Old Town "Next"

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Dec 1, 2013
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Hi... I've been looking for a nice solo boat for back country trips, usually to established sites (Keji, or similar areas), and the occasional longer distance trip, say 4-5 days max. Problem is there's really nothing to choose from in Nova Scotia. There area lot of Old Town dealers around, though, and with the new "Next" model coming this spring, I was wondering if anyone had thoughts or inside intel on them??

I was kinda hoping to get a Keewaydin 15 or an Osprey, something along those lines, but the 49lb next is only about $1100. I don't mind that weight, and the price looks reasonable, since it's similar to OT Pack $$, and more along the lines of what I want. It's a bit shorter than what I was aiming for, but again, I can get one pretty easily here.. I can get H2O boats here as well, but their 15' solo is over $3000, and I would have to order it sight unseen.

Any insight anyone can add is appreciated.

Thanks,
JTJ
 
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Lots of reading on it here: http://www.paddling.net/message/showThread.html?fid=advice&tid=1745571

Most of the responses are not positive but keep in mind that no one has actually seen this boat and they're mostly upset because of how it's being marketed. There's a nice long response in there from an Old Town employee. One thing to keep in mind is that it sounds like the 49lb weight is the hull only. The fancy seat adds another 6 lbs. So 55 lbs. total.

I have no experience with pack canoes.

Alan
 
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JTJ, you could buy one, paddle it and give us all a review of it. ;)

The OT employee is the Marketing Manager and his job is to sell boats, so for me, what he has to say has less merit due to his position with the company.

If you don't have any issue with the weight of the boat, perhaps a nice Chestnut Pal or Chum would do, there should be a few of those around that area. Certainly a w/c has maintenance you wouldn't have with a plastic boat, but it would be a nicer paddle and repairable or you could build a stripper to suit your needs. Plenty of fellows on here for guidance on that.

I assume you scan the Kijiji adds regularly for boats like we do?

Karin
 
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I don't think anyone is really upset. If so they need a better life. No one is making them paddle the boat nor buy it. Certainly Old Town is the WalMart of the canoe world as far as distribution.

If you can't test paddle a boat why would you buy it? Certainly Hornbecks are in the same price range, but they have no distribution network to compare to Old Town. The Hornbeck 12 is $1595 new and 18 lbs.. Not much use if you can't try it though. I take it that the used pack canoe market simply does not exist in Nova Scotia.

That NEXT seat looks ungodly uncomfortable and that is one point I would consider when you can find a OT to try.. How adaptable is the seat? All the other pack canoe makers have a variety of seats,

Be careful when storing it.. Support it fairly close to the center.. A lot of weight is there and you don't want to find the bottom concave next spring.

Most but not all of the naysayers have access to better pack canoes .. The weight is quite heavy for a pack canoe of 13 feet. My wood canvas canoe of 13 feet is two thirds the weight. I think its Old Towns claim to having a new idea that is bringing forth guffaws. Anyone who has been to the Adirondacks probably is aware that pack canoes have been around since the 1880's but in the last fifteen years only have gained notoriety outside the Adirondacks,
 
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It is a pack canoe, a smallish boat with a low sheer line designed with the thought that the paddler would probably propel it with a double-bladed paddle. That is not to say that it wouldn't be possible to single blade it, but the cant of the seating surface in this promotional video suggests that it would not be the best to promote an upright posture which is best for a single-bladed paddle: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oqQDOVFCFt0

Pack canoes are intended primarily for protected inland waterways and the low sheer line will result in limited free board especially if the canoe is carrying any load. So it won't be the most sea worthy craft in waves.

And the boat is going to have a pretty limited carrying capacity. This is true of many 13' solo canoes but especially one designed to be paddled sitting. The seat and the paddlers legs are going to take up much of the usable length of the boat and any gear is going to have to be jammed into the narrow ends in front of or behind the thwarts. You might pack much lighter than I do, but I would have difficulty tripping for 4-5 days out of this boat.

A couple of words of caution regarding Old Town's roto-molded three layer poly hulls. First, I have weighed some of the larger OT Discoveries made with the same process and found that they came in significantly above their claimed weight. It is not unusual for makers to be overly optimistic regarding the spec weight of their canoes, but the Discovery boats I have weighed have typically been at least 5 lbs over. I also regard it as rather sneaky for Old Town to list a weight for the boat shown with the seat at 49 lbs, then find that the real (claimed) weight is 55 lbs. Second, contrary to what Johnson Outdoor's Marketing Manager said in the thread Alan cited, many of us know that Old Town's roto-molded three layer poly hulls are subject to deformation and hogging. I am not saying that all OT triple dump poly hulls do this, but I have seen literally hundreds that have. Perhaps this shorter boat will be more resistant to deformation.

I think the boat will fill a niche, especially now that the Royalex pack canoe offerings such as OT's Pack, or Wenonah's Fusion have disappeared. Old Town is probably smart to come out with it at this time. I think the boat is best suited for day tripping on easy rivers or other relatively sheltered inland waterways.

I think the objections voiced in the other thread were not so much directed at the boat design, but at Old Town's rather over-the-top marketing. They are pretending that this boat is something shockingly new and different. Well, it is a triple dump, roto-molded PE pack canoe and I suppose that is different. And it is going to be molded in different colors. And you can buy a rather inexpensive, entry level, double-bladed paddle with matching color blades. But that is just about where the "new" ends. Pack canoes with a low sheer designed to be paddled sitting have been around for a long time. Putting a sliding center seat in a canoe is nothing new. And tons of canoes have foot braces.

In another promo video we are told that the Next has "the solo paddling capabilities of a kayak...", as if this was the first solo canoe. Designer Bob McDonough boasts that "The original prototype on this one was wood-strip, so we brought in some of the old heritage of the brand to bring in the next Old Town boat." Give me a break, most makers have laid up a stripper prototype for many decades: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13Q00tJaN9E

And some of the other advertising hype borders on the inane. Old Town touts the Next's "open cockpit design". Last time I checked, most canoes had an open cockpit design. I think the guy that hollowed out the first dugout invented that. Also that the Next is "lightweight for easy transport". Well, lightweight is a relative term but many of us would not consider a 55 lb, 13 foot canoe to be "light weight".

My impression is that the advertising is directed towards those who know little or nothing about canoes and are considering buying, or have in fact paddled a kayak, tempting them to try a canoe instead. If so, it is probably a good thing, and the Next may turn out to be a fine boat for those looking for a relatively inexpensive pack canoe, as long as they are prepared to deal with the weight penalty, and other limitations of a triple dump polyethylene boat. But for some of us who have been paddling canoes for a while, the reaction to some of OT's advertising hype is "gag me".
 
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It remains to be seen how seaworthy the NEXT is. Totally unknown is the cross shape hull design. Many pack canoes are extremely seaworthy;yes on the ocean.

Hornbecks classics are wide flared designs..not the speediest but the flare makes waves hit the side and bounce down. Placids shouldered tumbehome allows a much narrower paddling station and hence requires a shorter paddle but the widest point of the boat being fairly high up out of the water allows waves again to be deflected down. I am not the only one who paddles a Placid boat on the ocean or Lake Superior.. many people on Lake Champlain use it too.

It may be that you get what you pay for.. a good design is trickier to execute and the OT's need to come off a one piece mold to be cost effective.

A 13 foot boat is not going to be able to take a sizeable payload. It doesn't matter whose 13 foot boat it is.. There is a principle that the freeboard of a boat depends on the weight of water displaced. Archimededs came up with that long ago. A four or five day trip requires the same amount of gear as an overnight with of course a little more food. That's why I got a pack canoe of longer length.. more volume. The 15 feet allows for ten days easy of gear and food. Or one night.

For a little more insight into boat lengths and displacements ( which apply to ALL boats of a given volume, not just Placids) look at the displacement of the 13 foot Spiffire
http://www.placidboats.com/spitfire13.html

and the RapidFire

http://www.placidboats.com/rapidfire.html

Only you know your gear and you load.
 
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I just have to say WOW. 55 lbs for a PACK CANOE.

Being a NY'er and a Adirondack-er I will say the defeats every purpose of a true 'pack canoe'. Yes it should be able to be double bladed like a kayak, and yes it should have the ease of carrying gear like a canoe, but first and foremost, it needs to be able to be carried on or with a pack!

Save your money and buy a Swift or something else. They have the option to be paddled from the seated position with a double blade if that is what you are after. The pack seat they offer, although a bit heavy (nothing like the OT) is comfortable IMO.

I agree weight isn't always everything, but if it's a pack canoe, it is. At least with a Swift you get the option for the combi seating, so it could be converted to a dedicated single blade solo canoe later on. Some of the Placids can be converted as well.

The other dedicated floor seat packs like the smaller Swifts, PBWs, Hornbecks and Hemlocks will at least have some value later on in life if you ever tire of the boat.

Just as a note, if you've never had a pack canoe you might want to try one. Getting in and out is different than a sitting/kneeling canoe, and probably different than a kayak. People seem to dump them more than any other boat, and it seems to happen right near shore when getting in or out. It's something you can learn to do, but some people seem to shy away from the pack boats because of that.
 
