Delta 12s vs Alchemy 14s speed

-- Last Updated: Apr-17-14 3:05 PM EST --

I am interested in both of these kayaks for some multiday camping trips mostly along larger lakes where there may be up to 4' waves. The longer Deltas are out of my price range, so I know I'm not comparing apples to apples. I have not had a chance to paddle them yet.

2 questions:

I have heard that the Alchemy's design for maneouverability compromises its straight line paddling speed, but would it be slower than the 12s?

Which would you prefer going across a wavy, windy lake?


Never paddled the Delta
But a huge fan of the Alchemy S, I find them to track very well and they really shine in rough or active water.

Although not a speedster, the Alchemy is a quick boat for 14’.

The only downside for the Alchemy is the skeg does take up a lot of room in the rear hatch. I have heard that Delta boats can haul a lot of stuff.

Don’t know where you’re coming from or
what you’re talking about. Invest in some more information and we may be able to help you.

Only info needed is experience with both
I have only had short, recreational kayaks, but am looking for something that I can load up with 30lb of camping gear and head out on a lake for a week. The new kayak would also replace the rec kayak for everyday use as I am also tired of the yaw with every paddle stroke while in a short kayak. I will be demoing the slim selection of kayaks that are available in my area and I am also looking at any used kayaks that come available (also very limited, especially since I’m looking for a kayak that will give my 5’7", 140lb body a secure fit).

I’m not looking for any other suggestions for boats to look at because I’ve seen everything that I have available to me and I do research as used ones come available.

As for speed, I’m just looking for someone that has paddled both the Alchemy 14s and Delta 12s and I would like to know if, for them, in the conditions that they paddled the boats, one was noticeable faster.

As far as which you would rather paddle across a wavy, windy lake, has anyone’s experience been that one of the two boats will weathercock more than the other or be less thrown off course/slowed by waves.


First things first

– Last Updated: Apr-17-14 7:56 PM EST –

You speak of being tired of the yaw you get with a rec kayak. Any kayak that's made for maneuverability will yaw when paddled by you, perhaps as badly or even worse, depending on the degree to which the design emphasizes turning ability. Will these boats yaw if paddled by someone else? Not if they have a good stroke. There is no need for a rec kayak to yaw. With a clean, well-executed stroke, you'll have no problem, and one thing you may want to do to reward yourself for your new boat, whatever it turns out to be, is do what many here say to do and get some lessons, or do what a lot have done, which is teach yourself with the aid of books and videos. The boat is only half the equation, and often less, when trying to solve such problems.

How to reduce yaw
Thanks. I always just assumed that the yaw was from a short kayak and nobody ever told me differently, so I haven’t ever really worked on my paddling technique. I have a low angle stroke, so I’m assuming the biggest thing to change to reduce yaw is having a more vertical paddle position as close to the kayak as possible, correct?

I haven’t paddled any kayaks longer than 12’. If 2 different length kayaks have the same hull shape, the longer one will yaw less when paddled with a poor stroke, correct.


Not necessarily a
higher angle stroke but one that ends well before the blade passes your hips… Each time you pull the blade aft of your hip the resulting sweep will generate yaw. I try to end the stroke mid thigh.

Very different kayaks
I’ve never paddled the Alchemy but I owned the Delta 12.10 (not the 12s). Some things that stand out:

–Based only on length and width, the Alchemy should be faster. The Delta takes off fast but it’s not a fast boat for long distances. Nor is it a slow boat, though. I would say it’s faster than you might expect for its short length.

–Overall the Delta is better quality, being made of thermoformed plastic.

–Speaking only of the Delta 12.10 (not the 12), I can say that it has excellent stability in rough conditions. The trademark Delta shape has a lot of volume fore and aft, with significant flare. This makes them buoyant so that they ride up over waves rather than punching through them. I found it very easy to stay upright in wind and waves, including confused water coming from different directions. I almost didn’t even have to pay attention to where the waves were coming from, and a strong wind barely seemed to affect stability.

However, I’m not sure any 12-foot kayak would be comfortable in the four-foot waves you mention. Those are ocean conditions and you wouldn’t want to be paddling in that all day in a short kayak.

According to the YouTube review of the Delta 12s by Frontenac Outfitters, the Delta 12s paddles the same as the 12.10 in terms of handling rough water. You can call Frontenac directly for more precise information—they are very knowledgeable.

–With your build, I believe the Alchemy cockpit (18.5" x 35") is too big for you.

– The Alchemy weighs 13 lbs more than the Delta 12s. That is an extremely significant weight difference and a big strike against the Alchemy.

– Dagger doesn’t give the hatch volume of the Alchemy at its website. The Delta 12s has 146L in the hatches, which is very large for its short length, again reflecting the flared, high-volume ends. I’ve camped for several days with the Delta 12.10 (159L) and found the hatches huge.

–The day hatch on the Delta is much more accessible than on the Alchemy.

The Delta 14 might work for you, although the cockpit is a bit deep. It’s $700 more than the 12. It would certainly be faster than the 12.

If money is an obstacle, I would recommend the Delta 12s over the Dagger Alchemy 14 because although they’re similar in price, the Delta 12s is better quality overall and a unique kayak with high stability at an extremely light weight. It’s one of the very few short kayaks that can handle rough conditions and has enough hatch space for camping. Well worth $1400, I would say, especially compared to any rotomolded boat.

Another good option is to save up an additional $700 and get the Delta 14 if it fits you. If you keep the kayak for 7 years, that’s $100 a year.

I haven’t paddled either so cant say for sure which would be faster but I would bet on the longer narrower kayak. No guarantees.

