Pelican 130 HD (enhanced)

Are Pelican Kayaks Good? (Explained For Beginners)

by Tracy Villarreal

Are Pelican Kayaks good?

If you’re in the market for a new kayak, you may have come across Pelican. They are one of the most popular brands on Amazon and major sporting goods stores. And Pelican offers a wide variety of different models to choose from.

But does Pelican make good kayaks? What do reviewers have to say about durability, quality, and resale value? And is it worth spending your hard-earned money on this brand over another one? Let’s find out!

You will learn everything there is to know about Pelican kayaks including their pros and cons as well as how they compare with their competitors. We also include links to all reviews we used for our research so that you can read them yourself if you want more information or just see what others think before making a decision.

By the end of this article, you should be able to make an informed decision about purchasing Pelican as your next kayak!

How We Determine What Makes A Good Kayak?

There are a few things to consider when looking for a kayak that you would be happy to own:

  • What do reviewers who purchased Pelican kayaks have to say? Are they generally happy with their purchase?
  • How long do Pelican kayaks usually last?
  • Are kayaks from Pelican easy to use?
  • Does Pelican have a good warranty? Does the manufacturer stand by its product?
  • Are there any reoccurring defects to know about with Pelican kayaks? Are any of the models having a lot of problems?
  • Do professional or beginner kayakers usually buy this brand?
  • Are Pelican kayaks a good investment?
  • How is the resell market for used Pelican kayaks?
  • What are the popular Pelican models and what competitors are there?
  • Would I own a Pelican kayak?
Pelican Mustang 100 NXT
Pelican Mustang 100 NXT

What Do The Reviewers Say? (Ratings From Pelican Site, Dick’s Sporting Goods, And Academy Sports)

We checked the reviews on three different online stores: Pelicansport.com, Dickssportinggoods.com, and Academy.com.

For the four most popular Pelican kayaks, we looked at 639 evaluations on the Pelican Sport online store, 601 evaluations on Dick’s Sporting Goods’ website, and 94 evaluations on the Academy Sport and Outdoor site. The average rating for the Pelican kayaks is 4.59 out of 5 stars.

Pelican ModelKayak TypePelican Sports OnlineDick’s Sporting Goods Academy
Trailblazer 100 NXTRecreational4.7 / 5.0 (251 reviews)4.7 / 5.0 (266 reviews)4.5 / 5.0 (64 reviews)
Mustang 100X EXORecreational4.6 / 5.0 (331 reviews)4.6 / 5.0 (336 reviews)
Catch 130 HYDRYVE IIPedal Fishing3.5 / 5.0 (39 reviews)3.4 / 5.0 (7 reviews)
Challenger 130T TandemPaddle Fishing4.6 / 5.0 (18 reviews)4.6 / 5.0 (23 reviews)
* Click to see reviews

Pelican is one of the most well-known entry-level kayak brands and their products are usually purchased by beginners due to its lower average pricing.

The majority of consumers were very satisfied with the recreational and tandem kayaks as their high scores indicate. A few issues were reported of popped rivets and broken straps after a few trips on the water, according to some consumers.

The more experienced buyers were prepared to pay extra for the pedal drive alternative (Hydryve) on the Catch fishing kayak line. These customers complained of a variety of issues with the Hydryve system for the Catch 130 HD II, including pedal drive failure and damaged rudder cables. There were a couple of reports of leaking from the hull where the drive is located. In most cases, the broken drives were replaced with due diligence working with Pelican customer support.

How Well Do They Hold Up? (According To Reviews)

The Trailblazer 100 NXT

With 449 of 581 customers awarding the Trailblazer 100 a 5-star rating, it is hands-down a winner for Pelican. This “sit-in” kayak is great for beginners. The built-in molded skeg provides good tracking, enabling this kayak to go forward without “zig-zagging” while paddling.

There were no reported quality or durability issues reported in these reviews.

