Relaxing on the sandy beach with family is a treat by itself, but you can enrich the experience even more by taking a trip by the lake.
You can choose to take the long outings on the water using a canoe, kayak, or surfboard, but most people, especially those that prefer their hands free while boating prefer pedal boats.
Also known as pedalos, the pedal boats are somewhat similar to the old-fashioned kayaks, in shape and design, except for one thing: They’re powered by propellers and metal levers driven by the foot pedals.
Of course, fishermen are one of the crowds that benefit most from these modern pedal boats because of their hands-free operation.
But other than that, pedal boats are the perfect vessels for exploring nature when you’ve to ride through ponds, lakes, small water bodies, and small lakes in urban parks to take your mind off your busy life.
They’re also the ideal watercraft for sightseeing and generally great picks for nature lovers as they don’t harm the environment and aren’t noisy as boats, so they don’t scare wildlife away.
They take some personal effort to get moving, though but imagine for a minute that you could have fun with family and friends on the water while getting some quality exercise at the same time. That’s killing two birds with one stone, right?
Now, if you’re interested in one of these amazing paddle boats, you’re in the right place.
In the review guide below, we’ll share some of our favorite pedal boats, and we’ll also help you pick the best pedal boat for your needs.
Table of Contents
Best Pedal Boats For The Money
#1 Sun Dolphin Sun Slider 5 Person Pedal Boat - EDITOR'S CHOICE
Most of us need family bonding time, and if you’re searching for a paddle boat that can fit your entire family, we’ve a pick for you.
The Dolphin Sun Slider is a 5-seater pedal boat that will easily accommodate your family or group of friends and comes with everything you need for an outing.
It’s among the most popular paddle boats, and if there’s one thing that stands out about this pick, it’s the sturdy build.
The high-density polyethylene with closed-cell polystyrene foam, which feels like a strong wax, is durable and won’t get you into trouble. It’s durable and can withstand the scraping of the hard rocks on the shore, improper use, and doesn’t discolor because of the UV rays.
Plus, polyethylene is somewhat a flexible material with some memory, so it tends to return to its original molded shape if it’s distorted.
Sun Slider is versatile, too, and perfect for everything from family outings with kids, lounging in the waters, sunbathing, to fishing.
Plus, riders can virtually use this pedal boat on any waters, and if you could fit it in a bathtub, you could paddle in it. It draws a single foot when entering, and depending on the weight load, it only displaces 18-24 inches of water, so you can even use it in your local pond without scraping the bottom. But as with other boats, we would advise against riding it through marsh or grass.
Sun Slider also comes with multiple pedal positions for 1, 2, or 3 persons. While you can operate the boat alone, this modern pedal boat gives a chance for multi-operation, so you don’t get tired too fast and ensure you enjoy it for a long time.
This 5-seat pedal boat is stable, but depending on your weight, you may find the boat leaning a bit on the side if you’re alone. You can avoid this by sitting in the middle, or if you must stay on edge, fill a gallon bucket of sand and put it on the passenger seat to balance out the weight.
Regarding the seating capacity, we already mentioned that Sun Dolphin could accommodate five riders. Ideally, we would recommend it for three adults and two kids.
But that’s not even the best part!
The adjustable seats can recline fully, transforming the pedal boat into a sunbathing lounge or a fishing paddle boat. You can also put the seats all the way back to accommodate even the 6’+ riders or move them forward for the short guys.
For me, at least, I can remove the backrests of my seats, so I enjoy a ride with my 90lbs Labrador.
And because the pedal boat comes with a canopy, you can tell the sun to screw itself because not even the rays will stop you from having fun on your summer holidays. You can always have fun paddling in the shade. When the sun is down, you can take the canopy down and take in as much scenery as possible.
As icing on the cake, the Sun Slider has all the essentials you need for a phenomenal time on the water.
It includes built-in coolers to keep your beverages perfectly chilled and snacks fresh. There’re also plenty of beverage holders and storage compartments for holding your coffee mugs and glasses without spilling.
#2 Sun Dolphin 5 Seat Pedal Boat - Budget Pick
Our second pick is yet another excellent pedal boat from Sun Dolphin that can easily pass as the best paddle boat for those on a budget. For an affordable price, it’s only a little bit more than the “used boat” prices you normally see on Craigslist.
It’s easy to think the Sun Dolphin is a flimsy boat, but once you put it to the test, you’ll be impressed by how good the boat is.
Let’s start with durable construction, for example.
Sun Dolphin 5 Seat Paddle Boat utilizes a durable polyethylene deck and hull.
