Tandem kayaks are now becoming a popular option for many, especially with families that want to kayak together.
Now, the best tandem kayak can ensure that you have a great experience out there on the water.
It can be a little difficult to discern between the high-quality models and those that are less than satisfactory.
This is why I put together this list, so that there will be no missteps when you make your purchase.
A great tandem kayak is stable, able to carry a significant amount of weight, and has been built to evenly displace the additional weight of two people.
Here are some of the options that are just right:
Best Tandem Kayaks
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- 1 Best Tandem Kayaks
- 2 What to Look at When Purchasing a Good Tandem Kayak
This means that it does lack some of the rigidity afforded by hard shell hulls.
Nonetheless, this is an undoubtedly durable kayak. It is made from 600D polyester fabric, with the hull reinforced by Duratex fabric.
Therefore, while the hull of the kayak may be not as tough as some of the other models, you don’t really have to worry about punctures or other damages to the vessel.
The floor consists of X-beam technology, ensuring that it remains completely rigid, even in the water.
There are two main seating positions on the kayak but the reality is that you will be able to take a small child with you.
Weight is also not an issue as the vessel can carry up to 500lbs in passenger weight.
One of the advantages that inflatable kayaks have over traditional options is how much they weigh. The Chinook XP weighs just 38.1lbs, making it incredibly easy to carry around.
The seats are quite comfortable, especially for those longer journeys. They also come equipped with mesh pockets and even a place to hold your fishing rods.
The only real downside to this vessel is the lack of storage. There are pockets and there is a bit of bungee rigging. Apart from that, however, there isn’t much space to store gear or equipment.
- 600D polyester fabric construction
- 1lbs, can carry combined weight up to 5001bs
- Ergonomic seating
The vessel has been designed to be able to carry up to 500lbs in weight, so even with an additional child on board, you can feel safe.
Due to this ability to carry extra weight, the Skipjack does weigh a little more at 72lbs.
However, if it is split between two people, it isn’t too difficult to carry the kayak.
One of the best parts of this kayak, however, is just how versatile it is. In addition to being a great recreational kayak, it is also outfitted well enough to be a good fishing vessel as well.
There are two capped flush mount fishing rod holders as well as four mounting points for various rod accessories.
There is also a place to store two paddles, which gives you the perfect spot to store your paddle when you are fishing.
The other bright spot on the Skipjack 120T is that it’s got an incredible amount of storage options. There are two large hatches, complete with covers in front of each paddler.
There is more than enough room to store numerous items that you may want to keep dry, including food. There is also a tank well and bungee cord for larger gear.
The seats are also quite comfortable, which makes them adequate for longer lasting journeys.
The vessel is also relatively stable although it does perform best on calmer waters. It is definitely better suited to lakes and calm rivers.
- 2 feet, 72 lbs
- Made from rotomolded single piece polyethylene
- Can hold up to 500lbs
- Two hatches and tank well for storage
- Equipped for fishing
- 2 covered hatches for storage
- 2 flush mount rod holders with caps
- Rear cargo storage area with bungee tie down system
- 4 carrying handles
- 4 Mounting points for Scotty®, RAM®, or Railblaza® mount rod holders
This means that it can easily be customized so that it can carry one person or two people with ease.
Here, not only can you switch the seating positions, you can change the entire deck to something that suits you better.
Technically, the AE1007-R is an inflatable kayak but this one does have the addition of an aluminum frame. Therefore, it is a lot more durable and rigid than typical inflated rafts.
This vessel can function in two different ways as a tandem kayak. You can choose to have an enclosed space where a closed deck separates each paddler.
I found this to be particularly useful when kayaking in colder weather as it offered up more protection.
If you don’t like such constricted spaces, it is just a matter of removing the deck and having an open-air tandem kayak.
Just as easily, you can convert the vessel into a solo kayak. It is just a matter of placing the seat in the middle of the AE1007-R and using the specified close hatch.
This kayak is fifteen feet long which means that it provides an equally stable vessel for either one or two paddlers.
Also, as it is inflatable, it weighs just 52lbs, making it a lot lighter than most other tandem kayaks.
Nonetheless, it is able to carry 550lbs of weight. While there is enough of space when the kayak is in solo formation, this is severely decreased when in tandem.
