Pelican has a long history of producing self-propelled watercraft. Cottagers may remember this Quebec-based company for its early lineup of pedal boats, starting in 1965. The company eventually moved to paddlecraft, including kayaks, canoes and standup paddleboards.
Pelican is distinguished for its budget- and beginner-friendly, recreational designs. Many Pelican sit-in kayaks are made of super durable RAM-X rotomolded plastic, which is tough and scratch-resistant and meant to last through years of abuse. Beginner-friendly Pelican sit-in kayaks sell in big box retailers across North America for discount prices.
Great value for recreational paddling is the name of the game in Pelican’s huge lineup of sit-in kayaks. Don’t expect to find a high performance Pelican sit-in kayak; however, these durable, user-friendly boats are a great choice for casual paddlers looking for a new toy at the cottage or those wishing to make short outings on sheltered bodies of water.
It’s important to note that these kayaks are meant for use in calm water conditions such as quiet lakes, sheltered bays and smooth-flowing rivers. This article describes the best Pelican sit-in kayaks along with solid advice on choosing the one that will be right for you.
Top picks: Best Pelican sit-in kayaks for 2023
The following Pelican sit-in kayaks have received the highest star ratings by reviewers in our Paddling Buyer’s Guide. See and review all Pelican sit-in kayaks here.
Best Pelican Sit-Inside Kayaks
Argo 100XP Angler
Argo 100X EXO
Maxim 100X Angler
Shop Pelican kayaks
Our Paddling Buyer’s Guide features every Pelican sit-in kayak on the market. You can choose to filter Pelican sit-in kayaks by type (such as single or tandem) and application (recreation and fishing), as well as popular lengths and places to buy. Click on specific models to see specs, prices, reviews and where to buy. You won’t find a better kayak buyer’s guide on the web.
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Shopping for a used Pelican sit-in kayak?
It’s easy to find great deals on used Pelican sit-in kayaks on buy-and-sell websites like Craigslist, Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace. Pelican sit-in kayaks offer outstanding value in beginner kayaks for family fun and kayak fishing; many options are available to choose from. Your first step in making a good investment is to research the specific attributes of the Pelican sit-in kayak model you are considering.
Our Paddling Buyer’s Guide is the ideal place to start. Once you’ve found a contender, consider the following advice to make a good used purchase.
Examine the overall condition of the Pelican sit-in kayak. Recreational kayaks are often stored outdoors, exposed to the elements. Examining for sun damage and soft spots on the hull (apply firm pressure to all parts of the kayak to test for stiffness—it shouldn’t feel spongy) are good ways to determine a kayak’s overall condition. Check the deck (top) and hull (bottom) for damage including deep gouges (more than 3 mm or 1/8th of an inch deep); obvious abrasion (especially if the worn areas are a different color from the rest of the kayak); and deformities (which will make the kayak paddle less efficiently).
Pelican sit-in kayaks are made of durable plastic that’s meant to withstand plenty of abuse; some damage is fine, so long as the shape of the kayak remains intact. Over time the hull of Pelican sit-in kayaks may become wavy; this is a telltale sign of a used kayak to avoid.
Most Pelican sit-in kayaks feature minimal outfitting. Take a close look at comfort features like the seat (is it padded and supportive for your body type?). Foot rests are critical to give you purchase on the kayak to paddle efficiently; make sure they’re functional and not damaged by grit or sand (a common occurrence in well-used, poorly maintained kayaks). Some sit-inside Pelican kayaks are equipped with a bulkhead (an interior wall within the hull), a critical feature for safety and seaworthiness that will keep a swamped kayak afloat: make sure it’s solid and intact.
Outfitting is the critical interface between the paddler and kayak, including the seat, back support, thigh rests and foot rests. Often these features lack refinement in budget-priced Pelican sit-in kayaks. Examine these parts individually and consider how well they work together as a whole—the easiest way to achieve this is by sitting in the boat (and ideally paddling it) to make sure it feels comfortable. Think about how long you’ll be sitting in the kayak. If it’s uncomfortable in a quick test, how will it feel after an hour?
Outfitting often comes down to personal preference; there’s no one-size-fits-all. One of the drawbacks of cheaper Pelican kayaks is substandard outfitting. Take a close look and consider investing in a more expensive kayak if you plan on more serious paddling. If you’re handy, outfitting is easily modified with some glue, foam and DIY time; consider any upgrades you could make to save a few bucks and get a custom fit.
On the water
The only way to fully appreciate the comfort and performance of a kayak is to try it before committing to a purchase. Arrange a meeting place with the seller that allows you to take a few moments on the water. Bring your usual paddle and dress in what you plan to wear while paddling. Be sure to assess how easy the boat is to enter and exit, as well as performance aspects like stability and glide.