“These are nice entry level calm water kayaks. We have enjoyed taking them out every weekend since we purchased them. They are small (10 ft) and light weight (~37 lbs), so they are easy to handle.”

volfireman 07, Pelican site reviewer

Mustang 100X EXO

Another success for Pelican comes in the form of the Mustang100X, which has 494 of 667 customers giving it a 5-star rating. This “sit-in” kayak is ideal for those new to kayaking, but there were tracking issues reported. This would be due to its “flat-bottom” design and no skeg or rudder.

There were no reported quality or durability issues reported in these reviews.

“I bought the Pelican Mustang 100X back in the spring after being disappointed with a competitor kayak. First trip was happy with the stability so much I purchased a second for my wife and recently purchased a third for the kids to use when visiting. I am 6ft and 230lb and easily paddle and fish from it. Would definitely recommend this kayak for the price.”

Frosty1, Dick’s Sporting Goods site reviewer

Catch 130 Hydryve II

Customers have reported several issues with the Hydryve system for the Catch 130 HDII, including pulley issues and broken rudder cables. Others claimed that after a few trips on the water, rivets popped and the rudder cables fractured.

The majority of the problems we encountered were with Hydryve pedal models, which had an average rating of 3.7 / 5 five stars.

We discovered that only 24 of the 47 were good reviews, and most of them suggested purchasing this merchandise. Given the poorer satisfaction rating, we would be cautious about durability and quality issues.

“…  I did my research before picking up the kayak less than two weeks ago. I adjusted the drive screws evenly according to the instructional video and I lubricated it with Molykote 557. Less than 30 hours of operation and the drive is broken. It appears Pelican used a plastic pulley that looks like it’s just going to break again if I replace it.”

Mike, Pelican site reviewer

“Bought this boat 10 mo. ago. First pedal kayak I have owned, This boat works perfect, very fast, super stable for fishing or just paddling around. I am 75 years old, own five kayaks from white water to fishing and touring and this has become my new favorite.”

Old Dude, Pelican site reviewer

Challenger 130T Tandem

The Challenger 130T is the top-rated kayak in the tandem category, with 30 of 41 customers giving it a 5-star rating. The Pelican Challenger is the clear choice for newcomers. The molded keel provides excellent tracking, whether you’re going solo or tandem.

There was one report of “With less than 180 pounds in the seat, the rear seat support ridge buckles into a tight kink in the plastic. With only 400 lbs of total weight in the kayak, the rear seat leg rest area takes on water.”

“I love the design and the price point for this tandem kayak. It seems to track well and remains very stable. Although I was skeptical about the thickness of “padding”, the seats were pretty comfortable for several hours of paddling.”

Texas Paddlers, Pelican site reviewer

How Hard Or Easy Are Pelican Kayaks To Use?

Pelican kayaks are great for people of all ages and skill levels. This is due to the fact that Pelican kayaks come ready-to-use out of the box and are simple to set up and transport. They’re also lightweight, making them easy to transport, which means they’re accessible to anybody interested in getting a kayak.

A common complaint, especially from people who have been kayaking for a long time, is that the plastic construction feels too light and fragile. A Pelican kayak, on the other hand, is a great option if you’re searching for an easy-to-use and portable boat.

Do pelican kayaks require a lot of effort to paddle?

In general, the answer is no. Most Pelican kayaks are relatively easy to paddle and control, making them an excellent choice for those who want to start using a kayak today without worrying too much about experience or strength level.

How Long Is The Standard Pelican Warranty And What Does It Cover?

Pelican has a lifetime replacement guarantee that applies to parts and accessories that are defective in materials or workmanship.

