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Reviews for Prodigy 12 Kayak by Perception

Rated: 8.53/10 Based On: 19 Reviews

Prodigy 12 Kayak by Perception

Length: 12' 2" - Width: 27.25" - Starting at: $719.00
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Submitted by: Mike NicholsSend Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I've been very happy with the Perception Prodigy kayak I own. I purchased two of them in 2006 and use them often. They have held up well. The adjustable foot pedals are easy to use as is the adjustable seat back. They are perfect for slow flowing river consisting of class I-II rapids, and ideal for marshy area of back bays and sounds. I have been able to kayak for hours in comfort, and the dry storage areas allow me to pack lunch, cold drinks and supplies. I tested the Perception Prodigy at a nearby outfitters lake side event and recommend anyone wanting to purchase a kayak to do the same.
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Submitted by: colterSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I absolutely love my kayak because it tracks so well. I can go up the Missouri River just as easy as I can go down it. all I have to do is drag a paddle to steer in rough water. It does have a nice wide cockpit so I can fit a cooler in between my legs, or I can just drape them over the side because it is so stable. I am no expert on kayaks but I love mine!!!!
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Submitted by: Ed WSend Email
Rating: 3 of 10

     This is my first kayak, but I've rented a few in the price range. I am fairly disappointed after reading the good reviews here.
  • Not too heavy
  • Lots of room
  • Sturdy


  • NO built in flotation. No foam in bow anymore.
  • Leaky bulkhead in the rear.
  • Leaky hatch for rear bulkhead.
  • Tracks poorly.
Like an idiot I assumed that there was foam in the bow as the previous models had. I capsized it and it immediately sunk with the stern pointing to the sky. Then the rear bulkhead started taking on water and the damn thing eventually sunk just below the surface(no gear at all). Lucky I was testing it in a shallow place where I was safe and could recover it.

I filled the rear with a pair of stern bags today, and the bow with another float bag, plus two old PFDs. After swamping it the cockpit still has too much water to bail and get back in reasonably.

So the deal price is becoming less of a deal...I could have had fiberglass bulkheads front and back for the price so far.

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Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I bought my Perception Prodigy 12 new in September 2010 and so have paddled it for over two seasons and as an entry into kayaking think it's a great boat at a great price.

I have paddled on lakes and rivers and even some light surf kayaking in the Atlantic. It's got good stability and paddles nice for a recreational kayak. I have learned a lot with this boat but now think it's time to move into more of a transitional kayak that will give me the ability to enhance my paddling skills as well as move onto different types of water I'm not now paddling. But there is no doubt I'll keep my Prodigy as I know there will still be times where it will be the right boat for the days event, and I'll also have a boat to loan others if needed.

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Submitted by: MountainladySend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I bought a 2012 Prodigy 12 and was told they have made changes in the design that should avoid problems found in previous years models (cracks in shallower base and so-so seat). This is my second kayak and wanted one that can handle lower water levels instead of exposing my fiberglass one to rocks.

I found this tracks well (I am a 5'10 and carry my dog and gear). The seat is higher back and stays tight in a supportive position when I lean back on it for long periods of time. Only giving it a 9 instead of 10 because of the hassle of having to watch for any cracks on the bottom to make sure it is better than 2011 model. Bought from very reputable dealer who will make it right if I have a problem.

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Submitted by: Randy - Rating: 8 of 10
This review courtesy of

     I purchased my Prodigy 12 about a year ago and am very pleased. This is my first kayak. I wanted a kayak that I could take on lakes as well as mild rapids. I also wanted to be able to haul enough gear in case I went on an overnight trip. I have been down rivers with some swift current and I noticed that once the back gets even the slightest bit off to one side, the boats rapidly tries to turn broadside instead of downstream. I just have to make sure I don't have my cooler out unless the water is VERY calm. The most disappointing thing about the boat is that the watertight compartment is not exactly watertight. Some water leaks through the bulkhead into the compartment. This compartment is one of the main reasons I purchased this boat over others. Still, it is not a deal breaker, and I would buy the same boat if I had to do it over again.
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Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 8 of 10

     I have had this kayak for 2 years now and entering into my 3rd season with it. This is my first kayak, but I really like it. I have used it on lakes, creeks, medium and large rivers. No serious rapids at all. I have a lot of fun with it.

It tracks and turns pretty well. Rigged to add a rudder, but I don't have one. The seat is comfortable, but also provides my one complaint: You can adjust the height, but if you lean back to hard it pops down on you (in a pretty hard way). But it is not a huge big deal. It is comfortable to use. I'm 5'10" and about 200 lbs. I'm looking forward to some day doing an overnight with it and carry my gear, but for now I don't really use the dry well except to store my skirt.

I recommend it. It is a good kayak. I just need more time to use it.

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Submitted by: AmySend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     It seems logical that a shorter kayak would be less pricey and easier to handle, load and unload. But none of that is necessarily true. A shorter kayak will move from side to side as you paddle, requiring more effort to move through the water. The longer the kayak the truer it will track, and the less effort it takes to paddle. Hence our purchase of two Perception Prodigy 12s.

