Last summer, my wife and I had an opportunity to spend an hour or so paddling around the lake on a pair of recreational kayaks. We were both so impressed by the experience and intrigued by the possibilities it could bring to our photography adventures that we decided eventually we would need to make the investment. Well, that time has finally arrived.
After a few days of research and appreciating the fact that our primary goal was to safely transport us and some rather expensive camera gear, we decided on the 2011 Hobie Mirage Outback.
The Hobie Outback is a "sit on top" style kayak with a very special feature called "the Mirage Drive" - a pedal powered set of flippers that allows for silent, hands free propulsion. At a little over 12' in length and slightly under 70 pounds, it's incredibly stable and easy to maneuver through nearly any obstacles in as little as 4 inches of water. Two 8" locking hatch covers and one flip up lid in the bow offer access to an amazing amount of storage in the hull. With all of the covers securely closed, any water one may take on in rough conditions drains through the mounting hole for the Mirage drive or through the two scupper holes immediately behind the seat. Short of a hull breach, whatever is stored inside the hull is safe and dry. We're still perfecting our storage systems for the camera gear, but for the time being I've rigged a simple solution that allows me quick access/storage of my camera within the 8" hatch right in front of me.
Besides the stability and hands free operation, the Hobie Outback is nothing if not versatile. There is also a lever operated rudder to provide very responsive steering capabilities, 4 molded fishing rod holders and an entire catalog of add-ons for your Hobie kayak. Add a sail, outriggers, a live well, depth/fish finder, Bimini top... you can even add a battery powered motor!
I have to admit that we toiled over the decision for more than a few days purely due to the price tag associated with these incredible kayaks. Ultimately, considering our desire to use these as additional tools in our photography pursuits, we're very confident we made the right choice.