A great all-around recreational kayak, as long as you keep your expectations (and limitations) in check.
Since our search for a good recreational kayak under $400 kept pointing back to the popular Pelican Mustang 100x, we decided to get one and try it out. We’ve been out on the kayak several times and so far we’re loving it. With a recreational kayak, it’s important to keep expectations (and limitations, as we’ll talk about later) in check.
Recreational kayaks are best for those who want to fish or paddle on calm water. You can find cheap options easily and they generally have pretty solid all-around skills, meaning they track well and they’re stable.
What’s the best use for a Pelican Mustang 100x?
Like most recreational kayaks, the Pelican Mustang 100x does not have bulkheads.
What is a bulkhead? Bulkheads are walls that seal off part of the kayak. Some kayaks have a single bulkhead, usually behind the seat, and some have two bulkheads, behind the seat and in front of the footwell. The purpose of a bulkhead is to create trapped air in the kayak that will keep it more buoyant. They also help empty water from the kayak if it capsizes. Aside from the safety benefits of creating air compartments, bulkheads can also provide storage.
A workaround for the lack of bulkheads is to get float bags that fit into the ends of the kayak. Adding float bags is not ideal because it can be hard to secure them and they don’t always stay in place, but it’s a better measure than nothing.
If your kayak doesn’t have bulkheads (or float bags) and you capsize, you’ll need to swim it back to shore to empty the water. Because of this, the Pelican Mustang 100x is best suited for lakes and calm water where there won’t be a lot of splashing over the side. You should also avoid going further from shore than you can swim back.
The Pelican Mustang 100x fits a wide range of users. Thanks to a series of molded foot pedals. These are great because they provide for that wide range, but are less ideal than an adjustable pedal because there could still be gaps in size. For a reference on the range of sizes, I’m 6-foot-1 and I don’t use the tallest foot pedal. My wife is 5-foot-6 and she doesn’t use the shortest foot pedal.
One great feature of this kayak is the knee pads. Since you want to keep some bend in your knees when seated in a kayak to help with stability, these pads really added to the comfort level. Plus, they can slide around to fit anyone. I’ll be curious to see how they hold up, but they’re still like new after five outings.
We also found the seat to be comfortable and high enough to give a good amount of support.
The Mustang has a multichine hull design that’s designed to maximize primary stability, but I also find it to have a good amount of secondary stability. It’s a fairly forgiving kayak, which is perfect for beginners.
What is a multichine hull? Chine refers to the shape of the cross-section of a hull. A hard chine has a sharp angle with little rounding, while a soft chine is more rounded. A multichine hull is a soft chine hull with multiple chines. These provide good performance in different conditions.
The Mustang 100x also tracks well. When you stop paddling, it still moves forward in a fairly straight line. When you are paddling, it will require some left and right correction, but less than most kayaks in this price range.
Speed is another area where it fits in as an all-around performer. It will move at a decent rate as long as your expectations are in check. If you want something to go faster or use in windy conditions and with waves, you’ll need to upgrade.
This is a kayak that’s easy to paddle and meant for calm water. It’s an excellent place to start.
Ease of use
Pelican says this kayak is made from “RAM-X multi-layer polyethylene with an advanced resin providing more rigidity than standard polyethylene” and we have found the hull to hold up well so far. The lake we’ve been on has a very rocky shore, so the hull has taken some scratches as I’ve launched solo and come ashore, but they’re minor.
At 39 lbs, the kayak is light enough for one person to carry. If you have two people, there are two handles that make moving it even easier.
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This is the main area of disappointment for the Pelican Mustang 100x. It’s not due to a lack of storage, but rather a lack of waterproof storage. The 17-liter EXOPOD is a hard shell storage compartment that sits in the rear tank well and is removable. It looks cool and I was excited to use it, but quickly found out it is not waterproof.
It’s the same story with the front storage hatch, which also fails to provide sealed storage space. To be clear, Pelican does not say these two compartments are waterproof, I just missed it on the product page.
Aside from not being waterproof, these actually provide a way for water to get into the kayak. The rear tank well has no drain plugs and if water comes over the side, it can fill up and weigh the kayak down, making you sit lower in the water. It’s the same story with the front storage hatch. This is yet another reason you’ll want to keep this kayak in calmer water.
You’ll definitely want to buy a dry bag to go with this kayak for your phone, keys and anything else you want to keep away from the water.
The Mustang 100x also comes with two flush mount rod holders and a smartphone holder at the front of the cockpit.
From the hull design to the light weight, to the easy fit, the Pelican Mustang 100x is designed to be easy for those without a great deal of kayaking experience. Add in that it tracks fairly well and allows you to get decent speed going, and this kayak is perfect for beginners. Just remember its limitations and keep it in calmer water.