Liquidlogic came up with the apt name of Delta V for this creation debuting back in 2017. The name could refer to a change in velocity, delta waves, and of course, the V could stand for class V. Who knows. When I heard the name, I instantly thought of a specialized military team tackling high-level missions.
Liquidlogic Kayak’s Delta V 88 Specs
Length: 8 ft 6 in
Width: 27 in
Weight: 49 lbs
Capacity: 88 gal
MSRP: $1,099 USD
The 88 refers, of course, to the volume in gallons, but it made me also think of the big old boats Delta 88 Oldsmobiles my parents’ friends used to drive. Whatever the origins of its name, a glance told me Liquidlogic Kayak’s Delta V 88 kayak is all about running steep, rocky creeks.
There’s lots of rocker, a rounded smooth hull, and four security bars—if that’s not enough to tell you what this boat is all about, then the waterfall graphic emblazoned on the stern deck should do the trick.
It had been a while since I last had the chance to paddle a Liquidlogic kayak, so I was pleasantly surprised when the Paddling Magazine team enlisted my help and dropped the Delta V 88 off for review.
Liquidlogic’s hefty and comfortable whitewater kayak
Throwing the Delta V on my roof to head to the river, I immediately noticed it’s got some heft to it. Its 49 pounds of plastic is a good thing if you spend the majority of your time bashing down rocky rivers.
There is a peace of mind knowing your gear will hold up to your abuse, and this creek boat certainly feels like it will.
The Delta V is built to slow things down a bit for increased control in technical whitewater.
Thanks to Liquidlogic’s Badass Outfitting, I know even before sliding into the cockpit the Delta V will offer one of the most comfortable paddling experiences.
The outfitting is easy to adjust and plush, there’s plenty of foot room for my size 10 feet, and the aggressively hooked thigh braces help me stay locked in. So comfortable, so quickly.
On the water, I immediately notice when this creek boat is heeled over slightly, the secondary stability is equal to or maybe even better than the feeling of the boat sitting flat. It’s been a while since I paddled a Stomper, but I remember it shared the same trait.
This is a great feature when paddling across currents in turbulent water to help avoid the bow pearling or water piling on the deck and flipping you over.
Don’t think you need to be tilted way over either—it’s a much more subtle action than what is usually required on most hard-edged river runners or playboats.
Liquidlogic’s best kayak for steep creeks and technical whitewater
Heading through the first rapid, I quickly had to make a few adjustments in my normal paddling style. While I’m more used to boats where I use speed and edging to get around the river, the Delta V is a different beast.
The rocker profile on this creek boat effectively shortens its 8.5-foot length into a much smaller on-water footprint and, coupled with a smoother round hull, it allows me to spin on a dime.
This means I won’t be winning any downriver races with the Delta V 88 anytime soon, but that isn’t really the point.
The Delta V isn’t for lazy paddlers.
According to the team at Liquidlogic, “The Delta V 88 is built to slow things down a bit for increased control in technical whitewater.”
It shines in the kind of creeks stacked with rapids, micro eddies, lots of rocks to slide off and those littered with waterfalls.
That’s the type of run where edges and speed are a detriment. To be honest, I always like to have a bit of speed on tap, even on these steeper creeks, to make sure if my technique isn’t so spot on I can still skip past and over a hole at the bottom of the drop or boof.
Pat Keller’s sit-in kayak design
This is where Liquidlogic designer and multi-time Green River Narrows Race champ Pat Keller came up with a very innovative solution bringing us to the stern deck design.
Liquidlogic Kayaks calls this design feature Turbo Acceleration Pockets. This refers to the unique cut-out design of the stern deck which helps accelerate a paddler forward and away from the bottom of drops.
Sort of like squeezing a watermelon seed between your thumb and finger. This transfer of energy from the water to boat gets me away from the nasty stuff and is a very cool concept.
Liquidlogic’s Delta V 88 creek boat is an aggressive whitewater kayak
Liquidlogic Kayak’s Delta V 88 isn’t for lazy paddlers. I needed to keep a reasonably aggressive attitude to keep the boat going where I wanted.
Staying forward and active in this creek boat kept me in control and the stern high above any grabby current, allowing me to spin into the tiniest micro eddies I could find.
If you’re the kind of paddler who likes to ease up and relax, a river with bigger water will likely take you by surprise. This can seem like a negative feature, but it can also help develop better river reading skills.
If you watch expert paddlers and beginners run the same rapid, you’ll usually see the beginner taking a flurry of strokes while the expert seems to magically float through without effort. Most often the difference is the ability to read the whitewater.
Once you start developing the ability to paddle when you need to and let the river do the rest, not only will you be saving energy, but you’ll also be running harder whitewater with greater ease.
At 175 pounds, I found the Delta V 88 well suited to my size; I don’t think I’d go smaller. However, Liquidlogic does make a smaller version of the same design called the Delta V 73. It’s four inches shorter, an inch slimmer and weighs three pounds less, and it’s aimed at paddlers 100 to 200 pounds.
The Delta V 88 isn’t a do-it-all kayak. If you are looking to do some cruisy float trips with a bit of surf or want to race to the take-out as fast as you can, there are other boats in the Liquidlogic lineup you’ll want to check out. This is a whitewater kayak. You need to match the right machine to the right mission.
If most of your missions are rock-filled steep creeks requiring precision moves in tight quarters with a bit of free fall thrown in the mix—then enlist the Delta V 88 to be part of your team and blast off.
Delta-v is typically provided by the thrust of a rocket engine, or in this case a few well-timed forward strokes by Graham Kent on Dragon’s Tongue, the center line on Garvin’s, Ottawa River. Feature Photo: Kaden McLaughlin