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Top Pelican Kayaks Reviewed

Mark Armstrong
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In the world of recreational kayaking, Pelican Kayaks have garnered a reputation for their combination of affordability, durability, and performance. 

Pelican offers such a diverse collection of recreational boats.

So, let’s look at the best Pelican kayaks out there. We’ll assess their features, pros, and cons in our comprehensive Pelican Kayak reviews.

Top Picks:

12 Pelican Kayaks Reviewed

1: Pelican Maxim 100X (sit-inside recreational kayak)

Pelican Maxim 100XPin
  • Length: 10 foot
  • Width: 28 inches
  • Weight: 36 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 275 pounds

The Pelican Maxim 100X is a lightweight sit-inside recreational kayak that is designed to offer stability and maneuverability, making it ideal for beginners. 

It features a shallow V-chine hull for improved performance, which could be useful if you already have some paddling experience. However, this may affect the initial stability if you’re a complete beginner and it could feel more tippy than a flat-bottom hull.

It has good storage, including a front hatch for smaller items and a mesh covered rear hatch for larger gear. There’s also a bottle holder in front of the cockpit.

The large cockpit benefits from having molded foot rests to suit different leg lengths, as well as a padded adjustable ErgoForm seatback with an ErgoBase seat cushion.

I think this is a good choice for rivers, lakes and bays because of its stable and compact hull. And features Ram-X impact resistant construction for increased durability.

Video: Pelican Maxim 100X


  • Oversized cockpit
  • Good first sit-inside kayak
  • Primary and secondary stability


  • Might feel tippy to first-time paddlers

> Full Maxim 100X review

2: Pelican Pulse 100X (sit-on-top recreational kayak)

  • Length: 10 foot
  • Width: 30 inches
  • Weight: 50 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds

The Pulse 100X is a sit-on-top recreational kayak that’s aimed at beginners. It’s a basic kayak that comes with a paddle, so new paddlers can get on the water immediately. 

One of the best features of this kayak is the twin tunnel multi-chine hull. This provides excellent stability, making it feel stable and comfortable, even for first-timers. It’s also spacious enough in the seating area for larger paddlers.

As well as stability on flatwater, this is easy to control and maneuver. There’s a padded seat with an adjustable backrest, although this is not the softest seat if you plan to paddle for a few hours. You’ll also find molded footrests for support and balance. 

There’s a rear cargo deck for storing a dry bag and there’s a bottle holder in front of the seat. But there’s not much room for large equipment. 


  • Paddle included
  • Suitable for larger paddlers
  • Very stable


  • Limited storage options

3: Pelican Sentinel 100X (beginner-friendly recreational kayak)

Pelican Sentinel 100XPin
  • Length: 10 foot
  • Width: 30 inches
  • Weight: 43 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds

The Pelican Sentinel 100X is a sit-on-top recreational kayak that’s designed for calm and slow moving water. It has a stable hull and a spacious open seating area that can be ideal if you’re a beginner or looking for a durable craft for warm weather paddling.

It’s a lightweight boat that features molded-in footrests and a padded adjustable ErgoForm seat. There is a cargo deck at the stern where you can carry a couple of dry bags and your gear can be secured using the mesh cover. 

However, there’s not much room for large items or a lot of gear. 

To make it easier to lift and carry, there are carry handles at both the bow and the stern. It should also be lightweight and compact enough to carry yourself.

There are three other versions of the Sentinel. The Sentinel 100X Angler is the fishing kayak model, with a center console, high back seat, and rod holders. The 100XP Angler is another fishing version with the benefit of having a framed seat. 

There’s also the 100X Exo model with a tall and wide seat plus a padded deck.


  • Spacious seating area
  • Great for complete beginners
  • Molded footrests


  • Limited storage space

> Full Sentinel 100X review

4: Pelican Argo 100X EXO (recreational sit-inside kayak)

Pelican Sport Argo 100X EXOPin
  • Length: 10 foot
  • Width: 28 inches
  • Weight: 36 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 275 pounds

The Argo 100X Exo is a lightweight, compact kayak with a sit-inside hull. 

With its oversized cockpit, it can be a good choice if you’re new to sit-inside kayaks or if you’re looking for a larger cockpit for easy entry. The cockpit is also large enough to have a small dog join you.

One of the main features of this Pelican kayak is the ExoChill. This is a removable cooler that fits perfectly in the rear tank well and can be secured to the deck. This means you can pack your lunch at home and strap it straight into the boat before you launch.

