After taking my wife’s Passport 12 on the water a few times, I’m ready to give you my honest opinion.
In this Hobie Mirage Passport 12 review, I’ll tell you what’s good about this cheap pedal kayak, and where they’ve cut costs.
[Spoiler Alert: The Passport 12 is great for speed, comfort, and stability while sitting. You can’t stand on it, and it has fewer features than the expensive Hobie Outback. For anglers on a budget, the Passport 12 is a great first pedal kayak, probably the best one if you don’t need to stand]
Things to Consider Before Buying Your First Pedal Kayak
If you’ve never owned a pedal kayak before, you’ll see that it makes a world of difference.
However, not all kayaks are created equal, and some are made for speed while others focus on stability.
In this regard, the Hobie Mirage Passport 12 is a fast kayak but you can’t stand on it. I know this may be a deal-breaker for some, so it’s important to keep that in mind.
Then, you have to think about what kind of water you plan to go fishing on. This particular kayak is good for calm waters, but not for class 3 rivers.
Finally, please keep your kayak out of the sun when not in use. Otherwise, UV rays may warp the hull over time.
- Length: 12 ft
- Width: 34 in
- Weight: 83 lb fully rigged
- Load Capacity: 400 lb
Like most fishing kayaks, the Hobie Mirage Passport 12 is made of polyethylene.
As such, the hull is virtually indestructible. It will be able to withstand collisions, submerged tree branches, rocks, and just about anything.
However, the Mirage Passport 12 being one of the cheapest Hobie kayaks means it’s thermoformed instead of rotomolded.
This makes it slightly less durable, but honestly, there’s not much difference except in terms of cost.
As expected from a Hobie, the Passport 12 is a very fast pedal kayak.
Of course, being only 12 feet long it won’t be nearly as fast as the REVO 16, but it’s still faster than most pedal kayaks of the same size.
I can get a comfortable cruising speed of 3.7 mph, which is slightly faster than on my Old Town Sportsman 120.
By the way, I would recommend upgrading to the 180 drive with turbo fins so that you can go faster and have the reverse feature.
While the Hobie Passport 12 isn’t as maneuverable as the Compass or Outback, I still found it very easy to steer.
The rudder is handle-controlled, and it works actually much better than I would have thought.
I wouldn’t take it on narrow rivers, but for calm lakes you will be able to turn fast enough to avoid any obstacles.
Being $2K cheaper than the Mirage Outback, Hobie had to cut costs somewhere.
And unfortunately, this means the seat on the Passport 12 isn’t as comfortable as on the Mirage Outback.
It’s still quick-drying and padded, but the pedaling position is quite low and the seat can’t be adjusted so tall guys will hate it.
For me at 6 ft tall, I find the seat comfortable enough to fish all day, but I can still feel the difference.
Also, the seat can’t be adjusted forward and back, but luckily you can put the pedals closer or farther away to get a comfortable pedaling position.
Fortunately, the seatback can be adjusted while on the water with the straps on both sides, which is pretty standard but hey, it’s something.
Stability and Tracking
At such a small price (for Hobie at least), the Hobie Mirage Passport 12 is still a stable kayak.
Much more versatile than the Hobie Passport 10.5, you’ll be able to take this one in the waves and it won’t feel unstable.
Unfortunately, you can’t really stand and cast in this kayak, unlike with the Sportsman 120 which only costs a few extra hundreds.
Regarding tracking, I must say I was quite impressed.
I expected to be disappointed, but the rudder is actually pretty good considering the price. It’s actually made of fiberglass (instead of plastic), so it makes this kayak track really well even in the wind.
My only quibble is that the rudder can’t be deployed once you’re on the water, you have to do it by hand when you launch the kayak.
We’ve talked about it before, the Hobie Mirage Passport 12’s hull is virtually indestructible.
Regarding the pedal drive (which is always the most fragile part), you’re covered by Hobie’s 2-year warranty.
This isn’t as good as Old Town’s 5-year warranty, but generally Hobie pedal drives don’t have any manufacturing issues.
Please keep in mind that this warranty only covers manufacturing defects, and not misuse.
In other words, if you break the fins because you go in skinny water or you hit a rock… well, you’ll have to buy a new pedal drive.
In this regard, I find Old Town pedal kayaks to be much more durable because the pedal drive always has a safety feature that makes it kick off instead of breaking in case you hit something.
However, if you upgrade to the 180 kick-up fins, then the Hobie pedal drive will last you a long time.
Pedal kayaks are always heavy, but the Hobie Mirage Passport 12 is in the lower end in terms of weight.
At 85 lb, unless you’re a skinny guy or woman, you should be able to load it onto a SUV, even though it won’t be fun.
