Delta Kayaks has been building high-quality, user-friendly thermoformed touring kayaks in their Vancouver area factory since 2005, but recently Delta’s design team noticed a deficiency. “We haven’t had a great boat that fits smaller paddlers really well,” says Delta designer, Stuart Mounsey. Insert the new Delta 15S kayak.

Delta 15S Specs
Length: 15’
Width: 22”
Weight: 44 lbs
MSRP: $2,295

Delta’s 15S kayak performs on tour

An evolution of the popular Delta 16 kayak, the 15S is specifically designed for small- to medium-sized paddlers and joins the 16 and a higher volume 17-footer in the company’s performance touring line.

“Fifteen feet is really the shortest you can go and still have solid touring performance,” says Mounsey. Indeed, sharing similar hull characteristics—a shallow V bottom, moderate rocker and cutter bow—with the 16 and 17 allows the deceptively quick 15S to keep up with its bigger sisters.

The 15S is not merely a scaled-down version of the 16, however. Delta’s designers gave the new boat a fuller sidewall and hard chines to improve handling with a heavy touring load and enable more definitive, stable edging when you’re carving a turn or spinning around to catch a wave.

The front deck has also been lowered, reducing windage and enabling shorter paddlers to perform low-angle strokes without bashing our pinkies or short-changing our catch.

A snug seat with lots of storage

A smaller, shallower cockpit further privileges the Delta 15S kayak’s vertically-challenged, 115- to 175-pound target audience, while leaving room for taller paddlers who don’t mind a snug fit. I found Delta’s positioning of the molded-in thigh braces spot on—well back on my thighs with a secure grip for edging, bracing and rolling. Rather than making the thigh braces adjustable, the designers used a sliding seat that’s easy to trim on the fly.

A low-profile skeg box (the 15S is also available with a rudder) and placement of the day hatch in the front deck, rather than behind the cockpit, give the Delta 15S way more storage capacity than you’d expect from a low-volume, 15-foot boat. Mounsey is especially proud of the totally redesigned hatch covers, which he says have been two years in development. The plastic lids pop on and off in one easy step and, according to Mounsey, will remain watertight for years to come thanks to their double-sealing rubber gaskets.

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Good grabs and stylish hatches

Chunky, soft-grip carry handles are very easy to hold and serve double-duty: the handles retract into tidy “toggle parks” and are tied into the deck lines to take up slack without making the lines too tight.

Woman paddles the Delta 15S kayak
Feature Photo: Vince Paquot

Delta’s expertise stretching thermoformed acrylic shows in the 15S’ subtle refinements: integrated cockpit coaming and hatch rims improve durability; accordion-like flex points in the curved bulkheads reduce stress when pressure is placed on the hull or deck.

The front day pod is convenient for smaller essentials like a camera, GPS and sunglasses, but moves the deck bungees further forward and out of easy reach for, say, a map case. Delta designer Stuart Mounsey says he’s “sceptical of hatches that are too easy to get on and off,” but you wouldn’t know it from the 15S’ slick lids—they’re dry, stylish and dead easy.

Get the right fit with the Delta 15S

The new Delta 15S kayak combines innovative design features with the proven characteristics of Delta’s performance touring line-up. Best suited to aspiring and intermediate paddlers looking for a responsive kayak that’s fun to paddle both empty and loaded down for a longer trip, the 15S is proof that good things do come in small packages.


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