For a first kayak, we didn't want to invest a lot in case our needs changed as we learned. But while you might save a few dollars on initial cost with cheaper brands, those kayaks are thinner, can't take the sun's heat or the rough treatment kayaks often endure through loading and unloading from whatever method of transportation you use. The snaps, straps and cushioning of seats are cheaper and donít last as long. Those are important elements to consider when purchasing a kayak. The Prodigy 12's seats are comfortable even for long trips, although we added some padding to ours. The snaps, straps and handles are well made, easy to reach and are built to last.

Prodigy 12s are roto-molded polyethylene kayaks, which are easy to load due to their light weight, and relatively inexpensive compared to Kevlar or fiberglass kayaks. Ours have been amazingly durable through the loading process and occasional scrape on rocks, trees, etc. Even though they're around 50lbs., they are easy for me (female) alone to swing onto the back of a 4-wheeler, or stand on end and shove on top of my SUV.

The Prodigy 12' is stable and surprisingly quick due to its streamlined design. The 12' length causes it to track straight and true for undemanding paddling even upstream, yet it's still nimble enough to make turns and curves without a lot of back paddling. It's a sit-in kayak, which is definitely the choice for a dryer ride, although not for the rotund.

The Prodigy 12 has durable foot peddles that are easy to adjust thanks to well-placed handles that are easy to reach even during paddling.

There's a long forward cockpit where foam is mounted for buoyancy, yet thereís still a lot of space for a cooler, jacket, etc. The bungee-type exterior bow cording allows for placement of towels, life vests etc. for easy reach. The exterior tail section is closed off but easily accessible via a top waterproof hatch, giving that portion of the kayak duel purpose for buoyancy and dry storage. Itís great for items you donít need to access during paddling but want to carry along for long trips or times when youíre able to pull on shore. And the paddle-strap mounted to the side guarantees you wonít loose your paddle while taking photos or eating lunch.

Oddly enough, color is an important factor when choosing a kayak. If you plan to spend time in waters shared by motorized boats, you want a lively color that allows you to be seen. If youíre photographing wildlife, colors that imitate nature will help you blend into the environment more effectively. We chose a tangerine color for the former and a sand colored one for the latter.

Weíre completely impressed with the Perception Prodigy and especially glad we chose the 12s. Our friends with the cheaper 9ís are getting Prodigy 12ís now!

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Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I paddled this boat last summer and it handled excellent so I bought one this year. The bulkhead stays dry as long as it is closed properly, sort of like tupperware bowl lids but it has never leaked even when I spray all over it with a waterhose. Also it tracks well in the currents, very much better than my old 12' Heritage and it speeds along rather quickly carrying lots and lots of stuff inside and out. I installed a couple of scotty rod holders and found this boat very stable even in rough windy waters.

The only complaint I had was that water would splash over the bow from either side in rough waters but I solved that problem by purchasing the console that is advertised on the same page this boat is on at A half skirt works good too but I like all the nooks and crannies on the console and that still leaves lots of room in the cockpit. I had to do a lot of tinkering with the seat adjustments but I finally found that (just right) feel that keeps me in the saddle for hours at a time.

I rated this boat a (9) just because you have to buy the console separately (I think you need this) but for fit function and performance I would recommend this boat to anyone... just pick your color.

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Submitted by: Nevada SmithSend Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     I have had this boat for about two years. It's a good stable boat for those who are new to paddling. I do like the boat, but sometimes it feels like I'm paddling a bathtub. It feels sluggish and doesn't turn quickly. These are problems that are somewhat intrinsic to boats of this size and type, it's a safe little boat, but as I have gotten more comfortable on the water I'm more ready for a souped-up Charger instead of a Ford Taurus!!!
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Submitted by: Randy
Rating: 8 of 10

     I purchased my Prodigy 12 about a year ago and am very pleased. This is my first kayak. I wanted a kayak that I could take on lakes as well as mild rapids. I also wanted to be able to haul enough gear in case I went on an overnight trip. I have been down rivers with some swift current and I noticed that once the back gets even the slightest bit off to one side, the boats rapidly tries to turn broadside instead of downstream. I just have to make sure I don't have my cooler out unless the water is VERY calm. The most disappointing thing about the boat is that the watertight compartment is not exactly watertight. Some water leaks through the bulkhead into the compartment. This compartment is one of the main reasons I purchased this boat over others. Still, it is not a deal breaker, and I would buy the same boat if I had to do it over again. I bought mine for $500 at Terrapin Outdoors in Piedmont, AL.
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Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     This is my first kayak, and I must say I had to get used to it. When I say first kayak, I really mean first kayak - I never even rented one before. I LOVE this boat! I have had this boat since May and at first I wasn't so sure. It seemed to "spin out" after swift current turns and I have dumped over a couple of times just getting in the thing.

Since May, I have learned the majority of my problems were, well, me. The "spin outs" are directly related to body position and pressure on the pedals. Getting in should be done with the current going parallel to the boat, not at all against the side of the boat. I'm guessing this is novice stuff you should already know. My dry hatch wasn't keeping very dry, but some marine grade silicone easily fixed that.

