Best Hobie Kayaks For 2024

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

Best known for their Hobie ‘cat’ catamarans and sailboats, Hobie actually started out making surfboards. In 1950, founder Hobie Alter began shaping custom surfboards in California. He revolutionized surfing, ushering in the advent of polyurethane for a lighter, more maneuverable board. Next, the Hobie Sports company began building small catamarans that one person could launch from a beach into breaking waves without difficulty.

In recent decades, Hobie has transitioned this knowledge of board and boat design into recreational and fishing kayaks with great success. Today, Hobie has integrated their Mirage pedal-drive system into all of their kayaks. They’ve also entered the inflatable market with some exciting inflatable pedal-powered kayaks.

Hobie pedal-powered kayaks provide a fun and unique, hands-free way of getting around on calm, sheltered water. These specialized open deck, sit-on-top kayaks are propelled with your legs, leaving your hands free for fishing or photography. Not surprisingly, they’re a favorite of kayak anglers.

Hobie foot pedal kayaks allow you to work your lower body, with the option in some models to use your arms to paddle, or even add a sail to harness the wind. Hobie pedal kayaks are easy to get on and off, without the confined feeling of a typical kayak. What’s more, Hobie kayak pedal drive systems create a low center of balance that’s ultra stable.

Use the links below to explore some of the best Hobie kayak models in our Paddling Buyer’s Guide. This article also provides helpful information to buy Hobie kayaks, whether you’re shopping new or used, and answers to common questions to help you choose the right Hobie pedal kayak, whether it’s for recreational use or kayak fishing.

Pedal kayaks are certainly a niche type of kayak, but Hobie serves up plenty of selection and this article will describe the workings of the brand’s different pedal-powered mechanisms. Finally, we’ll compare Hobie kayaks to other popular kayak brands, so you can determine if this is the right kayak for you.

Top picks: Best Hobie kayaks for 2024

The following Hobie kayaks have received the highest star ratings by reviewers in our Paddling Buyer’s Guide. See and review all Hobie kayaks here.

Shop for Hobie kayaks

In the market for a Hobie pedal kayak? The links in this section will take you to our comprehensive Paddling Buyer’s Guide, where you can take a closer look at every Hobie pedal drive kayak on the market, including specs, reviews, ratings and where to buy. Along with Hobie kayaks, the guide includes nearly every kayak on the market. You can choose to filter Hobie kayaks by size or application.

Best Hobie kayaks

Wondering what is the best Hobie kayak for your needs and want to learn more about the various types of Hobie kayaks? Find more information in the articles below. You’ll get an in-depth look at each type of Hobie kayak, as well as specific advice for buying these kayaks, new or used.

Shopping for a used Hobie kayak?

If you are looking for a used Hobie kayak, there are some different avenues to take. The most common way of buying any used kayak now is through online classifieds like Kijiji, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. Another excellent method is through a Hobie dealer’s demo days. At trade shows or symposiums, there will often be floor models sold at discounted rates. These are also good opportunities to try the kayak before buying it, chat with the experts and connect with other Hobie owners.

Hobie forums are well-moderated places for owners to discuss their kayaks. These are an insightful resource for learning more about any kayak you may be considering. If you are debating buying a used Hobie that needs repairs, you’ll find lots of tips and tricks within these community pages.

The best way to view a used kayak is to take it out on the water. Even just a short spin will often be enough for you to know if it’s the right choice for you. If you aren’t able to take it out, then thoroughly inspect the hull and components.

Rigid Hobie kayaks are made with durable, impact-resistant polyethylene plastic. Most scrapes and abrasions are just cosmetic and will not affect the performance of the kayak. If you notice wavy deformities in the hull, these are an indication of prolonged UV exposure and will affect the efficiency of the kayak. Hobie’s support pages offer solutions, and repair materials can be sourced through dealers.

Components on used kayaks may be missing or broken. First, determine if these are needed to use the kayak. If a buckle or bungee cord is broken, it’s not the end of the world. A broken rudder, seat or pedal drive system is more problematic. Remember, replacement parts are available through Hobie, but can be quite expensive—a new pedal drive runs upwards of $700. If you’re handy and confident you can fix the damage, you should be able to negotiate a good deal on a used Hobie.

For more tips on what to look for when selecting a used kayak, read our article How To Buy A Used Kayak.

Hobie kayak buying guide

If you’re considering buying a Hobie kayak, first decide if these boats are suitable for you. If you wish to use a paddle to propel your kayak, you’re better off considering a recreational, touring or fishing kayak from a different manufacturer. All of Hobie’s new kayaks are pedal driven and while paddling is an option, it’s not ideal.

What’s more, Hobie kayaks have high-tech pedal-drive mechanisms that contribute to hefty hull weights and a price tag far greater than a typical recreational kayak. If you’re set on a Hobie pedal-powered kayak, it’s important to understand the various options available.

Hobie has a range of sit-on-top kayaks to choose from. Their 2022 lineup includes recreational kayaks, inflatable kayaks, fishing kayaks and trimaran sailing kayaks. Additionally, there are three different pedal-drive systems on Hobie kayaks, the Mirage Drive GT, 180 and 360. Each of these systems has different functionality, with the price increasing accordingly.

Even though they are pedal-driven, many of these kayaks come with paddles as well. As mentioned above, paddling a pedal-drive kayak is not ideal, but you can use a paddle as backup if the drive fails. If you want a unique experience on the water, pedal-driven kayaks free your hands to handle the rudder, fish, take photographs or operate sails (a sailing kit is available for many Hobie models).

Using Hobie’s Mirage Drive, users pump their legs forward and back, imitating a stepping motion rather than the spinning cycling motion used by other pedal kayak manufacturers. The Mirage Drive 180 system can move forward and reverse, while the Mirage Drive 360 can rotate underwater for travel in any direction.

The Mirage Glide Technology or “GT” has ball bearings in the drive system for even smoother pedaling. New kayaks also come with “Kick-up” fins. These fins are set on hinges, so they bounce over shallow hazards and fold flat to the hull to avoid damage.

Hobie kayaks are intended for calm conditions and may struggle when pedaling into wind or current. Additionally, you’ll need a sheltered location for launching and landing the kayak. Most Hobie kayaks are stable enough to stand on, making them an ideal choice for anglers or wildlife watchers. There are also larger tandem options for two or more people at a time.

What is the best Hobie kayak? Different types of Hobie kayaks meet different needs. Let’s take a look at the categories of kayaks for this year.

Mirage pedal kayaks

Mirage pedal kayaks are Hobie’s basic recreational kayaks. There are six models available in different sizes; tandem options allow you to get out with a partner. Whenever you’re shopping for kayaks, the number included in the model name (for example, Mirage Passport 12.0) usually indicates the length of the kayak in feet. You can make assumptions about how a kayak will perform based on its length; typically, longer boats are faster and have better glide than shorter ones.

Mirage pedal kayaks range from the ultralight Mirage Lynx, which is meant for calm conditions, to the open water-capable Mirage Outback and Mirage Revolution. Choose from Mirage Drive 180, 360 or GT pedal drives. Hobie pedal kayaks are also compatible with Hobie sailing kits for even more versatile performance.

Hobie pedal kayaks are made with rotomolded polyethylene or lightweight thermoformed laminate. Rotomolding creates strong kayaks at a lower cost. The downside is that these kayaks are often the heaviest. A thermoformed kayak weighs less than a rotomolded one of the same size—but all things being equal, costs marginally more.

When choosing between pedal kayaks, the length should be the primary consideration. Remember that longer kayaks are generally faster, but also think about storing and transporting them. Hobie kayaks weigh more than a standard kayak, and additional length adds more weight.

Mirage inflatables

The main advantage of an inflatable kayak is its portability. When it isn’t in use, it can be packed and stored in a duffel bag. Hobie is expanding their line of iTrek inflatable pedal kayaks this year. These lightweight kayaks are made with drop-stitching, a construction technique that allows advanced inflatables to hold a rigid shape. This technology is also found on inflatable rafts, paddleboards and even aircraft wings.

Strong PVC vinyl construction means these compact kayaks are much more durable than one might expect. With advances in drop-stitching and the materials used, companies like Hobie are narrowing the performance gap between inflatables and rigid-hulled kayaks. Hobie inflatable kayaks are comparable in price to Hobie’s rigid-hull lineup, with single and tandem models as well as the unique, four-person iTrek Fiesta.

Mirage fishing kayaks

Hobie Angler Series kayaks are rigid-hulled pedal kayaks tailored towards fishing. There are two tiers of Hobie fishing kayaks: the Pro Angler Series and the Pro Angler 360 Series. The hull designs are the same, but the 360 Series kayaks come with Hobie’s enhanced pedal system that can completely rotate under power for more precise directional control on the water—a concept that has won the Pro Angler 360 acclaim and industry awards.

