Tempest 170 or Delta 16

I will be purchasing a performance touring kayak in the next few months. I’m looking for the ever elusive do mostly everything model. Decent in rough water, not a slug on flat water, for lots of day trip exploring and a couple multi-day journeys a year. Also, it should be reasonably comfortable (I’m approaching 50), minimal leaking, durable, reputable, and on and on and on you betcha. A stretch to achieve no doubt, but may as well aim for the sky I say.

I’ve discovered my trips tend to be more destination oriented (eg. to see something cool) then playing in the waves and rockgardens (I whitewater kayak and surf for that thrill). So I think I have nixed more playful boats like the Romany Sport and WS Zephyr off the list. I’ve also ruled out composite on account of the care required in handling around rocky shorelines and beaches. I’m 6 foot 4, 185 pounds, size 12 feet and reasonably experienced in west coast paddling. I am used to the tight fit of a whitewater boat. I don’t want to carry a tank, but realize there’s a tradeoff with weight vs. durability. See the sky aiming thinger referenced above. Oh ya thought seriously about P&H but I have read numerous problems with very leaky hatches and skudder issues, so ruled out the Scorpio.

The Tempest 170 and Delta 16 sound good on paper and review well. I’m concerned about leaky hatches and maneuverability in the tempest, and the durability of the Delta. I will be demoing both the boats mentioned above soon. Just looking for any advice or personal thoughts on these from the “in” crowd. Feel free to share any other random thoughts you have on sky aiming and kayaking. I should note that I’ve read lots of discussions on paddling.com on these boats and while there’s snippets of wisdom, many of these get bogged down in boatertalk not related to the question the poster is asking about. Maybe there’s a fresh perspective out there in webland? I posted this on West Coast Paddler as well.


Put the 2019 Scorpio back on the list. The new modular deck hatch is wicked dry and the day hatch rim has been addressed.

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@Ted Debiase said:
I’m concerned about,the durability of the Delta.

Delta builds thermoformed kayaks. While I’ve no experience with the Delta brand, I do own two thermoformed Eddylines and one kevlar Current Designs

Since you don’t plan to rock garden, you should have little concern about the durability of ABS thermoform. Sure, landing hard on rocky or gravel shorelines will create scratches and you might even gouge the hull. If the aesthetics of a gouge bother you, it’s a quick fix with Devon Plastic Welder (a six-buck item).

Thermoformed kayaks generally have a more rigid hull than rotomolded. That makes for less oil canning when you paddle. That means that the thermoformed boat will more efficient than the rotomolded, even if the roto is a foot longer.

Rotomolded boats have their use, but I don’t think it is as sea kayaks, they suck up too much of the paddler’s energy.

Given the same hull, I can’t see the material making that much difference. I have owned fiberglass, carbon fiber, thermoformed, and plastic.
Rigid hulls are great, and the attendant weigh differences are really nice but wetted surface area is still a huge factor.

I’ve now demoed both boats. Here are my thoughts:

Delta 16: Conditions were calm, almost glass. The boat handles very nicely. It felt big but was still reasonably quick, maneuverable, and easy to put on edge. Hard to comment on tracking given the conditions (i.e., no wind). Comfortable seat but felt like there was too much room in the cockpit, almost sloppy. I flopped around when I rolled the boat, and on the second roll the string that secures the backband let go. I heard there’s an outfitting kit you can get so I’m sure this would improve the cockpit feel. Hatches were as close to watertight as it can get. It was weird to push down on the hull of the boat to close the day hatch and see it flex so much, like more than I expected. Coming from a whitewater background (i.e., plastic boats), I worry about scratching and punctures from the rocky, barnacled and oyster shelled beaches where I live (east coast of Vancouver island). It is nice and light to carry (the delta website says 48 pounds). Very sharp looking boat, eye-catching.

Tempest 170, in plastic: Conditions were moderately windy, with a 1 m open ocean swell through part of the trip. The boat also handles nicely, quicker than the delta and overall a faster boat. Maneuvers better than I thought, maybe not as well as the Delta. Tracks like an arrow and the weather-cocking was quite mild. The seat was comfortable and the ability to adjust everything is impressive. For me, the fit was exceptional and it was almost intuitive to put on edge, and no cockpit sloppiness with rolling. I checked the hatches after and they were dry which was a pleasant surprise — not what I expected for certain. I could pick it up and put it on the car with some effort, but it ain’t light (ws website says 57 pounds). Doesn’t look fancy either but built solid.

Overall, I’m inclined toward the Tempest. I like the way it paddles, the fit, and durability. I can put up with the weight for a few more years.

Thanks for the tips everyone. On another note, I did try a P&H Capella last summer in Nova Scotia. It was just alright, but I did not like the outfitting and fit much at all.

See you on the water.

Enjoy, Ted!