Over the past 10 years, I’ve had the pleasure of paddling (and reviewing for this magazine) nearly every kayak in the Delta line-up—from their flagship performance touring models to accessible tandems and recreational kayaking chimeras. While boats like the Delta 17.5T tandem (read our review here) and the 12AR adventure rec kayak (read our review here) delighted with innovative design elements, Delta’s latest offering takes a tried-and-true touring design and downsizes it for the modern kayaker.
Delta Kayaks 14
Length: 14 ft
Width: 23.5 in
Depth: 13 in
Weight: 45 lbs
Max capacity: 340 lbs
Price: $1,995 USD or 2,150 CAD
The shortest and lightest of Delta’s touring kayaks at just 45 pounds, the 14 is positioned as the easiest to own for weight- and space-conscious paddlers. If you are looking for a full-fledged touring kayak that can handle diverse waters or escaping to a forgotten coast for a few days—and is easy to move from garage to roof rack to put-in and back—the Delta 14 is a superb one-and-done solution.
Stable, well-behaved and available with a skeg or rudder, the 14 embraces Delta’s West Coast touring design ethos: user-friendly, efficient and more than capable of hauling all your gear. This is a compact touring kayak with crazy capacity—over 200 liters—and the large hatches make it dead easy to pack in the luxuries. Camp chair, fondue set, a box of cabernet sauvignon—bring it all!
Like all Delta Kayaks, the 14 is crafted from lightweight thermoformed plastic. At the company’s British Columbia manufacturing facility, sheets of acrylic–ABS plastic laminate are heated and vacuum-formed into hardwearing kayaks with exceptional durability and flawless finish.
The acrylic outer layer gives each Delta kayak its glossy appearance, vibrant color, excellent abrasion resistance and protection against UV fading or weathering. The secondary layer of high-impact ABS is nearly indestructible, so clumsy landings and fumbles on cobble aren’t trip-ending calamities.
Delta has been working with the same material for 35 years—refining their designs and shaping process to optimize strength, weight and aesthetics—so it’s no surprise they’re industry leaders in thermoforming crisp lines and exquisite detail. Witness the 14’s recessed hatches and bungees, handy paddle parks and integrated cockpit coaming. And while Delta’s 14 may resemble and feel similar to a composite kayak, the substantially lower cost makes it easier for new paddlers to make the leap from renting to owning.
Delta’s outfitting focuses on personalized comfort with the adjustable and intuitive Contour II seat system. The multi-position backrest is supportive without getting in the way. It’s paired with a spacious, padded seat that can be moved four inches fore or aft to optimize fit and trim. This ability to fine-tune the seating position means the 14 will fit a wide range of people well, accommodating paddlers short and tall. Even better, everything can be adjusted on the move so you can easily tweak your trim to adapt to changing conditions or cargo in your hatches.
Ten years ago, Delta moved the day hatch from behind the paddler to the front deck and never looked back. The 14’s deck pod is easy to reach and can accommodate most things you’re likely to need at a moment’s notice—sunscreen, first aid kit, cellphone, snacks—without impeding paddler legroom. The gasketed, press-fit hatch covers are watertight and wonderfully easy to open and close. Delta designers spent two years developing these hatches and I love that there are no straps, clasps, stubborn rubber or obstinate neoprene to wrestle into place.
The 14 carries over similar performance characteristics from Delta’s popular 15- and 16-foot touring kayaks—including a moderate, V-shaped hull and well-defined chines for outstanding stability and predictable edging. Like its siblings, this makes the 14 comfortable for beginners with enough liveliness to keep intermediate paddlers smiling. The relatively long waterline assists with tracking and efficiency, making for satisfying—if not speedy—cruising capabilities.
Attractive, comfortable and capable on a variety of waters, the Delta 14 squeezes exceptional value into a downsized touring design that’s fun to paddle and just as easy to manage back on shore.
This article was first published in Paddling Magazine Issue 64. Subscribe to Paddling Magazine’s print and digital editions here, or download the Paddling Magazine app and browse the digital archives here.
The shortest and lightest of Delta’s touring kayaks at just 45 pounds. | Feature photo: Virginia Marshall