Basic Guide to Pedal Kayaks | Product Review 2017

Since the arrival of the 19th century the advent of kayaks has slowly yet effectively revolutionized water movement all over the world. Advancement in Kayaks have also been noticeable with a range of kayaks available in the market: from the commonplace paddling kayaks to the new age pedal kayaks. Efficiency in design and movement have caused Pedal kayaks to steal away the spotlight from paddling kayaks although the later has occupied the market much earlier. The main difference in their mechanism is that for its movement the pedal kayaks depend upon your lower body strength which is much greater compared to the strength of your hands. In this article we shall discuss all the general aspects of pedal kayaks and review each one of them critically.

Pedal Kayaks

The Best Pedal Kayak Brands

Brand names though few in number dominate the market of pedal kayaks but it still seems like the kayak market is kind of unsaturated. The top two brands that deserve mention in every article about pedal kayaks are stated below.

  • Native Watercraft Propel : The propel brand has been there in the kayak business for a long time and has supplied a variety of improved and innovative pedal kayaks. It has a unique system called the propel pedal drive which pushes the kayak forward using a propeller. Backward movement is also allowed in this kayak which is an added bonus.


  • Reverse pedaling is allowed.
  • Tracking is efficient in any given configuration.
  • Kayak launching is easier in this kayak.

Cons :

  • The bottom of the kayak requires a minimum of one-foot clearance so that it abstains from hitting the bottom of the river.


  • Hobie Kayak Mirage : The brand of Hobie Kayaks have a reputation of their own and they have done a great deal to maintain that reputation over the years. Venturing into the pedal kayak production they have produced a variety of pedal kayaks which are known greatly for their reliability. Many versions of their products are available so that no new technology is kept away from their customers. Their noteworthy aspect is the Mirage Drive which is a technology included to improve pedaling performances. The working principle is simple where an inward push of the pedals by your feet causes the mechanism to move the flippers and make them cross each other thus displacing water and propelling the kayak.

Pros :

  • The pedal system allows it to smoothly maneuver in shallow waters.
  • The fins have a system of folding them up against the hull when necessary.

Cons :

  • Reverse function not available.
  • Tracking is not on a par with the absence of a rudder.
  • Rough back and forth movement.


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Control and Stability

Stability of a Pedal kayak is determined to a large extent by the hull size. Those getting involved in kayak fishing and are in the beginner’s stage will face a certain degree of uncertainty in the water as they fail to grasp the fact that the kayak does not possess a bottom that is flat and wide. And this narrow bottom will allow them to move side to side by leaning and therefore enhance the stability of the Kayak instead of decreasing it. It also makes the kayaks faster. But the problem is that most dealers will not take the time and effort to explain this and will rather sell their customers wide hull barges. Essentially the size of the hull is interdependent upon the nature of the waters on which you will be kayaking.

For example, with a more flat and round shaped hullthe kayaks become more agile and easily maneuverable although sacrificing a bit on tracking. Stability can thus be both of primary and secondary types. With secondary stability we refer to the angle at which the kayak will capsize. With respect to secondary stability v shaped kayaks are very efficient and provide the best tracking although they are very maleficent for primary tracking. On the other hand, the flat hull kayaks are better with regards to primary stability which will result in quick turns but inefficient tracking in straight paths.

Primary stability can prove to be great for beginners in calm waters but as the water begins to become rough the kayak may start to capsize and gradually tip over.

Speed and Velocity

After a long and hard debate, you will generally come to the conclusion that the speed depends primarily on who is driving the kayak. A driver with a strong lower body than an upper one will affect the speed of the kayak more effectively. Comparing pedal kayaks with paddling kayaks the former tends to be a bit on the slower side due to its design. Stability enhancement is obtained with a somewhat wider design for pedal kayaks which cost them their speed to a certain degree. The rudders used to steer the kayak also increase the friction inside the water therefore further decreasing the speed of the kayak. These reasons generally cause the rider to get fatigued easily and early. For this reason, pedal kayaks are not used for racing purpose and instead used for recreational purposes such as fishing. A kayak with a wider hull will be more on the slower side.

Turning and Tracking

For tracking and turning purposes and moreover stability issues the pedal kayaks are built slightly wider and heavier than paddling kayaks. Steering ability in pedal kayaks are limited to a certain extent. Supported by a hand activated rudder stick pedal kayaks are less efficient in tracking and turning purposes than paddling kayaks.

A paddle kayak allows the rider to make sharp and controlled turns whereas a pedal kayak will compel you to make adjustments similar to those made on boats. Your hand usually controls the lever placed in the kayak cockpit and used to control the steering rudders of the kayak. 10 percent speed is sacrificed due to the implementation of the rudders and kayakers experience a hard time achieving their target top speed in a pedal kayak. And as for the rudder they might get stuck once the kayak is dwelled in shallow waters.

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  • Basic Guide to Pedal Kayaks | Product Review 2017
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  • Last modified: February 14, 2017

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