Canoe Review: Old Town Next | Canoeroots Magazine | Rapid Media
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Canoe Review: Old Town Next Photo: Geoff Whitlock

Borrowing from the pack canoe tradition, the Old Town's new NEXT injects twenty-first century flair, with modern tech, spiffy color options and an ultra-comfortable kayak-style seat, into an enduring design.

“This has been my baby, I’ve been pushing for it for a while,” says Old Town’s boat designer, Bob McDonough. “There’s been pack canoes out for hundreds of years, but no one had dialed the design in 100 percent with modern materials and an innovative seating system.”

Striking a balance between high-end performance, which experienced canoeists will love, the NEXT also boasts an approachability that novice paddlers will appreciate.

Paddling away from the dock, I’m immediately struck by what a comfortable ride the NEXT is. It’s not just the supportive lawn chair-style seat that I have to thank, it’s that the NEXT is a fun and stable little boat.

On the water, the NEXT quickly achieves a snappy top speed. Its long waterline with subtle rocker offers excellent tracking, and it remains easy to maneuver on meandering creeks. The NEXT has a super low profile, just a foot of depth at the center.

Drawing on 100 years of boat design experience, Old Town has created a model that is as suitable for single blade paddling as it is for double. Single blade paddlers will especially appreciate the pronounced tumblehome.

The NEXT’s Element seat system is easily customizable. The placement and angle of the seat are simple to adjust on the water, as are the foot stops. This effortless customizability makes the NEXT straightforward to trim once you’ve filled the 450-pound capacity with gear, kids or the family hound.

At 53 pounds without the seat, the NEXT certainly isn’t the lightest solo canoe on the market, but it’s three-layer polyethylene hull promises reward owners for years to come with maintenance-free durability.

What I love about the NEXT is the convenience factor—it’s easy to throw over my shoulder for a quick lunchtime jaunt or for an after-work session.

“The NEXT supports paddling opportunistically within a paddler’s schedule, rather than paddling being a destination-based event, as in the past,” agrees Old Town’s marketing director, Luke LaBree. “Personal time on the water is a big area of growth, we’ve seen this underscored by the boom in the SUP market.”

Defining the NEXT as a personal watercraft in flashy marketing materials, Old Town is looking to capture a new generation of outdoor adventurers and fitness enthusiasts, adds LaBree. This hybrid even has it’s own stylish micro site with handsome models and paddling babes, turning stereotypes about canoeists on their head.

“We’re going after the recreational kayak customer as well as the canoe customer. We didn’t want to be pigeon holed,” adds designer McDonough.                                                

OLD TOWN NEXT SPECS

Length: 13’
Width: 29”
Hull Weight: 53 lbs
Capacity: 450 lbs
Material: 3-layer Poly
MSRP: $999
 
 
Screen Shot 2015 03 18 at 10.45.19 AMThis article first appeared in the Spring 2015 issue of Canoeroots and Family Camping magazine. For more great canoeing content, subscribe to Canoeroots' print editions and digital editions, download issues on your device or view the Spring 2015 issue for free on your desktop.

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