The standard warranty does not cover:

  • Kayaks used for rental or other commercial use
  • Products used that have been damaged by negligence, misuse or accident,or wear due to owner’s failure to provide reasonable and necessary maintenance
  • Products which have been modified or repairedby unauthorized persons
  • Change in appearance of product due to wear,unlimited exposure or any other environmental condition
  • Products sold as “demos” or “as is” conditions, prototypes or floor models.
  • Normal wear and tear

Pelican International Inc. offers a lifetime limited warranty against defects in materials and workmanship on the hull and deck from the date of purchase on all kayaks made from TST technology process since 2018. *(TWIN SHEET THERMOFORMING).

* Pelican Sport website

See the full Pelican warranty here.

What Is The Pelican Return Policy?

Pelican will refund or exchange new and unused goods purchased from Pelican’s website within 30 days of the delivery date if you provide us with your original receipt. This does not include clearance or final sale items, which can not be returned or refunded.

See the Pelican return and refund here.

To return or exchange a Pelican product purchased at an authorized dealer, contact the store where it was purchased directly to return or get a refund.

Do Professional And Experienced Kayakers Use Pelican Kayaks?

Most Pelican kayaks reviewed included touring and recreational kayaks. They include just basic flat foam seats with minimal extra features, and they’re intended for casual use.

The fishing kayak series, on the other hand, does have a few advantages that might entice intermediate kayakers.

However, serious kayakers want more capabilities, such as waterproof storage compartments, higher seats (to keep the bottom dry), lumbar back supports, and enhanced rudders and skegs for improved speed and stability.

Touring kayaks with footpegs that steer a rudder or control for a retractable skeg, as well as allow for cockpit skirts, are expected for professionals.

Are Pelican Kayaks A Good Investment?

There is no definitive answer to this question, as the best way to determine whether or not a Pelican kayak is a good investment depends on your individual needs and preferences. However, we can provide some general insights that may help you make a more informed decision.

Due to its lightweight construction, you’ll want to treat it with greater care than some of the higher-end kayak manufacturers.

According to buyer comments, a Pelican kayak has a 5-7 year lifespan when properly cared for and stored indoors (where possible).

On Craig’s List, Facebook, and eBay, we’ve discovered that Pelican Kayaks has a strong resale market.

How Many Used Models Are For Sale? (Craig’s List, Facebook, And eBay)

I’ve found roughly 30 Pelican kayaks for sale on Craig’s list in the Texas area:

  • Houston – 10
  • Austin – 10
  • Dallas – 7
  • San Antonio – 3

We discovered 15 Pelican kayaks for sale on eBay in Texas as well.

On Facebook Marketplace, there were 18 Pelican kayaks for sale.

What Type Of Kayaking Is Pelican Known For?

The Pelican kayak brand offers three distinct product lines: recreational, touring, and fishing.

The recreational kayaks are designed for casual paddlers who want a stable and easy-to-use boat, while the touring kayaks are aimed at more experienced paddlers who need a boat that can handle long distances and rougher waters.

The fishing kayaks are built for anglers who need a boat that can provide stability and durability in challenging waters.

Popular Pelican Models

Recreational Models:

  • Argo Recreational Collection
  • Bandit Recreational Series
  • Getaway Collection
  • Sentinel Recreational Collection

Day Touring Models:

* Sprint Performance Series

Fishing Models:

  • Argo Angler Series
  • Blitz Angler Series
  • Challenger Angler Series
  • Kayak Quest Angler Series
  • Sentinel Angler Series
  • The Catch Series

Competitor Comparisions

  • Perception Swifty Deluxe 9.5
  • Perception Pescador 10.0
  • Lifetime Payette 98
  • Ocean Kayak 11 Ocean Caper
  • Vibe Yellowfin 100

Would We Own A Pelican Kayak?

After carefully examining the Pelican kayaks on the market, I’d have to look for a different kayak as I’m primarily a fishing kayaker. Other brands, such as Jackson or Hobie, have larger fishing decks that allow for stand-up fishing and are more durable.

I would seriously consider buying a touring or recreational kayak for day trips away with my friends. As a second kayak, the lower price would be appealing.

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