Wanting to become part of something new comes with a mixture of positives and negatives. The obvious positives revolve around the excitement and the fun you feel since this new activity is exactly that, brand new to you. It is natural to envision doing it and making some unforgettable memories.
However, there is also the side that is not as pleasant, most of which is connected to you being an absolute beginner and not knowing a single thing about it. When kayaking is concerned, the balance between the positives and negatives is well-struck, but most future paddlers tend to focus on the latter.
Since you know next to nothing about paddling, you also lack any sort of information regarding the kayak you need. There are many brands out there, numerous types and varieties, and of course thousands of models to choose from. So how does a newbie make their first choice and buy their very first kayak?
Well, to do that, you first have to get familiar with the most popular and commonly bought kayak brands. And we have just the thing for you with one of the biggest rivalries, Pelican versus Lifetime. These two kayak manufacturers are great for beginners and veterans alike so let us dive deeper into which one may be better for you.
Pelican and Lifetime are two of the most popular kayak brands right now and that is evident by the number of sales they make, as well as their reputation. This is somewhat because of their affordable prices and the bang that you get for your buck with most of their models.
Customers like the above-average, upper-mid tier class of anything because it makes the most financial sense while offering good quality and features. Both of these brands have recognized it and have this ideology to thank for their success.
So both of the brands are good, that much is certain, but which one is better? Is it even possible to differentiate between them enough and come out with a clear winner? Well, it is possible and we will try out best, but there are a lot of similarities so the grey area between them is quite wide. In the remainder of the article, we talk about each of them in greater detail and come up with a clear answer by the conclusion. Strap in.
About Lifetime Kayaks
This is a brand with a long tradition in the outdoor industry as they have been involved for more than 35 years. They started producing kayaks in 2010 when they bought Dragonfly Kayaks and cemented their status a year later in 2011 with the acquisition of Emotion Kayaks. Their main factory is in Utah and it mainly focuses on budget and mid-tier crafts, mostly for beginners. Lifetime makes recreational sit-inside kayaks as well as tandem, fishing, and recreational sit-on-top models. Their vessels range in price between as little as $400 and as much as $1,600.
About Pelican Kayaks
The Canadian brand has been in the game for much longer, since 1968 to be exact. They use recycled post-industrial plastic in their factories and everything they do happens in North America. For decades, they have focused on hardshell, robust kayaks but they decided to start making inflatable ones too in 2021 when they bought Advanced Elements Inc. When it comes to the price tags, their crafts are cheaper than Lifetime and start at $320 and go up to around $1,100. They have a smaller range of models but they do also make tandem and fishing kayaks.
Now we are getting down and dirty with the face-to-face showdown in which we talk about which brand has better features and specs.
Lifetime kayaks are made from blow-molded, high-dense polyethylene that is treated with UV and therefore lasts longer. They bounce off rocks but scratch easily. Pelican, on the other hand, uses high-grade plastic called polyethylene which is stronger and more resistant to abrasion. While evenly matched in the construction and durability test, Pelican takes the narrow win here.
Weight is one of the biggest selling points for kayaks as customers want their craft to be as light as possible without losing features and strength. On average, Pelican kayaks are lighter than the similar size models from Lifetime, and by a considerable margin that goes over 15 pounds in some situations. This is because Pelican uses thermoforming to make theirs lighter. Pelican wins when the weight is concerned.
Another big selling point is the load capacity, or how much the kayak can carry while still moving through the water effortlessly and optimally. The golden rule is to always stay under the advertised capacity and be around 65% of the max load. With Pelican and Lifetime, the load capacities are very similar. Still, Lifetime is the winner because they have more kayak models that have high load capacity. While Pelican is around 325 pounds with the high-end choices, Lifetime is at 350 pounds or even 375 pounds.
With stability and performance, it is a definite tie between the two. Both brands strike a fine balance between stability on one side, and speed and paddling ease on the other. The tracking of all models is above average and more than reasonable, and since they are for beginners there is no question if they are easy and straightforward to use. Long and narrow kayaks are fast, while short and wide ones are stable. Lifetime and Pelican models are always somewhere in-between, which is the best of both worlds.
Another win for Pelican comes with comfort and seat designs since all of their models have padding and cushion seats that are adjustable. Lifetime is more minimalistic here and many models only have backrests. Pelican wins this because it does not differentiate between low- and high-end models with comfort and seat design solutions.
Last but not least, and another Pelican win to make it the clear winner between the two, the storage capacity and features battle. Lifetime kayaks lack anything more than the basic storage and feature choices on average. Molded cup holders, bungee cords, and tankwell storage is all you get. For a similar price, Pelican treats their crafts with non-slip mats, paddle holders, and removable storage units. Their carry handles and rod holders are also better. When it comes to fishing, Pelican fishing kayaks offer more for the price you pay and make the activity more interesting.