Perception FAQ

Answers to Your Top Questions

Kayaking kids should check out these products:

Tandem Kayaks are another great option for family fun

Kids also need PFD's specifically sized for them, clothing that will protect them in the wet environment and a paddle with a smaller diameter shaft and blades which is designed for smaller paddlers.

Many of these accessories are available to browse and purchase right here on our website or visit your local perception dealer. 

Serial number will be found on right side (standing at stern looking forward) of kayak just below the side seam demarcating hull and deck.

Position will vary from boat to boat but is usually within 8-18" forward of stern. Serial numbers are scribed into hull.

To locate your kayak's serial number look at the right (starboard) side on the back (stern) of the boat on the outside of the hull. Most, but not all boats, have a recessed area here.

The serial number consists of 12 alphanumeric digits. 
Ex. WEMELA29A909 

The serial number breaks down in this order: 

The WEM is required as per coast guard regulations as a company identification code, and means you have bought a quality Perception product.
The next five digits are generated in sequence by our system to give each boat its own unique serial number.
The next digit is a letter that represents the month of the year your boat was molded.
The letter A represents January, B would represent February and so on.
The next digit is the year the kayak was built, and the last two numbers will be the model year of the kayak. The example above would be for a 2009 model boat, molded in January 2009. ​

If you need more information please call us at 1-(888) 669-6960.

We have posted our owner's manuals online. Visit our Owner's Manuals page to view and download for your records.

A roof rack, whether factory installed or an aftermarket product, greatly enhances both security and convenience when transporting your kayak. There are many aftermarket accessories that combine with a roof rack to offer even more convenience and security.

  • The simplest, but not necessarily the most secure solution is to place minicell foam cradles between the boat and the roof, and tie the boat to the roof rack, if so equipped, or through the door openings of vehicles without a roof rack.
  • The most secure attachment would come from an aftermarket roof rack and specially made "kayak cradles." This option provides security, convenience, and protection from hull damage.
  • Good results may also be obtained by tying the boat directly to a rack. It is best to at least pad the rack with foam and tie the boat on upside-down to minimize deformation of the hull.

In all cases, it is recommended to tie both ends of the boat to the bumpers for extra security.

Your Perception dealer can provide you with any parts and accessories you may need.

The following list is an example of what you might take on a typical daytrip:

  • Boat Paddle
  • Personal Flotation Device (PFD) (required) with whistle
  • Neoprene or Nylon Spray Skirt
  • Quick drying clothing suitable for the conditions
  • Bilge Pump
  • Paddle
  • Float Boat
  • Transportation Rack/Cartop Kit
  • Water bottle or hydration system
  • Spare warm clothes in a drybag
  • FirstAid Kit
  • Sunscreen/Sunglasses/Hat
  • Cell Phone
  • Marine Radio
  • 2 piece Spare Paddle Dry Bag
  • Compass Chart Case with Regional Chart or Map

Although it is unlikely that your kayak will need repair during its lifetime, it is possible that a hull crack or puncture might occur due to extreme impact or contact with a sharp object. If this happens, first contact Perception or your Perecption dealer to determine if the damage falls under the boat's warranty.

We will need the serial number of your kayak (located on the stern), a good description of the damage (a photograph is very helpful), and a description of the incident during which the damage occurred. All this information will help us to determine the best course of action in getting you back on the water. As an owner of a boat made from polyethylene plastic, one repair option which may be available to you is welding.

Polyethylene is recyclable and repairable, unlike many other plastics. Incidents necessitating welding happen to less than one percent of boats, but if for some reason you should get a crack or hole in your boat, refer to the following repair instructions or call us for additional assistance.

All Perception boats with bulkheads use 2” think Synergy® Foam.

ADVANTAGES OF 2” THICK SYNERGY® FOAM:

  • Polyethylene foam is 100% recyclable.
  • Unlike cross-linked foams, the Synergy® foam does not out gas, which results in fewer bubbles in the sealant.
  • Bulkheads are cut on a water jet machining system resulting in accurate, consistent shapes based on CAD data.
  • Two ½” deep routed slots on the hatch side of the bulkhead allow the foam to be compressed in place resulting in a tight fit between the hull and bulkhead.
  • ¼” beveled edge on both sides of the bulkhead create more surface area for the sealant to bond with the foam and hull.

If you think your kayak may have a warranty issue, first be sure that it is in fact eligible for a warranty. To be eligible, your boat must have been purchased new less than three years ago, and from an authorized Perception retailer. Keep in mind that our warranty policy covers materials or manufacturing defects - not damage caused by impact or improper use, or normal wear and tear. This includes damage that results from hitting rocks or other obstacles while paddling.

