waters and tighter rivers.
With a price tag of around $3500, it is a lot for a good many people, but for those who can make the best use of it, it can be the ideal solution. There is little chance any keen angler would even consider an upgrade from a kayak like this.
What to Look For When Buying a Pedal Kayak
Before taking a look at what you need to check when purchasing a pedal kayak fishing vessel, it is worth looking at the advantages of using pedals over paddles.
- Speed – Our legs are stronger than our arms. We can propel ourselves much faster through the water using pedals than our arms and a paddle.
- Noise – because the fins or propeller are already underwater, there will be no splashing around and the breaking of the water’s surface. This can make it much easier to creep up onto fish as there will be much less disturbance than using a paddle.
- Hands-free – You have more chance to deal with your fishing gear or eat your lunch while using pedals. It is also easier to stabilize the kayak while you are doing something else. You will still need to control the rudder, but a lot of the time, you can sit back and relax under pedal power.
- Less energy – It isn’t as strenuous on the body using your legs for power as it is using your arms, you can travel longer distances and pedal for an extended period before needing to take a breather. Rotational pedals are the better option here because if you pause for a rest, you will be floating and won’t need to start from a stationary position again.
- Staying Dry – This is the same as the kayak being silent. As the pedals are underwater, there is no chance of you being splashed by water from paddling.
- Easier to use – It is easier to use a pedal kayak than a paddle kayak. The sport is open to anyone who has differing levels of abilities, but with paddling, you learn and build up skills the more you do. A Pedal powered fishing kayak can help newer people to enjoy kayaking even if they possess no skills.
Many of the disadvantages you will see when you are looking to purchase a pedal kayak. One which won’t be evident until you hit the water is maneuverability.
When you have a propeller underneath a kayak, it can make it harder to maneuver. On top of this, you will be restricted to the depth of water that you can paddle in.
Shallow watered areas won’t be possible because of the equipment that is sat underneath your kayak. If you go into the shallower water, you stand the chance of being caught in grasses or the case of an ocean-going kayak, seaweed.
Turning is also harder and slower with pedals compared to paddles. Some of these pedal kayaks do have a lifting mechanism where you can raise the propeller and enter shallower waters.
With all this in mind, pedal kayaks are still a new technology, because of this, there are lots of people who are unsure about how to choose the best model that fits all their needs. Here is a breakdown of everything you should need to know when buying a kayak that comes with pedals.
Rotational Pedals VS. Push Pedals
There are two types of pedaling system available, and the easiest being push pedals. With this, you push the pedals to gain your forward propulsion.
This pedal type uses the bottom of your feet rather than the lower part of your body. If you are looking for a lower body workout, kayaks with foot paddles aren’t the best choice.
The other thing with a push pedal kayak is, as soon as you stop pushing, the kayak can come to a halt much faster than a regular type of kayak.
Push pedals can also put more strain on the legs, feet, and joints. Fatigue can set in early, and on occasions, users have reported the foot-powered kayak gives them cramps.
Rotational pedals are more like a bicycle, but with a different seating position. As with a bike, you can build up rotational momentum while preserving energy.
You can go faster while not working as hard, and the kayak won’t come to a sudden stop when you cease paddling.
With the increase in speed and energy efficiency, there is one downside. You do lose some of the available space on the deck because of the area needed for the pedals.
Not all kayaks are made of the same material. The cheapest and most common is plastic, and the more sturdy being made from composite materials such as carbon fiber. Plastic comes in two types and is either ABS or Polyethylene, which is cheaper and abrasion-resistant.
Most of the kayaks available are made of this, and although cheap, it can last a while. The drawback being it can be the heaviest option, and the sun’s UV rays can degrade it if a kayak spends extended periods in bright sunlight.
ABS is lighter but more expensive; it comes with the same durability, and also it does have UV resistance. ABS kayaks are also made in two sections so you can see more multi-colored options when they are made from this material.
Composites are the most expensive and are resistant to UV rays, and they are much lighter. However, they can be damaged more easily from rocks or dropping it when loading or unloading to the water.
