I’ve had my fair share of experiences with different kayaks, but the Pelican brand has always stood out for me. One key reason is their innovative Ram-X material, which offers a blend of durability and affordability, making them a strong contender for any paddler considering a new kayak.
Up next, I’ll be sharing my first-hand experience and delving into the unique qualities of Pelican Ram-X kayaks, examining their materials, design, and performance in various water conditions.
What is Ram-X?
The Ram-X material is a trademark blend utilized in the hulls of Pelican’s kayaks and canoes. It was first developed by Coleman in the 1980s and was subjected to some pretty intense tests. Imagine hurling your canoe against boulders on raging whitewater rivers or dropping hefty rocks weighing up to 70 pounds onto them. That’s exactly what they did!
While I haven’t put my own Pelican kayak through such torture tests (and I don’t suggest you do either), it’s reassuring to know that the material’s durability has been tested to such extremes.
Key Features of Pelican Ram-X
Before investing in a Pelican Ram-X kayak, it’s important to be aware of their strengths and weaknesses. Here’s my take:
Ram-X is a multi-layered material that is primarily composed of high molecular weight polyethylene. This high-grade plastic offers superior rigidity, impact resistance, and breakage resistance compared to other materials in the industry.
Exceptional Durability and Longevity
The combination of Pelican’s thermoforming process and the Ram-X material results in an end product that is extremely robust and enduring.
I’ve been using my Pelican Ram-X kayak for a few years now, and I can vouch for its resilience. It’s taken its fair share of knocks and scrapes, but the sturdy Ram-X hull remains in good shape.
UV-Protected Exterior Finish
The exterior finish of Ram-X boats is UV-protected, ensuring that your kayak or canoe can endure exposure to the elements without significant deterioration over time.
Ideal for Recreational Paddlers
Pelican Ram-X kayaks and canoes are designed with recreational paddlers in mind. These boats offer ultimate durability at an affordable price, typically retailing for less than $800.
Trade-offs: Flexibility and Weight
While Ram-X brings impressive impact resistance and durability to the table, it does come with a couple of trade-offs. It’s more flexible than high-end composite laminates, which can lead to a slight hull flex while paddling, and it tends to weigh more than boats made from advanced materials, like fiberglass.
However, Pelican has worked hard to mitigate these drawbacks, installing hull-stiffening components and adopting more rigid hull shapes in their kayaks and canoes.
These efforts illustrate the company’s commitment to delivering quality, performance, and value, characteristics that I’ve come to appreciate in my years of paddling. And for me, the resilience and cost-effectiveness of the Ram-X material more than compensate for the few extra pounds. Also, as far as plastic kayaks go, Pelican Kayaks are relatively lightweight.
Our Favorite Pelican Ram-X Kayaks
Here are some of our favorite Pelican Ram-X Kayaks. However, if you want a more in-depth look, check out our full article on Pelican Kayaks 2023 lineup.
Pelican Sprint 100XR
A high-performance recreational kayak
Length: 10′ | Width: 28″ | Weight: 41 lbs | Capacity: 300 lbs
What we like
What we don’t like
I recently had the pleasure of taking the Pelican Sprint 100XR for a spin, and I must say, it’s a standout kayak among Pelican’s offerings. Its streamlined design makes it a high-performing option and a true joy to navigate.
The first thing that caught my attention about this kayak was its V-shaped hull and high chines. While the high chines can be a little less forgiving for newcomers, they allowed me to control the kayak’s course and direction with simple body movements.
The Sprint 100XR’s sleek keel gives it a higher top speed than most recreational kayaks I’ve tried. However, this isn’t a kayak designed for challenging crossings or windy conditions, which might limit its versatility for some paddlers.
With a load capacity of 300 lbs, I found the Sprint 100XR better suited for day trips. I particularly appreciated the ample dry storage space, including a stern hatch and a smaller 4″ compartment accessible from the seat.
Comfort-wise, the Sprint 100XR is top-notch. The seat and excellent knee braces allowed me to stay on the water for extended periods without any discomfort. The knee braces especially came in handy when making sharp turns or maintaining course.
Despite the positives, I did have some concerns. Some users have reported leaky hatches, and while I didn’t experience this problem myself, it’s something to keep in mind. The drain location also raised eyebrows. It’s located in the stern compartment, when it would be much more useful up front.
Overall, though, the Pelican Sprint 100XR is an impressive kayak. Its performance and tracking are exceptional for a 10′ kayak, and it offers plenty of dry storage space. However, it might feel a bit tippy for beginners, and its load capacity limits it to day trips. That being said, if you’re an experienced kayaker looking for a sleek and agile sit-inside kayak for short adventures, the Pelican Sprint 100XR is definitely worth considering.
Pelican Sentinel 100X
Excellent value for casual paddlers
Length: 10′ | Width: 30″ | Weight: 40 lbs | Capacity: 300 lbs
What we like
What we don’t like
My first impression of the Sentinel 100X was that it has incredible stability—perfect for beginners or those who prefer a more relaxed paddle. The ample legroom was a bonus, making it an easy kayak to get in and out of.
One thing that sets the Sentinel 100X apart from its competitors is its lightweight design. Weighing only 40 lbs, it was surprisingly easy to transport, even when I was on my own. In addition, the built-in T-shaped handles were an absolute lifesaver during those solo kayaking trips.
I had the opportunity to test this kayak on a windy day at the lake. It felt robust, balanced, and performed admirably. However, keep in mind that it’s a recreational kayak. Therefore, it doesn’t fare as well in rough ocean conditions.
Although it lacks dry storage, the Sentinel 100X makes up for it with handy open-air storage areas. These were perfect for storing my water bottle, sunscreen, and other necessary items. The multiple footwells, while not adjustable, provided decent support. However, they did feel a tad uncomfortable at first, but were fine once I got used to them.