If you think your boat may qualify, begin by contacting the dealer from which you purchased the boat. Have your serial number ready, and be prepared to give the date of purchase and a detailed description of the problem and what caused it. Your dealer may then contact us for further advice - at which point we may ask for photos or an even more detailed description of the issue.

The more information you can provide the better. Problems requiring warranty use on Perception kayaks are uncommon, but when they occur, please be as thorough as you can with the dealer and your Perception Warranty representative. Doing so will speed the process immensely, and get you back on the water as soon as possible.

Our complete warranty policy can be viewed online. Please review it before you begin a potential claim.

You may notice some older recreational models include bow foam flotation while the newer models of these boats do not.

After a review of flotation in (brand) recreational kayaks and comprehensive testing against the American Boat and Yacht Council ABYC H-29 guidelines, a decision was made to remove the standard foam wall from the bow area on select models as all Perception kayaks are well above the required limit.

This "dip" in the hull is common and natural in many touring kayaks. It also occurs with age, as boat hulls tend to wear in the seat area. This area under the seat is no less strong than the rest of the boat, but it is less rigid due to the large, flat area. Therefore it can buckle due to temperature fluctuations, pressure from tie down straps, storage conditions, etc. This should not be considered a problem unless you notice an extremely soft or spongy feeling when pressing on this area. The same is also true of dents in the side or chine of the kayak.

These are often noticed after the boat is removed from vertical transport on a roof rack. The solution is to set the boat in the direct sun for a couple of hours (preferably in a grassy yard, not on pavement) with the dented area exposed. When the hull heats up it usually reforms itself. You may have to get creative with some weights or braces inside the boat to push the dents back out.

This process should be allowed to proceed for at least two hours. In the absence of sun or in the cooler months one foolproof way to not damage your boat and remove a dent is to use water that has been brought to the point of boiling. This will heat the plastic to a soft state without burning or melting it and allow you to push the dent out.

Some of our kayak models are available exclusively at select retailers. If you are looking for more information on specifications for one of these models, please contact us at 1-888-669-6960 or visit our Customer Service page.

Perception no longer sells the Torrent model, but the unique Torrent sit-on-top is still an active series and has been moved under our sister company Dagger. It's great for recreational and some whitewater use!

Click here to view the Torrent product page at Dagger.com.

Choosing a paddle is largely a matter of personal preference. There are many sizes, shapes and materials available. If possible, try a number of different paddles and choose the one that feels best.

Keep in mind, a paddle is an extremely important piece of gear that can make or break the pleasure of a full day on the water. Take the time to decide what works best for you.

You can view an online guide from AT Paddles to help you narrow your selection using the sizing chart.

You can download our Zone outfitting instruction guide PDF by clicking here.

Many touring boat manufacturers (including Perception, until we introduced welded plastic bulkheads) use minicell foam to fabricate bulkheads. This is an inexpensive and effective method of retrofitting bulkheads in a boat that didn't originally come with them.

For current models, simply ask your dealer to order the respective pre-cut minicell bulkhead(s) from us.

For discontinued models, you can fabricate bulkheads from 3" minicell foam (also available from your dealer).

  1. Start with a chunk of foam slightly larger than the area of the boat where you plan to install the bulkhead.
  2. Shape it with a serrated knife and a shaping tool (Dragonskin works well) until it fits snugly.
  3. Start removing foam gradually, test fit, and keep removing foam until it's just right. The better the fit, the drier your seal will be.
  4. Once it's the right shape, place it and seal both sides with a bead of Lexel, or a similar silicon sealant.
  5. If possible pull up the edges a bit to get some of the sealant between the foam and the hull.

You will want to periodically check that your hatches are watertight. We use a very durable sealant for our bulkheads, but the flexing that occurs during transport and paddling may wear them out over time. If your storage compartments are wet, first identify where the water is getting in.

  • Are your hatch covers intact and securely fastened?
  • Are your bulkheads sealed well?
  • Are there any deck fittings that have broken or become loose?

If the source isn’t obvious, do a "reverse leak test."

  1. Begin with a dry boat.
  2. Put about a gallon of water in the suspect hatch, seal the cover, then roll the boat around and see where the water comes out.
  3. If the leak is coming from a bulkhead, simply clean and dry it, then reseal it with a good marine sealant such as Lexel, 3M 5200 or Sikaflex.

DO NOT use silicone as it does not stick well to plastic or composite materials. Replacement deck fittings and neoprene washers are available for deck leaks.

