Best Pelican Kayaks Reviewed: Comparison & Buying Guide

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Kayaking and other water sports are becoming increasingly popular over the years. With summer on its way, we are sure to see even more people trying kayaking for the first time.

There are a variety of kayaking activities and specially made kayaks for each water sport, so it is worth choosing one that corresponds to your hobby. Pelican has been in the game for over five decades and has plenty of quality products to show for it, which is the best Pelican kayak?

Reputed for their unique ability to produce low maintenance kayaks, the Pelican brand is revered by many anglers across the world. To help you zero-in on the best model that bears their name, here’s a quick comparison chart we’ve prepared just for you.

Preview

Model

Type

Weight Of Unit

Check Price

Pelican Maxim 100X Sit-in Recreational Kayak...

Pelican Maxim 100X

Sit In Solo

36 lbs.

Pelican Prime 100 Sit-on-top Recreational...

Pelican Prime 100

Sit on Top Solo

50 lbs.

Pelican Solo 6 Feet Sit-on-top Youth Kayak...

Pelican Solo 6

Sit on Top

19 lbs.

Pelican Kayak Sonic 80X | Sit-On-Top...

Pelican Sonic 80X

Sit on Top

37 lbs.

Pelican Tandem Recreationnal Kayak | River...

Pelican 130X

Sit on Top Tandem

73 lbs.

Pelican Saber 100X Angler Sit-on-top Fishing...

Pelican Saber 100x Angler

Sit on Top Fishing

50 lbs.


Types Of Pelican Kayaks

  • Sit in Vs. Sit on Top
    Two of the most common styles of kayak, Pelican or otherwise, sit-in kayaks have an enclosed cockpit over your legs while sit on top kayaks have open cockpits and no cover for your legs. Pelican sit-in kayaks are often better suited to colder waters and whitewater kayaking, whereas sit on top kayaks are perfect for fishing or recreational kayaking. Both Pelican sit on kayaks and Pelican sit on top kayaks are great options for any enthusiast.
  • Fishing Vs. Recreational
    Whether you want to power through the water or drift on the waves waiting on a catch, Pelican fishing kayaks and recreational kayaks are great options. Recreational kayaks are more generalized kayaks, whereas fishing kayaks often come with specialized features or equipment; some Pelican kayaks can be used for both fishing and recreation.
  • Kids Kayaks Vs. Single Vs. Tandem
    It goes without saying that, since kids are smaller than adults, they need smaller and more manageable versions of everything; this applies to kayak as well. Kids’ kayaks are shorter, lighter, and easier to maneuver than full-sized kayaks. Single kayaks require one person and perhaps a small animal onboard, whereas a Pelican tandem kayak sits two people and has a larger weight limit.

Pelican Kayak Buying Guide 

Intended Use

Consider where you prefer to kayak – are you more into a calm lake, ocean waves, or rushing white water? No matter what type of water floats your boat, Pelican has a kayak to match your lifestyle and preferences. If you time your purchase right, you can snag your perfect kayak for a bargain price.

Kayak Type & Size

Many people who are new to kayaking may not realize that your size and preferred activity type affect what kayak you should use. Taller folks who like touring trips need longer kayaks, whereas kids who like paddling on a lazy river should use short and light kayaks. Pelican has a wide range of products in a variety of lengths and types to help customers find their perfect fit.

​Maneuverability & Stability

The shape, style, and size of a kayak directly impact its movement on the water. Longer sharper kayaks cut through the water like a knife through butter but are much harder to turn and are more unstable. On the other hand, short and wide kayaks have excellent stability and are easier to turn but are not as smooth in the water. Finding a middle ground in your preferred style of kayak can be helpful for all-rounders – thankfully, Pelican's range has you covered.

​Comfort & Safety

When exercising out on the water for any period of time, you want to be both comfortable and safe on your journey. Pelican’s seats are designed with your comfort in mind, with some being ergonomic or molded to the human body, making for a relaxing outing for everyone. Many of Pelican’s kayaks and accessories have safety features such as safe boarding platforms to protect and reassure you.

​Storage & Extra Features

In kayaking, there are typically two kinds of storage on a kayak – covered porthole storage and open bungee storage. Some Pelican kayaks have both or multiple of one kind, giving you flexibility in protecting your gear. Some great features on Pelican kayaks include rear decks, handles, ankle holders, water bottle holders, and more.

