Based out of Greenville, South Carolina, Perception has been making kayaks for over 40 years.
They’re dedicated to producing affordable, accessible craft to get more people into the sport, with an emphasis on easy-to-use boats that offer comfort and safety.
And aside from their extensive range of recreational kayaks, they’ve also developed an impressive selection of fishing craft.
And since its release in 2019, the Perception Outlaw 11.5 Fishing Kayak has become one of their most popular models.
But is it worth its status as a bestseller?
How does it compare with other fishing kayaks in this class?
Stay tuned for the answers, and to find out if this is the right fishing kayak for you.
Our Verdict on the Perception Outlaw Fishing Kayak
The Outlaw 11.5 packs in so much, and scores impressive marks right across the board, and all at a mouth-watering price point. With its excellent stability on the water, it’s ideal for standing casts and reels.
- The Perception Outlaw Sit-on-Top Fishing Kayak Review
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The Perception Outlaw Fishing Kayak – What is It?
Perception are in good company.
They’re owned by Confluence Outdoor, and part of an impressive kayak and canoe portfolio that includes the likes of Wilderness Systems, Mad River, and Dagger.
And between them, they’ve produced some of the finest kayaks and canoes the world has ever seen.
But is the Outlaw included in that assessment?
The Outlaw 11.5 is actually 11.6 feet long, and 35 inches at its widest point.
It’s a hardshell, sit-on-top fishing kayak with lawn chair seating, an impressive amount of storage, and generous, uncluttered deck space.
Since its relatively recent release in 2019, it has garnered some rave reviews, and is one of the best-selling fishing kayaks on the market today.
Not least because of its attractive price point for what you get.
In fact, I’ve included it in this review of my best fishing kayaks for 2023, so let’s see what all the fuss is about.
What’s it For?
Perception says the Outlaw’s best use is for paddling and fishing calm lakes and ponds, and slow moving rivers and streams.
But it’s perfectly capable on coastal waters, too – and you can fish open water providing the conditions aren’t too crazy.
With its excellent stability on the water, it’s ideal for standing casts and reels, and you can easily enjoy a spot of fly fishing with the Outlaw.
It’s been designed for paddlers of all sizes, and anyone from beginners to pros are going to feel comfortable in this craft.
The only place I might choose to avoid with this kayak is for peppy rivers and choppy conditions. It’s not going to be the best for whitewater, for example, given the lack of rocker in the hull.
The Perception Outlaw Sit-on-Top Fishing Kayak Review
Durability is another watch-word in Perception’s lexicon. They make kayaks that are built to last.
Constructed from high-density polyethylene, the Outlaw definitely fits this mold, and with the right care it should be with you for a lifetime.
The hardware is solid and sturdy, which is particularly comforting when you’re transporting the kayak.
Bungee cords are made from quality materials, and nothing feels like it’s going to break anytime soon.
Of course, a kayak will only last as long as you’re willing to take good care of it.
Check out this article on proper kayak maintenance, and go here if you want to learn how to store your kayak to ensure it stays good for many seasons to come.
With all the fishing-friendly features and storage options on offer here (which we’ll discuss in detail momentarily), you might think that the Outlaw 11.5 fishing kayak is lacking in the performance department.
Let’s take a look.
The hull of the Outlaw is quite striking to behold. It’s a pontoon-style craft with a soft chine, and a pronounced skeg/keel that runs the length of the boat.
It’s very flat, with almost zero rocker.
This indicates that it will track well on calm lakes and ponds, but isn’t going to be so hot when it comes to choppy conditions.
But for getting from A to B with minimal fatigue, the Outlaw is very impressive, and tracks straight as an arrow.
Pontoon hulls aren’t exactly designed for speed, and the Outlaw perfectly demonstrates this. It might be one of the slowest kayaks out there.
This has clearly been designed for stability over speed – and that’s perfectly okay for a fishing kayak.
And you can always attach a trolling motor or power pole to add some extra pace if you feel the need for speed.
Alternatively, Perception has recently released a pedal drive version, and the Showdown 11.5 is in the shops now.
Regardless, fishing kayaks don’t need to be world beaters, and most of us are looking for solid stability and efficient tracking for lazy days on the water.
If it’s rock-solid stability you want, it’s rock-solid stability you’re gonna get!
This is where the Outlaw really comes into its own.
Designed as a stand-up fishing platform, it offers plenty of deck space and a wide hull, so you can get to your feet with confidence, and feel comfortable while you’re up there.
The pontoon-style hull is going to seriously help with that.
In a recent review, I put the Perception Pescador Pilot as being slightly ahead of the Outlaw when it comes to stability, which is why it made the list of the best stand-up fishing kayaks.
That said, there wasn’t much in it, and the Outlaw is every bit as solid in the water – and it might be even better.
