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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.
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Price:  $659 List | $527.93 at REI
Compare prices at 2 resellers
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
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67
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 5
  • Glide - 25% 8
  • Maneuverability - 25% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 6
  • Portability - 20% 6
  • Durability - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Perception Tribe 11.5 is an excellent boat 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. The Tribe is a bit of a beast, but the tradeoff is a solid, durable boat that will last you a lifetime when cared for properly.

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

 
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $527.93 at REI
Compare at 2 sellers
$829.00 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$759.00 at Amazon$649.95 at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$280 List
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Star Rating
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Pros Great tracking and glide, sheds waves easily, durable, fast and stable, great for any age or experienceExtremely versatile, great stability, exceptionally maneuverable, comfortable, highly functional out-fittingComfortable, very maneuverable, versatile, easy to paddle, easy to climb in and outExtremely stable, excellent tracking, very durable, comfortable, multifacetedVery 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 sticksDifficult to drain, heavy, cumbersome to shoulder carry, cheap plastic used on hatch leversCheap plastic used on hatch levers, heavy, slowHeavy, slow to get up to speed, burdensome to load and carryNo 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 waves.An extremely versatile kayak that will allow you to experience the best of what both worlds, exceptional maneuverability and long distance tracking.The well outfitted Tarpon 100 allows for many different paddling applications, all in one super comfortable sit on top kayak.A super solid and stable all-around kayak great for any age or ability level at a modestly affordable price.This is a dependable boat that's a great option for beginner paddlers who aren't ready to invest in a high-performance boat.
Rating Categories Perception Tribe 11.5 Wilderness Systems Aspire 105 Wilderness Systems Tarpon 100 Ocean Kayak Malibu 11.5 Sun Dolphin Aruba 10
Glide (25%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
5
Maneuverability (25%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
8
Comfort (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
4
Portability (20%)
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
6
10
0
6
10
0
8
Durability (10%)
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
5
Specs Perception Tribe... Wilderness Systems... Wilderness Systems... Ocean Kayak Malibu... Sun Dolphin Aruba 10
Length 11'5" / 3.5m 10'6" / 3.2m 10' / 3.0m 11'5" / 3.5m 10' / 3.0m
Capacity (weight) 350 lbs / 159kg 400lbs / 181kg 325lbs / 147kg 360lbs / 163.3kg 250lbs / 113kg
Boat Weight 52lb / 24kg 48lbs / 22kg 55lbs / 25kg 59lbs / 26.7 kg 40lbs / 18kg
Width 30.25" / 77cm 29" / 74cm 30.5" / 77cm 32" / 81cm 30" / 76cm
Height 16" / 41cm 15.5" / 39cm 15.25" / 39cm N/A 13" / 33cm
Material/Construction UV, impact and abrasion resistant, high-density rotomolded polyethylene High-density roto-molded linear polyethylene High-density roto-molded linear polyethylene Singler layer polyethylene UV-stabilized Fortiflex High Density Polyethylene
Warranty Boat: 5 years for original owner, Components: 1 year warranty Boat: Limited lifetime for original owner, Components: 1 year warranty Boat: Limited lifetime for original owner, Components: 1 year warranty Boat: Limited lifetime for original owner Boat: Limited lifetime for original owner, Components: 1 year warranty
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. Phase 3 Air Pro seat with mesh streched over contoured foam perferated pad, leg lifters and adjustable seat back angles, thigh and knee pads, adjustable slide locking foot braces, rear bulkhead compartment with Orbix stern hatch, shock cord bow and stern rigging for extra storage, rugged bow and stern handles, molded dashboard with gear tray and drink holder, replaceable skid plate and retractable drop down skeg. Phase 3 AirPro seat, Keepers XL foot brace system, Slide Trax accessory system, Orbix bow and midship hatches, gear storage pockets and molded cup holder, bow/stern/side carrying handles with paddle holders, self bailing tankwell with bungee. 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. 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


The Tribe 11.5 slices through the water like a hot knife through butter. It's such a smooth ride.
The Tribe 11.5 slices through the water like a hot knife through butter. It's such a smooth ride.

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.

The Tribe 11.5 glides across the glassy waters of Lake Tahoe towards Mt. Tallac
The Tribe 11.5 glides across the glassy waters of Lake Tahoe towards Mt. Tallac

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.

The Cockpit and seating system of the Tribe 11.5
The Cockpit and seating system of the Tribe 11.5

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.

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.

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.

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.
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.

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.

We loved the Tribe 11.5's stability  glide and the way it shredded through big waves  especially on longer touring style adventures.
We loved the Tribe 11.5's stability, glide and the way it shredded through big waves, especially on longer touring style adventures.

Best Applications


We recommend this boat for all ages and skill sets. The Tribe 11.5 has the durability and design that offers a fun and safe boat for kids. It's also an admirable long distance, touring style kayak for more advanced paddlers. And it's everything in between.

The Tribe 11.5 offers a mid-range price and high performance. It's a great choice for paddlers of all ages and experience levels.
The Tribe 11.5 offers a mid-range price and high performance. It's a great choice for paddlers of all ages and experience levels.

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.

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.
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.

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