Beach Gear

Pedal Boats Are Great for Calm Waters

Taking a trip in a pedal boat (sometimes also called a paddleboat) on calm waters is the ideal summer outing. If you enjoy relaxing in the calm waters, then owning a boat you can pedal on your own seems is a great idea. It can give you a great opportunity to spend time with your family and friends and enjoy the lake or the beach you are on without needing to return the boat after a few hours. If you own your own boat, you can fish a little, paddle along and swim a little for as long as you want. You can chill and enjoy a drink or snack while pedaling on the boat.

What is a pedal boat?

A pedal boat is a small watercraft manually powered by foot by pedaling in a paddle wheel. Paddle boats are smaller versions of a paddle steamer. They are suitable for use in calm waters like ponds, lakes, and sometimes, calm beaches.

The earliest record of a paddle boat is Leonardo da Vinci’s diagram of a craft propelled by two large wheels of wooden blades, one on each side of the boat. When the metal levers were turned, the blades rotated through a series of wooden gears, allowing the boat to move forward on the water.

A paddle boat (also called a pedal boat) closely resembles the operation of a bicycle. It has a small wheel located underneath the hull, saving backside passengers from being splashed. In order to make a turn, paddle boats use a rudder or paddle, which is hinged vertically near the back of the paddle boat. The pilot controls the rudder with a tiller (a steering device), which moves the rudder from side to side.

One, two or three people can pedal the boat, depending on its size and capabilities. When more than one person can pedal the boat, it can forward or reverse, while the other person steers. It’s designed to operate on calm waters like a pond, small lake or tranquil river.

What should I look for when buying a pedal boat?

Not all pedal boats are the same, and there are lots of them available in the market but only a few of them are worthy of your purchase. Here are the things you need to look for and consider when shopping for a pedal boat.

Seating – When looking for a paddle boat, the first thing you’d most likely consider is the number of people who can ride on it. Most paddle boats offer seating from one to five persons, typically with one up to three pedalers and two passengers. A five-person boat is great for family fun, but if you just want to have fun with your partner, then a two-person paddle boat is enough and it will cost less.

Adjustable seats – Most pedal boats have movable seat backs to accommodate boaters of every size. If you need this feature, don’t forget to check the specs of the adjustable seat features and make sure it fits to the intended future passengers.

Deck and hull material – Check the material used for making the deck and hull. Its durability is important since this will keep the boat afloat while containing you and your fellow boaters. Most deck and hull materials for paddle boats are made of plastic, but make sure your boat has the durable kind like fiberglass and other reinforced plastics.

Supported weight – Before you buy a boat, always check the maximum supported weight. Don’t just rely on the number of seats, because sometimes, the label “supports 5 people” means it can support two adults and three kids. If you plan to ride with more adults, then you must consider its weight limit.

Umbrella mount or canopy – Sometimes, the sun gets so harsh for your skin so it pays to have a canopy on the boat for shade. If a boat doesn’t come with a canopy, at least choose one with a mount for an umbrella. This will protect your from the sun’s harmful rays.

Besides these, there may be other features important to you that paddle boats can offer:

  • Extra drain plug – When you need to dock your boat on land, you need to remove the drain plug Cooler/storage area – If you want to snack and take a sip of a refreshing drink while on the boat, getting one with cooler or storage area is a big bonus. Usually, these can be found between two rear-facing seats in the back of the boat. This keeps your boat floating while in the water, so you don’t want to lose or misplace this. Having a spare drain plug can be a lifesaver.
  • Cup holders – Having a cup holder is important if you want to enjoy drinks at the boat. These cup holders tend to come in pairs.
  • Rod holders – If you want a boat for fishing, the boat must also have rod holders. Not all paddle boats are designed with a fisherman in mind, so make sure the boat you pick have this feature.
  • Seat cushions – If comfort is your main consideration, a boat with seat cushions can be a perfect choice. Some paddle boats have some seat cushions that can be snapped in place to provide comfort.
  • Mooring cover – A mooring cover is a water-resistant fabric that covers a boat to help protect it from UV rays, rain and snow when not in use. Some paddle boats come with a cover of their own, but in most cases, you will need to buy it separately.

