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.