Dragging it to and from the water is easy thanks to the replaceable skid plate, but if I were you I’d get a kayak cart or Boonedox landing gear.
For carrying, it has handles on the bow and stern, as well as side handles for easy loading/unloading.
Storage Space and Accessories
First of all, the Hobie Mirage Passport 12 has a huge rear tankwell storage space where you can fit a milk crate or black pack, plus a medium-sized cooler.
At the front, there is no dry hatch but another medium tankwell storage area that could fit another cooler.
On the deck in front of the seat, you have a small dry hatch to keep your valuables and some gear, but unfortunately, it’s not watertight.
The pedal drive is fully removable and very easy to set up and remove. While removable pedal drives are common on high-end fishing kayaks, some cheap pedal kayaks don’t have a removable drive, like the Pelican Catch Hydryve for instance.
By the way, in case you’re not familiar with Hobie pedal drives − it’s actually “push” pedals instead of bicycle-like pedals (on Old Town kayaks). Depending on your build, you might like them better or less.
Even though the Hobie Passport 12 is one of the cheapest Hobie kayaks, it still has good fishability.
You get gear tracks on each side so you can mount your fish finder, camera, extra rod holders, a cup holder… However, there’s no gear track at the back.
As expected, you get a universal transducer mount as well as 2 flush-mounted rod holders.
You also have a bungee paddle holder which does the job, although I admit I prefer the “paddle clip” system.
As usual on fishing kayaks, it has EVA foam deck padding to dampen the noise when you put objects in the cockpit so you don’t scare the fish.
Apart from that, you get some bungee on the sides to keep some tackle boxes, as well as small net pockets for loose lures and soft plastics.
Unfortunately, the Hobie Mirage Passport 12 doesn’t have the reverse feature unless you upgrade to the 180 drive. This may be a deal-breaker for some people.
Who is the Hobie Mirage Passport 12 Suited For?
I think you’ve understood by now − the Passport 12 is a cheap pedal kayak that’s still well-built and high-quality.
For recreational anglers, the Passport 12 will be great compared to a paddle kayak, and you can always upgrade later down the road.
I wouldn’t recommend it for tournaments, where the Old Town Autopilot or Hobie PA 14 would perform much better.
But for fishing in calm lakes and even in mild waves, the Passport 12 is really good for the price.
Compared to the Passport 10.5, the Passport 12 is much more versatile as you can take it on open water with confidence because it’s more stable with a much higher weight capacity.
Hobie Mirage Compass
IMHO the Compass is very expensive for not much more.
It’s almost as expensive as the Outback, but apart from the lighter weight, it has almost no advantage over the Passport 12.
For skinny people, it’s lighter so it will be easier to load on top of an SUV:
In any other case, I don’t know why you’d choose to pay so much more for pretty much the same thing.
Read our full Hobie Mirage Compass review.
Hobie Mirage Outback
Now we’re talking.
Around $2K more expensive than the Mirage Passport 12, the Outback does come with a lot more bells and whistles.
You get reverse pedaling which is very handy when you need to stop on a dime or to stay in place.
You also get the great guardian system that gives you more mounting options, as well as a medium dry hatch in the front.
It also has some useful details like the side storage pockets that don’t seem to matter but I actually found myself missing them on the Passport 12.
Dual steering makes the Outback amazingly maneuverable, which would make it better for narrow rivers.
Overall, the Outback is simply superior in every aspect, but it does come at a steep price point.
Read our full Hobie Mirage Outback Review
Old Town Sportsman 120 PDL
If you’ve been reading my reviews, you know I’m a big fan of the Sportsman 120 PDL.
It’s slightly more expensive than the Passport 12, but you get a ton of extra features.
First of all, you get the reverse feature, which personally I can’t do without.
Then, you get an incredibly comfortable seat which is among the best in its class (not as good as a Bonafide seat, but pretty close).
But perhaps more importantly, the Sportsman 120 is extremely stable. Even big guys up to 300 lb can stand and cast without feeling tippy.
I have to be honest though − you will lose some speed because of the increased stability. But for my personal use, it’s totally worth it.
Read our full Sportsman PDL 120 review.
Wrapping It Up
To sum it up, the Hobie Mirage Passport 12 is a good pedal kayak for recreational fishing.
It will cost you a lot less than a Hobie Outback, but it’s still pretty fast and stable, with good fishability.
For calm lakes and rivers, you’ll have much more fun with a pedal kayak than with a traditional kayak.
However, please note that Hobie kayaks are very popular, and therefore they’re often out of stock.
By the time you read this article, it might already be unavailable. If so, you’ll have to wait until next year to get one…