Ascend Vs Pelican Kayaks — Which One To Choose?

Ascend Vs Pelican Kayaks — Which One To Choose?

Ascend and Pelican are two popular kayak brands, especially for fishing and recreational purposes.

Choosing your first kayak is never an easy task. If you’re stressing yourself out over whether to purchase a Pelican or Ascend kayak, we’ve got you covered.

This in-depth review will compare these two popular kayak brands and help you understand which one to choose. We’ll go over a brief overview of each one and then compare the two in terms of selection, pricing, and more.

Continue reading for the full story!

Quick Summary

Both Pelican and Ascend offer fishing and recreational kayaks, but Pelican has a much wider selection. In addition, Pelican is the only one of the two to offer tandem, pedal drive, touring, and youth kayaks.

Pelican also offers a longer warranty on its rotomolded kayaks and the ability to shop online, with quick and affordable shipping options.

Ascend vs Pelican Kayaks: Company Overview

Ascend

Ascend is actually owned by Bass Pro Shops, a well-known company in the fishing and angling industry. More specifically, it is part of the White River Marine Group, which is Bass Pro Shops’ boating division.

Bass Pro Shops was founded back in 1972 and currently has over two hundred locations across North America.

Ascend mainly sells fishing, recreational, and hybrid kayaks. It has a small selection compared to some larger brands, but Ascend kayaks are good quality overall and offer value for money.

Pelican

Pelican’s history is a bit more complex. It is actually a brand operated and owned by Confluence, a major manufacturer of kayaks and canoes.

Confluence also sells other popular brands, such as Perception kayaks.

Confluence itself arose out of the merger of Wilderness Systems and Mad River Canoe in 1998. However, it was purchased by Pelican International, a kayak company based in Quebec that had been around for over five decades, in 2019.

Pelican remains its own brand, and it has its own website. However, Pelican kayaks are sold under the general Confluence umbrella.

While Pelican has its own site for marketing and advertising purposes, you can only purchase them from the Confluence site, which also sells the other brands owned by Confluence, including Perception and Dagger.

The Pelican site simply redirects to the Confluence site in most instances, which can be a bit confusing if you don’t know the history.

In either case, both companies have long and established histories.

Ascend vs Pelican Kayaks: Selection

Overall, Pelican has a much wider selection than Ascend. Let’s go over different types of kayaks and other products to see which ones are available from Pelican vs Ascend.

Fishing Kayaks

Ascend

Ascend has five fishing kayaks:

  • FS10: $500 sit-in kayak, 10 feet, 57 pounds, 325-pound weight capacity
  • 10T: $650 sit-on-top kayak, 10 feet, 67 pounds, 325-pound weight capacity
  • 12T: $750 sit-on-top kayak, 12 feet, 77 pounds, 350-pound weight capacity
  • 128X: $1,000 sit-on-top kayak, 12’ 8” feet, 96 pounds, 450-pound weight capacity
  • 133X: $1,200 tournament sit-on-top kayak, 13 feet, 125 pounds, 550-pound weight capacity

Note: Prices are subject to change, so always check the websites for updated pricing.

There’s a decent mix of beginner and advanced fishing kayaks, including both sit-on-top and sit-in fishing kayaks. Even if you are on a budget, you can get the FS10 at a moderate price.

They offer features like non-skid flooring, allowing you to stand up and reel in those big fish without slipping. However, tracking and stability can be improved.

In terms of storage, they could do better. They mostly rely on storage wells where you can tie things down with bungee cords, and although a storage hatch is provided as well, it’s pretty small, especially on the cheaper models.

Pelican

While Ascend has five fishing kayaks, Pelican has 16 fishing kayaks.

You might think the FS10 is cheap at $500, but Pelican offers even cheaper models. For example, the Challenger 100 Angler is on sale for $245 (usually $350).

It might look and feel cheap, but it is actually pretty stable and durable.

It’s obvious that Pelican has a wider selection of fishing kayaks, but are they better than Ascend’s?

In general, I would prefer Pelican’s fishing kayaks. There are more options available, allowing you to better select how much storage you will want (you might need a larger hatch instead of two tank wells, for example).

In terms of stability and accessories, such as the number of rod holders, you would also be better off choosing Pelican.

One thing that Pelican is missing, though, is a sit-in fishing kayak. All of its fishing kayaks are sit-on-top fishing kayaks, while Ascend does offer a sit-in fishing kayak option.

Recreational Kayaks

Ascend

Ascend has only two recreational kayaks.

There is the 9R sport sit-on-top kayak. It has a small hatch, is nine feet long, and has a weight capacity of only 225 pounds.

At the same time, it sells for just $300.