The benefit you get from this material is this paddle boat can easily take on the dings, scrapes, and knocks like a champ. For example, I’ve scraped my boat on the shallow river bed, yet, the Dolphin has nothing to show for it except a few minor bruises here and there.
Despite the surprisingly sturdy build, this 5-seat pedal boat is pretty lightweight by any boat standards, so much that it’s easy for two people to carry it through the yard. Getting the Dolphin out of the water shouldn’t be a problem either as two people can easily lift it off a trailer and carry it to and out of the water.
Portability is also one less thing to worry about as it’s easy to fit on the back of your pick-up. It’s not long, and the pedal boat fits in a truck at an angle. Just be careful of the rudder, but you can always keep the tailgate open for the shorter trucks.
For me, at least, I don’t have to worry about using a truck since I live a block down from the lake. I simply rig the boat to a hand truck and move it all by myself.
On the water, you’ll even be more impressed with Dolphin’s ride performance.
It’s delightful to ride by yourself, though I find it even more fun to ride with friends and family. As with our top pick, it can accommodate up to five riders, typically suitable for two adults and three kids.
It maneuvers well, and its stability is simply incredible. From a seated position, it’s even possible to do some fishing. It’s not the best option for fishing when standing unless you rig a platform.
Without a canopy, pedaling the Sun Dolphin might be an issue for the really hot sunny days. It’s not a surprise, though, considering the low price accounts for the absence of additional extras such as a canopy or electric motor.
However, it retains the same quality of material as our more premium options, and the design still feels like more of an expensive model.
Plus, it comes with storage compartments, small built-in coolers, and drink holders, so you won’t have to sacrifice the option of bringing snacks and drinks aboard in favor of a bargain price.
It’s also maintenance-free with its oil-impregnated bronze bushings with rubber seals.
#3 Monaco DLX Angler - Best Pedal Boat for Fishing
Not all pedal boats are designed for fishing, but it’s easy to tell the Monaco DLX Angler is best suited for fishing from its name.
In addition to offering a great way to fish, the Angler offers a perfect way to cruise around.
One of DLX’s standout features is its durable construction. This boat is sturdy and well-built. It utilizes a proprietary RAM-XTM material exclusive to Pelican. This material has a high resistance to impacts, so it won’t cause any trouble once you accidentally collide with rocks on the shore or drag it across a rocky beach.
It also can retain its original shape once it’s deformed.
DLX is lightweight too, ad, therefore, in addition to being sturdy, you shouldn’t have any problem lifting or getting it in and out of the water. At only 110 pounds, two people should find it a breeze carrying it around your yard.
The boat’s dimensions are also modest, and you shouldn’t have any problem fitting the boat into your truck bed.
I love the versatility of this boat, especially that my kids can effortlessly pedal the boat. Of course, it takes some effort to go about any long distance, but it’s not a problem for my 11-year-old to play around on our pond.
Plus, you can use the pedal boat on pretty any water body. Of course, it’s not fit for use in the ocean, but I can use it in the shallow depths. For me, at least, I’ve taken in lakes where the water is no more than 8″-12″ deep, and it works just fine. It only submerges about 3″-4″ when it has two adults and two kids.
DLX’s seat capacity is also incredible as this pedal boat can hold up to 5 riders with its maximum weight capacity of 775 pounds.
Even better, it has multiple pedal positions, and the seats are adjustable to make the boat perfect for the intended use. In our personal opinion, the boat feels most comfortable with four people; two adults at the front and two kids at the kid.
And if you’re off to a fishing adventure, I would recommend using the boat as a one-person or two-person pedal boat at most to create more space for your catch.
To make things even better for the fishing enthusiast, this five-seat pedal boat features two flush mounts rod holders for your fishing rod, storage compartments, and cooling storage for snacks and drinks to keep you refreshed on your fishing trip.
It also features a canopy, so you don’t have to deal with exposure to the sun. You can always enjoy a cool breeze under the protection of a shade.
#4 Sun Dolphin Water Wheeler Electric - Best Electric Pedal Boat
Few pedal boats are as luxurious and effortless to ride as the Sun Dolphin Wheeler Electric.
Sporting a small but powerful Minn-Kota trolling motor, Wheeler Electric gives you the option of manual pedaling or letting the motor do the work.
Not being confined to one propulsion method is tremendously beneficial as it offers the best of both worlds. You can switch the electric propulsion when you feel tired of pedaling or manual propulsion when performing some exercises.
I’ve tried both propulsion methods, and I can say I was disappointed. The electric method offers an easy glide atop the water, while the manual method isn’t any less good.
Many riders are particularly impressed by the option of letting a trolling motor do all the work since it allows you to maximize your time on the water. With the motor in place, this boat becomes so much more, and all you’ve to do is sit back and enjoy the scenery.
