Best Pedal Kayak For Hands Free Kayaking

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Paddle kayaks have probably been around for thousands of years. But pedal kayak is relatively new and it has been growing in popularity in recent years. So much so that most kayak companies are starting to introduce a pedal version of their kayak. 

[Also read: Our detailed guide on the various different kayaks in the market if you are unsure which type of kayak suits you]

Pedalling with a kayak has its own unique charm. Once you start pedalling, you will not look back at paddling anymore. So, here is everything to know about pedal kayaks. 
[Also read: Our kayaking checklist on what to bring for kayaking]

Table of Contents

What Is A Pedal Kayak?

A pedal kayak is very similar to a traditional kayak, except that it has foot pedals instead of paddles. So, you can use the foot pedals to glide through the water.

You propel your kayak either via pushing or rotating the pedals. Then steer left or right with a hand-controlled rudder. If you are an experienced kayaker, you can even pedal through rapids too.  

Are Pedal Kayaks Worth It?

Absolutely! Generally, those who have experienced pedal kayaks will always choose pedals over paddles anytime when given the choice. Just by having a pedal, it can elevate your kayaking experience by leaps and bounds!

If you are an angler, having both of your hands-free to cast and reel is AMAZING! Imagine the freedom to navigate around the waters with just your legs while both hands are free to handle the rod or fish. 

Being able to operate hands-free and use lesser energy is something that you will definitely look forward to when you get a pedal kayak. So in this article, we will review 5 best pedal kayaks for hands free kayaking. If you are in a hurry and want to get the Best Pedal Kayak, we recommend BKC PK13 Pedal Drive Fishing Kayak

5 Best Pedal Kayak

The Radar 115 is Wilderness System’s first tri-powered kayak. Besides the pedals and the traditional paddle, you can also mount a trolling motor on this kayak. So, there are 3 ways to power this kayak. But all 3 – the motor, pedal and paddle are sold separately. 

This model features their S.M.A.R.T hull technology which comprises of Stability, Maneuverability, Acceleration, Responsiveness and Tracking. Making it one of Wilderness System’s most stable and versatile kayaks. 

The Radar 115 boast an extensive list of features that will be appealing to many people. There are Wilderness System’s SlideTrax rails on both sides of the kayak to mount your accessories.

Storage-wise, there are plenty of options with its 450 pounds weight capacity. From a tankwell with adjustable bungee behind the seat, to 2 waterproof hatches to store your dry items. There is also a moulded-in storage pocket for smaller items like tackles and lures. 

For comfort, Wilderness System’s highly adjustable AirPro seat is ergonomically designed. Plus, it can be reclined as well! The seat is made from breathable mesh material on a sturdy aluminum frame to keep your seat cool all day. 

PROS

CONS

  • Highly adjustable seats
  • Highly customizable with accessories
  • Very stable – can stand while casting

 

  • The pedal is sold separately

Perception Crank 10 is one of the most compact kayaks available. At just 10 feet long, it is very nimble on the water and easy to navigate around with it. But due to the small size, it has a weight capacity of only 350 pounds. 

This kayak features Perception’s latest pedal drive that is super efficient with a 6:1 gear ratio. Paired with its small size, that gives you amazing speed and manoeuvrability on the water. 

Stowing the pedal drive into the hull is easy, which gives you the capability to glide through shallow waters. When transporting, you can even remove the pedal drive so that it is easier to carry the kayak.  

The Crank 10’s highly adjustable pilot seat is made from breathable mesh for superior comfort. Sitting long hours on this kayak will not be a problem. Plus, whenever needed, you can fold and remove the seat too. 

For your emergency paddle, there is a groove on the side of the kayak and a small bungee strap to secure the paddle. You definitely do not want to be stuck with a malfunctioning pedal in the middle of nowhere right? So, always ensure your pedal kayak can store a paddle for emergencies. 

