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Sun Dolphin vs Pelican Kayaks

Mark Armstrong
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Finding the right kayak for your skill level and activity can sometimes be challenging, especially with the wide range of brands available. However, if you’re looking for a kayak at the cheaper end of the market, it might be even more of a challenge.

You want your new vessel to be fit for purpose and let you have as much fun as possible on the water. So is one brand better than the other? We’ve compared Pelican and Sun Dolphin kayaks to see what the similarities are and if one stands out over the other.

> Our dedicated list of the best Pelican kayaks

> Our dedicated list of the best Sun Dolphin kayaks

Pelican Kayaks vs Sun Dolphin Kayaks

Pelican and Sun Dolphin can both be great brands for beginners looking for entry level kayaks as they can both offer good stability and durability. Both brands also offer a similar range of kayaks, including recreational yaks, fishing vessels and tandems.

Depending on your choice of activity or the climate you choose to paddle in, both Pelican and Sun Dolphin offer both sit-inside and sit-on-top recreational yaks.

One difference with Pelican kayaks is that they are manufactured slightly differently. Their yaks are made from two pieces, fused together to make the complete kayak, unlike Sun Dolphin which tends to feature yaks that are made in a mold as one piece.


1: Pelican Sport Strike 120X Angler

The Pelican Strike 120X is a 12 foot sit-on-top yak that is built with the angler in mind, so if you’re fishing you will find there are several features that may come in handy.

The fishing features include two flush mounted rod holders at the rear and a swivel mounted one in front of the seat for added convenience.

It also has a flat bottom with hard chines, giving good initial stability, and the slight V shaped keel and channels along the hull can also aid tracking, making it easier to paddle.

Video: Pelican Strike 120X Angler Kayak

It has a large 350 pound capacity and plenty of space for your gear, including an 8 inch hatch with storage bag included.

2: Pelican “The Catch”

Pelican Catch 120 KayakPin

The Catch comes in different sizes, either 10 foot or 12 foot vessels, with the 120 NXT version being the top of the line in the Catch series.

Review: Pelican Catch 120 Fishing Kayak

Designed for fishing, the Catch boasts a tunnel style hull, which improves stability. Stability is important when you’re fishing and with this yak you can even stand up in it to fish more comfortably. To help you, there’s a strap to grab hold of and there’s a spacious standing platform.

There’s plenty of space for your fishing accessories and gear and a high capacity to go with it.

> Read our full review on The Catch here

3: Pelican Summit 100X

Pelican Summit 100x KayakPin

The Pelican Summit 100X is a 10 foot sit-inside vessel that could be ideal for beginners on flatwater. It has a shallow V-shaped hull which can help with speed and stability.

Video: Pelican Summit 100X Kayak

It has bungee storage at the bow and stern to secure some gear but it’s not designed for holding large amounts of equipment, although there is a hatch at the rear. Being a sit-inside, you can stay drier on the water but because of the design of the cockpit rim, it may be difficult to attach a spray skirt.

> More of our thoughts on the Summit 100X

Sun Dolphin

1: Sun Dolphin Aruba SS

Sun Dolphin Aruba SS 12 KaykPin

The Aruba yak comes in a range of sizes aimed at different paddlers and needs, including 8 foot, 10 foot and 12 foot. The Aruba is a sit-inside yak built for stability on flatwater.

The Aruba 12 SS combines the sit-inside design with extra length and fishing features, including rod holders. It’s slightly narrower than the shorter vessels in the series but this could allow for better speed and tracking. The extra length could also mean extra storage for more gear, especially with its 395 pound capacity.

> Our full Aruba rundown

2: Sun Dolphin Journey


The Journey comes in two lengths; 10 foot and 12 foot, so could suit a range of paddlers looking for a sit-inside fishing vessel. The Journey 10 may offer more stability over the Journey 12, as it’s wider and shorter. But the Journey 12 may be able to give you the speed you’re after on the water.

> We have more to say on the Journey

Sun Dolphin Journey 12Pin

Both vessels feature built-in rod holders and have good storage options, including a portable accessory carrier that can be dragged along behind your yak to allow more space for a cooler or crate.

3: Sun Dolphin Bali

The Bali comes in a wide range of lengths, designed for different paddlers, including a 6 foot children’s yak. These sit-on-top vessels could make excellent recreational yaks because of their durability and ease of use. There’s also a 13 foot 6 inch tandem for twin paddling.


Because of their stability, the can be easy to learn in and the range of sizes makes it easy to choose the more suitable size for your needs, such as storage areas or leg lengths.

> In-depth look at the Bali kayaks


Pelican and Sun Dolphin can both offer a variety of kayaks designed for a range of activities and styles paddling.

With both brands focusing mostly on recreational yaks, they may both be able to offer similar levels of durability, which can be ideal for beginners who may not be quite as careful.

You’ll notice that both brands can offer yaks with dedicated fishing features, which can always be a plus if you ever plan to fish.

Even with the models that don’t have fishing features, these brands can offer good value for a basic craft that you could potentially rig with fishing features, allowing for a more customized fishing craft.

If you’ve enjoyed this or want to add your opinion, let us know in the comments. And feel free to share with your fellow kayakers.

Sun Dolphin vs Pelican Kayaks - Pinterest ImagePin

5 thoughts on “Sun Dolphin vs Pelican Kayaks”

  1. I live in Palm Beach, Florida. Unfortunately ALL the stores here are OUT of kayaks. I have telephoned at least 12 different stores, including Bass Pro, Dicks, Walmart, REI. Can someone tell me who to contact to purchase 2 Pelican or Sun Dolphin kayaks. Sit-In, Singles. Thank you.

  2. This did not answer the question I have lingering before purchasing a pair of kayaks. I am just 6 ft. tall and weigh about 155 lbs. My wife is 5′ 7″ and weighs 130 lbs. Want to get kayaks that ate easy to get into and out and afford us comfort once in. We are beginners having sold our canoe recently. Older so wish something light to be used on lakes for recreation. Which model and brand do you recommend?

    • Get a 10ft for your self and an 8ft for your gf and they will work great. I have a 10ft I’m 6ft2 and kids and gf use 8ft which work great.

    • I am no expert but something 12′ for u and 10′ for her sounds good. I have been using a SUN DOLPHIN RXCURSION 10 for 6 years now..it suits my needs. I am 5′ 8″ and if I were a few inches I know my legs would be cramped


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