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  One model to consider
  Posted by: Guideboatguy on Jan-28-14 6:52 PM (EST)

Willowleaf is right. And though I'm no kayaker, I see the differences in various styles of kayaks all the time. One model that I can definitely recommend as a big step up compared to any in your list is the Necky Manitou 13, which is a boat that's at the lower end of the "touring" category. One could argue that you should even consider 14 feet as a minimum target length, but I know the Manitou 13 can easily keep up with any "normal" group of paddlers, and it will be noticeably more efficient (maintain a decent cruising speed with less effort) than any of the ones you mentioned. However, the price for a new one will be noticeably higher too.

Check the specs and you'll see that the Manitou 13 is noticeably narrower than the boats you mentioned, and that's where part of the extra efficiency comes from. Up the length to 14 feet and you can get a forward hatch too. However, there should be quite a few boats which are extremely similar to the Manitou 13 and 14, so mainly I present this as an example of the category of boat which will suit your stated goals better than the ones you've considered.

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