I did extensive research when looking for a personal watercraft that would serve my needs. I needed one that would allow me to fish small/medium lakes and rivers as a solo paddler. I looked at all the various fishing kayaks and canoes that were on the market -- and ended up with the hybrid NEXT. And I was not disappointed. The Next is a high quality canoe that paddles and handles much like a kayak. I am a "canoe guy" going back 40+ years, so I felt comfortable with the open nature of the craft, though I also love the seat the and the ability to use a kayak paddle, which moves the boat through the water at a good clip AND is easier on my aging shoulders! It tracks well and handles wake from larger, motorized craft very well.
The downsides are minimal. Old Town supplied me with the additional strap what keeps the seat in place, but I don't understand why they don't simply do this "fix" at the factory. They'd avoid the negative PR and have happier customers. The other downside is the weight. 60lbs seems relatively light, yet I find it hard to load this boat on my Forester without assistance. Considering that this is a one-person craft, what are they thinking? I generally find a way to get it on and off the car, but it is something to seriously consider when buying it.
I purchased the Next Old Town 13' Hybrid last month and after making the purchase I came across reviews complaining about the seat falling out of it's holder system. This is my third Old Town Product. I also have a 12' Dirigo Kayak and a 12' Loon. If I had seen the review prior to my purchasing the Next I probably would not have bought it. The engineers screwed up big time on this one letting this vessel go into production without correcting their seat issue. On the maiden voyage down the South Branch of the AuSable River in Michigan the seat fell out of the track within 3 seconds. I put it back in and tightened the strap that goes underneath the seat only to have it immediately fall out of the track again. I finally just took the seat out of the track system and set in on the floor and continued the trip. The seat did put some minor gouges into the floor of my brand new vessel. The next day I called Old Town and their fix to this problem was to send me another strap to add to the underneath of the seat. I told them to keep their strap because if it was not a fixed metal brace it's not going to correct the problem. I should add that I weigh 220 lbs. I then asked whomever I was on the phone with from Old Town if they would void my warranty if I drilled it and through bolted it. He said "no" so that it was I did. When you through bolt it as I did the back rest can no longer be folded forward to lay on the seat. It is now a stationary back rest. I purchased this vessel because I wanted the cargo capacity it offered without giving up the manueverability of my Dirigo. This hull does offer that. I would also like to add the whomever put the screws in for the foot rails on the starboard side of my Next slipped the drill out of the screw and burred little circles into the outer finish of my Next about an inch and 1/2 long. When I let Old Town know about my dissapointment in this vessel they pretty much said "Sorry, here is our solution, fix it yourself". I have always felt that when you pay for front row seats you should get front row seats. Very dissappointed in Old Town / Johnson Outdoors in how they have handled this situation.
I may have accidently discovered the Holy Grail of paddlecraft.
I started my paddlecraft devotion about 50 years ago, with various canoes, which can be great vessels, when used as designed, however, they all just seemed to lack a certain difficult to define 'something'. My sister suggested I try kayaking, and I've never really looked back. My fleet consists of 2 sit in side kayaks, 3 sit on top kayaks, and a canoe/kayak hybrid.
At this point, I should disclose that I am a pretty large dude. Like, big enough that the weight limit on most kayak models are below what my scale tells me, every morning. The list of kayaks which will support me is pretty short, and the boats which make that list are usually pretty slow and heavy. I had almost reached a point where I believed that big guys like me, were forever doomed to paddling at a snail's pace, when I stumbled across a social media post, selling an Old Town Next canoe. It caught my eye, mainly because of the color, and I popped over to the Old Town website to learn more.
A solo, 12 foot canoe, with a 450 pound weight capacity? And a total weight of 50 pounds? And seating with back support? Okay, what's the catch? I need to try this boat!
My first test drive was in open salt water, with mild waves. After a couple decades of paddling mostly sit on top kayaks, with excellent primary stability, (the initially feeling of tippiness experienced in paddlecraft), my core reflexes had forgotten what a more rounded hull was like. The learning curve was about 5 minutes, before I could sit still, comfortably. When the boat was moving, it was rock solid.
As most of my paddling is in rivers, I decided I needed a test drive in these conditions, before pulling the trigger on this one. The Next is a canoe/kayak hybrid, similar to one I already own, at least by definition. My current hybrid has a tunnel style hull, which increases tracking, but makes it rather challenging to turn quickly, which can be important on quickly flowing rivers. The Next incorporates a tumblehume hull, which is rounded on the bottom, and narrows inward at the gunwale, resulting in fairly impressive secondary stability, (how far you can lean before going over). Because of this, I can perform slight leaning turns, greatly increasing the maneuverability of this craft. A lighter friend was able to lean all the way to the gunwale, spinning this boat on the proverbial dime. It took me a quarter. Still impressive.
After about 10 miles in the boat, I am as in love with the seat, as I am with the hull. The seat is mesh, set in a full frame, which is reminiscent of sitting in a recliner. The seat rests securely in a track system, allowing you to slide it forward or back, to properly balance the boat. The Next also utilizes adjustable foot rests, which aid in giving you a comfortable seating position, and allow you to brace in turns.
So, is it possible for a paddlecraft to be lightweight, track well, turn sharply, sit comfortably, and carry larger paddlers?
If you are looking for the Holy Grail of paddlecraft, I hope you will at least test drive an Old Town Next. You will not be disappointed.
I've had the NEXT out 8 times this season and so far it's been a great boat. I have yet to get it on a river, but plan to. It's easy to paddle, its shape lends well to efficiency. It's heavy for its size but feels extremely durable. The seat is ok for me for about 2 hours at a time. It's never come unmounted but I weigh 150 so I'm not flexing the boat much. Looking at the seat, I expected it to be more comfortable than it is for me.
This boat has gotten some looks at the public lakes I've taken it to. A guy wanted to rent it. lol. I was walking back to the boat to haul it back to the jeep and he was standing next to the NEXT. As I got to the boat he asked me if I was going to be renting it. I said, " nope, but I am going to take it home." The guy looked confused as I picked up the boat and put it on my shoulder and walked back up the trail.
On the water, the boat dances left and right under semi hard to hard paddling. Seems to track to the right mostly as well. I've got to go an extra stroke on the right side about every 5 cycles to keep it going straight in calm water/ winds. Being right handed I expected a pull to the left. Not sure why it's so right biased. Seems fast to me also. It doesn't take but a few strokes to get to top speed. I was actually very pleasantly surprised about the speed for only being 13ft long.
Overall, it's a nice little boat that needs a diet. I wish Old Town offered a carbon or other exotic material, make this same size/design sub 30lbs.
I initially had no problems with the seat popping, however, now after several years use, in spite of tightening the strap as much as strength allows, it continues to pop out almost every trip now, most recently and frighteningly in some (up to that point) fun swifts in a lock outflow, but also regularly with calm water paddling. One clip of the plastic buckle has detached over the length of a trip, however most commonly the rear seat tube simply jumps out of its bracket. Any safe suggestions short of a ratchet or cam buckle strap and the risk of damaging the mounting brackets or hull would be greatly appreciated. I have checked the Old Town website and was unable to find a fix.
No doubt about it, The NEXT is a great ride, except for the "thunk" you get when the bar supporting the back of the seat falls out of its connector. I tightened the strap, but it can only be pulled so tight.
Now trying to use a rope to pull the back rails closer together.
Frankly, I don't trust it enough to take it out in more than a calm day. Considering the cost of the thing, you might expect more.
After a long search for the 'perfect' solo canoe, I settled on the Next. This decision was based on specs, features and price, most of which remain appealing to me. The foremost factor was price and availability of contenders.
At the shop where I would purchase the Next, I expressed general admiration for the canoe, with the exception of the seating design which aside from its astonishing level of comfort, I feared might not hold pace with the longevity of the canoe. The rail and bracket system seemed a bit busy, having a flimsy appearance and feel to me. I was assured that no problems had been reported with the design and that I could take solace in the "lifetime warranty". Impressed with all other attributes of the canoe, I bought it.