Remember to use dry bags for items that MUST stay dry.

FLOTATION - For touring kayaks without sealed bulkheads, additional flotation is a must. Bow and stern flotation bags are cut to fit the longer hulls of touring kayaks. Available in storage and regular styles, flotation bags will make you more confident and your outing safer.

SPRAYSKIRTS - Always paddle with a sprayskirt, especially in rough conditions. The skirt will shed water and greatly facilitates rolling in case of a capsize. Touring skirts come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but use one based on the conditions in which you expect to paddle, i.e. more waterproof for colder water, and more breathable in warmer conditions.

PADDLE - Yes, you will need a paddle. But how long should it be? What about Take Apart Paddles? Blade shapes? Weight? Most of these questions can be answered just by knowing how much you want to spend, but the length of your paddle is more subjective: touring kayak paddles range from 210 cm to about 240 cm in length. If you are just about 5 feet tall or a bit over, use a paddle in the lower range; naturally, taller people will use a longer paddle. Given variations in torso length, arm length, and boat width, it's a good idea to test different paddle lengths to determine your own personal preference.

DECK SYSTEMS - Deck Bags provide convenient and secure storage of items. They lash securely to your deck rigging and can be positioned in front of your cockpit or behind it. They provide a handy location for often needed items or for vital emergency gear. Map Cases are also available which protect maps and navigational charts.

THIGH BRACES - The addition of thigh braces to your touring kayak will improve boat control and greatly facilitates rolling.

Visit our accessories page for a complete listing of options.

If you're interested in purchasing a product from a dealer outside of North America, please use our international distributor locator by clicking here to see if one is available in your country. They can put you in contact with someone locally (if applicable) to purchase a kayak.

  • Clean your polyethylene kayak with mild soap and water.
  • Use 303 Protectant or a similar plastic protectant to guard against UV rays and to help your boat shine.
  • For composite boats, you should apply a car wax that is recommended for fiberglass from time to time to protect the finish.

No, we do not sell boats factory direct. We rely on the best dealers in the business to make our products available to the public.

They can help you decide which boat is best for you and explain color choices, options, etc.

With preventive and seasonal maintenance your Perception touring kayak will last through many seasons of hard use.

  • Before heading out, look over all of the shock cord and static lines. If any are too loose or frayed, replace accordingly.
  • Check to see that the footbraces adjust easily and aren't jammed with sand. If they are, remove the pedals and use a small scrub brush and a garden hose to remove the grit.
  • If you have a boat with a rudder or skeg, check to make sure that all the moving parts are not binding. Clean by scrubbing away grit and then by coating the parts with a silicone-based lubricant.
  • A water-based UV protectant such as 303 will keep your boat shiny and safe from the sun.

In the winter we generally paddle less and have more spare time for “off season” projects. This is a great time to organize, maintain and possibly modify your paddling gear. It’s a real drag to get ready for that first trip of the season only to find some critical piece of equipment not in 100% working condition! The downtime of winter is a perfect opportunity to rectify this and prepare your gear for use. 

Hopefully your gear has been put away clean and your storage area is dry and well ventilated. Dirt, salt and moisture are really hard on gear in storage. A thorough fresh water gear rinsing after any use in salt water is recommended, especially before storage. Salt is a natural moisture absorbent and if left on an item may actually keep it in a damp state no matter where it is stored. Salt has a corrosive effect on metal parts, especially when 2 dissimilar metals are in contact with each other. Salt crystals left in a fabric can be very abrasive and actually cause premature wear and tear on the fibers.  

Moisture is also quite destructive on many materials if left unchecked. The growth of mildew and mold is only a minor stinky inconvenience on hard surfaced items like your boat or paddle where a quick wipe down with a slight bleach and water solution will take care of it. On fabric mildew will permanently stain the material and can seriously attack the waterproof coatings causing delamination and leakage. NOT good on paddling gear! Paddling outer wear should be hung up in a well ventilated area not wadded up in a duffle bag stuck in a corner of the garage. Check all zippers, closures and seams for damage and if the item has any latex seals a close inspection is in order.  

If repairs are needed on neoprene or coated fabric items such as booties, spray skirts, or waterproof outerwear, Aquaseal is an easy to use product that really works well. It comes in a tube and can be applied as a wear strip, patch or glue and is very tough when it has cured. The curing process does take a while (24 hours) but can be shortened with an available accelerator. 

So while you have some time before the spring paddling season starts get out there and do a “once over” on your paddling gear and be ready when the call goes out to go paddling! Next time we’ll talk about boat maintenance and modifications.

