What do you get when you combine features of a canoe, such as an open hull, with the maneuverability and ease of use of a kayak? You get the NEXT canoe by Old Town. When we heard that Old Town had a new series of watercraft coming out that they claimed offered a new and unique experience, we knew that we had to get one out on the water and try it out for ourselves.

The NEXT is unlike most canoes because it is smaller and setup for solo paddling, but this boat maneuvers like a kayak. So what is it? I guess you would call it a hybrid. With its single seat and large storage capacity this boat would be perfect for camping, river floats or fishing. Luckily enough, recently we were given the opportunity to get wet with the NEXT and put it though the paces.

Key Features:

  • An open hull design which offers the storage of a canoe, yet maintains the maneuverability of a kayak.
  • A low profile which allows for easy paddling with both a single-bladed and double-bladed paddle.
  • Removable Element™ seating system that will make sure you remain comfortable on long trips.
  • nextpop4Adjustable foot braces for added support
  • Light weight, making it perfect for solo trips.

Specs:

  • Length: 13’
  • Width: 28’’
  • Material: 3-Layer Polyethylene
  • Hull Weight: 53 lbs
  • Seat specs: 21’’ / 6 lbs
  • Boat Capacity: 450 lbs
NEXT Review Breakdown

Design:

The first thing you will notice about the NEXT is the bright color of the boat. Old Town has been making canoes and kayaks in red and green for as long as they have been around. With the NEXT, they took a new approach and started offering fun, new vibrant colors that they hope will attract new paddlers. The NEXT is available in orange, blue, purple, and lemongrass. We received the blue version of the boat to review, and the color really stands out.

old_town_NEXT_blue

Once you get past the bright, new colors, there are many excellent design features you will notice. First, you will notice that the boat looks like a canoe and has an open hull. However, due to its low profile and the Element™ seating system, you can easily use a double-bladed paddle, which is what we used when we took it out on the water. I am an ameateur paddler, so having the ability to use a double-bladed paddle instead of a single-bladed paddle was a huge benefit. If you don’t know the basics of how to perform a J-stroke with a single-bladed paddle, do not worry. While you can use the NEXT with a single-bladed paddle, it maneuvers perfectly well with a double-bladed paddle.

NEXT-top-view

Next, you will notice that, unlike many canoes, and like most kayaks, this boat has a seat. Specifically, it uses the Element™ seating system, which Old Town uses in many of their fishing and Predator series kayaks. I can’t praise this seat enough for how comfortable it is. It is adjustable, and offers great support. When we were out on the water, I felt extremely comfortable.

You will also notice that the boat has foot braces, which add stability and support while paddling. They are adjustable to fit people of various heights and with different seating preferences.

Last, but not least, once you get past all of the new features that you can see and you actually pick up the boat, you will notice that it is light enough for a single person to not only lift and carry, but to also mount on a car. This is extremely important, since Old Town markets this boat for solo paddlers.

Maneuverability:

old_town_canoe_gif

Photo credit: Blair Boone

The NEXT is marketed as having a “subtle” rocker, which means that it should both track well and be easy to turn. We took the boat out on calm water, and used a double-bladed paddle for our testing sessions. Due to the low profile of the boat and its relatively narrow width, the boat was very easy to paddle using the double-bladed paddle. It was extremely easy to turn, much like a kayak, and I was able to keep up with a fellow paddler who was in a canoe and is very experienced using a single-bladed paddle.

I have canoed and kayaked several times in the past, but am by no means an experienced paddler, especially when it comes to single-bladed paddles. The fact that I could get out on the NEXT and easily move around with my double-bladed paddle means I can confidently say that this boat is an excellent choice for new and amateur paddlers.

Stability:

Throughout testing, we only encountered slight breezes and the water remained calm, so stability was never an issue. At one point we passed a fishing boat which created a wake, but the NEXT handled it fine.

old_town_next_paddling

Photo credit: Blair Boone

I tested putting more weight to one side of the boat to see how stable it felt while the boat was leaning. I really wanted to see how much weight it would take to either tip the boat over or fall out, but due to the fact that it was still early May in Buffalo, NY and the water was freezing, I was hesitant trying to lean too far. With that said, I was never worried about stability in this boat.