This is a stable kayak with a twin-arched multi-chine hull that can be great for kayaking in rivers and calm lakes and bays. 

Despite the large cockpit, this is not the most spacious kayak for large or tall paddlers. 


  • Great for rivers 
  • Easy to get in and out of
  • Removable cooler compartment


  • Not great for large paddlers

> Full Argo 100X review

5: Pelican River Gorge 130X (tandem sit-on-top kayak)

Pelican River Gorge 130XPin
  • Length: 13 foot
  • Width: 34 inches
  • Weight: 73 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 500 pounds

The Pelican River Gorge 130X is a tandem recreational kayak that’s crafted with a high level of durability. It’s a beginner-friendly kayak that’s ideal for families. But it’s a large, heavy kayak, so it’s not the easiest to haul.

This is a very stable kayak with the same twin-arched multi-chine hull found on many of the other Pelican kayaks. It’s great for flatwater paddling, such as lakes, bays, and slow-moving rivers. But it can also handle very mild rapids if you have the skills to match.

The River Gorge is a very spacious tandem compared to most other tandem recreational kayaks in the same price range. It comes with two padded seats for two paddlers and there’s a third molded seat in the center that’s ideal for a small child.  

There are two storage hatches for keeping essentials safe and there’s a cargo deck with bungees at the rear.  


  • Spacious and stable 
  • Room for three people
  • Storage hatches


  • Heavy  

6: Pelican Catch 120 (fishing kayak)

  • Length: 11 foot 8 inches
  • Width: 34 inches
  • Weight: 69 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 400 pounds

This Pelican Catch 120 is a sit-on-top fishing kayak that is designed for maximum stability. It features a tunnel hull to optimize tracking and maneuverability.

One of the main features of this yak is that you can stand up in it to fish. It has a spacious deck with an anti-slip standing platform and a stand-assist strap to make it easier to stay balanced when you get up off the seat.

It features a dual position elevated mesh seat for improved visibility and comfort. It also benefits from having flush mounted rod holders and gear tracks for mounting additional accessories. Bungee paddle holders are located on both sides of the deck.

There is plenty of space for your gear too, with a large bow hatch and a rear cargo deck with bungee rigging. The high weight capacity of 400 pounds should mean that you can bring enough gear for a full day of fishing.

However, this is a pretty heavy kayak, so it’s not the easiest to carry to the water on your own.


  • Tunnel hull
  • Excellent storage 
  • Standing platform


  • Heavy

> Full Catch 120 review

7: Pelican Catch Classic 100 (stable fishing kayak)

Pelican Catch Classic 100Pin
  • Length: 10 foot
  • Width: 34 inches
  • Weight: 57 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 350 pounds

The Catch Classic 100 is a shorter version of the Catch 120. This one is designed for kayak anglers looking for increased stability for shorter fishing trips. 

This 10-foot kayak is easy to maneuver, so it’s great for narrow rivers and smaller lakes and ponds. 

The stability is the key feature of this kayak. The tunnel hull combined with the flat deck allow you to stand comfortably to cast. But it’s not the best for tracking performance. 

There’s space for your fishing gear, with flush mount rod holders, two four-inch accessory tracks, dry storage space, and a rear cargo deck. 

You’ll also find a comfortable dual-position framed seat that features breathable mesh fabric for comfort and drainage.

Video: Pelican Catch Classic 100


  • Great for small rivers and ponds
  • Super stable
  • Comfortable seat


  • Tracking not the best 

> Full Catch 100 review

8: Pelican Sonic 80X (kid-friendly kayak)

Pelican Sonic 80XPin
  • Length: 7 foot 9 inches
  • Width: 29 inches 
  • Weight: 35 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 225 pounds

The Sonic 80X is a recreational sit-on-top kayak built for kids. However, it can also be a great little starter kayak for smaller adults. 

This is not for large or tall adults, as there’s not a lot of legroom. 

It has a shallow-V tunnel hull for increased stability on flatwater as well as good maneuverability in small bodies of water. This can be ideal for calm lakes and bays, as well as days at the beach

There’s not much space for gear in this kids’ kayak but there is a small cargo deck with bungee cords at the rear. 

Being a basic youth kayak, the seat is simply a molded seat with a backrest, so it’s not the most comfortable for long periods. 

This is a lightweight kayak that’s easy to car-top and it can fit in the back of some SUVs and pickups. It has a molded carry handle at the front but there are no other handles on the kayak, which can make it tricky to carry and car-top.