This may not apply to certain older models, but generally speaking, you should be able to determine the model year from the serial number. Typically, the number is scribed into the kayak...right side...close to the stern. 

The last 4 digits of the series = date stamp. 

For example, WKYABC12A909: (last 4 digits bolded for emphasis) 
"A" (month) =... Jan. 
"09" (model year) = 2009 

Most, but not all boats, have a recessed area here. Your serial number will always be in this area. Click here for more details.

Perception kayaks that have a bulkhead use a router to create a groove most or all of the way around the edge of our bulkheads. This allows the bulkhead to move and flex with the boat which extends the life of the seal and is perfectly normal. The groove does not go all the way through the bulkhead.

Bulkheads can have issues, however, from time to time. Please contact customer service for more information if you feel that what you are seeing is not part of the design and.

Want to know how to reseal your bulkhead?  We recommend following these steps: 

1) Clean the area with soap and water and let it dry  
2) Leave the old sealant in place unless it's pulling away from the boat or bulkhead  
3) Lay down a thin bead of sealant  
4) Smooth with a gloved finger

Expect to capsize and swim occasionally when paddling a canoe, kayak or raft -- It's part of the sport! But when you hit the water unexpectedly, even strong swimmers need a life jacket, also known as a personal floatation device (PFD).

Roof Rack 
A crossbar roof rack (or “sports rack”) for your vehicle is the best method of transporting a kayak. It should be lashed down at each crossbar, as well as at the bow and stern to each end of the vehicle. Kayak cradles are recommended for boats being transported “flat” to lessen chances of deformation from being lashed too tightly to the bars. Rotomolded kayaks can be transported on their edge or upside down (hull up) safely using kayak stackers. However, composite kayaks should always be transported on their bottom using cradles to prevent deformation. 

Using Foam Block Racks 
Foam block racks can be used for short distances or lower speed transportation. They should be wide enough for adequate support, as well. Use extra caution with foam blocks as they are not as secure as cross-bar racks. Foam blocks also make it essential to tie off the bow and stern of the kayaks directly to the vehicle. 

Inclement Weather
If traveling when inclement weather is threatening, position the kayak upside down if possible. A kayak heavy with water can become dangerous. Use a portage cover to seal the cockpit if an upside down position is not possible. Periodically check your straps to ensure they have not stretched while wet. 

Important: 
It is recommended to always stop shortly after the start of your trip to make sure all fittings and connections are secure.

Short Term Storage
Be sure to empty the kayak of all water. The kayak maybe stored on its side or in a vertical position temporarily. Storage in these positions for an extended period of time could cause flattening or deformation in the side of the hull. 

Long Term Storage
In addition to emptying all water out, you should clean the kayak by rinsing with freshwater. Store out of direct sunlight and indoors, if possible. UV exposure can shorten the lifespan of any kayak and can degrade its finish. Kayaks can be stored slung on their sides via web straps, positioned 1/3 of the way along the hull (as shown). Be sure to not leave straps or ropes tightly wound around the hull for extended periods of time as it may cause deformation.

Your kayak can also be stored hull up (as shown) on parallel bars with weight supported evenly throughout its length. For large cockpit (recreational) boats, position the bars so that the cockpit coaming rests on the bars. For smaller cockpit kayaks, position bars so that they contact the deck between the cockpit and any hatches. 

Caution: 
Do not suspend your kayak by using the grab loops at either end of the boat. This can cause the hull to distort over time. 

This PDF overview explains the process for repairing a damaged kayak made of our standard-grade polyetheylene plastic.

This brochure PDF from the American Canoe Association has some great tips to get you started kayaking.

These safety brochures are provided through American Canoe Association (ACA) and are an excellent resource for getting the most out of your paddling experience through information and training. We share the same goals that emphasize respect for the sport and always recommend training for all paddlers.

Safety is key for your enjoyment of paddling. It is the most important thing to understand before you get going. Many states also have a variety of laws related to the safe operation of your kayak and required accessories, such as a PFD (life jacket) and sound device. 

Paddling Technique 

The following concepts will help you develop good form as you take to the water. 

Sit up straight. Your mother was right. Posture is important- for balance, efficiency and safety. Imagine that the heaviest parts of your body-head, chest, abdomen, hips, and rear end – are blocks in a tower. Keep them evenly stacked for beginning techniques; it’s when they come out of alignment that the tower (and your boat) is more likely to topple. Staying loose in the hips allows the boat to rock under you. 