The standard Pro Angler Series uses Hobie’s Mirage 180 pedal drive, capable of moving forward and reverse. These kayaks are available in 12- and 14-foot lengths. All Angler kayaks come with accessories to make fishing easier, like rod holders, cargo storage, grip pads and livewell capability. The kayaks can be easily equipped with electronic fish finders, bimini shade covers and the Hobie Evolve electric motor.

Mirage Island sailing kayaks

Hobie’s Mirage Adventure Island solo kayak and Mirage Tandem Island double kayak are unparalleled in their design. These trimaran-style, pedal-powered kayaks harness the wind for stable and easy kayak sailing. The pedal drive adds versatility for when the wind drops, or to navigate back to harbor. The Tandem Island is designed for two, but can be operated solo as well. These are a bit of a niche item, and by purchasing one, you become part of the exclusive Hobie Island Club.

Still wondering what is the best Hobie kayak for you? Here are answers to some common questions about Hobie pedal kayaks:

  • What is a Hobie kayak?

    Hobie kayaks are sit-on-top kayaks that use pedal drives for propulsion. They come in various sizes, and owners can outfit them with bimini sun shades, sails or outriggers for additional stability. In 2022, Hobie offers recreational kayaks, fishing kayaks, inflatable kayaks and sailing kayaks—all with foot pedal drives.

  • Where are Hobie kayaks made?

    Hobie kayak hulls are built in the USA. Some of the components are made globally, and the kayaks are then assembled in Hobie’s California facility.

  • Are Hobie kayaks worth it?

    The higher price of a Hobie kayak is due to the advanced pedal-drive technology. This system is simple and intuitive to use; many beginners and non-paddlers find it easier and more accessible than paddling a kayak. The pedal drive also keeps your hands free for fishing, taking photos or operating a sail.

    Hobie kayaks are compatible with unique customization options like sail kits and electric motors. Hobie fishing kayaks like the award-winning Pro Angler 360 Series are fully equipped with everything needed to kayak fish.

  • Hobie kayak colors

    Some Hobie kayaks have different color options. To see the available colors of each model, view them in our Paddling Buyer’s Guide.

  • Do Hobie kayaks have reverse?

    Hobie kayaks with the MirageDrive 180 pedal drive system can go forwards and reverse. The Hobie MirageDrive 360 system has fully rotating fins for even more directional control.

  • Fastest Hobie kayak

    When under sail power, the Hobie Mirage Island is Hobie’s fastest kayak. Without wind assistance, the Revolution 13 is Hobie’s fastest kayak currently in their lineup. The Revolution 16, an even speedier, stretched-out version, has been discontinued.

  • What is the lightest Hobie kayak?

    The lightest Hobie kayak is the inflatable Mirage iTrek 9 Ultralight kayak. Fully rigged with pedal drive, it weighs just 37 pounds. This inflatable kayak packs into a compact duffel and is stable enough to be used seated or standing. The lightest rigid-hull Hobie kayak is the Mirage Lynx, made from lightweight thermoform laminate, at 63 pounds fully rigged.

  • What is Hobie kayak warranty?

    Rigid Hobie kayaks come with a 3-year limited warranty. Inflatables have a 2-year limited warranty. Keep your proof of purchase for the Hobie kayak to qualify for the warranty, and make any claims at the nearest Hobie service center. You can find a list of service centers on Hobie’s website.

  • How long does a Hobie kayak last?

    If well cared for, a Hobie kayak can offer a decade or more of enjoyment. The most important thing is storing the kayak correctly. Keep kayaks away from direct sunlight when not in use, as UV rays can damage the boat. It’s best to store the kayaks in a garage, but under a covered awning is also fine.

    The kayak should be well-supported, on a rack or hanging with webbing straps under the hull. Remove the pedal drive before storage. Inflatables should be thoroughly dried before they are stored. Any kayaks used in saltwater should get a freshwater rinse after use.

  • Hobie kayak weight

    The weight of a Hobie kayak varies with each specific model, ranging from 37 pounds for the ultralight iTrek 9 inflatable kayak to 240 pounds for the Mirage Tandem Island two-person sailing kayak. With the inclusion of pedal drives, Hobie kayaks weigh more than most other sit-on-top kayaks. The kayaks are compatible with Hobie carts or dollies to roll them to the put-in easily.

  • Hobie kayak weight capacity

    Hobie kayaks have varying weight capacities, depending on their size and design. At a minimum, they support 275 pounds. Larger kayaks and fishing kayaks like the Pro Angler 14 have higher weight capacities, up to 600 pounds.