The seating could definitely be more comfortable, and it could do with more lumbar support. That said, the Sentinel 100X remains a solid choice for beginner kayakers and those seeking a sit-on-top model for leisure kayaking.
For fellow dog lovers, you’ll be pleased to know that the Sentinel 100X is dog-friendly. The open design and stability provide plenty of space for our four-legged friends to sit comfortably.
In conclusion, the Pelican Sentinel 100X is a cost-effective kayak for those seeking a lightweight, stable, and easy-to-use model for calm water environments. It’s not perfect, but for its price point, it offers a fantastic blend of features that make kayaking an enjoyable experience.
Pelican Catch Mode 110
An affordable and stable fishing kayak
Length: 10’8″ | Width: 34.5″ | Weight: 63 lbs | Capacity: 375 lbs
What we like
What we don’t like
All kayak anglers have been there, balancing precariously on a kayak, trying to wrangle a fish, and praying we don’t capsize. However, with the Pelican Catch Mode 110, I found that I could focus more on the fish and less on keeping my balance.
On the water, the Catch Mode 110 proves itself to be more than just a pretty face. The stability of the kayak was impressive. Whether I was perched low, sitting high, or standing up, the kayak remained steady throughout. It’s not going to win any speed races, but that’s not the intent of its design. This is a fishing kayak, through and through.
One thing I’ve learned from my years of kayaking is that comfort is key, especially when you’re out for long hours. And the adjustable suspension seat on the Catch Mode 110 was a dream, providing support and comfort in all the right places. I’ve yet to spend an entire day out on the water with this model, but based on my experience so far, I can say that it would pose no discomfort.
The kayak is equipped with a retractable skeg that significantly improves tracking. However, it’s worth noting that it can’t be retracted from within the cockpit. Also, the footpegs were adjustable enough to accommodate my 6-foot frame, but I can see how taller individuals might find them limiting.
Storage space is one area where the Catch Mode 110 truly shines. The bow storage area and cover, the bungee-style water bottle holders, and the rear tank well were all greatly appreciated.
The kayak is surprisingly easy to transport for a fishing kayak, thanks to the large side grab handles and a design that’s just shy of 11 feet. In addition, the suitcase-style carry mechanism makes those solo fishing excursions feel less like a workout and more like the relaxing retreats they’re supposed to be.
To sum it up, the Catch Mode 110 strikes an incredible balance between cost, performance, and comfort. Its stability and design, clearly rooted in understanding what anglers need, set it apart in the fishing kayak market. So whether you’re a novice looking to dip your toes in the world of kayak fishing or a seasoned pro looking for a budget-friendly option, the Catch Mode 110 is certainly worth considering.
How Do Pelican Ram-X Kayaks Compare With Other Brands and Materials?
Now that we’ve covered the ins and outs of Pelican Ram-X kayaks, it’s time to compare them with other brands and materials.
The kayaking industry has seen an influx of diverse materials over the years, from traditional wood to modern composites like fiberglass and carbon fiber. Each material has its pros and cons, and your choice should align with your needs and budget.
Carbon Fiber Kayaks
Carbon fiber kayaks, often seen in brands like Zegul Kayaks or Epic Kayaks, are the crème de la crème in terms of performance. They’re incredibly lightweight and highly efficient in the water, but they’re also the most expensive option. A significant downside to carbon fiber kayaks is their vulnerability to impact. One wrong move could lead to costly repairs.
Fiberglass kayaks, such as those from Boreal Design or Stellar Kayaks, are popular for their lightness and speed. The material is more rigid than Ram-X, which allows for more efficient paddling and faster speeds. However, fiberglass kayaks typically come with a heftier price tag and are less durable when it comes to impact resistance.
Thermoform ABS Plastic Kayaks
Thermoform ABS plastic kayaks, like those from Delta Kayaks or Eddyline, offer a balance between performance, durability, and aesthetics. They’re more rigid and lighter than Ram-X kayaks, leading to efficient paddling and easy transportation. However, they lack Ram-X’s impact resistance and are generally pricier. Nevertheless, they’re ideal for those seeking an improved performance without a hefty price tag.
Polyethylene Plastic Kayaks
Polyethylene plastic kayaks are the closest competitors to Ram-X kayaks. Brands like Lifetime and Sun Dolphin also use a form of this material. These kayaks are generally affordable and have similar durability to Ram-X kayaks. However, the Ram-X material is a step up in terms of UV resistance and impact strength. I’ve paddled both brands, and my Pelican Ram-X kayak has certainly held up better over time.
Wooden kayaks, often hand-built or assembled from kits from companies like Chesapeake Light Craft, offer a traditional and aesthetically pleasing option. However, while they can be beautifully crafted and lightweight, they require regular maintenance to keep them seaworthy, which can be a significant drawback for some paddlers.
Inflatable kayaks, such as those from Advanced Elements or Sea Eagle, are celebrated for their portability and ease of storage. While they’re not as robust or efficient as hardshell kayaks, they offer an excellent option for those with limited storage space or those who travel frequently. However, they’re susceptible to punctures, and their overall durability doesn’t match the Ram-X material.
The Verdict: Are Pelican Ram-X Kayaks Worth the Investment?
In conclusion, the choice of kayak material and brand depends largely on your specific requirements, such as your budget, storage space, and the type of kayaking you plan to do.
While Pelican Ram-X kayaks might not be the lightest on the market, they provide an outstanding balance of durability, performance, and cost-effectiveness. So if you’re looking for a robust and affordable kayak, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better option than a Pelican Ram-X kayak.