Perception Essence 17

Perception Essence 17 review

Back in 2012 I bought a Perception Essence 17 sea kayak in a shiny red color; here is a review a few years afterwards and after paddling for more than 1000 nautical miles with 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. In reality the boat when empty weather cocks a lot in winds close to force 4 but once get loaded for a long trip it performs great. If you however did the mistake to paddle it unloaded in katabatic winds, be ready for an excitement paddling!

It’s a high volume boat and was for a long time the only boat that I manage to accommodate a client who is 2 meters and 8 cm high!  Any paddler 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! I weight about 85kg and I’m 1.85cm and the boat is too big for me. I believe the ideal body type for the boat is when the paddler is above 1.88cm and more than 90+ kg and maybe up to 105kg.

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 it bends 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. Even storing the boat in my warehouse (in shade) for a week it makes the hull to bend.

The seat is excellent and the thigh braces are easily adjustable but much less connection that the Valley boats (Etain for example).

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. It is not a fast kayak when unloaded but performs decent once it is loaded. For long expeditions in rough sea you will notice the flexibility from the plastic more than other boats.

It has also a compass recess and solid bow & stern bungee deck rigging while the hatches are dry. After several years I had to repair them only once (re-glue the bulkhead). The only part in the boat that keeps breaking is the skeg control. It is a small plastic part which is difficult to operate (with gloves even more) and breaks very easy. I had twice to replace the part so be sure you got one spare if you are using the boat on a long kayaking expedition.

Last but not least, shorter paddlers will find it difficult to do rescues with that boat as it seats quiet high and needs a little bit of practise.

If I had to buy again a high volume boat today (2017) it wouldn’t be the Essence. The Valley Etain 17-7 is by far better in everything, from quality to performance. The Etain is and will be my first choice on plastic expedition boat for tall paddlers. Another option if you are more than 100kg or near by is the P&H Scorpio HV as that is by far more stable than the Essence. I had to put a friend who is 110kg in Essence to realise that he had serious stability issues while on Scorpio he was fine. In any case if you are more than 100kg try to test the boat first.

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