This was my second kayak after moving up from a shorter boat. I found the Expression to be stable, easy to turn and capable of handling 3' waves (many over the bow due to it's length) on the Chesapeake. At 23" it is not particularly fast but tracks well with minimal use of the skeg. The skeg system is simple with a pull rope/catch but functional and reliable. The ball on the rope end needs to be set in the cockpit track when not used or the ball drags in the water. My only issue with the boat was the high seat back which interferes with re-entries and spray skirt. I replaced the back with a back band which resolved the problem.
This being said, the Perception was on sale at a local store ($895 CND). I had a chance to sit in it at the store, but I couldn't test it on the water, so it was a bit of a gamble. But I had seen favourable reviews on this site, so I brought it home. On my first ride with it I could almost hear angels singing! It felt great: very good initial and secondary stability, very responsive and it tracks very well. Drop the skeg and it shoots straight like an arrow. And once I got the seat and pedals adjusted to my taste, it fitted me like a glove. A nice feature is the possibility to adjust the seat on the fly, either the height of the back rest or the angle of the front base of the seat (convenient if you want a tighter fit in rough water).
The hatch covers are made of rubber, which I think is still the best way to keep water out. The skeg is easy to deploy and bring back in its housing. Generally, the boat looks solid and well built, with good deck rigging. The carry handle are made of comfortable plastics and the boat is easy to carry. Even lifting it on the roof of my car is relatively easy. My only gripe is with the back handle, which is off-center. You have to remember that when you lift the kayak from the back.
I recently took it out on a windy evening on moderately choppy waters and it handled itself very well. It remained stable and rode the waves really well. It's not super-fast (after all, it's not a full-on sea kayak!), but it's easy to bring up to speed.
Last but not least, it looks great. It's a beautiful, well-proportioned boat, built on a British-type design with a moderate rocker. So if you're looking for a great touring kayak at a reasonable price (but which doesn't feel cheap), the Perception Expression should be on your short list for sure.
Hope to explore the shoreline near our place on the Sea of Cortez soon. It seems stable enough to use there with no issues. It fits me well (I am 5'6") and I find the seat very comfortable. Overall, I couldn't be happier with this kayak.
This model looked good in all the reviews. Went to a local dealer's demo days to try out some kayaks, and the Expression was perfect. Fits nicely - absolutely love the thigh braces, and you can lift the seat bottom to fine-tune contact with the boat. Turns very well. Love the rounded bottom - no hard chines - so you can really play with the edging. Easy to handle in the waves. Skeg is easy to deploy but to be honest I haven't needed it. This boat does not seem to weathercock much, especially compared to the Seaward 17' I used on one course.
One downside is that the seat back is tall and it flops forward. This was an issue when I was trying to learn the scramble re-entry, and would be an issue when I get to learning how to roll. So, I've ordered a back band. This is not a standard swap for this model. There are YouTube videos on how to swap with a couple of the older style backbands, but those backbands are no longer available in North America. My local dealer has been back and forth with the manufacturer, and they are sending me out something I can try (I think he said it's the old backband from the Essence). I'm sure I'll figure it out. I am just really surprised that a back band is not a fully supported option with this kayak. On the Perception's UK site it is - you can by the Expression new with either full seat back or backband. I wish they would do the same here. It is a terrific boat and it performs very well. I think they are missing out - potential buyers may take one look at the seat and dismiss it as being a rec boat, and it is not!
Note that my husband really likes the current seat back because it is so comfortable, and he has no ambitions for rolling the boat or scrambling back into it. He's keeping it the way it is.
Even with the cost of a new backband, this kayak is terrific value for the money. It is a very fun, capable kayak for the beginner/intermediate.
I took her out on Lake Huron yesterday because I wanted to get a timing for a 2 mile paddle. I measured out a mile distance with my car because it runs exactly parallel with the edge of the lake with no curves at all, so I know this was a pretty exact distance. Anyway, I timed myself paddling to the 1 mile mark and back again, got myself back in 26 minutes, which I thought was pretty respectable. I then entered this info into a speed/distance/time calculator and it came out that I averaged 4.6 mph on my 2 mile jaunt.
I really think this gem of a kayak is pretty quick, I've never paddled in a longer kayak, but I would put my 14.5 up against any other non-racing model and I think she would hold her own very respectably. It takes about 4-5 good strokes to really get her moving nicely and once she gets going, she moves very fast in the water. Another amazing thing about this Perception yak, is how easily it cuts through waves, it is quite incredible. I've gotten more used to the rope release on the skeg, so I am ok with it now, I guess it just needed to get loosened-up a little.
Anyway, I hope this updated review as well as my 1st review helps prospective buyers know more about the 14.5 Expression. Before I bought mine, I read the great reviews here submitted by other 14.5 owners and it really helped me decide which kayak to buy, so I say thank you to the others who submitted reviews, it was a big help in deciding which kayak to buy. I like to always read reviews before I purchase anything, especially a big purchase like this one. I mean, $1,100 is a lot of money to me, that's for sure. Anyway, good kayaking days to you all, keep those paddles wet!
The Expression 14.5 is a little tricky to first get into, but once you are in there, it fits like a glove and I love the thigh pads and the feet pegs. You can get a lot of control and extra power using the thigh pads and feet pegs in this kayak.
About the 3rd week I had this kayak, I went out in water up to my neck and spent about an hour practicing dumping it. It was tricky to get back in her, but it is with all sit-in kayaks if you tip-over. I would definitely recommend getting a hand-pump and a large sponge to all kayakers.
The speed in this kayak is amazing, if you want a fast kayak, this is the one to get. Also, I like the size of this kayak, it's long enough to achieve the speed you need, but yet, not to long to be hard to handle.
I will say, if you are a large person, this might be a little tight for you. I am 5'10" and 190 lbs and fit nicely in here with lots of leg room, but if you are over 225 lbs, you might want to get a kayak with more deck height, I believe this kayak has a deck height of 13.5 inches.
Overall, I am very glad I purchased this kayak and the speed is amazing in this thing. The quality of the build is superb and the design is great, however, the skeg sometimes can be a little tricky to deploy fully with the rope release, but I will try and lubricate the mechanism and that might help, I would have probably preferred to have a lever release on this kayak rather than the rope thing, but really, that is my only issue with this kayak.
Remember, a bad day kayaking is always better than a good day on land. Have fun!
The build quality is superb, much much better than the rather ugly and thrown together Northshore; the comfort is superb, the Alchemys were good but a little low on the foredeck. The outfitting in the Perception is similar but has a bit more room. I went for the essence type backband rather than the awful armchair that comes as standard - Perception is happy to make the switch just ask when you order. The seat has a leg lifter and the thigh braces are adjustable. The skeg is a rope type affair with spring loaded mechanism; I thought I would prefer a wire skeg but this system is simpler and if you ground with the skeg down the blade just springs back up into the skeg box.
On the water the kayak is responsive and fun, fast, easy to turn but easy to keep straight as well. I've surfed some small waves and this kayak is fun, the last few outings have been in quite choppy confused conditions, the kayak is super steady and stable without feeling like a barge, the bow rides over most of the chop keeping you dry. In wind the kayak doesn't seem to have any real tendency to weathercock. I've only found the skeg useful in quartering seas where the kayak has a tendency to broach, but most kayaks do in these conditions.
I like the simple 2 hatch design; I can get my ekla trolley in the stern hatch without having to take it apart.
I feel i have finally found my ideal kayak with this one and look forward to many years of enjoyment.