Use the big muscles. Instead of bicycling your hands out and back with each stroke, keep arms relatively straight. Paddling with arms alone is inefficient and fatiguing. Your chest, back and stomach muscles are much sturdier, so they’re better suited for the task. Paddling slightly stiff-armed is a method for learning efficient strokes. It forces use of the larger muscles. 

Be shoulder safe. Shoulder injuries are not uncommon in paddlesports. To protect your shoulders, keep your hands in front of your body. When placing a paddle blade behind you, turn to look at it, rotating your shoulders into a safe position. 

Different strokes. An entire vocabulary of strokes exists for every direction a boat can travel. Take a class to learn them all properly. Until then, remember these rules: 

  • Keep the paddle blade perpendicular to the desired direction of travel. Forward strokes run parallel to the boat’s centerline. To move sideways away from the bank or dock, put the blade in the water parallel to your boat and pull yourself over to the blade. This is called a draw stroke.
  • Steer at the ends. You’ll get more mechanical advantage from turning strokes by doing them close to the ends of your boat. Sweep strokes are great for turning, tracing broad arcs to and from the bow or stern.

Before getting it wet, hop into your kayak on flat ground to adjust the foot pegs and back band to fit you. Then, with kayak in the water parallel to shore, place your paddle shaft behind the cockpit or seat, extending one blade to rest shoreside on firm ground to lend stability when entering. 

Get a Grip. A white-knuckled death grip can lead to discomfort. Relax. Hold the paddle shaft with thumbs and forefingers forming rings, like you’re making the “OK” sign, and keep your other fingers loose. Now you can orient your blades and gain reach without stressing your wrists. To find the right hand position, put the center of the shaft on top of your head, then hold it so that your arms form right angles at the elbow. 

Use the Blades Properly. Many kayak paddle blades are asymmetrical. The spooned powerface is designed for grabbing water with each forward stroke. The other side (backface) is used also for certain strokes. Some blades look lopsided, a feature affording hydrodynamic advantage. Keep the long edge on top. 

Going Forward. Plant the blade as far forward as you can comfortably reach, rotating your torso without leaning forward. Keep the path of your stroke parallel to the boat. Use a more relaxed shaft angle (45 to 60 degrees) for touring, and bring it more vertical – which places the blade closer to the boat – for a power boost. 

Information on this page is provided through our partnership with American Canoe Association (ACA) by staff writer Becky Molina. 

The Gear Bag 

Securing items to your craft avoids the “paddlers garage sale” syndrome, which sends group members scrambling to recover your stuff as it spreads downstream. Bring drinking water, snacks, and an extra layer. Store these items, along with your sunscreen, bug repellent, and first-aid kit, in a waterproof dry bag. If you wear eyeglasses or sunglasses you’ll need a strap for attaching them to your head. A large car-washing sponge is good for eliminating puddles. 

For safety, you may want to carry rescue gear (rescue sling, throw rope, tow system) specific to your craft and setting. String a plastic whistle onto your PFD for attracting attention. Pack a spare paddle. Electronic communication and navigation devices- GPS, cellular phones, VHF radios- are becoming more common, especially in offshore and wilderness settings. Wherever you paddle, know local laws and Coast Guard regulations pertaining to signaling devices and nighttime visibility. 

Additional Gear 

Spray Skirt
Wearing a spray skirt keeps water out of your kayak, but be sure you know how to attach it and practice detaching it quickly. Made of coated nylon or neoprene, spray skirts have specific sizes for both kayakers and their boats. 

Pump 
A hand pump helps get water out of recreational and touring kayaks. 

Paddle Leash 
By attaching your paddle to your touring boat, you can keep better track of it when you drop it, or when you stop to take photos or pass out cookies. 

Paddle Float
An inflatable or foam device that assists in solo re-entry into a touring kayak from deep water. 

Helmet 
For those venturing into whitewater or into surf. 

Many of these accessories are available to browse and purchase right here on our accessories site.

Information on this page is provided through our partnership with American Canoe Association (ACA) by staff writer Becky Molina. 

The off-season is the time to dig that boat out and give it a once (or twice) over and make sure it's ready for paddling season.  Boat maintenance not only keeps your boat looking good but also keeps it 100% seaworthy to provide a safe vessel. 

Hopefully when you're not paddling your boat you can store it properly. This includes good ventilation, a well supported hull, and hopefully out of the weather. Add a cockpit cover and it helps keep the inside clean and the critters out!  A good padded 2X4 rack or saw horses work well.  You can store it either on its side or flat, either hull up or down.  There are also hanging racks that utilize nylon webbing and buckles that work well, especially when floor space is limited.  Boats should not be hung from only their end toggles as it can put strain on the hull and affect the hull shape.  

