The Hobie Mirage Outback was designed for hands-free fishing, hunting, photography and other on-water activities.
I have to admit I was a little 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 that you don’t even have to paddle!
The Outback has an impressive fit-out for fishing that includes four moulded rod holders, two drink holders, adjustable high-backed seat and a hand-controlled rudder with kick-up feature. There are also moulded storage wells around the cockpit, with a mesh cover to hold things in place and three 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 Mirage’s steering controls are positioned at arm’s length, giving precise control of the kick-up rudder.
The seat and backrest are probably the best I’ve seen in a kayak. I found that the backrest was essential because of the higher position of the feet as compared to a conventional sit-on-top kayak. 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 could easily cast, retrieve and fiddle with the Fish Finder (fitted as an extra to our demo kayak). And after choosing between the five rod holders at my disposal, I 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!
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 really well. With the rudder in, both tracking and manoeuvrability were excellent.
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 with a paddle, it seemed to give the craft lift and exceed the speeds I imagined possible for the Outback. A cruising speed of 5km/h is easily achievable.
Hobie kayaks fitted with the Mirage Drive peddle system are no ordinary kayaks. They have an exceptional fit-out and deck layout and although they look a bit cumbersome, they perform really well.
Because I’m a paddler, not a bike rider, I found it a little tiring to maintain a fast pace for an extended period. This kayak gives you a leg workout, not an arm or upper-body workout. I was really impressed with how effective the pedal system was and really enjoyed my time fishing on the Outback, even though I couldn’t entice any bass to smash my piece of plastic.
We were able to use one of the Hobie trolleys for the demo and also found these to be extremely effective. It was possible to wheel the kayak completely into 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 seemed 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 $2200 while the Outback Fish, which includes a Hobie trolley, rod leash and three tackle trays, sells for $2350. For more information contact Hobie on (02) 4441 8400, or for Hobie dealers in Australia, visit www.hobiecat.com.au/dealers.
This review was conducted by Craig McSween of Splash Safaris Sea Kayaking. Craig is also a Sea Kayak Instructor with Australian Canoeing. For more information or to give feedback on this review you can contact us at Adventure Outlet (Kayaking, Camping & Outdoor Store) in Southport on (07) 5571 2929 or --e-mail address hidden--
|Weight||28kg (plus 3.68kg for Mirage Drive)|