- 15 feet, 52lbs
- Can carry up to 550lbs
- Three seat locations
- Two closed decks
- Built-in aluminum ribs define the bow and stern and improves tracking
- Three layers of material for extreme puncture resistance
- Pre-assembled at the factory; simply unfold, inflate, and attach the seats
- High support, adjustable padded seats provide comfort for hours of paddling
- Three seat locations allow for paddling solo or tandem
This is the kayak that you should get if you have a specific goal such as fishing in mind. Speaking of fishing, the UH-TK181 is well-equipped for this purpose.
It already has four flush mount holders and three adjustable rod holders which means that both paddlers can fish with ease.
There are also two paddle rests where each of you can keep your paddles when the kayak is not in motion.
The UH-TK181 does boast impressive maneuverability, partially because the boats is so short. It also tracks well enough, especially when the water is calm.
The length of the kayak can be a bit of an issue for two taller individuals. Particularly in the seat up front, it can be a bit of a tight squeeze.
Despite the compact size, the kayak can be a little hefty at around 68lbs.
All things considered, however, the great features on this kayak far outweigh the minor inconveniences.
This kayak is great for all types of excursions.
The seats are made from foam and provide enough of padding from the hard floor of the kayak. Also, there are two small hatches to keep any items that you want to keep dry.
The tank well is quite small and there isn’t enough space to store anything particularly large there.
This kayak is durable, made from tough polyethylene. It is able to carry two individuals with a combined weight of up to 450lbs.
- 2 feet, 68lbs
- Constructed from polyethylene
- Able to withstand up to 450lbs
- Fishing accessories
- Storage hatches and tank wells
- 2-Person Tandem Sit On Top Fishing Kayak: 12.5-foot length, 34-inch beam 68-pound kayak great for...
- Fishing Rod Holders: 7 fishing rod holders; 3 are adjustable for convenience and 4 are flush-mounted...
- Multiple Storage Areas: Features waterproof storage compartments for wallet, keys, etc. and rear...
- Paddle Rests: Two secure paddle parks that prevent paddles from falling overboard when not in use
- Multiple Carrying Handles: Four comfortable carrying handles for easy overland transport
The Manta has been specifically built for those who may not know their way around a kayak.
Therefore, if you are a beginner kayaker, you will have no problem using it at all.
One of the standout features on the Manta is its stability. This is largely due to the way the interior of the vessel has been designed. The hull is tunnel-like ensuring that the kayak is well balanced at all times.
You will find it quite difficult to tip the vessel over, even if you are trying to do it intentionally.
The other benefit of this structure is that it is great if you want to stay dry.
As you are raised above the water to a considerable extent, you don’t have to worry about getting splashed as you paddle.
The Manta is made from highly durable polyethylene and is capable of supporting up to 500lbs of passenger weight.
Despite this, the vessel weighs only about 65 pounds.
This makes it a lot easier to carry it around. The ratio of the length and width of the kayak balance each other out nicely. This makes the Manta easy to maneuver in the water.
Now, the due to the backrests, you are offered plenty of support.
The seating on this kayak, however, is not very comfortable. This is because you are seated on molded plastic for the entirety of your journey.
Therefore, it is not recommended for long journeys unless you are planning on adding padding.
The other downside of the Manta is that it doesn’t offer any storage options.
- 10 feet, 65lbs
- Can carry up to 500lbs
- Raised seating
- Tunnel hull
- Designed for single or tandem use; 500 Lb. weight capacity
- Includes 2 soft backrests and 2 double sided paddles
- Lightweight 60 lb. design with molded front and rear carry handles for easy transport
- Tunnel hull design provides ultra stability and tracking; Almost impossible to tip over
- "High and Dry" seating keeps riders off of kayak floor; Backed by a 5-year limited manufacturer...
There are three fishing pole holders.
While it doesn’t have as many features as other fishing kayaks, it is great for those who are just getting started with fishing.
The durability on this vessel is certainly impressive as it made from high-density polyethylene.
Of course, this quality does mean that the kayak is a bit hefty although it is not too bad if you have someone helping you get the kayak into the water.
The advantage of this extra weight is that the Sport Fisher is able to take a combined weight of up to 500lbs.
