Best Tandem Kayaks in 2020

Do you want to share your paddling adventure with a buddy? A tandem kayak, also known as tandems or doubles will make that possible. And if you are looking for one, this guide is for you.

I know how difficult it is to compare tandem kayaks as there are dozens of models to choose from. To help narrow down your options, our team reviewed ten of the best tandem kayaks in the market to help you make a better choice.

Personally, these are my top 3 favorites:

1. Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Kayak – with a high weight limit, fairly stable and easy to control, you’ll have the best paddling experience with this yak.

2. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Kayak – This kayak has your comfort in mind. It has comfortable seats and spacious legroom.

3. Airhead Montana Two Person Kayak – with superior tracking ability, huge storage are and comfortable seats, you have nothing to ask for.

Why Choose a 2-Person Kayak

two adults sit on top kayak

Deciding on whether to get the best tandem or solo kayak depends on several factors. For one, you can still use a tandem even if you will paddle solo. So there are really no hard-and-fast rules here. It may help you decide if you know the advantages and disadvantages of tandem kayaks.

You can paddle with a friend, kid or a dog

This is probably one of the most obvious pros of the best tandem kayak. Having someone to accompany and share the experience with you can be a lot more fun. Paddling together, it’s easier to share those “look at that” moments. Plus you’ll have someone to talk to from time to time.

Some of the best tandem yaks are big enough to accommodate not just another adult but also another small kid or a dog. Now, that’s a bonus!

If paddling with a kid or kids, it’s a good idea to let them sit at the front so you can paddle and check on them during your trip.

Makes paddling easier

When you go solo, all the strain of kayaking goes down on you. If you go with a buddy, you can take short breaks while someone will continue paddling.

Moreover, for this same reason, tandem kayaks are more ideal for multitasking. For instance, if you are traversing a picturesque lake or river, one can snap photos while the other person paddles.

Gives you a boost in speed

A tandem kayak is one way to go if you want to pick up the pace. With two people paddling, you can go faster than what you can achieve solo. Additionally, since tandem kayaks are generally longer than solo kayaks, they offer greater hull speeds. This means less drag in the water. You can easily go fast with less paddling effort.

Ideal kayak to introduce someone to the sport

Since this type of boat is generally wider, they provide more stability which is ideal for beginners. With less worry on the stability of the kayak, you can focus more on introducing the sport to your kid or a friend.

Are you already convinced that a tandem kayak is right for you? If so, continue reading and check out some factors that you need to consider to find the best tandem kayak.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Tandem Kayak

vibe kayaks tandem ride

Materials

The materials used in the construction of the best 2 man kayaks affect their durability, weight and overall functionality. It’s important to know what these materials are including their pros and cons so you know the best option for your needs.

Polyethylene

If you have already started checking kayaks, you might have already encountered those made of polyethylene. It is a type of plastic that is both durable, lightweight and scratch-resistant. If you often paddle where you routinely encounter rocks and other objects that can possibly scratch the boat, a polyethylene tandem kayak is your best choice.

But polyethylene has some drawbacks, too. Just like many other types of plastic materials, frequent and prolonged exposure to direct sunlight will make it warm. Over time, this will make the plastic brittle. As long as you protect your tandem polyethylene kayak from the elements after using, it should last for many years.

Kevlar

Kevlar is a heat-resistant synthetic fiber that’s notably used for bulletproof vests. Due to its tough quality, it has become one of the most sought-after materials in tandem kayak construction. Compared to polyethylene, it is less prone to U.V. damage. And among the other materials commonly used by manufacturers, Kevlar is probably one of the lightest and most resistant to fatigue and abrasion wear.

However, Kevlar has some cons. Compared to polyethylene, it is more susceptible to fracture on impact. And once it gets damaged, it’s difficult to have it repaired. And lastly, kevlar tandem kayaks are on the expensive side.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is another popular material used in the construction of some of the best tandem kayaks and many other recreational and commercial vessels. As they say, it’s a tried-and-tested material for kayaks. Fiberglass is strong and to some extent, is impact resistant. It also does not flex as much as polyethylene, making the kayaks more efficient in the water.

In terms of cost, fiberglass kayaks are in the middle market range, being more expensive than polyethylene kayaks but less expensive than Kevlar kayaks. And just like Kevlar, it is also less prone to UV damage but less impact-resistant than polyethylene.

PVC

PVC is often used in inflatable kayaks. This type of material has greatly evolved over the years and believe it or not, PVC has become puncture-resistant and durable.

One advantage of a PVC tandem kayak is its portability, you can easily inflate and deflate them as needed. Moreover, they are typically designed with different compartments so that even if one part is punctured you can still make your way back to the shore.

Hull Shape

Flat Bottom

The shape of the hull will greatly affect the performance of a kayak in the water. Beginner tandem kayaks usually have flat bottoms as this allows for maximum stability in calmer waters. However, this kind of kayak is not recommended in rough water conditions as they can’t cut through the surf.

Rounded Bottom

Tandem kayaks with a rounded bottom can cut through water more easily, and thus they can help increase your speed with less effort. However, with extra speed, it compromises on some stability. That’s why this type of hull is only recommended for intermediate or experienced kayakers.

V-Shaped

There are also tandem kayaks with a V-shaped hull which helps propel the kayak at a very fast speed. It’s a great option for experienced kayakers who prefer speed over stability. One good thing about kayaks with this type of hull shape is that they are also easy to turn on in case they tip on their side.

Weight Capacity

Weight capacity greatly varies across different tandem kayaks, but typically, they range from 400 to more than 800 pounds. Weight capacity is an important consideration in choosing a tandem kayak as it determines who can ride with you and how much gear you can bring.

Weight of the Kayak

The weight of kayaks affects their portability. Of course, the more lightweight it is, the easier to transport to and from your home to the water. Fiberglass and Kevlar are the more lightweight options, but they aren’t also cheap.

Length of the Kayak

The length of the tandem kayak is also an important consideration. As a rule of thumb, longer kayaks are harder to maneuver, but they are also better at handling and cutting through large waves. A shorter tandem kayak is easier to turn but they aren’t the best choice for longer trips.

Sit On Top vs Sit Inside Tandem Kayak

When you start comparing tandem kayaks, you may encounter sit on top and sit-inside designs. Choosing one design over the other may be one of the most important decisions you have to make when you decide to buy a tandem kayak.

There are several differences between sit on top and sit-inside kayaks. For one, the former is generally more user-friendly as this design is easy to get in and out of.  Sit on top kayaks are also very stable and do not give you the feeling of confinement. These two qualities make them popular among beginners. Moreover, they are also self-bailing. They come with small holes in them for draining water.

However, the design of sit-on-top makes you prone to water splashes. Since you are on top of the cockpit, you can almost be sure to get wet while paddling.

On the other hand, sit-inside kayaks have an enclosed cockpit where riders can sit lower in the water. And since the lower part of your body is enclosed in the cockpit, you will feel warmer and protected from the water. This design is the best choice if you want to stay dry during your paddling adventure.

Moreover, sit-inside kayaks typically come with a backrest in the seating area to keep you comfortable. One downside of this design that you may consider is your freedom to move in and out of the cockpit. And if for some reason your kayak flips, it can be difficult to recover from it since your kayak is more likely to be filled with water.

Extra Features

When you are comparing tandem kayaks, don’t just look at the major features we listed above. There are other seemingly minor details that can greatly affect your experience in paddling and you need to take them into account too.

For instance, sturdy backrest and cushioned seats are a must to keep you comfortable even when you paddle for extended hours. Luckily, if you found the best kayak for your needs and it doesn’t come with these two, you can always purchase them separately. But that also means additional cost.

The legroom also matters especially if you want to keep your feet comfortable with a bit of flexibility in movement.