The only problem we had with the built-in motor mount setup is, of course, the added weight of the motor. But still, 130 pounds is within the acceptable limits of a pedal boat and isn’t too heavy. Two people can easily lift and haul the boat to and from the water.
Our other concern with this electric pedal boat was the noise. We thought the pedal boat would make so much noise, make the ride obnoxious and probably scare wildlife. But we were wrong. The boat makes for a silent and smooth purring, shattering our prejudices. The boat will let you enjoy a smooth, noise-free ride without the workout.
Enough with the motor; now, let’s look at the durable construction.
Electric Wheeler doesn’t fail in this department either.
It utilizes a polyethylene deck and hull that will stand up to abuse and last for a long time. The material hardly fades from the sun’s exposure and will take on the crashes and dings like a champ.
The boat’s seating capacity is also generous as it has an adjustable seat enough to hold three adults in the front and two kids at the back. The maximum weight capacity is 800 pounds, which is enough to hold up to our plus-size guys.
And as with most of our picks, Wheeler comes complete with an array of extras, including storage compartments, built-in drink holders, cooling storage, and a water-resistant canopy.
#5 Sun Dolphin 3 Seat Pedal Boat - Best Boat for Two Adults
If you prefer a small and simple paddle boat for a solo ride or with just enough space for three riders at most, the Dolphin 3 Seat Paddle Boat might just be the right pick for you.
As you would expect, this pedal boat is simple, super light, and with modest dimensions. It shouldn’t prove too hard to haul in on and off your truck or in the water.
Yet, it remains stable and sturdy as some of our more expensive and sophisticated models. It utilizes the same high-density polyethylene materials with an adhesive seal as we saw on some of our top picks.
It’s arguably among the toughest pedal boats out there and will stand up to rough usage and abuses for a long time.
While remaining small, it’s surprisingly stable in the water and won’t cause any problems entering or exiting this cute model.
All three seats on this model are located in the front, and while the paddle boat offers full-width seating, I would recommend two adults at most for a comfortable experience.
As a bonus, this model has two cooling storage spaces instead of one. It also has multiple pedal positions.
Best Pedal Boats Buying Guide
Paddleboats come in different sizes, styles, designs and have different performances.
With so many features to consider in your purchase decision, finding the best pedal boat for your needs can feel challenging.
But it doesn’t need to feel so.
We’ll share everything you need to know about making a pedal boat purchase decision in our buying guide below.
But before then, let’s first look at the different types of pedal boats.
Different Types of Pedal Boats
Pedal boats come in different varieties, as with other vessels, so when you’re making a purchase decision, you need to know the differences to get the most out of your money.
The two common types of pedalboards are:
The manual pedal variety is the most typical and popular type of pedal boat. It’s also the most affordable.
As its name suggests, the manual pedal boat requires the riders to use energy to propel. They need you to use your feet to move the paddle boat.
We recommend manual paddle boats for users who need to perform some exercise while sightseeing.
The manual pedal boats are also a great and environmentally-friendly way to explore as they don’t emit harmful emissions. They’re also quiet.
The electric pedal vessels take the effort from your propulsion.
Instead, they use a built-in trolling electric motor to move the boat forward.
These pedal boats work by using a motor for propulsion.
The hybrid pedal boats are a blend of manual and electric vessels
They let you switch from the electric to manual propulsion and vice versa.
The hybrids are the most expensive, but we recommend choosing the dual-mode watercraft because you can’t always guarantee how long your feet can last in paddling.
Factors to Consider when Selecting the Best Boats
We’ve looked at the different types of pedal boats, and it’s time now to look at the factors you should always consider when buying a pedal boat.
Design/ Durable Construction Material
Generally, a majority of the pedal boats are made from plastic materials.
So, the big question is what type of plastic?
The best type of plastic should be durable enough to withstand salt, extreme temperatures and offer sun protection.
Fiberglas is a good option since it can withstand a lot of abuse and harm from elements.
But fiberglass is expensive, and if you feel it’s above your budget, you can settle for something more pocket-friendly such as sealed aluminum.
The only issue with sealed aluminum is that it’s a good conductor of electricity and lacks foam.
Price and Capacity
As with most pedal boat purchases, it’s a good idea to maximize the value for your money.
Now, most of the standard pedal boat prices range from $800 to $1,600.
Of course, the higher you go, the more features and extras you get.
Also, in general, the higher-priced vessels have greater durability and are more reliable.
But that doesn’t mean the inexpensive vessels are flimsy either.
Depending on your needs, you can also find a worthy paddle boat for under $800 or less. Just be sure to check and read the specifications.
