Tandem kayaks are simply kayaks that house more than one seat. These are enjoyed by many people that prefer a more social experience on the water, rather than people who like to spend time with their own thoughts. Kayaking with another friend or family member can amp up the experience and give you some unforgettable memories together.
Tandem kayaks are larger than singular alternatives, as they are designed to fit two people and both of their equipment within. Some even have extra space for a pet or a child, which are therefore three-man kayaks.
Below we’ll be looking at the top tandem kayaks that are currently available on the market, as well as some benefits and drawbacks for you to look over to see if tandem kayaking is the right option for you. You don’t want to invest in a tandem if it’s not going to be enjoyable for you, so we’d recommend taking a look at this before committing to your purchase.
In a hurry?
This is our Winner!
Best Tandem Kayak - Comparison Table
Best Tandem Kayak - Reviews
Starting off our list is the Straitedge 2, an inflatable kayak that doesn’t require half the amount of storage space that a traditional model needs. You can take this tandem kayak wherever you want, without having to find space to store it and creating elaborate plans on how to get it to the water. Simply inflate and deflate it on the beach, and fold it neatly into your car.
The frame is made from aluminum at the front and back of the kayak, offering a heightened performance that inflatable kayaks often cannot deliver. This will help you enjoy your experience on any type of water, from a freshwater lake to the saltwater ocean. You can even use this kayak in whitewater up to Class 3.
Moreover, the Straitedge 2 has rod holders should you want to take this kayak on a fishing trip. If this isn’t likely for you, you can also rig them to be elaborate paddle holders, should you need a break from paddling. You’ll also receive two cushioned seats that can be adjusted to become more comfortable. Alternatively, you can adjust the kayak to have only one seat for an individual’s trip.
- Length: 13 foot / 39.5 inches when deflated
- Width: 35 inches / 18 inches when deflated
- Weight: 47 pounds
- Capacity: 500 pounds
- Depth: 10 inches / 12.75 inches when deflated
Another inflatable kayak, the Coleman Colorado is an impressive kayak that can be found on the higher end of the market. You’ll be paying a higher price, but you’ll be getting professional quality. This model is sturdy, durable, and offers a number of features that you can use to expand your kayak.
The material used to create this model is 18-gauge PVC, which is incredibly durable and will prevent you from getting punctures as easily as other inflatable models. Even if you did happen to get a puncture, the kayak features a number of air chambers which will prevent the whole vessel from filling with water.
An example of this is the space designated for a trolling motor. There are also rod holders and paddle holders attached, which are particularly useful for kayakers who want to multitask while on the water. This is a fishing kayak and has been created to aid fishing trips as much as possible, however, you can also use it for other adventures rather than just fishing.
There are two seats included with the Coleman Colorado, and there are D rings attached to the vessel to allow for easy transportation. The only drawback of this kayak is that you don’t get any paddles or a pump with it, so you’ll have to make separate purchases to get everything you need to use this model.
- Length: 10 foot / 30 inches when deflated
- Width: 39 inches / 11 inches when deflated
- Weight: 41 pounds
- Capacity: 470 pounds
- Depth: 9 inches / 19 inches when deflated
The Voyager Deluxe is a family tandem designed to hold two adults in the seat areas, as well as one child in the storage space near the front of the kayak. If you did not need this space for a child, you can also use it for extra storage space, making this vessel rather roomy and comfortable.
An advantage that the Voyager Deluxe has over inflatable alternatives is that it is ready to use straight out of the box and you don’t need to spend any time trying to inflate your kayak. Simply attach the seats and get on the water! This model could not be easier to use, thanks to the swiveling rod holders. If you were using this tandem for fishing, you may also find great use in the four molded fishing pole holders.
The Voyager Deluxe was built and designed with comfort in mind, as the deluxe aluminum seats are comfortable and keep their shape all day long. This means that you won’t find the seat becoming more uncomfortable as the day progresses, allowing you to enjoy your day from the start until the finish.
Moreover, the seats are actually raised meaning that you won’t have to sit in a puddle of water all day. This is extremely beneficial for people who want to enjoy their kayaking adventure rather than complaining about wet pants all day. You can even remove these seats and use them for beach or garden chairs.
The tandem itself is made from high-density polyethylene that has been rotomolded into its shape. This gives the Voyager Deluxe extreme durability and protection from UV rays as well as any dangers underneath the water that could damage the vessel. The brass inserts are all made of marine-grade material which prevents them from corroding prematurely, allowing your tandem to be used time and time again, for many years to come.
- Length: 12 foot
- Width: 32 inches
- Weight: 77 pounds
- Capacity: 551 pounds
- Depth: 15 inches
Another inflatable tandem on our list, the Driftsun Voyager inflates very quickly and easily so that you’re not stuck at the water’s edge for very long. In fact, this kayak is ready to go in under five minutes, and you’ll even receive a high-quality hand pump so that you don’t need to make an extra purchase.
