Business in the front, party in the back. Delta Kayaks’ Fusion Hull could be the most unusual hybridization since the mullet. But where the contentious early ‘80s–mid ‘90s hairstyle never quite captivated the mainstream, Delta’s kayak–catamaran hull graft promises undeniable appeal for the recreational paddling masses.

Delta Kayaks 12AR
Length: 12 ft
Width: 26.5 in
Weight: 42 lbs
Optimum Paddler Weight: 120–255 lbs
Max Capacity: 320 lbs
Price: $1,295 USD  |  $1,450 CAD
deltakayaks.com

The Fusion Hull underpins Delta’s Adventure Rec series, which includes the 12AR and smaller 10AR as well as a 10.5-foot sit-on-top. The design brief for these boats must have read something like: “Let’s build a compact kayak that’s lightweight, looks great and welcomes novice paddlers with superb stability, tracking, easy entry and all day comfort.”

An attractive, lightweight recreational kayak

The 12AR weights just 42 pounds, making it one of the lightest open-cockpit recreational kayaks on the market. It’s also amongst the best looking, thanks to Delta’s thermoforming expertise. At the company’s British Columbia manufacturing facility, sheets of acrylic–ABS plastic are heated and vacuum-formed into graceful and hardwearing kayaks.

The acrylic outer layer gives the 12AR its glossy finish, vibrant color, excellent abrasion resistance and protection against UV fading or weathering. The secondary layer of high-impact ABS offers excellent strength and durability. The only time I’ve seen a Delta with any significant hull damage was a cracked hatch lid after being stored outside, uncovered at 20 below—not what most recreational enthusiasts would consider paddling weather.

Fusion Hull offers stability and handling for every paddler

Twin hulls at the stern maximize tracking. | Photo: Vince Paquot

One look at the 12AR’s catamaran-inspired stern, and it’s clear this is a very stable boat. New paddlers will often lean back when nervous or tired—a subtle weight transfer that makes most kayaks less stable and harder to control.

Think of the 12AR’s twin hulls like training wheels. You can lean back, or even heavily to one side, and the Fusion Hull remains perfectly poised and even-keeled. That incredible stability means it’s also well suited for paddling photographers, anglers and those who like to bring along a canine friend (there’s plenty of room for Fido in the extra-long cockpit).

The hard chines and double-arch hull deliver rock-solid stability. | Photo: Vince Paquot

Okay, you may be thinking, but isn’t a catamaran rather cumbersome to paddle? Well, yes, but not so the 12AR. Remember, the Fusion Hull is a twin-arch stern fused to a V-shaped displacement bow through an alchemy of CAD software and creative design. Acceleration and glide feel comparable to Delta’s more conventional, narrower 12- to 14-footers.

Aside from rock-solid initial stability, the 12AR’s most notable handling characteristic is exceptional tracking. If you want to dig as hard as you like with no course deflection or correction strokes, this is your boat. Look elsewhere if you’re seeking turn-on-a-whim maneuverability or intermediate-and-beyond edging.

Extra-large recreational cockpit is spacious and accessible

The 50-inch-long cockpit opening offers easy in and out for less flexible or claustrophobic paddlers. | Photo: Vince Paquot

Delta designed a new, elongated recreational cockpit for the 12AR to facilitate super-easy entry and exit. At 50 inches long by 20 inches wide, the cockpit opening feels open and airy with an unrestricted, knees-up paddling position. Because the cockpit is too large to fit with a sprayskirt, the 12AR is best suited to paddling smaller lakes, flatwater rivers, secluded estuaries and other sheltered waters.

Delta’s outfitting focuses on personalized comfort with their adjustable and intuitive Contour II seat system. The supportive, multi-position backrest is paired with a padded seat that can be moved four inches fore or aft to optimize fit and trim. All that adjustability means the 12AR has a greater fit range than many kayaks, accommodating paddlers short and tall. Even better, everything can be fine-tuned on the move, making the 12AR a great choice if you’ll be sharing your kayak with family and friends.

All of the cockpit outfitting is on-water adjustable, including the multi-position backrest and Sea Dog foot braces. | Photo: Vince Paquot

A small kayak with a big appetite for adventure

I applaud Delta for making safety a priority with all of their kayaks, and the 12AR is no exception. While many rec kayaks—especially those from big box stores—have only a single sealed hatch, the 12AR features bow and stern bulkheads with large, accessible hatches for plenty of floatation and dry storage. I also love the easy on and off convenience of Delta’s Press-Lock hatch covers, and the color-matched lids look pretty slick, too.

Two large, watertight hatches provide ample storage for a weekend’s worth of gear. | Photo: Vince Paquot

Packed with premium features, Delta’s 12AR is an exciting new option for discerning recreational paddlers. Add the light weight, innovative hull design and oversized cockpit, and you have a virtually barrier-free craft for flatwater adventures.

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