Best Pedal Kayaks

Pedal Kayaks - Reviews & Guides For 2024

Our Top Pedal Kayaks

Our Top Pedal Kayaks

Pedal Kayak Buyers Guide

Pedal kayaks add a feature of comfort. Kayaks have always been an eco-friendly and active way to enjoy recreational activity. But now, with pedals, almost anyone can take a trip on this minimalist yet exciting boat alternative!

However, if you're looking to buy a pedal kayak, you might get confused. Think about all the aspects you have to consider when purchasing a conventional kayak. Now, put the consideration for pedaling and convenience on top of that. Don't you worry!

To help you ease through the selection, you have this ultimate guide to buy pedal kayaks. It encompasses various questions, tips, and suggestions to help you make a personalized choice. As you move along the guide, you will acquire valuable information that will help you make an informed decision.

Factors to consider when buying pedal kayaks

There are many different models, designs, and manufacturers available for pedal kayaks. It can become a daunting task to choose the right kayak. A pedal kayak has similar options to a conventional kayak, with additional consideration for a pedal and rudder.

In this guide, you will find some overview and basics of choosing a pedal kayak. Furthermore, there is a final determining factor to help you make a choice. So, let's begin:

The pedal system

There are two different types of pedal systems available for kayaks. On the surface, it seems like there isn't much difference. You might even wonder if it makes sense. But if you look deeper, both of these have some pros and cons.

It will come down to your preference and what kind of kayak you are looking for. Here's a quick overview of both systems. Additionally, there's another aspect you can check in pedal systems.

Rotation pedals

A rotation pedal works similar to how you would pedal a bike. It uses a sweeping motion from your leg. Thus, it requires more energy. Due to its requirements, it also occupies more space on the kayak for your leg to move freely and for the pedal to rotate completely.

On the plus side, it brings you more power and speed. You power a propulsion system under the kayak to move ahead. It can get loud if you use the pedal too fat, but overall, it is a good selection. You might have to stabilize and balance yourself a bit more.

Push pedals

Push pedals don't have a rotation or a propulsion system. They have flaps that work as you push each paddle. This flapping is closer to 'paddling' but under the kayak. Thus, it's almost like you're swimming the kayak rather than providing it propulsion.

This system is quieter and more efficient. It doesn't exhaust you as quickly and doesn't require you to provide too much space. It just needs enough for you to push your feet against the pedals. However, it significantly lacks speed as well.

The primary benefit of push pedals is more silence and stability. These are easier to control, and you will have a smoother ride around the area.

Reverse pedals

It is not a pedal system but a feature of the pre-existing pedal system. Some manufacturers bring you the convenience to reverse pedal a kayak. It allows you to move back, especially if you're in a tight spot. The feature can be handy as you will have more range of motion to use with a kayak. However, you can't expect it to have too much speed. It's like the reverse option in your cars.

You will find it more commonly in rotation pedals as it can be challenging to use the feature in push pedals, but you may find it with some adjustment feature for the push pedals.

Skegs and rudder

As you will be relying on the pedals to move your kayak, rudders play a vital role in pedal kayaks to move them around and steer them in the right direction. Skegs can also offer additional stability and control to a person if they are new to kayaking.

Do you need a skeg?

Of course, skegs are more for stability and not the directional purpose, but they occupy more space. You don't need to rely upon any muscle group for them. So if you want more stability, these are a good addition but not a necessity. Many people combine skeg with a rudder for more control. They are also cheap to buy and use.

Rudder consideration

You might want to consider the type of rudder you want. As you are already using legs for pedaling the kayak, you'd need something manual for your hands. Thus, the placement of the rudder should be convenient for your hands. Some come with a single handle like conventional pedal boats and make it sufficient for you to pedal it.

However, there are moving levels on each side of the kayak for you to pull or release to change the boat's direction as you move along for more authentic appeal.

Types of pedal kayaks

Before getting into physical considerations, you first have to determine the type of pedal kayak. If you cut down the manufacturers' schemes, you will get three types of kayaks to consider. You may even call it 'choosing according to the purpose.'

Sea pedal kayaks

These kayaks can withstand the highs and lows of the sea waves. It will be more stable than other kayaks with a broader design. Thus, you will cover the distance faster. Fiberglass is the most common material available for sea pedal kayaks. It can withstand the tolls of salt water, moisture, sunlight, and other elements.

Overall, you will get more efficiency and comfort with sea pedal kayaks than with other options.

Touring pedal kayaks

These will be longer than sea pedal kayaks and narrower to provide more speed and acceleration. Thus, they will make pedaling more efficient with each stride. The challenging aspect of touring pedal kayaks is the control of the turns. It is still smooth and has a rudder, but you can't take sharp turns.

