Pelican Kayak Review – The Ultimate Buyer Guide

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The Pelican Sport brand is well known in the kayak industry because they offer a wide range of kayaks at very reasonable prices. Their line up includes kayaks meant for long-distance paddles, fishing, recreation, and tandem use.

In this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive overview of Pelican products and outline a quick buying guide to help you choose the right Pelican Kayak for your style of paddling. We’ll also suggest the best Pelican Kayak for each of the intended uses we mentioned above.

Pelican Kayak Overview

Pelican International is a Canadian company that’s proud to regularly be voted one of the most well-managed companies in the country. They’ve been creating quality kayaks for over 50 years.

One thing that this company gets a great reputation for is keeping the prices of their kayaks at relatively affordable rates when compared to some of their competitors. Like many Canadian companies, their intensive quality control standards help them deliver great kayaks with exceptional consistency.

Pelican also deserves credit for bringing innovation to the kayak market. They are the only company in the kayak industry that uses their patented RAM-X multi-layered material in the construction of their kayaks.

This material is extremely impact resistant and even retains the ability to regain its shape after taking heavy hits. It’s also coated with a UV-protected exterior finish that reduces the sun’s impact and increases the lifetime of Pelican Kayaks.

The Pelican Advantage

The major advantage of all Pelican Kayaks is weight, or lack thereof. The secret to keeping the weight of their kayaks down is the use of Twin Sheet Thermoforming (TST) technology.

This technology gives the team at Pelican Kayaks the ability to create a lighter, stronger, and stiffer product than would be possible through other manufacturing methods. When compared against competitors, the 10-foot Pelican Kayak is lighter than similar models from Sun Dolphin, Lifetime, Perception, and Emotion Kayaks.

Now, one might naturally start to wonder whether a lighter kayak is always going to be a better kayak. Fortunately, Pelican Kayaks also excel in the areas of strength, impact resistance, and stability.

By removing the melting of plastic from their method of shaping and molding kayaks, the material used in Pelican Kayaks is less likely to become brittle and lose its integrity over the lifetime of a kayak. The result is an incredibly strong kayak.

While we’re on the note of strength and durability, it’s also worth noting that Pelican Kayaks retain the ability to pop back into proper form after violent impacts. By using high heat and pressure to fuse the hull and deck of their kayaks together, Pelican has created one of the most impact-resistant kayaks on the market.

Finally, there’s always the question of how a kayak will actually perform on the water. Pelican Kayaks are a great choice for first-time and inexperienced kayakers because they’re also one of the most stable kayaks you can use to refine your basic kayaking techniques.

Quick Buying Guide

In this quick buying guide, we’ll cover the basics of the all-important sit on top versus sit inside question, discuss the pros and cons of Pelican kayaks, and offer some insights on who should consider this brand.

Sit Inside Versus Sit On Top

Although you’ll find kayaks designed for whitewater, recreational touring, ocean kayaking, and other uses, almost all kayak designs can be broken down into two categories: sit on top or sit inside.

Sit Inside

Sit inside kayaks come with the advantage of a drier journey. They boast higher gunwales (sides) that allow less water to splash into the cockpit or onto your lap as you’re paddling.

Aside from the comfort factor, sit inside kayaks also typically offer a larger dry storage capacity. Because more of the kayak’s interior is sealed to provide extra buoyancy, you’ll have room to store more dry gear in this type of kayak.

This extra storage space is one reason why folks that like to take long-distance kayak trips almost exclusively choose sit inside kayaks. Another reason is that this type of kayak is compatible with a kayak spray skirt, which allows you to be more prepared for inclement weather.

Especially for beginners, sit inside kayaks can be a bit more difficult to handle. Many of them are designed for speed and straight-line tracking, which means they are more narrow than other types of kayaks.

This decreased width can often lead to less stability, which makes it difficult for inexperienced kayakers to feel comfortable enough to get their mind off capsizing so they can focus on perfecting their paddle strokes.

Sit On Top

Sit on top kayaks are more commonly used for beginners and for recreational use. Many kayak rental companies in your area most likely utilize sit on top kayaks because it’s easier for folks to climb back in if they do happen to capsize.

