Reviews You Can Rely On

Perception Tribe 11.5 Review

This kayak is an outstanding choice for any day on the water but it truly excels on long touring days, especially in heavier wind and waves
Perception Tribe 11.5
Credit: Perception
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Price:  $789 List | $789.00 at Amazon
Pros:  Great tracking and glide, sheds waves easily, durable, fast and stable, great for any age or experience
Cons:  Stern storage well doesn’t drain, heavy and burdensome to transport, deck plate cockpit console sticks
Manufacturer:   Perception
By Dan Kramer ⋅   ⋅  Jan 16, 2019
Our Editors independently research, test, and rate the best products. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Learn more
70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 11
  • Glide and Tracking - 30% 7.0
  • Maneuverability - 20% 6.0
  • Stability - 20% 8.0
  • Comfort - 10% 7.0
  • Construction Quality - 10% 8.0
  • Portability - 10% 6.0

Our Verdict

The Perception Tribe 11.5 is one of the most high-performing kayaks for those who like to paddle long distances without getting blown off course or caught in stronger winds or bigger waves. The hull and bow design are meant to shed waves and help it to track well and keep glide speed. Its excellent tracking provides a smooth, gliding ride with plenty of storage for a day trip or overnighter, and its heavy, stable construction makes it a sturdy and safe boat to paddle for all age groups.

Overall, the Tribe 11.5 drifts in right behind the Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5 in the Best Buy category. These two kayaks are comparable, similar in their weight, dimensions, and construction. But the Malibu costs a little less and offers more features and a slightly superior seating and stern storage system.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Perception Tribe 11.5
Awards  Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $789 List
$789.00 at Amazon
$750 List
$749.99 at Amazon
$430 List
Check Price at REI
$600 List
$479.99 at Amazon
$320 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
70
72
70
69
65
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Pros Great tracking and glide, sheds waves easily, durable, fast and stable, great for any age or experienceExtremely stable, great tracking, very durable, comfortable, stackableVery lightweight, easy to paddle, comes with paddle, inexpensive as they comeVery large cockpit, stable, easy-to-adjust seat, includes storage compartmentVery light and portable, maneuvers well, stable, inexpensive, large open cockpit
Cons Stern storage well doesn’t drain, heavy and burdensome to transport, deck plate cockpit console sticksHeavy to carry, no internal dry storageThin plastic, harder to drain, not enough leg room for tall paddlersSluggish, difficult to load, drink holder is far away from seat, no cover for storageNo seat cushions, hard to reach and adjust foot braces, not a lot of weight capacity
Bottom Line This kayak is an outstanding choice for any day on the water but it truly excels on long touring days, especially in heavier wind and wavesA super solid and stable all-around kayak great for any age or ability level at a modestly affordable priceThis highly economical package will get you on the water having fun in calm waters, without breaking your bank to buy or breaking your back to carryA comfortable and stable kayak ideal for casual days paddling on calm water that comes at a reasonable priceThis is a dependable option for beginner paddlers who aren't ready to invest in a high-performance boat
Rating Categories Perception Tribe 11.5 Ocean Kayak Malibu... Pelican Brume 100XP Old Town Vapor 10 Sun Dolphin Aruba 10
Glide and Tracking (30%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
5.0
Maneuverability (20%)
6.0
7.0
9.0
6.0
9.0
Stability (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Comfort (10%)
7.0
6.0
6.0
7.0
4.0
Construction Quality (10%)
8.0
8.0
4.0
8.0
4.0
Portability (10%)
6.0
4.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
Specs Perception Tribe 11.5 Ocean Kayak Malibu... Pelican Brume 100XP Old Town Vapor 10 Sun Dolphin Aruba 10
Length 11'-5" 11'-5" 10'-0" 10'-0" 10'-0"
Width 30.3" 32" 28" 28.5" 30"
Weight 52 lbs 59 lbs 40 lbs 47 lbs 40 lbs
Height 16" 12" 14" 16.8" 13"
Weight Capacity 350 lbs 360 lbs 275 lbs 325 lbs 250 lbs
Material/Construction UV, impact and abrasion resistant, high-density rotomolded polyethylene Singler layer polyethylene RAM-X Premium polyethylene plastic Single Layer Polyethylene UV-stabilized Fortiflex High Density Polyethylene
Features Lightweight EVA foam seat pad and contoured, padded seat back with hieght-adjustable backrest, molded-in footbraces, molded-in bow and stern well with bungees, replaceable stern skid plate, 6" cockpit hatch with cat bag liner, 3 drink holders, molded-in side handles and soft touch bow and stern carrying handles. Tri-form hull with an integral keel and sponsons, AirGo molded in seat and seat pad with adjustable AirComfort backrest, molded-in foot wells and calf rest, paddle holders, side/stern/bow carrying handles, molded-in oversized bow and stern tank wells with bungees, Splash resistent QuickStash dry hatch, 2 molded in fishing rod holders, 3 water bottle holder, replaceable skid plate. 2-piece Poseidon paddle, paddle tie-down, Twin-arched multi-chine hull with drain plug, cockpit table with a bungee cord, bottle holder, Molded footrests, knee pads and an adjustable ERGOLOUNGE padded backrest with ERGOFORM seat cushion. Adjustable Comfort Flex seat, Glide Track foot brace system ,Stern day well, Molded-in cockpit tray with cup holder, Molded-in paddle rest, Built in carry handles, Thigh pads, Drain plug, Skid plate Adjustable padded backrest, rear gear compartment with bungee shock cord, adjustable foot braces, water bottle storage, carrying handles, paddle holder, padded thigh braces.