11.5 feet in length might just be the sweet spot for fishing kayaks that offer a marriage of comfort, practical storage space, and the ability to move when required.
You’ll find that the Outlaw is nimble enough, turns easily, and is ideal for fishing close to shore, river banks, and structures.
It might not do so well in a slalom freestyle event, but it’s more than capable of handling most situations when it comes to kayak angling.
Features and Accessories
A common complaint with high-end, expensive fishing kayaks, is that we wish those impressive features could be made available to anglers who have a budget to stick to.
Enter the Perception Outlaw.
- Two, double-barrel rod holders for up to four fishing rods.
- Elevated seating console – more on this below.
- Stowable seat.
- The side handles double as gear tracks.
- Molded transducer hole and scupper – (try one of these awesome fish finders).
- Unique molded bow and stern handles.
- Molded trays for keeping tackle close to hand.
- Wide deck area.
- EVA traction pads.
- Three molded mount recesses – for additional accessories without the need to drill holes.
- Molded cup holders.
- Two paddle park options.
- Trolling motor/power pole compatible.
- Rear mounting plate.
- Drain plug.
- Drainage scupper holes.
- Dual replacement skid plates.
Some points to note:
Side handles that double as gear tracks – is it ingenious? Is it frustrating?
I think the jury is out on that one. It depends if you have items mounted, and you’re trying to use the handles as handles at the same time. Maybe let me know what you think in the comments.
The EVA traction pads are designed to provide grip when standing, as well as to dampen sound, so you don’t spook the fish.
The paddle park system is quite a clever feature. You have one strap that’s on the tank well mesh at the bow of the kayak – you can use this when you’re sitting down.
The other is incorporated into the bow handle, which can angle your paddle at a more reachable height when you’re standing up. That’s a really simple, but smart feature that is going to be very practical for a lot of anglers.
I think as far as features go, the Outlaw even rivals the likes of the Vibe Shearwater right out of the box.
And when you consider the price point, that’s no mean feat.
The Perception Outlaw 11.5 boasts one of the highest seating positions in the fishing kayak industry. From the keel to its highest point (where your knees will be) it’s an impressive 16-inches.
That affords you a very commanding field of view over the water.
Roomy and spacious, the clutter-free deck and elevated seating position combine to make the paddler feel unrestricted.
And if you’re anything like me, this minimalist design can even go so far as to promote a calm mood on the water, and improve mental health.
I’m rapidly favoring kayaks with a stripped-back, clean deck just for this purpose.
There are no adjustable or multiple foot braces. You’ll find one fixed position foot brace either side in front of the seating area.
Now, depending on your size, you might find this perfectly acceptable, or it might be a little uncomfortable.
If you’re a kayaker who prefers the option of adjustable foot pegs or multiple molded foot braces, and they’re an important part of your paddling technique, then the Outlaw isn’t going to be the best choice for you.
Try something like the Sea Ghost 130 or the Lifetime Teton instead.
The seat itself is super comfortable, with a mesh back and bottom that helps with ventilation and breathability. It’s also quick-drying, and has a good amount of lumbar support for day-long fishing trips.
Bow to stern, the Outlaw makes the best possible use of every inch of the space available.
And starting with the bow, there are two clever paddle parks you can slip a blade into for quick, hands-free fishing – one when you’re standing and one when you’re seated.
Just behind, you’ll find a storage well that’s covered with a bungee mesh to keep items secure. The bungee is durably made, but easy to unhook to gain access to the well underneath.
The large, spacious deck is clutter-free, and can be used for additional storage depending on your personal preferences.
Either side of the seating area, you’ll find molded cup holders and item trays, so you can keep things like fishing pliers close to hand, as well as your favorite fishing beverage.
These areas can also accommodate Perception’s Outlaw saddlebags, which are secured using tie-downs, and are designed to incorporate larger Plano tackle boxes, for example. Alas, these are sold separately.
Given that the seat offers a seriously elevated position, there’s plenty of extra storage space under it, and a wide opening in which to access anything you place here.
It can even be removed and slipped back into a special storage slot itself, so you can add up to a 35 liter kayak fishing cooler or similar large storage item in the squared-out tank well underneath.
If you prefer, you can then use this to sit on instead of the seat, which gives you even more storage options while on the water.
Behind the seat, there’s a generous stern tank well with bungee cord webbing, that can easily accommodate larger kayak crates, boxes, and bags.
This has been designed to be especially compatible with Perception’s own Splash Crate, which again, is sold separately aftermarket.
But there’s still plenty of scope to add extras if you so desire, and with a spot of DIY you can mount more gear accessory tracks or mounting plates along the gunwales to the stern of the boat.
