Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Introducing the Old Town Predator PDL!

ICast is this week down in Orlando.   Last year I attended ICast as part of the Johnson Outdoors Crew and had a wonderful time meeting not only my fellow Old Town and Ocean Kayak pro-staffers, and the full time folk who work hard to bring us these fantastic kayak, but I also got to meet a lot of great people from the fishing industry.

ICast is THE show where all the brands in the fishing industry release their new products for the year, and for Old Town the new product is a new member of the Predator series of kayaks:   The Predator PDL!   Edit:  The Predator PDL won the Best Boat award at ICast 2016 beating out a number of competitors new product offerings!!

The Predator PDL brings in a pedal drive system into the kayak, allowing the user to pedal with their feet, as like on a bicycle and steer the kayak using a hand controlled rudder.  Now with Hobie, Wilderness Systems, and as of this year a whole host of other brands all either previously existing or also jumping into the pedal drive kayak market, I can't claim this is a revolutionary change.   Well, it is for the Predators, but not for the kayak fishing market as a whole.

Then again, let's look at this new PDL kayak and see what we have exactly.  Then go take a look at the competition and see how they really stack up.

The kayak itself is a big boat.   Coming in at 13'2" long and 36" wide.  It weighs 117 lbs, including the 21 lb removable pedal drive unit.   Edit:  When you remove the seat and pedal unit, the kayak itself is under 80 lbs making it far more manageable to load on a car! It has a generous capacity of 500 lbs, so even big guys like myself can load of up this kayak with no worries about exceeding the payload.    You will however want to get a set of wheels, like the Railblaza C-Tug to carry it around!

The PDL is also a boat that is designed to be used in both the ocean as well as fresh water.   Unlike other brands where their boats are designed to be used in calm waters, it can handle rough water with ease and cut through the wind better than perhaps any of the other bigger boats on the market.  Anyone who has used the Predator 13 knows it is remarkable for how it handles in rougher conditions, and this kayak promises to hold true to that standard.

This kayak comes with a one-handed controlled rudder, where you have a knob to turn rather than a cord you have to pull from either side like some other models.   The seat in all previous Predators was always one of the most loved features for being so comfortable and has actually been improved on here.   The seat in the PDL can adjust forwards and back and has been reinforced, positioned at a single high position with a slight tilt to ensure the rider has a comfortable position for using the pedals.

The pedal drive itself is padded so that you can comfortably use it bare foot and with minimum effort will propel the kayak up to impressive speeds of 5.5 mph!   That is mighty fast for a kayak!   Not only that, but reversing your pedal direction will drive the kayak in reverse, allowing for pinpoint control of your kayaks position when fishing those weedbanks.

Speaking of weeds, the prop on this unit is a new proprietary design that is apparently weedless.   I can't wait to put that nifty feature to the test.  If it can handle our pickerel fishing marshes, then I'll be really impressed!   If you do get some weeds in there, or need to go into shallow water, the unit easily lifts up out of the way while you paddle over shallow ground or go to land your kayak.

Edit:  Old Town will also have available a flat floor console should you want to use this kayak without the pedal drive.   Great news that this option is going to be made available!

Here is fellow prostaffer, Kwanza Henderson using the new Predator PDL to land a few impressive fish off the coast of Florida recently.

If you look close you'll see a lot of revisions to the deck on this kayak from other Predator models.   Personally I love what they have done here.   There are two mounting locations on the bow, with a scupper hole in the middle, I imagine is shapes to accommodate a transducer.  A single longer mounting place on either side, plenty long for multiple mounts.   Under these mounting places are storage slots, which is really smart!    And of course you can slide a box or two of gear under the seat as well.

But wait, there's more!   The center console is not only the pedal drive, but also a dry tackle storage compartment!   Here you can safely put your phone, camera or other items you want protected but yet within easy reach!

Finally there is one more notable change to the Predator XL, and that is the storage compartment they added under the seat, just to the rear.   Here you can store more gear inside the body of the kayak which you may not need access to on the water.    Oh, and speaking of the rear, there are still the mounting plates there, but also built in flush mount rod holders!   Just add a Yak Attack BlacPak or a milk crate with homemade PVC rod holders and you have places for 5 rods behind the seat!

So there you have it, a pretty full look at the new Old Town Predator PDL kayak.   When I look at a cumulation of the capacity, comfort, speed, ease of maneuverability, storage and layout, I honestly think there isn't much more that Old Town could have done to improve on this design.

Before I finish, the most common question I see out on social media is why didn't Old Town make the pedal drive fit into the Predator XL?    Well I can't speak for the company but I can give you my opinion.      I think there are 2 key concerns here, and likely more I do not realize.  

First, the seat on the XL cannot adjust forwards and backwards, and there really isn't any room for it to do so.    If you drop a pedal drive into the XL, at best it would only fit for one size of rider, say an average person of 5'8".    For someone like me who is 6'2", or others who may be 5'3", this would be completely useless or very uncomfortable.

Second is the steering.   the XL's rudder is controlled with the foot rests.    If you drop in a pedal drive, then you lose all ability to steer.   Sure you could put up the rudder and steer with your paddle, but then you have gone from hands free, to needing to use both your hands and feet to get anywhere... that again is pointless.

Really the XL and the PDL cater to two very different markets.    There are people would would love to have both options, which I completely understand, but trying to combine the two is really to me like trying to shove a circle into a square.   Better to do two things right, than to do one thing wrong.


  1. Nice. Pricing wise is it going to be similar to the Hobie or is it going to be competitive?

  2. Nice. Pricing wise is it going to be similar to the Hobie or is it going to be competitive?

  3. This kayak is amazing! Thanks for writing such a detailed and honest review! My husband has got the same one. But now he considers buying a new model. You may click here to find out the list of the best pedal kayaks. What do you think about them as an expert? Maybe you've already seen some models in action?