Tandem Kayaks are great fun - find out what are the best ones today and how to choose one!
Kayaking! The word itself can transport one into the great outdoors – blue skies, crisp wind and the water, whether it is a lake, a river or the ocean. To add to this, to be able to share this feeling with someone is the icing on the cake! This is where tandem kayaking comes in and how!
Choosing the right kayak can be a tricky affair and various aspects will have to be looked into. Here I will help you choose a kayak and then look for extra features in a tandem kayak to give you the best of both worlds!
Top 10 Best Tandem Kayaks - Updated to today's top selling tandem kayaks!
You may be shocked by the price difference between some of the tandem kayaks - going from around $80 to $800. That is because the cheaper ones are inflatable kayaks, and the higher priced ones are made from sturdy material like polyethylene etc.
The price difference and also the kayaking experience between an inflatable tandem kayak and a regular tandem kayak is also huge. So, choose carefully and do not be swayed only by the price.
1. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
- COMFORTABLE FOR ANYONE: Kayak includes an adjustable inflatable seat with backrest;Cockpit designed for comfort and space
- DIMENSIONS: Inflated size- 10 ft 3 X 3ft X 1ft 8 Inch . Maximum weight capacity: 400 pounds
- DIRECTIONAL STABILITY: Removable skeg for directional stability
- INCREASED VISIBILITY: In case of emergency, bright yellow color helps visibility
- MADE FOR SMALLER BODIES OF WATER: Explorer K2 is made for smaller bodies of water including lakes and mild rivers
2. Intex Challenger K2 Kayak
- The Intex Challenger K2 Kayak is sporty and fun with a streamlined design for easy paddling
- The bright green color and sporty graphics make the kayak highly visible in the water
- Two 86 inch aluminum paddles and an Intex high-output pump for easy inflation and deflation
- Made of company's rugged, Super-Tough vinyl that's puncture- and UV damage-resistant for long term durability
- Measures 30 by 15 by 138 inches (W x H x D) inflated, with 400-pound maximum weight limit; includes two 86-inch aluminum oars, high-capacity pump.
3. Sevylor Quikpak K1 1-Person Kayak
- 5-minute setup lets you spend more time on the water
- Easy-to-carry backpack system turns into the seat
- 21-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use
- Tarpaulin bottom provides durable protection from punctures
- Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated if one is punctured
- Airtight System is guaranteed not to leak
- Double Lock valves use two locking points for easy inflation/deflation
4. Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person
- 3 person/650 lb capacity, weighs 32 lbs, suitable for up to Class III whitewater
- 370 Deluxe Kayak Package features two movable, super comfortable Deluxe Kayak Seats for improved back support and 2 paddles, foot pump, and carry bag
- 2 AB30 7'10"" 4 Part Paddles with asymmetrical blade and aluminum shaft
- 2 skegs on the bottom for better tracking & speed
- Open and close drain valve, 5 deluxe 1-way inflation/deflation valves
5. Ztotop 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set
- PLEASE NOTE: Kayak Overall Length:138''(3.5m), Overall Width:42''(1.06m). Maximum weight:400 Lbs(180KG). Oars Length:92'' (2.33m).
- Durable Material:Heavy duty puncture resistant vinyl is durable enough to provide durable protection from punctures.
- Quick Inflation/Deflation:Use foot pump to inflate quickly. Boston valves ensures quick inflation and deflation.
- Comfortable Design:2 Inflatable seats with adjustable backrests are comfortable.
- Safety Design:This kayak’s air chambers are separate from each other.
6. Lifetime Youth Wave Kayak
- Ergonomic Cockpit Design Enhances Balance and Motor Skills
- Molded finger handles on each side of the kayak
- Reverse chine for enhanced stability with swim-up step
- Lightweight 18 lb. Design - 130 lb. Weight Capacity
- Recommended for Ages 5 and Up with Adult Supervision - Paddle Included
7. Lifetime Tamarack Angler 100 Fishing Kayak
- Constructed of UV-Protected High-Density Polyethylene. Stable Flat Bottom. Deep Hull Tracking Channels. Stability Chine Rails
- Multiple Footrest Positions for Different Size Riders. Adjustable Padded Seat Back and Seat Pad for Comfort.
