Hobie Cat’s line of inflatable “kaddle” boats intrigues me. OK, they’re not really called kaddle boats, but the company’s kayaks, which can be propelled like paddle-boats, are indeed something different.
The newest member of the line is the i9S, a 9-foot inflatable boat that costs $1,549. There is also a 12-foot single-person model and a 14-foot tandem in the line.
These boats are spec’d to carry weights of 325, 500, or 600 pounds of cargo — which includes you and passengers — depending on the model. All three boats are 36 inches wide. They pack into an included rolling travel bag for toting to the water’s edge.
The kayaks have self-draining cockpits, hulls made of 1,000-Denier PVC, a rear cargo area, a “rapid-inflate” hand pump, and high-back seats. To paddle them, you can use the included traditional kayak paddle or pedal the “MirageDrive” pedals, which are connected to underwater flippers that move back and forth perpendicularly to the boat for propulsion. You steer via a fingertip-controlled rudder system that can be lifted and turned to lay flat on the deck when not in use.
The pedal/paddle-boat concept may seem like an identity crisis at its core. But it has potential for fishermen who don’t want to contend with a paddle yet want the maneuverability of a kayak. Multi-taskers might pedal and paddle at the same time for extra speed.
Hobie Cat’s line of boats are currently available for $1,549, $1,799 and $2,499, depending on size. www.hobiekayaks.com