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Perception Tribe 11.5 Review

With ample leg and storage space and good glide from the long length, this is great choice for any day on the water
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Perception Tribe 11.5 Review
Credit: Sara James
Price:  $799 List
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Manufacturer:   Perception
By Sara James ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 24, 2023
70
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 12
  • Glide and Tracking - 30% 7.0
  • Stability - 20% 8.0
  • Maneuverability - 15% 6.0
  • Ease of Transport - 15% 6.0
  • Comfort - 10% 7.0
  • Construction Quality - 10% 8.0

Our Verdict

The Perception Tribe 11.5 is a popular choice for lazy river days, striking a good balance between performance and price. A wide tri-form hull delivers great stability and decent glide, and the open design of the kayak ensures that it is easy to enter and exit. An updated seat and new handles are engineered with your comfort in mind, and the storage in the bow and stern are helpful when packing for longer trips. Overall we find this to be a great boat for the price.
REASONS TO BUY
Stable
Robust
Decent glide and tracking
Large storage wells
Reasonably priced
REASONS TO AVOID
Heavy to carry
Not very agile
Editor's Note: This review was updated on July 25, 2023, to reflect the newest version. The seat has been updated to a new high-back frame with extra paddling.

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Bottom Line An all-around popular and stable boat that is fast and tracks well in various conditionsThis is a comfortable and exceedingly fun boat to paddle no matter what kind of adventure you chooseIf you are looking for a fun and safe kayak that the whole family will enjoy, then this boat offers a great bang for your buckIf paddling comfort and affordability are your priorities, then this may be a great optionIf you want comfort, stability, and storage and don’t mind a bit of extra weight this kayak delivers a reliable ride
Rating Categories Perception Tribe 11.5 Wilderness Systems... Ocean Kayak Malibu... Old Town Vapor 10 Jackson Staxx
Glide and Tracking (30%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
6.5
6.0
Stability (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.5
Maneuverability (15%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
5.5
Ease of Transport (15%)
6.0
6.0
4.5
7.0
4.0
Comfort (10%)
7.0
8.0
6.0
7.0
9.0
Construction Quality (10%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Specs Perception Tribe 11.5 Wilderness Systems... Ocean Kayak Malibu... Old Town Vapor 10 Jackson Staxx
Length 11' 5" 10' 6" 11' 5" 10' 0" 10' 8"
Width 30.5" 29" 32" 28.5" 33"
Weight 57 lbs 48 lbs 59 lbs 47 lbs 64 lbs
Height 12.6" 15.5" 12" 16.8" 10.5"
Weight Capacity 350 lbs 400 lbs 360 lbs 325 lbs 375 lbs
Material/Construction UV, impact and abrasion resistant, high-density rotomolded polyethylene High-density roto-molded linear polyethylene Singler layer polyethylene Single-layer polyethylene Polyethylene
Features Adjustable framed seat, padded seat, molded-in footrests, molded-in bow and stern well with bungees, replaceable stern skid plate, 6" central cockpit hatch with liner, 3 drink holders, side handles, front and rear toggle handles, drainage scupper holes, draing plug, skid plate, 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. 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 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 Fold down adjustable seat, multiple molded in grab handles, drainage scupper holes, stackable, large bow and stern storage area with bungee, small day hatch in the center of kayak for semi-dry storage

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Perception Tribe 11.5 is a sit-on-top kayak measuring 11 feet and 6 inches long and 30.5 inches wide. It has a folding chair, sturdy, ergonomic handles on both sides, and toggled handles at either end. A small dry hatch is centered in the kayak, and there are stern and bow storage wells. The Tribe weighs 57 pounds and is constructed from rotomolded high-density polyethylene, giving it a robust and weighty finish.

Performance Comparison


perception tribe 11.5 - the popular perception tribe 11.5 has been updated with a new seat...
The popular Perception Tribe 11.5 has been updated with a new seat and ergonomic carrying handles.
Credit: Sara James

Glide and Tracking


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 and the boat's sleek, narrower hull design provide respectable glide and a boat that handles waves when the winds pick up.

perception tribe 11.5 - the boat has a relatively narrow hull profile allowing it to cut...
The boat has a relatively narrow hull profile allowing it to cut through the water.
Credit: Sara James

The pronounced, thin, V-shaped keel allows this kayak to hold long, straight tracking lines so the boat can glide effortlessly across the water without veering off course.

perception tribe 11.5 - the tribe's stability and glide make it a great choice if you end up...
The Tribe's stability and glide make it a great choice if you end up in rough conditions.
Credit: Sara James

Stability


The Tribe width and tri-form hull deliver good primary stability on flat water. That said, you may notice a gentle wobble if you move around a bit (i.e., to get something from the front storage). However, thanks to the high sides, the secondary stability is bomber, ensuring that a small wobble won't tip you into the water.

perception tribe 11.5 - paddlers found the perception tribe stable on flat water and gently...
Paddlers found the Perception Tribe stable on flat water and gently moving currents
Credit: Sara James