    When looking at the spec sheets for these kayaks, two different capacities are listed. The larger number refers to the overall weight limit of the kayak, including gear. The smaller number, if given, refers to the capacity of the frame seat in the kayak.

  • Hobie kayak dealers

    Wondering where to buy a Hobie kayak? Hobie kayaks are available at independent paddlesports shops, boat dealers and national retailers like REI. Refer to the Paddling Buyer’s Guide to find out where to buy a Hobie kayak near you. Or use the dealer locator on the Hobie website.

  • Hobie kayak cost

    At $2,449 USD, the Mirage iTrek 9 Ultralight is Hobie’s starting point for inflatable kayaks. Hobie rigid-hulled kayaks range from $1,649 USD to nearly $8,300 USD. Different models, materials and features all influence the price of these kayaks.

Compare Hobie kayaks

  • Hobie kayak vs Old Town

    Old Town is one of America’s oldest canoe and kayak manufacturers. Unlike Hobie, they make both sit-in and sit-on-top kayaks, primarily focusing on paddle-powered designs. However, Old Town does offer a limited lineup of pedal kayaks. Old Town’s pedal-driven kayaks use a propeller and rotating pedals that mimic a cycling motion, which gives the feeling of a recumbent bike.

    Hobie’s MirageDrive pedal system has the paddler move their legs back and forth, more like a walking or stepping movement. The main advantage of Hobie’s design is their durable and powerful Kick-up fins, which fold flat to the hull on impact with underwater obstacles. These allow you to explore shallower waters and significantly extend the life of your pedal drive.

    If you are looking for a non-pedal-driven kayak, Old Town offers many great recreational and fishing kayak options. Choose a Hobie pedal kayak for the advanced technology of its Mirage Drive system. Old Town presently does not make inflatables, so if storage space is tight, look at Hobie’s iTrek line.

  • Hobie kayak vs Native

    Native Watercraft focuses on fishing kayaks. They have pedal-driven kayaks in addition to regular paddle-propelled ones. Native pedal drive kayaks use similar technology to Old Town’s, resembling a recumbent bike with rotating pedals. In shallow areas, a boater can manually raise the propeller system. Native’s “FX” line of kayak platforms are paddle-driven boats that are stable enough for stand up fishing.

    Go with Native Watercraft if you want a paddle-powered fishing kayak, or if you want a pedal-drive kayak and prefer the cycling motion. Hobie’s MirageDrive system involves pumping the pedals back and forth, similar to walking. Choose a Hobie if that system appeals to you, or if you’ll be spending a lot of time fishing shallow waters (Hobie’s kick-up fin technology means you don’t have to pull the drive up to avoid underwater obstacles).

  • Hobie kayak vs Ocean Kayak

    Ocean Kayak makes a variety of sit-on-top kayaks. They have a mix of recreational and fishing kayaks, with the recreational ones being much less expensive. If you’re looking for a cheap sit-on-top kayak for casual paddling, these boats are a good fit. Ocean Kayak currently makes one pedal-driven kayak, the 12-foot Malibu. It has some fishing features but targets families looking for something different to play with at the beach or waterfront.

    If you’re already sold on a pedal-drive system, Hobie has far more options available. With Hobie, you can choose from portable inflatable kayaks, nimble recreational kayaks, advanced sailing kayaks or tricked-out fishing kayaks.

  • Hobie kayak vs Jackson Kayak

    Jackson Kayak fishing and recreational kayaks are super stable platforms with lots of space and options for gear storage. Their premium fishing kayaks have options to attach electric motors or use Jackson’s FlexDrive pedal system. Like Hobie’s MirageDrive, Jackson pedal kayaks are suitable for shallow water exploration, since the prop retracts automatically if it hits an obstacle.

    Jackson’s recreational line also has some basic sit-on-top and sit-inside paddle kayaks that you can purchase for around $1,000 or less. Both Jackson and Hobie make high-quality fishing kayaks; choosing one over the other may come down to whether you prefer Jackson’s cycling motion pedal drive, or Hobie’s stepping motion MirageDrive.

    If you are looking for a basic, inexpensive recreational paddle kayak, Jackson kayaks are excellent options. These kayaks are suited to sheltered, inland waterways. Turn to Hobie if you plan to spend more time on exposed coastlines, or would like to try adding a Hobie sail kit for easy, stable kayak sailing.

Hobie kayak reviews

Reviews are a good tool for learning how a kayak feels on the water, rather than just looking at its specifications and features. Impartial criticisms help you assess the strengths and weaknesses of every kayak on the market.


This content was made possible with the support of Ontario Creates.

Ontario Creates logo