Many inexperienced kayakers will also feel more stable in a sit on top kayak as they get used to the technique of kayaking. In general, this style of kayak is also easier to climb into and out of at the start and finish of your paddle excursion.

The main disadvantage of a sit on top kayak is the lack of dry storage space. While sit on top kayaks often offer storage areas with bungee rigging, you’ll need to purchase an extra dry bag if you want to bring anything along that absolutely can’t get wet.

How Do Pelican Kayaks Compare?

As a prospective kayak buyer, we know that the number of choices at your disposal can feel a little overwhelming. So we wanted to use this section to discuss how Pelican Kayaks compare to the competition.

Pros

One of the major advantages of buying a Pelican Kayak is the knowledge that the brand has a long-standing reputation to uphold. This means that they have a strong interest in providing quality craftsmanship.

Pelican Kayaks are also very affordably priced and come with an innovative design structure. Their kayaks don’t break down quickly and they offer a host of different designs intended for various uses.

Additionally, their lightweight design process makes them an attractive option for anyone that wants a light kayak without having to dip into the world of inflatable or foldable models, which come with added setup and breakdown requirements.

Cons

It’s clear that Pelican focuses on offering a wide variety of kayaks for users with different experience levels. While this can also be viewed as a pro, it signals to us that they don’t pour all of their efforts into making one of their kayaks the best possible model for any given use.

In other words, there are other kayak manufacturers out there that dedicate all of their energy to make the best sea kayak or fishing kayak possible. Because of the variety they offer, you might be able to find a better kayak for your specific use from a brand that only makes kayaks for that purpose.

Who Should Buy?

The short answer to this question is, ANYONE! Because Pelican offers such a wide range of kayaks designed for different purposes, almost anyone can find a model that suits exactly how they like to paddle.

To get into a little more detail, we believe that Pelican is a great brand for folks looking to purchase their first kayak. The brand has an excellent reputation and they’ve been manufacturing kayaks for more than 50 years.

That being said, they don’t make the absolute best kayaks on the market for every intended purpose. Seasoned and experienced kayakers who have a better idea of the exact features and specifications they’re looking for may find another brand to be better suited to their needs.

Pelican Kayak Ratings

Ease of Use – 5 out of 5 stars

When you’re looking through the various Pelican Kayak models, it’s clear that stability is a core principle that’s considered in the design of every Pelican Kayak. Especially for novice kayakers, stability goes a long way towards making the kayak easy to use.

Additionally, we love that Pelican’s proprietary design technology allows them to consistently make the lightest kayaks on the market. For many new kayak users, just getting their kayak to the water can cause significant headaches.

But with a lightweight kayak from Pelican, you won’t have to strain yourself just getting down to the water’s edge. Once you’re on the water, you’ll enjoy the ability to practice your skills in a nimble kayak that actually responds to your paddle strokes.

Features – 5 out of 5 stars

The features of a Pelican Kayak will vary greatly from model to model. The features that are important to you will, of course, depend on whether you’re looking for a kayak that’s built for tandem use, recreational outings, fishing, or expedition-style trips.

However, Pelican intentionally offers kayaks that fit each of these intended uses and the kayaks that they design for each are outfit with the features you’d need to be comfortable and make the most out of your time on the water.

There’s no one-size-fits-all list of kayak features out there. This is why it’s important that kayaks designed for specific purposes have all the features for their intended use, and Pelican has nailed it in this regard.

Customer Service – 4 out of 5 stars

For starters, the fact that Pelican Sport is a Canadian brand almost automatically gives them a leg up in terms of our ability to trust that they stand behind their product. But we can’t judge a company based solely on their location.

The Limited Lifetime Warranty on Pelican products covers kayaks made with RAM-X, RAM-X PREMIUM, or Poly XR materials. New kayak owners must register their warranty within 30 days of the date of purchase for it to be valid.

Kayak parts and components are covered against defects in materials or craftsmanship for up to one year, so long as warranty registration requirements are met. It’s important to note that this warranty is only valid “if the product is used for its intended purposes and for which it was designed.”

Other Pelican products, such as pedal boats, canoes, fishing boats, and certain paddleboards, are covered by the terms of their four-year, two-year, and one-year limited warranties, respectively.