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Tribe 11.5 is very similar to the Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5. In the end, though, three drink and two fishing rod holders cement the Malibu as the superior model. These added features and a bit more weight capacity at a similar price vaulted the Malibu over the Tribe to earn the Best Buy Award. Still, the Tribe's stability and glide make it a great choice if you end up in rough conditions very often.

Performance Comparison


Perception Tribe 11.5 kayak - the tribe 11.5 slices through the water like a hot knife through...
The Tribe 11.5 slices through the water like a hot knife through butter. It's such a smooth ride.
Credit: Dan Kramer

Glide


Perception lengthened their Tribe 9.5 model by two feet to increase the stability, tracking, and speed of the Tribe 11.5. The extra length, along with the boat's sleek, narrower hull design, provides respectable glide and a boat that handles waves. The pronounced, thin V-shaped keel gives this kayak the ability to hold nice, long, straight tracking lines so the boat can glide effortlessly across the water without veering off course while enhancing the overall speed of the vessel.

Perception Tribe 11.5 kayak - the tribe 11.5 glides across the glassy waters of lake tahoe towards...
The Tribe 11.5 glides across the glassy waters of Lake Tahoe towards Mt. Tallac
Credit: Dan Kramer

Maneuverability


One of the first things we noticed and appreciated about the Tribe 11.5 was the way the bow ripped through oncoming waves and chop. It probably did this better than any other boat we tested, helping the paddler stay high and dry. But with the overall hull length and distinct keel line, it also hindered the vessel's maneuverability when trying to turn around or paddle in between tight coves and rocks. This boat is suited for beginning paddlers of most ages and skill levels, especially on longer, non-stop journeys with extra gear.

Perception Tribe 11.5 kayak - the cockpit and seating system of the tribe 11.5
The Cockpit and seating system of the Tribe 11.5
Credit: Dan Kramer

Comfort


The Tribe is a comfortable boat, outfitted with a back-friendly, ergonomically supported seat, cushy padding and a large open cockpit that's easy on the legs. It's well situated for all-day comfort.

Unfortunately, there are a few disappointing aspects of the outfitting. The seat adjustment straps make for a less-than-comfortable paddle posture. The webbing seemed to stick in the clips and not slide back and forth quickly to make proper adjustments while in your seat. The webbing that connects the seat to the backrest also pulls backward. It would be easier to adjust if it ran in a forward direction, towards the bow.

We like the placement and general idea of the cockpit console for comfort, but we had problems with the deck plate design. It seemed to get locked shut. We think the issue is that sand that got stuck in the threading between the top cover and the bottom seal, locking it closed.

Perception Tribe 11.5 kayak - the tribe 11.5 perches on the shore next to some of its competitors.
The Tribe 11.5 perches on the shore next to some of its competitors.
Credit: Rebekah Butler

Portability


Anytime you have a boat over 10+ feet long that weighs over 50 pounds, it's going to be hard to move it from place to place and on and off a vehicle without assistance. The Tribe 11.5 falls in that category. When working alone, we found this boat to be a bit awkward and bulky.

Fortunately, it comes equipped with soft touch handles at the bow and stern, as well as molded-in handles on the port and starboard sides by the seat. We appreciate the options to hoist and haul the boat. If you don't have a friend or kayak cart, Perception has provided a replaceable stern skid plate, which you can use to drag the boat without fear of scraping your hull. If you do like these kayaks and want to purchase several, you'll be pleased with how conveniently they stack on top of one another.

Perception Tribe 11.5 kayak - the v-shaped hull is designed for excellent tracking and glide...
The V-shaped hull is designed for excellent tracking and glide, while the pronounced bow sheds water and waves. The replaceable stern skid plate helps to protect the bottom of the boat from getting scratches and dings in it.
Credit: Dan Kramer

Durability


Perception has an outstanding reputation in the kayaking world. From their calm pond and lake recreational boats to their raging river and ocean wave kayaks, Perception has always paid attention to detail and been a front runner in the industry. One thing you cannot deny is the durability of this vessel. Perception's industry-leading rotational molding process uses high-density polyethylene that is designed to take a beating. With its tough UV, abrasion, and impact-resistant plastic, you won't worry about wearing out colors or graphics.

Accompanied by a heavy-duty hull, equipped with a replaceable stern skid, you will never have the anxiety of gash in the hull. With wear and tear and time, the nylon cord attaching the bow and stern grips to the bungee cord, over the bow and stern storage, may break.

Perception Tribe 11.5 kayak - we loved the tribe 11.5's stability, glide and the way it shredded...
We loved the Tribe 11.5's stability, glide and the way it shredded through big waves, especially on longer touring style adventures.
Credit: Dan Kramer

Value


The Perception Tribe 11.5 comes with a reasonable price tag. It is only slightly more expensive than the Best Buy award-winning Malibu 11.5 by Ocean Kayak. Between these two boats, it could have gone either way in the Best Buy category. The difference is that the Malibu 11.5 is a little more of an all-around boat and the Tribe 11.5 is a bit more suitable for longer touring adventures in rough conditions.

Perception Tribe 11.5 kayak - the tribe 11.5 was consistently one of the fastest boats in our test...
The Tribe 11.5 was consistently one of the fastest boats in our test fleet, but Tommy let us catch up so we could enjoy the views with him.
Credit: Val Viegener

Conclusion


The Tribe 11.5 was one of our best boats to take out on more unfavorable days. Its length assisted tracking, which added to boat speed. There's plenty of room on this boat to stretch out, with ample storage in the bow and stern wells. With a kayak this size, you may encounter difficulty transporting and moving your boat to and from the water or storage without the aid of a dolly or cart. But you won't be disappointed in this durable and functional kayak.

Dan Kramer
You Might Also Like

Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.

GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.

Learn More