Are you searching for the best tandem kayak? If you’re going to spend time kayaking with a friend, you’ll need more than a standard kayak. There are a lot of unique features in two person kayaks today, but how can you tell which ones are essential and which are superfluous?
We have been researching kayaking for years and used quite a number of tandem kayaks, and it proved handy in picking these out. If you’re new to kayaking, you may also want to read this guide so you can pick and choose one that satisfies your requirements and your companion’s.
Our Top Picks for Tandem Kayaks
- Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Sit-On-Top Kayak - Best Recreational Kayak
- Intex Explorer K2 Kayak - Best Inflatable Tandem Kayak
- Intex Challenger K2 2-Person Inflatable Kayak
- Lifetime 90118 Manta Tandem Sit on Top Kayak
- Useful UH-TK181 Sit On Top Tandem Fishing Kayak
- Lifetime Sport Fisher Single or Tandem Kayak
- Sea Eagle SE370K_P Inflatable Kayak
- Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T Tandem Kayak
Buying Guide For Tandem Kayaks
How to Choose the Best 2 Person Kayak
- Small: for cockpits 73–82 cm long and 42–50 cm wide
- Medium: 81–91 cm x 45–55 cm
- Large: 89–98 cm x 48–58 cm
- Super Big / XL: 96–105 cm x 55–60 cm
These are only general guidelines as there are other sizes available. Check the kayak manufacturer’s website for more information.
Types of Tandem Kayaks
- Recreational Kayaks: these are ideal for beginners and casual riders. They’re for calm waters, lakes, placid rivers, ponds, and they’re noted for ease of use. Recreational kayaks are also affordable but they’re not recommended in open water or when there are currents or strong winds. Recreational kayaks are for short trips only, as can be seen by the storage system they possess. Length ranges from 10 to 12 feet and the cockpit is large for convenient access. While they’re good for beginners, tracking can be a challenge.
- Touring Kayaks: these are most suitable for long distance kayaking, and they can also handle difficult weather conditions. Touring tandem kayaks cost more than recreational, but they’re more durable. They also provide additional storage space for your gear. The typical length is 12 to 17 feet, and they’re designed to produce lift to deal with rough water. The majority of them have a rudder or skeg to aid in direction and navigation. These have cockpits with emphasis in improving padding. A spray skirt is also frequently used.
- Modular Kayaks: modular kayaks provide storage and are convenient to transport. Strength wise they are as strong any polyurethane kayak, but the advantage is you can divide it in multiple sections for easy transportation. Once the kayak is broken down you can easily put it in a vehicle.
- Sit-on-Top Kayaks: sit on tops work fine for solo and tandem kayaking. The convenient design also means it’s the ideal choice for kids, novices and those who use kayaks on occasion. Sit on tops have molded depressions and a sealed hull for convenience.
- Inflatable Kayaks: these are best suited for recreational kayaking. They’re simple to use and being inflatable, easy to store away. You may consider an inflatable tandem kayak as a very durable blow up boat, and these kayaks are inflated by a hand, electric or foot pump.
- Folding Kayaks: these are best suited for touring and long explorations. Folding kayaks are similar in a way to inflatables, but they offer more storage and the framework is ridged. Once you have disassembled the kayak you can store it quickly.
- Fishing Kayaks: as the name implies, these are built for anglers. Most are for solo riders but there are tandem versions available. Aside from the standard features on kayaks, these boats have a tackle box and holders for rods and coolers. These kayaks are notable for their stability as it is essential for fishing.
- Whitewater Kayaks: these kayaks are at least 4 feet long and can reach up to 10 feet. These are specially designed for whitewater rapids and have a rounded bottom.
Advantages of a Tandem Kayak
- Tandem kayaks give you an opportunity to spend time with one or two friends or family members.
- Most of these kayaks can be converted for solo use. You can then use the extra seat for storage or your pet.
- Kayaks have improved a lot in terms of performance and capabilities. Skegs and other devices provide better control over tracking and stability.