I've had this boat on lakes, rivers, and even an over-nighter. It's amazing what you can pack in this thing! My one true complaint is that if you have a drink in the cupholder, you will get goosed or knock it over getting back in the boat. Other than that, it's a great boat and handles great!

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Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I am big (6'2" 280#), so I needed a big cockpit and a comfortable seat. I found it. I love this boat. I can fly in it, it tracks very well. I have had my son sit between my legs for short rides, he is 85# which exceeds the weight rating but the boat still felt good. The dog likes to ride with me too. Get a half skirt, it will keep a lot of the drips off of you. My wife, who is a lot smaller than I am also loves this boat, as do my two kids. So... In the channels, lakes and rivers, this boat is great.
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Submitted by: JanieMSend Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I bought my 12.0 Prodigy in 2007 initially, and it was replaced in 2008 by the dealer under warranty for a major leak in the bulkhead. I have found this second Prodigy to be a fabulous boat - I agree, it tracks great, easy in/out and I have a 50# border collie who kayaks w his mumma! i just paddled over 9 mi to get to a remote campsite and in driving rain (whitecaps/chop like you wouldn't believe!) and it handled absolutely fabulous!

I was quite disappointed to find that the bulkhead is leaking again (not nearly as bad as the first one) and Perception told the dealership to replace it 'again'. I'll give it another go since it's so comfortable and easy to maneuver, even on rivers/streams, and lakes. I love it - hopefully this one will not leak through to the 'dry'-hatch.

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Submitted by: CurtSend Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I have had my Prodigy for 2 months now - been out about 20 times. I am very happy with it. It is stable, tracks straight, and easy to paddle. Its fast - and comfortable. I fished from it a few times, even added a rod holder and cockpit dash. I have used on lakes, ponds, rivers and swamps, as well as in salt ponds and bays. I don't think I'd venture into rough seas with it - but for what I use it for, I could not be happier.
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Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     If you are new to kayaking this is a great boat to start with. I am new to the sport and plan to take a few lessons, but I just couldn't wait to try it out. So my boyfriend and I headed for the lake. For someone who has never paddled anything my Prodigy 12 was very easy to maneuver, tracked straight, and I found that with a slight lean could easily adjust course.

This boat is incredibly stable. I never felt like I was going to get dunked. I even took his 40lb shar pei and my 60lb shepard for a ride (separately). I figured we were all going for a swim, but had no problem staying balanced with their movements. The cockpit is very roomy. Easy in and out for me and the dogs. The foot pegs have an easy and wide range of adjustments. I'm a shorty at 5'0" and had no trouble getting comfortable. There's plenty of room for gear & a small cooler.

I could not be happier with the Prodigy 12 and I can't wait for a lifetime of paddling!

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Submitted by: Slowhand11404Send Email
Rating: 10 of 10

     I am really enjoying the Prodigy 12. Great size, nice weight, tracks straight, durable - I am quite happy.
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Submitted by: View Profile Send Email
Rating: 7 of 10

     I acquired the Prodigy 12 on sale ($529), because I wanted a lighter 'play' boat for fun and camping, when the longer kayaks were too much trouble. I also tried the Acadia series kayaks, and I couldn't control them at all. Two other acquaintances also gave similar opinions as validation.

The 12 has a very large cockpit, this and the initial stability make it easy to get in and out of, high dock, low dock, sand bank, rock ledge, you name it. I could drop my butt in, wash off my feet by hanging them over the side, and keep the inside clean. The large interior space makes it easy to keep your water bottles and even a small cooler handy, either behind the seat or in front of your feet.

I paddled it 12 miles yesterday on a flat lake, calm to 8 mph winds. The easy seat adjustments made it a breeze to stay comfortable. The footpegs are also easy to adjust to my 6'0" 200 lb. needs, on the fly as required. It tracks well, and minor course corrections happen with a lean. The short size make turning around in inlets or creeks quick and easy.

It is a rec. kayak and is less efficient than a touring or sea kayak. I was very tired after paddling 12 miles. It has foam bow flotation and a rear bulkhead. I didn't test the 'secondary' stability since I wasn't sure I'd be able to do a wet recovery, with small rear deck and extra large cockpit.

I think it will be a fun kayak for shorter trips on lakes and reservoirs, and as a loaner to friends who want to try kayaking. It is easy to hand carry at 48 lbs, and the length will facilitate the storage, and the ability to take it along camping.

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Submitted by: Send Email
Rating: 9 of 10

     I find this kayak to be very stable. It tracks well. I found the back rest to be somewhat uncomfortable at first. Then I noticed a piece of plastic with a small 6" rope bracing the backrest to limit movement. I removed this piece of plastic and now the backrest can pivot more. Now I find it to be much more comfortable. The plastic piece can be reinstalled if needed it is just wedged in place, thus the piece of rope attached to it, to assist in pulling it out. It has a place to mount a rudder along with places in the rear bulkhead and deck for the cables to move the rudder, if you would ever want to purchase this upgrade. It has no drain plug so rinsing it out with a hose can be a bit of a chore. But I find a wet sponge works just fine most of the time. This is the third kayak I've added to my small but growing fleet. And it's a keeper!
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