-- Last Updated: Feb-26-13 8:38 PM EST --
I am a big proponent of demoing. What boats do you have near you that you can demo? Definitely worth the cost to rent different boats and see what works (and many shops have a deal where you can apply rental charges toward purchases). If you can't get your butt in the boats you listed to try them out, I would take them off the list (exception to this is if you can get a good price on used, where you could resell it for what you paid should it not work out).
Demoing generally requires going to a specialty kayak shop, as opposed to a big box or general sporting goods store. Buying form a reputable and knowledgeable shop provides added benefits, like easier warranty should you unfortunately need it and access to better selection of additional gear needed.
The Aries is the composite version of the Delphin. Delphin and Aries are both fine as day touring boats. Not as fast as some longer boats, but not that much slower.
I ended up getting an Alchemy instead of a Delphin, but the basics are the same (shorter, more playful boat). My much longer Valley Aquanaut hasn't seen water in over a year - seems the Alchemy has been my go to boat for everything I do (including day paddles in the 10-15 mile range and overnight trips). If I had a Delphin instead of the Alchemy, would likely be the same result.
Paddler's Truck Rack
PFD's (Life Jackets)
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