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How so different from a kayak? I have all sorts of craft and for me getting out and in a pack canoe is just like getting in and out of a sea kayak.

http://www.paddling.net/guidelines/showArticle.html?31

My husband can straddle the boat and lower his butt in addition to this method.

I am not prepared in any way to state that people dump getting into a pack canoe any more than a standard canoe any more than a kayak. I have not the studies to refer to.
 
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It may not be much different than a yak. My only thought is they may be a bit wider/taller and tougher to get into.

My data is pretty anecdotal, I've seen a few cases. It's just something to consider. I get into my solo boat by sitting on the seat, it's much easier than getting in a pack IMO.
 
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Dec 1, 2013
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Wow, lot's of interesting thoughts... Thanks. I do really like the design of the Swift Keewaydin 15, but they don't sell them here, and you guessed it - the used market here is poor. Love the Rapidfire, too, but it's a lot of money to buy sight unseen, plus then you have to get it here... If the Next was decent, I could buy one for myself, one for my son, and a Necky Eliza for the Missus, all for about the same cost as a Rapidfire. If it's a piece of garbage, though, saving the money is irrelevant.

Maybe I'll be able to find a boat from a higher end manufacturer in Royalex from an Ontario dealer or on Kijiji or something one of these days. Until then, I'll await a test paddle in a Next, barring any other options that come up .

Again, I appreciate the help!
 
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There are a lot of serious paddlers here. I doubt you are going to get much love for something that may be a complete failure. If it was an used boat, that was little money, and could be resold for the same amount, I'd encourage you to take the gamble. But I can't see you reselling a new boat like that without a big loss if you don't like it. You'll take a bigger loss on any new boat, so it's always better to buy one you'll keep.

My suggestion would be to pick out a few boats you are interested in, do the research to find out where they are and then make a road trip and go try out as many as you can. Take notes and when you get back home, make a decision and order one. Canoes can be shipped pretty much anywhere. It might not be the cheapest way, but you are guaranteed to get something you'll like.

The other option is to focus on whatever is closest to you and test out as much there as you can. You may not get EXACTLY the best for you, but you'll do better than just buying the cheapest thing you can.

Used boats are less risk IMO if you get a desirable boat that doesn't have any major flaws. Even if you don't like it, someone else will, and you'll be able to sell it for near, or the same as what you paid. The only thing you'd be out is shipping if that was the case. I'd be scouring the classifies in your situation.

I'd also call a place like Hemlock, I know I always put them out there, but for real, call boat builders or dealers and see what they have used. A lot of demo and used stuff comes through this time of year and you might be able to pick something up for a decent price even including shipping.

I'm not sure about how Placid and Hornbeck deal with demos and used canoes, so I can't advise you on them.
 
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I don't know how easy it is for you to get to St John New Brunswick.. It may be worth the ferry ride. Gibson Creek Canoeing has access to all sorts of solo boats. Also keep an eye on the used market in Maine.. perhaps a ride on the Nova Star will be in your future.
 
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One factor you might need to consider is how you will carry the boat. Pack canoes sub 30 lbs can be slung over your shoulder or perched on a pack. NEXT is going to require a solo portage yoke. Maybe Old Town will come out with one.. Its very hard to carry it with the seat pushing on top of your head and balance fore and aft can be hard to adjust. 55 lbs is not possible to carry over one shoulder.

My thinking is NEXT is not aimed at the canoetripper but more for river day trippers. It should have lots of fans from those folk.
 
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The original Pack Canoe was the Adirondack Raider, used to poach trout and venison from private estates. In ~1880 a small, tubercular guy asked Rushton to build an absolutely minimal boat he could carry. Some builders, notably Adirondack Canoe and Kayak, Hemlock, Hornbeck, Savage and Slipstream build hulls in that tradition, compromising performance, ruggedness and paddler comfort to minimize weight. They are all kinda fragile but come in below 15 lbs for near $1500. Other builders are more focused on onwater performance, improved ruggedness and comfort, especially Bell/NorthStar, Mad River, Placid boatworks, Swift and WeNoNah. They are longer, heavier, more rugged and more comfortable but the best come in at 20 lbs and $3000. So it goes. All are designed for the double paddle, which eliminates an entire learning curve when compared to the single blade paddler. Select a weight you can tote and a seating system you can live with at a price you can pay.