​Price & Warranty

No matter your budget or needs, Pelican has a kayak for you. Once you have decided on your preferred budget and style, shop carefully, and read the product description before purchasing your dream kayak. Pelican's two-year limited warranty has you covered in case of accidental damage or fault.


6 Best Pelican Kayaks Reviewed

1. Pelican Maxim 100X

best sit in recreational pelican kayak

Weight of Unit

36 lbs.

Type

Sit In, Solo

Length

10 Feet

Width

28 inches

Max Weight

275 lbs.

Body Type

Ram-X Polyethylene

Whether you're a relative newbie to kayaking or have countless hours of experience on the water behind you, the Maxim 100X will perform just the way you want. Indeed, its overall comfort and performance have made the Maxim 100X one of the most popular recreational kayaks on the market. That's the reason we've selected this model as the best sit-in recreational kayak.

Not only is the Maxim 100X fantastically versatile and lightweight, but it's also very competitively priced for a solo sit-in kayak. Indeed, while many kayaks built to a similar standard are comparatively expensive, the affordability of this model is surprising. In spite of this, the build quality is excellent with the hull manufactured from super-durable triple-layered Ram-X polyethylene.

If you're on a solo adventure, the weight of your craft is important and, weighing in at 39 pounds; this model is designed for a single person to carry with relative ease. With a maximum load capacity of 275 pounds, the Maxim 100X has an excellent weight to weight capacity ratio, while its shallow V chine allows for exceptional maneuverability and responsiveness.

Your comfort on the water is ensured, even on longer trips, by the Ergoform cushioning on the seat, which molds to the shape of your body. Finally, to help you decide if the Maxim 100X is the one for you, take a look at this video below.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Maneuverable
  • Affordable
  • Carries up to 275 lbs
  • Comfortable – Ergoform cushioned seat
Cons
  • Footrest a little difficult to adjust while afloat

2. Pelican Prime 100

best sit on top pelican kayak

Weight of Unit

50 lbs.

Type

Sit on Top, Solo

Length

10 Feet

Width

30.5 inches

Max Weight

325 lbs.

Body Type

Ram-X Polyethylene

If you're on the hunt for an all-rounder, then you'll be hard-pressed to find a more versatile sit-on-top recreational kayak than the Prime 100, our top pick for the best sit on top Pelican kayak.

Its price-tag may exceed that of the Maxim 100X by some margin, but it offers some additional features, which may be what you're looking for in a kayak. For example, there's a bottle holder to make hydration easy, secure tie-down points for paddles when not in use, and a bungee storage net for miscellaneous items such as a fishing crate, dry bag, etc., you might need while you're out on the water.

Pelican has designed this sit-on model to carry an exceptionally generous load of up to 325 pounds. At the same time, its multi-chine flat bottom hull offers enhanced stability and maneuverability, making it ideal for all recreational purposes and all levels of ability.

The Prime 100 is 10 feet long, with an adjustable Ergoform seat to ensure your paddling comfort. It's robustly manufactured using Ram-X thermoform construction that incorporates different plastics to ensure durability. Weighing in at 50 pounds, it's substantially heavier than the Maxim 100X, but this is the case with most sit-on kayaks as their construction is bulkier.  

Pros
  • Excellent stability – multi-chine flat bottom hull
  • Exceptional 325 lb load capacity
  • Adjustable footrests and seat for comfort
  • Retractable carry handles at both ends
Cons
  • 50 lbs weight is heavy for one person to maneuver on land
  • Seat can become uncomfortable after a time

3. Pelican Solo 6

best kids pelican kayak

Weight of Unit

19 lbs.

Type

Sit on Top

Length

6 Feet

Width

24 inches

Max Weight

100 lbs.

Body Type

Ram-X Polyethylene

If you’re on the hunt for the best kids’ pelican kayak, read on to learn more about the features of the Pelican Solo 6, our top pick in this category.

The Pelican Solo 6 is just 6 feet in length, making it ideal for younger paddlers to maneuver on the water. Pelican has not compromised on build quality, and this model is manufactured to the same outstanding build quality as the adult models, using triple-layered Ram-X polyethylene, which guarantees durability and performance.

The seat is ergonomically shaped into the hull, and this model doesn't come with an adjustable padded seat. For most youngsters, that shouldn't be a problem for shortish periods afloat, but if they really get the bug, you can invest in an Ergoform backrest separately. The Solo 6 can carry up to 100 pounds, so it's ideal for children but may also accommodate a lightweight, small adult.