PROS

CONS

  • Compact & lightweight
  • Super efficient pedal – very nimble

 

  • Too small for some people
  • No dry storage option

 

The Perception Pescador Pilot 12 is designed to offer the best stability for a wide range of paddling styles. This kayak also has a spacious, sit-on-top design that offers plenty of space for all your gear owing to its 475 pounds weight capacity.

The Pescador Pilot features a roomy captain’s chair with an adjustable backrest for ergonomic support. The seat is made with mesh that promotes airflow to keep it cool even after sitting for hours. When transporting, the seat can be removed and folded for easy handling. 

For superior navigation experience, this kayak has the Pilot Drive system for forward-and-reverse pedalling. You can fold up the Pilot Drive’s propellers in shallow waters, and the whole unit is removable for transportation. Plus, there is also a 360-degree hand-controlled rudder for steering. 

For mounting your accessories, there is are gear tracks on both left and right sides of the kayak. Bonus for anglers, you will be thrilled to find 4 moulded-in rod holders as well. So, no need to do any drilling onto this kayak. 

PROS

CONS

  • Very stable – can stand while casting
  • Removable seat & propeller system
  • Well designed for fishing

 

  • Poorly made rudder system – difficult to use & not durable
  • No dry storage option

 

This PK13 from Brooklyn Kayak Company is one of the lightest pedal kayak in its category. Weighing merely 80 pounds for a 13 feet kayak, it can take up to 550 pounds in terms of weight capacity.  

Rest assured, the lighter weight does not mean it is lacking in features. This kayak has a spacious cargo area with bungee tie-down straps to secure your items safely on the kayak. Plus, 2 waterproof hatches to store all your dry stuff. 

In terms of comfort, the PK13’s pilot seat is built from a lightweight but sturdy aluminum frame. Its padded backrest is adjustable to suit your sitting position. Definitely comfortable enough to sit for hours.

The PK13 is designed to be very versatile. It comes with a paddle that can be clipped to the side of the kayak when not in use. The pedal drive system can be removed for you to paddle through shallow waters. Or you can even attach a trolling motor on it!  

PROS

CONS

  • Comes with a paddle
  • Can be upgraded with a trolling motor
  • Massive weight capacity

 

  • No gear tracks for accessories
  • Not friendly for aftermarket modifications

 

The Old Town Sportsman 120 boast to be one of the most spacious kayaks in the market. Having a large tankwell with tie-down bungee and an impressive size hatch, you can fit a whole day’s worth of fishing supplies on board. And fret not about the weight, this Sportsman 120 can handle up to 500 pounds in terms of weight capacity. 

Specially designed for stand up fishing, this kayak features Topwater’s ultra-stable DoubleU hull. It has a tunnel hull design of 2 inverted U’s, that is capable of handling sudden movements. There are also deck pads for your to comfortably stand on without slipping overboard. 

But if you prefer to sit more instead of standing, rest assured that this kayak has a superior seat design. Equipped with an amazing lumbar support and able to adjust the seat to accommodate leg length. Not to mention the mesh cover provides ventilation to keep the seat cool all day.

The star of the Sportsman 120 is none other than Old Town’s award-winning PDL drive with a patented easy-docking system for pain-free launch and landing. Easily stow the propeller as you enter shallow waters, giving you the freedom to access anywhere on the water.  

PROS

CONS

  • Has a universal transducer mount
  • Very smooth steering
  • Ultra stable – designed for stand up fishing

 

  • Slow on the water – a trade-off for amazing stability

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST PEDAL KAYAK

Pedal kayak is relatively new in the market with new innovations adding to it regularly. So, choosing a suitable one for you may be confusing. But fret not, these are some of the critical factors that you need to consider when buying a pedal kayak now. 

Weight Capacity

Storage and weight capacity should always be the first thing you look out for when choosing a kayak. If you plan to spend long hours on the water, there are a lot of things that you need to bring. But how much you can bring onboard highly depends on the kayak’s weight capacity. 

So, try to be aware of your item weight and stay well below the weight capacity. It is truly a make-or-break factor. Also, if you have the tendency to bring electronics or anything that needs to be kept dry, ensure that the kayak has a waterproof hatch to store them.