If a rotomolded plastic hull has developed any uneven spots, waves or what we call oil-canning, you can heat up the affected area and the hull should go back to its original shape.  Heat sources vary but a heat gun or hair dryer used carefully, works best. Do NOT use open flame.  Heat the area around the deformity up until it starts to feel quite warm to the touch.  You can gently push the material back into shape and even a block of wood or other material can be wedged to temporarily hold the shape while it cools.  

As far as scratches and light gouges go…..remember they are only cosmetic and do NOT greatly affect the performance of your boat!  Spending time sanding the hull of a plastic boat is wasted AND you are removing material from your boat!  

As far as protective coatings for plastic boats are concerned there are quite a few opinions floating around out there.  A coating of Protectant does provide some extra UV protection BUT does make the boat slippery and the 303 will come off in the water.  If you choose to use protectant apply sparingly and wipe off /buff out the boat before it goes back on the water.    

On composite boats, now is the season to do any fiberglass repairs that need attention.  Gouges that are deep enough to show underlying fibers should be repaired.  The easy fix?  Marine-Tex. It's a epoxy paste that is quite easy to apply over the wound.  It sands easily and is quite strong. The biggest downside is the proper color match.  A good gel-coat repair can take the boat back to cosmetically perfect, but is time consuming.  Your call.  

Now let's take a close look at the deck and cockpit. Decklines, bungies, end toggles hatches and straps all take a beating and can wear out long before the hull so a close inspection and repair or replacement maybe called for.  Same goes for rudders, retractable skegs, foot braces, seats, all deck fittings and hardware.  Adding extra deck fitting or accessories like fishing or navigation gear is fun and makes your boat custom!  You just can't be afraid to drill a hole or two in her!  YIKES! 

Now let's check the bulkheads.The sealant used on the foam bulkheads needs regular maintenance to stay waterproof.  The use of flexible, mini-cell foam with a soft pliable sealant insures good contact and security, but eventually this seal may be compromised.  It's easy to see where the bulkhead seal has failed and all it takes is a good cleaning and drying and the application of Lexel sealant over the joint.  Wear protective gloves and don't be afraid to use plenty!  Lexel is available at most hardware stores.  3M 5200, Sika-flex, Marine Goop and other marine grade sealants may also work.   There are many online videos, forums and websites that will help guide you through these repairs and procedures.  Your local dealer can be quite helpful in providing hands-on help and parts, as well!

While it is not necessary to understand all the technical aspects of kayaking to get started, you'll quickly realize that there are endless opportunities to get even more out of your experience. Understanding these key concepts will help you before and after you get involved in paddlesports. 

Basic Terminology 

Blade 
The Broad Part at the end of a paddle. 

Bow 
The forward end of a canoe or kayak. 

Hull 
The bottom shape of a boat, which determines how it will perform in various conditions. Canoes have a hull only, kayaks have a hull on the bottom and a deck on the top. 

Portage 
To carry a kayak over land (or the trail you carry it over) to get from one waterway to another or avoid a rapid. 

PFD 
Personal flotation device, or lifejacket. In the U.S., PFDs must be approved by the Coast Guard. Wear it! 

Shaft 
The long skinny part of a kayak paddle. 

Stern
The rear end of a canoe or kayak. 

Swamp 
To fill (a boat) with water. 

Trim 
The bow-to-stern leveling of a canoe or kayak that affects boat control. In most cases it should be nearly level, with the stern slightly lower in the water. 

Kayaking Terms 

Back band (back rest) 
Provides support for the lower back while kayaking and helps with erect posture in the boat. Located behind the seat and usually made of padded fabric, plastic, or foam. 

Bulkhead 
A cross-sectional wall inside a kayak, made of composite, plastic, or foam. Bulkheads provide structural support and cross-sectional bulkheads create watertight compartments for buoyancy and storage. 

Cockpit 
The enclosed central compartment of a kayak, in which the paddler sits. 

Deck 
The top part of a kayak that keeps the hull from filling with water. 

Footpegs/bulkhead 
(also known as foot braces) Adjustable structures inside the cockpit on which a kayaker places the balls of her feet. 

Roll 
The technique of righting a capsized kayak while still inside. 

Sit-on-top (SOT) 
A kayak without a cockpit, sit-on-tops are usually self-bailing with various seat and foot brace configurations. Many are for recreational use, but some are designed for touring and racing. 