One of the best features of this kayak, in our opinion, is the rear deck, which is specially designed to allow a junior paddler to climb back on if they accidentally fall overboard. Better yet, it's priced affordably, making it the perfect choice if you're keen to get your youngsters started early with their adventures afloat.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Safe boarding platform at rear end
  • Affordable
  • Generous 24-inch width for stability
Cons
  • No extras included
  • Seat lacks comfort and adjustability

4. Pelican Sonic 80X

best lightweight pelican kayak

Weight of Unit

37 lbs.

Type

Sit On Top

Length

8 Feet

Width

29 inches

Max Weight

225 lbs.

Body Type

Ram-X Polyethylene

When you're starting out, it's only natural to want a good quality kayak at an affordable price, and the Pelican Sonic 80X ticks those boxes. What's more, it weighs in at just 25 pounds, making it our top selection for the best lightweight Pelican kayak.

The Sonic 80X is built with stability, performance, and affordability in mind, although it is just 8 feet long, so substantially shorter than average. Another compromise is the reduced maximum load, just 225 pounds. Still, for the average beginner to the intermediate level kayaker, it will perform well, providing hours of fun out on the water. Like other Pelican kayaks, the Sonic 80X is constructed using Ram-X polyethylene to create its twin sheet thermoformed structure, making it UV resistant and exceptionally durable.

Although no backrest is provided, the molded seat should be comfortable enough for shorter periods for most individuals. If necessary and to ensure comfort for longer outings, an adjustable Ergoform backrest can be purchased later.

If you’re just starting out, the Sonic 80X is an ideal choice, focusing on fun and affordability and ease of maneuverability rather than a whole pack of advanced features and accessories which you may never use. To find out more about this compact, lightweight kayak, take a look here.

Pros
  • Affordable kayak option
  • Ergoform seat cushion included
  • Excellent stability – shallow V chine
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • No advanced features
  • Maximum weight only 225 lbs

5. Pelican 130X Tandem

best tandem pelican kayak

Weight of Unit

73 lbs.

Type

Sit on Top, Tandem

Length

13 Feet

Width

34 inches

Max Weight

500 lbs.

Body Type

Ram-X Polyethylene

When kayaking is such a lot of fun, why keep the pleasure all to yourself? Why not invest in a tandem kayak so that you can share your adventures on the water with your nearest and dearest?

Whether you're just starting out or you're already a competent kayaker, our top selection for the best tandem pelican kayak is the Pelican River Gorge 130X. It is ergonomically designed for two and including Ergoform cushioning and adjustable backrests to ensure maximum comfort during long hours paddling. There are plenty of other features, too, including 2 waterproof latches for storing personal items and bungee cords for storage of additional gear for your trip.

Being built for 2, it's no surprise that this kayak is reasonably long (13 feet). Still, it has a generous weight capacity of 500 pounds, so there's always the possibility of adding a third small passenger, which is a bonus. The additional length also means extra weight and, at 73 lbs, it's no featherweight. However, the load will be shared between 2, which should make it easy enough to carry when necessary.

With 2 paddlers on board, the need for stability is more significant than ever, and the River Gorge 130X is designed with a multi-chine twin-arch hull to aid both stability and performance.

Pros
  • 500-pound max load
  • Ergoform cushioned seating
  • Multiple accessories included
  • Designed for stability and maneuverability
Cons
  • Heavy to carry – 73 lbs
  • Expensive

6. Pelican Saber 100x Angler

best fishing pelican kayak

Weight of Unit

50 lbs.

Type

Sit on Top, Fishing

Length

10 Feet

Width

30.5 inches

Max Weight

325 lbs.

Body Type

Ram-X Polyethylene

If your idea of heaven is a solo kayaking adventure with a spot of fishing thrown in to ramp up the fun factor, then look no further than the Pelican Saber 100x Angler – one of the best fishing kayaks for the solo angler.

Solo kayaking is all about ease of maneuverability, both on the water and on dry land, and the Saber 100X is designed with these in mind. It weighs in at 50 pounds, making it easy enough for one person to carry using the retractable handles at both ends. As with all Pelican kayaks, the hull is formed from Ram-X polyethylene, designed for durability and stability, with the needs of anglers given priority. What’s more, the camouflaged color is popular for fishing, to minimize visibility.