You’ll also receive a carry bag with the Driftsun Voyager, ensuring that transporting this model around could not be easier. The lightweight and compact size makes it easy for only one person to carry it around.
The bottom of the kayak is made from PVC tarpaulin, which is very durable and preventative of punctures. The double-threaded Boston valves are also built in to ensure minimal leaks find their way into the vessel, which is a great benefit for tandem kayaks to have. The top of the kayak is made of 840 denier nylon, which is also durable and won’t rip easily.
The structure of the kayak allows this tandem to be used in any waters, calm or choppy, and you can remove the bottom fin depending on where you’re kayaking. The seats included are padded with high-quality foam and offer comfortable back support to both paddlers. There is also a drainage hole within the vessel that allows for easy cleaning and draining.
With the Ddriftsun Voyager, you’ll get everything you need so you don’t have to worry about any additional purchases. This includes the kayak itself, two seats, the carry bag, a hand pump, a tracking fin, and two aluminum paddles.
- Length: 10 foot / 26 inches when deflated
- Width: 35 inches / 16 inches when deflated
- Weight: 27 pounds
- Capacity: 400 pounds
- Depth: 16 inches / 8 inches when deflated
The final inflatable tandem kayak on our list is the Intex Excursion Pro, which is also the most budget-friendly option that we’ve looked at. However, just because the price tag is smaller, this does not lessen the quality at all. The material used to create this tandem is laminate PVC with a polyester core, giving it a great amount of durability that will withstand bumps, grazes and the relentless sun exposure.
It is advised that you inflate this tandem to an extremely high pressure as this will give it better rigidity and make it perform and feel like a non-inflatable model. There are spring-loaded valves that keep inflating and deflating your kayak quick and hassle-free, so you don’t have to account for extra time for this.
Perhaps the most beneficial feature of the Excursion Pro is the adjustable and removable mounting brackets that come with it. These make mounting accessories, such as rod holders, paddle leashes, and fish finders, much easier than without them.
Most inflatable kayaks cannot be equipped with mountable accessories as this usually involves drilling into the vessel, which you can obviously not do to an inflatable model. For this reason, the Excursion Pro has a large advantage here.
This tandem comes with two adjustable bucket seats, two mounted footrests, two fishing pole holders, and two removable skews that can be switched between depending on what type of water you’re paddling in. You’ll also receive a carry bag, a pump, and a repair patch in case you get a puncture. The fact that you get an emergency fix is a nice touch from Intex.
- Length: 13 foot
- Width: 37 inches
- Weight: 39 pounds
- Capacity: 400 pounds
- Depth: 19 inches
Lifetime’s tandem kayak is a shorter alternative to other models, which will naturally offer less legroom and storage space for you and your partner. While this may be a drawback at first, the shorter length allows the whole vessel to be lightweight at only 60 pounds. This means that it will be easier to transport and store, so you’ll have to weigh up these factors and see if you’d prefer a lightweight kayak or more legroom.
The tandem is made from linear low-density polyethylene and has been rotomolded to be durable and give it a long lifetime. You’ll be able to use this tandem for years to come, which is obviously what you want when investing in a piece of equipment like this. The front and back both feature carry handles which make transporting much easier.
The hull is designed to mimic a tunnel, giving you excellent stability even in choppy water. Lifetime claims that it is almost impossible to tip this tandem over, so it is a great choice for beginners or families with small children.
You get two seats with this tandem kayak which are both comfortable and positioned above the kayak to prevent you from sitting in water. However, you can also adjust these seats so that the kayak can be used by only one person, and you can also fit a child into the vessel as well. This versatility is a benefit for anyone who wants to dabble both in tandem and solo kayaking.
There are multiple different positions for you to rest your feet at, allowing for people with shorter and longer legs. You’ll also receive two paddles so that you don’t need to buy anything else to get out on the water. Lifetime offers a five-year manufacturer warranty so you can spend more time enjoying your kayaking experience and less time worrying about the security of your money.
- Length: 10 foot
- Width: 36 inches
- Weight: 60 pounds
- Capacity: 500 pounds
- Depth: 19 inches
Best Tandem Kayak - Buyers Guide
Why Choose a Tandem Kayak?
When deciding whether or not to purchase a tandem kayak, it’s best to know both the benefits and drawbacks. There’s no logic in only knowing the advantages before buying one, only to discover the disadvantages when you’re out on the water!
Whether or not you should get a tandem kayak is simply up to your personal preference and individual lifestyle. You should look through our benefits and drawbacks and see if a tandem sounds like the right choice for you. As long as you can withstand the not so great aspects of double kayaks, we’re sure you’ll have a great experience on the water in one.
