Boat Review: Perception Expression 14.5 Kayak

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

What’s the biggest complaint of aspiring kayakers on a tight budget? For many, the answer is ill fitting or poorly equipped boats that plateau skills development, or worse, quash the pleasure of paddling all together. Fortunately, the Perception Expression 14.5 fills the void for enthusiasts who want a kayak that feels both sporty and stable.

Perception Expression 14.5 Specs
Length: 14’6”
Width: 23”
Weight: 54 lbs
Max Capacity 300 lbs
MSRP: $1,005

Grow your game with the Expression 14.5

More and more kayak manufacturers have recognized that not all paddlers will make the leap from box store rec boats to pricey touring designs. Enter the Expression 14.5 from Perception Kayaks, with the bells and whistles of boats with longer waterlines and larger price tags. The 14.5 model we tested is a perfect fit for smaller-framed folks and will stash easily in the garage or under the deck. A 15-foot version is also available for bigger and taller paddlers.

Perception Expression 14.5 Kayak

Perfect for casual or committed kayakers

The Perception Expression 14.5 takes its design cues from classic British-style touring designs—soft chines, a shallow V hull and moderate rocker give it a responsive feel without sacrificing stability. Whereas many Brit boats are a twitchy 20-to-22 inches wide, the Expression adds just enough width for rock solid initial stability. The 23-inch beam is reassuring for novice paddlers, but low volume in front of the cockpit makes this boat feel more like its skinny cousins when sprinting forward or tucking for a roll.

Equally impressive is the hull’s secondary stability, which allows intermediate paddlers to explore edging, bracing and carving turns with confidence. Acceleration and glide are adequate for keeping pace with most boats this length, and the Expression’s low front deck means you can practice perfect forward strokes without reaching around the boat.

Outfitting options for comfort and performance

Perception’s Zone DLX outfitting is comfortable and customizable for a variety of paddler preferences. Multi-position thigh braces work with the adjustable seat riser to cradle your legs and keep you locked in for bracing and rolling, or you can dial back the fit for all-day touring comfort.

Our one grievance in the cockpit is the high seatback. While it is supportive and La-Z-Boy laidback for casual rambles, it hinders spray skirt fit, rescues and re-entries. We recommend ordering the Expression with Perception’s optional low-profile backband if you’re keen to progress these kayak skills.

The rope-and-cleat skeg control is kink-proof and easy to use, and the skeg keeps you on track in tricky winds. Dual bulkheads, two rubber hatches and full reflective decklines equip the Expression for day or weekend tours on open water.

[ Plan your next kayak day touring adventure with the Paddling Trip Guide ]

The Perception Expression 14.5 will put a smile on your face

For budget-conscious novice and intermediate paddlers looking for a user-friendly kayak to grow their skills, the Expression 14.5 from Perception Kayaks is a well-priced day tourer. It puts the only expression on your face that matters: a smile.


Screen_Shot_2015-06-15_at_3.44.39_PM.pngThis article first appeared in the Early Summer 2015 issue of Adventure Kayak magazine. 

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