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On Lake Ivanhoe in Orlando with the Perception Hi-Life

by Richard
08/30/2017 12:17:53 P.M.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is the most versatile stand-up paddleboard (SUP) I’ve ever ridden. That’s because the Perception Hi-Life is also a kayak. Usually when there’s a fusion between two types of boats, there is an area that suffers. But not this time, as this craft is great for both paddling as a kayak and a SUP.

Central Florida is a playground for lakes, so I hopped on (literally, I jumped on it from the dock) the deck and started paddling around Lake Ivanhoe. It was a delight. I’ve long been a big fan of stand-up paddling for all the most important reasons. You have such freedom, such visibility. It’s calming. Cathartic. And this kayak/SUP absolutely offers that. I loved the EVA foam padding, which was soft and in all the right places. 

Typically, I like having the foam everywhere, which is not the case on the Hi-Life, because…well, it’s a boat and it has other things on it. But what you lose in foam, you gain in other amenities. One cool thing is the raised deck in the bow. If you typically walk to the front of a normal SUP, the stern of the board will pop out of the water and you’ll likely fall in. You still can’t do a dance on the front of this hybrid craft, but it’s more balanced. Plus, there’s a foam pad on that part of the deck, which means it’s perfect for a pet—as they tend to love the front of the boat. In paddle boards, there often isn’t padding that far forward and it can be hard for pets to balance. This is flat, padded with the EVA foam, and elevated, so you can put things on it and not worry too much about them.

If the front is balanced, the back is exceptionally so. Again, because it’s a boat, it’s built up a little more and thus has substantial more balance. With foam there, too, and a raised deck around it, it makes the best place for a cooler or bag…or pet. Even a little human if you have a kid you want to bring with you. 

Lake Ivanhoe didn’t have much traffic that day, so I was able to peacefully paddle around with the Orlando skyline in the background. Even with high traffic, the boat balances well and I’m sure would do well in heavy waves. 

I also really dig the seat. The padding is soft while the support is firm, striking a good balance that makes it pleasing to sit in for respite when standing or kneeling while paddling grows too tiring. It goes without saying, but the seat is also great to have if you want to, ya know, stop and read while you’re floating. Or soaking in the sun or whatever your preference.

And if you live in the flat waters of Orlando (or other great fishing spots), the balanced and comfortable seat help make it good for fishing, too. Along that theme, there is a gear track built into the boat that allows you to add accessories, like a phone mount, camera, speakers, or—of course—fishing gear. 

And if you happen to fall in, there are two convenient handles in the back that can help you pull yourself back up onto the board. How sweet is that? Speaking of sweet, there is a cup holder for whatever drink you’d like to bring along. I’ve never heard of that on a paddleboard. 

For me, there's nothing quite like the Perception Hi-Life. For anyone who enjoys being on the water, it is absolutely worth trying out!

Specs

Length: 11 ft.
Width: 34 in.
Weight: 55 lbs.
Capacity: 280 lbs.