As a beginner, this kayak has been great. It has inspired confidence in the water while paddling. I recently completed 10 miles down the Brazos River and would not have wanted to do this trip using anything else.
Neither I or my husband had ever kayaked until we vacationed in St Thomas one year and the hotel had them for guests to use. We liked it so much we started shopping around, read reviews on paddling.net and decided we wanted a Perception Tribe. We went with the 9.5 because they're a size & weight we (in our 70s) can handle. We love them! They're sturdy, they glide through the water on a straight path, they're wide enough to be stable and they look good. We love the molded-in handles and sleek lines. Our friends have a different type and ours look so much classier and handle so much better. Had them 3 years now and they look great and we still love them as much as ever.
I love my Tribe. Very comfortable even after hours, easy in/out, lots of storage and easy to paddle. Very well made boat.
I love this kayak. The first time I paddled it I was in heaven. It's so comfortable and tracks nicely for being so short. On slow moving rivers or still water I couldn't ask for more. But when I'm in something with a stronger current I really wish I had gotten the 11.5. The extra speed and ability to cut through the water would be great. However, when I load and unload by myself, I know I made the right choice overall. The cup holder, dry hatch for my keys/phone and storage space for coolers or overnight camping make it everything I was looking for.
I gave it an 9 instead of a 10 because at 46 pounds it is still a bit heavier than some.
With this SOT, you have many options for sitting position and can easily move about while on the water, making longer paddles more enjoyable. Molded in grab handles and foot rests assist in this.
The Tribe comes equipped with a decent seat, although I use a self-inflating lumbar cushion under the seat for extended journeys. Launching is quick and easy; a replaceable skid pad is a plus.
Most of my paddling is on calm lakes and slow moving rivers/streams. But, for the adventurous, it will handle Class I/II streams, though it is hard to maneuver through rocky places due to the wide beam and forward v-hull. But, it's easy get out and carry when you get stuck on rocks! I understand it is suitable for surf, as well.
There is plenty of room for gear on the front and rear decks (dry bag required), a small child, or if you like to take along your dog. As with any SOT, you do get somewhat wet, especially in choppy water, although with scupper plugs in the seat well I seldom get soaked.
This is my first kayak, so I have no comparison, but the Tribe seems to maneuver exceptionally well for a short and stable boat. It is responsive with better than average tracking and little adverse wind affect. I have no problem keeping up with my husband in his 11' sit-in. I would recommend using a longer than normal paddle because of the wide, 31.25" beam. I get a lot of paddle drip using a paddle recommended for my height.
In summary - great value for a versatile, well-built kayak priced under $500. I highly recommend the Tribe 9.5.
It tracks great on rivers and in the marsh but where it really shines is in the waves and surf at the shore.
I'm 6 ft tall, 220 pounds and the boat is NOT too small for me. Like that it easy to carry and fits inside my SUV.
I think this is a good SOT for the length and can't wait to paddle again and hope for a few swells to see how it handles them.