- These are more durable than before: the best kayaks are made of solid plastic, and the paddles are constructed of quality materials as well. Solo kayaks are also well built but don’t have the capacity that tandem kayaks provide.
- Versatile: some kayaks are only meant for use in a recreational manner while others are rated for whitewater. Whatever your needs may be, there is a kayak that can handle it.
Tandem Kayak Reviews
Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak - Best Recreational Tandem Kayak
If you’re looking for a recreational tandem kayak, the Malibu is one that you’re going to come across often. Its capacity is up to 425 lbs. and a maximum seating capacity for two adults and one child. However, the design also allows you to use the kayak for solo adventures.
Other features include extra leg space, and the hull and deck have been constructed so you can set several hulls easily. Whether you’re alone or with companions, the Ocean Kayak Malibu delivers a reliable performance thanks to the molded handles, proprietary foot well and durable gear straps.
The Ocean Kayak is not just your average tandem kayak. It is a multi-purpose vessel for exploring and recreational use. As a tandem kayak, it is stable, has good tracking and doesn’t tip over easily. Even if you and your companion are new to kayaking, the Malibu is worth a look.
Intex Explorer K2 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump - Best Inflatable Tandem Kayak
The Explorer K2 is a tandem kayak designed for leisure and recreational use. With a capacity of 400 lbs. the K2 is suited for two people who want to spend time on lakes and easy flowing rivers. Like the other Intex kayaks, the K2 has a sporty design, comfortable and adjustable seats.
The skeg provides additional control and the tight design helps with the paddling. The Explorer is compact and light, allowing you to enjoy kayaking rather than worry about tipping over. Made of professional grade vinyl, the K2 is equipped with a roust I-beam floor that is both rigid and comfortable.
A lot has been said about the skeg on kayaks, and the Explorer K2 is one of the most versatile. You can remove the skeg and have greater stability. This alone gives the Explorer the edge, but in addition you also get inflatable back seats plus Boston valves on the sides.
Check out our Intex Explorer K2 Kayak Review
The Explorer K2 is a cost effective kayak, and while it’s not as feature packed like other high end kayaks, it is more than enough for a weekend adventure. Set up is easy and it won’t take more than just a few minutes to inflate it. With its 86 inch oars and repair kit, this is a complete kayak.
Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
The Challenger K2 is a streamlined kayak built for convenient paddling, and the green and blue colors mean it’s highly visible. The paddles are 86 inches long and made from aluminum, making it flexible and durable. In addition, the Intex comes with a quality pump so you can set up the K2 quickly.
The K2 measures 30 x 15 x 138 inflated, and it has a 400 lb. weight capacity. A repair kit is included so if there is a problem with the kayak, you can quickly patch it up. The material used for K2 is also resistant to UV damage, allowing you to use the kayak for long stretches.
Check out our Intex Challenger K2 Kayak Review
The Challenger K2 is a high quality kayak, attested to by its US Coast Guard approval. It is also ideal for tandem use whether it is on mild rivers or lakes. If you’ve never used a kayak before, the K2 is a good introduction as it’s reliable, has good tracking and stable. With a good sized cargo, you and your friend will enjoy this.
Manta Tandem Kayak has a 500 lb. capacity and is designed not just for tandem but solo kayaking. There are a couple of double sided paddles and there are also two well-designed backrests so you remain comfortable anytime you kayak. In spite of the capacity, the Manta weighs only 60 lbs.
Both paddles are of a two-piece construction so it’s more convenient to store, and its 5 year warranty is testament to the quality. I also want to point out the seats are positioned high up so you’re off the boat’s flooring. Lastly, the tunnel hull design makes the Manta more stable.
The Manta is a versatile kayak, and it’s one of those that are capable whether used as solo or in tandem. Because it weighs only 60 lbs. you’ll have no problem carrying this, and the molded carry handles make transportation convenient. Advanced kayakers will also like the Manta’s tracking as it keeps the kayak straight.