  • Lightweight
  • Made for kids
  • Stable 


  • No side carry handles

9: Pelican Getaway 110 HDII (pedal kayak)

  • Length: 10 foot 6 inches
  • Width: 33 inches
  • Weight: 59 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds

The Getaway 110 HDII is a pedal kayak that’s built for recreational paddling. It’s designed for comfort and ease of use, with the HyDrive II pedal system allowing you to paddle for longer with less fatigue. 

The Getaway also features a hand-controlled rudder system to help you steer and maneuver in small bodies of water.

This is a very stable kayak with a tunnel hull that can be great for beginners, especially with the pedal drive system allowing you to control the kayak with minimal skills. 

The framed Ergocast XP seating system lets you sit elevated off the deck for a drier ride and better visibility. The seat can also be removed to use at the beach when it’s time to stop for lunch.

The Getaway has a large rear tank well with bungee rigging to keep loose items secure. But there’s not much storage space compared to some of the other kayaks and no bottle holders. 

A handy feature is you can attach accessories (sold separately) without drilling into the hull, since there are accessory tracks built into the side handles. 


  • Accessory tracks
  • Pedal drive system
  • Comfortable seat


  • No bottle holders

10: Pelican Basscreek 100XP Angler (compact fishing kayak)

  • Length: 10 foot
  • Width: 30.5 inches
  • Weight: 50 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 325 pounds

The Basscreek 100XP Angler is a compact fishing kayak designed for casual fishing trips in flatwater environments. It’s best suited to kayak fishing in small lakes, ponds, and rivers.

With a short, flat-bottom hull, it’s easy to maneuver in tight spaces and it offers good primary stability for casting lines. But you’ll probably find it’s not stable enough for standing.

It has useful features for fishing, including two flush mount rod holders and a swivel rod holder. Plus, there’s a 4-inch day hatch with a storage insert, and a larger storage hatch at the bow. The rear tank well is perfect for holding a fishing crate. 

The seating area is spacious but the padded seat is not the most comfortable for sitting for long periods and it’s not elevated off the deck. There are adjustable foot pegs for posture and support.  


  • Good for rivers and ponds
  • Fishing rod holders
  • Dry storage


  • Seat isn’t great

11: Pelican Sprint 100XR (performance sit-in kayak)

Pelican Sprint 100XRPin
  • Length: 10 foot
  • Width: 28 inches
  • Weight: 41 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 300 pounds

The Sprint 100XR is designed with performance in mind and may appeal to more advanced paddlers as well as novices. 

With a deep V chine hull, this kayak tracks very well and can handle both choppy water and flatwater equally well. It has a good degree of secondary stability, which may feel a little unstable to complete beginners. 

Because of the shape of the hull, the Sprint is a little faster than some of the other Pelican kayaks, which can help you cover water more quickly and efficiently. It can be a good option for open water, such as lakes and coastal paddling.

However, the large cockpit may make it tricky to find a spray skirt to fit.

There’s space to store your gear in the large rear hatch. There’s bungee rigging on the front deck. And there’s a useful cockpit table with a built-in day hatch. There’s enough room for gear for an overnight trip.

The seat offers back support and is cushioned for added comfort during long trips. There’s also knee pads and adjustable foot pegs for balance and control.  


  • Deep V chine hull
  • Dry storage space
  • Great for open water


  • May feel tippy for beginners

12: Pelican Solo (kayak for kids)

  • Length: 6 foot
  • Width: 24 inches
  • Weight: 20 pounds
  • Weight capacity: 100 pounds

The Pelican Solo is a recreational kayak that’s specifically designed for kids. It’s lightweight and compact to make it easier for kids to control and haul themselves. 

One of the best features of this little kayak is the swim-up deck. This makes it easy for kids to climb back on after jumping off to play in the water. However, there’s nothing to keep the paddle secured to the deck while the paddler is swimming. 

This is a stable kayak with a twin tunnel hull for flatwater adventures. 

There’s a molded seat with molded footrests for small legs, though the seat is not the most comfortable. You’ll also find scupper holes for drainage. 

For added safety, this comes with a safety flag that can be attached to the rear of the deck. It also includes a 60-inch paddle.    


  • Paddle included
  • Stable hull
  • Made for children


  • Not very comfortable

The History Of Pelican Kayaks

Pelican began making kayaks back in 1968 and is a family owned and operated company based in Canada. Their mission is to create durable, affordable kayaks, pedal boats and canoes so that more people can enjoy the great outdoors and be inspired to care for nature’s survival.