Consider how many adults and kids a boat can accommodate.
For example, boats within the $800 have a weight capacity of 550 pounds. On the other hand, those in the $900 to $1,600 have a weight capacity of 700 to 800.
Meanwhile, pedal boats in the price range of $1,600 have a higher weight limit and can even carry a cargo of 800 to 1,000 pounds. These watercraft are ideal for those who want to spend time with their entire families on the water. At this range, you’ll also find boats with seat cushions.
Features to Look For in Pedal Boats
It’s also a good idea to consider the features that a pedal boat comes with.
Most of these features aren’t necessary, but they help add more convenience to your boating experience.
So, what are some of these amenities?
If you plan to do some fishing on your pedal boat, you’ll need a rod holder.
As its name suggests, rod holders provide a convenient, safe and easy way to “hold” your fishing rods.
A cooler, also known as a storage area, is where you place all your goodies to make your adventure more fun.
For example, a built-in cooler is a handy place for storing your refreshments or delicacies.
Some of the pedal boats come with adjustable seats, allowing you to accommodate more boaters.
On the other hand, the inexpensive pedal boats have shared back seats.
Also, depending on the type of paddle boat, it’s good to consider the seating capacity. Most have a capacity of three to five, with a combined weight capacity of 500 to 600 pounds.
Beverage Holders are a minor addition, but they can add more comfort to your overall experience.
With a cup holder, you don’t have to hold an empty can of the bottle as you paddle through the lake.
The heat from the sun can spoil the fun by halting your adventure.
To avoid the inconvenience of sunburn, consider a boat with a canopy or umbrella.
It’ll keep you cool and keep your skin safe from sunburn and harmful UV rays.
Pedal boats have a wheel at their bottom that keeps riders from getting splashed. But at times, water inevitably gets into the boat.
For example, when it rains, water can accumulate in the boat.
Therefore, a drain plug is an important amenity that you shouldn’t miss on your boat.
It’s a must-have if you don’t want to deal with the hassle of manually bailing the water.
A covering is essential in protecting your boat from the harsh weather and the sun’s UV rays that can shorten its lifespan.
While some brands include it in a package or as freebies, others don’t, so you’ve to purchase the mooring cover separately.
Accessories to Include in a Pedal Boat Purchase
Along with the pedal boat features, it’s also crucial you consider investing in add-ons or extras that might come in handy during the whole boating experience.
Remember owning a high-end pedal boat doesn’t always guarantee an enjoyable summer vacation. You need to foresee what can happen and spoil the experience.
Here are some of the extras you shouldn’t miss
It’s always a good idea to have a personal floatation device with you on your trip.
And not just any PDF, but it should be coast-guard approved for maximum protection.
Anchor Rope Bag
A bag is helpful when you’re tired of paddling and want to remain in one location to take a break or fish.
It keeps your paddle boat calm without drifting.
While drain plugs are handy in eliminating water, they’re never 100% effective.
To get rid of the remaining water, you need to consider a hand bilge pump.
Best Pedal Boats Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What are the benefits of owning a pedal boat?
A: A pedal boat is a great investment, especially if you live near a lake, pond, river, or generally like going out in the water.
A pedal boat is easy to take out wherever you want, and it lets you enjoy the benefits of paddle boating, such as enjoying the scenery, working your legs, and bonding with family.
Q: What should I do if water gets in between the deck and hull?
A: If your pedal boat is the self-bailing type and fitted with a drain hole and plug, all you need to do is remove the plug and tip the boat. This is, of course, on dry land.
If it doesn’t have a drain hole, you simply need to flip the boat.
Q: Can I use my pedal boat in salt water?
A: Generally, pedal boats are designed for use on fresh water.
Using a fresh water boat in salt water can cause it to deteriorate rapidly due to wear and tear.
If you need a pedal boat to use in the salt water, choose one with a stainless steel package that can resist corrosion and damage from salt water.
Q: How do I store my pedal boat in winter?
A: You can store your paddle boat in a garage, shed, or boathouse during the harsh winter.
If you don’t have room for storage, cover it with a properly fitting mooring pedal boat cover to shield it against debris.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
Our review for the best pedal boats is over, and our winner for the list is the Sun Slider 5 Person Pedal Boat.
We choose this paddle boat because it comes with all the features or most features you desire for a wonderful boating experience for your entire family.
It has a generous seating capacity of five, and more importantly, the adjustable fully reclining will suit your comfort and space requirements.
The Sun Slider Pedal Boat is also well-built, and utilizes some of the high-quality materials for boat-building, and has a Super Tough Paddle Wheel, so it won’t disappoint you.
Slider’s performance is also awesome and in particular, the stability and overall maneuverability.