The D10 sit in kayak, on the other hand, is longer, at 9’ 10”. It has a weight capacity of 300 pounds, but storage is again underwhelming, with two bungee cord areas and a storage well that comes with a cover.

At $450, it’s good value for money if you want an entry-level kayak, but both are nothing special.

Pelican

Once again, Pelican shines through with a much wider selection of kayaks. Compared to Ascend’s two options, Pelican has a whopping 20 recreational kayaks.

While I can’t go through all of them in this article, suffice it to say that the selection is pretty decent.

Prices start at less than $250 and go up to above $1,000, giving you a wider range for all sorts of budgets. For example, the Pulse 100X sells for around $240 and comes with a paddle.

It’s lightweight and has a comfortable, adjustable backrest and a large open cockpit.

Meanwhile, the Getaway 100 HDII sells for around $1,150. The reason for the price is that it comes with a HyDryve II pedal system, allowing you to free up your hands by using your feet to pedal the kayak.

Both sit-on-top and sit-in recreational kayaks are available from Pelican. Not only that, but it even sells tandem recreational kayaks, such as the Argo 136XP, at affordable prices.

The Argo 136XP comes with two seats, a storage hatch with a waterproof bag, and other useful features.

Meanwhile, Ascend doesn’t sell any tandem kayaks at all. More on that later, though.

In terms of material, both Ascend and Pelican use rotomolded plastic for their kayaks. Such kayaks are cheap to manufacture – hence the cheap prices.

Nevertheless, they are durable and last for quite a long time. You don’t have to worry about damage, although you should clean the kayak and keep it out of the sun to preserve its longevity.

Check out our list of the best cleaners for plastic kayaks.

Pelican vs Ascend: Other Kayaks

What if you want a particular kind of kayak, such as a kids’ kayak? Should you look for it from Ascend or Pelican?

Let’s examine the offerings of these companies to see which would be better suited for your needs.

Hybrid Kayaks

Before we get into all those kayaks that Pelican has which Ascend does not, let’s examine one area in which Ascend shines: hybrid kayaks.

Ascend has designed and manufactured two types of hybrid kayaks. These are vessels somewhere in between kayaks and canoes, and they are designed to fit all kinds of needs and be used for all kinds of boating activities, such as fishing, hunting, and touring.

There are the H10 and H12, which are 10 and 12 feet long and sell for a moderate $750 and $850, respectively. They have a unique design that allows you to navigate both backwaters and tight waters with ease.

With two rod holders, they are great for fishing, although many people opt to use them for touring and overnight expeditions. They have large, open cockpits, with two drink holders underneath the seats.

In contrast to most of Ascend’s other kayak models, the hybrid kayaks offer plenty of storage space. There are two large storage wells, with covers, at the bow and stern of the kayak.

If you can’t decide whether to pick a kayak or a canoe, this can be a great choice. It offers the stability and storage of a canoe while still giving you all the advantages of a kayak, such as better maneuverability in tight conditions.

Since these hybrid kayaks are unique to Ascend, you can’t really find something similar from Pelican. However, just because they’re hybrid and labeled as multipurpose vessels, that doesn’t mean they are for everyone.

Complete beginners might find them a bit intimidating and over the top and might do better by going for a standard recreational kayak. Also, if you only go fishing and never touring, a traditional fishing kayak would probably suit your needs a bit better.

For example, it only has two rod holders. Meanwhile, you can get fishing kayaks from Pelican with more rod holders than that.

The design is also pretty simplistic, and you might prefer hatch-style storage areas instead of those large covered wells.

Touring Kayaks

Although Pelican might not sell “hybrid” kayaks, it does sell standard touring kayaks in two sizes: 10 and 12 feet. The touring kayaks from Pelican feature an extremely comfortable seat with a dry hatch to keep your stuff safe.

They also offer excellent stability and maneuverability, making them perfect for long expeditions, although they don’t have the large, open cockpits of the Ascend hybrid kayaks.

Ascend doesn’t sell touring kayaks.

Canoes

Also, in addition to touring kayaks, Pelican has a canoe called the Explorer 14.6 DLX. While not branded as a “hybrid canoe-kayak,” it does come close.

It has the standard hull and design of a canoe, but unlike traditional canoes, it has two seats with backrests, which make it look a bit like a tandem kayak at times. You still have the standard canoe bench in the middle, though.

It has some other useful features that the hybrid kayaks from Ascend don’t, such as a specialized “cooler seat” in the middle for holding your cooler.

At just $780, it’s well priced for a canoe.

Ascend doesn’t sell canoes.

Tandem Kayaks

Unfortunately, all of the kayaks sold by Ascend are solo kayaks. If you want a tandem kayak, though, you can purchase one from Pelican, such as the Argo 136XP.

