The Perception Carolina is a very versatile kayak. It suits both the beginner and experienced paddler and is ideal for those looking for a tough, easy to control, stable craft.
The Carolina is available in a standard specification for day paddling and an Expedition version, for longer trips. This has the added benefits of front and rear hatches and bulkheads, thigh braces and elastic cords on front and rear decks for charts, water bottle, etc. It was the Carolina Expedition we tested on a trip to Suilven, kayaking in to the Sutherland peak via Loch Veyatie. This review is based upon the experiences of that trip and a number of other subsequent expeditions and short trips.
In the cockpit, the Carolina Expedition has a comfortable moulded plastic seat with an adjustable foam backrest. It is easy to get into and out of and the pedal footrests are simple to adjust. These, combined with the thigh braces, enabled a comfortable and stable padding position. The kayak has no skeg, but two parallel grooves on the underside ensure it is stable, even in rough waters. Throughout trips in this kayak I have always felt it to sit well in the water and haven't - yet - felt it in any danger of tipping. The sleek body has a long keel line that increases directional stability and allows you to achieve a decent rate of knots.
The Expedition has two large holds for storing equipment, one and the front and one at the back and we found there to be plenty of space for weekend trips, for the all important kit and little luxuries, like bottles of wine and whisky. These are separated from the cockpit by plastic watertight bulkheads. The rear one has a large opening, accessed through an easy hatch which fitted nice and tightly and didn't let any water in despite its relatively large size. The front storage area has a much smaller hatch and again this sealed very well. Other features include grab handles bow and stern, a drain plug and fittings for an optional rudder.
The Perception Carolina originally came in single colours but the company is now doing them in an eye-catching two tone livery, ours being blue and white.
As a fairly novice kayaker, I found that the Carolina behaved impeccably, was easy to control, held a straight line even in choppy waters and offers all the space and practicality I require for weekend touring trips. Made of plastic, it's durable and hardwearing, taking a few knocks and groundings along the way but emerging none the worse for its experiences. At just a quid under £500, it offers very good value for money too.
For more information on the Perception Carolina Expedition and the company's range of kayaks and canoes, visit their website at www.perception.co.uk