“I want the yellow one!” the little boy declared, flopping onto the sit-on-top kayak’s thick, inflated floor and confirming my suspicions that lifting out the seat and Mirage Drive pedals would transform the nine-foot Hobie i9S into a peerless post-paddle air mattress. While the boy acted out imagined adventures on the manicured green seas of the city park’s grass, his patient stroller-pushing dad diverted from the bike path for a closer look.
Three air chambers in the Hobie’s heavy-duty PVC-vinyl hull inflate in just a couple of minutes with a supplied hand pump. The result is so firm and slick, Dad is surprised to learn it’s an inflatable. I show him the rolling travel duffle that I had pulled the kayak from just 10 minutes earlier, after easily wheeling the 70-pound package from my trunk to the shore.
Hobie Mirage i9S Specs
Weight: 66 lbs
Price: $1,749 USD
The i9S features Hobie’s trademark pedal drive to propel two penguin-like flippers under the bow hull.
Reclining into the comfortable high-back seat and kicking your legs is faster than using the included four-piece paddle, although the inflatable’s beamy width and shorter waterline means acceleration and cruising speed aren’t as quick as Hobie’s hard-shell Mirage sit-on-tops.
An available sail kit adds to your propulsion options.
With the compact rudder deployed, the i9S tracks well and responds quickly to inputs from the hand-controlled steering disk on the left gunwale.
Rudder cables are routed inside welded channels on the gunwale to protect them from snags and damage.
The pumpkin seed-shaped i9S is a super stable platform for fishing, photography or family adventures.
A bungee-secured storage area behind the seat accommodates a large dry bag or crate, so you can bring along the essentials for a full day on the water.
Ideal for: All-around rec use; day trips on harbors, lakes and rivers.
Assembly Time: 10 minutes or less