A tandem kayak is an ideal activity for parents to paddle with their children or for couples to share an adventure, but how do you choose the best tandem kayak?
If you’re into kayaking and want to make it an experience you can enjoy with another person - then a tandem kayak could be just what you’re looking for. But what’s the best tandem kayak on the market right now?
The answer to this depends on what you’re looking for in a tandem kayak (not to mention your budget) - but you’re sure to find a kayak that fits your needs in our in-depth review. Here, we’ll review our favorites as well as cover what details to consider when purchasing a tandem kayak.
We’ve reviewed the best tandem kayaks and have chosen our favorites. We’ll then go into detail for each one and explain why they’ve made our top 12 list.
|1. Ocean Kayak Malibu Two||12'||34"||57 lbs||425 lbs||Check Price|
|2. Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable||10'3"||36"||30 lbs||400 lbs||Check Price|
|3. Advanced Elements Convertible Inflatable Kayak||15'||35"||52 lbs||550 lbs||Check Price|
|4. Lifetime Tandem Fishing Kayak||10'||36"||60 lbs||500 lbs||Check Price|
|5. Vibe Kayaks YellowFin 130T||13'||35"||99 lbs||500 lbs||Check Price|
|6. Sevylor Coleman Colorado Fishing Kayak||10'9"||39"||37.6 lbs lbs||470 lbs||Check Price|
|7. Sea Eagle 370||12'6"||34"||32 lbs||650 lbs||Check Price|
|8. British Kayak Company UH-TK 219||12'6"||34"||74 lbs||595 lbs||Check Price|
|9. Wilderness Systems Pamlico 13.5||14'6"||31"||73 lbs||550 lbs||Check Price|
|10. Old Town Dirigo Plus||15'3"||29.5"||72 lbs||475 lbs||Check Price|
|11. Ocean Kayak Malibu 2XL||13'4"||34"||68 lbs||475 lbs||Check Price|
|12. British Kayak Company UH-TK 181||12'5"||34"||68 lbs||440 lbs||Check Price|
We know what features to consider, so let’s dive into the tandem kayak reviews to determine which kayak fits your style.
The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two tandem kayak is our top pick because it's a stable sit on top kayak that anyone can enjoy. The spacious hull means you can put a child or your dog between the seats to add more to the fun.
The Ocean Kayak Malibu is ideal for flatwater paddling and calm water conditions. It has a compact design with a spacious deck and is perfect for beginners.
|12'||34"||57 lbs||425 lbs||Price|
This is a sit on top kayak with a sturdy build that is easy to get onto and off of with great beginner stability. The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two has Comfort Plus seats that are adjustable and can be placed in three possible seat wells. You can paddle tandem, paddle solo with a central seat position, or include a third rider in the middle.
The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two has a skid plate to protect the keel, and overlapping foot wells provide a comfortable foothold while you paddle. Gear straps ensure your valuables stay secure. It comes with an option of up to three hatches for additional storage.
The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two is made with a single layer polyethylene molded hull with durable construction. Toggle handles on the nose and rear make it easy to carry it to the water with additional molded handles on each side. It comes in four possible color combinations.
The Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable kayak is a sit in tandem that solves problems of storage and portability because it can be easily inflated in minutes. It has a durable build to withstand as much trauma as a rigid kayak, is stable for all riders, and great for calm waters or lakes.
The Intex Explorer K2 is less expensive than most other tandem alternatives and can be taken with you anywhere without the need for bungees or a roof rack.
|10'3"||36"||30 lbs||400 lbs||Price|
The Intex Explorer K2 is an inexpensive inflatable tandem kayak that provides incredible stability for two riders. The seats are adjustable and removable to create your perfect seating position or a solo kayak option.
The Intex package comes with two aluminum paddles, an inflation pump, a repair kit, and a carry bag for easy transport. It comes in a blazing yellow color to make it easily visible on the water.
The Intex is built with heavy-duty vinyl that is difficult to tear or puncture. Three separately inflated air chambers and inflatable I-beams on the floor increase rigidity and provide a safe backup if one chamber were to puncture.
A removable skeg provides extra stability for windy conditions to help with tracking. A grab handle on each end can be used to carry your inflated kayak to the water.
The Advanced Elements AdvanceFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak is a sit tandem kayak designed for kayak touring. The long, narrow design and aluminum ribs help it track through the water for long distance tours. It has a unique deck that can be converted from a tandem double deck to a solo deck with ease.