Into this array of pack canoes, comes OT, who has been offering 12 ft Pack Canoes for decades, initially with a composite Bart Hauthaway unit followed with RLt and Roto models sporting a standard canoe seat unfortunately positioned. OT's claim to have invented a new type of watercraft is absurd. I have always suspected that when individuals or institutions are caught in a prevarication, it may not their first and only attempt at the genre? And, this condition immediately colors every communication ever received from the source! Anyway, the Next/Kayu seems to be the heaviest Pack Canoe on the market, obviating the basic tenant of the concept. How it paddles and how comfortable the outfitting need wait for springtime assessment. but I am suspicious of builders who do not publish dimensions. Is the omission because they think us too ignorant to divine useful information from data or do they not know the numbers?

OP should probably plan a Northern NY week in Spring, visiting Adk Canoe & Kayak, Adk Lakes & Trails, Bay Creek, Colden Canoe, Hemlock, Hornbeck, Mountain Man, Oak Orchard, Placid boatworks, Raquette River, SLipStream and others, trying multiple boats and taking notes selecting the best used one and a couple paddles. That would be an eclectic beginning, but certainly not the end of the journey.
 
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Dec 1, 2013
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A few things... First of all, I'm not a novice paddler, and there is no learning curve for me using a single paddle or a double. I don't know it all, for certain, but have been paddling kayaks and tandem canoes for 30 years. I own a big ol' Mad River Explorer, and have paddled any number of boats from a few of the big names. A Bell Magic is the only kevlar solo canoe I tried, and I loved it. Now I'm in the MR with the kids, or paddling it slowly solo.
I do need to make several trips to St John in the coming months, so I will definitely check out Gibson Creek (Thanks!). Mr. Wilson, I would love to take a trip like the one you mention. Maybe one day. Just for the record, I had my heart set on a RapidFire, a Keewaydin 15, or a Wilderness. Just wish I could check them out...
 
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Well maybe if I type something Charlie will echo in more words and the OP will listen... I doubt Charlie has ever had to buy a boat in the last 30 years this probably doesn't much matter to him.

If money is an issue, make that trip NOW. If you want a boat, and you don't want to pay retail, go on that road trip ASAP. Fall is the time when all these dealers try to thin their stock. I also mentioned demo canoes, and also people trade in quite a bit now, so there will be a healthy stock of used.

With about 10 mins of internet research and phone calls you could locate those 3 boats you list. Quit whining about being able to check them out. If you want something, go out and get it. Asking an internet forum to rationalize a shitty plastic bathtub so you can get something 'available' is, I'm sorry, just ridiculous. It isn't even in the same league as the three boats you mention. And the three boats you mention are just the tip of what's available (I wouldn't consider them the best 3 choices, JMO).

I'm not a salesman, I don't work in the canoe industry, and frankly, I don't really care if you get a boat or not. You can take my advice or leave it, but it's honest from someone who has actually shelled out hard earned pocket change for canoes. I only paid retail for one boat and the current one I'm ordering. The first was my Radisson - a POS that got sold as soon as I got serious about paddling, the current, only because I had it built exactly the way I wanted based on what I learned from my last two boats (both of which have moved on). The other boats I bought based on opportunity, and I bought them all in the fall.
 
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O please bird.

The OP is in Nova Scotia. Do you know where that is? I don't see you travelling 20 hours to examine a boat so lay off.

Please write about what you know. "I doubt Charlie has ever had to buy a boat in the last 30 years this probably doesn't much matter to him." . I'll call you on this. What a bunch of nonsense.
 
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I'm just saying... I don't think spring is the ideal time. Charlie doesn't seem to worry about these sort of things, and that's fine. I just get a little miffed that people don't take into consideration those types of things when they cry about $3000 price tags. Really only trying to give the guy a boot in the ass.

I've driven 10 hours to buy stuff for racing. I would have went farther if I had to. Or just had it shipped. I know where Nova Scotia is. But I'll echo the fact that if you are serious about buying a boat, make a road trip and try as many as you can.

If money isn't an option, do it in the spring and order exactly what you want. If money is a constraint, go in the fall and look for demo, old stock or used.
 
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Please write about what you know. "I doubt Charlie has ever had to buy a boat in the last 30 years this probably doesn't much matter to him." . I'll call you on this. What a bunch of nonsense.

I was exaggerating. But I doubt that was something he had to be concerned with when at Bell, Placid, or now with Swift.

And as far as the travel. No I wouldn't. Why would I? I live right next to all these places and dealers. If I didn't, I'd consider it. Seriously. Or forget the whole thing.

And Dave is shipping boats to Germany now. I wouldn't worry about getting a boat shipped anywhere on this continent.
 
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