At 10 feet long, this is on the shorter side for tandem kayaks.
To be able to fit two people in comfortably, both passengers are going to need to be on the short to average side.
Nonetheless, it is difficult to beat this kayak when it comes to reliability.
Out on the water, this vessel is actually quite stable. A point in its favor is that the tracking on it is quite commendable, which is quite ideal for a fishing kayak.
The seating on the kayak will not be winning any awards for comfort but the padded backrests work well enough for short trips.
The storage options on this kayak is a six-inch hatch for dry items.
- 10 feet, 65lbs
- Six-inch storage hatch
- Three fishing pole holders
- Made from high-density polyethylene
- Blow molded from High Density Polyethylene for superior strength and durability; Backed by a 5-year...
- Designed to seat up to 3 people; 500 lb. weight capacity
- Hull design provides ultra stability and great tracking
- Multiple footrest positions for different size riders
- Includes: 2 double-sided paddles, paddle clips, 2 padded backrests, 3 fishing pole holders, and a 6'...
What to Look at When Purchasing a Good Tandem Kayak
Even if you have previously bought a kayak for yourself, shopping for a tandem version can be completely different.
After all, you have to take other people into consideration when making this decision as well.
Here are some tips that you can follow:
Deciding Between Sit In or Sit on Top Kayak
Now, this is a debate that will rage on regardless of the type of kayak that you want to buy. Most people have a preferred design for a myriad of reasons.
For instance, with sit on top kayaks, you are guaranteed a great deal more stability. It is not easy to upturn these type of rafts so you can feel quite secure.
On the other hand, sit in kayaks, can offer you protection from getting splashed while you are paddling.
One of the things that you will need to take into consideration when deciding between these two options is getting in and out of the kayak.
This is because unlike with solo kayaks, there will be an instance where one person is in the vessel and the other passenger has to get in or out.
The reason that this is important is because, here, sit on top kayaks do have a clear benefit over sit in kayaks. It is much easier to get in and out of a sit on top kayak.
Therefore, as you do so, it is less likely for you to unwittingly dump the person still in the kayak into the water.
Determining the Size
When trying to figure out what size tandem kayak to get, it is a good idea to look at yours and your partner’s height first of all.
At the very least, you need to figure out whether there is enough of leg space available for both of you.
Remember to look at just how much space there is in between each individual when you are both seated down.
It is often best to get a relatively long tandem kayak. This is not just for comfort but also stability. Due to the way that tandem kayaks are built, the added length actually enables the kayak to be more stable in this instance.
At the same time, there are a few disadvantages to kayaks that are overly long. They can be quite difficult to maneuver as you are dealing with a larger vessel.
The key is to find the magic length to create a compromise between all of these factors.
Factoring in the Weight
There is no getting around the fact that tandem kayaks are typically quite a bit heavier than the usual solo ones. This additional heft is not just because of the larger sized vessel, however. You need to keep in mind that tandem kayaks also have to support much more weight.
On average, you are likely to find tandem kayaks that can support anywhere from 350lbs to 500lbs. The material which the vessels are composed of does play a role here.
For instance, inflatable crafts will be less likely to support significant weights. On the other hand, polyethylene vessels are usually able to carry up to 500lbs or more.
This is why you will need to calculate how much you and your partner weight together.
Bear in mind, that this is not enough as you are more than likely to be carrying at least a few items with you at any given time.
This is why you should look at how much your equipment and gear may weigh as well. All of these precautions will help to keep you safe.
Convertible vs. Fixed Tandem Kayaks
Most kayak manufacturers are aware that you will not always want to use a kayak with a partner.
This has given rise to convertible kayaks.
These are vessels that can be transformed from tandem kayaks to solo kayaks and vice versa. Often, it is simply a matter of removing one of the seats and using the kayak.
If you want to choose a convertible kayak, it is important to understand all of the mechanics behind them. For instance, you should make sure that the design of the kayak has taken into account the weight discrepancy between two passengers and just one passenger.
The kayak should be properly balanced so that the bow will not lift out of the water when you are paddling on your own. This is particularly important if the solo seating is closer to the stern of the kayak.
These are the points that you will have to keep in mind if you want to purchase a tandem kayak. If you don’t want to go through the hassle, there are some excellent options mentioned in this article.