Perception Essence 17 review

I bought in the first days of 2012 a Perception Essence 17 sea kayak in a shiny red color. In this article I will try to provide as much information as possible about the pros and cons of it

The lenght of the Perception essence 17 is 5 meters and 18cm while its width at 58cm.
It has a strong V on the hull, but with a softer, shallower section under the cockpit. The idea behind this is that the boat tracks well, even with the skeg up and still has great initial and secondary stability. On the other hand is not so playful like most of the V hull kayaks. It weathercocks minimal especially when is fully loaded.

It's a very big boat with a roomy cockpit and plenty of room for larger paddlers. Any paddler up to 2m+ with foot size 12+ can fit easily in this kayak. If it happens to have the dead legs syndrome with other kayaks then this one will sort out all of your problems!

Its single skin plastic construction, around 28kg without a rudder. Quiet heavy considering it is a single layer plastic while the Capella from Venture kayaks is at 24kg. There is a major problem when paddling this kayak in warm weather. The hull due to be very flexible plastic it change its shape even with minimal pressure from straps on the roof rack. If you leave in warm weather country try to buy something made with 3 layer construction.

The seat is excellent (far better than anything I've tried so far) and the thigh braces are easily adjustable. I can't think of a better seat, it is really superb especially with the leg liffters. Bare in mind that I've tried up to today (02/12/2012) more than 30 different sea kayaks.

Three storage compartments have plenty of room for gear for large expeditions. Remember that this is a high volume kayak. The boat carries a retractable skeg, and is rudder-ready with everything required except the rudder. This is a very easy boat to paddle, a solid tracker, even with the skeg up, and weathercocks minimally. It is however very slow, more slow than anything I've tried in its dimensions and is also affected a lot by the wind is not paddled in expedition (fully loaded).

It has also a compass recess and solid bow & stern bungee deck rigging.

It's not the easier kayak to roll due to high back but a great kayak to perform rescue techniques. If you are less than 180cm with shoe size less than 9 I wouldn't recommend this kayak as it is a high volume and is affected by the wind more than other kayaks. Also when loaded it performs much better. If you want a kayak just for day trips I think it will be better to choose a different one with lower volume.

A common problem when transporting this kayak is that the hull due to tight pressure change on the places that is tight on the roof rack. This is why it is very important to use either j-bars or any other kayak rack that leaves the hull free. Be aware this as it is a pain to bring back the hull to its original state.

Perception Essence 17 specs:

Exolar hyper-resin polyethylene plastic
Zone EXP seating system
Height adjustable leg support
Adjustable padded thighbraces
Ergonomically designed backband
Adjustable footpegs
TruTrak System (TTS) drop skeg (also rudder-ready)
10" Dual Density bow hatch
8" day hatch
Oval Dual Density stern hatch
Bow, midship, & stern sealed bulkheads
Perimeter reflective safety line
Bow & stern bungee deck rigging
Compass recess
Retractable Soft Touch carry handles

Conclusion:
Overall a very good kayak. Tracks very well, loads of storage space and cockpit fittings easily adjusted. Only black mark from the construction point of view is that the leg lifters under seat are extremely flimsy, set them as required then glue in a foam block to prevent constant fiddling every time you get out of boat. All in all a very good kayak especially for those paddlers with the "dead legs syndrome". Be aware that is much slower than most of the "normal" volume kayaks.

After buying the Essence I had the chance to paddle many kayaks including some high volumes and find most of them better than Essence in terms of speed. Quality of Essence is very good, classic British.

If Perception manage to build an essence at 54cm with same quality and space then that will be a really good chooise!

The Perception Essence 17 is very close to Wilderness Tempest in terms of cockpit. Of course the Tempest is a much much faster kayak and more playful.

There are far better options for high volume kayaks (with raised knee space) like the Valley Etain and North shore Atlantic. Suprisely the P&H Scorpio has lots of storage but less comfortable cockpit than Essence.

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