Best Pedal Powered Kayaks Reviewed
If you have never tried a pedal drive kayak before then you are in for a real treat. These boats are very impressive on the water, and consequently have become real deal players among kayak and fishing enthusiasts.
Just imagine everything that makes a conventional kayak incredible, and add hands-free operation. Its a wonderful thing.
Beyond hands free propulsion, the very best pedal powered kayaks also offer everything you will find in the top kayak models. Features like dry hatch storage, super comfortable seating, rod holders and customizable gear tracks are all familiar staples of today’s top pedal drive kayak models.
That’s not to say every model offers the same level of performance and features, because that is definitely not the case. As you’ll see, our review favored some pedal kayaks more than others and we outline exactly which features we liked and disliked.
Which model will provide for everything you are going to want will depend on how you want to use your pedal drive kayak. It’s important to put together the whole picture of features, price, reliability and ease of use before you make a purchase.
Since we are talking about pedal powered kayaks, the pedal drive system is a vital piece of the equation and you want to be sure that this aspect of your kayak performs up to high standards. There are a few different designs to consider along with a number of other aspects that make one pedal powered kayak better than another.
We are huge fans of pedal driven kayaks in general. They are just a delight to use and enjoy on the water. With that in mind, we want to help you find a boat that you will enjoy for years to come.
Alright, so lets jump right in!
Top Pedal Kayak Comparison Chart
Best Pedal Powered Kayaks
Designed for hands-free kayaking with an inbuilt Pilot drive propeller and one-handed 360-degree rudder control, the Perception Pescador Pilot 12 Pedal Drive is the ideal place to start our explorations into the best on the market. Designed, molded, and assembled in the US and weighing in at 85 pounds, this Pescador offering is built with stability in mind. So much so that anglers using this design should easily be able to cast off while standing!
While narrower than many other pedal kayaks on the market at just 33.75 inches, the Perception Pescador does have the undeniable benefit of a spacious sit-on-top design complete with adjustable mesh chair that makes for the ideal relaxing ride. Generous storage and accessory mounts also provide an impressive 475 pounds should you need to take along fishing gear or similar during your water-based expedition. That’s the best storage on our list, and is well worth considering if you don’t like to travel light.
Given its superior stability, any keen kayaker looking to hit choppy or uneven waters is sure to find something to write home about in this design. From flatwater to the ocean, this craft is so versatile it can take you anywhere.
The only notable disadvantage for this release is its weight. Lugging 85 pounds of kayak across dry land is far from easy, so it may be best to keep that job for two people, something of an inevitable allowance for a kayak with such impressive storage capabilities. Indeed, this remains one of the principal, affordable contenders on the market for keen fishers, on-water photographers, and anyone else looking for hands-free ease they can rely on.
This video shows the many features of the Perception Pescador Pilot 12:
- Pedal-driven performance at an unbelievable price - Made in USA
- Lawn chair style mesh seat with 2-level seat adjustment and breathable mesh for ultimate all-day comfort and no pain
- Pilot drive pedal system can be fully recessed into hull for zero draft
- Leak-proof one-piece construction with built-in buoyancy for added safety
- Large front and rear open storage for cooler, tackle, and other gear
Speaking of the best pedal kayaks for fishers and anglers, the Old Town Topwater 106 PDL is another significant contender in this market. Specially designed with angling in mind, this more compact option measures a total of 10 Foot 6 Inches, while still boasting a 450-pound max load capacity.
Unsurprisingly, this release from the world’s oldest and largest canoe and kayak company packs plenty of punch. The pedal drive itself is something to write home about, complete with an instant forward and reverse motion for precision you’d struggle to find elsewhere. Add to that the easy-turning trucker control knob in a doubleU hull, and you could say controlling a kayak doesn’t get better.
Unlike the Perception, width isn’t a worry here, with the Topwater measuring in at a far more generous 36 inches. This and the padded high-set ElementAir seat mean that you’re in for a comfortable ride no matter how long you spend on the water. There are also padded floor pads integrated just underneath the seating area for added grip if you choose to stand at any stage.
Accessorization is also fantastic on this release, with fiberglass-reinforced Predator angle paddles available for those who desire a hybrid experience. An optional personal flotation device is also on offer to take comfort levels even higher.
Sadly, the width of this release is both a plus point and the most notable negative, with many car racks failing to accommodate. A point worth noting, perhaps, before you take the plunge. Still, with 81% of positive reviews on Amazon and a whole lot going for it to make that recognition worthwhile, any serious kayaking angler would do well to consider this option.
- Old Town's Topwater PDL Angler fishing Kayak provides a stable, comfortable, easy-to-maneuver, hands-free fishing platform in a compact, nimble package.
- The Topwater PDL Angler uses the low maintenance forward/reverse pedal drive and a patent-pending easy-docking system for hands-free performance Fishing.
- Packed with features, the Topwater PDL Angler includes an adjustable element Air seat, an oversized stern tank well for storing gear, three rod holders, Rod and tackle storage, and EVA foam deck pads for traction and comfort while standing.
- Thanks to an ultra-stable double hull design, the Topwater PDL Angler provides unmatched stability and precision handling in a compact, easy-to-transport design.
- The kayak's revolutionary universal transducer mounting system makes it easier than ever to mount your favorite fish finder.
Available in an iconic yellow design that’s sure to help you stand out on the water, Hobie’s pedal-powered tribute to their Mirage Drive is also a significant contender for attention. At just 65 lbs in weight, this is undoubtedly the most lightweight design we’ve considered so far, and that in itself makes it worth your consideration. Add to that the easy-use retractable steering system and stowable rudder, and you’ve definitely got an easy-to-manage kayak with pedal drive.