- Two Flush Mounted Fishing Rod Holders. One Top Mount Fishing Rod Holder
- Two 6" Storage Compartments in Rear and Center. One Paddle Keeper with Shock Cords. Front and Rear T-Handles for Easy Transport
- Durable High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Construction. 5-Year Limited Warranty
8. Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
- 18-gauge PVC construction is rugged for lake use , NMMA certified
- 1000D tarpaulin bottom and 840D nylon cover provide durable protection from punctures
- Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated if one is punctured
- Airtight System is guaranteed not to leak
- Berkley Quick Set Rod Holders are adjustable for enhanced hands-free fishing
- Sevylor trolling motor fittings expand your fishing capabilities
- Paddle holders secure your paddles out of the way
9. BKC TK219 12.2' Tandem Fishing Kayak
- Paddle Parks - Free your hands without the risk of losing your paddle thanks to the Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC TK219's secure paddle parks.
- Built-In Rod Holders: Designed with 4 flush-mount kayak fishing rod holders and then another 2 adjustable rod holders to allow you and your fellow fisherman to keep multiple baited lines in the water at once or just to keep the rods out of your way during
- Waterproof Storage: Safely stow your wallet, keys, phone and other valuables inside the BKC TK219's dual watertight storage hatches.
- Seats Included: Kayak comes with 2 soft padded sit in kayak seats
10. SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Excursion 10-Foot Sit-in Fishing Kayak
- Great for lakes and rivers and to get to those excluded fishing spots
- Lightweight, easy to carry
- Tracks and paddles with ease while offering maximum stability
- Rugged uv-stabilized fortiflex high density polyethylene
- Two flush mount rod holders and one swivel rod holder
Where Will You be Paddling?
For those keen on flat water surfaces such as lakes, inlets, bays and slow moving rivers, Recreation Kayaks fit the bill. These kayaks have large cockpits and inherent high initial stability. They serve as excellent platforms for fishing, photography and the occasional snooze even! Not suitable for whitewater, the small hull will help beginners and low intensity paddlers to familiarize themselves with the kayak. Usually between 10 and 12 feet, these kayaks are not meant for speed, and are very stable.
For those with a moderate sense of adventure and willing to try out the faster moving rivers, the WhiteWater Kayak is just the thing. These kayaks are very agile and maneuverable since they have no keel and don't track in a straight line. This makes them very maneuverable and agile. The snug cockpit will keep you in place even in rough waters. At less than 10 feet, these kayaks are half the length of a sea kayak, and are very buoyant.
For the great blue beyond, Sea Kayaks are long, fast and seaworthy. They sit low in the water, reducing effects of cross winds and have extra features such as compass housings and deck mounted pumps. Ranging from 16 to 19 feet, sea kayaks are usually 22 to 24 inches wide. They are spacious allowing the intrepid explorer to carry fresh water when required. Hatches allow access to extra space and bulkheads keep the water in the cockpit in the event of a capsize.
Less efficient than the Sea Kayak, and perfect for long sojourns on still/gentle water, the Tour Kayaks generally have a large cockpit interior for comfort on long excursions. Usually between 13 to 14 feet long, these kayaks are wider and more stable than the sea kayak.
Vibe Tandem Kayak - one of the very best
The Vibe Tandem Kayak is a high grade, top notch tandem kayak. If you have the budget, it will be great to go for this kayak. The safety, kayaking experience and build of this kayak will be worth every dollar. It supports up to 500 lbs of weight and is great for fishing, touring or just having fun with the family. It has framed hero seats and foot braces, which translate into all day comfort. The Vibe Tandem Kayak is in the range of a thousand dollars, but you can check the current price here.
The best thing about the Vibe Tandem Kayak are the reviews from actual buyers from Amazon. Each review praises the build an duality of the kayak, and all are unanimous about the fact that this kayak is excellent value for money. It is much cheaper than upper crust brands like Hobie and Jackson, but delivers a comparable quality and kayaking experience.
Choose this kayak if you don't want to go wrong with your tandem kayak and want great quality for a great price.
What Style Kayak Do you Prefer?
This will depend on the type of paddling, skill level and personal preference.