Hull Size, Shape and Weight
This can be one of the most crucial aspects when deciding on a pedal kayak. If you are using it for fishing, you need one with a wide hull for stability. This is more crucial if you will be standing to cast or land a fish.
The other consideration is where you will be using the pedal fishing kayak. Water types will have a bearing on what is stable and what isn’t. Flat round shapes are more often used in more agile kayaks for smaller rivers.
Longer kayaks are easier to control, but the weight is added. This needs to be both carried and propelled through the water. Lengths usually start at around 10ft and go up to over 16ft.
Launching and Beaching Your Pedal Kayak
The process of launching and beaching both pedal and paddle kayaks is similar. However, there is one difference, and this is the propeller or the pedal system that protrudes from the bottom of the kayak.
Newer models allow you to remove the pedal system to prevent it from being knocked. However, some models don’t let the rudder to be removed.
One very crucial factor that is often overlooked. Many people see the seat as lightweight aluminum.
Although they are not heavy, they can make carrying and transporting your pedal kayak difficult. Whichever pedal kayak you decide up, you must make sure the seat is removable. It saves on carrying weight, and also it doesn’t affect the shape of the kayak when it is on the kayak carrying rack on top of your car.
What size of Kayak to Choose
There are many more options for regular kayaks because more designs are depending on the activity. With peddle driven kayaks, it is much easier. If you are going fishing, then the length shouldn’t be so much of a worry, the width would be more important for stability.
The downside of a wider kayak is, they are slower in the water and would consume more energy to paddle.
When it comes to length, this will affect maneuverability. Shorter ones can turn sharper while longer ones need a longer distance to turn, but they do cruise much easier.
Ocean-going kayaks are also generally longer, while the shorter models are for lakes and rivers.
Your body size also has a bearing on what you can go for. If you are tall, then it would need to be a 13-foot kayak for leg space.
Nonetheless, a shorter person could still use a log kayak because they would gain extra storage space. The longer sized kayaks are more of a touring kayak than one that is made for action.
A lot of this comes down to the types of water where you will be using it. If you are using your kayak in saltwater (ocean), it will need more cleaning with fresh water.
Although the hull might be okay against the seawater, and metal components in the pedal mechanism will quickly rust.
For this reason, and kayak, your purchase should come with rust and corrosion-resistant materials on the pedal mechanism. This can go a long way to preserving your kayak and your investment.
Don’t Forget Your Paddle
Even though these kayaks are pedal-powered, you still need a paddle. This can be crucial when you are launching or beaching into shallow water, and you would need to remove the pedal kit.
There is also the fact that the pedal drive system could break while you are out on the water, so a paddle is a necessity.
Transporting Your Kayak
If you are visiting various stretches of water, then you would need a means of carrying your kayak. In most cases, this would be a kayak car rack. Again, this is something that would require consideration to make sure your kayak fits the rack.
It was a lengthy review to conduct, but all things must come to an end, and there was a lot of information found out about all of the above kayaks.
As with any review, there can only be one winner, and in this comprehensive review on pedal kayaks, it was the Perception Kayak Pescador Pilot Fishing that came out triumphant.
Out of the kayaks reviewed, there was costly one, and although it was good, it was ruled out because the value for money was one of our top criteria.
With value in mind, we looked at features, and the Perception kayak offered more than some of the more expensive competition.
Not only this, it was the only one that could fit an extra person on board, albeit without a seat.
Then there were all the gear tracks, fish finders for kayaks can be quickly connected in the consoles, that are already there ready for a keen angler, and the inclusion of a cup holder was a well thought out idea. It is something so simple, and we were surprised no one else had included one.
As we were looking from an angler’s point of view, the inclusion of 4-rod holders was a welcome addition considering a second person could tag along.
This kayak is so versatile; you don’t need to use it just for fishing, even if you are by yourself, you can hit the water and take the Pilot kayaking for fun.
The Perception Pescador Pilot 12.0 pedal kayak is a well worthy winner, and any angler would be proud to make use of this affordable winner.