Spray skirt 
A neoprene or nylon skirt worn by a kayaker that attaches to the rim (coaming) of the cockpit to keep water out. 

Thigh (knee) braces 
Usually found in whitewater and touring kayaks. These structures inside the cockpit give the paddler important points of contact for boat control. 

Wet exit 
Coming out of a capsized kayak. 

Information on this page is provided through our partnership with American Canoe Association (ACA) by staff writer Becky Molina.

The best options for tracking down specific kayak models are to expand your retailer search using our dealer locator to ask your local retailer to order it. Most retailers are more than willing to special-order a boat, although shipping may cost more if it can not be added to their next order. 

Unfortunately, Perception headquarters has no way of tracking the inventory levels of individual retailers. Even products we have shipped could have been sold.

Your gear carries you out and home, protects you from the elements, and assists you in emergencies. All of it should be in good condition and fit your body, skill level and setting. Putting a child in an adult PFD isn’t a smart idea, for example, nor is using that leaky, beater kayak you borrowed at the last minute from your sister’s boyfriend. Make sure the gear is right before your start because once out on the water, it may be too late. 

The Must Haves

Don’t launch unless you have these items. 

1) A Personal Flotation Device. It’s widely held that humans have difficulty breathing underwater. Be sure your PFD fits, and wear it properly and religiously. The overwhelming majority of serious accidents (deaths and close calls) in paddlesports occur when paddlers are not wearing a Coast Guard-approved PFD. 

2) A Paddle. Though the boat may seem the most elemental piece of equipment, it’s the paddle that connects your muscle motor to the water. Consider these features: 

  • Design. Different paddles are made for each discipline of paddlesport. The best one for a lazy family river trip may not handle a long-distance run. 
  • Length. Kayak paddles are usually measured in centimeters, with touring ones longer than those for whitewater. Your boat width affects paddle size, too. 
  • Blade size. The bigger the blade, the more work you’ll do with each stroke. Racers use low surface-area blades so they can stroke at a high rate of repetition without stress injury. Larger blades are better suited to a slower cadence. 
  • Material. Plastic and aluminum paddles are everywhere. They are inexpensive, durable and low-maintenance. Wood is prized for its beauty and warmth but can vary greatly in weight, strength, cost and symmetry, and requires upkeep. Fiberglass and carbon fiber make for pricey, stiff, and super-lightweight high-performance paddles. 

3) A Buddy. Beginning kayakers should never paddle alone. There’s safety in numbers, especially when someone needs to go for help in an emergency. 

Dress for Success

Looking cool is one matter, being too cool is another. Because immersion is a major cause of hypothermia, dress for it.

  • When the sum of air and water temperatures is below 120 degrees, check out specialized paddling wear like wet suits, dry suits, and the large variety of fuzzy, rubbery apparel available.
  • Think in layers. Layers trap air (which provides insulation) and allow for personal climate control.
  • Synthetic materials dry quickly, wick moisture away from the body and retain their insulating ability when soggy.
  • A coated nylon or Gore-Tex paddling jacket guards against wind and spray.
  • Top yourself with a fleece or wool hat to reduce heat loss. 

In the tropics, or anywhere it sizzles, lightweight full coverage and frequent applications of waterproof sunscreen are your best defense. Along with frequent swims to cool off. A hate with a wide brim shields you from harmful UV rays. Sturdy footwear is a must, but bulky shoes won’t fit inside most kayaks, are cumbersome, and can seriously compromise swimming. Try lightweight, low-profile watersport shoes, river sandals, or neoprene booties. 

Information on this page is provided through our partnership with American Canoe Association (ACA) by staff writer Becky Molina. 

Reposted from Paddling.net, written by Farwell Forrest

If you're thinking of buying a kayak, you already know that you'll need a double-bladed paddle. In fact, the double paddle has now become the badge of the kayaker. Still, there's no reason why canoeists can't use them, too. Nessmuk did, after all, and there's still no better way to move a pack canoe down a lake. 

Just what is a double-bladed paddle, anyway? Put simply—you guessed it!—it's just a shaft with a blade on each end. (I said it was simple!)

When choosing your right kayak, there are many factors to take into consideration. We recommend talking to your local Perception dealer to help with this decision. Information provided here will help you understand our product line and steer you in the right direction.

Step One – Paddling Style

Where do you want to kayak and what will you be doing? Our kayaks fall into 3 categories. Each category has the right combination of size options, outfitting, storage, and performance features for the intended uses outlined below.