It is durable and puncture resistant and comes pre-assembled, so all you need to do is unfold, inflate, attach the seats, and hop inside. Being inflatable, it provides for easy storage as well as the ability to transport to distant locations.
|15'||35"||52 lbs||550 lbs||Price|
The Advanced Elements Convertible tandem kayak has a long, sleek design for kayak touring. It has aluminum ribs at the bow and stern to improve tracking and stability. Paddle holders allow for hands-free photography or fishing, and a skeg tracking fin is included.
Three potential seat locations allow conversion from a tandem to a solo kayak. A conversion deck allows you to have an open tandem design, closed deck tandem, or solo deck.
There is bungee storage space on the hull to stash your tackle box or dry bag.
The Advanced Elements Convertible is crafted with PVC Tarpaulin Hull material that involves a polyester fabric sandwiched between vinyl for incredible durability. Additional drop stitched high pressure floor increases rigidity and performance.
Molded handles make it easy to carry to the water, and a skeg fin helps it track through the water.
The Lifetime Tandem Fishing Kayak is a sit on top rigid kayak with an impressive weight capacity of 500 pounds. It has an open deck with a storage hatch and three fishing rod holders to make it ideal for fishing.
Two seats are included, but it can hold a third rider or your dog in the middle. The short hull maneuvers well but is designed to track well also.
|10'||36"||60 lbs||500 lbs||Price|
The Lifetime 10 foot Two Person Fishing Kayak has a weight capacity of 500 pounds and provides a stable ride with decent tracking. The hull is designed for better tracking, and it can be paddled tandem or solo. The shorter hull makes it easy to maneuver and turn, while the flat bottom ensures its stability.
The Lifetime includes two seats with padded backrests. It’s decked out for fishing with three fishing rod holders and a rear storage hatch for gear. It comes with two paddles and a paddle clip.
High density polyethylene HDPE resists UV fading or damage and is durable to resist damage. It is blow-molded into the hull design and includes multiple footrest positions for comfortable paddling.
Molded carry handles at the front and rear work to easily carry your boat to the water.
The Vibe YellowFin 130T is a sit on top tandem with enough room for three riders or the option to paddle solo. It has a nice storage capacity with front and rear storage space to pack your cooler for a long day on the water. Comfortable and breathable mesh seats prevent you from overheating and add to the kayak enjoyment.
|13'||35"||99 lbs||500 lbs||Price|
The Vibe Kayak YellowFin 130T is a sit on top kayak that provides multiple riding options. With two ventilated mesh seats and adjustable footrests, you can paddle tandem in comfort, or you can sit in the middle of the kayak as a great solo option.
The Vibe YellowFin makes a great fishing kayak with a fishing rod holder, tackle storage areas, and a dry hatch to keep gear dry. Two paddle rests allow for hands free fishing. It is a stable kayak designed to handle more water conditions.
It is a rotomolded polyethylene hull that is durable and resistant to damage. It has a pontoon style hull for stable and quiet cruising, and twelve scupper holes allow adequate water drainage.
Carry handles are located at the front and rear as well as on each side of the kayak. Twelve scupper holes allow water to drain easily, and the hull is “rudder ready” but the rudder is not included.
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado is an inflatable, sit inside inflatable kayak that is decked out for fishing. It has comfortable seats that can be adjusted or rearranged to consider solo kayaking.
Rod holders and mesh storage pockets along the inside provide space and accessibility for your gear. A paddle holder means you can cast your line without losing your paddle in the water.
|10'9"||39"||37.6 lbs||470 lbs||Price|
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado Fishing Kayak is an inflatable sit inside kayak with attachment points, Berkley rod holder, and storage space that makes it ideal as a fishing kayak.
It has adjustable seats for your comfort and paddle holders to secure your paddle during activities. D-rings allow you to attach gear or other equipment and mesh bags allow for storage of valuables. There are fittings for trolling motor attachments.
The Sevylor is made from heavy-duty PVC with a nylon cover and a thick tarpaulin bottom. It is rigid and durable to resist puncture. It has multiple air chambers for a rigid frame and backup chambers to ensure you safely return to shore if one is punctured.
Carry handles on the front and rear make it easy to tote your Coleman to the water’s edge.
