I've sampled a few boats, longer, shorter, lighter, heavier than the Carolina before I bought mine and I believe it represents the best compromises of any boats in its class. If most people would realistically consider how they will actually use their kayak as compared to how they fantasize using it, there would be even more Carolinas on the water. The stability is good for newer paddlers and the compromise between tracking and maneuverability is spot on for how it will likely be used. Mine will see most of its time spent on meanandering rivers and creeks on the Chesapeake. The hatches are small but it's not much of an inconvenience. There have been complaints about bungies popping out, but mine have nuts and bolts holding them in place. It's entirely comfortable for a day long paddle. Unless you plan on spending piles of money on a kayak, even with the price increase, go buy one right this minute. Oh, yes, it is also a real nice looking kayak.