They’re known for their durable materials, particularly their exclusive Ram-X multi-layered polyethylene that’s designed to regain its shape even after impact. They use more than 50% recycled materials to make their boats and 99% of their plastic scraps are recycled.

Why Buy A Pelican Kayak?

Pelican kayaks are designed to be affordable and they can often be great boats for beginners because of their stability and durability.

Many of their kayaks tend to be made using Twin Sheet Thermoforming technology rather than rotomolding. This can result in more efficient production but can also produce higher performance kayaks with increased durability.

Pelican kayaks come in both sit-on-top and sit-inside models to suit many different paddlers and weather conditions. There are also specialist fishing kayaks, pedal kayaks and tandems.

A lot of these boats can be great budget-friendly options but if you’re an experienced paddler you might find they don’t offer the comfort or high performance features that you might expect on a more expensive touring kayak, for example. You may also find that some of the storage is limited on some vessels and they might not be the best crafts for extended trips or multi-day adventures.

However,  they can be ideal for recreational paddling, particularly on calm lakes and slow moving rivers. Some of them have more storage options than others and some will offer increased stability for fishing, for example a tunnel hull.

With their often compact designs, they tend to be easy to maneuver on and off the water and can be easy to paddle for beginners.

Features To Help You: How To Choose The Right Pelican Kayak

Sit-On-Top Or Sit-Inside Kayaks

Pelican brand kayaks can be either sit-on-top or sit-inside kayaks. And most of the plastic boats made by Pelican International are aimed at casual paddlers so they are all generally recreational boats.

This means that whether you opt for a sit-on-top kayak or a sit-in kayak, it will tend to be made for use in flatwater conditions, such as lakes, calm bays, and slow-moving rivers. This is what makes Pelican kayaks great for beginners. 

Sit-in kayaks made by Pelican will generally have large, oversized cockpits. These are designed to be easy to get in and out of compared to traditional sit-inside kayaks.

Sit-in kayaks will also typically be narrower than sit-on-top boats and they will usually offer some protection from the elements. However, because of the larger cockpit rims, standard spray skirts might not fit Pelican kayaks.

Sit-on-top Pelican kayaks are generally easy to get in and out of, with a spacious, open deck. These boats usually have scupper holes for drainage, which can mean you get wet while seated, especially if the kayak seat is directly on the floor of the deck.

Compared to sit-in kayaks, Pelican sit-on-tops will generally have more of a universal fit. This is because of the more open deck on sit-on-top boats allowing for increased leg room for taller or larger paddlers. 

Some of the cockpits on Pelican’s sit-in kayaks can often be quite small toward the bow, despite the large cockpit rim, and may not accommodate big feet.   

Maneuverability On And Off The Water

Most of the kayaks made by Pelican International are short and easy to maneuver. This makes them ideal for use in small bodies of water where turning in tight spaces is important.

Most Pelican kayaks are around 10 feet, with the longest one being the 13-foot tandem River Gorge kayak.

The shorter the hull, the easier the kayak will be to turn in rivers. Shorter kayaks will also usually be easier to maneuver on land, making it less of a struggle to haul it through the woods to the launch, for example. 

Materials And Durability

Most Pelican kayaks are made with Ram-X material. This is exclusive to Pelican International and is a highly durable type of polyethylene. 

Video: Ram-X Polyethylene Explained

The Ram-X material is extremely tough and relatively lightweight. It’s resistant to impacts and has the ability to bounce back after being damaged (or run over by a vehicle).

The material is also UV-resistant to help protect against damage from the sun. 

It’s this tough material that makes Pelican kayaks so good for beginners and kids who may be more prone to accidental bumps and scrapes than more practiced paddlers. 

Speed And Tracking Performance

Pelican kayaks are stable kayaks and are not typically known for being fast or high-performance kayaks. 

Most of them are short and wide to favor stability over speed, unlike a sea kayak, for instance, which is built for speed, tracking, and open-water performance.

The best Pelican kayak in terms of speed is the Sprint 100XR because of its deep V chine hull that’s engineered for speed and efficiency over the water. The shape of the hull also helps to improve tracking performance, so it’s easier to paddle in a straight line through currents or wind.   

Pelican kayaks will typically be more efficient over the water than comparable inflatable kayaks. And they will tend to be less affected by wind because of the lower profile of the deck, compared to inflatables.

Comfort For Extended Periods

Budget kayaks like Pelican kayaks are generally not designed to be the most comfortable kayaks out there. 

