Why are Hobie Kayaks So Expensive?

Hobie fishing kayak in large lake

Kayaking is a very popular activity that is enjoyed both on inland waters and in the ocean. With so many cheap kayaks available in the marketplace some people wonder why Hobie kayaks are so expensive. Well there’s more than one good reason for that.

Hobie kayaks are so expensive because they have design characteristics that offer advantages over other kayaks, such as Kick-Up Fin technology and sail kits. Hobie kayaks also use MirageDrive pedal technology which allows a kayaker to stop paddling and use his/her feet to propel the kayak. Inclusion of these features means an increase the cost of a kayak. As the kayaks are USA built they also have higher production costs.

Why are Hobie kayaks so expensive?

Kayaking as a one-off recreational outing can be done fairly cheaply by renting a boat and all the necessary equipment. However, once you start to become more involved in this water-based activity and begin buying your own stuff, costs can start to spiral upwards pretty quickly.

There are many different forms of kayaking from whitewater rapid riding, to simple recreational canal kayaking. We already covered why some kayaks are more expensive than others and many of these reasons apply directly to Hobie kayaks. A better quality kayak made from a superior material will always cost more than its cheaper counterpart simply because it is a better boat.

But, here we will look specifically at Hobie kayaks and why their boats carry such high price tags compared to the competition.

Basic material costs

The construction material used to build a kayak is one of the biggest contributing factors to cost. Although there are other materials available all Hobie kayaks are made of the highest quality linear polyethylene. This material is a special type of plastic that is very light but incredibly hard-wearing.

Polyethylene kayaks can take some serious abuse without showing the slightest sign of wear. Making a boat that is almost indestructible obviously comes at a cost.

Although plastic is fairly cheap to manufacture and buy, there are other materials that are cheaper, such as marine plywood. Marine plywood is also much lighter. Its low cost is one of the reasons many home built boats (like the flat bottom boat we show you how to build here) are made from this material.

Plywood is not as durable as plastic though and can certainly not take the same type of abuse, which is a major disadvantage for kayakers who often take their boats into whitewater and rapids where knocks against rocks are common.

Therefore it is necessary to pay the extra cost for a material that will allow the kayaker to use his/her kayak in environments that will test the hull integrity of the boat.

Unique Hobie design adds cost

Hobie do not make your typical generic kayak.

From its humble beginnings back in Hobie’s Alter’s dad’s garage, back in 1950, Hobie watercraft have maintained their high quality but over the years have increased the technological advantages on their boats.

Due to Alter’s background in surfing it is no wonder than many Hobie kayaks incorporate technology from the surfing world into their kayak designs> these innovations make each kayak more stable in the water and better able to handle what is thrown at it.

Adding fins to a kayak is one such unique design feature referred to by Hobie as, the new Kick-Up Fin technology. When you take into account the attached rudders for better tracking and control over the kayak along with sail kits and pedals, that allow for hands-free propulsion, it becomes fairly obvious why these boats are much more expensive than a simple rotomolded polyurethane kayak.

Hobie kayaks are specialized boats that are designed for very specific activities. Their fishing kayaks, for example, are designed for easy storage, room for catch and holders for rods and nets etc.

The designs of Hobie kayaks incorporate features and technology that make them some of the best performing kayaks in the world.

Not all kayaks are created equal. Hobie have some of the best sit-on-top kayaks on the planet.

Hobie make sit-on-top kayaks that are used for a variety of different activities from fishing to recreational use and even boat camping.

Sit-on-top kayaks also tend to be more expensive than their sit-in cousins which may  make Hobie boats appear to be very expensive if compared to a similar sized sit-in kayak. If you want to know the difference between a sit-on-top kayak and a sit-in kayak read this article.

Pedal technology increases the cost

Although Hobie kayaks offer many unique advantages over basic kayak types, one of the most unique features these boats offer the paddler is the ability to move the boat without a paddle.

This may seem like a contradiction, after all a kayaker is often referred to as a paddler and vice versa. However, as Hobie make some of the best fishing kayaks available it stands to reason that they would want to add a feature that allows the angler the ability to move his kayak while leaving his hands free to cast off and reel in. Adding pedal propulsion to their kayaks achieves this aim.

This pedal power not only allows the kayaker a hands-free approach to kayaking but it also gives him/her the ability to move the boat in both a forward and reverse direction. Hobie call this technology the MirageDrive.

This technology was expensive to research and adding this technology to a kayak will inevitably increase the price of the boat.

USA built means higher production costs

If you want quality it comes at a price.

Hobie kayaks are manufactured in California, USA. We all know that anything American built is going to be more expensive. Production costs for producing something on American soil is much greater than if it was subsidized to a third world, or even second world, country.

Apart from labor costs, which are substantially higher in the US than many other countries, other production costs, from energy to equipment and repairs and factory running costs, are all higher. Unfortunately, these higher costs need to be passed on to the consumer if the company is to make a profit and stay in business.

But does this increase in cost equate to an increase in quality?

As someone who owns home-built, USA built and foreign built boats I can answer that question quickly and accurately, and the answer is “yes“!

American built does not always mean superior quality but when it comes to boats (and guitars, but that’s another story) it does.

Made in America – Hobie kayaks (video)


As you can see Hobie do not build basic kayaks that are simple rotomolded shells. Hobie incorporate the latest technology into their kayak designs to make them some of the best small boats in the world.

Their pedal technology, known as MirageDrive, allows for hands-free control of their kayaks and they also offer additional sail power kits that turn their kayaks into small sailing boats.

Being USA built means Hobie boats have a superior build quality but this also means they have a higher price tag.

There is an old saying “you get what you pay for” and with Hobie kayaks this is 100% true. Their kayaks are worth every penny.

Recent Content