Perception Kayak Buyers Guide

Perception Kayaks is one of the most highly esteemed brands in the kayaking world. For over 40 years Perception has been designing kayaks suitable for all skill levels, ages, and activity levels.

They produce almost every type of kayak you can get, from sit-in to sit-on-top, to tandem, and much more. 

Though Perception is mainly known for designing easy-to-use kayaks that would be perfect for beginners, many experts swear by this brand due to the added features and details that also make them a great choice for a higher skill level. 

With all this in mind, you may be wondering which of their many kayaks will be the right one for you.

To help you out we’ve made this handy list of the best Perception kayaks on the market right now and added more information in the buyers guide further below.

To make it easier we’ve put the kayaks into categories, so scroll down to begin your kayaking journey.  


Sit-Inside Kayaks

The main features of sit-insides are that they’re lightweight, sit lower in the water, often provide more storage space, and offer a warmer, drier ride than other types of kayak

A wonderful kayak for fishing, the large Sound 10.5 kayak comes with two molded-in fishing rod holders and a large rear open storage area for easy access to your fishing gear or anything else you bring out on the water. 

If you’re not that interested in fishing this still makes a great recreational kayak. 

Working best on calm waters like slow-moving rivers, lakes, and ponds, the Sound 10.5 features a tri-keel hull, which makes the kayak incredibly stable, ensuring you won’t fall or tip over while reeling in your catch.

The tri-hull also makes the steering very smooth and keeps the tracking straight.

While this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to build up speed or turn quickly on the water, the design of the kayak makes sure you have a calm and comfortable ride. 

Speaking of comfort, if you wanted to spend all day fishing on the lake the Sound 10.5 has extra features that make sure you won’t be sore when back on dry land.

The Kayak comes with an extra cushy ergonomic Zone Seat with an adjustable backrest for optimal support, while the quick-adjust footrests accommodate paddlers of all sizes and prevent your legs from aching at the end of the day. 

The large size and sit-in design of the Sound 10.5, which comes in at just over 10-foot-5 protects it from the elements, while its light weight of only 46lbs makes it easy to transport and carry.

Transporting the kayak is made easier by the front and rear molded-in handles to carry the kayak and also can be used to lock it up outside when you’re not using it.

For a sit-in fishing or recreational kayak, this is one of the best you can find on the market right now. 


  • Lightweight design - makes it super easy to carry and get on the water
  • Very stable - the tri-keel hull provides solid stability, ensuring you don’t have an accident in the water


  • No dry storage space - Both the large rear storage area and the front molded-in dashboard are open to the elements, so if you have things you’d like to keep dry maybe check the weather before you head out to make sure it won’t rain. 


This touring kayak is fast, fun, and versatile. Perfect for lakes, ponds, and calm coastal waters, the Conduit offers the perfect balance of speed and fun for beginners and intermediates.

The Conduit has been designed with stability in mind, so first-time paddlers can focus on learning the skills of kayaking, and not worry about falling in the water.

This stability comes from the built-in buoyancy in the hull, as well as the lightweight design of the kayak. 

Like all Perception kayaks, the Conduit is also incredibly durable thanks to it being made from high-density polyethylene.

This protects against any impacts, as well as UV rays and abrasion resistance.

On top of this, the ocean and saltwater finish protects against the sea elements, ensuring that the kayak is protected for years to come. 

While this is more of a beginner’s kayak, due to its straight tracking and ability to build and maintain speed quickly, the Conduit is also very suitable for those with a higher skill level. 

The Conduit also offers a large amount of dry storage space so you can take a large amount of gear out on the water with you.

At the rear of the kayak is a large dry storage area with a watertight cover, while at the front there’s an extra smaller storage space that also has a watertight cover, ensuring all your gear is kept dry on your travels. 

The Conduit also has features to keep you comfortable on long trips out on the water.

The spacious cockpit provides room for paddlers of any height, and the inside is padded to provide extra protection for your legs. 

The ergonomic Zone Seat that features on many Perception kayaks adds another padded layer of comfort, and a fully adjustable backrest offers fine-tuned support for your body. 

A great kayak for beginners who want to build up their skills, as well as more experienced paddlers who want a fast smooth ride, this is one of the best sit-in kayaks you can buy. 


  • High maneuverability and speed - Because of its length (13ft) and the narrow design of the bow and stern, the Conduit can cut through the water very quickly while also being easy to steer and turn at speed
  • Able to hold a lot of weight - thanks to the size of the kayak, the Conduit can carry up to 295lbs, a huge amount compared to other kayaks.


  • Tracking issues in winds - some paddlers have said that the Conduit doesn’t perform as well in high winds, so the weather conditions should be considered before you head out onto the water


Sit-On-Top Kayaks

Sit-on-top kayaks are easier to enter and exit than other types of kayaks, and they also sit higher in the water compared to sit-ins.

While this does leave them open to sun and splash, they’re self-bailing meaning that they won’t fill up with water. 

The Tribe 11.5 is Perceptions best selling sit-on-top kayak, and it’s easy to see why. Great for paddlers of all skill levels but especially beginners, the Tribe comes with many features that make kayaking a breeze. 

Perfect for lakes, ponds, and slow-moving rivers and streams, the scupper holes on the kayak provide drainage while also allowing it to stay very buoyant, providing peace of mind for first-time paddlers.

The very durable hull also provides an added level of safety as it’s made from the high-density polyethylene mix that most Perception kayaks use. 

Suitable for long-distance kayaking, the design of the hull and bow push the water away from you as you paddle, helping it to track well and build up speed.

The excellent tracking also provides a smooth gliding ride over the water, while also helping in the maneuverability of the kayak, making it quite easy to steer. 

