I've owned my Mariner Max for four years and I really like it a lot. Don't be misled by the 'Max' name - it's Maximum performance, not Maximum size! The Max is a fun boat to paddle unloaded for day trips, but can also easily carry gear, food, and water on a multi-week trip. It's a nimble boat, with excellent stability. When the conditions get rough, all Mariner kayaks show their strengths: the hulls are designed to go where you want, efficiently, and with no fuss. The Max and its 'smaller brother' , the similar-shaped Express are both great all-round kayaks. Mariner kayaks were all made to order, so you may find them with fixed hinged back seats or sliding seats (the sliding seat is a Mariner exclusive), and with factory aft bulkheads and very effective aft hatches, Buyers who were looking for the lightest weight possible often opted for a foam seat and separate backband. Mariners were also built with different laminates: glass, Kevlar, Carbon-Kevlar, or Carbon. They are vacuum-bagged boats with all-cloth layups for strength. Mariners are rugged - unlike some all glass mat or chopper-gun kayaks. None of the Mariner Max or Express kayaks had forward bulkheads or forward deck hatches for loading gear, so you'll need to keep an air bag forward on day paddles and load gear through the cockpit for trips. This is not as much hassle as some would have you believe. Also, there are a few Mariner kayaks that have been modified with forward bulkheads and hatches, and they come on the market from time to time. Mariners haven't been made since 2007, but Matt Broze still maintains the Mariner website at marinerkayaks.com . It's a great source of general paddling info as well as data about the different Mariner kayaks.
The Max both tracks and turns well for a 17-foot boat, and that is a very tough combination to come by. Speed and stability are also strong on the Max. The Max has a neat, almost liquid feel to it in waves. I feel as if I'm part of the water rather than a kayak on top of the water. With a loaded Max, you'll really feel a gyroscopic ride in waves. Also, the hull design lends itself to good speed in waves, too. Some sea kayaks tend to either dive their bows into waves or slap on top of the waves, but the Max does neither. It's an eerily gentle ride in waves.
I'm a paraplegic, and I used the Max for kayak camping on a Pukaskwa National Park trip on Lake Superior in July with two able-bodied buddies. My Max has the sliding seat. It makes entry and exit easy for me, plus it has a side benefit. I invented a camping mobility device that I call my Dune Bug. It's an aluminum frame, and I put quick-release Roll-eez wheels on it (now Wheel-eez). Then I use the sliding seat from my Max for the Dune Bug seat. I propel the Dune Bug with cross country ski poles.
Anyway, I can't say enough good things about the performance of the Mariner Max. The only complaints I've heard about Mariner boats is "uncomfortable seating" and some good-sized guys want a higher deck in front of the cockpit. They get cramped in the boat. For me, the Max fits very well. I've even found a way to roll the boat using an extended paddle. I'm paralyzed below my rib cage, so I've got no hip snap or trunk control. Part of why I can roll the Max is that I put weights in the bottom of the hatches so that the hull is self-righting. Plus, the shape of the Max hull makes it easy to right regardless, as well as offering a very deep secondary stability. Then too, being that I have no feet, I'm not interested in a rudder, and the Max was designed to not need one.
I could go on and on about the merits of the Max, but I'll force myself to stop talking now. The last I heard, Mariner Kayaks are in production again, so if you can get a hold of one, you'll have a kayak that you'll want to keep forever. There are no finer boats on the water.