Maybe you may also want to consider one with beverage holders and with more storage space for your gear if you want to take your kayak to your fishing trips.

Price

Price is an important consideration when you are making any big purchases such as when buying a tandem kayak. For this reason, it’s a good idea to be aware of the prices associated with the different styles and brands of kayaks.

Generally, you will be looking at around $250 or higher for basic tandem models. Within this price range, most of the options available are inflatable kayaks. The higher your budget is, the more options you can choose especially in terms of materials such as Kevlar or fiberglass.

FAQs

ocean kayak

 

Can I paddle with an elderly person?

Generally, any adult who is confident to navigate the water can go on a tandem kayak without any problem. Even kayaking tours do not typically have a maximum age to participate, which means that any adult can participate. However, it’s recommended that the elderly should go with an experienced kayaker who can watch them during the trip.

Is it safe to bring a child on a tandem?

If you want to introduce your child to kayaking, a tandem kayak is the best way to do it. It’s recommended though that your child is above 5 years of age. You can keep an eye on your child while maneuvering the boat if you let your child ride in the front. For safety purposes, you should be with your child on the boat at all times.

Can I bring a dog in addition to another adult?

Many tandem kayaks have extra capacity for your furry buddy. Even the inflatable kayaks are durable enough and safe from the dog’s nails and paws. But before bringing your dog, be sure to check if you still have enough weight capacity considering the total weight of those riding plus the gear and the dog.

What should be the seating arrangement in a tandem kayak?

The seating arrangement affects the ease in controlling the boat. Generally, it’s best to have an even load, but if it’s not possible like when you go with your kid,  the heavier, stronger or more skilled paddler should sit in the back.

The paddler behind takes the role of a helmsman. The helmsman should paddle more to maneuver the boat.

How do you paddle in tandem?

Timing is of the essence when it comes to tandem paddling. When you move in unison, the kayak moves more efficiently. Without proper timing, tandem kayaks have the propensity to go in a zigzag direction. Not only that, clashing paddles is also more likely to happen.

Tips to avoid collision of paddles and for ease in maneuvering:

  • Let the paddler in the front control the rhythm. Since the front paddler can’t see the person in the back, it just makes sense that the front person should paddle freely.
  • The paddler in the front should not steer the tandem, unless with a go-signal from the rear paddler.
  • The rear paddler should follow the rhythm of the front paddler. Since the paddler in the cockpit has the full view of what’s going on in the front, he or she can match the strokes of the front paddler.
  • If you paddle in a synchronized manner, you should be able to go in a straight direction.
  • When the kayak starts to veer away from the direction you want to go to, the rear paddler should still follow the strokes of the front paddler but should exert more power and forward strokes on the side opposite the direction you are going. So if you notice the boat going to the left, the rear paddler should take powerful strokes on the left side of the boat to correct the direction you are headed to.

10 Best 2-Person Kayak Reviews

tandem kayak with paddle holders

1. Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Kayak

If you are looking for an extremely portable and durable tandem kayak, the Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 is one of the best options in the market.

With this kayak, you don’t have to have a big storage space in your home nor should you buy a car topper to bring your kayak to the water. It is compact and lightweight, weighing just about 32 pounds. Since it is inflatable, it packs down small enough to fit in most car trunks. You may think that it’s difficult to set up because of its design. It’s not. In fact, you can assemble it in less than 10 minutes!

This kayak is ideal for couples with a kid or those who want to paddle with up to two people since it has a 3-person capacity and 650-pound weight limit. Moreover, you can use it for up to Class III whitewater, or where there are rapids with moderate waves.

When you buy this product, it also comes with two AB 30 4-part paddles and two deluxe inflatable seats for excellent back support. Also included are an A 41-foot pump for inflation, pressure gauge, nylon carry bag and repair kit.