Paddle For Emergency

While pedalling is great, it is always good to have a paddle in case the propeller system failed. The last thing you ever want is to be stuck out on the water with no means to get back to shore. 

Therefore, always ensure the kayak you are planning to get comes with a paddle or at least has room to store a paddle. 

Folding Propeller System

A kayak is supposed to give you a lot of freedom to explore any water source – lakes, hidden bays, mangroves, islands & more. But older designed pedal kayaks are rigid. The propeller cannot go through shallow waters or waters with lots of water plants without getting damaged or stuck.   

But through innovation, we now have propeller systems that can fold or retract into the hull. All that being done while you are still on the water. Hence, giving you back the freedom to explore anywhere without risking damages to your propeller. 

Therefore, you need to be absolutely sure that whichever kayak you get must have a flexible propeller system. 

Comfort

When you are going to sit on a kayak for long hours, you would definitely appreciate a comfortable kayak to sit on. Just like how people would heavily invest in a good ergonomic chair if they are sitting long hours to work. 

Look out for features that indicate comfort, such as cushions or padding on the seats. Plus, since people have different heights and sizes, look out for adjustable seats as well. Those are some of the most basic features for comfort. 
[If you want to upgrade your kayak seat, we have a guide on Best Kayak Seat for Bad Back.]

FAQ (FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS)

Q: Are pedal kayaks more stable?

A: The kayak’s stability on the water is highly dependent on its width and weight. Generally, pedal kayaks weigh a little more due to the pedal system. So, pedal kayaks are generally more stable than other types of kayaks. 

Q: Are pedal kayaks faster?

A: Definitely! And not only that, it can glide much quieter on the water too compared to paddles. This is its biggest advantage when you are going for kayak fishing. You can move faster to your favourite spot without startling the fish away. 

Q: Are pedal kayaks good exercise? 

A: For your legs, yes of course. But the good thing about pedal kayak is, you can exercise your arms too with the paddle. Especially since we strongly encourage people to bring a paddle along in case the pedal malfunction. You can always switch between paddling and pedalling anytime. 
We have a complete guide on Best Kayak Paddle by the way if you do not have a paddle yet.

Q: Are pedal kayaks good for fishing? 

A: Absolutely! The freedom to cast and reel with both hands is just amazing. Plus, being able to pedal backwards when fighting with the fish is a bonus too. Many pedal kayaks are well designed for anglers in mind. 

If you are looking for a fish finder to attach to your kayak, I ‘d recommend you checkout my guide on Best Kayak Fish Finder.

 

OUR VERDICT

All the kayaks we reviewed above, fulfil the most important aspects of choosing the best pedal kayak. If this is your first purchase and you do not have many requirements, we recommend starting your journey with the BKC PK13 Pedal Drive Fishing Kayak. It is a very simple kayak that even comes in a complete package with a paddle. 

However, if you are a seasoned kayaker, we highly recommend the Old Town Sportsman 120 Fishing Kayak. It has a lot of amazing features built-in which fulfils a larger requirement list. Plus, there are options to add more aftermarket accessories too. As expected from a company that has been making kayaks for over a hundred years. 

CLOSING THOUGHTS

No matter which kayak you get, it will be a massive investment. So, the next thing you need to do is to protect your investment by getting a kayak rack. A good kayak rack can safely transport your brand new kayak to the water. It’s truly a necessity. Hence, we highly recommend you learn more about kayak racks and how to pick the right one from our detailed guide here

Jules and Ken

Jules and Ken

We are outdoor lovers, travellers, and writers all rolled into one. You have seen our posts here reviewing lots of different types of outdoor gear, camping equipment, RV equipment, kayaking, to cycling. Our reviews are guided by our years of experience being outdoors. We are happy to share our knowledge with you to make a better choice when you are outdoors.

We hope you enjoyed this article and if you have questions about Best Pedal Kayak For Hands Free Kayaking or want to leave your own personal comments, feel free to leave a comment below. We would love to hear from you!

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