Let’s start off by talking about the benefits of tandem kayaks. These are plentiful and really great if you like quality time with your friends and family. Moreover, they can be excellent for beginners to get the hang of kayaking before they are confident enough to embark on their solo kayaking adventures.
Four arms are better than two!
Kayaking is a fun watersport, but it can also be taxing and challenging after a while. When two people use a tandem kayak, one person can take a break while the other takes the reigns for a little while. This way, you can keep moving while resting your arms, as opposed to having to stop and remain still if you were on your own.
If you’re sat in the back chair, you may even be able to get away with taking more frequent breaks as you’re out of sight from your partner - just don’t get caught!
Another benefit to take advantage of is the fact that you’ll be able to multitask as long as one person keeps paddling. For instance, one person can keep the kayak moving while the other opens drinks for the two of you, take some pictures of the idealistic scenery, or lays out the picnic.
Fishing with a tandem kayak can also be better than a solo alternative, as one person can keep the vessel steady while you’re reeling in the big ones. This sure beats fishing alone in a kayak and finding yourself capsized due to a large bite.
Share the fun
If you’re a social butterfly and love spending time with friends and family, you may find that your kayaking experiences are just much more fun when there’s someone there to share it with! Instead of being separated by two individual kayaks, you can use a tandem alternative and remain close so that you can really share the experience together.
You’ll be able to have a chat about the experience as you go, rather than having to appreciate it alone. You can bond with your partner much more than if you were to use your own separate kayaks.
Tandem kayaking can also be a romantic experience if you were to share the vessel with your partner or loved one. There’s not much romance to be had if you’re sitting in a single kayak alone, so choose a tandem option and enjoy your date night!
If you’re going out on the water with two separate kayaks, or perhaps going as a group, a tandem kayak is a great vessel for one of you to take. Even if only one person is using the tandem, one of your group can use the extra seat in case they’re involved in an accident or need a break from paddling.
Watersports are sometimes difficult and dangerous. Moreover, if you’re spending lots of time under bright sunshine, you may find that it gets too much for some people. If one of your group becomes ill from sunstroke, or needs a rest from the arm workout, they can reside in the extra seat and rest up without having to put themselves at risk by struggling too much.
The person operating the tandem would have to do all the work and this may prove harder than a solo kayak, and the other kayak would have to be towed by someone, but this is still very beneficial and allows you to have a back-up plan, should something go wrong.
Beginners to the world of kayaking may not be aware of how difficult it can be to keep your kayak stable at times. If you don’t want your vessel to be flipped over every couple of minutes, you may want to start off with a tandem kayak to learn the basics of how to control the boat.
Two people working to keep the kayak stable will certainly be more effective than one. This is particularly important if you’re going to be kayaking with newbies or children who are more likely to struggle with the water.
Water can be temperamental and so you may want to take the safer route here. Working your way up to a solo kayak may be preferred than being thrown into the water time and time again while in your own vessel.
A tandem offers family time and bonding that solo kayaks simply cannot. If you have small children and you want them to experience the watersport, a tandem is the only safe way to get them out there with you. Sure, you could keep them on your lap in a solo alternative, but this may affect your stability and make it more likely that you’ll capsize. With a small child, this is obviously something that you’re going to want to avoid.
If your child is slightly older, you can both paddle and have fun on the water. It is advised that you keep the child in the front of the kayak and you, the adult, sits in the back seat so that you can see them continuously. You’ll also be able to see potential hazards and avoid them swiftly, so you don’t hit anything.
If you have an odd number of people, such as two adults and one child, or one adult and two children, you may also get a solo kayak along with the tandem. You can either have both the children in the tandem, or the older child in the solo option. Only do this if you consider the older child to be responsible enough to have their own kayak.
Younger children should never be left in a solo kayak alone, no matter how close they’re going to be to you. Safety comes first, especially in the water in which you have less control. Make sure everyone is aware of the rules to ensure you have a fun family day rather than one full of worry and lifeguards.
A lot of tandems on the market have extra space for a small child. Some of these can be fitted with seats, whereas the others cannot. You can always sit your small child in here, however, they may be more exposed to the water splashing up onto them as this is not an optimal seat for your kayak. Obviously, this is something that you want to avoid for a child
that cannot take care of themselves just yet, so be careful.
Kayaks with removable seats can be optimized for a dog to sit in. Simply take the seat out and make sure your dog sits comfortably in the space. As long as your dog is happy and enjoys the water, then this can be an excellent way to keep some company while you’re out on the water. They may even jump in for a quick swim while you paddle around, as well!
