Lightweight Touring Kayak Review: Delta Kayaks 12S

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

This article was part of a feature testing five compact touring kayaks while on a trip in Georgian Bay’s 30,000 Islands. The other boats in this roundup include the Stellar Kayaks S14-LV, the Current Designs Ignite, the Swift Saranac 14 and the Hurricane Kayaks Sojourn 135. Read the review of the Delta Kayak 12s below.

Delta Kayaks 12s review

Stable and well behaved, the 12S embodies Delta’s West Coast touring design ethos—beginner-friendly, efficient and capable of hauling all your gear—scaled down in a compact package.

The multi-chine, V-shaped hull and full, flared bow confidently handle bumpy conditions, while offering satisfying—if not speedy—cruising capabilities on calmer waters.

At 12 feet long, it’s the shortest boat we tested—yet it has an enormous appetite for gear. The hatches swallow nearly 160 liters (33 liters more than the 16-foot Ignite) and are accessed by the largest hatch openings in our line-up.

Delta Kayaks 12S Specs
Length: 12′
Width: 24″
Weight: 38 lbs
Price: $1,425

The gasketed, press-fit hatch covers are bone-dry and by far our favorite to open and close—no straps, clasps, stubborn rubber or neoprene to wrestle with. The 12S is also the only kayak in our group with a day hatch in the front deck—perfect for keeping small essentials dry and within easy reach.

Delta Kayaks are industry leaders in thermoforming crisp lines and exquisite detail from sheets of ABS plastic. From its integrated outfitting adjustments to its gleaming deck and color-matching hatch covers, our demo is flawless inside and out.

Delta Kayaks 12S | Photo: Virginia Marshall

“It fits everyone well,” said one tester, noting the perfect placement and positive grip of the 12S’ padded thigh braces. The 24-inch width cradles a fore- and aft-adjustable seat and low-profile backrest that’s supportive without getting in the way—making the Delta our runner-up roller behind the slender Stellar S14-LV.

Attractive, comfortable and well appointed, the 12S is also the lease expensive boat in our fleet, offering exceptional value for discerning paddlers on a budget.

This article originally appeared in the Adventure Kayak
Summer/Fall 2016 issue.

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