On August 24th Hobie announced a newly redesigned 2019 Hobie Outback. The transformation moved the Outback design forward to look more like a sleek-lined Pro Angler with a lot of changes to improve functionality and performance. We covered a lot of the changes in our announcement article here so if you’re not familiar with the Hobie Outback, that would be a good place to start.
This week at Paddlesports Retailer in Oklahoma City I had the chance to get some seat time and work through some of the questions I had (and others had) after the press release ran. You’ll find all the details of what I liked and some points of improvement below but first, here’s some info on the 2019 Hobie Outback.
2019 Hobie Outback Info and Specs
Length: 12′ 9″ / 3.89 m
Width: 34″ / .86 m
Capacity: 425 lbs / 192.78 kg
Fitted Hull Weight: 85 lbs / 38.56 kg
Fully Rigged Weight: 103 lbs / 46.72 kg
Hull Construction: Rotomolded Polyethylene
Some of the New Outback Features
Spacious Deck Layout with Vertical Hatch
Everything you need at your fingertips. Dual H-Track Deluxes with H-Rail boasts the ultimate in accessory mounting, customization, and organization. EVA deck pads provide a cushioned standing area and sound dampening. The vertical rectangular hatch easily opens for more tackle storage and includes a bottle opener for cold beverage enjoyment.
Piercing bow helps cut effortlessly through the water, wind, wake, and chop while reducing hull slap. Reflective bow graphics provide an added safety feature. Extra large bow compartment makes storage easy and accessible.
Guardian Retractable Transducer Shield
Retractable Shield protects transducer on impact and retracts away for transport. Built-in transducer mount allows side scanning for optimal fishfinder performance. Pre-installed thru-hull cable plugs allow quick, no-drill, no-glue fishfinder installation.
The Kick-Up Rudder locks in to place when you need it and retracts on impact. A large carrying handle makes transport a breeze while providing the perfect mount for your GoPro. The stern is also Power-Pole ready with pre-drilled inserts.
2019 Hobie Outback: The Good
The first surprise with the new Outback was the space in the cockpit. From all the videos I had seen and comments from several others, there was a lot of concern it would be cramped. It wasn’t cramped at all. I had plenty of room to get into the rectangle hatch in front of the seat and space on both sides. For reference, I’m 6’2″ and about 200 pounds. It also helps that the new Vantage CTW seat has a slight recline option to modify the angle you’re sitting and giving you a couple of more inches if you really needed it. I didn’t need it.
The dual control rudder was really nice and while both handles are linked, they are independent so if you lose one side to a cable snap, you don’t loose rudder control in both. An ambidextrous steering option is a nice touch and great for peace of mind if offshore.
The 2019 Outback has lots of cool features like that. The preinstalled electronics ports on both sides, the tackle box leash system with the t-head that fits in the H-Rail, the predrilled slots for the Micro PowerPole, rear carry handle, bilateral under seat carry handles and lots of the others already mentioned will reduce the amount of prep you have to do to rig the Outback.
How Does the New Outback Perform?
The Mirage180 Drive performed as I expected and cut through the wind well. With gusts over 20mph, this was a perfect day to test kayak performance on the water. The bow is pretty low profile so water can come over it in the heavy chop but the boat drains very quickly. A quick note on that, the water isn’t a lot but if you absolutely need a dry kayak, the design may not allow for that.
While we’re on the low profile design, we should mention how little the wind affects the 2019 Outback compared to previous models. It’s considerably better.
The turning radius of the new rudder was markedly better than the original rudder and the option to stow it with the cable system like the Pro Angler utilizes was the right move by Hobie.
The 2019 Hobie Outback is a much better paddling kayak than before as well. When it gets up to speed it holds a line well, has a decent holeshot to get there, and most surprisingly turned 90 degrees with one deep paddle stroke into the wind. I was completely caught off guard by how well it paddled into, against, and crossing the wind.
Many people have also been curious about the stability and ability of many people to stand in the Outback. In 20mph crosswinds, I was able to stand up and paddle the Outback with good response and very little side to side rock. The width and hull design are vastly improved over former models.
Outback Room for Improvement
Up front when you decide to stow the rudder, you pull the rudder cable with a t-handle and it locks it in the stowed position. In doing so the pull cord just kind of lays there. If you wanted to you could attach the handle to the too tether on the side but I’d really like to see the rudder cord handle incorporate a similar head to the tackle box tethers which fit inside the H-Rail. That would keep it up and out of the way without having to occupy the tool tether which I’d fully intend to use for pliers or fish grips.
When standing, the seat back in the wind will flop down on you. That won’t be good if you have to sit quickly and don’t look. It could potentially bend the seat frame and put undue stress on the hinges. I’d love to see a bungee mechanism to hold the seat open when you want it open and could keep it closed if you were transporting with the seat in the kayak. It could be a fairly easy DIY fix but some bungee and a couple of grabs could work well and not cause any redesign woes.
I would love to see a good horizontal rod storage solution. If a couple of tube inserts could be worked into the sides or even a top stow option with rod tip protectors with rod butt cradles on the side of the seat I think a lot of people might abandon the ProAngler 12 altogether.
Final Thoughts on the 2019 Hobie Outback
I’ve owned Outbacks and other pedal kayaks and quite frankly I don’t know that I have ever seen a better combination of pedal and paddle power. The 2019 Hobie Outback is chocked full of features, performance, and design. It has now moved to the front of the list for my favorite pedal kayak of all time.