Boat Review: Perception Full-Tilt

The Total Package

One of the first things paddlers of long freestyle boats notice when they hop into a corky design is the usual lack of vertical stability. The Full-Tilt measures in at 6’5”, but you might forget that when you are paddling it. It initiates easily, slices in and holds a vertical position stalling like a longer boat, especially on the tail. The increased balance  allows you to slow down your rotation from end to end allowing you to think more about your paddle placement, and less about falling on your face.

In a nice foam pile the slicey, longer boat feeling continues allowing for less-than-perfect technique as you try to figure out how to get your rhythm going. We found the Full-Tilt needs to be paddled farther down the foam pile so get used to sitting on the seam of your favourite play hole. You also need to stay active in a hole, otherwise the ends load up very quickly, leading to many inadvertent loop attempts. After two days of playing with the Full-Tilt in Hass Hole on the Lower Madawaska and Earls on the Gull, we couldn’t wait to get it on a wave. But first we had to get it down the river.

River running in the Full-Tilt presents many opportunities to say “OOPS!” If you have paddled a Dagger Ego or Super Ego you know what we mean. The low shear line, combined with an abrupt transition from slicey ends to a full volume cockpit, creates a front edge that loves to bury itself in a seam line and hang on tight like a gila monster (that’s a lizard that hangs on really tight). Super-aggressive tilts, and well placed eddy crossing strokes are necessary to prevent this tendency. We had to pay very close attention to this boat to hit all the eddies that make a technical run like the Gull River so much fun.

On a short, steep wave, the Full-Tilt was disappointing. This boat surfs as if it has no edges. We could lay the boat almost to its side and still not generate a carve across the face of the wave. As a result of not being able to carve, blunts were mushy and mostly muscle powered. Competition boaters will appreciate the ride; big carving blunts may be impressive, but they are relatively low scoring and risky. The Full-Tilt allows you to hit a quicker, less risky bounce blunt and get on to getting vertical and racking up the points. Spinning was easy on the other hand. The Full-Tilt is as loose as any other boat out there and the front edges that make eddy crossing difficult didn’t seem to effect the spinnability. On a big, fast wave the lack of edges is a plus when trying to land aerial moves, and the rocker profile makes the Full-Tilt easy to get off the water and into the air.

The first to introduce a wrap around thigh brace system, kudos to Perception for further improving with the Full Tilts outfitting. Perception has removed the front and rear foam bulkheads and instead the deck is molded to fit with a pillar from the seat rail. The new and improved Thigh Master thigh braces are the best thighbraces we have ever used; they are rigid and adjust in multiple directions. Today, in the days of just stuffing foam at your toes and quick release moveable bulkheads, the adjustable rail bulkhead system introduced in the Amp/Shock is outdated but works.

The Bottom Line

The outfitting in the Full-Tilt isn’t an instant fit, but once time is spent to tweak it out, few boats offer a more custom fit. Often the short kayaks that are ideal for shallow pour-overs are too corky for pleasingly balanced cartwheels. The Full-Tilt is ideal for someone wanting to try out a spud boat, but still wanting the vertical stability of a longer, slicier boat. This is great combination, one that we think will put Perception back on the Canadian map and the full-Tilt and Spin on the river.


Length: 6’9”
Width: 24”
Volume: 47gal
Weight: 36 lbs
Cockpit: 33.5”x19”
Paddler level: int-adv
Suggested weight: 130-190 lbs
MSRP CAD: $1695.00

This article first appeared in the Early Summer 2005 issue of Rapid Magazine. For more great boat reviews, subscribe to Rapid’s print and digital editions here.

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