Sit On Top kayaks are very stable, providing good platforms for fishing and photography. They are self bailing. These are kayaks are wide with high center of gravity and do not allow a paddler to effectively use his/her body to control the boat; are a little more cumbersome to handle on and off the water. Though not very efficient, the Sit On Top Kayak is great to take a four legged buddy out on the water.
Sit In style kayaks are good for longer excursions, have more gear storage space and are comparatively dryer. The paddler can use his/her body to control the boat. A raised lip around the cockpit allows a skirt (or spray deck) to be utilized by the paddler. Skirts keep water...either from dripping off the paddle or from waves from entering the boat. Bulkheads (walls within the kayak) form barriers limiting water infiltration, and with a properly fitted hatch cover, provide a margin of safety (flotation) and dry storage. The protective sit in kayak is the traditional style of kayak, while the sit on top kayak gives one a feeling of openness.
What is your combined weight?
This is the total of the boat, your gear and you. This spec is important if you plan to haul gear for a multiday tour: If the boat is overloaded, it will sit too low in the water and compromise your paddling efficiency.
Material : The material of the kayak is also an important factor in determining the combined weight.
Kayaks are made of plastic, fiberglass, kevlar, carbon, wood, inflatable plastic & fabric with frame.
Polyethylene, a kind of plastic, is the heaviest of the popular materials and is also the least expensive. It is durable and heavy. Polyethylene is recyclable and will resist a puncture or fracture far better than fiberglass. Polyethylene also flexes more, which, while adding durability, decreases efficiency.
However, it needs welding or use of mechanical fasteners to repair a leak.
Fiberglass is lighter but is also more expensive than polyethylene. Such boats can be built to specifications, with reinforcements where required. Fiberglass is more rigid than plastic, and repair is relatively easy, though can crack on impact. Fiberglass kayaks are very efficient in water, but cannot be recycled.
Other materials like kevlar or carbon fiber are lighter still, but are even more costly, while wood boats are seldom seen. Other options include fabric over wood or a folding metal frame. Such kayaks require hours of assembly, and are generally expensive. On the plus side, they are collapsible and can fit into a small (hiking perhaps) bag. As a more portable and storable kayak, inflatable boats are available as an option, more suited for whitewater and surf conditions.
Do remember that you have to get the kayak into and out of the water, on to and off the top of your car and even drag it along some distances. So weight of the kayak is an important factor to consider.
Shape and size considerations
Length: The length of the kayak is one of the factors that affect its ability to track and turn amongst other things. A long boat will be more efficient and faster in water than a shorter one. Longer boats cruise more efficiently and offer lots of storage space for overnight touring gear, while shorter hulls turn more quickly.
Depth: Deeper hulls offer more volume while shallow ones are more stable.
Width: If you want greater stability initially go in for wider hulls, while the narrower hulls make you go faster. So you need to decide between stability and speed of the kayak.
Other Factors to Consider
Seats: The seat of the kayak is one of the most important components of the kayak, considering that one will be spending hours on it. The seat should be able to provide adequate support to the back and allow for enough space so that one’s legs do not go numb. An ergonomic seat will add to the expense but will definitely be worth it in the long run.
Rudders and skegs: A skeg is a dropdown fin that will help trim the boat to be more controllable in varying wind/sea conditions. A rudder, on the other hand, is not fixed, can be adjusted via foot pedals and is more responsive to changing conditions. There is a large group that is equally comfortable steering with their paddles rather than with a rudder or skeg.
Cockpit size: Again based on where you intend to go kayaking, the cockpit size will come into play. A tight fitting allows more control and protection in rough weather, and keep you in the cockpit. A small cockpit also reduces the possibility of the boat being swamped by a large wave.
A roomy cockpit, on the other hand, makes it easier to get in and out of the kayak. This will also make a long excursion more comfortable.
Hatches/ Bulkheads: Apart from providing access to interior storage areas, hatches should be able to keep your essential stores dry in case you roll. In case the storage areas aren’t full of gear, floatation bags can be used to steady the kayak. It is more practical to have closer to the cockpit, thereby reducing the amount of water in the kayak in case of accidental swamping.