Length-wise, the Mirage Passport, and the Topwater are both identical at 10 feet six inches. That said, the Passport is slightly narrower at 34 inches in width, which could prove a plus or a minus depending on your needs.
Admittedly, the design on offer here is fairly more simplistic than the others mentioned (bright yellow finish aside,) though the mesh aluminum frame seat still offers a fair amount of comfort. Do note, though, that this seating option isn’t adjustable or particularly padded, making it not quite the perfect seating arrangement if you typically embark on long day rides.
While storage is less of a focus with this stripped-back design, an 8 twist-n-seal hatch still provides easy storage and access to necessary gear. While anglers might want to steer clear for better-equipped designs, photographers or general kayakers could still find plenty to enjoy in the Passport. And, with a recent reassessment of a previously high price point, it’s an affordable option to boot.
While all pedal-powered kayaks offer ease-of-use for hands-free operations, none do so quite as well as the Native Watercraft Slayer 10. With the ability to power right through the water using your feet, this option certainly makes for precision control like few other releases on the market right now. Even better, a compact 10-inch design and 62 pound unrigged weight means that no rider should struggle to get on the water with this, the lightest pedal drive option on the market right now.
Admittedly, the weight capacity for this option is slightly lower than both the Perception and the Topwater at just 400 pounds, but there’s still ample storage space to be going along with, including a sealed compartment behind the seat. The Slayer also comes complete with three-rod holders, and a right-handed cup holder to ensure you’re able to sit back and relax during your trip. Something you might not be able to resist thanks to the addition of an armchair-comfortable, adjustable seat!
Rotational pedals are in place to ensure that you’re able to cross the water quickly, a fact that’s only highlighted with a forward and reverse easy-drive system. A 34-inch depth also allows for stand-up casting on or fishing, whatever the weather. Beware, though, that this model can reach speeds of up to 5.2 miles per hour in certain conditions, making it ideal for speed lovers, at least.
Sadly, accessorization options with this release aren’t quite up to the same standards as elsewhere, with no paddle holder even should you like the option. At 81 pounds when rigged, this design can also become pretty weighty, meaning that those purchasing for the boast of a 62-pound unrigged weight might want to think twice unless they’re willing to face serious work each time they get ready for a trip.
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Available in three vibrant colors, we end our exploration with the BKC PK11. Weighing just 60 pounds at all times, you can bet this compact kayak will make for some smooth riding indeed, all without compromise on a 420-pound max weight capacity for every need. But, what else does this release have going for it?
The main feature of note is, by far, the pedal-speed system with instant reverse, which provides unbeatable speed on the water, and even offers the option for upping that benefit with a trolling motor. That isn’t the only adjustable choice on this model either, with riders able to entirely remove the pedal drive system for even lighter experiences if they decide to do things the old-fashioned way.
Stability is also a significant plus point here, with the single piece roto-molded hull designed to stand up in even adverse weather conditions. This is a benefit that can make for comfortable riding at all times and works in perfect tandem with inbuilt ergonomic seating, complete with back support and multiple adjustment points. By making use of this and the three flush-mounted rod holders, it’s certainly possible to get comfortable on longer trips with this release.
It is worth noting that durability can be an issue with this design if proper care and maintenance isn’t adhered to, and a limited parts warranty of just a year could become an issue in these cases. Still, if you’re looking for a starter kayak or just a lightweight option you can put a lot of love into, BKC has you covered.
- THE PERFECT KAYAK FOR OUTDOOR FUN: Our Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC PK11 kayak is built for excitement. Bicycle style pedals turn a high efficiency propeller, allowing you to tuck your paddle into the paddle keeper and go hands-free. The hand operated rudder controls will keep you tracking while underway and enhance your steering capabilities, allowing you to make sharp and quick turns.
- FULLY LOADED ACCESSORIES: Our kayak comes equipped with an ergonomic aluminum frame seat, adjustable aluminum paddle, 2 waterproof hatches, 3 built in rod holders, 2 paddle parks, and 1 bungee cargo tie down. We have all the accessories you need for your next excursion.
- PEDAL DRIVE SYSTEM: Get your kayak moving faster than ever with or without a paddle using the included pedal-driven propeller system. Stop on a dime or go in reverse by just pedaling backwards. With an optional trolling motor upgrade, you can customize for even more effortless cruising.
- CRAFTED FOR STABILITY: Our Roto Molded single Piece High density polyethylene material is superior to inflatable kayaks and a capable craft on ocean, lake, or river, while supporting up to 420 lbs. It rides currents, slices through chop, and glides over still water with effortless grace.
- BUILT-IN FISHING ROD HOLDERS: 3 flush-mount rod holders will keep multiple baited lines in the water at once or just keep the rods out of your way during paddling or pedaling. Whatever your preference, convenience is always an option.
My Final Thoughts On Pedal Drive Kayaks
For anglers, especially, pedal drive kayaks are something of a no-brainer thanks to the easy maneuverability they bring to fishing on the move. Those looking to enjoy the view or take pictures can also benefit from considering a cheap pedal kayak option. It’s almost like riding an incredibly comfortable mountain bike, only in the water. One thing’s sure; with comfort at the heart of pretty much every offering on this list, it’s difficult not to want to give these a go.
When buying, simply keep in mind price points, promise of ease, and storage capabilities that suit your every need. Then, buckle up and get ready for water-based experiences unlike any you’ve had before.