Old Town Canoe and Kayak is one of the oldest manufacturers of paddle craft in the United States. For over a century, they have been on the forefront of boat design and have continued to push the envelope of what a recreational paddle craft can be.
I recently had the opportunity to test out one of the their later models, the Next which is a hybrid design solo canoe. The Next takes the best aspects of both canoes and kayaks and merges them into a very unique paddle craft. It is available through different retailers at a price point of $999.99.
The Next is a very handsome boat. At 13 feet long and 29 inches in width, it’s three layer polyethylene hull has clean lines and a lower profile (11.5 inches) than you would expect from a canoe giving it a sleek appearance. It has a flat bottom with a slight groove down the center and minimum rocker. It has a weight capacity of 450 lbs. which should be more than enough to accommodate most any paddler. It is equipped with Old Town’s Element Seating System and comes with adjustable foot pegs. The Next is available in three colors, Grey, Orange and Blue. It’s listed weight is 59 lbs. which is in my opinion, a little heavy, but certainly not the heaviest boat out there. Because is has an open top design, it is very easy to enter and egress from. There is no dry storage in the next, so anything you need to keep dry will have to be in a dry bag.
On The Water:
I paddled the Next for 9 miles down a slow moving, twisty, spring fed river that had multiple surface and subsurface obstacles to contend with. Both initial and secondary stability were excellent. At no time did the boat feel unstable to me.
Tracking was very good in the Next. In fact, it was almost too good. There were a couple of instances where I had to make quick course adjustments to avoid an obstacle and had to resort to long sweeping strokes to make the turn. But, once I figured out what the boat would and would not do, it was not a problem. Numerous times, I stopped paddling to see how much the boat would turn which is a common characteristic for recreational paddle craft not equipped with a skeg or rudder. Cocking was minimal and more often than not absent.
The Next is not a “fast” boat, but it’s not slow either. While paddling at my normal pace with a double blade paddle, I covered the nine miles in just over 2.5 hours of paddle time averaging about 4.1 mph according to my GPS.
Getting into and out of the Next was easy. Whether it was at the launch site, the bank of the river, or on a couple of occasions, in the middle of the river where the water was a few feet deep, the open top of the Next made it simple to enter and egress from.
The Element Seating System is one of the most comfortable seats I have ever sat in. The seat back is adjustable allowing you to put it where you want it and it stays put. Another unique aspect to the seating system is that it is adjustable fore and aft meaning you can adjust where you sit in the boat. This is a great feature because it allows you to adjust your center of gravity for the most optimum performance. The seat gives you great support and allows your skin to breathe while you paddle so you don’t get hot in the seat. There is also a large velcro pocket on the rear of the seat back which I found to be not only handy, but very convenient to get too.
- Very Stable
- Well Built
- Easy to enter and exit from
- Multiple colors available
- Very good tracking
- High weight capacity
- Very Comfortable seat
- Adjustable seating positions
- Can be paddled with both single and double blade paddle
- A little heavy
- No dry storage
I really liked this boat. It fuses the best characteristics of both the canoe and the kayak into one incredibly fun and versatile boat. In my opinion, this hybrid canoe would be great for both the beginner and the seasoned recreational paddler. Because of its stability, capacity, comfort and performance, this boat would be a great choice for anyone who wants to explore calm, slow moving waters, lakes, and inland protected waterways. Wildlife photography, paddle camping, bringing your favorite four legged friend and a host of other activities are all well within the capabilities of the Next. In my opinion, Old Town hit a home run with this boat.
Find your headwaters,