Now thermoform is an OK material as long as your not going down creeks with rocks. They will crack, I have seen it twice. Both times the kayak was unable to continue as they were taking on to much water. Rotomold is alot tougher material so much better for rocks. But if that’s not a concern then Thermoform is fine. Its lighter for sure but pretty thin stuff. I had one for a while.

I take it you cant test paddle each? If that’s the case you could order just about any kayak online nowadays. So no reason to limit your choice if you cant test paddle the ones your thinking about buying.


– Last Updated: Apr-17-14 11:46 PM EST –

A clarification that I think waterbird would agree to when they said "Overall the Delta is better quality, being made of thermoformed plastic" and adding in to what DC9MM said:

This statement makes it sound like it is better just because it is thermoformed. That is a different material than rotomolded, but not necessarily better. Thermoformed (which is a PVC-like material) is generally stiffer, lighter, and can be repaired easier than rotomolded (which is polyethylene), but PE is generally cheaper and more rugged (less likely to need repairs). Both good and bad - only when you take into account your needs and desires can you decide which material is better.

I've been to the Delta plant and have paddle a few of their boats, and their quality seems good. I also paddle an Alchemy L and its quality has also been good.

Not a fan of thermoformed boats myself(getting to the water–they’re great…But IN the water, well, let’s just say I’m a “guy’s guy” who’s pretty rough on his stuff, and likes to take his kayaks to some pretty hairy places at times, where thermoform doesn’t cut it.

Not a significant difference, if you’re sticking to lakes/protected in-land water. I tolerate poly weightlifting well–But only because I’m still strong, if not young.

Having said that, I’ve paddled the Alchemy 14(L) and loved it…I believe one’s skill set and growth would be better served, buying it and using it regularly as opposed to the Delta in 12. And although I don’t put much stock in marketing categorizations, you can use both company’s yardstick lingo in classifying the difference between the two:

Alchemy 14 = “Performance Tourer”

Delta 12 = “Adventure Rec”

You still get “adventure” with “performance.” But will you get the best “performance” during an “adventure”?


Wrong category for the Delta 12.10
Delta classifies it under “light touring” and I agree, having camped with it with no problems whatsoever. It’s storage volume is quite a bit larger than my 15.5’ kayak.

I agree that thermoformed plastic has one vice to be aware of: it can break if you hit a rock forcefully in white water, especially very cold water. But I’ve hit plenty of rocks with mine (not at high speed) and it’s held up very well. It paddles so much better than rotomolded and is significantly lighter. For me those advantages far outweigh the one vice. With care, a thermoformed kayak will last for years.

Thermoformed only for in-land waters? I don’t think there’s any truth to that.

You’re right
I didn’t word that right. Simply stated, put the Alchemy 14 next to the Delta 14 and the better quality of the Delta will be obvious in every way.

So since you’ve used the 12.10
I’m in the market for a new kayak. Trying to grow from a 10’ Emotion Glide into something that can handle bigger water (not white water). But I find my lack of flexibility and balance pushes me toward initial stability rather than speed/performance. Other issues push me toward needing a bigger cockpit. Lessons so far haven’t significantly improved that, though it’s certainly possible.

I’ve tried quite a few kayaks. I found the Alchemy L to be like a sports car: quick on the acceleration and highly maneuverable and fun. But very tight for me to get in and out of.

Have been eyeing the Deltas, particularly the 12.10 and the 14. Will be using it for sloughs, some lighter bay work, maybe light coastal ocean eventually. Not for camping.

Any more thoughts on these two Deltas that I can use? Thanks.

The only thing obvious is that you have a “be-true-to your-school” syndrome for Delta–Good for you! But the O.P.‘s comparison-advice seeking, hull wise, is of two totally different boats. And as PeterCA cited above, different doesn’t necessarily mean better. It depends on the user. Yeah, I’d paddle a Delta 12.10 on open coastal waters…Would I personally, prefer it over an Alchemy for things like rock gardening? No. And not even at 14’. So to each their own.

And before you start with a litany of all the quality gew-gaws that come attached to the Delta 12.10(which my reply in no way denied)then perhaps you should try paddling an Alchemy first(which you admit above never having done).

Delta will not fit you
The Delta 14 cockpit is 16.5 x 32 (as measured inside the coaming). That is smaller than average for a transitional cockpit. The Alchemy 14 cockpit is 18.5 x 35, which is larger than most. So if the Alchemy is too small, the Delta 12.10 and 14 won’t fit you.

If you like thermoform, take a look at the Eddyline Denali. Not the Journey because the cockpit may be too low (constricting) for you. Unfortunately the Denali is quite heavy for thermoform at 50 lbs. Also check Hurricane—the quality is not as good as Eddyline and Delta, but they’re cheaper.

Yes, obvious
The new Delta 14 is undeniably a thing of beauty. If you won a choice between the Delta 14 and the Alchemy 14 in the Pnet drawing you would have to be nuts to choose the Alchemy (ignoring the question of fit).

I’m not rabidly pro Delta. The Delta cockpit is too small for a lot of people—they put a sea cockpit on their transitional kayaks. See my post below—the Delta 12.10 has an unusually short cockpit for a 12 footer. For me that’s probably a deal breaker.

I did point out to the OP that the Delta and the Alchemy are “two very different kayaks.” I tried to compare them objectively. The OP is not doing anything like rock gardening. I did mention that the Delta is probably too short for the four-foot waves he mentions.

I haven’t paddled the Alchemy because it’s too dang heavy. If the OP can afford thermoform, there must be a good kayak for him somewhere on the market.