The Sea Eagle SE 370 is a sit on top inflatable kayak with a durable build to withstand any terrain. It comfortably seats two, but a third rider in the center is possible. It is lightweight with easy deflation to store in a compact space and can transport easily to remote locales to kayak.
|12'6"||34"||32 lbs||650 lbs||Price|
The Sea Eagle SE 370 is an inflatable, sit in kayak that deflates and folds down for easy storage and transport in your trunk. It is incredibly durable and holds up to three riders. It is an inexpensive kayak for beginners, yet advanced riders will enjoy its decent performance.
It is a stable kayak that can even tackle whitewater and has two rear skegs on the bottom for improved tracking. The multiple package options to choose from include the baseline deluxe package, consisting of two paddles, two inflatable seats, a pump, and a bag. The Pro package includes an upgraded comfortable seat design
It is made from durable PVC and NMMA certified with welded seams to withstand a beating. An inflated I-Beam floor ensures rigidity and reliability on the water.
There is no rudder or skeg, but the front hull is designed to carve through the water for better tracking.
The BKC UH TK 219 is a sit on top rigid kayak with a stable design and performs well in most water environments. It has six fishing rod holders, bungee storage space, and two hatches making it a fantastic fishing kayak.
The seats are made with memory foam, and molded footrests make for a comfortable experience.
|12'6"||34"||74 lbs||595 lbs||Price|
The BKC UH-TK219 is a rigid sit on top kayak with stable width and comfortable memory foam padded seats with a backrest. It has six built in fishing rod holders, two storage hatches, and two paddle rests, making it a great fishing kayak.
The BKC 219 is stable and functional in multiple water environments. It is easy to transport with four carry handles, and is roomy enough to fit a third rider in the middle if desired. Molded footholds provide for comfortable paddling.
Constructed with high density polyethylene that can resist UV to resist fading and long term wear. The kayak is roto-molded as a single piece with built in footrests and rod holders.
Carry handles are located on the front and rear as well as on each side of the kayak.
The Wilderness Systems Pamlico is a high performance sit inside rigid kayak. It comfortably seats two paddlers in adjustable and padded seats with a breathable mesh back for air movement. The seats can slide and adjust to fit a third rider if desired.
The hull design tracks well and it has a rounded hull to cut through the water for increased speed.
|14'6"||31"||73 lbs||550 lbs||Price|
The Wilderness Systems Pamlico 13.5 is a sit inside tandem kayak that performs well with a rounded hull designed for speed. It can convert for solo kayak use or comfortably fit two. There is a front bungee storage space and a rear dry hatch to store gear.
The AirPro seats are ergonomic and slide to adjust and have a breathable mesh backrest. Large padded footrests to adjust to your height. There is also thigh and knee padding for comfort and also contributes to overall control.
The rigid Wilderness Systems Pamlico has an added bulkhead in the stern that adds to its overall buoyancy and provides added safety to float if it overturns.
Handles are located on the nose and stern to help carry your kayak to the water. A rudder can be attached but is not included.
The Old Town Dirigo Plus is a sit inside rigid tandem kayak designed by a reputable canoe and kayak company. It has a sleek design to displace the water for increased speed and performance.
It has two easy-to-enter cockpit seats with an added jump seat between so you can add a smaller rider. It has a comfortable seating system and capacity for storage making it a great tandem for touring, riding the river, or fishing.
|15'3"||29.5"||72 lbs||475 lbs||Price|
The Old Town Dirigo Plus rigid tandem kayak has two discrete cockpits to sit inside that are not confining, and an additional jump seat between the seats can fit a third smaller rider. Two contoured poly seats allow you to ride in comfort, and you have better control with padded thigh grips and a foot brace system.
The Old Town Dirigo included paddle holders, a bungee storage system, and a dry hatch to store valuables. It also has cup holders and built in safety lines along the side. An optional foot controlled rudder system can be added.
Constructed from a three layer polyethylene hull with added bulkhead for increased buoyancy. It has front, rear, and side carry handles to easily carry it to the water.
The Ocean Kayak Malibu 2XL has a longer hull and narrow design to make it great in river currents as well as cruising calm waters. It has a stable hull with plenty of space, but the adjustable seats can be rearranged for solo kayaking as well.