What are the best pedal boats out there?

Here are some great pedal boat models worth considering:

Product

Visual

Where to Buy

Sun Dolphin Sun Slider 5 Seat Pedal Boat with Canopy

Sun Dolphin 5 Seat Pedal Boat with Canopy

Pelican Rainbow E-Deluxe Pedal Boat

Sun Dolphin 5 Seat Pedal Boat

Sun Dolphin Water Wheeler Electric ASL 5-Person Pedal Boat with Canopy

Sun Dolphin Sun Slider Adjustable 5 Seat Pedal Boat

Pelican Fiji Pedal Boat

 

1. Sun Dolphin Sun Slider 5 Seat Pedal Boat with Canopy

This boat from Sun Dolphin is one of the best, coming from the best paddle boat brand. This particular model is a favorite among boat lovers. It’s a 5-seater boat that can contain 3 adults and 2 kids, or 2 adults and three kids. It has an adjustable seating to make any sized person fit. The boat is made of a rugged, UV-stabilized, Fortiflex high-density polyethylene (HDPE) deck and hull –making it sturdy and reliable.

This paddle boat offers pedal positions for 1, 2 or 3 people, with two sets of three pedal cranks. It comes with a built-in cooler and storage area with beverage holders for a chill ride. The cooling storage is a great feature. This boat also comes with a built-in, foldable canopy that can be put up or down and is easy to adjust. It also comes with rod holders for fishing. It is available in two different colors: cream/teal and blue.

Pros:

  • Adjustable seating
  • 3 pedal positions
  • Foldable canopy
  • Built-in cooler
  • Beverage holders
  • Rod holders for fishing
  • Durable construction made of HDPE
  • Lightweight
  • Color-coordinated

Cons:

  • May be a tight fit for taller adults
  • Shallow cup holders
  • Buyers’ biggest complaints are about damage during delivery

2. Sun Dolphin 5 Seat Pedal Boat with Canopy

With five seats and a canopy, this paddle boat is a sure bet for family fun. This boat offers an adjustable/reclining seating for three adults and two children (or two adults and three children). There are pedal positions for one, two and three people, and you can pedal in reverse. This allows you to operate the boat without getting tired too fast. This boat can handle weight up to 545 lbs.

Like the boat mentioned earlier, this boat has a high-quality, rugged, UV-stabilized, Fortiflex high density polyethylene deck and hull. It comes with a foldable canopy for protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. There’s also a built-in cooler or storage area and beverage holders.

Pros:

  • Adjustable seating
  • 3 pedal positions
  • Foldable canopy
  • Built-in cooler
  • Beverage holders
  • Durable construction made of HDPE
  • Built-in handles at the front for easy dragging

Cons:

  • Heavy – weighs 150 lbs.
  • Collects rainwater

3. Pelican Rainbow E-Deluxe Pedal Boat

Pedal gracefully and stylishly in the water with this great pedal boat from Pelican. With its easy-to-deploy canopy, built-in cooler and storage compartments, and drink holders, you can easily explore the lakes in style while drinking your cocktail. Besides these features, this boat has an adjustable backrest with cushions for your comfort.

It has an electric motor, so you can have an alternative for pedal, and it offers five forward speeds and two reverse speeds so you can coast over the water in the speed you want. The body of the boat is made of impact-resistant material that ensures durability.

