Tandem kayaks are a fantastic way to experience the outdoors with your friends and family. To ensure you get the best tandem kayak possible we have poured hours of research into the production of this article.
Tandem kayaks give you the ability sit 2 or more people inside of the same kayak whilst still having the storage and room to carry along all of your essentials and sit comfortably. The best tandem kayaks are produced from high quality materials, have comfortable seats, good storage and are very stable.
The Best Tandem Kayaks at a Glance
- Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 130T
- Driftsun Voyager Tandem Inflatable Kayak
- Elkton Outdoors Tandem Fishing Kayak
- Sea Eagle RazorLite Inflatable Kayak
- Sea Eagle 370
- Intex Challenger K2 Kayak
- Ocean Kayak Malibu Tandem Recreational Kayak
I’ve spent many years kayaking and throughout that time i’ve made some really great kayak purchases and some really bad ones. Using my experience and compiling a list of tandem kayaks which have the best features for every paddler I hope you can soon be out on the water with the best tandem kayak for you.
Let’s dive right in!
Best Tandem Kayaks – Our Top 7 Picks
This isn't the first Vibe kayak we have had to take our top choice. And that's likely due to the brilliant craftsmanship and care Vibe takes whilst producing their kayaks. You can tell they have really considered everything important whilst producing this kayak.
It's a 13' two-person tandem kayak which can also fit a center seat for a child or if you want to convert the kayak to a single kayak and go solo.
You can experience comfort in this kayak with its framed hero seats and foot braces. There is plenty of room for storage, gear, and passengers.
Produced from a Rotomolded single piece high-density polyethylene, this tandem kayak is lightweight, durable, and made to last you many years being thrown in and out of the water.
This kayak can also be used very well as a fishing kayak due to the stability, weight capacity and storage room.
The sleek hull design ensures fast and nimble tracking to get you quickly to where the fish are, and rudder ready hull can save your energy during long paddles, windy days, and strong currents.
The tandem kayak weighs 80lbs which is manageable for most people and has a carrying capacity of 500lbs.
- Comfy hero seats
- Well-positioned footrests
- Good weight capacity
- Durable and lightweight
- Comes with 2 kayak paddles
- No negative points with this tandem kayak
Driftsun has produced a tandem kayak which has been well received by their customers. We have selected this one as our next best due to its affordability and the fact it's actually inflatable which has many benefits in itself.
This kayak can inflate to a full-size kayak (10ft. x 35” x 16”) in less than 5 minutes with the included deluxe high flow double action hand pump. You can go from your garage to your car trunk and then into the water in no time at all.
When deflated for transport this inflatable kayak measures only 26”(L) x 16”(W) x 8”(H) and fits nicely into the included carry bag. Its lightweight design makes it easy to handle by one person, weighing in at only 27 lbs.
The kayak comes with two comfy EVA padded seats, high-quality aluminum paddles, a pump, rear tracking fin, and a durable carry bag.
- Padded Seats
- Durable and tear-resistant Material
- Comes with 2 kayak paddles
- Inflatables are less efficient to paddle than solid kayaks
Another solid build tandem kayak, but this time from Elkton Outdoors.
This kayak has a rotomolded injected body to ensure it will never crack and puncture under stress - guaranteeing it will last you for years to come.
Another great feature of this tandem kayak is that it has two storage areas along with a designated area that can hold an ice chest. Making this tandem kayak perfect for you to take on longer adventures.
Not only will you get the kayak, but you'll also get two padded seats, rod holders, bungee cords, and two paddles!
12.2ft and 3ft wide, this kayak is plenty big enough for two people and a whole host of gear. The width makes this kayak very stable in the water, even when it's carrying two people and lots of stuff.
- Padded Seats
- Very stable
- Dry storage areas
- Comes with 2 kayak paddles, seats, and rod holders
- Some users report that this kayak is difficult to steer
Although the price point of this inflatable kayak is more than your average, it makes our list of best tandem kayaks for good reason and really lives up to the cost.
The first major feature is that you're getting an inflatable kayak which can easily be transported in a carry bag in any size vehicle, inflated next to the water, and easily packed away - all whilst maintaining the quality and efficiency usually only achieved from solid body kayaks.
The RazorLite Kayak's rigid bow and stern molds create a razor-sharp speed entry and exit system. The bow mold cuts through the water effortlessly, something you don't always see from inflatable kayaks.
The patented RazorLite High-Performance Ultra Light Kayak is the first and only inflatable kayak made entirely with Drop Stitch Technology throughout! This makes the kayak extremely durable and tear-resistant, meaning it will last you years and years in the water.
