Carolina / Eclipse airalite Kayaks

Would appreciate learning reactions of paddlers who have used Perception’s new 17.0 Eclipse airalite and Carolina 14.5 airalite kayaks. Thank you.


I got a Carolina plastic
because they told me the Airalite was very tippy. I’ve heard that weathercocking is also a problem with those. I’ve got no experiance in them, but this is what the salesman told me. Plastic is heavier, it’s true, but mine doesn’t weathercock noticeably and it’s very stable. Just depends on your skill.

Locate a demo day
so you are sure before you buy. Just returned from REI Demo Day in Sacto and enjoyed the Airalite Perception Eclipse 17 prototype but they said it was basically an Eclipse) because it is so smooth and responsive in the water, compared to the rotomolded plastics. May want to consider how you are going to store it as heat may accelerate the brittleness that may occur over time. Too bad that DancingMouse was told it was tippy, as I was surprised at how stable I found it realizing my light weight, inexperience in the sport, and the length of it.

Carolina Airalite
I’m still a newbie but have paddled both the Carolina Airalite and the thermoplastic version and personally found the airalite much less tippy.

I would have bought it if not for the advice of a few here about looking at a used fiberglass or kevlar boat. I ended up buying a one year old QCC 400X Kevlar. It’s in new condition and is much more boat than the Carolina. And I paid LESS than I was going to pay for the Carolina.

If you like Airalite
I’d also try Eddyline boats in Carbonlite. It apperas to be the same or similar material. I’d also look at boats by Epic and Hurricane, which are lighter and reasonably priced.

Big boats
If you are a big person looking for a big boat to be used in big water I’d strongly suggest holding off until more feedback comes back. If you HAVE to have the boat now for the above reasons I’d get rotomolded just because of the unknowns on whether they’ve got the seam sealing technology down. Eddyline has more experience with this and I just saw a new Sonoma13 with a split deck/hull seam. Besides in the big boats the weight savings isn’t that significant and a big boat with a big person in big waves will get a LOT more stress than a smaller yak like the Sonoma13.

The Eclipse/Carolina have similar hull shapes but different dimensions,a slight chine just below the waterline. This is a different hull shape than the original Eclipse and is better for the targe purchaser,the beginning big boat buyer, it is a nice paddling hull. The Eclipse model has a wider stability curve,it’s easier to lean to the edge whereas the rm Eclipse will go over sooner. The aerolite Eclipse and Carolina feel more efficient in the water and the stern swinging aspect of the aerolite Eclipse is nicer than the rotomolded Eclipse,but it feels a bit bigger on the water,like it’s sitting high with the fuller shape to the ends. The old Eclipse would track well but the stern would swing out easily,the aerolite one is more easily corrected but slides sideways more easily,that’s the high in the water feeling. A beginner would want to use the rudder,except the rudder doesn’t appear to go very deep in the water.

The coaming/seat is kind of wobbly, the hatch covers dislodge easily which really isn’t ok in my book for a “sea kayak” but may not matter if your use is flat water. Perception still uses electical cable clips for the rudder deployement lines and they are SHARP like a cheese grater. I’d replace them with a looped piece of webbing.

They’re worth trying out,whether they are for you is up to you. The fact that more Carolinas than Avatars are sold is probably the reason the Carolina is offered in thermoplastic but the Avatar would be a better application of the material.