First Time Poster - Looking for Feedback


This is my first post and I am in the process of buying a new Kayak and would like some feedback on one in particular.

It’s the Perception Tribute 12 and the main reason I like it is that it’s narrow but stable (so I’ve heard…that’s where you folks come in handy) and light weight.

I’m also considering a Wilderness Systems Tsunami 120 or 125. All three of these Kayaks are in the 12’ range but the Perception is about $250 less expensive and I hear that it’s made by the same company as the Wilderness Systems Tsunamis.

Any feedback on these three, especially the Tribute would be of great help to me.

Thanks for reading and helping.



What is your size?

– Last Updated: Apr-15-13 12:46 PM EST –

It matters. Height and weight. Also, are you definitely staying on lakes or planning to eventually get to the ocean? I see south Jersey in your profile.

small person kayaks

– Last Updated: Apr-15-13 12:54 PM EST –

You know, the Tribute was designed to fit women, and I see you are male. The 12' Tsunamis are also designed for smaller folks, like under 5' 5" and 150 lbs. If that's you, then these are OK boats to consider, depending on what you plan to use a kayak for. They are not suitable for ocean use or touring. These are day outing boats for mild waters.

I could be wrong but I don't think the Tribute has a bow bulkhead so you would have to purchase and install flotation bags up there to make it safe. A kayak that can flood one end of the hull becomes a "Cleopatra's Needle" (sunk with the stern in the air) in a capsize unless you have flotation in it to fill the space. It (the Perception) is also a thinner gauge plastic. What kind of waters are you planning to paddle?

Adding some more detail on your size and intended usage would help in giving you advice.

yes, Dagger, Perception and Wilderness Systems are all owned by the same company. But their lines are separately marketed.

Actually the Tsunami 120 and 125
are not for intended for small paddlers (pearticuarly so in the case of the 125)

(see for example: and

I think Willowleaf is thinking of the Tsunami SP, (small person) kayak.

Yup, you’re right on the 125
Thanks for the correction. But I do tend to think of the 120 as a medium sized persons kayak. At a 275# weight rating, I’d consider it marginal for anyone over 200 pounds (which is the average adult male weight anymore). The target market for the Tsu 120 has clearly been average sized women, shorter stature and wider through the hips than the average guy. Same for the Tribute. (The SP is definitely for the petite.) There are a lot of Tsunamis around here and I have yet to see a guy in a 120.

We were on a group trip some years ago with a woman who had a new Tsunami 120. She became overly fatigued late in the day and could not keep up with the group so my partner in the tandem we were sharing switched boats with her. He was about 210 and 6’1" with long muscular legs and even with the footbraces adjusted he said he felt cramped in the boat. So after about 15 minutes he switched with me back to the tandem and I took over with the 120 for the rest of the paddle. It seemed to fit me ok (5’ 5" and 150 pounds) though I found it sluggish and it didn’t track well. It felt like it had rocker, probably fun in a winding small stream but not so good for what we were doing, paddling steadily upstream in a large river with some wind and waves.

First Time Poster - Looking for Feedback
Yes, I’m aware of the size issue and actually I’m 5’5" and 145lbs. so that’s not an issue. I intend to use it for day use, not long distance touring and I will probably not be taking it into the ocean.

Mostly small rivers, lakes and streams of which there are many here in the “Jersey Pines”.

The front storage and bulkhead is definitely someting that I feel is an advantage but don’t know if the $300 or so difference in price is warranted for that and that’s pretty much the biggest difference I see between the Tsunami and the Tribute. The Tribute is rated at, I think 240lbs. and the Tsunamis are rated about 75lbs. higher. All are 12’ in length but the Tribute weighs only 40lbs. which really appeals to me.

What do you think?

Thanks so much for this feedback. It’s obvious that all of you did some thinking about this before responding and it’t appreciated.

Thank you!

– Last Updated: Apr-15-13 5:36 PM EST –

"yes, Dagger, Perception and Wilderness Systems are all owned by the same company. But their lines are separately marketed."

Thanks, that info. is important.

Dual bulkheads are a big plus
particularly for safety reasons, but a properly secured floatation bag would perform the same (safety) function (albeit slightly less well)for a lot less money. Have you been able to see and try out any of the boats you mentioned? Why are you concentrating on these? The Tsunami 125 would be much too big for BTW.

First Time Poster - Looking for Feedback
I have “road-tested” both the 120 and 125 Tsunamis and found them very comfortable and with my short arms the narrowness of them made the paddling much more effortless.

Since the Perception Tribute 12 is very similar in size of over-all width and cockpit size for almost 25% less and is 10 lbs. lighter I am interested in that as well. I guess it’s just a question of whether the extra $250 for either of the Tsunamis is worth it. I do like the idea of the extra storage and bulk head.

Do you think that, plus a few cosmetic upgrades most notably a better seat, is worth the added expense?

“Probably not ocean”

– Last Updated: Apr-16-13 2:15 PM EST –

Which means ocean is going to happen IMO, at some point that you feel you have this paddling thing licked because you have been out in some small waves on a lake and not capsized. The problem is that most people at that stage don't realize there's more to learn until they are hanging off the water offshore trying to figure out what to do next... because of course they planned not to capsize.