View Chart

Step Two – Performance Characteristics 

Once you’ve gotten a general idea of your paddling style, you are able to narrow it down more precisely by understanding the performance characteristics that are typical for each category. Below is a chart of how each performs relative to the other categories in each characteristic. 

View Chart

Definitions 

Stability – general capability of boat’s resistance to tipping over under normal conditions 
Manageability – refers to ease of carrying, car topping, and storing the kayak when outside of the water 
Speed and Glide – boat’s efficiency moving through the water and potential for higher velocity. 
Tracking – boat’s ability to stay in a straight line. 
Maneuverability – boat’s ability to turn precisely.

Step Three – Features and Outfitting

Once you’ve decided on a kayak model or two that fits your needs, looking at the features and outfitting can help in making your decision.

  • Cockpit: Cockpit outfitting is key to finding the best fit for comfort, safety, and control. Look for inclusion of a thigh brace or backrest, and adjustability if you will be doing longer trips or kayaking rough conditions. Pay attention to cockpit size to ensure it fits your body type.
  • Hatches and Bulkheads: Located at either end of the boat, the hatch is the opening to store gear and the bulkhead is the vertical wall that seals the compartment. Also a great safety feature providing buoyancy to the boat.
  • Deck Rigging: Deck lines, bungies, and toggles add safety in convenience for certain types of paddling. A spare paddle, compass, navigational charts, and other items can be readily available on deck.
  • Rudder: A mechanical device at the stern of the boat that is foot controlled and can aid in both steering and tracking.
  • Drop-Skeg: Mechanical device at the stern of the boat that can be deployed or retracted by hand. Aids in tracking, but not steering.
  • Sprayskirts: For many sit-inside kayaks, a spray skirt can help keep your kayak dry inside, especially for sea kayaking use.

Finally, we offer a variety of sizes in all of our kayak categories to comfortably accommodate paddlers of all proportions. The best way to ensure the right fit is to schedule a demo with your local dealer.

Rotomolded Kayak Care

Our “roto” kayaks are made of high-density linear polyethylene, which is virtually maintenance free. A minimal amount of care in storage and transporting will help the kayak maintain a like-new condition for many years. 
Polyethylene will become more flexible when in warm conditions such as a hot, sunny day. It is possible for a kayak strapped tightly to a roof rack for a series of days to temporarily deform at the weight bearing points. Use a rigid bar sport rack in addition to a “kayak cradle” to disperse the weight. 

Composite Kayak care

Composite kayaks (PRO models), made of a fiberglass or Kevlar laminate, require a small amount of additional care over rotomolded kayaks. Some sections will be more flexible than others. Scratches or superficial damage can be buffed with rubbing compound and followed with a polishing compound. Gel coat repair kits are also available from your Perception dealer for more extensive repairs. Hard impacts may result in structural damage, so inspect your hull after a collision. Inspect the interior of the hull at the location corresponding to the impact. Look for fine white lines mirroring any damage on the outside of the hull. This may indicate a resin fracture. In some cases this may require a composite repair kit available from your Wilderness Systems dealer. 

Cleaning

Usually, a quick rinse of fresh water is all that is necessary to keep your hull clean and functioning in good order. This is very important after paddling in salt water, especially if your boat is outfitted with a rudder system. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the rudder, rudder cables, and footbraces with fresh water to remove salt residue. Superficial scratches may occur, but can be removed or reduced by use of a marine boat polish designed for polyethylene hulls. Sanding or use of an abrasive rubbing compound is not recommended. To keep your kayak shining and minimize the long-term degradation caused by UV exposure, use an ultraviolet protectant such as 303 Aerospace Protectant, available at your local Perception dealer. 

Warning:

Avoid dragging kayak across the ground to prolong its life and maintain its look and performance. Two people, utilizing the carrying handles, is the best way to transport the boat. Alternately, you can transport using a kayak cart, available at your dealer.

People paddle canoes, kayaks and rafts for a wide variety of reason. Whether you prefer the thrill of paddling whitewater or surf, the adventure and solitude of exploring wilderness waterways, or the simple relaxation and exercise of paddling a local lake of river, there are basic practices that are essential to having a fun and safe experience on the water.

Welcome to the wonderful world of paddling!

Those of us who have been at it for years know it to be a healthy, beautiful, rewarding experience and are happy to have more company on the water. This Guide, put together by a group of dedicated paddlers, has useful tips on what kind of boat to start in, where to find instruction, what equipment to get, whom to paddle with—in fact, just about everything you need to get started.

Click here to view and download the Airlite boat repair tips and hints.

This video show you how to install a marine compass on a Confluence Watersports-family kayak.

View Video Here

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