Pros

  • Efficient and stable, making it ideal for beginners and experienced paddlers alike
  • With two skegs on the bottom to improve tracking and boost speed
  • The rugged PolyKrylar hull is durable and tough enough to withstand dog paws and claws
  • Self-bailing drain valve to ensure that you stay dry
  • Easy to inflate and deflate
  • One of the lightest tandem kayak I’ve seen

Cons

  • Some users say that the seats are a bit uncomfortable

2. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak

It’s a convertible inflatable kayak! So if you can’t decide between a solo and tandem kayak, this is the best choice for you. The best thing is that it has a 550-pound capacity, allowing you to take another buddy and a pet or small kid.

This kayak is fitted with two seats and is designed as a tandem kayak. However, you can remove one of the seats and move the other one in the center should you decide to go solo. And yes, the seats are padded with decent back support, allowing your back to feel comfortable even if you spend hours paddling.

However, know that this kayak is 15-foot long and weighs 52 pounds. So if you are going to bring it in a solo trip, you may have to exert more effort to get it moving because of its sheer size. If you want to paddle with a buddy, it can pick up speed quite easily. It is also stable in the water.

If you have used hard-shell tandem kayaks before that sit low in the water, you’d appreciate that this inflatable has the same design. Because of that feature, it is easier to paddle and maneuver.

While this product isn’t the cheapest double kayak available, if you love the versatility of a solo and tandem paddle option, this boat can easily become your best friend. It offers strong performance and durability without taking much storage space.

Pros

  • With tapered pointed bow and stern to improve efficiency in the water
  • WIth a decent-size skeg that helps in tracking
  • With a dry storage compartment for keeping your essentials
  • With adequate legroom even for someone over 6 feet all

Cons

  • Small storage space under the decking
  • A bit heavy than many inflatable tandem kayaks

3. Airhead Montana Two Person Inflatable Kayak

If you are familiar with the Montana 1-person kayak, this is its tandem version. They have identical features except that it is longer and heavier, measuring 12 feet and weighing 36.3 pounds. This tandem kayak is best suited for those looking for a boat that is affordable, portable and ideal for beginners.

The Airhead Montana Two Person is one of the inflatable kayaks that are suitable for moderate white water and lake. It is lightweight and compact, allowing you to easily carry it wherever your next adventure is. Aside from that, it also comes with convenient side grab handles that improve portability.

Moreover, it comes with other features for better overall paddling experience such as the soft neoprene elbow guards for protection against rubbing. It’s also worth mentioning that it is fitted with a footrest and adjustable seats with an inflatable bottom for optimum comfort.

In terms of performance, this semi-rigid PVC tandem kayak has low-drag and superior tracking ability. This makes it highly efficient and easy to maneuver even for beginners.

Pros

  • Lightweight and very portable
  • With bright orange color that is visible in the water. This is great for safety purposes.
  • Movable and inflatable seats offer maximum comfort
  • With huge storage space for your gear

Cons

  • Weight capacity is only 500 pounds which is a bit low compared to many other kayaks

4. Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit on Top Recreational Kayak

Not confident to ride on an inflatable? This rotomolded polyethylene kayak is worth checking out. It has got a lifetime warranty on the hull!

The open sit on top design of this kayak makes it really easy to get on and off of the boat. A pair of Comfort Plus seats will make your paddling experience a lot more comfortable. These seats have four-way adjustability, ensuring a custom fit.

One of the notable features of this kayak is its three-seating positions, allowing you to use it solo, tandem or with a child or pet. However, this 12-foot long and 34-inch wide tandem kayak has a maximum capacity of only 425 pounds. This weight limit is a bit low compared to the rest of the products in this review. It also means you can just carry a very limited amount of gear if you paddle in tandem.

Pros

  • With overlapping foot wells for the center-seated paddler to keep the feet comfortable
  • Lifetime warranty on the hull
  • Extra comfortable seats with three seating positions

Cons

  • Low weight capacity
  • Weighs 57 pounds which is a bit heavy

5. Intex Explorer K2 Two Person Inflatable Kayak

Looking for an affordable compact and lightweight tandem kayak? The Intex Explorer K2 might just be for you. It’s best for lakes and mild rivers.

