Boat Review: Delta Kayaks 17

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

Delta Kayaks has been making thermoformed kayaks at its Maple Ridge, British Columbia, factory since 2006. While other manufacturers experiment with various materials and models, Delta has focused on perfecting this high-gloss, lightweight and incredibly versatile plastic, and on refining a streamlined selection of kayaks to suit touring and recreational paddlers.

Delta Kayaks 17
Length: 17 ft
Width: 22.5 in
Weight: 50 lbs
Max Capacity: 410 lbs
Price: $2,495

True to this mission, the revamped-for-2015 Delta 17 remains the quickest and most efficient boat in the brand’s performance touring line-up—a series that includes the recently updated 15s and 16, as well as the 18.5—while receiving similar performance and contemporary aesthetic updates.

From the top down, the 17’s deck illustrates Delta’s expertise when it comes to shaping plastic sheets. Molded-in bungee clasps help secure the new press-lock hatch covers—even easier to use

than previous iterations thanks to their single gasket seal—and recessed grooves for bungees keep the deck super sleek and snag-free.

The front deck has been raised slightly to accommodate larger paddlers and a new day pod (more on that below), but its sculpted shape allows an efficient paddle catch. Bigfoot could slip his dogs in here, yet medium-sized paddlers won’t feel like they’re helming the control tower of a container ship. The rear deck, meanwhile, has been lowered to facilitate rolling and re-entries.

The 17 is Delta’s flagship touring kayak, and as such it packs an immense amount of dry storage in its three hatches. Campers who love their luxuries (camping cot and double-burner stove, anyone?) will appreciate the oversized stern hatch. The day pod in the front deck is also more generously sized than most, and easy to reach from the cockpit.


Like its siblings, the 17 features a shallow V hull and well-defined chines for stable, precise edging. Novice paddlers will find the boat encourages development of edge control by resting comfortably on a slight edge, and sitting just as solidly when pushed further onto its chine. Plenty of freeboard means the 17 remains a capable performer on edge when loaded for a longer trip.

Great final stability means the 17 doesn’t capsize easily. When we did finally manage to get it over, the boat’s natural positive buoyancy brought us right side up in a hurry. Greenland rolling competitor and instructor, James Roberts, confirmed our findings, “We love it for rolling—it just pops out of the water and back upright.”

Still, the Delta 17 is most at home devouring open water miles. The long waterline and moderate rocker make for efficient glide and tracking. The sharp bow cuts through calm waters or chop quietly and effortlessly—we reached an impressive cruising speed in just a few strokes.

Whether you’re starting out on your journey or you’re a seasoned paddler, larger folks looking for a lightweight touring kayak will appreciate Delta’s commitment to bending plastics. With its sophisticated looks, affordable price tag and hardwearing construction, the thermoformed 17 is built for the long haul.

THE 17 By Delta Kayaks | Photo: Virginia Marshall
THE 17 By Delta Kayaks | Photo: Virginia Marshall

Comfortable Control

The new, well-padded Contour Seat System has four inches of travel fore and aft, and can be adjusted on the fly to optimize contact with the thigh braces or trim a loaded kayak.

Tough Stuff

Delta’s acrylic Solarkote thermoform layup is durable and UV protected—that means no oil-canning or sun-fading.

Let Loose

Reflective decklines tie into bungees bow and stern. Delta says this eliminates loose deck rigging, but we found these are precisely the places we want rigid lines for hauling on during rescues and re-entries.

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