Make a deal
In general (that is, before Covid-19 put a premium on outdoor equipment) the typical starting point for a used Pelican kayak in moderate condition was about half its retail price. All that’s changed in the wake of boat shortages brought on by the pandemic, but you can use it as a starting point in haggling a fair price.
Add some accessories
If you’re offered a PFD as part of a used kayak sale make sure it’s in good shape, fits properly and is Coast Guard approved for the location you’ll be paddling.
For more tips on what to look for when selecting a used kayak, read our article How To Buy A Used Kayak.
Pelican sit-in kayak buying advice
Pelican sit-in kayaks are widely available across North America at box stores and sporting goods outlets. At first glance, the sheer variety of boats available may make you wonder which model is best for you. Pelican sit-in kayaks are ideal if you’re looking for a casual kayak for recreational paddling on calm, sheltered water—and you want to get one without breaking the bank. Pelican sit-in kayaks are available for a range of needs for paddlers of all sizes.
Before you buy, think about whether or not a sit-in kayak is right for you. Sit-in kayaks have cockpits and decks, which provide shelter from waves and precipitation (and the option of further sealing yourself in with a sprayskirt). But a cockpit may feel claustrophobic for some people and entering and exiting requires a bit of balance and flexibility. Consider Pelican sit-on-top kayaks, which feature open decks, if you’re worried about feeling confined inside the cockpit of a sit-in kayak.
All Pelican kayaks are meant for recreational paddling, such as getting out on the water at the cottage, spending an afternoon at the beach or fishing on a lazy river or calm pond. Pelican sit-in kayaks are divided by activity and user. Activity, or type of paddling, includes recreational (short and stable kayaks meant for casual use); fishing (“souped up” recreational kayaks with add-ons specific to anglers, such as rod holders and tackle storage areas); and day touring (longer recreational kayaks with storage hatches for day gear).
Further, Pelican kayaks can be divided into user type, including single (one-person) kayaks; tandem (two-person) kayaks; and junior (kids’) kayaks. There are options for everyone and the choice can be overwhelming. Here’s a rundown of some of Pelican’s most popular sit-in kayak models:
The Argo collection includes decked, sit-inside recreational kayaks ranging from 8 to 12 feet. The shorter 8- and 10-foot models work well for smaller paddlers (including youth) because their small dimensions make them easier to handle, particularly for reaching the water for those with shorter arms.
The longer 12-foot Argo 120XP is perhaps Pelican’s most advanced recreational kayak; its longer overall hull length produces better glide and allows the kayak to track in a straight line. The Argo 120XP makes an excellent day touring kayak for those on a tight budget—as long as you recognize it’s a boat meant for benign conditions only.
The 13.5-foot Pelican Argo 136X tandem kayak is also available if you’d like to enjoy paddling with a partner. The Argo 100XP Angler model is a crossover kayak that blends the easy paddling of a recreational kayak with angler-specific accessories like rod holders and a fishing crate bag to organize your tackle.
Mustang 100X EXO
The Mustang 100X EXO kayak is a recreational sit-in boat with good stability, featuring a storage tank at the stern and a front hatch for day trips. Looking for a similar Pelican sit-in kayak made with the company’s rock-solid RAM-X plastic? Consider the Trailblazer 100 NXT model, which has the same day-trip friendly design aspects.
The Alliance 136T is a hybrid tandem kayak with a partial deck, capturing some of the shelter of a sit-in kayak with the ease of entry and exit of a sit-on-top.
Sprint 100XR and Sprint 120XR
The Sprint 100XR and Sprint 120XR are Pelican’s top sit-in day touring kayaks, with additional dry storage space and sleeker lines for more efficient paddling and good tracking. Both models are constructed in durable RAM-X plastic.
Use this as a start, and remember that online research will only get you so far. The best advice we can offer is to always test paddle before buying any boat. Of course, that’s a challenge at most of the big box outlets where Pelican kayaks are sold. Try to borrow a Pelican sit-in kayak from a friend for a test paddle in real-world conditions. The more time you can spend on the water in a similar style of kayak, the better the purchasing decision you will make.
Pelican sit-in kayak reviews
Paddling Magazine is your best online resource for Pelican sit-in kayak reviews. Each review covers performance, comfort and features, as well as an explanation for what environments and what level of paddler the boat is best suited for.
- Recreational Kayak Review: Pelican Trailblazer 100 NXT
- Fishing Kayak Review: Pelican Mustang 100x
- Boat Review: Pelican Strait 120 Kayak