Inflatable tandem kayaks like the Intex Explorer have greatly evolved over the years. They have become more durable, rigid and tough. This one uses heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl material, so yes, you can let your dog ride with you on it.

This kayak features two adjustable inflatable seats to keep your back and bottom comfortable during the duration of your trip. These seats are removable and adjustable in case you want to use your kayak solo.

In terms of performance, this low-profile tandem kayak has a streamlined design to make paddling easier. It also features a removable skeg for directional stability.

Before you decide to buy this boat, know that it is only 10 feet long and with a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds. That weight limit can be a deal-breaker if you are already a 6-foot person and wish to paddle with another adult.

Pros

  • U.S. Coast Guard I.D. – NMMA Certified
  • Bright yellow color makes it highly visible during emergency
  • Comes with high output pump for easy inflation
  • Comes with two aluminum oars

Cons

  • Maximum weight capacity is only 400 pounds when many tandem kayaks have more than a 500-pound weight capacity

6. Advanced Elements Straightedge 2 Kayak

Want a kayak with exceptional tracking ability? The Advanced Elements Straightedge 2 Kayak might be for you. This tandem has an aluminum bow and stern frame that help you track efficiently with less effort in open water conditions.

Measuring 35 inches wide and 13 feet long, this kayak can carry at a maximum of 500 pounds. While it’s designed to be a tandem, it allows for three seating positions so you can easily set it up for solo or tandem paddling. However, it’s important to note that it weighs about 47 pounds so it’s a bit challenging to transport it if you’ll go solo.

As mentioned earlier, this kayak tracks daily well especially where there are two people paddling. It is also extremely stable, which makes it great for flat lakes, ocean swells and whitewater paddling.

When you buy this tandem kayak, it comes with two folding seats that are okay for short trips. However, if you plan to go on long excursions and adventures, you may want to upgrade them to something with a better back support.

Also, upon checking, the main air chamber of this tandem kayak is a bit wide, so it’s best to use a 230-cm paddle for optimum performance.

Pros

  • With one-year limited warranty
  • Tracks well
  • Easy to convert from tandem to solo and vice versa
  • With enough legroom for comfortable seating position

Cons

  • A bit heavy
  • The seats do not offer good back support

7. BKC UH-TK181 12-Foot Tandem 2 Person Kayak

An ideal kayak for adults and kids! If you are planning to introduce tandem kayaking to the younger generation, this tandem kayak is a perfect choice. It is easy to paddle and control and it also tracks well. Kids will surely enjoy maneuvering and controlling this kayak.

The stability of this kayak is also commendable. Based on many reviews, its stability along with its ease in controlling makes it a popular option for those who often paddle with kids.

Moreover, this sit-on-top tandem kayak is also a popular fishing kayak. Its built-in 7 rod holders will allow you to have multiple lines in the water at once. You also get huge storage hatches for your essentials, snacks and other gear. And since it is also designed for fishing, it also features two secure paddle rests so you can’t lose your paddles even when you’re busy tending your lines.

One good thing about this 12-foot eight-inch tandem kayak is that it has a high maximum weight capacity of 595 pounds. Even with another adult, you still have more free weight for your gear.

Pros

  • Very stable and tracks well
  • Great fishing kayak due to its extra features
  • Has a high weight capacity
  • With rod holders for your fishing trip

Cons

  • Weighs 68 pounds – this is a heavy tandem kayak which can be challenging to transport

8. Lifetime 10 Foot 2 Person Tandem Kayak

This tandem is for you if you are looking for an all-around-use kayak that is great for beginners. It has plenty of cool add-ons too that even experienced kayakers will find useful.