The UH-TK181 is a two person kayak with a weight capacity of 450 lbs. The kayak itself weighs 68 lbs. and there should be no problems transporting this. For your convenience, a couple of aluminum paddles are included for you and your companion. Unlike the flimsy types included in most kayaks, these are quality paddles.
There are a couple of watertight compartments in the UH-TK181, a perfect place to put drinks, food, wallet and other items. Each compartment is at the front of both seats and for easy access. The seats are also of high quality and should keep you comfortable. Other features on the kayak include 2 bungee paddle parks, four carry handles and rod holders.
This tandem kayak is a comfortable tandem kayak. While it’s designed mainly for two people, the UH-TK181 can also be used for solo kayaking. The design also makes the kayak difficult to tip. Whether you kayak with a friend or alone, the UH-TK181 is a lot of fun to use.
The Lifetime 10 kayak is built of professional grade, high density polyethylene, increasing its durability and strength. The Sport Fisher has a 500 lb. weight limit and can seat two large adults or two average sized adults and one child. A closer look at the Sport Fisher also shows that its hull is built with stability in mind.
The Sport Fisher footrest is adjustable so riders of different sizes can use it. The kayak is also built so it provides reliable tracking. Since this is a sit on top kayak you can stand up on it and fish. In spite of the light weight, the kayak is well-balanced, durable and convenient to transport.
The Sport Fisher is a well-rounded kayak and is lightweight. Its polyethylene design increases its durability and provides added functionality. Aside from being a tandem kayak, the Sport Fisher is as effective for side sitting as stand up fishing. Aside from its durable hull, it has cradles and clips for paddle security.
The Vibe Skipjack is a versatile tandem kayak. Designed for two adults with a 500 lb. weight capacity, the Skipjack also comes with a couple of hatches for storage. The kayak also has mounting points for Railblaza®, RAM® and Scotty® mount rod holders. In addition there are two flush mount rod holders included.
The sit on top Skipjack makes it easy to get in and out of the kayak, and it’s ideal for fishing, paddling and exploring. The kayak is durable enough to be used on rivers, lakes, and also for flat water and surf. The good thing is the versatility doesn’t compromise its ease of use.
The Skipjack is one of the most versatile tandem kayaks today. Its three-person, 650 lb. capacity provides you with a lot of options, something other kayaks cannot match. The problem with most kayaks for beginners is they’re limited in functionality, but the Skipjack is very capable and among the best that Vibe has produced.
The Eagle 370 is built out of 38 Mil K-80 PolyKrylar, and this makes it stronger than other kayaks in its class. The hull is resistant to punctures and there’s no need to worry about saltwater causing damage either. Exposure to sun or saltwater won’t damage the hull either so you can use it in any condition. It comes with 2 paddles and can fit up to 3 people.
The Eagle 370 also has two skegs for better tracking and speed, two aspects other kayaks fall short of. The valves are also of high quality, with five one-way valves and a self-bailing valve for efficient draining. For your convenience there are two carry handles provided.
The 370 is one of the best kayaks that Sea Eagle has manufactured. Its 650 lb. capacity means two physically large or three average sized persons can fit in nicely. At 32 lbs. the hull isn’t light enough. Measuring 12'6"x34", the 370 takes less than 10 minutes to inflate.
The Sea Eagle 330 has a 500 lb. capacity so a couple of 200 lb. plus adults should fit nicely in it. The 330 is not just spacious but made of K-80 polykrylar. This is thicker than the standard material used in other kayaks, which makes it more resistant to punctures and tears.
The Eagle 330 is rated Class III whitewater and is equipped with quality welded seams, professional grade foot pump and two oars. The two inflatable seats are comfortable and the inflatable spray skirts are well-designed too. As these features indicate, the Eagle 330 is powerful and capable.
The Sea Eagle 330 is a high class whitewater kayak and you and your companion can have a fun time in powerful rivers. Whether you’re looking for a kayak that’s capable of taking you to a rapids adventure or spend a quiet time in the lake, the Eagle 330 is going to do the job.