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Kayak Purchase Considerations

For some - especially beginners - it's not so much a question of whether or not they want a Hobie kayak... most customers we speak to already know they want a Hobie. But not everyone knows which model will best suit their needs. It can be a bit daunting to be faced with so many models at first but the truth is that there are all these different models for a reason; it's all about horses for courses. One of the primary directives when buying a kayak is to purchase a kayak that will suit your intended usage scenario. So before even looking at any kayaks, the first point to set straight is what is the kayak going to be used for and then identify which ones will suit.

It's not as simple as just saying 'I want a kayak for fishing, therefore I want a fishing kayak' which is how many people first approach it. There is no single silver-bullet-kayak-above-all-kayaks solution, so it's not going to be quite as simple as simply asking to be shown 'the fishing kayak' because there is no single fishing kayak in Hobie's range. 

Where and how the kayak is going to be used is the most important issue to address. All of the Hobie kayaks can be customized for fishing (even the inflatables) but what can't be customized (much) is the overall feel or capability of the boat. And getting a kayak that provides the right kind of ride for you is the most important factor by far, regardless of what you plan to do from it. This is why a lot of dealers will encourage you to take a demo ride on a couple of models. If that option is available to you, it's well worth doing because taking a test ride will answer a lot of your questions, even the ones you didn't know you had. 

Beware, however, that a brief demo ride won't tell you everything and I think it's important for beginners to go into with the understanding that although they may be a bit concerned about tipping out at first, the vast majority soon become accustom to the experience of kayaking and at that point, stability usually isn't much of an issue. Besides... all of the Hobie kayaks are relatively stable, from the Sport through to the Pro Angler. That said, if stability is high on your list of priorities, then there are definitely a few models that you might want to prioritise on your 'maybe' list. As you read through the following pages you'll learn which models you should be paying closest attention to.

Solo or tandem?

If you're torn between the idea of getting a solo or tandem kayak, you're not alone - it's a common dilemma. Many people considering getting a tandem kayak think or know that for some of the time at least, they'll be wanting to use it solo. Truth is most tandem kayaks (Hobie or otherwise) can be used solo. But it should also be noted that tandem kayaks are always best used with 2 passengers. For an optimal solo kayaking experience, a single-person kayak will always reign supreme. So even though most tandems will allow you to get out there on your own, you can't expect it to perform as well as a solo would. If you're faced with this dilemma, consider the fact that a few of the solo kayaks can actually be adapted to carry 2 passengers in a squeeze (Adventure, AI, Outback and Pro Angler), though this will never be ideal. 

The solo-or-double dilemma can make for a tough decision. But typically, the best advice ends up being this: if you have the need to put 2 bums in seats, and you have the ability to manage 2 kayaks (transport may be an issue) and the budget to cover it, chances are you're better off with 2 kayaks instead. There are always exceptions to this rule - especially if we're talking about pedal-powered kayaks here - but generally speaking, a decision to go for 2 solo kayaks is less likely to lead to a premature sell-off on ebay. Thankfully, Hobie kayaks do hold their value well, so if you do end up making the wrong decision (or your situation changes down the track) you can always turn to ebay, get most of your money back and start again. But ideally, you want to get it right the first time around. So lets look at each model a little closer and hopefully at the end of this article you'll have a really good idea of the usage scenarios the various Hobie kayaks are well suited for. Before moving on to the better known pedal-powered Mirage series of Hobie kayaks, however, lets first look at the standard recreational paddle kayaks, fully deserving of equal mention here, because they are all too often over-looked.

Solo paddle kayaks

Hobie Lanai

The Lanai is Hobie's entry level kayak, but don't let that fool you into thinking it's any less quality than Hobie's most expensive. Like all hobie kayaks, the Lanai is roto-molded from Canadian-bred super-linear 2 polyethylene and comes standard with a backrest seat, paddle and drink bottle. The only thing it's short on is length. At a mere 9', the Lanai is a lightweight maneuverable kayak that tracks surprisingly well (short kayaks are notorious for poor tracking) due to it's pronounced keel-line that runs from bow to stern. 

Due to it's 'California hull' soft-chine hull shape, the Lanai offers both high levels of primary and secondary stability as well as great maneuverability, making it a great beginers kayak. It's length and weight make it an attractive option for those looking for a small, light and maneuverable kayak. It is, however, also one of the slowest kayaks in Hobie's fleet and is not a good choice for the ambitious kayaker. And although it could easily be fitted with a couple of rod holders, it hasn't been designed with fishing in mind, offering only limited storage and usable deck space.  

Hobie Quest 11 kayak

New for 2012 is the Quest 11, which is at it's core an 11' version of the time-proven 13' Quest. Unlike the (now discontinued) Maui, the Quest 11 boasts good stability and is both more hydrodynamic, efficient and faster. It also has a hell of a lot more utility in terms of storage and mounting options. For a shorter kayak, the Quest 11 tracks superbly, and is also highly maneuverable, making it an ideal platform for use in skinny creeks and fishing in confined areas such as submerged trees and oyster leases. The Quest 11 is going to prove a very popular boat, both for recreational kayakers looking for a lightweight and easily managed kayak that doesn't lose out on tracking and speed performance, as well as kayak fishoes that place maneuverability high on their requisite list. In terms of performance-per-dollar, the Quest 11 might be considered to be the best value of all their kayaks. When compared with the 13' model (described below) the 11' model is lighter and more maneuverable. 

Hobie Quest 13 kayak olive

The Quest 13 is the next model in Hobie's paddle range and this is the pick of the bunch for many kayak fishing applications... especially when longer distances and or strong tides and currents are involved. At 13', it's got enough length to get moving nicely, largely helped with a hydrodynamic bow that slices into chop effortlessly and it's flat-bottom soft-chine shape glides through the water smoothly. With plenty of deck space, storage space and numerous mounting options, the Quest is a highly capable kayak that is pretty much at home in almost any usage scenario. Unlike the Maui or Lanai, the Quest does have flush molded rod holders and more than enough room to store the big catch (either in the front hatch, or in the rear storage well behind the seat). For those kayak fishoes that prefer the simplicity of a traditional kayak, the Quest is a great proposition. Although it doesn't come with one fitted as standard, Hobie have a rudder system that can be installed on both of the Quests. 

When compared with the Quest 11, the 13' model is marginally faster, has a bit more weight and gear carrying capacity and is better suited for open ocean use. 

Hobie Quest specs 

  • Buyers Guide for Hobie Kayaks
  • Tandem paddle kayaks
  • Solo pedal kayaks
  • Tandem pedal kayaks
  • Trimaran kayaks
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