Durability:

The NEXT is made of three-layer Polyethylene, which has been used in canoe making for decades. Old Town uses a process known as rotational molding, which they developed in 1983. They surround a layer of closed foam with an inside and outside layer of high-density linear polyethylene. This technique produces excellent strength and durability making their three-layer design lighter, stronger, and stiffer than single-layer watercraft.

materials_comparison_2

Storage:

Storage is an important feature to me. As someone who enjoys backpacking, the idea of loading my gear in a canoe and traveling to different campsites along the water is very appealing. With an open hull, the NEXT has plenty of room to store your backpack and other gear. If you are really pushing it and traveling with gear that takes up a lot of space, the Element™ seating system slides 6 inches forwards or backwards, allowing you to trim the boat and fit more gear inside.

Since the NEXT has no dry (sealed) storage areas you’ll want to invest in some dry bags for longer trips. While this boat is quite stable on the water you can’t always predict rain, and there’s nothing worse than a duffle bag full of wet clothes and electronics!

Value:

With an MSRP of $999.99, the NEXT may seem a bit expensive for a new paddler who is just looking to get into the sport. For example, the Discovery 119 canoe by Old Town has an MSRP of $699.99, and is a lightweight canoe, that is also marketed as being a great choice for a double-bladed paddle. However, when you consider the overall package, a lightweight watercraft that mixes the best parts of a canoe with many desirable features of a kayak, it seems to me like it isn’t fair to compare the cost of the NEXT directly with a canoe. This is a new experience, and for the quality and ease of use, we think the price is fair. It is an excellent build, and a great experience to paddle.

If you are looking to pick up a new watercraft in 2015, but can’t decide between a canoe or kayak, the NEXT by Old Town offers a fantastic middle ground for both new and experienced paddlers. It is an excellent choice for solo paddlers who are looking for a lightweight boat that tracks well, is easy to paddle, can store all of your gear, and is light enough to load/unload from your car.

Buy Now: $999.99 or to learn more, go to: PaddleNext.com

NEXT Canoe by Old Town - Gear Review
The NEXT by Old Town takes the best aspects of a canoe and blends them with the features we love about kayaks. The NEXT was easy to paddle and moved well in the water. We had an absolute blast reviewing it, and highly recommend it for those that are torn between a canoe or kayak, but just want to have a great time on the water.
Design10
Maneuverability9.8
Stability9.5
Durability9.5
Storage10
Value8.5
Pros
  • Plenty of storage for carrying gear (and of course, beer)
  • Tracks well, and is very easy to paddle
  • The Element™ Seating system is extremely comfortable
Cons
  • The cost might be high for people just getting into the sport, but for everything you get, it is a great value.
9.6Overall Score
Reader Rating: (118 Votes)
2.1

About The Author

The Gear Junkie

Having grown up in Western New York, Jon has experienced and loves all four seasons of the year. He works in the tech industry during the week, and spends most of his time outdoors on the weekend. On his adventures, he tries to pack minimal and light, so he pays attention to design and functionality to ensure only the best, lightest, and most functional gear make it into his pack.

18 Responses

      • Jon Nalewajek

        Tina,

        I have just a standard flat rack on my vehicle, so I am not positive if it will work with a j-bracket or not. I guess that might be dependent on the size+shape of your j-bracket. The dimensions of the NEXT are 13’x29”x11.5”.

        I have flat bars on the top of my car, and I use the Yakima Keelover brackets (http://www.yakima.com/shop/water/roof/keelover). The boat feels very secure while driving, and I’ve taken it on some longer trips with 0 problems.

      • Nyle Landas

        It works with a J bracket, I’ve got one on my trailer. However, I’m 6’5″ and half of that is above my waist. I weigh 300lbs. The Next is very unstable for my body type. I’m 150lbs under the soft capacity but with the weight up top this canoe is very tippy unless under constant motion. So forget fishing or pausing for photos if you are top heavy.