Unfortunately, you can't buy the patience required to wait for a catch (that has to be learned!), but comfort is essential during long hours on the water when you're fishing. The adjustable Ergoform seat cushion and backrest will keep you as comfortable as possible while you wait for those elusive fish.

Supplied with two rod holders mounted close to the seat, bungee cords for your fishing crate, tie-down straps for paddles when not in use and a waterproof latch for personal items, we think that the Saber 100X offers anglers a stable, maneuverable, responsive kayak that is excellent value for money.

Pros
  • Relatively lightweight (50 pounds)
  • Includes fishing accessories
  • Economical Price
  • Camouflaged Hull
Cons
  • Possible instability in windy conditions

Comparisons With Other Brands

All of this is great to know, but how do Pelican measure up when compared to their competitors? While Pelican does have a wide range, Pelican kayaks are often considered to be of lower quality than Perception kayak and on a similar quality level to Oru.

Pelican keeps up with other reputable brands like Dagger in terms of price and quality. That being said, Pelican has fifty years’ experience, a wide range of kayaks for every interest, and affordable models that customers love.


Pelican Kayak Accessories

A good kayak comes with a variety of safety and quality of life accessories to protect and help you when you hit the waves. Some great accessories include footpegs, bottle holders, additional bungee storage, rod holders, dashboards, and more.

Some safety equipment to consider includes life vests or PFDs, repair kits or patch kits, anchor trolleys, bright colored designs for increased visibility on the water, and rudders. There are even accessories that can make storage more manageable, including handles, cockpit covers, and more. With accessories like these, even the longest kayaking or touring trip can feel like an absolute dream.


Using Pelican Kayaks for the First Time

When using kayaks for the first time, it is important to be supervised by at least one experienced professional and to have safety gear such as a PFD on your person. Once this is done, decide whether you are going to row or paddle and get the appropriate tool and kayak.

No matter where you are, the water is a dangerous and ever-changing natural body that should be respected and treated with caution — talking to local kayakers about currents and proper kayaking spots as well as hand gestures that can be used to communicate with others in a pinch. Once this is done, we recommend going to classes or taking a kayaking course in your area to learn the ropes hitting the water alone.


Transporting Kayaks

Part of the battle when taking up kayaking is taking your model from your home to your preferred kayaking spot. Some people can fit a shorter kayak into their car, and it is possible to get kayaking rigs for your car roof; if you choose this option, do not leave your kayak on top of your car for long periods to prevent damage to your vehicle and the kayak.

Certain kayak models have handles or are light enough to carry on your shoulder, but most require a little strength. If you have a large kayak or many, there are also kayak trailers specially designed to hook up to your car and carry the kayak to your spot.


Caring for Pelican Kayaks

Like any piece of equipment, kayaks need regular care and maintenance to stay in top condition. Once you have finished kayaking and taken your model out of the water, remove any debris in and on the model before washing it down with mild soap and water. While doing this, inspect for damage, leaks, or tears and repair and replace parts as necessary.

Composite kayak scratches can be buffed away, and resin fractures can be repaired with a composite repair kit. Hose the kayak down and wipe it with a towel before letting it air dry. We recommend rubbing your kayak with a protective UV salve at least once a month once it is dry.


People Also Ask (FAQs)

How much weight can a Pelican Kayak hold?

Depending on the model, a Pelican kayak can hold from 100 lbs to 500 lbs.

What are Pelican kayaks made of?

Pelican kayaks are made from polypropylene plastic, specifically RAMX or Poly XR.

Do these kayaks come with warranties?

Most Pelican kayaks come with a two-year limited warranty.

Can I return my Pelican kayak? What are the limitations for returning these products?

If your kayak has not been used, you can return it for a full refund within 30 days of purchase.

How do I contact Pelican kayaks’ customer service hotline?

If you need to contact Pelican’s customer service, you can call them at (450) 664-1222 between 8:30 am and 5 pm EST from Monday to Friday. If you would prefer, you can also send an email at service@pelicansport.com.

What is the price range of Yaks on our list?

The price range for the kayaks on our list above is $100 - $800 or so.


Conclusion

Pelican kayak reviews often praise Pelican’s range, price, and extra features. While we love all of the models on our list, we would recommend the Maxim 100X for its design, price tag, and customer reviews.