Hobie Mirage Compass KayakGET IT
While I’m always attracted to multi-purpose designs, too often one aspect always gets the short end of the stick—like that leaf blower/vacuum that is a sucky sucker. In trying to make a lower priced kayak that does more, Hobie developed the Mirage Compass: A pedal-assisted fishing boat, that happens to pull double-duty as a solid recreational kayak.
For those who fish, the Compass can be outfitted with everything from a soft-sided cooler up front to a fish finder in the cockpit to H-crates in the back (rod holders are molded into the body). Tracks on either side of the cockpit accept a host of accessories. That adds to the 68-pound hull weight, which maxes out to 400 pounds, but the build should cost less than Hobie’s higher-end fishing kayaks like the Pro Angler or the Outback. Strip all that gear off, and the nimble boat is a comfortable, easy-to-use recreational kayak.
We took the Compass on a tour of the nooks and crannies around Riverhead. The kayak’s pedal system, which Hobie calls the MirageDrive, moves you along faster than other boats relying on a paddle and you’re less likely to tire out because you’re using larger leg muscles (you can still paddle, too). The MirageDrive is an overbuilt chunk of engineering that works very smoothly and is easy to adjust. But, oddly enough, the plug in the hull that accepts the MirageDrive system is not watertight so an inch or so of water fills the divot in the cockpit. Hobie isn’t worried about the long-term exposure to salt water, and it’s not enough water to get you or your gear wet, but it still seems like something that is easy to seal with a gasket. Turning on a dime in the water is easy thanks to a dial on the hull that controls steering (a separate pull rope control the rudder, yanking it up and down so you can retract it when pulling the boat out of the water). Our Compass pulled to the port side slightly when the dial was centered and Hobie says this is adjustable by tweaking the tension balance on the rudder lines. Other kayakers paddling traditional builds, and even a few friends on SUPs, were impressed with the Hobie’s precise turning.
The bow on the 12-foot long Compass comes from Hobie’s Mirage Revolution kayak and it cuts through the water nicely. Add an extra inch or so to the width of the Hobie Mirage Outback, and you have 34-inc wide Compass, which is very stable because the hull borrows a multi-chamber design from the brand’s fishing kayaks. It felt surefooted when I stood up in it.
The seat is comfortable, and in a pinch can be pulled out and used on the beach. Though the bungee that holds the paddle tight to the side of the boat isn’t in a great spot—it’s rather tight there next to the seat and the hull. But the list of things Hobie could improve on the Mirage is a short one and for someone new to kayak fishing who might want some sit on top recreational paddling, this boat strikes a nice balance between cost, quality, and versatility. — Sal Vaglica, Senior Editor
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