On the move, the Perception Tribe 11.5 continually felt like a stable ship, and we were comfortable navigating this kayak down gentle rapids. The high-angled bow helps cut through breaking waves, and even when we took a bit of water on board, the drain holes ensured that this water quickly drained and did not impact performance.

perception tribe 11.5 - we felt comfortable standing up in this kayak and even rocking it...
We felt comfortable standing up in this kayak and even rocking it gently from side to side.
Credit: Sara James

Maneuverability


One of the first things we noticed and appreciated about the Tribe 11.5 was how the bow ripped through oncoming waves and chop. It did this better than most other kayaks we tested, helping the paddler stay high and dry.

perception tribe 11.5 - the raised bow helps the perception tribe to cut through the water .
The raised bow helps the Perception Tribe to cut through the water .
Credit: Sara James

On the other hand, the hull length and distinct keel line hindered the vessel's maneuverability when turning around or paddling between tight coves and rocks.

perception tribe 11.5 - the perception tribe 11.5 is not an agile kayak, expect to take a...
The Perception Tribe 11.5 is not an agile kayak, expect to take a moment to turn this boat around.
Credit: Sara James

Ease of Transport


Anytime you have a boat 10+ feet long that weighs over 50 pounds, it will be hard to move 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.

perception tribe 11.5 - if you are more than a few yards from the water, the perception...
If you are more than a few yards from the water, the Perception Tribe is definitely a two-person carry.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Fortunately, this kayak comes equipped with soft-touch handles at the bow and stern and molded handles on the port and starboard sides by the seat. We appreciate the option to both 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.

perception tribe 11.5 - the handles at the stern and rear of the kayak are retractable.
The handles at the stern and rear of the kayak are retractable.
Credit: Sara James

If you like these kayaks and want to purchase several, you'll be pleased with how conveniently they stack.

perception tribe 11.5 - some kayaks tesselate better than others. if you have multiple...
Some kayaks tesselate better than others. If you have multiple kayaks in your household, it is worth considering how they stack for storage and transport.
Credit: Sara James

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.

perception tribe 11.5 - the updated seat of the perception tribe 11.5 has an alloy frame...
The updated seat of the Perception Tribe 11.5 has an alloy frame that is adjustable and a mesh back.
Credit: Sara James

The updated seat uses mesh rather than bulky padding, which we found more comfortable in the heat and better for withstanding the test of time. The seat can be adjusted to help you find the best paddling posture; however, we were frustrated with the direction of the webbing adjusters. The webbing that connects the seat to the backrest pulls backward, and we felt it would be easier to adjust if it ran in a forward direction, towards the bow.

perception tribe 11.5 - when not in use, the seat can be loaded entirely flat and stowed in...
When not in use, the seat can be loaded entirely flat and stowed in the rear storage well. This makes stacking and transporting this cumbersome kayak a bit easier.
Credit: Sara James

Construction Quality


Perception has been creating kayaks for over 50 years, and they are pioneers of the plastic kayak industry. They have designed white water, ocean, and recreational kayaks and know a lot about the demands placed on their products in each environment. The plastic quality of the Tribe 11.5 is unquestionable. The industry-leading rotational molding process uses high-density polyethylene designed to take a beating. With its tough UV, abrasion, and impact-resistant plastic, you won't need to worry about wearing out this kayak anytime soon. Perception even has a replaceable stern skid place so you don't have to worry about putting a gash in your hull when you drag this kayak down to the beach.

The updated mesh chair is now stowed away by folding the chair top backward into the recessed kayak when in storage. This makes it better for stacking and less susceptible to damage during transport.

perception tribe 11.5 - the updated side handles of the perception tribe 11.5 are...
The updated side handles of the Perception Tribe 11.5 are ergonomically molded to make carrying a bit more comfortable.
Credit: Sara James

Should You Buy the Perception Tribe 11.5?


The ample leg room and storage of the Tribe 11.5 make it a great choice for lazy river days. However, it is also one of the better kayaks to take out on more unfavorable days. Its length assists with tracking, adding to boat speed. There's plenty of room on this boat to stretch out, with ample storage in the bow and stern wells. On the flip side, with a kayak this size, you may encounter difficulty transporting and moving it to and from the water or storage without a dolly or cart. But you won't be disappointed in this durable and functional kayak.

perception tribe 11.5 - the tribe's excellent tracking provides a smooth ride, and the large...
The Tribe's excellent tracking provides a smooth ride, and the large storage wells deliver plenty of room for a long day trip or possibly even an overnight.
Credit: Sara James

What Other Kayaks Should You Consider?


If you like the Perception Tribe 11.5 but want more maneuverability, consider the shorter Tribe 9.5 or something with a less v-shaped hull, such as the Eddyline Skylark or Pelican Brume 100XP. For those that want to bring along a friend, Perception also makes a Tribe Tandem.

perception tribe 11.5 - the closed cockpit design such as the skylark pictured far left does...
The closed cockpit design such as the Skylark pictured far left does not provide as much freedom of movement for the paddler as a sit-on-top (center) but it does allow superior control of the kayak.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Sara James