We’re always looking for new and affordable ways to get on the water. Early last year, we purchased a Sea Eagle tandem inflatable kayak. Being inflatable, it is light weight and packs down into a bag for easy storage making it ideal for our RV travels. This was our first kayak purchase and we’ve been very pleased with the hours of entertainment provided for the money spent. But Jason was also wanting a simple and affordable option that he could fish from. We’ve had pontoon style boats in the past, but he wanted something that allows him to fish from a standing position while still providing us with recreational paddling on non-fishing days.
Hobie Mirage iTrek 11 Inflatable Kayak
After much research, Jason hit on Hobie pedal kayaks. Pedal kayaks are propelled with your feet rather than your arms leaving your hands free for activities like fishing. Hobie’s platform decks allow you the option to fish from a standing position (in calm water). Anglers were giving them good reviews and they looked like they’d be a lot of fun.
We initially thought we’d go with one of Hobie’s hard-sided models, but an inflatable won out for compactness and ease of storage while on extended RV travels. While there are many rack options for transporting hard-sided kayaks, none of them looked appealing for our particular setup. While we had enjoyed the tandem configuration on the Sea Eagle, we decided to go with two singles on the Hobies. This will allow for improved fishing for Jason and I can explore the area while he is flipping lures. After a couple months of research and debate, we decided on the Hobie Mirage iTrek 11 Inflatable Kayak.
For our purchase, we worked with West Coast Sailing out of Portland, Oregon. Their customer service, both before and after the sale, has been exceptional. They will ship items to your home, but we found it more economical to pick them up in person (we saved the delivery fee plus there is no sales tax in Oregon!). Like so many things right now (2022), dealer stock across the Northwest was very limited. We really lucked out that West Coast had two units available and ready for pick up as soon as we could get there. We were still traveling in Nevada at the time and asked if they could hold them for a couple weeks. They required a 50% deposit which we thought was a fair price to hold these high demand units (they are now sold-out).
I’ll add a disclaimer here: we do not claim to be kayakers. We realize that many purists might scoff at our inflatable pedal kayaks that look more like standup paddle boards than a typical kayak. That’s ok. They work for us and we are thrilled with them. We wanted something that allows for fishing and fun water recreation and the Hobies are working great for that.
- Each iTrek comes with: hull, rudder, drive system, paddle, seat, 12v air pump, manual air pump, cup holder, and wheeled carrying case.
- Packed dimensions (packed in carrying case): 33.5 X 24.6 X 15.75”
- Length: 10’8″
- Width: 40″
- Capacity: 400lbs
- Hull weight: 28lbs
Pedal vs Paddle Kayaks for Fishing
Ocean Kayak’s website has a nice article comparing pedal and paddle kayaks for fishing. This article came out a couple months after we purchased our Hobie’s, but it does a great job of summarizing what we’ve found. They claim pedal kayaks are a great choice for both recreational paddling and fishing and we couldn’t agree more. Here is their pro/con list for pedal kayaks:
- Hands-Free (pro): One of the most obvious benefits of a pedal kayak is that it’s hands-free kayaking. You don’t have to tire out your arms paddling on the water and instead use your legs to propel the kayak. This is a huge pro for us. As hikers, we are well-conditioned for anything that uses our leg muscles. We can go all day long with our legs and being able to use our hands for fishing and photography has been a game changer.
- Best Option for Fishing (pro): Pedal kayaks provide an increase in power which lets you get to your destination quicker. They also create less of a disturbance to the water helping fisherman approach their prey. And you can even troll with a pedal kayak. Jason has loved being able to troll along the shoreline in his Hobie.
- Speed (pro): Pedal kayaks offer a faster and more efficient way to get around the water meaning you can cover large bodies of water with less effort. Boy has this been true for us! We can go much further and faster on our Hobies.
- Loss of Legroom & Storage (con): The Ocean Kayak article says the pedal kayaks offer less legroom and storage. While a traditional kayak would offer more storage space, this hasn’t been an issue for us. We have plenty of leg room and we were easily able to add storage crates to the back of our Hobies. Jason carries all his fishing gear and a dry bag with our clothes, towels, keys, and spare pump. I carry a cooler with our food and drinks in addition to my camera gear. If needed, we could easily lash additional gear to the front.
- Cost (con): Pedal kayaks tend to cost more. I’ll have to give them that one. The drives and added technology for the Hobies aren’t cheap. For those who are just starting out, paddle kayaks are likely the better budget conscious option (that is certainly where we were at a year ago). But, as we’ve discovered, spending additional money on a pedal kayak has its benefits, too. The ease of use, hands-free enjoyment, and speed more than make up for the additional costs for how much we use our Hobies.
- Weight (con): compared to their paddle counterparts, pedal kayaks weigh more. In our case, we went with the inflatable version which weighs just 28lbs (hull without gear). There is a nice carrying strap on each end which makes for relatively easy transport for the two of us.
- Kayaking Location (toss up): where you plan on kayaking should play into your pro/con list. Pedal kayaks won’t perform as well in shallow water. We’ve had our Hobies in shallow water and we do manage, but our Sea Eagle paddle kayak was easier in those types of conditions. If you are kayaking on open, windier waters, pedal kayaks are often the safest choice. You’re less likely to get tired, can move quickly over larger bodies of water, and can get to shore if the weather takes a sudden turn for the worst. An added bonus of the Hobie design is that we don’t take on water when hit by waves.
We Love Our Hobies!
To date, we have had our Hobie iTreks out eight times and we absolutely love them. The two kayaks in their storage cases do take up more space than our single Sea Eagle and they require some additional set up time; however, we have found these to be small prices to pay for our level of enjoyment once we are out on the water. Jason loves fishing from his. He enjoys that he can troll and he has the choice of fishing from a seated or standing position. He can carry all the gear he needs and he has two rod holders rigged to his storage box behind his seat for easy access. I love that my hands are free for photography. I have started carrying my Canon DSLR camera (something I never did in the Sea Eagle) which is scoring me some nice wildlife photos. We both like that we have a solid seat that puts us up off the water a bit, although it can get a little uncomfortable after a full day on the water. Jason is working on some cushion modifications to improve that. The biggest advantage is that we pedal with our legs instead of paddling with our arms—we can go much further and much faster with less effort. The boards are very stable and the rudder is highly responsive making it easy to maneuver for fishing and photography.
The Adventure Continues
Be sure to join us on our next adventure to Steamboat Rock State Park in Central Washington. And don’t forget to check out our Amazon RV and Adventure Gear recommendations. We only post products that we use and that meet the Evans Outdoor Adventures seal of approval. By accessing Amazon through our links and making any purchase (even things as simple as toothpaste!), you get Amazon’s every day low pricing and they share a little with us. This helps us maintain this website and is much appreciated!