Kayak selection

-- Last Updated: Jul-30-14 4:06 PM EST --

I am getting ready to buy my first kayak, and have narrowed my selection to either the Perception Carolina 12, which I demo'd and loved, or the Perception Sport Conduit 13, which I would not be able to demo before purchasing. I will be paddling mostly on lakes, creeks and slow rivers, and plan on doing some overnight trips with a local kayaking group. Basically, my question is, which kayak? Would the Conduit 13 serve my purposes as well as the Carolina 12, and would it be a kayak that I would want to hold onto as my skills improve? And why is the Conduit 13 so much cheaper? Is it a less well-made, less reliable kayak? I'd appreciate any help you could give me!

kayak selection ---- go with the 14 ft
i am certainly no expert, but thought i would offer my advice as i have been paddling for a few years now.

i would actualy scale up and go with a 14 footer…and perception does make the carolina in a 14 foot model, so it would be very similar to the model you tried out.

the advantage being the dual bulkheads, and longer waterline. the bulkheads will allow you to get in bigger water with some additional safety — it wont sink with 2 bulkheads. the longer waterline will make it easier to keep it tracking straight, or as straight as it can go.

i had gone back and forth on a similar choice when i started paddling, and went with a 14 footer ---- never will regret it. now that i am more experienced i like the fact that i can go out in bigger water, practice self rescues, go on overnight trips, etc, etc.

spend another 100 bucks and you will not regret it – these boats last forever.

good luck!

just noticed that the Carolina 12 does in fact have 2 bulkheads, so my earlier comments on that aspect can eb tossed aside.

the 14 foot model will still be faster, and have more storage though.

just wanted to correct my previous post! hahaha.

cheaper build

– Last Updated: Jul-30-14 9:11 PM EST –

The Conduits are Perception's cheapo line that they distribute through big box stores like Dick's. They are thinner plastic, not as well finished and have chintzier fittings (lower end seat and foot pegs, no deck rigging, etc.) The Carolina would have a higher resale, too. But of course it costs more. You get what you pay for in kayaks.

The perception Sport kayaks are a great deal. They use the molds from previous boats & give the boat a new name for a lot less bucks. I own two, there are well made!

Read the reviews.

Thank you -

– Last Updated: Jul-30-14 10:08 PM EST –

for the information. Sadly, the Carolina 14 is $300 more than the 12 and thus out of my price range. Maybe my next kayak (in a few years) will be a 14.

I think
that you meant Perception “Sport” is the cheaper build. I bought my Conduit 13 used off craigslist, though I was considering it new from Dick’s . One of the review on here identifies what the mold is – I think that it was a Dagger boat.

FWIW, I like my Conduit quite a bit. It cruises nicely and has good stability plus front and rear bulkheads. It lacks in the outfitting. No perimeter lines, no cupholder, the seat is not the greatest, but it’s not bad, especially if you keep the back fully lowered.

I think that all rotomolded boats are tough enough for the average user.

…you guys have given me some food for thought. For those of you who have Conduits, could you compare their tracking & speed to the Carolina? What I really loved about the Carolina was how true it tracks and how fast it goes (not that I’ll be always paddling at 100%, but I want to be able to keep up with the other paddlers in my kayaking group).

I’m worried that if I buy a kayak without trying it out first, I might get it on the water and discover I don’t like it. When I went to the demo, I was positive I was going to be buying a Dagger Zydeco 11 but decided to try it just for fun. Good thing I did, because I did not like it nearly as much as the Carolina. So I don’t want that to happen again, but this time with a boat that I’d be stuck with.

My Conduit
tracks well while paddling. It does veer to the side during glide when you stop your stroke, but not right away. On the upside, it glides very well for it’s length. It is rudder capable, so you could always add one later.

I was out on Lake Erie the other day (actually Buffalo Outer Harbor) in 15 mph winds with spray coming over the brakewall and a good 2 foot chop. No problem going where I wanted to with corrective strokes as I don’t have the rudder.

From the reviews of the Conduit on here, it doesn’t seem like you’d have trouble keeping up with a group. I think it cruises well. I have a Pelican Chase 120 (Elie Strait 120) that accelerates better and tracks really well, but does not glide as well as the Conduit

I do suggest you try to buy your boat used.

Says there boat tracks well at least until they get into a crosswind or encounter some currents. Box store boats are all price point boats. You may want to consider buying a used boat which will probably offer you better value than a poorly outfitted cheap boat. Things like perimeter lines are important especially if you end up in the water. Fact is no one knows when they are going to go for a swim but it’s usually when you least expect it.