Foot Pegs: A secure foot brace is essential in all kayaks, irrespective of kayak style. The foot pegs could be adjustable, moulded in or fixed to the front bulkhead. Foot pegs will give you a proper and comfortable posture and stop you from slumping forward. These will also allow you to use torso rotation to effectively propel the kayak.
Paddles: Another very important component of your kayak is the right paddle. Better boat control via less effort can be got with light paddles. A longer length paddle is suitable for a wide boat and relaxed paddling. A paddle with a large blade and short staff is typically used for quicker acceleration, in whitewater for example.
Rigging: This is an important aspect, and there are several aspects to consider. The best place to stow gear, which makes it easily accessible, is the shock cord that crosses the deck in front and also goes behind the cockpit. When it comes to storing small items like gloves, it is best to use the deck netting. If you are planning on a long kayak trip then you can consider built-in compasses and pumps. Effective deck rigging also helps in paddle float rescues, so keep that in mind. If you have an open water kayak, then consider having perimeter safety lines.
Solo or In Tandem
Now that you have decided on which kayak to go for, the question arises whether it is going to be a solo adventure or in tandem with someone. Tandem kayaks are designed with two cockpits, you can even remove one of the seats to let a beloved dog go around the lake with you.
If you like company, a tandem kayak is right for you. Such a kayak will carry more gear ( required since you will need to carry twice the gear) and will be more stable than a single kayak. However, tandem kayaks are difficult to rescue and pump dry. While you can go anywhere in a tandem kayak, they are not as easy to maneuver as a single kayak.
In case you want to go solo in a tandem kayak, the kayak is likely to be off balance and a little harder to control. However, nowadays, most of the tandem kayaks available are capable of converting into solos with movable seats. Some even have a “jump seat” molded into the kayak.
Why go in for a tandem kayak?
As you have already realized there many advantages and some disadvantages to choosing a tandem kayak. Tandem kayaks are almost the same as normal kayaks, with one big difference. You cannot use a tandem kayak alone, it is meant for two people. That by the way is not a rule, as many tandem kayaks are coming with the option of an adjustable movable seat to turn it into a solo kayak, and some of them also have a molded jump seat in the middle (not recommended for using it as a solo kayak on it though).
The fact that you can transform a tandem kayak into a solo one is really not the question here. What you actually need to figure out is why you should choose a tandem kayak at all?
The most control, expertise and freedom comes with a solo kayak. If you are going to choose a tandem kayak, you will obviously have one big reason for it.
Besides your main reason to go in for a tandem kayak, let us have a look at the advantages of a tandem kayak and its disadvantages. Eventually it is going to come down to your personal preference, whether you go in for a tandem kayak or not, but these pointers may tilt the decision either way.
Tandem Kayaks are Great for Families or to take the Pet Dog Along
If you like to go kayaking as a family a tandem kayak is obviously a great choice. As a couple you can paddle along together and have a fantastic time. If you have kids then an adult and kid kayaking together in a tandem kayak is a great way to enjoy this brilliant outdoor sport.
If you have younger kids, then they can sit in the front seat also called the cockpit at the bow of the tandem kayak and you can sit at the stern end (the back seat). This way your kid will be able to enjoy the views and experience while you do the major paddling and maneuvering from behind, and you also get to keep an eye on your kid all the time. However you have to be sure that your child can be trusted and will be able to paddle from the front seat position.
There are some tandem kayaks that have the provision of a small seat in between too. This is generally not a great option as it is more like space in between the two tandem seats, and be very sure that you would want your little kid to be sitting in this place which has a molded seat. Usually gear is stored in that part of the tandem kayak or a pet dog comes along there.
You can even consider removing one seat to take the dog along comfortably. If your dog is fond of the water and can stay steady in the kayak, it will be great fund to have a kayaking partner that will go woof at everything that is exciting.
A Tandem Kayak will let you Take Breaks, in Turns of Course
That is the advantage of having two people paddling. If one of you gets tired, that person can take small break while the other one paddles on. Tandem kayaks mean that you get time to take photos while the other kayaker keeps the kayak steady or steers it to the right spot. If you are planning on fishing from the kayak, a second paddler can be a massive help, if you have to reel in a big fish or are generally struggling. This may not sound like a big deal, but when you are actually out there on a kayaking trip, there will be many situations when having another paddler with you will mean you end up having a much better experience.
