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Thinking of trading your paddle in for peddles? Some pro's & con's:

The Hobie Outback - older models
Reviewed by Joe Strong

Printed with permission of Tampa Bay's
John Callaghan, Jay Brewington, & Dave Loger of paddle-fishing.com


Hobie outback for fishingThis boat is based on the Hobie Mirage kayaks with the pedal system. It has a similar hull to that of the single Mirage but the upper deck has been designed with the angler in mind.

The four molded in rod holders are just the beginning of angling oriented features. An even more useful part of the design is the recessed tray around the cockpit with drink holders. The boat has no large, long hatch openings but offers expansive deck space with a bungee system installed on both ends. The front hatch has an insert to keep valuables dry and secure.

Also added for the angler is a built-in tackle box recession behind the full height seat. This is large enough for a full size tackle box or a box system. Along with this is a badge system to retain a box under the legs of the angler in the cockpit.

Hobie outback for fishingThis is possible as the seat in the Outback is high and dry. There is a scupper under the seat but in six trips so far, including some rough water and high winds I have yet to have the slightest bit of moisture in the seat.

As you can see in the image to from the front, the cockpit is fairly deep. You feel as if you are sitting in the yak more than on it. While this does give you a rather high center of gravity you maintain stability due to the width of the hull. The rails provide a dry ride along with the extra stability.

I guess it would be appropriate to discuss another unique feature in the cockpit. There is a sizable hole in the footwell. This accommodates the pedal system. This is one of those things that seems so simple you scratch your head and wonder why you did not think of it. As simple as it is the pedal driven flippers work extremely well. Without effort the boat can be pedaled at 3 to 4 mph. This pace can be maintained for long periods of time. I have navigated the boat into a stiff breeze on open water and maintained course and speed 3.5 mph covering the 1.3 miles in about 40 minutes(this was on a N. Georgia lake and my feet were numb due to frigid temp).

The pedalaction is converted into flipper movement of 180 degrees from side to side. You do not need the full range of motion to achieve propulsion. I have used the boat in 6 - 8 inches of water by moving the pedal only a few inches and barely flapping the flippers. This will move the boat at about 1.5 mph. The bottom line is the system works well. So, what are the concessions?

Hobie outbackWell, nothing is perfect. You do lose some of your draft as the mechanism protrudes from the bottom of the boat a few inches. As well, you must be conscious of the water depth if it is changing rapidly. You can bend the 'mast' of the flippers if you cruise into the bottom at mid stroke. It seems like(as someone I was discussing the unit mentioned) that you could make a spring like action that would avoid any real damage while still being rigid enough for efficient pedaling.

As an example on a recent trip to Perico Island I found some areas in the back bay that I would have had to drag the boat sooner than non-pedal craft. But removing the pedal system is quick and easy as two large knobs turn to lock the positioning pegs. Normally you launch the craft and when the water is deep enough (about 12 - 18 inches) you drop the pedal system in and you are good to go. The rudder which is required to provide direction to the propulsion has a lever to kick up or down and a lever to provide control the direction. The boat does spin in the wind if the rudder is up it can be paddled easily though. No doubt the speed advantage is lost under paddle power. With the rudder though it is a decent paddler and would do well for short trips. The boat comes complete with a two piece cupped paddle which is adequate but a little heavy. Paddle stowage is provided on either side of the yak by slot and bungee.

cartoppingThis picture gives an idea of the width of the Outback. Those are 48 inch bars on my rack. I will have a tough time carrying a second boat and even with a 'stacker' I am not sure about fitting the Hobie on with another craft. It does travel very well upside down(suggested by Hobie).

I use four straps with the pedal access hole in the front and the scupper openings in the rear. The width makes it a little bit of a challenge to position so it can be hoisted to the roof but a little practice and it is not problem.

The Hobie is unconventional as kayaks go. I was concerned about the Tribalance(outriggers) being different and I buy a boat with pedals. I am finding that different can be a good thing. This boat may not be for everyone. It may even be snubbed by paddling purists. When you are on the water enjoying the benefits of the design and pedal power you won't be worry with what others are thinking. Give the pedals a try.

Original version of the Hobie SUV

Hobie Outback original

Below is the latest evolution of the Hobie SUV design as of 2009.


Specifications, Hobie Outback SUV:
Length: 12' 1"
Width: 33"
Weight: 62 lbs. (Add 6.6 lbs. for pedaling mechanism)
Capacity: 400 lbs.

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