Kayak Review as written for the Fishing Monthly Magazine By Craig McSween (Adventure Outlet)
Manufacturers Goals:The Hobie Mirage Outback was designed for hands-free fishing, hunting, and photography and other on-water-activities.
Weight: 28kg (plus 3.68kg for Mirage Drive)
I was pretty sceptical the first time I saw a Hobie kayak fitted with a Mirage Drive peddle system. The idea of pedalling rather than paddling seemed rather strange. I've spent years teaching people how to paddle a kayak and now here is a kayak you don't even have to paddle!!
The Outback has an impressive fit-out for fishing that includes 4 molded-in rod holders, 2 drink holders, adjustable high back seat,hand-controlled rudder with kick-up feature, molded-in storage wells around the cockpit, including 1 with a mesh cover to hold things in place, and 3 hatches. All hatches have quick and easy closures and I found the centre hatch great for storing fishing gear especially with the tackle tray insert that is standard on the fishing model. The Mirage Drive pedalling system is a wild piece of equipment! It is easily fitted, and removed from the kayak and works by peddling, alternatively left and right, to drive two underwater flippers. They work much like a penguin's fins to propel the Hobie Mirage with surprising speed and ease. The Hobie Mirage steering controls are positioned at arm's length, giving precise control of the kick-up rudder.
The seat & backrest are probably the best I've seen in a kayak. I found that due to the higher position of the feet as compared to a conventional sit-on top kayak that the backrest was really essential. Normally I would sit fairly upright in a kayak and hardly use the backrest but I found that in the Outback you really lean back into it. Once pedalling you need to trim the rudder controls to get the Hobie to travel in a straight line. Then you can sit back and do what you like!! The pedal and rudder combine to give you true hands free kayaking. I was able to cast and retrieve, fiddle with the Fish Finder (fitted as an extra to our demo kayak) and after choosing between the 5 rod holders at my disposal, was able to sort through my tackle box for the next lure I wanted to try, all while I was still cruising across the lake!
Stability, Manoeuvrability, Tracking & Speed
At 89cm wide stability is not an issue in this yak, you could stand up and fish if you wanted. Without the rudder in the water the Outback didn't track real well. With the rudder in, both tracking and manoeuvrability were excellent. Now speed........if you look at the dimensions of this craft, do the sums on what its potential hull speed should be, and just paddle the craft, things are not that inspiring. The pedal system though is quite extraordinary. It not only propelled the craft faster than possible with a paddle, it seemed to give the craft lift and exceed what I thought the Outback's potential hull speed would be. A cruising speed of 5 km/hr is easily achievable.
The Hobie kayaks fitted with the Mirage Drive peddle system are no ordinary kayak. They have an exceptional fit out and deck lay-out and although they look a bit cumbersome perform really well. Remember the flippers are based on the Penguin.........have you seen how fast those things can go!! As I'm a paddler, not a bike rider I found it a little tiering to try to maintain a fast pace for an extended period. This kayak is a leg workout, not an arm or upper-body workout. I was really impressed with how effective the pedal system worked and really enjoyed my time fishing on the Outback, even though I couldn't entice any Bass to smash my piece of plastic I towed around. We had the use of one of the Hobie trolleys for the demo and also found these to be extremely effective. It was possible to wheel the kayak completely in to the water and then simply float the trolley out and stow it on the rear deck. This eliminated the need to lift the kayak and also seamed to protect the flippers on the bottom of the craft.
After an afternoon on the Outback I'm not ready to through away all my paddles and start pedalling. However I think that the Hobie kayaks do have a lot to offer. True to their claim they offer hands-free fishing, hunting, photography and other on-water-activities. I was impressed with the quality and detail throughout the craft and look forward to my next PEDAL on a Hobie.
The standard Hobie Mirage Outback retails for $2390
This review was conducted by Craig McSween, Level 2 Sea Kayak Instructor with Australian Canoeing. For feedback on this review you can contact me at Adventure Outlet (Kayaking & Outdoor Store) in Southport on (07)55712929 or firstname.lastname@example.org
More kayaks can be viewed at www.adventureoutlet.com.au</p>