Sit comfortably in the padded seats and fully adjustable footrests ensuring you find the perfect seating position for your adventure.
- Patented drop stitch design
- Inflatable for easy transport
- Very stable
- Efficient in the water
- Comes with 2 paddles, pump, and carry bag
- More expensive than other inflatable tandem kayaks - but we do believe you get what you pay for with this kayak
Another inflatable kayak from Sea Eagle, this one is at a much more common price point for an inflatable kayak.
This tandem kayak can seat 3 people and has a huge 650lbs capacity, so you can be sure it can carry you and all of your gear around.
Many users comment on the comfort of the padded removable kayak seats which come with the purchase. As well as getting kayak seats you also receive two kayak paddles, a foot pump, and a carry bag.
Inflatable kayaks are notoriously harder to track in a straight line than solid kayaks however the 2 skegs on the bottom really help guide and track the kayak exactly where you want to go.
If you are after affordability, lots of space and carry capacity, and super easy transport then this inflatable tandem kayak could be perfect for you.
- Durable materials
- Inflatable for easy transport
- Big carry capacity
- Comes with 2 paddles, 2 seats, pump and carry bag
- Some users mention it's more unstable then wider kayaks
A great recreational kayak and our best value choice for anyone looking to purchase a tandem kayak to have fun or if you are just getting into the sport of kayak.
The Intex Challenger is a sporty and streamlined tandem kayak to make paddling much more efficient and easier.
The kayak is produced from rugged, Super-Tough vinyl that's puncture and UV damage-resistant for long-term durability.
You also get 2 aluminum paddles, a pump, a puncture repair kit, and a carry bag with your purchase, so you are ready to get straight into the water.
- Durable material
- Very affordable
- Comes with 2 paddles, repair kit, pump, and carry bag
- Some users mention you have to be careful dragging the bottom of the kayak across harsher grounds
This kayak made out a list of the best tandem kayak due to its ability to be used solo, tandem, or even tandem with a child or pet. You can alter the seating arrangement depending on how many people or how much gear you're taking along with you.
Anti-slip, padded seats provide you with comfort throughout your adventure. Many users report on how comfy the seats are.
Patented overlapping foot wells allow center-seated paddlers to settle in and brace their feet comfortably and sit in the correct paddling position.
The open-top hull design makes it easy to get in and out of the kayak.
There is a maximum capacity of 425lbs, the kayak measures a good 12 ft long and 34 inches wide so you can ensure that the kayak is very stable in the water.
- Durable material
- Can seat 2 people and a child or pet
- Anti-slip padded seats
- Patented overlapping footwells
- No storage hatches
How To Pick The Best Tandem Kayak
The majority of kayaks have a hard shell made from a durable plastic that is strong and requires next to no maintenance. Some kayaks made from composite materials like, fibreglass, carbon, and Kevlar. These kayaks are significantly lighter but they don’t wear as well and will require more looking after. They also tend to come with a much higher price tag.
If you opt for an inflatable kayak, make sure to buy one with tear and puncture resistant materials. You don’t want it to catch on some rocks at the shore and ruin your adventure!
Tandem Kayak Length
Kayak length is one of the most important deciding factors when learning how to choose a kayak. It’s a general rule of thumb that a long and narrow boat is faster through the water, and a shorter, wider kayak is slower but offers more stability.
Make sure you understand your needs such as how much storage you will need for your gear, if you need a dry hatch or how many people you will be taking with you. Longer boats will have more storage and room to sit.
Inflatable or Not?
Inflatable kayaks are also a great option, they can be very comfortable and easy to paddle. They are deflated, rolled up and stored in a bag making them easy to transport. The material is surprisingly durable and if well looked after (cleaned and dried after use) can last for many years. Because they are so soft, they tend to be a lot slower and harder to manoeuvre than hard kayaks.
If you expect to be taking your tandem kayak through harsher waters such as fast flowing rivers and the sea which require more paddling then I would opt for a hard tandem kayak, however if you are in calm rivers and lakes then an inflatable one will do the job.
Categorizing The Kayak
For a beginner, one must learn that kayaks vary greatly between brands. For that, it might be confusing that 2 brands are offering the same boat, one calling it recreational and other day tours.
You must know that Recreational Kayaks are more stable, affordable and easy to get into and out. They might not be the best for longer trips and waves.
Day touring kayaks are sleek and efficient, which is why they are priced higher than recreational ones. They track straight and allow more control.
Other Key Considerations
- Spray Skirt – Usually found on kayaks which are used on whitewater rivers and on touring kayaks, the spray skirt covers the paddle around the waist and prevents and water from entering the kayak cockpit. Most tandem kayaks are sit on top and therefore don’t use a spray skirt.
- Rocker – When the designers and planning the shape of a kayak, they consider the rocker, this is the curvature of the kayak and it directly affects how easy the kayak is to turn in the water.
- Skeg – The skeg is attached to the bottom of the tandem kayak, it is either fixed or detachable. The skeg helps to stabilize the kayak in harsher/windy conditions. It will keep the kayak tracking in a straight line – very helpful when travelling long distances.
- Rudder – The rudder is sometimes confused with the skeg, but they don’t serve the same function. The rudder is actually used to control the direction of the kayak in addition to the paddler. Rudders are more commonly found on boats and fishing kayaks when your hands aren’t always free to paddle.
Why Choose A Tandem Kayak?
- You can take your family!
This is the main advantage of a tandem kayak. Some tandems seat 2,3 and occasionally 4 people at a time. If you’re after some family time, especially if you have younger children then a tandem kayak can be the perfect thing to get you all outdoors.
If you have a small child, you can often place them in the middle of the two seats in a 2 person kayak, as long as the weight limit isn’t exceeded.
I would always advise sitting the child in the front seat of the cockpit and the adult in the back, so you can keep an eye on them at all times and help them out with the paddling. It is also easier to manoeuvre the kayak from the back seat, so if you are the more experienced paddler I’d sit in the back.
Remember when taking kids out on the water, safety should always come first. Make sure everyone is wearing life vest and that some basic ground rules such as no standing up or jumping into the water has been covered.
- Can be easier on either person if travelling long distances
One of the beauties of a tandem kayak is that there is 2 or more people paddling. If you are travelling long distances and are worried about getting exhausted, the tandem gives you the chance to have a rest whilst still moving forward.
You can just alternate between paddler ensuring everyone on board has a good amount of rest.
You can also easily multitask in a tandem kayak. If you are wanting to take pictures or eat lunch whilst out on the water it’s often easier with two people on board. Plus tandem kayaks usually have more hull space and storage so you can easily pack all of your essentials.
Fishing is often easier with two people on a tandem kayak. If you are reeling in a big fish the other person can help you get it on board and keep the kayak stable whilst you’re reeling it in.
- Tandem kayaks usually have more speed
If you buy a best tandem kayak which is produced from high quality materials and is streamlined they are often faster through the water than solo kayaks. If everyone on board can time their strokes correctly, you will soon pick up momentum fast and you’ll be cutting through the water much easier than if you were on a solo kayak.
Because tandem kayaks are built to carry 2 or more people they are often built a little wider and longer than a solo kayak. this improves their stability in the water.
This makes them great as recreational kayaks and for beginner paddlers.
Kayak fisherman often use a tandem as their fishing kayak due to the increased stability and storage room.
- You can take your dog!
The saying is true… a dog really is a mans best friend. Every dog owner understands the enjoyment gained from being able to take your pooch anywhere with you and to experience the adventurous life you enjoy. After all dogs are closely related to wolves, they love being outside! Getting the best kayak for dogs is going to make your time on the water easier to manage and more comfortable.
Tandems are often the kayak of choice for you and your dog as they have a lot of room and plenty of stability for the dog whilst on board.
- Storage and Transporting the Tandem Kayak
One of the biggest disadvantages of a tandem kayak is the fact that they are often much longer and wider than a solo. This raises the question of storage and transport.
You’ll need a bigger car to be able to fit the tandem kayak on the roof or trailer. You’ll also need a bigger storage area back home to be able to clean and store the kayak in.
To get around this many people opt for an inflatable kayak which gets rid of the issue all together. Inflatable kayaks roll up and can be transported in a carry bag, which often sometimes can be carried on your back like a big backpack.
Due to the extra size, tandems are also heavier which makes them harder to carry off the car and into the water – luckily there will be at least 2 of you!
- Loss of independence?
Although arguably the best bit of a tandem kayak is the fact you can share the outdoors and the experience with someone else and we’ve touched on this already.
Some people might argue that the independence and solo adventures is one of the beautiful things about kayaking on the open water. Would you rather be alone or with someone? only you can answer that.
We really hope that this article has helped you understand how to purchase and enjoy your time in the best tandem kayak.
We believe that after many hours of research that any of the kayaks we have selected to be in out top 7 list will be a perfect choice for anyone wanting a tandem kayak to enjoy the outdoors.
To recap, our top two kayaks were the Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 130T Tandem Kayak + 2 Paddles and the Driftsun Voyager 2 Person Inflatable Tandem Kayak + 2 Paddles.