Of course, you could try this with a cat, although they have a tenancy not to enjoy the water as much as dogs. However, as long as your pet is completely happy and feels safe, then why not?
More spacious than a solo kayak
A good rule of thumb when it comes to tandem kayaks is that they can carry around one and a half times more gear than a solo alternative. This offers a lot more storage space for you and your partner. Having said that, two solo kayaks often end up with much more space than one tandem, so you’re going to have to weigh up the space required.
One important thing to remember is to not bring too much gear if you’re going to be using a tandem. Just because your double kayak can take a lot of weight, doesn’t mean it has to. You’ll find that the more gear you bring, the harder it will be to control your tandem and find a faster speed. This is fine if you just want to bob around on the water all day, but if you actually want to travel, this is going to make your day much harder.
If you must carry a lot of gear with you, solo kayaks are considered better as you’ll be able to maneuver it easier despite the extra weight. However, if you can carry less gear you should. You’ll have a more enjoyable time and won’t worry so much about flipping your kayak over and having to retrieve all your sodden belongings.
Your speed has no limits!
Well, this isn’t exactly true, but you can get a lot higher pace with two people rather than just one. Working cohesively together will enable you to reach higher speeds than you could if you were paddling alone, so if you really want an exhilarating thrill ride, grab your most adventurous friend and get out there!
Not only will your speed increase because of the doubled power within the vessel, the longer length and wider width will also allow you to travel through the water faster. This means that you and your partner actually won’t need to put as much effort in to reach these speeds, compared to if you were in two solo vessels.
We know that speed isn’t everything to everyone, and some people will prefer to paddle slowly through the water to take in all the scenery and relax. However, it’s always helpful to have the option of speeding through the water, as you always want what you don’t have. The fact that you have the potential to go faster is definitely a benefit in our eyes, even if you don’t use it.
Now let’s look at the drawbacks of tandem kayaks. There are definitely less of these than there were benefits, but it’s still important to be aware of them to ensure you make a well-rounded decision. The drawbacks are more targeted towards independent people or individuals who don’t have much storage space in their homes.
Kayaking together can be taken one out of two ways - sharing is fun and a bonding experience, like we mentioned earlier, or sharing is annoying and argument-inducing. If you go into the adventure thinking that you’re both going to take on the same amount of paddling, that you’re both of similar fitness levels, but this turns out to be far from the truth - your relaxing adventure may turn frustrating rather quickly.
You may find that you’re fighting over all sorts of things, such as how fast you want to go, who’s paddling the most, when you want to stop. This can dampen your experience and fun, and you may find yourself wishing that you just came alone in the first place.
Kayaking alone allows you to call all the shots and determine how you want to tackle the water. Tandem kayaks mean that you have to work as a team, so if teamwork is not your strong suit, you may want to mull this one over before jumping into something that may cause friction between you and your friend or family member.
There’s less room than two separate vessels
True, tandem kayaks are larger and therefore have more room, because they need to fit twice the amount of people and equipment within them. However, if you have too much equipment to bring with you, you may find that this room is quickly taken up and therefore two single kayaks may actually prove to be roomier for you.
On the other hand, you may find that both of your gear fits better into a tandem kayak. It really depends on the individuals and their gear, so just make sure to measure up the two options to see which will be better for you both.
Portability and storing
As expected, tandem kayaks are going to be larger and harder to maneuver than their solo counterparts. As solo kayaks can be carried by one person without much hassle, tandems almost always need more than one person to transport it anywhere. This is obviously going to affect the portability of your model.
Are you going to be able to fit a tandem onto your car? How are you going to get it to the water safely and easily? These are among the questions that you have to ask yourself before choosing to purchase a tandem kayak. While the advantages may be impressive and enticing, you have to consider the usability due to the transportation factor.
Moreover, once you get your tandem back to your house after a full day of kayaking, where are you going to store it? As tandem kayaks are larger, you’re going to need a lot more space to keep it. Also, you’ll need a larger kayak rack for a tandem, which will cost more money.
Tandems will also weigh more than solo kayaks. Will you be able to lift this easily, especially once it’s wet from being in the water all day? Is your rack strong enough to hold your beast of a kayak? These are important factors to consider before committing to a tandem kayak.
With this being said, you can also purchase inflatable tandem kayaks. These can be inflated and deflated right at the water’s edge, so you don’t need a massive car rack to transport them around. Instead, you can simply fold the material up and store it in the trunk of your car. Moreover, these don’t need much space to be stored as they can fold up into a rather small size.
Inflatable tandem kayaks also weigh less than non-inflatable alternatives, so you’ll only need one person to lift it or carry it around. Inflatable tandems are very beneficial for people who don’t have the storage space or transportation capabilities needed for a plastic tandem, but still want to enjoy the two-person activity.