With easy to carry handles and bungee storage space in the front and rear, the Ocean Kayak Malibu 2XL is ready for a fun day on the water.
|13'4"||34"||68 lbs||475 lbs||Price|
The Ocean Kayak Malibu 2XL is a sit on top rigid tandem kayak with comfort plus seats and molded footrests for a comfortable and controlled ride. The seats can be removed or rearranged to kayak solo or add a third small rider in the middle.
The kayak can track well for longer tours and has storage space with front and rear bungee systems for your gear. A paddle holder provides the ability for hands free kayaking, and the kayak has a protective skid plate.
The Ocean Kayak Malibu 2XL is made from single layer polyethylene and does not include a skeg or rudder.
Molded side carry handles, in addition to bow and stern carry handles make it easy to move your kayak to the water.
The British Kayak Company UH-TK 181 is a rigid kayak with adjustable seats for tandem or solo kayaking. It has ample storage with bungee storage areas as well as a waterproof hatch. The BKC comes with two comfortable padded seats and two aluminum paddles.
|12'5"||34"||68 lbs||440 lbs||Price|
The BKC UH-TK 181 is a tandem kayak with adjustable seating for two, three, or solo kayaking. It included seven fishing rod holders and two storage hatches with additional bungee tie-down space. Paddle rests provide space to set your paddle while you fish or snap pictures.
The padded seats have adjustable straps to find the most comfortable position. The BKC UH-TK 181 comes with two paddles. Multiple scupper holes allow water drainage from splashes but also provide scupper plugs when needed.
Crafted from high density polyethylene and included molded rod holders and footrests. The hull is designed with a displacement hull with more potential for speed.
Carry handles on the front, rear, and sides help carry your kayak to the water’s edge easily.
There are many situations where a tandem kayak is the better choice over a single kayak. While you lose maneuverability in a tandem, you potentially gain significant speed with two skilled paddlers. In a tandem kayak, you double the paddling power with a partner to expend less energy, and it allows bonding time as you share the journey.
If you’re a beginning kayaker, a tandem can be a great way to learn skills as you ride with an experienced paddler. A tandem kayak allows you to bring your child along who might not be ready for their solo kayak trip.
The added benefit of a tandem can be the saved storage space and money. If your partner enjoys kayaking as much as you do, why spend money on two kayaks and find the space to store them when you can buy one tandem kayak?
Tandem kayaks can be made of rigid polyethylene, fiberglass, or composite materials, or inflatable with durable PVC. The most significant determinant of which type to buy should hinge on portability and storage.
If you and your partner plan to travel to remote lakes and rivers, then an inflatable tandem kayak offers the luxury of deflating down to travel with you easily. Hike to your location and inflate your boat by the water’s edge instead of hauling a heavy rigid kayak over land. An inflatable kayak also will not take up the same storage space as a rigid kayak.
A rigid kayak will have better performance and move faster in the water than an inflatable. Rigid kayaks come in various degrees of durability, but most can withstand a beating over the long term. Rigid kayaks might provide more storage space than an inflatable to stow your gear with additional hatches for storage. Rigid kayaks tend to be more stable and a better option for large paddlers.
You can enjoy a different experience when paddling a sit on top compared to a sit inside tandem kayak. When sitting inside the cockpit of a kayak, you’re closer to the water for better control, and it can keep you warm and dry.
You’ll want to ensure you have plenty of legroom, and some people experience a sense of claustrophobia when sitting inside a kayak. Sit inside kayaks tend to track straighter than sit on top kayaks and are easier to maneuver.
There is freedom of open space in a sit on top kayak, but also the possibility of getting wet when splashed. Sit on top kayaks are stable and easier to get into and out of, and they automatically drain water through scupper holes in the deck. This feature would be a better option if you want to fish from your kayak without obstacles to your cast or if you’re kayaking in a warm environment where it’s okay to get a little wet. A sit on top kayak tends to be heavier than a sit inside.
Knowing the environment you wish to kayak helps determine which kayak to purchase. Do you plan to paddle through calm lake water or flow with a river’s current? Maybe you’re ready to tackle ocean kayaking! For lakes and calm waters, speed is not your priority, and finding a stable tandem with storage capacity for your coolers and snacks would serve you well.
If you’re journeying down the coast or in a river’s current, you want a stable kayak for your safety. A touring kayak will perform better to track through the wind and current with more speed.
Consider how big your family is because you never want to be the odd man out. If you have one small child, they can likely ride between the parents in most tandem kayaks. If the child is older and independent, they might need a solo kayak to participate in the action.