Touring pedal kayaks are often better on straight waters or to take long turns. You will find push pedals as the most common addition to bring you a balance of speed, control, and comfort. However, rotation pedals are also an option.

Race pedal kayaks

Race pedal kayaks use different or larger pedals than the standard and also provide extra speed and propulsion. The entire focus will be on speed, so this is as narrow and as long as you can go. Similar to touring pedals, you will have difficulty in turning efficiently. However, stability will be in question as well.

To provide you more speed, these kayaks are more on the surface of the water than immersed. This is a significant difference between sea pedal kayaks and race pedal kayaks. You are effectively compromising stability, control, and steering for more speed, acceleration, and performance.

Single or tandem kayak

To provide you more speed, these kayaks are more on the surface of the water than immersed. This is a significant difference between sea pedal kayaks and race pedal kayaks. You are effectively compromising stability, control, and steering for more speed, acceleration, and performance.

Single kayaks

A single kayak is exclusively for one person to use. If you're choosing a pedal kayak for yourself, make sure that the kayak's size and width are precisely according to your requirement. The weight support of the kayak will also depend on you and your storage requirements.

As it is for a single person, others can use it, but it won't fit them as well as it would suit you. Single kayaks are usually convenient for a person to carry around. You can port them or even lift them. However, the problem could be with storage. If you have excessive storage requirements, semi-tandems might be better.

Single kayaks are often shorter in design for one person to use, steer, and control.

Semi tandems

Semi tandems are more suitable if you have a pet or a child you want to carry along. Alternatively, if you have excessive storage requirements, it could bring you the convenience of more storage. The additional weight support and a little more length are undoubtedly admirable.

Thus, you get better acceleration and higher speed. However, semi-tandems are a little heavier than conventional pedal kayaks and not easy for one person to transport them unless you own a vehicle. Additionally, semi tandems cost a little more than kayaks, but if you are still planning for a single-person pedal kayak with some flexibility, it is a great option.


Most people prefer to buy tandems when considering pedal kayaks. These enable you o have two people move around in a kayak. You get the additional support of the pedaling for higher speed and efficiency. Even a single person can pedal while others rest with tandem pedal kayaks.

These kayaks will always be longer and slightly wider in size to support two people. It also needs to have a proper hull to support the weight. Thus, it will be heavier. You will have a little challenging time to steer it around and lose a little maneuverability, but that's a fair trade to use it with a person.

You should consider tandems if you're sure that you have another person to join you. Of course, you would have to practice with the person as it would take some time to get used to balance and stability. You will find a push pedal as a standard addition for these kayaks.

Looking at the kayak

Whether you choose a type of kayak or not, it's time to start the consideration for making a personalized choice. Now, the first aspect would be the size, space, and weight of the kayak. These physical attributes will make a significant impact on your experience and the overall value of the kayak. Here's a quick guide:

Size of the kayak

A wider kayak is more stable and makes it easier for you to control it. If you are new to kayaking or don't know how to pedal efficiently, it could be a good addition. However, if you want to cut down water resistance, narrow kayaks would be better as they will ease maneuver.

The length of the kayak will matter equally. If you choose longer kayaks, you will have more speed, while shorter kayaks will bring you better steering and less acceleration. For the size of the kayak, you will also have to consider the size of the pedals.

You can't have short pedals and expect it to work with a longer kayak efficiently. It would require your more circular pedals. Thus, you will occupy more space in the kayak, as well.

Space in the kayak

The space in your kayak is paramount. It comprises your cockpit and determines the type of seat you will use. Most of the pedal kayaks come with seats-on-top, which makes it easier for you to pedal. However, you will also find sit-in kayak designs to more control.

If you choose a rotational pedal, you need to get inside the kayak and check your leg's movement. It should be efficient without causing any stress on you to adjust for space. After that, consider the storage requirements and area you would need.

Most people need to store at least a small bag. If you're an angler, you might want to carry a rod and other fishing equipment. Thankfully, pedal kayaks bring you space that you'd use for pedals. Many pedal kayaks also come with additional features of rod and bag holding for anglers.

Consider the storage

As mentioned earlier, a semi tandem has more storage space that enables you to carry a pet or child or excessive items conveniently. Consider the storage according to your day-to-day requirement of the kayak. You can decide the maximum space or weight you need and get a pedal kayak.

Don't forget the hull

The hull of your kayak will determine its stability, and there are two different types of stability: primary and secondary. You need to make the same consideration as a typical kayak, but if you're not sure, here's a quick overview.

If you plan on using the kayak for flatwater, a flat hull is better. It has excellent stability for beginners, and it is something you will find in most recreational kayaks. You get remarkable initial stability for the kayak.

A rounded hull will have more secondary stability. Thus, you can paddle better and not worry about losing control quickly. However, if you want the best initial and secondary stability, then a pontoon hull would be the best choice. It brings you impeccable stability but compromises speed and acceleration.

