Perception Essence 16.5 Touring Sea Kayak Review (with TruTrak Skeg)

Perception Essence 16.5 Touring Sea Kayak with TruTrak SkegOne of my biggest hobbies is solo camping. This is the primary reason why I bought the Perception Essence 16.5 Touring Sea Kayak (with the TruTrak Skeg option), I wanted a sea touring kayak that can withstand the wear and tear of traveling long distances. Though I already own a few kayaks, these were all enthusiast-sized (under 14 feet) and aren’t exactly fit for expeditions in the open sea.

First impression isn’t everything but when you are as experienced as I am, its all you need!


Though the the Perception Essence kayak isn’t what you would call a racing boat, however, it still averages a decent amount of speed provided that there is no strong headwind. I was able to get an average cruising speed of about 5 to 6km; for a relatively small kayak such as this one, this is already a pretty decent speed to start with. The kayak’s hydrofoil shape must have contributed a lot to how fast it glides on water.
Perception Essence 16.5 Touring Sea Kayak Tangerine Orange Side View with skeg

What’s great about this rig is that allows people to control and fine tune its tracking capabilities through the TruTrak Skeg System. If you want more directional stability (especially if you’re travelling over relatively long distances on peaceful waters) then keep the retractable skeg down. If you want more maneuverability and turning abilities, then turn the skeg up. This particular model has a very narrow frame that allows it to cut quickly through the water and waves.

Pro tip: If you’re a kayaking newbie, leave the skeg in the “half open” position so you’ll get a perfect balance of turning and tracking capabilities.


Primary stability is good and even with vigorous movement the boat doesn’t seem to rock as much. Secondary stability is pretty much the highest selling point of the Perception Essence- you would have a hard time tipping over if you use this kayak. This is a good thing for newbies, in my opinion.


Despite being marketed as being for smaller paddlers, all 16.5 feet of this Perception kayak is enough to comfortably accommodate my brother, who at 6ft 2inches, can be considered as a moderately big man. Also, I found out that the storage compartments inside the boat gives me enough room to carry various camping equipment (e.g. tents, bedrolls, stove, etcetera) should I ever decide to go kayaking and camping alone.

The only drawback is its weight. Since it weighs 60 lbs, this thing can be quite a handful to load and unload for smaller people. At 5 ft & 9 inches though, I didn’t actually have that much trouble with it, so I think the weight isn’t that much of a problem.


As far as comfort goes, this one scores full marks. The Zone Exp seating is excellent and can be easily customized to fit your needs. The Slidelock thigh braces and foot braces are pretty solid too and are adjustable.


Overall, I’m very happy with my purchase of the Perception Essence Touring Sea Kayak. I think that this is a kayak that will stay with you for a long time, and can accommodate your needs whatever skill level you are in. It’s the best kayak on the market today that you can buy for your buck.

Here is a video review from my guys at Bound-2-Paddle: