You love the outdoor sports. You know that there is nothing better that spending your day outside. Taking your adventures to the water is a natural way to improve your fitness and happiness. You may already have a kayak but are looking to bring a friend or pet on your trips with you. A tandem kayak is an excellent way to do this. Having an extra seat and higher weight capacity allows you to bring anyone you want with you on your journeys, but make sure you get the best tandem kayak available.

Alone time is great but being able to enjoy a day on the water with your family, a friend, or even your pup will make your time even more memorable. We have found the top five double kayaks on the market to help you do just that.

The-Best-Tandem-Kayaks

Tandem Kayak Reviews

How To Choose A Tandem Kayak – Buying Guide

What-to-look-for-in-a-tandem-kayak

There are key features to look for when looking to buy the best tandem kayak and we have listed some must haves here.

Materials

There are many different types of materials that a tandem two seater kayak can be made of. This is directly related to the weight and durability of the rig.

  • Polyethylene is a plastic material that is commonly found in a kayak. It is a durable material that is also lightweight. It does a good job at absorbing impact and does not scratch easily. This makes it an easy choice for the hull which routinely comes in contact with sand and rocks along the shore.

But it does have its drawbacks. We suggest keeping it out of direct sunlight as it can warm and become brittle over time. If you keep this in mind and not subject it to the elements your tandem two seater kayak will last for years to come.

  • Composite is a mixture of high end material. The fiberglass, Kevlar and carbon concoction creates a strong material that will stand the test of time. An added bonus is that these are exceptionally lightweight materials.

Just be careful when launching and landing this two person kayak type as the materials are more easy to damage than its polyethylene counterpart. This material is quite easy to repair but can be a hassle to find a shop.

  • Believe it or not, inflatable two person kayaks have come a long way over the years. The material has become strong, even puncture resistant, and feature military grade PVC or high-quality Denier material. These are ultra portable usually folding into a small backpack. There are many air compartments that ensure you make it back to the shore even if you spring a leak.
Hull shape

The hull shape will determine how the two person kayak performs in the water. There are three main shapes of these boats.

  • These are usually found on beginner boats. The flat bottom allows the maximum stability in calm conditions. It is not recommended to take this type of hull into rough or ocean conditions as they will not be able to cut through the surf.
  • Having a rounded bottom allows these ships to cut through the water. This makes them faster than their flat shaped cousin. Also, it will take less effort to get up to speed since there is less friction against the water. It gives up a little stability from the flat bottomed kayak, therefore this type is recommended for intermediate riders.
  • A V-Shaped hull will propel you at the fastest speed and is good for long distance travel. Even though they are the least stable they offer secondary stability. This means they can be saved when they are tipped on their side. These types of hulls will be able to turn on a dime and be maneuvered easier than the other two types. They should only be used by expert kayakers.
Weight capacity

Every single kayak has a different weight capacity. Tandem two seater kayaks will range from 400 to over 800 pounds. Factors that determine this limit include how many people are riding in it, and the amount of gear you are carrying. The materials used to create the tandem kayak plays a key role in determining the riding capacity.

Kayak weight

The weight of these top rated tandem kayaks varies from 30 to 100 pounds. The features and construction can add and decrease weight. For example, a rigid polyethylene kayak could weigh double that of an inflatable.

Length

The length will also be something that dictates the abilities of the tandem kayak. A longer boat is harder to maneuver but is better at handling large waves and keeping a line. A shorter tandem kayak will be easier to turn and control but are not the best for long journeys.

Why Choose A Tandem Kayak?

Of the many styles to choose from a tandem two person kayak is one of the better options. Not only do you get tons of storage but you also get to bring along a friend. This is particularly useful for families and those with young children. This will allow you to bring your child along with you in the kayak and allow them to build their confidence. Tandem kayaks are also often quite a bit longer than solo kayaks making them move faster in the water cutting through at a good speed.

Sit On Top Or Sit Inside Tandem Kayak?

When you choose your next tandem kayak, you will notice that there are two different styles of kayaks for you to choose from. This is your sit on top and your sit in kayaks. For kayaks you will find both of these styles available for both your solo and tandem kayaks. You may think that these types of boat are only made of hard plastic but you also do get them both in inflatable boats as well.

These kayaks, while they have many differences, share many of the same characteristics. In both kayak designs, you refer to the bottom of the kayak as the hull and the top of the kayak as the deck. As with other watercrafts you still refer to the front of the boat as the bow and the back as the stern. In both styles of boat you will find the deck of the boat covered in bungee lines allowing for maximum storage. Both boat styles will also feature a seat and foot supports.

Of course, there are many differences as well. Sit inside 2 person kayaks have an enclosed cockpit that allows riders to sit lower in the water. As the name suggests you sit on top of your sit on top kayak which gives you a significantly higher center of gravity. Sit inside kayaks always come with some sort of backrest in their seating area as well.

Choosing the style of two person kayak that is best for you may not be as straightforward as you are thinking. There are many benefits to both types of kayaks that should all be considered before making your choice on one. To start with, you may want to ask yourself a few questions. These should include determining the type of water you are going to be paddling in as well as the temperatures of the water. From here, consider the pros and cons of each 2 person kayak type.

Sit on top kayaks are generally the most user friendly as they are very easy to get in and out of. They tend to deliver a stable ride giving you a very freeing feeling as you are not confined in a cockpit. This kayak style does not have any protection in the water and guarantees you to get wet. Luckily these boats come equipped with self-bailing features which allow you to stay safe. This does however mean they are designed solely for warmer waters. This type of kayak is incredibly easy to get in and out of making them ideal for paddlers looking to swim.

Sit inside kayaks give you a place to lower your body into making them much warmer for your body. Providing a shelter from wind and rain these kayaks are ideal for paddlers in cooler waters. Due to this protective shell you are far less likely to get wet in this style of kayak and therefore can paddle while wearing a full outfit of clothing. They offer a great amount of stability but unfortunately do not have the same amount of freedom to move in and out of the water as their sit on top partners.

Advantages

There are many advantages to choosing a tandem 2 person kayak. The biggest advantage is the ability to carry more. With a larger weight capacity you are able to bring along more gear and more people or both. With this added space you can even bring your furry friend along for the ride. As these boats are often much longer in size you will even be able to enjoy a better performance. This is due to the long and slender shape of the kayak that allows you to cut through the water with ease. Having the ability to carry two paddlers on board also means that you will have double the paddle power.

Below, we explore the many advantages of opting for this type of kayak.

Family

Young kids will love this style 2 person kayak. They can sit on the deck without feeling like they’re going to fall off. Tandem kayaks will have enough space so you can watch your kid to ensure they stay safe. You can take the rear seat and give them the front one. This allows you to paddle while they just sit there and take in the scenery.

There are also boats that will allow you and your partner to have seats with enough room for a youngster to sit between you. This may not be ideal for long commutes but a short boat ride will be perfect.

Dog

Tandem kayaks also give you the ability to bring along your dog. Most are made of a hard plastic material which won’t get damaged by their paws. A kayak with removable seats will be ideal so they have room to sit and move around without tearing up the seat. We recommend bringing along a blanket for your furry friend so they will be more comfortable. This will also provide a barrier between the tandem kayak and your pups sharp nails.

It is important to consider safety before bringing your pup along on the water. This isn’t meant to be a stressful situation so deciding whether your dog is mentally fit to handle this is important. You will also want to pack for your furry friend as well. You will want to provide them with plenty of water along the trek.

This includes a life jacket. Even strong swimmers can struggle to get their bearings in deeper waters. It isn’t worth your dog’s life so be sure to always have them wearing a safety vest. Be sure to always consider how much heat your dog is being exposed to as well. Some dogs really do not have a strong resistance to heat.

Can Be Easier (Take Breaks, Multitasking, Etc.)

Being able to go on trips with a partner will allow you to rest without losing time. You can trade off shifts so both of you get a chance to paddle without getting too tired. This is also ideal for people who love nature photography. The person sitting at the front of the kayak can snap some pics while the person at the back can continue paddling.

Speed

Double the paddle power means that you will have a lot more speed. Tandem kayaks are a great way to go if you are looking to pick up maximum speed in the water. The longer boat cut through the water easily and quickly. While this type of tandem 2 person kayak is generally a bit wider, specifically through the stern, the dual paddling power works to make these boats travel much faster through the water.

While you may not always be looking to tear through the water at top speeds, this boating style is much more efficient. That means that you can take it a lot easier when paddling with a friend if you are looking to go at a leisurely pace.

Stability

The stability found in tandem kayaks is superior to that found in many other types of kayaks. This is a key feature specifically amongst novice paddlers. This is why teaching children with this type of kayak can be incredibly beneficial. Tandem kayaks are a great way for kayakers to gain experience and confidence in the sport. Stability is an important feature to consider, even for more experienced paddlers, when heading into choppy waters and those with a current.

More Spacious

This type of kayak allows you to bring along more gear than a solo kayak. On average tandem kayaks offer around 50% more storage then standard solo kayaks allowing you to pack along more gear. While this is a desirable feature you will still want to pay close attention to your boats weight capacity. Kayaks that are weighed down to their weight capacity offer significantly less performance than lighter boats. For those that are packing quite a lot of stuff you will likely have much more success on two solo kayaks than maxing out your tandem kayak.

In Case Of Accidents

A tandem kayak is a great safety measure that you may not think of. This is especially true when out for longer trips or when traveling with children. Having a tandem kayak will allow you to have a backup in case of an accident or emergency.

In this situation, in the event that someone in your party is tired, ill or has an accident you are able to safely put them in a seat and have the other paddler pull their weight. Having solo kayaks makes it hard to help a friend to safety in the event they are unable to paddle anymore. Having an extra seat in your tandem kayak is a great safety measure and can greatly improve your day on the water. This is especially convenient in the case of kids where they are unable, or unwilling, to paddle all of the time.

Storage

Tandem kayaks are expertly designed to not only hold more people, but also more gear. These boats are great for the fact that they have a longer much more efficient design. This allows them to not only excel with practicality but also allows them to propel through the water with maximum speed and efficiency.

These boats on average are able to hold about 1.5 more storage than a regular solo kayak. This is typically seen through a mix of both internal and on board storage. These kayaks are equipped with internal storage in both the bow and the stern giving you all around storage convenience.

Tandem kayaks are meant to hold two people and about 50% more storage than regular solo kayaks. That is why these kayaks come in at a much larger size than other kayaks. For this reason, they are quite a bit harder to store. This is also true for transporting your boat. This is important to consider before making your purchase.  Having a boat of this increased length will require you to have different equipment to transport your boat and significantly more space for storage. Preparing for this change is important. For those tight on space but still looking for the convenience of a tandem kayak, we recommend opting for an inflatable version.

Price

As always it is important to consider your budget when making any big purchases. Most kayaks sit at quite an investment. For this reason it is important to be aware of the costs associated with different styles of boats. Tandem kayaks come with a heavier price tag than most solo boats. This is quite simply because they have double the capacity. While this is true, tandem boats are most often considerably cheaper than buying two solo kayaks. For those looking for a good deal and often travel with a partner, opting for a tandem kayak is a great choice.

FAQs

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Q: How Do You Paddle A Tandem Kayak?

A: Paddling a tandem kayak takes more effort than a single kayak since you have to be in sync with the person you’re paddling with. To do this the person in the front seat should be the one to set the pace. This will reduce the number of times you bonk paddles (it will still happen, especially when you’re just starting).

This isn’t to say the person in the rear doesn’t have any jobs. If the tandem kayak seems to go off course it is the person at the backs job to correct this. They should keep the rhythm but paddle stronger to get the tandem kayak pointed in the right direction.

Q: How Do You Steer A Tandem Kayak?

A: Steering a tandem kayak relies almost solely on the person in the rear. The person in the front should keep paddling in their rhythm while the person in the rear is focused on changing the direction. If a couple strong paddles don’t get the job done they may need to try a backstroke. This will get the kayak quickly turned in the right direction. Once the maneuver is done they should time their strokes so that both people are synced backup and paddling in a rhythm.

Q: How Long Are Tandem Kayaks?

A: This can vary depending on brand and use. A typical tandem kayak can range from 10 to 23 feet. Longer 2 person kayaks will be more stable in the water but can weigh more. Added length can also mean more storage options as well.

Q: How Do I Transport A Tandem Kayak?

A: Transporting a tandem kayak is much the same as a solo. There are many roof racks you can buy for your car to get you to the beach safely. Once at the beach you have a lot of options for how to transport your kayak from your car to the water. A common way to do this is through portaging. This becomes easier when you have two people as you can each grab an end of the kayak, flip it over your head and carry it above you. If you have children or are struggling to find an easier way, try investing in a dolly to help you.

