The Award Winning Old Town Predator PDL
by Kerry Peeler
The much anticipated and award winning product form Old Town is here, the Predator PDL. Winning at the 2016 ICast show just fueled the fire for the newest contender in the pedal market. This kayak really shows that its’ designers spent over three years to put the entire package together. The Predator PDL comes in at 13’2” long, 36” wide, 96lb hull/117lb w/seat and drive, and a 500lb weight capacity.
Upon arrival you could tell that a lot of thought was put into this kayak. The kayak is packaged very well for freight shipping. Old Town wraps the kayak in bubble wrap and plastic bags along with extra packaging around the drive and rudder.
They utilize special shaped/sized cardboard inserts and a 2x4 screwed into one of the seat track threaded inserts to secure it for transport. After removal Old Town provides the screws to be installed into the open holes to secure the seat tracks. This is very nice and protects the drive nicely.
You will also need to mount the PDL Unit to the Thwart Bar. Remove the bar from the kayak and insert it into the hole on the drive.
Make sure that the tightening bolts are loose and pulled back. If not the bar will hit the clamp that tightens to the bar. Once you have the bar through the holes, place the drive on the kayak and center the bar. Now all you need to do is tighten the two large knobs to secure the thwart bar to the PDL Drive.
Old Town continued their packaging on the rudder. They have created a cardboard box and foam block system to fully encase the rudder to protect from any shipping damage. All of the PDL’s we received were intact with no damage. Nice to see the company put the effort into ensuring the product reached the customer in the best shape possible.
This new addition to the Predator family has some new features along with carry overs from its’ kin. The main addition is the PDL Drive unit. This pedal system incorporates many aspect that make it a truly great pedal system. The PDL Drive features a 10.3:1 gear ratio matched to a proprietary weedless prop to achieve an efficient pedal system that provides very good torque and speed. The PDL has a smooth feel in forward and reverse and contributes to excellent kayak control. Two unique features that this Drive unit has is a storage compartment and that it will float. The storage area is larger enough for phones, cameras, food, fishing tackle, and whatever else you can think of to fit through the 6” round hatch. The combination of the storage compartment and a float mounted to the drive will keep it afloat should it become detached form the kayak and in the water. The operation of the drive is easy. Incorporated into the hull is a docking station for when the drive unit is not in use. The PDL Drive can be deployed/stowed easily to the docking position in seconds to help avoid obstacles or when beaching. Complete with a carry handle and padded pedals, the PDL Drive unit has it all.
With a great propulsion system in place the kayak definitely needs to have some controls. The Predator PDL handles this with a deployable rudder and fixed steering position. From the seated position, you can reach down with your right hand and grab a large sturdy handle that with a 180 degree rotation deploys and stows the rudder.
This system is very solid and smooth. Once the rudder is in the water you will need to control it. On the left side of the kayak is a fixed mounted steering control handle. This handle also operates very smooth, turning this kayak with ease.
Moving on to the kayak itself there are many points of interest. Starting at the bow, you have the massive molded handle to help move this kayak around. With its’ unique V shape, it allows you to grip it with one or two hands and is fairly comfortable. Past the handle you have the large Click and Seal hatch. The Hatch is tight fitting and the click system is easy to operate. Once open, you will have lots of in hull storage room and access to the included battery bag. It is mounted to the inside of the top deck and is out of the way, very convenient. Still on the front of the kayak we have two mounting locations for fishfinders with room under these removable plates to coil up your wires for a clean install. In between the two is a large center opening that leads to the transducer mounting location on the bottom of the hull. This location will fit Hummingbird transducers and some other manufacturers depending on size.
The middle section of the PDL has two piece carry handles mounted at a slight angle with a recessed area to accommodate your hand. The handles do provide a good one handed carrying position. Just behind these are the Steering control, left side, and the Rudder Control, right side. There are two areas to secure a paddle, both on the left side. One is next to the seat in a molded section and secured with a bungee and the other is a little lower on the side by way of a newly designed paddle clip with a rubber pull. The Element Seating System provides you with a forward and aft adjustable seat on a sliding track with pull and release knobs. This allows for you to get the right position for pedaling or slide the seat all the way back and off to maximize your floor space for stand up fishing.
You will feel plenty secure doing this due to the Slip Resistant Exo-Ridge floor. The Exo-Ridge provides good traction and allow for excellent water drainage. In front of the seat on either side of the gunnels you have a tackle storage location. This is great for small tackle boxes, soft tackle packs, tools, etc… Just above these on both sides are removable mounting plates, 16 inches long. These are in a good position for placing any type of accessory, especially rod holders. Under the seat there is room for storing a tackle box or two, layered clothing and maybe a dry bag.
Just behind this the Predator has a small Click Seal hatch. This gives you access inside the hull and could be a spot to put non-essential items.
The Predator PDL comes with a large, 24”x17”, tankwell utilizing the Exo Ridge floor and a bungee lashing system. Plenty of room for a crate or baittank with a little extra room beyond that. It comes with two flush mount rod holders and two, 12”, removable mounting plates. Again, great for placing any type of accessory, especially rod holders. At the stern of the kayak Old Town again went with a molded in handle design. This one is a little trickier with the rudder right there, but you can get a two handed grip on this one works good.
Now that the kayak is unpacked and looked over it is time for us to put it in the water. I pushed off the beach and stepped into the Predator PDL like I was walking on water. This kayak is the most stable kayak that I have ever been in. I knew right then that the PDL is going to be a hit. Deep enough to deploy the PDL Drive unit, one quick lift and drop and it was in the water. Locking the drive in place and deploying the rudder, I was off. The PDL has lots of torque and was easy to pedal. With little effort, the PDL was set into a nice pace across the water. The combination of the gear ratio and the propeller makes for a very responsive propulsion forward and reverse with great speed. I found myself using the PDL Drive Storage compartment quite a bit for my phone, nice feature. The steering is excellent and has this larger kayak feeling quite nimble. The Element Seating System works really well and the seat itself is very comfortable with a tackle box storage compartment built in to boot. This combined with the gunnel side storage areas gave me quick access to my gear. I did note that the side gunnel areas were not large enough to fit a Plano 3600 size tackle box. Rod storage behind the seat in the flush mounts was easily accessible from the seated position. I was able to stand up and move around the footwell area with ease thanks to the Exo Ridge floors slip resistant surface. This pedaling kayak can be pedaled from the seated position or while standing by hand.
The Old Town Predator PDL is deserving of its’ awards and will be a real contender in the pedal drive market. This kayak over three years in the making puts it together in a package that will fit every angler. If you are in the market for a kayak you owe it to yourself to check out the Predator PDL!