If you’re going to be out on the water for a long time, you want to make sure the ride is comfortable. The Tribe provides many features to ensure you won’t be sore at the end of the day.

The integrated footrests mean that paddlers of any size can comfortably rest their legs, while the molded knee and thigh areas add extra comfort to the ride.

The Tribe also features an adjustable framed seatback with a padded seat pan to keep you stable while paddling. 

The Tribe has many storage spaces for you to take lots of gear out with you for long-distance trips.

At the front and rear are bungee cords tied downs to hold your bigger pieces of gear, while there’s also a small center storage hatch for smaller items like your keys and phone. 

The Tribe is an all-around good kayak for beginners and experienced paddlers alike and is a safe bet if you’re after a reliable sit-on-top kayak. 


  • Great tracking - this kayak can go build speed quickly, while also being very stable 
  • Good for all ages and skill levels - while suitable for beginners, the speed and maneuverability means they’re also a great choice for more experienced paddlers


  • Very long and heavy - being over 11ft long and weighing 52lbs, the Tribe may be difficult to carry and transport without help


Pedal kayaks

Pedal kayas allow you to effortless propel a kayak both forwards and backward while leaving both of your hands free.

This makes them some of the best kayaks for fishing. Perception kayaks use a lightweight, removable pedal drive system in all of their kayaks. 

For the serious fisher, you can’t do any better than the Pilot 12. 

This sit-on-top pedal kayak has been designed for the serious angler, and comes with many features specifically designed to make your fishing trip successful. 

Suitable for lakes, rivers, and calm coastal waters, you’re spoilt for choice on where you’d like to fish. 

The stability of the Pilot is top-notch thanks to its built-in buoyancy, so much so that you’re able to easily stand up in the kayak while it’s on the water, something that’s very difficult or even impossible in other kayaks.

If you prefer to fish sat down then even when the chair is in the highest position the kayak still won’t wobble, giving you added confidence while on the water. 

The seat design is one of the best features of this kayak.

Made from breathable mesh to keep you cool even on the hottest days, it’s fully adjustable in height, legroom, and reclining, ensuring that you have a comfortable ride no matter how long you’re out for. 

The seat is also removable, so if you’re going camping you can use it as an extra camping chair. 

One of the most important aspects of a fishing kayak is the storage capacity, and here the Pilot doesn’t disappoint.

At the front and rear of the kayak is plenty of space to put coolers, tackle boxes, and equipment, all of which can be held down with bungee cords.

You also have the option to buy accessories to increase your storage capacity if this isn’t enough. 

Despite all of these features, the Pilot is a very lightweight kayak compared to other pedal models, making it very easy to set off and steer. It also makes it easy to carry and transport compared to larger kayaks. 

For the serious angler, you really can’t do much better than the Pilot 12 kayak. 


  • Incredibly stable - this might be one of the most stable kayaks on the market right now
  • Very customizable - there are several extras you can buy to customize your fishing experience and make it better


  • Doesn’t come with a paddle - Some buyers are unaware of this. A paddle needs to be bought separately  


Kids Kayaks

The Hi Five kids kayak delivers 2-in-1 fun as it can be used as a sit-on-top kayak or stand up paddleboard. 

Suitable for kids aged 5-14 and good for lakes, ponds, and calm coastal waters, the Hi Five will provide hours of fun for your children. 

The Hi Five has many features that your kids will love, like the kids sized 2-piece paddle, which can be used either standing up or sitting down, and the swim up deck at the rear for your kids to climb on to.

There’s even enough extra space for a pet, so if you have a dog then they can join you on your family day out.  

At the front of the kayak is a kid-hitch and tether option to provide quick tethering to your own kayak for towing.

If you don’t have your own kayak then the Hi Five is light enough for you to pull to shore by hand. 

Your child’s safety on the water will obviously be your number priority and Perception has designed this kayak with that in mind.

Made from the same durable polyethylene material as the grown-up kayaks, the Hi Five is very stable and can keep itself and your child afloat.  

The Hi Five is a great and safe child’s kayak, and is a perfect way to introduce them to the world of kayaking in general. 


  • Very safe - you’ll have peace of mind knowing that this kayak won’t tip over or injure your child while they’re out on the water
  • Small and lightweight - as they’re made for children the Hi Five is only 6 feet long and weighs 21lbs, making it easy to transport and store


  • Drain plug not included - this means that a lot of water can catch on the surface of the kayak, though because of its small size and design it can be easily dried off with a towel at the end of the day

Perception Kayak Buying Guide

With so many kayaks to choose from, Perception really does offer something for everyone. But kayaks aren’t the only thing they sell.

Due to many of their kayaks being customizable, Perception offers a wide range of accessories for you to kit out with a new kayak, all of which are worth a look as they might make your experience even more enjoyable.

These include extra waterproof storage bags, kayak covers, kayak carts, and many more. When buying from Perception take a look at their accessory section to see if anything catches your eye. 

Perception Kayak Buyers Guide

There are other things that you need to look out for when buying a Perception kayak. 


The length of a kayak will have an impact on how it moves in the water. Longer narrower kayaks are often faster while shorter, wider ones are more stable.

Also the bigger the kayak the more storage it will likely have, and the more suited it will be to taller people. Always check the length before you buy. 

Seating Options 

A sit-on-top kayak ride will feel different from a sit-in ride, and so you have to consider the seating options before you buy.

Sit-ins are often more stable while sit-on-tops are more accessible and give you more room to move around. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Are Perception Kayaks Manufactured?

Every Perception Kayak is hand-molded and assembled in Greenville, South Carolina.