In looking through these warranties, it became clear that you should be careful to understand exactly what is and what is not covered before purchasing a Pelican Kayak. For this reason, we awarded them four out of five stars for customer service.

Value For Money – 4.5 out of 5 stars

In terms of value, Pelican Kayaks consistently deliver on buyers’ expectations for the product. When compared with similar kayak brands, Pelican offers some of the most affordable kayaks on the market.

While they aren’t commonly known within the industry to be comparable to high-end brands like Oru or Dagger, Pelican products are reliable and, in many cases, more budget-friendly than kayaks from top-of-the-line brands.

The bottom line is that paying less for a kayak often means accepting slightly lower quality. That being said, Pelican Kayaks certainly aren’t overpriced when you consider the design quality, features, and performance of their kayaks.

When you’re relatively new to kayaking, we think it’s not necessarily a bad thing to make a small sacrifice in quality in order to get a kayak that performs well and fits within your budget. That’s why we award Pelican a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars on their value for the money you’ll spend.

The Best Pelican Kayaks

There are actually quite a large number of Pelican Kayaks to choose from. So we’re going to use this section to highlight the best Pelican Kayaks for recreational, tandem, fishing, and expedition use.

Best For Recreation: Sprint XR

This 10-foot, single-person kayak is of the sit inside variety and weighs a total of just 41 pounds. The cockpit dimensions measure 23 inches across and 50 inches long.

With a height of 14 inches, the high gunwales of this kayak keep excess water from splashing into the cockpit and causing an uncomfortable ride. It also offers two watertight storage compartments for your valuable belongings.

In addition, the bow deck of the Sprint XR kayak is outfitted with bungee rigging so that you can secure additional items that you aren’t worried about getting a little wet. With a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds and a deep V chine hull, this is a great recreational kayak for a stable, nimble performance.

Best Tandem: Pelican River Gorge 130XP

The River Gorge 130XP is a 13-foot tandem kayak of the sit on top variety. However, Pelican’s unique design for this kayak features a deep, open cockpit with higher gunwales to keep you drier throughout your paddle.

Each paddler has easy access to a watertight storage compartment located right into the front of their comfortable, ErgoFit seat. The adjustable backrests on these seats make it easy for paddlers of varying heights to find a comfortable position.

The River Gorge tandem kayak is rated for a maximum weight capacity of 500 pounds. It also includes accessory eyelets for attaching extra gear, tie-downs to keep your paddle secure when you’re lounging, and holders for your preferred hydration container.

Best For Fishing: Catch 120

The Catch 120 measures 11 feet, eight inches long and 34 inches wide. That extra width makes it more stable and helps you stay comfortable as you shift your weight to reel in your latest award-winning catch.

The large, open cockpit in this kayak is actually designed so that you can stand up comfortably. The kayak remains stable enough to allow you to enjoy the advantages of fishing from a standing position.

Behind the elevated seat on this kayak, there’s a large storage area for keeping your best kayak cooler secure. Whether you’re using that cooler for food, beverages, or to keep your latest catch on ice, you’ll want to know it’s secure and that you can have easy access to it when needed.

Best For Expeditions: Sprint 140DT

If you’re looking for a kayak that can cover long distances, the Sprint 140DT is an excellent, expedition-style kayak. This sit-inside kayak is 14 feet long and the cockpit measures 18 inches across and 34.5 inches across.

For a kayak of this size, it’s remarkable that the 140DT only weighs 55 pounds. The lightweight design of all Pelican Kayaks extends to this model and makes it much easier to portage from lake to lake or river to river on a long paddle trip.

This kayak has ample storage capacity located both the bow and stern bulkheads. It’s also equipped with a drop-down rudder in the stern, which is crucial for helping you navigate effectively in windy conditions or when paddling against strong ocean currents.

FINAL THOUGHTS ON PELICAN KAYAKS

The Pelican Kayak brand is consistently trusted by first-timers and experienced paddlers alike. As you can tell from the kayaks we highlighted above, Pelican offers a kayak designed for nearly any type of use.

Because they rank among the strongest, most impact-resistant, and most stable kayaks available, the fine folks at Pelican Kayaks cannot be ignored. On top of that, their kayaks are among the most affordable options to get you out on the water in style.

 

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