I have been looking forward to testing a Delta Kayak for a long time! So finally getting my hands on a Delta 15.5 GT was a great excuse to go on a paddling adventure and explore a new section of river. I took the Delta 15.5 GT on a section of the Mississippi River starting from Elmont, Ontario, and ending in Pakenham. The river let me put the Delta Kayak 15.5 GT to a real test. So let’s see how it fares in an in-depth, unbiased Delta Kayak 15.5 review.
Delta Kayak 15.5 GT Specifications
Price: $2350 (USD)Length: 15’ 5”Width: 24”Weight: 49 LBS (22 KG)Capacity: 400 LBS (181 KG)Best Use: All conditions touring
How Delta Kayaks Make the 15.5 GT
There are three methods used to make kayaks:
- Composite kayaks. These are carbon kevlar or flaxweed. These are very lightweight, high-performance, and expensive.
- Rotomolded kayaks are the other end of the spectrum. To make these, they pour plastic into a mold, heat it, and spin it until the plastic coats the inside of the mold. Next, they pop the mold and, voila, you have a kayak. These kayaks are extremely durable. You can bounce them about on rocks and get nothing more than a few scratches.
- The middle ground method is thermoformed kayaks. The Delta Kayak 15.5 GT is a thermoformed kayak. To make a thermoformed kayak, they mold the top and the bottom of the kayak separately and then weld them together. Because of this, the plastic is much thinner, stiffer, and harder. Thermoform kayaks are higher performing and lighter than rotomolded kayaks but are less durable and can crack more easily.
The seat system in the Delta Kayak 15.5 GT is very comfortable. Even after two hours of kayaking, I was still completely comfortable. The back band is adjustable, so I could set it up to provide excellent lower back support. The back band is easy to adjust while in the kayak. It locks it into place using the cleat system in the front of the cockpit.
There are no hip pads which could be a helpful addition. But the foot peg system is great and feels solid to push on.
The standard Delta Kayak 15.5 GT comes with a skeg but the version I tested had a rudder. I did not use this in the shallower, quicker water where I tested the kayak, but it would be great for wide, open water.
Overall, the Delta 15.5 GT is a very comfortable boat with plenty of foot room. Even as someone tall, I have plenty of room. That suggests this kayak would still be comfortable for bigger people than me. You could be any size up to 6’ 5” or a 36” inseam before you max the kayak out.
At 24” wide, the Delta Kayak 15.5 GT is not designed for stability, but it is still an incredibly stable kayak. It is easy to get in and out of and has excellent secondary stability when you hold it on edge. It is solid and unlikely to flip.
The Delta Kayak 15.5 GT is the first Delta kayak that I have been able to try and I am impressed with it. While it is not a cheap kayak, it is not extremely expensive for a kayak of this sort. Comparably composite kayaks of a similar nature can cost anything between $3000-6000 (USD). So for what it is, $2350 (USD) is not an unreasonable price.
As a kayak, it has nice finishings and seems like a well-thought-out boat. It has certain features, including the build, that really stand out as high quality.
One of these is the hatch system. It has a huge day hatch in the front which has plenty of space to store useful items. I love having an easy-to-access hatch, but hate when the hatch is too small to store much. On the Delta Kayak 15.5 GT, the day hatch is easy to access and a great size. As with all touring kayaks, this hatch is water resistant, not waterproof, so you should expect it to get a little wet.
The bow and stern hatches are also a good size with plenty of room. You could easily take the Delta Kayak 15.5 GT on a camping trip. The hatches are easy to take on and off and are secured tightly using a bungee system.
So, all in all, it feels like a very quality kayak with well-thought-out features.
I tested the Delta Kayak 15.5 GT on various types of rapids. This meant I could test the kayak in various touring conditions.
Performance on Class 1 Rapids
A kayak like the Delta Kayak 15.5 GT is not designed to run rapids. Due to the length of the Delta 15.5 GT, it is not easy to maneuver quickly. It acts more like a raft meaning that much of your success on a rapid is about establishing your line in advance. There is not a lot of room for movement once in the waves. Experience reading white water plays a large role in your experience taking the Delta 15.5 GT down rapids.
The bow is nice and high so it sheds the water beautifully. So, it can be a fun kayak to paddle if you can choose a good line.
Performance on Class 2 Rapids
To take the Delta Kayak 15.5 GT down the Blakeney rapids, a set of class 2 rapids (in this season), I popped a paddle skirt on the kayak and scouted to check the water level. A thermoformed kayak like the Delta 15.5 GT can take some knocks and bumps but is less able to take big hits as they can crack. So it is important to check out any class 2 rapids and ensure they are not too shallow before you take the 15.5 GT down them.
The Delta Kayak 15.5 GT survived the run which is a testament to a great boat with a high-quality build. That said, I wouldn’t want to take it down rapids like this very often. It probably took a year off the boat’s life from just this trip. The bottom is pretty scraped up and will need a polish to feel smooth afterward.
Who is The Delta Kayak 15.5 GT For?
The Delta Kayak 15.5 GT is a touring kayak and not a high-performance touring kayak. As a touring kayak, it has two bulkheads (one in front of the feet and one behind the seat)and can remain buoyant when swamped. Bulkheads make it much easier to empty a swamped kayak and re-enter the boat when on wide, open water. It also has thigh hooks and a small cockpit which takes a skirt. This makes it rollable. Therefore it is a step up from a recreational kayak.
The Delta 15.5 GT is for someone who wants a touring kayak that can be taken on almost any water. It is not designed for high-end rough water but can deal with it. If you know you will be dealing with lots of high-end rough water, you should purchase a higher-performance touring kayak. But this kayak can confidently deal with all conditions if they arise.
It is not a kayak for anyone. You do need to be able to have the money to afford a kayak like this. But if you have the money and are looking for an all-around touring kayak that can do anything, then this is a kayak to consider.
Overall Review of the Delta Kayak 15.5
I really like the Delta Kayak 15.5 GT. Many people have recommended Delta Kayaks to me, and having tried the 15.5 GT, I now see why. It is a beautiful, well-made craft. It is comfortable, light, fast, and stable on the water. All in all, it is a great all-around kayak. So two thumbs up for the Delta Kayak 15.5 GT.