The only thing missing is a watertight storage hatch – which might upset some anglers – but you can’t have everything, can you?
The Outlaw is capable of a maximum weight capacity of 425 lbs – which is excellent for this size and style of fishing kayak.
And with its impressive stability, and expansive storage, you can feel free to bring along the kitchen sink! Take a look at this complete kayak fishing gear list to make sure you have everything you need.
But remember to never overload your fishing kayak, even if you think you have a lot of leeway with a high weight capacity.
You’re including yourself, all your gear, and any potential catch you might land in that figure. You might not sink, but being unbalanced is going to cause you problems, and might make the kayak a challenge to handle.
At 77 lbs – including the lawn seat – the Outlaw does pretty well to keep its weight down, but you’ll still need a buddy to help get it onto your vehicle, and to the water’s edge.
You can also use one of these kayak carts for an extra helping hand – ideal if you have a little further to travel.
Still, the Outlaw offers unique bow and stern handles – solidly built into the kayak to make lifting and transporting the vessel even easier.
They’re contoured with added grip and handholds, so they feel intuitive and practical to use.
You can hold the handles in two ways, coming in on two different angles, depending on what’s more comfortable for you.
Ease of Use
Like Pelican Kayaks, Perception are well known for their easily accessible recreational boats, and they manufacture craft that are great for beginners.
They have shallow learning curves, and paddling feels intuitive, and breeds confidence when you’re out on the water for the first time.
I would say the Outlaw definitely falls into that category, and even someone who has never paddled before can step into this kayak and feel right at home.
For more of the best fishing kayaks for beginners, check out that article.
A birds-eye view of the Outlaw offers a sleek, bullet-shaped aesthetic, with some nice contours in the molded lines.
On the runway, for 2023, it will be wearing either Moss Camo (dark green), Dapper, (blue), or Fossil Tan (beige) shades of color.
Sunrise (red/yellow) and Grasshopper (light green) have also been available in the past.
Each shade is attractive and striking, without being too offensive to the eye. The Fossil Tan is a solid shade of beige, while the others incorporate a brushed camouflage effect.
As for logos, there are no stickers to be worn off here – so that gets plenty of plus points.
Perception has stamped their trademark symbol at midships and to the stern on the access plate, and it looks smart and professional. The seat back of the chair also bears this logo.
The bungee mesh at the bow and the side logo has a funky fish image on it, the design of which fits well with the “Outlaw” theme.
When all’s said and done, this is a stylish-looking fishing kayak and no mistake.
Perception pride themselves on designing and manufacturing super-safe kayaks for all levels of paddler, and the Outlaw 11.5 is no exception.
Solid as a rock, it’s going to take some effort to flip this fishing platform. And even if you are ever concerned about tipping over, you can always add one of these outriggers/stabilizers.
As mentioned, the color schemes are bold, and should be easily visible when you’re out on the water – even in the more muted shades.
Just don’t forget to wear your fishing PFD at all times, and you can check out this article for a complete guide to safe kayak fishing.
I think I need to update my best kayaks under $1000 review!
Did someone say “bargain?!”
I genuinely can’t quite believe what’s on offer here for the price point. Coming in just over $900, this is an outstanding fishing machine for the price.
And imagine what it would be like if you got it on sale!
Perception has knocked it out of the park with this one, and I don’t think there’s a more practical, comfortable, feature-rich fishing kayak for the price on the market.
That said, if it’s still a little over your budget, you can always check out this review of the best fishing kayaks under $500.
Or go here for even more reviews of the best budget-friendly fishing kayaks. There are still plenty of decent options out there that will suit folks on a low income.
Kayak fishing isn’t just for the super rich!
“So good it should be illegal,” is the marketing spiel from Perception.
The thing is, they just might have a point!
The Outlaw 11.5 packs in so much, and scores impressive marks right across the board, and all at a mouth-watering price point.
I’m seriously struggling to find fault with it, and it might just be my new favorite!
My main issues are negligible, to say the least, and are down to personal preference more than anything else. I like watertight storage hatches, and adjustable foot pegs.
That said, aside from it’s rock-solid stability, and decent maneuverability, the Outlaw lacks a little in the speed and tracking department.
But that certainly wouldn’t stop me from purchasing one, if the wife would ever allow me another fishing kayak!
Top, top marks to Perception for creating this outstanding angling machine. Like me, I’m sure you can now see why it has received a ton of praise, and is one of the best-selling fishing kayaks available today.
The Perception Outlaw 11.5 fishing kayak has certainly rustled a few feathers and rippled a few waves since it was first released – and for good reason.
I hope this review has helped you make an informed decision if this model is right for you. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
Do you own an Outlaw? What are the pros and cons? Would you purchase one again?
Stay safe out there folks, tight lines, and happy kayak fishing!