Upon loading it atop the car, the first thing I noticed was that the seat protruded above the gunnels. Though unconventional, I don't use a rack or blocks, but rather a thick blanket or pad. This necessitated that I remove the seat for transport. No big deal, but it's an annoyance to me. Portage, loading and unloading was otherwise amiable.
I proceeded homeward where I soon eagerly set out on my maiden journey into the choppy, windy bay. I was instantly impressed by a multitude of factors. With excellent stability, speed, balance of maneuverability and tracking I proceeded farther into the bay. I hadn't been so happy for years. Then came an abrupt noise and startling shift in my position. With a sincere WTF, I began examining the situation. My lovely Walmart kayak-paddle had already made a puddle in the interior from drippage, so I sat in it with sodden arse and attempted to fix the seat. I'd firmly planted the seat into the brackets and inserted the pins carefully - what did I do wrong? Then I noticed the nylon strap and figured it out. The lateral flexion of the boat requires that the brackets be oppositionally braced, or pulled inward toward each other, else the seat escapes. Makes sense... But why by a mere nylon strap and plastic clamp? It is worth noting that I was able to make this correction while remaining afloat - a task speaking for the stability of the Next, or at least my size and dexterity. Perhaps I missed the paperwork or instructions, but this has since begun to bother me, largely on principle. I wouldn't have purchased this boat had I known it relied on a strap to maintain functionality. A canoe, especially in deep water is a precarious vessel, one that ought to be as reliable and dependable as reasonably possible. The very concept that my boat is dependent on a single nylon/plastic strap, compromises my confidence and imparts a sense of fickleness undesirable in a boat.
It is my opinion that the primary - and perhaps only - flaw in the Next, is the seating design. This boat has a lot to offer for the solo paddler, but for me, a boat's reliability should be based on more than a silly strap. Perhaps time will vindicate this peculiar design and prove it as stalwart as any other, but I'll remain a skeptic in the meantime. For those indifferent to these matters, the Next is a fine little boat and highly recommended.
One thing to consider if using your Next in an environment which would encourage regular rinsing of the seat before stowage; the seat retains water after washing, thus can't just simply be rinsed, wiped and shoved into the closet without making a puddle. Sufficiently obvious and trivial, but I hadn't foreseen it.
The Next canoe is an excellent boat. It has a lot of space for load gear (204 kg max. Capacity).
Stable, easy to paddle (I was using a traditional single blade paddle) this canoe can be fast. The seat add some weight but is so confortable. I had days plus 40 kms to cover close to 260 kms. without any problem with the boat.
I am sure that this canoe is a good choice for solo expedition.
I worried that I'd have trouble getting in and out of the craft, but that hasn't been the case. Though I'm not as spry or flexible as I once was, the larger, very supportive seat makes it easier to settle into the boat. And once seated, the ride is super comfortable! Easy to paddle, too, and surprisingly nimble and quick. And I can pull the Next up onto my dock with very little effort since it is so light. Honestly, it has been pure pleasure to get back out on the water, after so many years of not being able to (because of my arthritis.) THANK YOU, Old Town, for creating such a wonderful boat.
I love my Next.
For comparison purposes, my wife and I used to a 17', 47 pound Ally skin and frame canoe. We use it travelling around the country in a truck camper. We decided we wanted hard shell options for local paddling, with more comfortable seating, and considered kayaks, as we tried a tandem in the UP and enjoyed it. At our age, though, getting in and out wasn't the easiest thing. So after reading up on a few options, we thought the Next canoe would be a good compromise - and after about four times out on a lake - 1-2 hours each time - here are our observations.
The seats are extremely comfortable. They are adjustable and the back support is nice. The lower seats make getting up a little more difficult, but not problematical. Younger people will have no issue. The seats are, in realty, not very adjustable. The tracks the seats are on are not parallel, but bow with the shape of the boat. Slide the seats forward, and the plastic cups supporting the seat separate, and the seat falls out of the cup and off the track. Definitely a design problem which could be easily repaired at the factory. I also worry about the durability of the plastic cups. The open canoe design definitely helps our boarding and egress of the the craft.
