The Different Types of Pedal Kayaks, Mirage, Native or Perception?

pedal kayak man

The traditional kayak is a watercraft that can be set into motion using a two-headed paddle propelling it from one end to the other by the paddler as it moves forward wherever the driver wants it to go. This traditional paddling has been around for decades and has never really changed until recently when pedal kayaks have become more popular. Over the past few years, different pedal kayaks have come into the market which allows the driver to facilitate the propulsion of the kayak by the movement and pushing of the water surrounding it through the use the legs.

The advances in the industry have led to a bunch of patents, and pedal techniques that compete against each other an example are the Hobie pedal kayaks and the Native watercraft pedal kayaks. These are fundamentally different products that compete against each other but which one is better than the other? Many people communicate in kayaking clubs swearing their allegiance to one and decrying the other, but few have tried both and know how to make a good comparison as well as the other pedal products available such as Perceptions offering and the few independent models now coming out of China.

To start with we will focus on the

pedal kayak hobie mirageHobie Mirage Pedal Kayaks

When it comes to kayaking the Hobie brand has been very prominent in raising eyebrows despite the fact that there are numerous brand names out there within the market it is perhaps the most well-known and most reliable pedal kayak. It is not uncommon to find the first suggestion when choosing a pedal kayak from a professional will be to try the Hobie. There are many different versions of the Hobie the name is usually followed by Mirage which is the particular brand of pedal kayaks there is often a different version once every year that includes new features and upgrades to the kayak improving on any issues from the previous model.

The standout part of the Mirage is the Mirage Drive technology which is designed to improve the pedalling experience. The Mirage differs from other models by using your feet to thrust the pedal inwards and the operation requiring the movement of the flippers to go over each other thereby enabling the displacement of water and setting the kayak in motion. However, this system has its pros and its cons.


It can paddle and maneuver within shallow waters. During the time that you’re launching the fins can be folded towards inwards and be in a sense put back into the kayak when approaching shallow waters.


Smooth pedalling requires a back-and-forth motion which can be a little harder on the knees since you’re not using the inertia of the circular motion which is common within something like a bicycle. Its other disadvantage is the fact that there is no reverse function.

native watercraft propel pedal kayakThe Native Watercraft Pedal kayak

Native watercraft has also been around for years (since 2008) and been a great name in the kayaking market they chose to get into the pedal kayak market and release a brand they call the propel brand. The propel brand has been around for quite some time with a similar release time as the Mirage brand kayak pedals. It has somewhat of an edge over the Hobie kayak brands in my opinion, however, has been less popular perhaps due to a slightly higher price tag.

The system that the propel brand uses for driving its kayaks is a circular motion similar to a bicycle which ensures the kayak goes forward with the inertia of you pushing the pedals and can continue to go ahead for a few extra seconds after you release them. One of the added benefits of this is the ability to reverse the kayak with the pedals.


The kayak comes with an excellent design for tracking and also comes with the functionality to conveniently allow you to go back to using a paddle. The kayak comes with a marine grade aluminium that is built to last and avoid rust. Some people fear that the pedal system might break down, worry no more as the kayak comes with a two-year warranty. Also one of the most significant benefits and pros here is the ability to reverse which cannot be understated this feature is cool!


The most significant drawback here is the removal of the pedal device, though in a sense it is not hard to remove the system it is hard to get it out of the water when beaching and the pedal system is more prone to dragging on shallow water.

perception pescador pedal kayak 1 The Perception Pedal Kayaks

Perception kayak is a little less popular than the other two options for their pedal kayak systems however they are a great option that gives you a great pedal system. Their pedal offering is called the pilot drive pedal system it has a great ability to quickly allow it to lift and be stored in the hull to enable you to avoid having any drag on shallow waters. It has a very quiet propeller which is designed to limit the noise in the water which is excellent for fishing. A great bonus is a rudder and all the other bells and whistles you see with kayaks in the higher price range like the propel.

The Propel system is similar to the Native watercraft pedal system in that it uses pedals.


Five-year warranty in case your pedal system breaks this is great for taking the stress off and seeing a company that’s committed to their product quality. Easily foldable pedal system. Added space for different storage and fish finders and an excellent seat.

Additional Brands

Now there are some different new brands that we have seen on the market recently coming out of China they are less known but attempt to duplicate the functionality of the Native watercraft pedal kayak system. Though these offerings may offer cheaper kayaks, there is always the risk that the parts become damaged using more low-cost manufacturing processes and that there is no warranty. You should make sure you check the warranty before purchasing these other models because that is usually a great indicator of how much confidence the company places on its manufacturing. However, even with an excellent warranty, it may sometimes be tough to get your pedal kayak repaired because pedal kayaks are much more difficult to fix and sometimes sending a model by FedEx back to the manufacturer could be expensive and take months to arrive and be sent back.

Final Words

Overall, in my opinion, the top three pedal brands have some great offerings in the space, and I can’t recommend one over the other because all three are phenomenal models and you’re guaranteed to have a good time with all of them. Doing reviews and write-ups on different kayaks there’s never been a situation where I’ve had a tie however in this particular instance I would recommend any one of these three great products! Happy kayaking!

If you havent yet check out our guide on the best pedal kayaks Click Here

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About Julian Thompson

cb787c59d2808e1f609076e790ca977e?s=90&d=mm&r=gCertifications: Certified Kayaking Instructor (AKA)
Education: American Kayak Association
Lives In: Denver Colorado

I am a kayaking expert/instructor who has been fishing for over 15 years. Fishing is my passion, but kayaking keeps me on the water. I love to share my knowledge of techniques and tips with others. I live in Colorado with my wife and two kids and own a small kayak rental business On Grand Lake where I rent and instruct.