Pros:

  • Adjustable seating with cushions
  • 2 pedal positions 2-branch canopy
  • Option to pedal or use motor
  • Motor offers 5 forward speeds and 2 reverse speeds
  • Canopy
  • Built-in cooler
  • Storage compartment and drink holders
  • Carrying handles

Cons:

  • Battery not included
  • Expensive

4. Sun Dolphin 5 Seat Pedal Boat

If you’re looking for the best budget option, this boat is something to consider. It’s affordable and it offers great value for money. It can seat up to five people, with pedal positions for one, two or three people. It’s fun and comfortable for up to three adults and two children, but it doesn’t have a ton of legroom especially for taller adults. The great thing about this boat is it’s tough and maintenance-free, thanks to its oil-impregnated bronze bushings with rubber seals. It floats with ease in the water because of the closed cell polystyrene foam.

This boat is rugged and durable, and has a UV-stabilized, high-density polyethylene deck and hull. It has a built-in cooler storage compartment with beverage holders. It has high back rests so you can sit comfortably. But since it’s a budget boat, it has no canopy.

Pros:

  • 3 pedal positions
  • Built-in cooler
  • Beverage holders
  • Durable construction made of HDPE
  • High back rests
  • Lightweight
  • Maintenance-free

Cons:

  • No canopy
  • Limited leg room
  • Some quality control issues

5. Sun Dolphin Sun Slider Adjustable 5 Seat Pedal Boat

The unique feature of this 5-seat paddle boat is it can transform into a floating sun lounger for two. Seats are adjustable and are fully reclining, so you can make it a sun lounge. These adjustable seating also allows fitting in three adults and two kids. It has pedal positions for one, two and three persons. It’s a lightweight yet stable boat you can rely on for cruising the waters. It’s also a good boat if you like to fish.

This pedal boat comes with a built-in cooler and storage area, and beverage holders for your drinks. It comes with a rugged, UV-stabilized, Fortiflex high-density polyethylene deck and hull to make sure it’s durable. It’s very light and easy to maneuver, even for short persons. Also, less maintenance is needed for this boat.

Pros:

  • 3 pedal positions
  • Adjustable seating that can transform the boat into a lounger
  • Built-in cooler
  • Beverage holders
  • Rod holders for fishing
  • Durable construction made of HDPE
  • Lightweight
  • Less maintenance
  • Easy to maneuver

Cons:

  • Small back seats

6. Sun Dolphin Water Wheeler Electric ASL 5-Person Pedal Boat with Canopy

If price isn’t an issue, splurge your money in this paddle boat for a relaxing and comfortable boating experience. With this boat, you can choose whether or not you like to pedal, because it comes with a 30-pound electric Minn-Kota trolling motor to let you cruise effortlessly. Don’t worry, the motor is quiet, so you can sail away in peace. Two of its seats can fully recline to make it a sun lounger for two.

Like the other boats on this list, this one comes with a built-in cooler, storage compartments and beverage holders. It has one, two and three pedal positions and can accommodate up to 5 people. It comes with a foldable canopy to give you shade.

Pros:

  • Option to pedal or use motor
  • 3 pedal positions
  • Adjustable seating that can transform the boat into a lounger
  • Foldable canopy
  • Built-in cooler
  • Beverage holders
  • Durable construction made of HDPE
  • Quiet motor

Cons:

  • Expensive

7. Pelican Fiji Pedal Boat

Enjoy cruising the calm waters with this lightweight and brightly colored boat. It’s a three-seater boat and it’s also perfect to use for solitary boating. You can often find this model in boating equipment rentals because it’s a reliable boat. It’s made of ABS plastic sheet filled with special foam to make it float safely. It’s also easy to handle and store with its bow and stern carrying handles.

This boat comes with adjustable backrests, as well as built-in storage compartment and drink holders. It comes in a fun yellow and white color combination, but you must not worry about it fading in color because it’s UV-resistant.

Pros:

  • Adjustable backrests
  • Built-in storage compartment
  • Drink holders
  • Carrying handles
  • Quality plastic material
  • Bright color

Cons:

  • No canopy
  • Open storage means contents can be splashed on by the water

 

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