I’d love to buy used
but I’ve been obsessively checking craigslist (statewide) for weeks, and the used kayaks I’ve seen come in 3 categories:

  1. Tandem
  2. Short, wide kayaks 10’ or under (Swifty, Otter, Future Beach, etc.)
  3. 17’ touring kayaks

    while what I want is a nice 12-14’ kayak for day touring & some overnight trips.

    I know, I should just be patient, and eventually the right kayak might come along…

It will…
right after you break down and buy a brand new one :wink:

new Conduit vs. used
I confess I’ve recommended Conduit 13’s (grudgingly) to people with a modest budget who insist that they have to buy a new boat and don’t have the patience to look for a better deal on a used boat. I have to keep perspective – not everybody likes to scavenge for bargains like I do. For $500-$550 the C-13 does offer the basic features for a competent open water kayak. You can break down the $300 difference between it and the other kayak fairly simply – to bring a Conduit up to the features of the Carolina would cost about $150 in parts (better seat and footpegs, pad-eyes and deckline cord) and several hours of fussing to get them installed (total time would depend on how handy you are). Naturally it is your “sweat equity” in labor that makes up half the cost differential.

But consider this when you think of bang for the buck – just in the past 4 years I’ve picked up the following pretty typical used deals for friends and family: a 15’ Perception Spectrum with rudder, sprayskirt and Harmony paddle for $325, a Venture Easky 15 with skeg plus Werner paddle and Stohlquist PFD for $600, a Necky Looksha with Werner Paddle, MTI PFD, brand new Harmony spray skirt and Harmony bilge pump for $650 and a 12’ Pakboat Puffin with skirt, float bags and sea sock for $500.

There’s currently a like-new 12’ Perception (hard to tell the model) for sale, including a paddle, on our local Craigslist for $400.


Since this is your first boat, consider that you’ll have to drop $150 to over $200 on the paddle and other accessories too if you buy new (and these are often thrown in, as I outlined above, when you buy a used boat).

Also consider that you lose little or nothing when and if you decide to re-sell a used boat which many people do within the first year or two, once they have paddled enough to determine what performance features they would like to improve. Just like with cars, new ones drop steeply in value.

Anyway, it’s up to you to decide what route you want to take, just wanted to point out that there are practical advantages to seeking a used boat, especially for a newcomer to the sport.

Good points all
so I think I’m going to hold out for a higher-quality boat. Like I stated in a different reply, I have no problem buying a used kayak - I just haven’t been able to find what I’m looking for. That Perception you posted a link to looks nice, though no bow bulkhead/hatch - and Pittsburgh is not too far away from here (I’m in central OH).

other options
Also, hard to tell you where to look since you don’t have a profile on here indicating your geographic location, but this is the time of year when real kayaking outfitters and independent wilderness sports dealers start having great discounts on both new boats and demos/rental fleet boats. I bought one of my favorite all round kayaks, a Venture Easky that usually goes for around $1100, for $730 a couple years ago in mid August (35% off clearance). For tax purposes it is often better for outfitters to sell off their rental fleet before the year ends rather than have to pay taxes on them as inventory. Some outfitters even have trade-ins. So don’t presume that you HAVE to limit yourself to big box retailers due to your budget. If there are outfitters in your area, talk to them and explain your price limitations and see what they can do for you. They will also typically offer substantial discounts on the paddle, PFD and other items you need when you buy them with the boat (the big box stores rarely offer that.)

For example, look at the sale prices on some of the used kayaks from this dealer:


What about this one?
Perception Enduro 12.5 with spray skirt & paddle. It’s local-ish to me. No bow bulkhead/hatch, but you can’t get everything you want.


Sorry to post a million messages, but it’s my first kayak, and I want to get the right one! (Realizing, of course, that there is more than one right one, and my definition of “right one” will change as I gain more experience.)

There is also a used Necky Looksha 14
within reasonable driving distance that is only $500. It looks like a nice kayak. Maybe a better choice for what I want than the Enduro?

I’m surprised no one has asked you your height and weight, because your size helps determine if a boat is appropriate. Check the Pnet review section for the boats you are considering. Oftentimes the poster will mention his/her size and how the boat fits, which will give you a better idea of how appropriate it would be for you.

Good luck with your search!

5’10 & a muscular 170#. Though I’m working on that last one - hoping to get down to 155-160. ; ) So I’m female but I’m average male height - and, alas, probably average male weight as well.

Buying Used
Buying used is tough via Craigslist. You really need to constantly scan looking for something worth trying.

The real kayaking stores near me (AKA a 1.5-2 hour drive) frequently sell demo kayaks like what you are looking to get. Also rental places and kayaking schools will sell off their used kayaks.

I am already seeing these deals start. You will get a better selection than Craigslist but the prices may not be as discounted.