We are getting used to the doubled bladed paddles. In fact, we've been using them on our Ally with great delight. The Next tracks well we are paddling, except in in medium to strong wind, but we are learning to compensate for the wind. On a windless day, we find we are moving along fairly well for our lack of experience with a kayak. It maneuvers exceptionally well. It doesn't track well when gliding, but begins moving in a short circle. Problematical even on the windless day. Wonder if a skeg would alleviate the problem? The problem might be aggravated by the fact we can't move the seats forward as advertised.
We've definitely noticed the weight difference - but we are not planning on portaging, and have wheels for transporting them from car to launch area. we modified a utility trailer for transport - though I doubt we will take the trailer on our cross country trips. We are getting what we wanted from them - exercise and comfortable seating. If we are looking at longer flat water trips, the Ally would still be our first choice.
We debated keeping the Nexts. We bought them untested from REI when they had a sale price of $749, and REI has a generous return policy - so we knew we could get our money back. We have so far kept them - it's been about a month, but done so a bit grudgingly. We can deal with the weight, I can add a skeg or rudder for the glide problem, and may be able to move the seats forward using spacers to keep the seat from popping out of the cups, assuming the cups will hold up.
So, I give it an 8: it didn't meet our expectations completely, but our expectations may not have been realistic based on out experiences with the Ally. But it has some issues I did not expect, given OT's reputation. But, given what we wanted from our purchase, these might well be the best option.
It is adequate for lake canoeing, although there is a learning curve to keep it tracking straight and dry in adverse conditions. Speed is fine with the Old Town kayak paddle, less effective with a canoe paddle and impossible (for me) with a Greenland paddle. The seat is comfortable over the short term (several hours) but numbness sets in thereafter. I use a marine seat cushion to raise the paddling height, well worth the loss of stability to be higher for paddling as well as easier entry and exit.
It is an ok product, however I would suggest a long test paddle and confirming your comfort level carrying overhead and on your shoulder before purchasing.
I love how fast and maneuverable my Next is and my friends can't get over the speed I have. It doesn't track as well as the kayaks my friends have but I can tell you that they all have said they would rather have my Next. I don't think the seat could be more comfortable. It is outstanding! I had read review of issues with seats popping out but the strap under the seat seems to alleviate the problem. I have had zero problems and have been out in the water for hours and remember I'm fat.
In regard to the weight of Next, it is much lighter than the SOT kayaks I had been trialing so I am very pleased. You would not make a mistake in making this your "next" canoe/kayak.
I have noticed the boat does turn at other reviewers note when you coast, but not sure if that is just due to trim issues with my dog behind me, or my leaning side to side. The NEXT model was the third used canoe I got this summer and it meets my needs very well, although the "Barney" purple color of my boat does attract some comments... haha
The good part is that once I found the correct position of the chair to get better trim it was responsive and quick.
The bad part is that, with my bad knees, I found entering and exiting the canoe to be very difficult. Wish it had a higher seat. But it is already a little tippy. The other thing is it sits low in the water with very little clearance from the gunnel to the surface. Not paying attention to a big wake could swamp the thing.
I am not very familiar with how well this size boat should track, but I do find myself fighting it quite a bit. I am not terribly regretting my purchase, but for those who are looking into getting one, they should know about these facts. Happy and safe paddling out there.
Another issue that I was disappointed with was the tracking. As long as I paddled, the boat tracked extremely well, but as soon as I would lay my paddle down and reach for my fishing rod, the boat would turn has if I had turned a rudder. Hopefully I'll fix this problem with a drag chain.
Love the idea behind this boat, but seriously wonder if any field testing took place. The Next was very easy for me to transport and even the seat provided good padding for my head while transporting. The jury is still out since this was only my first trip with the Next, but for now, I'm slightly disappointed in my purchase, but I see promise with a Second Generation Next.
Very stable in the water and although I haven't tried it yet in rough conditions, it was extremely stable with boat wakes.