Most of them have basic features that can be adequate for short recreational trips. But they may not offer enough comfort for paddling long distances, compared to the more expensive Wilderness Systems kayaks, for example.

While most Pelican brand kayaks will come with a padded seat, some of them will only have a molded seating area.

An adjustable backrest can be a good idea for long paddling trips. Fishing kayaks will sometimes have more comfortable seats, such as framed seats that give you an elevated seating position off the deck. 

Most Pelican kayak seats can be removed and you could upgrade to a better kayak seat for back support

Stability On The Water

Stability is something that you will almost always find in a Pelican kayak. Solid primary stability is key in recreational kayaks, as this is what provides the initial stability on flatwater conditions.

This means the kayak should feel less tippy to a beginner paddling on calm lakes or mellow rivers.

Some of the sit-in kayaks that Pelican offers have a degree of secondary stability in addition to the initial stability. This means the kayak can handle rougher conditions, such as choppy water and very mild rapids.  

Multi-chine kayak hulls are common in Pelican kayaks. This helps to provide a small degree of secondary stability in most of their kayaks. However, even with the added secondary stability, these are not designed to be used as whitewater kayaks. 

Portability For Practical Transportation

Most Pelican kayaks are lightweight and easy to carry because they tend to be compact. While these kayaks are not as portable as inflatable kayaks, they can usually be easy to car-top on a roof rack. 

Some of the shorter ones, including some of the fishing models, may even fit inside the back of an SUV or in the bed of a pickup truck.

The short lengths of Pelican kayaks can usually make them more convenient to store at home as well, compared to traditional kayaks, as they take up less room in a garage.

Storage Options On The Best Pelican Kayaks

When choosing a Pelican kayak, storage may or may not be important to you, depending on what you want to use the kayak for. 

A storage hatch can be useful for keeping your gear safe below deck on a day trip. However, not every Pelican kayak has a storage hatch. And some of them are not entirely watertight, so you’ll usually still need a dry bag. 

Most of the sit-on-top models tend to have a cargo deck, usually at the back of the boat with a bungee cord to secure your belongings. Some will also have a second storage area at the bow. 

Many of the sit-in models will also feature either a small rear cargo area or a hatch. Some of these kayaks will have a bow hatch as well and most also have a cockpit tray with space for a water bottle.

Fishing boats will tend to offer more storage options, such as rigging tracks to mount a fish finder, and space to store your fishing rods. 

Some of the angler kayaks will have a higher load capacity compared to a solo Pelican kayak that’s made solely for recreational use. This allows you to bring more gear and heavier fishing equipment.

Tandem kayaks will also offer increased space for storage, as well as a higher capacity to accommodate two people plus gear. Most tandems can be paddled solo and they can also be used as fishing boats for larger paddlers or anglers with extra gear.

Load Capacity Of Pelican Kayaks

One thing that may be more important on some of Pelican’s kayak models is the maximum load capacity. 

Because of the shorter and more compact hulls, many of them are not designed to carry heavy loads. This means they can be better suited to small and medium adults.  

Larger or heavier adults may find that they’re close to the maximum capacity of many of these smaller kayaks, just with their body weight, which doesn’t leave much capacity for gear. 

Overloading a kayak can affect the stability, as the boat will sit lower in the water. This could cause the kayak to capsize, so it’s important you stay within the kayak’s load capacity.

Fishing kayaks will generally offer a higher load capacity, along with tandems, which can often be more suitable for large paddlers. 


Affordability is one of the key features of any Pelican kayak. 

These are not top-of-the-line boats but they can get you out on the water at a decent price and are generally a step or two up from Sun Dolphin, another budget kayak brand. 

The more expensive models, such as the Getaway, the Catch models, and the Sprint, have additional features that aid performance, adding to the cost. But comparatively, these higher-priced Pelican kayaks are still budget kayaks that would cost significantly more if they were made by a premium brand. 

A Pelican kayak will typically last a long time, if you look after it well, offering good value for money. Pelican boats can also usually be passed down for the next generation to learn in and enjoy.

Pelican Kayaks: The Final Splashdown

Pelican offers a wide range of affordable kayaks, most suited to day paddles and light fishing trips. These are very durable kayaks that are ideal for beginners. 

Whether you’re new to sit-inside kayaks, angler kayaks, or completely new to all kayaks, you will probably find a Pelican kayak that’s right for you.

The best Pelican kayak is the one that suits you the most. Not all of them will work for every paddler and you may need to upgrade some of the features to find the right balance of comfort and performance. 

Have you paddled a Pelican kayak? Let us know your thoughts.

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