You are close to the ocean. You'll want to be on it. Get a boat that has two bulkheads, one front and one back, because once a boat capsizes and you are alone your only chance of self-rescuing on water is if there is air in both ends (or the boat is a SOT). And preferably learn how to self-rescue before you try the ocean.

You can put in float bags to mitigate this risk, but then you are constantly having to check the air in them, they add some weight to the boat and it can be challenging to figure out how to secure them so they don't just pop our and float away in a rec boat. Unlike a whitewater boat, these boats aren't designed with float bags in mind. The theory is that the boat won't be anywhere it'd matter because they are intended to be flat quiet smaller water boats.

Good points by Celia
Celia makes some good points about float bags. Because I own 4 skin on frame kayaks I have to rely on flotation bags for all of those. They add a level of finickiness to any boat. You have to make sure they are inflated and secured so that they can’t escape and get tangled in your legs AND you have to remember to open the valves EVERY TIME before loading the boat on your car or storing it because when the air inside heats up and expands it can and will rupture the bag at a seam. With bulkheads you never have to think about such things.

Also, if you think it is remotely possible you will try to put the boat in the sea, you may need to rethink your plan. 12’ is too short for coastal paddling AND you would probably want a rudder or skeg. Boats like the Tsunami 140, Venture Easky 15LV or Islay 14 or Elie Strait 140XE would fall in that category. This moves you up to kayaks closer to $1000, unless you are willing to look for a used one (which is what we usually recommend to beginners anyway.) New boats, like new cars, lose a good bit of their value as soom as you buy them. So resale of one bought new is generally at more of a loss than with a used kayak if you find your skills and paddling ambitions are outstripping your boat.

Note that these longer boats tend to be correspondingly narrower since they can make up the necessary displacement volume lengthwise. I’m not only 5’ 5" I have very short arms and upper body. I have a Venture Easky 15LV and at 22" wide and with a low deck it’s very easy for me to paddle without smashing my knuckles.

Outfitter demo season is upon us. Besides being a great time to check out a range of models, sometimes you can pick up great deals there when the dealers sell off last year’s factory demos and old stock models. I got my Easky that way for 30% off ($730). It might be worth finding out when there are such events in your area and even driving some distance for the chance to broaden your test “drives”.

None of this may apply to you, but you seem to be approaching this purchase with a great deal of thought so I’m throwing these suggestions out there.

Good Points by Celia
Thanks for all the feedback. I really have no intention of taking a Kayak into the ocean however. I will definitaly be buying one of the two above named boats and using it primarily, almost exclusively in small rivers and streams and a few lakes here in Central Jersey.

I am coming to the conclusion that a two bulkhead setup is the way to go and will probably opt to spend the extra money an get the Wilderness System boat. Whether it will be that 125 or the 120 is the only question still open and I think they are very much the same in almost every respect except over all length so I’ll probably go with the 12’ craft as it will be that much easier to maneouver in tight spots that are frequent here in Jersey.

I like my tsunami
But comparing the 120 and the 125 the extra 6" in length is not really the difference. Tsunamis that end in a 5 have a higher volume, slightly lartger cockpit and more height to the deck. You should be a little snug in your boat so if you fit the 120 the 125 should be too large to fit properly. Based on your height weight I would think you do not need the high volumne boat. If you go to a dealer and sit in them you will immediately see the difference I am talking about. My wife paddles a tsunami 140 and I paddle a 145.

A boat that is too large for you will be difficult to edge and difficult to roll. The extra height, without having enough butt to anchor it in the water will act like a sail in the wind and cause tracking issues.

Deck height matters
Thigh braces are part of the points of controlling the boat, and too high a deck can challenge that. Even in small twisty creeks you want to be able to easily turn the boat, or maybe more so.

Get some decent advice on fit before you buy. It’s not just about the length.

I like my tsunami - Deck Height Matters
The 125 and the 120 Tsunamis felt virtually the same as far as roominess so I’d probably opt for the smaller size. They were both really comfortable but I was fine in the 120.

I’m concerned about the difference in deck height between the Tsunami which is 15.25 and the Tribute which is 13.50. Should I be and if so why?

These may sound picky to you guys but I really don’t want to make a mistake if I can help it.

I love the price and weight of the Tribute compared to the Tsunami but if it’s going to be too low in the water and the extra bulkhead I’d get in the Tsunami is important I will spend the extra money.

Points of contact

– Last Updated: Apr-17-13 3:32 PM EST –

You need three points of contact to control a boat - butt, feet and thighs into thigh braces. Two inches can make a diff, if that is the real difference. Some manufacturers measure from the top of the coaming, and some from the bottom of the top deck.

Given that the Tsunami is marketed for women, who usually have shorter thighs than men, I suspect that these boats are differently measured. Or one is a mistake - it certainly happens.

I suspect that the Tsunami is low enough for you and the difference in somewhat in how each is measured. The second bulkhead is something you can spring for now or wish you had later.

But you still need to make sure that you have good thigh contact on whatever you get. How it feels on your body, not what the book says.