Pelican sells recreational tandem kayaks, as I already mentioned above. However, it also doesn’t currently sell tandem fishing kayaks.

Pedal Kayaks

For pedal kayaks, you will once again need to head to Pelican, as Ascend doesn’t offer any options.

Meanwhile, Pelican offers options such as the Catch 110 HDII fishing kayak, with a pedal drive system and rudder, and the Getaway 110 HDII recreational kayak.

There is also the Pelican Catch 130HD, which we have reviewed.

A pedal kayak is an excellent choice if you find your arms tiring out quickly. While pricier than standard kayaks, pedal drive kayaks can be incredibly fun.

Kids’ Kayaks

What about youth kayaks? If you want a kayak for your child, Pelican is again the only supplier of the two to offer it.

The Pelican Solo Kids’ Kayak, which sells for $140 without a paddle (although currently on sale for less), has a flat design that makes it easy for kids to reenter the kayak when they fall into the water. The self-bailing design ensures that it doesn’t fill up with water.

It also comes with a flag for visibility, allowing parents to spot their children from afar.

Teen and Small Adult Kayaks

If you are a small adult or teenager, Pelican again comes to the rescue with the Argo 80X kayak. There are not that many 8-feet kayaks on the market, but the Argo 80X is definitely one of the more solid choices.

It has foam blocks for added flotation, making it perfect for teens just starting out, as well as a comfortable padded seat with a backrest. Meanwhile, the stern tank well offers storage.

Accessories and Replacement Parts

Ascend only sells kayaks at the moment, but Pelican also sells a wide range of accessories, including:

  • Folding anchors.
  • Footrests and seats.
  • Boat covers.
  • Carrier kits for transporting your kayak.
  • Kayak carts for on-land transport.

Around 90 accessories are sold under the Pelican brand.

Pelican vs Ascend: Warranty

Ascend

Ascend offers a generous three-year warranty on its kayaks. It covers defects in the design and manufacturing of the kayak and includes free repair or replacement for damaged components or parts.

It doesn’t cover standard wear and tear, damages caused by accidents or unauthorized modifications, and damage caused by storage or transportation.

Pelican

While three years is a decent length of time, ideally, you will want to keep your kayak for longer than that. Fortunately, Pelican offers a five-year warranty on all rotomolded plastic kayaks.

Not only that, but for kayaks made with twin sheet thermoforming, a lifetime limited warranty is offered.

The exception is for kayaks made with blow molding technology, for which the warranty only lasts a single year.

Most likely, though, you will purchase a Pelican kayak made of rotomolded plastic, giving you an extra two years compared to Ascend’s warranty.

Shipping and Online/Local Availability

Ascend

Unfortunately, Ascend doesn’t sell its kayaks on its website directly. Instead, you will have to click on “Find a Dealer” when browsing a specific model on the website to find a local dealer near you offering it.

As mentioned, Ascend is owned by Bass Pro Shops, so there is a good chance the nearest Bass Pro Shop will have it.

Pelican

Not all of Pelican’s models are available online; some are only available at local dealers. Still, even many of those that are not available online may be available from Walmart or Amazon online.

However, Pelican does sell most of its models online. Since it has a vast selection of models in any case, it won’t be difficult to find what you are looking for.

Pelican ships to the mainland US and Canada, excluding PO boxes. It usually takes 7-10 business days for your order to arrive.

Pelican or Ascend: Comparison Table

Ascend Pelican
Fishing
Recreational
Hybrid
Touring
Canoes
Pedal
Kids
Teens
Tandem Kayaks
Shop Online
Shop at Local Dealers
Warranty 3 years 5 years (for most kayaks)

Conclusion

Pelican is the clear choice for your kayak needs. It has a much wider selection of kayaks, making it easier to find what you are looking for. In terms of stability, it also has a slight edge over most Ascend kayaks.

Ascend kayaks are not bad, but the limited selection and lack of online shopping makes it hard to recommend it as the goto brand.

As we mentioned in our Pelican Trailblazer 100 NXT review, Pelican is also great for beginners.

We’ve also created comparison guides comparing Ascend to Old Town and Pelican to Lifetime kayaks, do check them out!

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Peter Salisbury

Peter Salisbury

Pete is the Owner of KayakHelp.com. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, he grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When he’s not out on the water, you can find him skiing in the mountains, reading his favorite books, and spending time with his family.

Welcome! I’m so glad you are here :-) I’m Pete. I am the owner of KayakHelp.com. I was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, I grew up kayaking, fishing, sailing, and partaking in outdoor adventures around the Great Lakes. When I am not out on the water, you can find me skiing in the mountains, reading my favorite books, and spending time with my family.

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