Perception Hi-Life Review

Bottom Line:

The Perception Hi-Life is one of the top rated sit on top kayaks of 2024 and is a really surprising purchase! At least, that’s what the experts we’ve compared say about this boat – it’s more stable and handles far smoother than it looks, and it really takes a beating. It’s also got tons of storage onboard.

This is a hybrid boat that you can use as a kayak or stand up paddleboard. Experts feel its only main drawbacks lie in its poor top speed and its low weight capacity – key points to consider before buying.



based on 3 reviews

Performance Ratings:

  • Handling
  • Stability
  • Comfort
  • Onboard Storage
  • Portability
  • Durability


Size (length x width)11' x 34"
Weight55 lbs
Capacity280 lbs
MaterialHigh Density Polyethylene

Comparison to Similar Kayaks:

Perception Hi-Life Ocean Kayak Malibu 9.5 Eddyline Caribbean 14FS Feelfree Nomad Wilderness Systems Targa 100
Expert Rating
Size11' x 34"9'5" x 33"14' x 29"9'6 x 29.25"10' x 32"
Weight55 lbs54 lbs50 lbs46.2 lbs57 lbs
Onboard Storage8.

Perception Hi-Life Review

Reasons to Buy:
  • Extremely stable on various waters
  • Easy to get on and off when swimming
  • Tracks and turns well
  • Nearly indestructible
  • Nice and easy to move and store
Reasons Not to Buy:
  • Won't win any races
  • Not likely to cope well in class two waters
  • Fairly low weight capacity

Performance of the Perception Hi-Life

The Perception Hi-Life scores exceptionally well in all categories. This is a tough, robust boat that’s reportedly ideal for recreational trips and will need barely any maintenance over time.

This boat is a hybrid, which means users can easily switch between kayaking to swimming and paddleboarding without much concern. It apparently tracks well on gentle, flat water, but reviewers express caution if you want to try using it in whitewater or rapid conditions. Take caution if paddling with tons of gear, however, as this boat seems to have a lower weight capacity than most. Reviewers have warned about this, but the general consensus is that it won’t impede your fun too much.

The kayak is impressively lightweight, and the biggest surprise to most experts is that it’s so stable for such a long vessel. That goes for paddling stood up as well as sitting down.

The high seat on this boat makes it fairly comfy for a couple of hours of kayaking. Experts also commented positively about the ample storage and ease of access to features such as an under-seat cooler and a rail for fishing gear.

The Hi-Life doesn’t seem to be a top pick for anyone looking for high performance or max speed, but that’s unlikely to bother many recreational paddlers. If you’re looking for a durable hybrid kayak that gives you versatility and tons of stability, give the Perception Hi-Life a try.

Expert Reviews of the Perception Hi-Life

8.130mo Fishing ChartersThis really is a surprising purchase - for the money, you get a super comfy seat that's great for fishing, and getting on and off the back of the boat for swimming and paddling is quick and easy. It's also really stable for an 11-foot boat, which is a major selling point.Read more
7.5Ozark Mountain Trading CompanyThe Perception Hi-Life is a fantastic in-between boat that sits in the middle between a kayak and a paddleboard. If you want to take a pet with you on a gentle recreational trip or two, you'll have lots of space and tons of stability backing you up.Read more
8.1Happiness WithoutI think this is a great hybrid kayak for those traveling on calm waters. It's unlikely to fare well on class two waters, but the boat doesn't seem to compromise on speed much if I need to adjust. The relatively small weight capacity, however, means it may not be the best choice for everyone. It's a fun boat to take on gentles trips, nonetheless.Read more

Handling of the Perception Hi-Life

Expert Rating: 7.0

7.5Ozark Mountain Trading CompanyThis boat works brilliantly for fishing and occasional recreational trips, whether stood up or sat down.Read more
6.5Happiness WithoutThis is by no means a fast kayak, but you get a ton of stability back in the bargain. I think it's fast enough for most recreational kayakers. It steers brilliantly thanks to the hull's flat design, and it will turn without complaint whether sat or stood. The removable skeg isn't always helpful - in fact, I removed it when moving between shallow and deep waters for ease of transition.Read more

Stability of the Perception Hi-Life

Expert Rating: 8.2

8.530mo Fishing ChartersThe flat design underneath this boat adds to its stability - and for an 11-foot boat, it's amazingly steady right off the push- not bad!Read more
7.0Ozark Mountain Trading CompanyThere's tons of stability in this kayak - I'm able to paddle comfortably both sat down and stood up. I'd recommend it for recreational journeys, however.Read more
9.0Happiness WithoutThe hybrid design of this boat makes it super stable, and I've tested it on some big swells - it traverses them without an issue. I love the deck padding, too - it's great for keeping stable when stood up. As an 11-foot kayak, this really is a stable surprise. I think it works great in high wind and on open ocean waters, too.Read more

Comfort of the Perception Hi-Life

Expert Rating: 8.0

9.030mo Fishing ChartersThe seat onboard this hybrid SUP kayak looks pretty basic, but in practice, it's actually really comfortable! Getting on and off the splash deck for some swimming is nice and easy thanks to inbuilt handles. It's super comfortable to sit down and stand back up again if you need to.Read more
7.5Ozark Mountain Trading CompanyThe seat is nicely designed and has a super-accessible cooler underneath. This boat's also likely to be pretty comfortable for other passengers (such as your dog!).Read more
7.5Happiness WithoutThis is a fairly comfortable paddler - it has a nice, high seat, which is easy to recline. However, it tends to get a bit fatiguing after a couple of hours on the water, and you can't adjust its height or forward-back position. At least, it's easy enough to get on and off the board with the stern hand mounts.Read more

Onboard Storage of the Perception Hi-Life

Expert Rating: 8.2

8.030mo Fishing ChartersThere's plenty of accessible storage onboard. There's a nook under the seat that's easy to get to, and the scupper well underneath works great for cooler storage. The onboard rails also make it easy to set up rod holders for fishing. The cup holder onboard is really handy to get to.Read more
8.0Ozark Mountain Trading CompanyThere's lots of space onboard this boat both front and rear, meaning if you want to bring a dog onboard, for example, you shouldn't have too many problems keeping things steady. There's sliding rail fittings for attaching rod and cup holders - a nice touch.Read more
8.5Happiness WithoutThere's an impressive amount of storage here for such a short boat! There's bungee cords on board so you can easily bring a cooler, or even welcome a pet. I also like the swimming platform and the amazing underseat storage - it's really easy to access on the move. There's also a gear track which probably isn't going to be a top feature for recreational paddlers, but it's a welcome touch all the same. Read more

Portability of the Perception Hi-Life

Expert Rating: 7.5

7.5Happiness WithoutThe Hi-Life 11 is extremely light at 55 lbs and is pretty short - which means it's going to be easy for most people to carry and mount on vehicles when needed. However, don't try dragging it - there's no skid plate! Use the carry handles and you should be fine.Read more

Durability of the Perception Hi-Life

Expert Rating: 8.3

7.030mo Fishing ChartersThe onboard foam feels really rigid, and it's highly supportive for when I'm standing up. I like it a lot - it's a great build for the price point.Read more
9.5Happiness WithoutThis boat is almost indestructible! It'll take all kinds of hits and scratches and will withstand it all. Its high-density polyethylene means it's likely to withstand years of use. I barely need to maintain it.Read more