Pedal Boat vs. Paddle Boat (Differences, Similarities, Prices, & More)

Pedal boats and paddle boats bring me back to childhood memories at the cottage. It was so much fun deciding which watercraft to take out each day, and even more, fun when I got to take the boat out for an adventure. As I was a child at the time, our choices were the pedal boat vs. paddle boat, as these watercraft were much safer than the motorized boats, and we could take these boats out on our own.

The main difference between a pedal boat and a paddle boat is that a paddle boat requires oars (paddles) to move and steer the watercraft, while a pedal boat uses pedals and levers to move and steer. Both are human propelled, but the pedal boat uses leg power, and a paddle boat uses arms and upper body.

These boats’ propulsion types have differences, similarities, and more. So today, let’s look at the pedal boat vs. the paddle boat to see which one might be best for you and your family. 

Pedal Boat VS.Paddle Boat

The Pedal Boat 

What Is A Pedal Boat?

The pedal boat is a fun recreational watercraft you can purchase or rent. The pedal boat typically has two to four seats for family fun out on the water! Pedal boats are not motorized and do not require fuel for them to move. The pedal boat consists of pedals and levers to get it going. 

The pedal boat is not ideal for long adventures on the water and not for use in moving water or white water(rapids).

The pedal boat is great for lazy afternoons, including fishing, reading, having a light snack, and maybe even a short nap. 

Steering A Pedal Boat

The pedal boat requires manual steering of the watercraft. In my experience with pedal boats, I found that steering was easy. You must pedal and move the lever(handle) left, right or keep straight. 

Steering is easy and does not require a lot of effort. Therefore, this vessel is ideal for people new to boating and doesn’t require expert boating skills to use and enjoy. Similarly, it’s suitable for those who just want a relaxing time out on the water. 

Check out this pedal boat in action.

Cost Of A Pedal Boat 

The costs of a pedal boat vary due to the size and quality of the vessel. Typical two-seaters start at about $900 and can run upwards of $7000 or more depending on the model. You can even order pedal boats shaped like swans and other things but expect to pay a higher price for the more elaborate designs. (source)

How Much Weight Can A Pedal Boat Carry?

Typical pedal boats are designed for two passengers. The lower-end pedal boats can carry up to 500 pounds. The more expensive pedal boats can carry up to 1000 pounds and more (depending on the model). The carry weight max is up to you as you may have yourself and another person on board. (source)

If you have a family and require more space, it would be best to get a pedal boat that can carry up to 1000 pounds. Always confirm the maximum load before traversing onto the water.

The Paddle Boat 

What Is A Paddle Boat?

The paddle boat is any watercraft that requires oars or paddles to propel the vessel forward. That said, paddle boats are boats such as kayaks, canoes, and, more traditionally, row boats. These vessels require you to use your upper body strength, including your arms, to propel the boat.

Some people may not like a paddle boat since you need to use upper body strength. However, some people thrive on this sort of vessel. (source)

Steering A Paddle Boat

To steer your paddle boat, you must use oars or a paddle. The steering on this type of watercraft requires both strength and skill. The paddleboat is more challenging to steer than the pedal boat.

You will need to use your arm and upper body strength, and you should be experienced and skilled with this type of steering. If there are two people in the watercraft, you must coordinate your paddling for the boat to move where you want it to go.

Kayak or canoe: Which is the best paddle boat?

The Costs Of A Paddle Boat

Paddle boats are generally less expensive than pedal boats. However, it depends on the type, size, material, and more. 

You will find paddle boats come in price ranges of $300 for a small inflatable paddle boat to $4000+ for something like a kevlar canoe. Again, depending on size, material, and quality, you may find something like a handmade cedar row boat for as much as $10,000 or more, while an aluminum row boat or canoe can be found for around $700-$1000 and up. 

How Many People Can Use A Paddle Boat?

The number of users of a paddle boat is determined by the size and weight capacity of the watercraft. For example, a single-seater kayak is technically a paddle boat and can only sit one person. However, row boats and canoes can come in larger sizes, allowing multiple passengers to enjoy the watercraft.

The Main Differences Between A Pedal Boat And A Paddle Boat 

We have taken a look at what the pedal and paddleboat consist of. Now let’s look at the table below to see the main differences between the two. 

Pedal BoatPaddle Boat
Propelled by pedal and leverPropelled by oars or paddles
Easy to maneuver, relatively slow.More difficult to maneuver, but faster speeds are generally possible.
Costs between $900-$5000+Rowboats cost between $1,500 – $5,000+. Canoes cost between $500 -$4000+. Kayaks cost between $200 – $4000+
Suitable to still and calm water.Depending on the type.
Can typically carry 500-1000 poundsDepending on the type.
No skill is required.Paddling skills are required.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can A Pedal Boat Tip Over?

Can a pedal boat tip over? Yes, yes, it can. If your pedal boat does not receive the proper maintenance it needs and water collects in the hull, it can cause your vessel to tip over. The best tip you can get is to make sure you take care of your pedal boat and give it all the necessary maintenance. Doing this may just save a life. 

Is Paddle Boating Good Exercise?

Paddle boating is indeed good exercise. The paddleboat requires oars to propel, so you need to use your arms and upper body strength to get this boat to go. Depending on your speed and other factors, you can burn around 330-600+ calories an hour. Paddle boating is also an excellent way to build your arm muscles!

How Do You Get Into A Paddle Boat?

First and foremost, you should always have a lifejacket when you enter a watercraft of any kind. To get into a paddleboat, you must lower a leg into the boat and step on the seat. Bring in your next leg; voila, you are in the watercraft. 

Paddle boats, such as kayaks and canoes, are not as stable as pedal boats. Therefore, you’ll need to be more careful when getting in to avoid them tipping over or falling into the water.
How to row a boat.

Pedal Boat VS. Paddle Boat – Summary

There are quite a few differences between the pedal boat and paddle boats. One requires you to use your legs to propel the boat, while the other requires oars and arm power to make the boat move. Examples of paddling boats are a canoe, kayak, and rowboat.

As for which one is better, that is up to you and what you need it for. The one that is best for you will be the one that fits your and your family’s needs. 


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