I'd like to buy a touring kayak primarily for day trips and possibly some overnight jaunts. I've been sea kayaking a number of times, but was always with a guide so never learned much about the boats. I live in Austin, so I'll mainly be on flatwater lakes. I'm a proficient paddler with medium build and height, so what would you suggest as a reasonably priced boat (under $1,000)? Danny Austin, Texas
Another nice boat is the Dagger Charleston 14 ($850; www.dagger.com), which is a touch shorter than the Carolina. But it still has room for gear in fore and aft stowage bays (around 7,000 cubic inches of dry storage space), and is a maneuverable little craft that still tracks pretty well when crossing open water.
You might even get by with a sit-on-top, which would sure let you take advantage of both the sun and the cool water. Wilderness Systems' Freedom ($649; 800-311-7245) is one such boat, with I think just enough storage for an overnight trip. Very comfortable, but with a true sea-kayak hull for stability and water-worthiness. Worth a look, certainly.
Check out the best touring and whitewater kayaks in Outside's 2004 Buyer's Guide.