I use this on small lakes and rivers and is wonderful go take gear with you. Being a rather large guy (6'2" 240 lbs) this boat is easy to get into and out of. I live between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, however I don't believe this would be a great boat for open water in rough conditions.
This canoe weighs 59 lbs with the seat in. Easy to transport and I would highly recommend this boat to anyone.
I can't compare it to other single seat canoes because I never paddled one. The Camden feels a little faster and catches the wind less but that is only going by "butt dyno". The Next is light years ahead of the Radesson I have.
The Next will spin on a dime and goes just as easily backwards as forwards. Glides better than the kayaks, for me, and is really a lot of fun. Stability seems fine for me though that is subjective. Secondary stability is excellent, I leaned on the sides(within reason) and couldn't get it to take on water. I am glad I spent the extra coin and did not get a kayak.
I let my son, age 9, take it out. He paddled it without a problem and even sat in the middle of the lake spinning it around (he thinks I need to get him one now).
I'll give it a 9 until I can get my hands on a similar hull to compare it to.
This boat has a center keel and tracks well enough. The rocker looks like about 2 inches, and the total length comes in at a couple of inches shy of 13 feet, so you can pivot nicely without sacrificing downstream momentum.
I was able to attain upstream and sneak up on some of the mild (ok, wimpy) hydraulics until I lost my nerve. Ferries worked out well enough, and cutting into eddies became somewhat routine.
The seat is very comfortable, and the footrests function as designed. There is 6-8 inches of fore/aft adjustment in the seat for adjusting trim, but I left it all the way back in order to set the paddle where I wanted it. You can fit a nice little ice chest in the bow, and a Pelican 1600 actually lays down behind the seat.
There is a ~1.5"-wide adjustable nylon strap placed under the seat running transverse amidships in order to offset the tendency of the seat to bow its plastic mount. Prior to dialing this in to my weight, the seat actually worked its way out of the mount, and I found myself sitting on the bottom of the boat. I tightened the strap and have had no further incidents.
I reckon with my weight plus cargo, the seat bottom was about at the waterline. I experimented with leaning the craft and could affect the turning radius a bit. The overall stability sure seems pretty good to me. Given the low displacement compared to a full size canoe, standing waves should be traversed with low momentum straight on. In this manner, I was able to ride up and over waves having heights several times the free board. Hitting them with any speed at all assures a moist learning curve.
Well, those are my personal experiences with this boat. The specs are on the manufacturer's website. If you've read this far, you know you want one. I am glad I got mine.
The hull shape is smooth and elegant, without the drag-creating bulges, grooves and indentations many recreational kayaks have to produce initial stability or straight tracking. The three-layer polyethylene seems durable and resilient, although it will get scratched when going through shallows with a gravel bottom or beaching. The craft is easy to transport, and can be loaded and unloaded from a vehicle by one person without much trouble. I would not, however, want to portage it far. While 50 lbs is not 65, it is 50 lbs.
I have paddled mine in swift-moving water and on lakes, on windy days and on calm ones, and found it up to each task, although paddling into strong currents takes concentration to keep the boat straight. I carry both a double paddle and a single one. He double one helps to more easily keep up with a group of kayaks, and the single one allows for a quieter (and drier) paddling experience when you want to sneak up on wildlife or just listen to sounds other than the ones your paddling creates. If you paddle alone it is an excellent cruising boat. If you paddle with kayaks, you will not find yourself in the front of the pack but, unless you are racing, you can keep up.
It strikes a comfortable balance between tracking and maneuverability, but takes some attention to weight distribution to glide straight for very far — it is easy to find yourself facing a different direction by the time you get your camera out even on still water and without wind. It has a comfortably degree of tippiness, enough to make you think carefully before trying to stand up in it. It would take a good bit of practice and good balance to paddle it from a standing position, but I'm sure it can be done.