Of course, if you want speed, even for pedal kayaks, then you might want to consider a V-shaped hull.

Important considerations

The above-given considerations are significant to shortlist a pedal kayak. Now here are the final determining factors that would help you get the best pedal kayaks:

The material of the pedal kayak

There are different materials available for pedal kayaks, similar to a conventional kayak. You would have to make sure you choose the one that falls under your budget. If you want a cost-effective and cheap kayak that you will use once in a while, plastic is ideal.

ABS plastic is fantastic. It is highly cost-effective, and you needn't worry about maintenance too much. However, they will eventually roughen up or corrode away. ABS plastic is naturally resistant to water, but the sunlight will break its integrity.

A fiberglass is a balanced option that is perfect for regular kayak users. It might require some maintenance like cleaning, polishing, or coating. Overall, the maintenance is pretty standard. Fiberglass is a cost-effective and long-lasting choice. It usually has a mid-range cost. Fiberglass kayaks are heavier than plastic kayaks.

There's no need for you to consider carbon kayaks unless you are a competitive kayak user or use kayak regularly. A carbon kayak is a highly durable, very lightweight, and most expensive choice. You may even consider it premium.

Seat compatibility and option

The best thing about pedal kayaks is that it is compatible with various seating options. You can even get a captain's seat as long as you choose the right kayak. Thus, you have to ensure that you are getting the kayak that supports the seat you want. Seating-in and seating-top kayaks would also make a significant impact.

If you want to save yourself from the splash of water and whatnot, seating-in are better options. They are more compact but harder to get in and out of. Alternatively, sit-on-top kayaks usually have an easier time getting in and out but wouldn't save you from the inevitable water splashes. So it would also depend on the weather.

As a pro-tip, when you're choosing the seat, make sure it has proper back support for you. You will need appropriate padding and cushioning as well. Anti-UV and waterproofing elements become paramount. So always get the best option. Make sure your seat works in-sync with the pedals you get.

Overall comfort

Finally, it comes down to overall comfort. You should be able to sit snuggly. The kayak should paddle effectively, and you would also have enough space. If anything is missing, you might want to reconsider the kayak and check for extra features or additions.

FAQs: Best Pedal Kayaks

Q: What are some significant differences between paddle and pedal kayaks?

A: Pedal kayaks bring you the ease of using your leg muscles. As these muscles are more durable, you can pedal for a more extended period. It also gets you better speed and ease of control. A paddle kayak is more for the authentic experience of the recreational activity.

However, if you plan on indulging in other activities or need your hands to be free, a pedal is more suitable. For example, if you're an angler, you would admire the ease of pedals while you can use your hands for the fishing rod.

Q: What are some benefits of pedal kayaks?

A: Pedals don't require you to learn how to use the paddle. You eliminate the need to consider different types of paddles to buy for a kayak. More importantly, you get better speed and energy conservation. It makes kaya a more user-friendly activity.

You also receive the typical benefits of kayaks like sleek appearance, higher speed, and the ability to go on a solo trip. It brings you excellent acceleration, and you won't feel the need to rely on the fuel or motor of conventional boats. Overall, it's a big win for those who want comfort and convenience mixed with kayaking's standard benefits.

Q: Can you add a motor to kayaks?

A: You can, but it will take away the appeal of the kayaks and make it like any other regular boat. More importantly, it can be hard to control the power of the boat and balance it with a kayak. Your kayak needs reasonable balance control, which motor will blow out of proportions. So, while you can use an engine, it's not a wise decision.

Q: How fast can a pedal kayak go?

A: With average pedaling, you can receive a speed of around 3.5 to 4 knots. If you decide to take it up a notch, you can very-well receive the rate up to seven knots, or eight miles per hour, which is remarkable for a kayak. If you sincerely want to tweak the kayak up for speed and performance in the pedal, you can even reach two digits. However, that would require different considerations.

Q: How to clean or maintain a pedal kayak?

A: There isn't any unique addition you need to make to clean the pedal kayaks. You can use warm and soapy water or a more potent solution to remove any mold and other elements. However, you might have to add some lubrication and care to the pedal system to ensure longevity. It would also depend on the material of your kayak and the pedal. That's all!

Q: What is primary and secondary stability?

A: Primary stability is how stable the kayak is when you get in and out of the kayak. Secondary stability is how stable it is when you pedal it around.


Hopefully, the guide manages to highlight all the integral aspects while giving you quick guidelines for choices!

Now you know everything about pedal kayaks. Remember, comfort and efficiency matter the most for these kayaks. You needn't worry about speed too much. So, choose your perfect pedal kayak and go on a trip with your loved ones or a solo venture. / - © Copyright 2020