  1. RMO

    Looks great but it seems a little odd them touting it as new and innovative. It’s a solo double-paddle canoe like a Wee Lassie. They’ve been around for over a century! Thumbs up to Old Town for making it though as for the most part if you wanted a canoe like this you had to either build it yourself or have it custom built for you.

    Reply
  2. Michael B ATKIEWICZ

    My brother and I each bought one and the BWCAW is in my back yard.I have used the Next for a one week solo trip there and it handled it like a pro.We both spent 450 bucks on custom covers so that way it handles good sized waves like a pro 3 foot breakers scary yes and you don’t make a habit of it but I got to shore safe.Very good boat for tripping.

    Reply
    • Richard

      Did you paddle single or double blades and did you keep pace with other canoes?

      Reply
      • Jon Nalewajek

        Richard,

        I’ve used a double bladed paddle and was able to keep up with other people that were either using a canoe or a kayak.

  3. Kenny

    Hi I am looking for a fishing fishing lean rest i have OLD TOWN® CANOE SARANAC 146 XT Looking for one to fit

    Reply
  4. Freddy Antonio Villegas Páez

    Recently, in May 2016 I was paddling for 250 Kms in the Orinoco River. Suspending this journey for safety reason, I was paddling in the Lake called Caruachi. The next was incredible in strong currents of the Orinoco, stable. I was paddling with a single blade ( a blade made by the Warao indigenuos). Lot of space to load my minimal equipment and the navigabilty allow me to paddle days of plus 50 kms in condition of high wind and strong and caotic currents. Is an excelent solo canoe. If you want to take a look please go to http://riosdesuramerica.blogspot.com/

    Reply
  5. Scott

    Hi there, someone asked the question a while back about whether or not you could use the NEXT with J-racks. The answer: YES! We have two NEXTs and did a 500+ mile interstate trip with J-racks (and we were using just no-name cheapie Amazon J-racks on a Yakima rack). Make sure you tie off the bow/stern and it’s as rock solid as any kayak I’ve put in a J-rack. Since then, I’ve used the NEXT in my J-rack for just about every single local trip too.

    It’s a fantastic boat by the way. We’ve had our two NEXTs for over a year now and they’ve seen a lot of lake, black water and river usage. It really is the best of both worlds between a small canoe and kayak. The seating is by far the most comfortable I’ve experienced in a boat.

    Cheers!

    Reply
  6. Bill Gehring

    My question is how large of a cooler will fit in the next? Looking for dimensions.

    Reply
  7. Scout

    Looks great. How is the stability when standing in it for fishing ? This is very similar to the Native Watercraft Ultimate which is designed for standing & Fishing.

    Reply
    • Jon Nalewajek

      Although I did not fish in it, a friend of mine borrowed it for fishing and he said that was the one negative – standing in it did not feel very stable.

      With that said, he raved about how comfortable the chair was and ended up buying the NEXT.

      Reply
  8. LKN

    Only issue is weight. If you are truly looking to use this for paddling that includes camping gear and portage, 53 lbs is double that that is available from other builders. Granted, the price is 1/2 of the others so that is a factor as well as the durability (imagine running a $2000-$3000 carbon fiber onto a rocky shore…ouch)

    Reply
  9. Eric

    Most of the time I will be in the boat alone for fishing so I need a light weight canoe that I can carry and load onto my truck. Occasionally my wife would like to go with me for a recreational paddle. Can the Next and/or discovery119 handle the occasional 2 people?

    Reply
    • Jon Nalewajek

      Eric,

      The issue with fitting a second person in the NEXT is that there is only 1 seat. I have taken people on very short paddles (5-10min) with them sitting behind me or toward the front of the boat, but it isn’t very comfortable for them, and I wouldn’t recommend it for longer trips.

      Reply
      • Eric

        Thanks Jon, I get it. How about the Discovery 119, have you done any time in it with a friend?

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