Constructed from rotomolded liner low-density polyethylene, this kayak is UV-protected so it does not easily get brittle even with prolonged exposure to sunlight. Moreover, it is 10 feet long and has a weight capacity of 500 pounds. You can use it as a tandem or solo.

When you buy this tandem, it includes two padded backrests. The seats are positioned in a way that you may also add a Lifetime Power Mate motor-mount accessory (not included) if you wish to have an electric trolling motor for ease in paddling. Also, the seats are high and dry so you are not seating directly on the floor of the kayak.

Other features of this kayak include self-bailing holes for draining water, molded front carry handle and several footrest positions that you can choose depending on your comfort level.

Pros

  • Hull is designed for better tracking and stability
  • Two double-sided paddles already included
  • Rotomolded material is extremely durable

Cons

  • Heavy to transport at 60 pounds

9. Advanced Elements Lagoon 2 Tandem Inflatable Kayak

If you have used the popular Lagoon 1 kayak, this is its tandem version. This is for those who are looking for a versatile recreational tandem kayak that you can use for lakes, ponds and mild rivers.

This kayak has a great tracking performance for an inflatable. This can be attributed to its rigid bow and stern and the overall design of its hull. Even when you go solo, you should have no problem maneuvering it.

Considering that it is 12 feet long, it is very lightweight for its size as it only weighs 37 pounds. Portability will not be an issue because aside from being lightweight, you can also easily deflate it for transport or storage.

Moreover, it comes with other features that you’ll like such as its padded high support seats with good back support. For added portability, it incorporated rubber-molded grip handles for ease in handling.

Pros

  • The inflatable shell can take scrapes and bumps
  • Very lightweight
  • Comes with a repair kit for a quick patch if it gets damaged
  • Easy to maneuver

Cons

  • Weight capacity is only 350 pounds, the lowest in this review
  • Paddles and pump sold separately

10. Intex Challenger K2 2 Person Inflatable Kayak

This tandem is for the sporty type. You’ll love its streamlined design, sporty graphics and bright green color. The performance of this kayak is also commendable.

If you prefer maneuverability and ease in control over speed, this kayak is also a good choice. Measuring about 11′ 6″ x 2′ 6″ x 1′ 3″ when inflated, this kayak is not long and allows you to make quick turns effortlessly. With its long detachable skeg, it tracks really well on the water. You can paddle and propel it forward and make directional movement easily.

Made with rugged vinyl material, this tandem kayak has a sturdy I-beam floor, high buoyancy side chambers and a low-profile deck. These features improve the stability and function of the boat.

Since comfort is important for hours of paddling, this tandem kayak has got that covered. Two inflatable seats with backrests are already included for comfortable seating. Moreover, the cockpit also has enough legroom for you to comfortably move your feet.

It’s also worth noting that inflating this kayak is really easy and fast. You can do it in less than 10 minutes! That’s possible using its free Intex high-output pump for inflation and deflation.

Pros

  • Easy to make directional movements
  • Very stable
  • Two paddles and a pump already included
  • Comfortable seating

Cons

  • Limited weight limit of only 400 pounds

Conclusion

All the best tandem kayaks listed here have exceptional qualities and are in some way, best in certain aspects. However, for overall quality and performance, there’s one product that I feel is ahead of the others, and that is the Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Kayak.

I have several reasons why this kayak is my number one choice. Firstly, it has the highest weight capacity compared to the rest of the tandem kayaks in this review. With a 650-pound weight limit, you have an allowance for another adult and a small kid or a pet on your trip.

In terms of performance, it does receive many positive reviews. I like the fact that it has two skegs as they boost your tracking and speed. You can turn this boat in any direction with less efforts.

Moreover, this kayak is also very portable. Imagine its high weight limit compared to its overall weight of only 32 pounds! I can take it anywhere with me.

While this tandem has some minor flaws, it is definitely one of the best tandem kayaks worth considering. As a bonus, this kayak is considerably more affordable than many other inflatable tandems. So if you are looking for the best value, this is the product you are looking for.

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