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Submitted: 03-27-2014 by CoreyR
I purchased a Perception Pro Striker 11.5 about 2 1/2 months ago and have taken it out a few times now. I am both thrilled and disappointed with this kayak.
First, the good. It has an incredibly high payload. 500 pounds for an 11'5" SOT 'yak is pretty good. Since my intention is to use it both for fishing and as a river camping boat, I like this lift capability. I am also not a thin guy and weigh in around 280 myself. I am comfortable with the load bearing ability of the Striker. I have found it to be a fairly stable boat when I am in the lower "paddling seat." On the James River the Striker is able to ride over speed boat wakes that I would have to turn "bow into" with my canoe. Only the most severe wakes and waves, on the river, cause me to have to turn, "bow on toward danger." For the most part, she slips right over them without even noticing.
The Striker is also pretty stable for getting in and out of. Much more so than my old Pelican 15.5 canoe or other SOT 'yaks I have paddled. This is probably due to the fact that it is supposed to be a "stand up" design. The four built in, flush mount, rod holders are nice too and there is a a LOT of room in the hull for gear storage.
Now for the bad. You really cannot access that hull room. There are two hatches. One 8 inch located forward and one 6 inch "day hatch" located IMMEDIATELY under the paddling seat. The "day hatch" is, in fact, so close to the seat that my seat covers it when I snap it in place! I am then partially sitting on top of the day hatch when paddling. This makes it, for practical purposes, inaccessible. Do not put anything down there which you will actually need.
The day hatch is also located next to the largest section of interior storage space, under the seats. Yet, it is only 6 inches across making it impossible to get most gear bags into the your best space. This is also the center-most point of the hull and should be where you load most of your gear but it is just not possible. the main hatch is located forward and is, frankly, next to impossible to get open. I should have realized this in the store when it took two salesmen to pry this hatch loose. I chalked it up to it "being new." I have tried a light coating of vegetable oil on the threads of this hatch. No joy. The thing seals so tight it is next to impossible to get open and it is made worse on a a sunny day. It is my belief that the hatch, being made of black plastic, absorbs sunlight and swells. Whatever the case, the last time I had it on the river and tried to open it I found the hatch to be stuck so hard that I simply could NOT get it open. I could not get to any of the gear in the bow until I had the bright idea of pouring cold water on the hatch for several minutes. It is early spring here, I have scupper plugs in to keep water out and I really did not like pouring water into my boat! Perception REALLY needs to do something about this hatch.
As bad as the hatch is the most glaring problem with the Perception Pro Striker is its tracking or should I say its "lack of tracking?" I have named my Striker the "Elsie May," after my beloved old dog, recently deceased. I used to say that Elsie May behave herself or she may not, she was a had headed critter. Well, the Striker is a hard headed b*tch too and likes to "wander off on her own path." Paddling the Striker is a constant challenge.
I have also found the high seat, or the "fishing seat" to be next to worthless. It was one of the main selling points when I purchased this 'yak and I was looking forward to using it. In practice I have found it to cause the 'yak to become overbalanced and unstable, even at anchor. I simply cannot say that I am thrilled with it. However, I do like clipping my tackle bag and a bottle of water there. It is easy to get to.
Perception could make some serious improvements, to the day hatch, to the forward hatch and including a hatch on the rear cargo well and, maybe a skeg, to help with the tracking problem. It also did not thrill me that, two months after I purchased it, they dropped the MSRP by $100! This tells me that they know there are issues and, somehow, I doubt that Perception intends to try to fix them.
Over all? hmmm I am ranking it 5 out of 10 because it simply does not perform as advertised yet it does have tremendous potential for the money. If someone were looking at one I would say this, do not pay full price. If you can get it at a bargain, or on sale, go for it. You can probably make something of it. I am thinking of trying to make a skeg for mine.
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