Material Review: Pelican Ram-X

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

Pelican’s Ram-X is a time-tested, ultra-durable material used in the construction of recreational kayaks and canoes. This reinforced polyethylene plastic is used exclusively in Pelican boats, including the popular Pelican Sentinel kayak and Pelican 15.5 canoe.

This Pelican Ram-X review provides an overview of why the material is an outstanding choice for paddlers looking for a bombproof, no-maintenance kayak or canoe for many applications.

What is Ram-X?

Technically, Pelican Ram-X is defined as “crosslink thermoformed high-density polyethylene.” That mouthful of jargon essentially means Ram-X is a heat-molded plastic that gains strength and rigidity from its multiple layers. The material was engineered by the Coleman company for use in its Ram-X canoes in the 1980s; early testing involved deliberately wrapping Ram-X canoes around boulders in whitewater rapids and bombarding the material with repeated impacts from 69-pound rocks (the same impact crushed and dented fiberglass and aluminum canoes). Ram-X was revolutionary for its supreme toughness and cheap price.

Today, this proprietary material is exclusively used by Pelican Sport in recreational kayaks and canoes. Pelican Ram-X is noted for its outstanding durability and long lifespan. Its stiffer crosslink construction makes it more rigid (and therefore more efficient to paddle) than many other polyethylene plastics and a UV-resistant outer layer allows it to tolerate outdoor storage.

Ram-X attributes and applications

Pelican Ram-X is designed for recreational paddlers looking for ultimate durability in a budget-friendly kayak or canoe. Its primary attributes are impact-resistance and the ability to rapidly regain its original shape after being deformed. Ram-X bounces back from impact, whether it’s been run over by a pickup truck or tacoed around a mid-river rock.

Although you may never desire to paddle a whitewater river, these bombproof characteristics translate to worry-free use: A Pelican Ram-X kayak easily withstands repeated rough use, such as being dragged over shoreline rocks. With good UV-resistance it’s also fine to store your Ram-X kayak or canoe where it is exposed to the elements. What’s more, most Ram-X boats retail for less than $1,000.

Such great impact resistance comes with certain drawbacks, both of which are most often secondary considerations for recreational paddlers. First, Pelican Ram-X (like all other polyethylene plastics used in recreational kayaks and canoes) is flexible compared to more expensive composite laminates. This means that the hull tends to flex a little while paddling, making the boat less efficient in the water. However, Pelican has made solid efforts to overcome this drawback by installing a hull-stiffening aluminum rod along the keel of its Ram-X canoes and adopting more rigid hull shapes in its kayaks.

Second, all polyethylene boats involve a trade-off between extreme durability and weight. Like other plastic kayaks and canoes, Pelican Ram-X can only be described as heavy compared to more advanced (and more expensive) materials.

Because of these characteristics Pelican Ram-X boats are perfect for families, cottage paddlers, kayak anglers and river canoeists. If you don’t mind a heftier load and want a recreational kayak or canoe that lives up to the label of being “virtually indestructible,” then a Ram-X boat is for you.

Pelican Ram-X kayaks

Pelican Ram-X tandem kayaks

Several Pelican Ram-X tandem kayaks are available for adventures with your favorite paddling partner. The Pelican Argo is available with standard 136X outfitting as well as a premium 136XP model, both of which feature great durability, an efficient hull shape and a reasonable weight of 67 pounds. Meanwhile, the Pelican Alliance 136T has great stability for a sit-inside recreational tandem.

Best Pelican Tandem Kayaks


Rustler 130T

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Sentinel 130X Tandem

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Argo 136X Tandem

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Pelican Ram-X fishing kayak

All of Pelican’s best fishing kayaks are available in Ram-X construction. The Catch is the brand’s premium model for kayak angling, available in numerous sizes—some featuring pedal drive systems and a variety of outfitting options.

Check out the Pelican Sentinel angler lineup if you’re looking for a versatile Ram-X kayak that makes a great crossover for kayak fishing and paddling. Also, the Challenger 130T is a capable sit-on-top kayak for tandem angling.

Pelican Ram-X 10-ft kayaks

Of all the Pelican Ram-X kayaks, 10 feet is the most popular length and includes models such as the Pelican Argo 100 (for which sit-in touring and sit-on-top angler models are available) as well as the Pelican Sentinel 100 lineup (which actually measures 9.5 feet).

Pelican Ram-X kayak reviews

There are Pelican Ram-X kayaks and canoes available for a wide variety of recreational paddlers, including families, anglers and river runners. Check out these comprehensive Pelican Ram-X reviews.

Pelican canoe reviews

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Pelican kayak reviews

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Pelican Ram-X kayak accessories and outfitting

Most Pelican Ram-X kayaks are available in two categories of outfitting, akin to a base model and luxury edition in cars. For example, the Pelican Sentinel 100X features a more basic seat and fewer outfitting features than the Pelican Sentinel 100X EXO model (which includes a removable waterproof storage pod for the stern and an upgraded seat). The various lineups of Ram-X fishing kayaks and Ram-X tandem kayaks have distinguishing features between similar models, allowing buyers to match comfort features with their budget while still retaining paddling performance and Ram-X durability.

Pelican Ram-X kayak covers (also known as kayak cockpit drapes) are designed to keep moisture and creepy-crawlies out of your kayak. They are great add-on accessories, available from retailers, particularly if you plan to store your kayak outdoors. Other popular Pelican Ram-X kayak parts include replacement Pelican Ram-X kayak drain plugs (a cheap accessory that’s essential to keep your kayak watertight) and upgraded Pelican Ram-X kayak seats. Seats include fishing-specific models and others that can be removed for use outside of the kayak—a great way to add comfort and versatility.

Pelican Ram-X kayak specs

The specs for Pelican kayaks made with Ram-X are comparable to other recreational kayaks, with sit-on-top models typically under 10 feet in length and the decked, sit-in models residing in the 8- to 10-foot range. These compact shapes help keep the weight of Ram-X kayaks relatively low and maximize stiffness in the hull to improve your paddling experience.

Weights for single Ram-X kayaks are generally under 50 pounds, with tandems tipping the scales at less than 70. Ram-X fishing kayaks weigh roughly the same, depending on accessories.

Pelican Ram-X kayaks strike a good balance between durability, function and price. Pelican Ram-X kayak prices are typically under $1,000, with the most basic, budget-friendly single-paddler models like the Pelican Argo 100X (sit-inside) and Pelican Sentinel 100X (sit-on-top) priced at $465 and $495, respectively. Prices for angler models range from $320 to $1,890, with many options in the $600 to $750 range.

Regardless of your body shape and size, you’ll easily find a Ram-X kayak that fits. Pelican Ram-X weight limits are typically around 275 pounds, with some larger single paddler models featuring maximum capacities of 300 pounds. The weight limit on tandem kayaks is approximately 500 pounds.

Where to buy

Pelican Ram-X boats are widely available through big-box retailers and large outdoor stores all across North America. Use the search terms “Pelican Ram-X kayak Costco” for great deals, and search “Pelican Ram-X kayak Canadian Tire” for models available north of the border. The great durability and longevity of Ram-X boats means you can often find great deals on used recreational canoes and kayaks on platforms such as Craigslist and Kijiji.

Ram-X pros and cons


  • Super tough, able to withstand pretty much anything a recreational paddler can throw at it
  • Only slightly more expensive than comparable (and often less durable) entry-level boats
  • Hull shapes on boats made with Ram-X have complex arches and ridges to maximize rigidity for paddling performance while also retaining toughness


  • Modest weight penalty, but weights are comparable with other plastic recreational boats


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