There’s traditionally been a divide between the recreational kayaks that drive the growth of our sport and the high-end models for enthusiasts. Now one of the biggest recreational kayak makers, Pelican International, is leaping across the rec/touring chasm with the Elite Series Pelican Strait 120 kayak.
Pelican Strait 120 XE Specs
Weight: 48 lbs
Cockpit: 34.5” × 18”
MSRP: $900 USD / $1,000 CAD
The Strait 120 is Elite
From the world’s largest thermoforming machine in the suburbs of Montreal, Pelican is producing the mischievously named “Elite Series,” a line of affordable kayaks with premium touring features like adjustable foot pegs, bow and stern bulkheads, waterproof hatches, deck bungees and rudders.
Exceptionally light and strong
Don’t underestimate four decades of plastic kayak moulding know-how. I can’t think of another manufacturer that’s been in the biz since 1968 and it shows. Pelican kayaks are made of a unique triple-layer thermomolded plastic that the company says is 30 per cent stiffer than conventional rotomolded poly and also lighter and strong enough to be driven over by a truck (and bounce back). We were surprised to find it feels as rigid as composite, albeit with a much rougher finish than other thermoform kayaks or gel coat.
The Strait 120 has a very comfortable, ergonomic padded seat, padded thigh braces and plenty of cockpit room for paddlers of all sizes.
Short boat, responsive ride
All the kayaks in the Strait series, which includes 12- and 14-footers with and without rudders, have very attractive lines. The aggressively tapered bow and semi-hard chine give an edge-able, surf-worthy appearance. Stability on the shallow-V hull is moderate, nudging the paddler to try edging. It tracks very straight for such a short boat and also turns quickly, as you’d expect.
The Pelican Strait 120 is a premium short‑tripper
In some regards the Strait’s sea kayak features are misleading; we don’t recommend a 12-foot kayak to anyone who wants to cover water. In waves the short deck and low bow make for a wet ride and a strong paddler quickly maxes out the hull’s cruising speed. For true light touring, consider the Strait 140.
For short paddles and small bodies of water where speed is not an issue, however, the Pelican Strait 120 kayak is a well-designed starter boat that offers a wonderfully rigid plastic and many premium features at a reasonable price.