Perception Carolina 12
Current Retail: $759.20-$929.00
Historic Range: $711.20-$1,306.95
Reviewers Paid: $700.00
I had only kayaked a few times, but was very interested in becoming a regular kayaker. However, I was on a budget. I did a fair amount of research when looking for a kayak, and a 12' kayak was suggested by a family member who teaches kayaking, because of ease in loading on and off of vehicle, and ease of navigating in creeks, marshes and smaller spaces. It was also recommended that I get a kayak with closed compartments so if I took in water it wouldn't sink. The Perception Caroline 12 has all this.
The first time I took it out in a marshy wildlife refuge, and loved how I could navigate in areas where I can see birds and fish. So the maneuverability of this kayak is great. The next time out I went out on a lake with a group of women who are "fair weather paddlers". There were a few who had kayaks my size or bigger, but most had lightweight kayaks about 10 feet in length.
The weather was clear, no wind or clouds, and sunshine. After paddling for about an hour out, we headed back, at which point the weather turned very quickly. Big gray clouds starting rolling in, and the wind was soon making white caps and strong waves. As a beginner kayaker (and in my late 40's) I was third in returning to shore out of 14 kayaks. I was really thankful for my 49 lb, 12-foot kayak, because the weight, length, and the way the kayak sits in the water kept my kayak from going all over the place. I had no problems tracking and I was able to keep up.
I've since kayaked on calm waters, choppy lakes, in the rain, and at night (for full moon paddles). It's stable, maneuvers and tracks very well. I've had my kayak for one season (mid May thru mid-October in the Northeast), and I kayaked at least once a week, with an overall of about 24 (2 hours+) kayaking outings, so I feel I got to know my kayak very well.
Though I haven't taken it on any overnight trips, there's plenty of storage in and on this kayak. The seat is comfortable and adjustable (though I did add a gel pad seat as I have hip issues). The straps crisscrossing the the top is great for holding items on the kayak and clipping items to the kayak. And there's room behind the seat for holding a dry sack, bilge pump, etc.
At first I wasn't crazy about the color, but after kayaking on large lakes with larger power boats I'm thankful for the easy to spot red/orange/yellow. For me the weight of a 49-lb kayak is a bit challenging when taking it on and off my vehicle by myself, which is the only reason I gave this kayak a 4 star instead of 5, but on the other hand it adds to the stability of the kayak.
While I could see myself purchasing a longer lighter kayak for large lake kayaking in the future, I don't regret purchasing this kayak for what I've used it for, and I would purchase it again for recreational kayaking. I would definitely recommend this kayak!
Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $700 on sale