Q: What Is The Lightest Tandem Kayak?

A: The second kayak on our list, Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, Tandem Inflatable Kayak Set, is the lightest of our top picks. The kayak is inflatable which contributes to its lightweight design and is very durable. As a bonus is a great family kayak.

Q: What Are The Weight Limits For Tandem Kayaks?

A: As tandem kayaks are designed to hold two people, they have much more generous weight restrictions than regular solo kayaks. Tandem kayaks typically feature weight restrictions in a range from 400 – 650 pound limits.  Depending on your intended use, the weight of you and your partner, and the amount of gear you plan to bring, you can make an informed decision about the best kayak for you.

Q: How To Tandem Kayak?

A: Kayaking a solo kayak is slightly different from paddling a tandem kayak for one main reason: you are working with another person. You will need to work with your partner to create a cohesive unit while paddling. The stronger paddler should be in the back of the boat as this person will have the primary job of maneuvering the  tow person kayak. It is a good idea to have the heavier paddle in the back whenever possible. While you are paddling you will want to try to keep the same paddling timing. This will help you to propel your kayak through the water efficiently with the least amount of correction.

Q: How To Paddle A Tandem Kayak Solo?

A: While tandem boats are designed to be paddled by two different people, at times you may want to take your kayak out for a solo trip. It could also be that your partner is looking to take a break making you the sole paddler in your kayak. If you are paddling a two person kayak solo you will want to ensure you follow a few key pieces of advice. Tandem kayaks will have many different positions for their seats. You will want to ensure that you’re sitting in a seat that is in the middle of the kayak. This will ensure you aren’t tipping the boat when sitting too far forward or in the rear of the kayak. Once you are properly seated you will paddle as if you were in a single seat kayak. Just keep in mind that you’ll have to take extra effort to turn the boat as tandem kayaks are typically longer than single seat options.

Q: How To Flip A Tandem Kayak?

A: As with any other type of kayaking, it is important to master the art of rolling your kayak. This becomes even more important when using a double kayak as you will not only have to master the technique yourself but also work to coordinate with another person. When practicing your flip, it is important to be on the same page about which way you will want to flip. Make sure to first decide between you which one of you is the stronger one and allow that person to lead. The other one should take the following position in order to mimic the movements and allow you to be successful. This will help you act more synchronized in order to get your movements perfect.

Q: How To Pack A Tandem Sit On Kayak?

A: When packing a kayak you will generally want to work to balance the weight throughout the kayak quite evenly. When packing a tandem kayak you will want to consider the body weight of the paddlers. Make up for the weight variances by distributing the lighter material in the area with the heavier passenger (typically the back). This will help to create a boat that has even weight throughout the whole kayak.

Q: How To Store A Tandem Kayak?

A: You will want to store a 2 person kayak the same as a solo one. It is important to consider the fact that this type of boat is often considerably longer than a solo kayak. Investing in a kayak carrier will help to store your kayak up off the floor which makes it quite a bit safer while also taking up less space. For those that have an inflatable kayak, you will have an incredibly easy time storing your boat.

For those tight on space, you can store your 2 person kayak outside. Be sure to store it out of direct sunlight whenever possible. This will work to keep your kayak looking new for much longer. Of course, you will want to ensure you always give your two person kayak a good rinse before storing it.

Globo Surf Overview

Spending your day on the lake is always a good idea. Whether you are going out for an hour, a week or for a fishing adventure, kayaking can do it all. Bringing a friend along for your next adventure will allow you to get even more from this experience. Bring your family, or even just your dog, for a day on the water soaking in the sunshine. A great bonding activity that happens to double as an excellent upper body workout. Tandem kayak reviews agree that having a tandem two seater kayak with a ton of space and a high weight capacity are the key features to look for.

Sources
  1. rigid polyethylene, Plastics Make it Possible
  2. Weight Capacity, How Stuff Works

Do you love kayaking with a friend? Have one of the tandem kayaks on our list? Let us know how you like it in the comment section below.

Globo Surf Tandem Kayaks Review

★★★★★
5 5 1
Was looking for a new double kayak for my husband and I. Glad I found your article. Plenty of great options.

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