With Two Pairs of Hands, you’ll Go Faster
With two of you paddling up the tandem kayak, it will definitely be able to go much faster. If you do some good synchronizing and team work then you can really gather solid speed. This is an advantage for sure, but it may not have much relevance for those who want to go kayaking to mainly move along slowly and enjoy the views and the overall experience. For such a trip speed is not important, though it can be useful in certain situations.
It’s Just so much More Fun Together
When it comes down to it, it is much more fun together with your husband or wife, or your significant other or your best friend. Experiencing the beauty of the scenery as it emerges right in front of you together is much more. Sharing that amazing moment together has so much more in it then doing it alone. Going tandem kayaking also creates a bond between the two people, as the whole experience can only happen with both of you working together.
Sharing the moment is also much easier when you can talk to each other so easily. It is not possible to talk to each other on different kayaks, unless you come close and almost come to a halt. In a tandem kayak you can discuss the experience, share the ‘oh wow’ moments and really be together in it.
Stability is Much Better in a Tandem Kayak
With two people in it, the stability is greater. This is especially useful when one of the paddlers is not very experienced. The more experienced kayaker will be able to hold the kayak steady and give the new kayaker a chance to learn the ropes (paddles!!).
If one of the paddlers is a child then this stability is highly recommended. Safety comes first before anything else, and having a more stable kayak in choppy waters is a great thing indeed. The extra stability that a wider bowed tandem kayak offers is a huge advantage for beginners, children and first timers. If you want to go for even higher stability and ease of maneuverability then consider a tandem kayak with a rudder and pedals. In general since the tandem kayaks are longer and heavier they are slightly more difficult to maneuver.
In an Emergency a Tandem Kayak is a Life Saver
If one of the people in the group is unwell or unable to paddle then they can sit in the tandem kayak while the other person paddles. This can be a real life saver in some tough situations. If everyone has solo kayaks then the injured or unwell person will not be able to move on their own, unless one kayak tows the other, which is difficult proposition. Thus having a tandem kayak while going on a trip is a definite advantage.
You Could Say You have More Space
This is a little contentious as two single kayaks have more space than a tandem kayak, so effectively you will be able to carry less gear between two people. However there is more room inside the tandem kayak and there is space in between the seats to carry extra gear.
Our advice is to always travel as light as possible. When a kayak gets near to its weight capacity, it becomes more and more difficult to move and maneuver.
Disadvantage – Storage and Transportation is Not Easy
Since the tandem kayaks are longer and heavier, it is not easy to carry around. A big strong guy can carry a tandem kayak on his own, but generally two people are needed to carry it. That should not be much of a problem considering two of you will be going together in the tandem kayak. Storing the tandem kayak is also something that you need to consider. You will need to have enough space around in your home or garage to store the tandem kayak. It will not fold up and become compact, it has a hard shell and a wider bow.
Also remember that your car has to be able to carry the tandem kayak. Keep these weight, storage and transportation issues in mind before buying a tandem kayak,
Disadvantage - You need to be In Tune with your Kayaking Partner
When you are on a solo kayak you can what you please, go where you please and move as fast or slow as you want. Not so, in a tandem kayak. You and your partner are in it together. As a team you will have to decide where to go and how fast. If you want to slow down for a particularly beautiful scenery, then your partner had better be someone who also like to appreciate natural beauty.
One other problem is how well you can paddle and how strong and fit are you. If one of the people is much more experienced, faster, stronger and fitter, than they may get slowed down by the other and also get frustrated by the reduced effort from the other person. If you have an independent streak, then it is better to go in for a solo kayak.
Take your time. Try out as many as you can before you decide on the best one for yourself. Look for options of demos or rental kayaks before you are ready to take the final step. Be safe when you go on the water. Always remember to wear your lifejacket, even though kayaking is inherently not a dangerous sport. Enjoy yourself on the water, in tandem will be just great!!
Now that you have a good idea of what it means to choose a tandem kayak, the good and the bad, go ahead and make a great choice from the top 10 best tandem kayaks. This list of the bestselling tandem kayaks gets updated every day so that you only get the latest and the best.
You are at the best place to start your search for an awesome tandem kayak.