A tandem kayak is also a great way to teach children kayak skills. It’s a bonding moment to teach paddling and safety so that your child can eventually power their solo kayak.
You also need to factor in your family’s actual size and weight to ensure you find a tandem kayak with the appropriate weight capacity.
Longer kayaks will track better through the water but can be more difficult to turn, and they also take up more space to store. You can get away with a shorter kayak if touring lakes and calm waters where tracking and speed are less important.
No matter which length you purchase, ensure there’s enough leg room to ride comfortably or it will be a short day on the water.
An important part of kayaking is to lean back and enjoy the view. A paddle rest provides a safe space to rest your paddle, so it doesn’t fall overboard, forcing you to jump in and get wet.
Hands free enjoyment is essential when taking photographs or fishing, and a paddle rest makes this possible.
Kayaks will have varying storage capacities. Storage is accessed within the cockpit of a sit inside kayak or through a hatch on the surface of a sit on top kayak. Hatches and storage spaces are rarely watertight, so it’s vital to store your valuables in a waterproof bag.
The potential storage space of a tandem kayak is important to pack coolers, snacks, towels, or fishing gear.
Whether you’re teaching your child kayaking skills or enjoying special time with your partner, a tandem kayak is a fantastic way to spend time on the water with those you love.
Hopefully, after reading these tandem kayak reviews and learning what to look for when buying a new kayak, you have all the tools you need to find one perfect for your needs.
It’s time to hit the water!
Tandem kayaks are not designed for a single paddler, but it can be done. A solo kayaker in a tandem will struggle in the wind and current with difficulties maneuvering the longer hull.
A couple of options to assist a single rider in a tandem kayak include sitting more central in the kayak if seats will allow, or add a counterweight in the other seat to distribute the weight for smoother paddling.
Many of the tandem kayaks reviewed above have adjustable seating systems that can be converted to one central seat to make solo kayaking possible.
The heavier rider should sit in the back of a tandem kayak. If the heavier paddler sits in the front, you will move slower and dip thekayak@s nose into oncoming waves. A heavier paddler in the front will make you drift sideways and veer off course if paddling long distance.
Your best kayak performance will happen if the weight is distributed evenly. If your child is riding up front, consider storing the cooler or other gear in the front to equalize the weight.
You are dependent on your partner when paddling a tandem kayak, so it’s best to set the ground rules before you enter the boat. Tandem kayaks are sometimes referred to as “divorce boats” because of asynchronous paddling and paddles colliding as you cruise.
It is a team building experience, but typically the paddler in the front of the tandem kayak sets the pace while the paddler in the rear steers the boat.
Kayak speed depends on the kayaker’s experience and the type of boat. Most tandem kayaks will be heavier than solo kayaks and will not go as fast unless both kayakers in a tandem are strong paddlers in sync with each other.
After reviewing the best fishing kayaks, the best tandem option is the Brooklyn Kayak Company 181. It is a paddle powered sit on top kayak decked out with seven fishing rod holders and plenty of storage space. There are two comfortable seats that are adjustable and between the seats for a small rider if needed. The BKC 181 tandem fishing kayak sets you up for double the fishing power, so you’ll be sure to bring home dinner.
The Vibe Kayaks YellowFin 130T is another incredible tandem kayak with all you need for fishing. With loads of storage space and two hatches, you can load your tackle and store your fishing pole in the built-in rod holders. It has breathable mesh seats that work well with the adjustable footrests.
There are many tandem kayaks in which your dog would have plenty of space to ride along. Tandem kayaks with adjustable seats typically can be repositioned for a third rider or pet in the middle. The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two has plenty of room for your dog to ride between seats and the Lifetime Fishing Kayak is another option for your buddy to ride along.
The most important quality of a beginner kayak is stability. A wide, sit on top tandem kayak will be easier to get into and out of and provide the most stability, but it will be slower on the water than a sit inside or touring kayak.
Good beginner tandem kayaks include the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two for a sit on top kayak with stability and ease of use.At the same time the Intex K2 Inflatable Kayak is another tandem option to sit inside with the added benefits of better portability and ease of storage.
Tandem kayaking is no more difficult than solo kayaking, but requires cooperation between you and your partner. By allowing the rear paddler to steer and the front paddler to set the pace, you can synchronize and cruise through the water.
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