I have about 2 years of kayak experience. I’m not a professional by any means but I have traveled on the Mississippi River several times.
About 2 months ago I had been searching for a kayak for a friend when I ran across a buy on Craigslist too good to pass up, so my friend and I went in together and bought 2 of the Perception Carolina 15.5’s for $750( plus 2 paddles and 2 PFD’s). They were pretty dirty when I got them from sitting out in the weather for over six weeks, according to the previous owner. But after several hours of cleaning they were actually in really good shape.
I have two other kayaks an Old Town 17ft tandem and an older model 17.5ft Neeky Looksha IV.
Compared to them the Perception Carolina 15.5 is the best of both. It has a rudder which helps keep it straight in high wind conditions, but in my experience even in steady 7-10mph winds the Carolina 15.5 isn’t hard to keep on course due to its low profile in the water.
It’s extra length helps it track really well and it glides easily through waves as compared to the Carolina 12ft (which another friend of mine has) .
The thigh pads are well placed for a secure fit and helps you feel one with kayak. The boat is very stable even when loaded down with a good bit of gear for camping.
The Perception Carolina’s adjustable back rest height plus the ratchet system to tighten the back rest, makes it one of the most versatile and comfortable seats I’ve been in. There are a few minor things that needed to be addressed, mostly due to these being older used boats, such as replacing the deck bungee cords due to dry rot, a few of the tie down points being cracked, and the seats foam pads having some hardening and drying on the outside layer due to being exposed to weather. Once firmly washed, the foam layer underneath is still usable, but I will still probably upgrade them with the cloth material used on the newer model Carolina’s seat pads. The Rudder let down system near the cockpit was also damaged when I got them and I was able to repair it with a 1.5ft piece of paracord, so now it works fine. I also took the rudder apart and cleaned and greased the fittings with small amount of vaseline and it extends and retracts butter smooth now. The rudder cables were in great shape and work smoothly without any binding. The foot pedals are easy to adjust even while on the water and feel very secure. So if you can find one of these used and it’s in decent shape, they are easily worth $400-$500 each. Overall I am incredibly happy and consider this as the best investment in my kayaking hobby I have made to date. 11/8/17