Ocean Kayak : Malibu Pedal Kayak Review
A few years ago, I bought my son a kayak for Christmas. It wasn’t anything fancy, but rather an encouragement to get out and explore the water in a different way. To say this encouragement “took hold” would be an understatement. He’ll kayak out to his favorite fishing spots, out for a swim, or just to investigate a ripple of water he spotted in the lake. After seeing how much he enjoyed his kayak, I decided it was time to take the plunge myself - and I picked up a kayak from a local farm/home store earlier this summer. It was my goal to use it for father-son bonding time on the water, and we would use our kayaks to fish. Well, it didn’t take long before reality overtook fantasy, and we found ourselves attempting to cast our lines while simultaneously being blown all over the lake. It was frustrating - and our “relaxing” sunset fishing sessions were anything but.
About a month ago, I came across the Malibu Pedal Kayak by Ocean Kayak. Rather than a traditional “paddle”, the Malibu Pedal uses a pedal powered propeller to push the kayak through the water. While I had never considered a pedal kayak, I thought it’d be worth a try. Below is my review of the Malibu Pedal by Ocean Kayak:
First, a breakdown of the features of the Malibu Pedal kayak. Because the Malibu Pedal kayak is so new, I had a hard time finding a breakdown of all of its features - so I figured I’d give it a shot, including how each functioned during our day on the water.
The PDL Drive System
The PDL Drive System is the heart of the Malibu Pedal kayak. With a 10.3:1 gear ratio, I found myself getting to where I was going faster...and easier. The system itself is incredibly easy to install and remove, with just a handful of built-in twist locks. Unlike other paddle kayaks on the market, the PDL Drive System on the Malibu Pedal uses a propeller - making quick take-offs possible. I also found it incredibly easy to “troll” using the pedal prop, making being blown around a thing of the past. Although I used this kayak in the fall, the pedals themselves are padded - which I’d assume would make them incredibly comfortable with barefeet. As part of the drive system shaft, the Malibu Pedal incorporates a dry storage box - which provided plenty of room for my phone and keys with room to spare.
Rudder & Steering System
On the rear of the Malibu Pedal kayak, sits a really robust rudder system. The control system is conveniently positioned directly next to the seat, allowing one handed steering operation. This was the feature that I loved the most. A fishing rod in one hand, my other hand on the steering control while my legs did the heavy lifting of moving the boat through the water. On the opposite side of the steering, sits another dial that raises and lowers the rudder in and out of the water. Meaning, we launched the kayak in shallow water, and once out deep enough - simply dropped it down - and off we went!
Element Beach Seat
Something that my farm/home store kayak was always missing was a comfortable seat. The Malibu Pedal delivers on this in spades with their “Element Beach Seat”. Imagine taking the most comfortable lowrider beach chair that you’ve ever sat in, and mounting it in a kayak. Using adjustable straps on the sides, you can fine tune the reclining position of the seat itself. Another seat function that I thought was pretty slick, was the adjustable mechanism that moved the seat forwards and backwards - creating the perfect leg distance to reach the pedals. In a matter of seconds, I was able to adjust the seat from my comfortable height down to a reach that was perfect for my 8 year old son.
Click Seal Hatch
Located directly below the beach seat, is the largest dry storage area on the boat.The design is pretty solid, using a rubber gasket and rotating locking mechanism to keep the contents inside unexposed. While I’m definitely not a boat designer, the placement of this hatch was the only feature that I had a slight issue with. It’s completely unaccessible when you’re riding in the kayak. On the other hand, it’d be the perfect place to store a picnic lunch - or anything else that you’re transporting to shore.
Bow & Stern Tankwells
Both the bow and the stern of the Malibu Pedal Kayak feature tankwells that are large enough to carry a child in the back and a medium sized pet in the front. This is exactly the way that we used them for our day at the lake. While my son is big enough to maneuver the kayak on his own, my younger daughter needed to hitch a ride. The well was large enough for her to ride along, and while I did have a cup holder for my drink - she thought it was pretty special that she had two of them all to herself in the back. When you don’t have riders, the tankwells have a bungee system that can be used to secure gear both on the front and the back.
Bow and stern carrying handles
The carrying handles on the Malibu Pedal kayak will probably spoil me for all kayaks that come after. Unlike my old kayak, which used rope and knotted carrying handles - the Malibu Pedal has solid carrying points that are indented into the top of the boat. They’re out of the way - meaning that I didn’t run the risk of racking my knees or scraping my knuckles while transporting the boat back and forth. The boat itself weighs in at about 100lbs, which isn’t insane - but the handles make it a piece of cake for two people.
8” accessory track
I love the fact that the Malibu Pedal incorporates a pair of 8” accessory tracks on either side of the kayak. With so many accessories on the market, you can truly customize this kayak to meet your exact needs. Want to add fishing rod holders, a GPS or maybe a fish finder? It’s as simple as a few twists. This might seem like a small feature, but it saves you from having to drill directly into your brand new kayak. Beautiful!
Is the Malibu Pedal Kayak For You?
If you’re on the hunt for a kayak that’s built for a day on the water - and stable enough to handle a passenger and pet - I’d take a serious look at the Malibu Pedal. Like I started out, I was reaching a point of frustration with kayak fishing that I thought I’d never recover from. I’m happy to say that the Malibu Kayak not only overcame my frustrations - but exceeded any expectations that I had for it. It’s a larger kayak, but along with that comes flexibility and freedom that you might not get from a smaller single person or even competitive pedal kayaks on the market. Speaking of competitors, it’s priced competitively - or even less than other boats I’ve looked at. Ocean Kayak has a homerun on their hands with the Malibu Pedal - and I can’t wait for my next adventure in it!
Check out the Malibu Pedal Kayak here.
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Make sure that you wear proper personal floatation devices (PFD's) whenever you're out on the water. Accidents can happen without warning - and a near-frozen lake is the last place you want to end up!