My boat had two production issues which the factory addressed upon request. One of the seams of the seat tore the first time I used it, having been sewn too close to the edge of the fabric. A replacement seat on its way from Old Town will remedy that. The second issue was more of a result of design. The removable seat structure is suspended from plastic u-shaped fittings. When under weight and under way the fittings at the back of the seat flex and splay out, resulting a couple of times in one corner of the seat popping out and falling to the floor. To address this Old Town sent me a web strap to connect the two sides of the mounting bracket together and prevent the splaying. It works perfectly.
At 50 pounds the boat is light enough to cartop alone. I love the seat. I can sit in it all day and not get sore spots or back pain. The ability to move the seat for and aft on it's slides is great. At times I will move the seat and foot pegs forward and mount a trolling motor behind me with the battery right behind the seat. This keeps the trim where it needs to be and allows me to fish or run up stream with ease. While we are talking about the seat it is also the week spot. The rails it sits in are plastic and they tend to spread out when you sit. We will have to see it they fail. As of yet they are fine. I am going to add a plastic bit under the cross part in the back of the seat to prevent the failure (I hope).
The boat's hybrid nature is the best part of it. I can sit like a sit in kayak with a boat that is open like a canoe. I can even hang my feet over the side like a sit on top kayak. At 13' long and around 29" wide (And there is a ton of storage area. I can pack for a week or more in this boat.) she paddles fast and easy tracking straight. With a little lean added she will turn much faster than you would expect.
Now for the colors. I like the choices. It's nice to have a choice that's not green or red. (Mine is yellow or "Lemongrass" as Old Town calls it. But at my age it's yellow with paddle to match.) There you go. I could go on about the thing, but there is no need... I think you get the idea. So yes, I like this boat.
The seating on this boat is outstanding. You can spend the day in it and not come out with a sore back or backside. However, the seat mount is plastic and tends to bow out... time will tell if this is a weak spot in the design. You sit low like in a sit on top kayak but you don't get the wet butt. You can get in and out without being a contortionist like you would in a sit in kayak. Add to that the room of an open canoe with the speed and handling of a kayak and this is a winning combination.
This boat is 29" wide 13' long and 50 lbs. If I sound like I'm impressed it's because I am. This is the best boat I've had. And I've had lots. It does everything I want to do. I fish from it and have even added a trolling motor mount for days I don't want to paddle.
Mount the motor, slip the adjustable seat forward and put the battery behind me. I can camp out of it with lots of room to spare. I can even sit sidewise and drag my feet in the water like I do on a sit on top.
Yes, I like this boat. No regrets.
I was really impressed with the performance. Also got to run in the wake of some boats going too fast (no wake area) Not a problem. Hugging 563 on the south side I got to try some calm water. Its a keeper.
Likes - seat is super comfortable, low CG, handling.
Dislikes - seat mounting plates - it's adjustable - their is a tension strap running perpendicular to help keep the left and right from separating - only time will tell if this is good/bad. Seat holders - plastic- may fatigue over time - again time has to pass to see if it works or not.
I like the quick release pins for to remove the seat. I like the width (26" at my thighs). Being 6'1 I was able to push out with my legs and hold the Next like a Kayak to pivot turn faster. Yet it's wide enough that on the calm lazy day I get plenty of air circulation.
I don't like the lack of a yoke. As I approach 50 I want all the help I can (Next weighs in around 59 without the seat). I get it - can't have a yoke with the seat and I am afraid to try to use the seat as a yoke but may eventually try it later.
Lastly the pedals - typical Kayak stuff which if you use as designed should be fine. I found that a side push causes a twist in the bracket and hull that could eventually lead to failure so always push straight on the pedals - just a training issue.
What would make it better - Royalex! Come on industry get this one together! The hardest part of the day - getting the straps over the Next while on top of my Subaru. 20+ mph winds
Boat looks excellent for my intended use, seat is great, colour coordinated paddles a nice feature, so buy, but before you buy (in case mine's not a one off issue), look stem to stern over dealer's inventory to get undamaged hull and to be reassured that the seat slides freely through the full range of the rails.
For the old and frail such as I, note that the weight is 53 pounds as now spec'd (different with and without the removable seat, of course).