Two fishers in a tandem kayak

Although the traditional, single rider kayak is still an incredibly popular choice, tandem kayaks are steadily rising as an equally attractive option.

Tandem kayaks are ideally suited for quality time out on the water with a friend, family member, or loved one. By nature, it is an incredibly social vessel, allowing for the benefit of conversation and a shared experience. Of course, there is also the advantage of an additional paddle, making for more efficient—and even quicker—movement through the water.

Although tandem kayaks are naturally bigger and heavier than single kayaks, they have an enhanced capacity for speed and stability. The larger construction results in a more efficient hull and a streamlined ability to reach higher speeds. Additionally, their stability is often far superior to traditional kayaks, as they are reinforced to handle increased weight and movement.

Perhaps the most noted benefit of a tandem kayak is that they simply tend to be more fun. There are few better ways to enjoy natural beauty than to bring a companion, and these kayaks make this shared experience easy and accessible.

What to Consider Before Purchasing a Tandem Kayak

If you are thinking about purchasing a tandem kayak, you’re certainly not alone—they are an entirely social and enjoyable way to be on the water. Still, before purchasing, there are a few key characteristics to keep in mind.

  • Tandem kayaks are much heavier

Of course, this is not entirely surprising, since they are equipped to handle double the weight of a standard kayak. Most tend to fall within a range of 80-100 pounds, making it nearly impossible to safely transport the kayak without help.

Even though a tandem kayak can certainly be used by a single rider, depending upon the weight, it may not be possible to get the kayak into the water without a little bit of extra help.

  • Longer tandems are more stable

Tandem kayaks tend to fall within a wide range of anywhere between 10-20 feet, making them significantly longer than traditional kayaks. Because they tend to be so heavy, it’s tempting to try and purchase a shorter, more lightweight kayak. This is typically not a good idea, since added length provides added stability. Stability is crucial with one rider, and even more so with two.

Having a long kayak also makes paddling much easier, too. Riders can be spaced further apart, allowing paddles to freely dip into the water without knocking into each other.

  • Transportation can be challenging

With added length and weight, it can be difficult to get a tandem kayak from one place to another. Of course, it certainly is possible to safely and efficiently transport them, with most people choosing to strap them onto the roof of their car.

If putting the tandem kayak on a car rooftop is not ideal, there are small kayak trailers available for easy transport of tandem or single kayaks.

  • Tandem kayaks are perfect for family outings

A tandem kayak is a fantastic way to get kids out of the house and onto the water. Kids can safely learn how to enjoy kayaking with an additional rider to offer guidance for paddling and movement. They also provide a versatile and fun way to enjoy spending time together.

Just make sure that you have child-sized paddles to ensure that each kayaking trip is as effective and as enjoyable as possible.

The Best Tandem Kayaks

Check out our Collection of Tandem Kayak Reviews:

When looking for the best tandem kayaks, it can certainly be difficult to determine which tandem is best for you. Our review will highlight the top-rated models, taking an in-depth look at the advantages and unique benefits. When searching for your own tandem kayak, looking at the top-rated kayaks is a great starting point.

  1. Ocean Kayak Malibu Recreational Kayak

Key Features:

  • 425-lb. capacity
  • Can hold two adults and a child
  • 12-foot length
  • Overlapping footrests for increased comfort and traction

As a sit-on-top kayak, this is one of the most comfortable and versatile options. The design allows for greater leg room, including multiple footrest options to cater to varying heights. The three seats are placed in the bow, stern, and middle to allow for up to two adults and one child to paddle together.

The adjustable Comfort Plus seats provide additional foam padding to allow for longer, more comfortable kayaking trips.

As an added benefit, this tandem kayak is versatile enough to be used for solo trips, too. At a total weight of 57 pounds, it is substantially lighter than the average tandem kayak, making transportation possible even for solo trips.


 

  1. Emotion Spitfire Tandem Sit-On-Top Kayak

Key Features:

  • Two padded CRS seats
  • Rear tank well with mesh lacing
  • Additional storage below deck
  • Secure and comfortable footrests

This sit-on-top kayak is perfectly formatted for two people to experience long, leisurely paddling. Both CRS seats are fully equipped for comfort, including foam padding and backing. Multiple footrests allow for variations in height and preference, providing for comfortable and secure bracing.

The Emotion Spitfire Tandem kayak comes with two separate storage containers to provide optimum convenience. The rear tank well comes with net lacing to ensure that cargo stays put, and a storage hatch allows for internal storage below deck.

At 90 pounds, this kayak is significantly heavier, but it does come with added features to make storage and transportation easy. A combination of four carrying handles and a bottom wheel make taking this kayak in and out of the water into a simple team effort.


  1. Lifetime Sport Fisher Tandem Kayak

Key Features:

  • Fits up to 3 people
  • Unique hull design for increased stability
  • Multiple footrests
  • 5-year manufacturer warranty

If you’re looking to include a few friends on your kayaking adventures, the Lifetime Sport Fisher Tandem Kayak is a great way to bring your favorite people out on the water. With multiple footrests to accommodate varying heights, each person can be as comfortable as possible while paddling. With a 500-lb. capacity, this kayak features enhanced strength and stability.

Part of this stability comes from the tunnel hull design. This unique form makes it easy to sit or even stand without tipping the kayak over. For beginners or anglers who prefer to vary their fishing positions, this is a great feature.

Not only does this kayak come with high levels of stability and durability, but it comes with tons of extra features, too. Two padded backrests ensure comfort throughout longer paddling sessions, and a total of three contoured seats makes it easy to add a third person. This kayak also comes with two double-sided paddles, paddle clips, three fishing rod holders, and a storage hatch.


  1. Old Town Twin Heron Kayak

Key Features:

  • Removable front seat for solo trips
  • Adjustable foot braces
  • Rear bungee to tie down gear
  • Auto trim hull to control bow movement

For those who want their tandem kayak to convert into a solo kayak, the Twin Heron is the perfect option. The front seat can easily be removed, making solo travel much more comfortable and convenient. Additionally, the hull has been specifically designed to control the bow, keeping it close to the water when kayaking alone.

It is also perfectly suited for duos, with plenty of room to keep each person comfortable. With a total length of 13’6”, this kayak provides more than enough room to transport two people at a time. The two Comfort Flex seats provide additional padding, making it easy to spend hours on the water.

One of the best features of this is the ability to adjust the foot braces. Additionally, each brace has marked settings, so that each one can quickly be matched up.


  1. Lifetime Manta Tandem Kayak

Key Features:

  • Includes 2 paddles
  • Tunnel hull design for enhanced stability
  • Designed for single or tandem use
  • “High and Dry” seating

Constructed from durable polyethylene plastic, this kayak is built to last. Naturally resistant to damage from impact and UV rays, the Lifetime Manta is a thoroughly stable vessel, lasting through years of wear and tear. As an added benefit, this durability comes without sacrificing weight. At only 70 pounds, this is one of the most lightweight models.

The streamlined tunnel hull design allows for increased stability and tracking through the water. In fact, even with two riders, this kayak is nearly impossible to overturn.

Perhaps the most noted features are the “High and Dry” seats, which keeps up to three riders seated high above the kayak floor. This eliminates unwanted dampness from splashes of water and puddles collecting on the floor. Perfectly suited for solo or double use, this is one of the most versatile tandem kayaks on the market.


Conclusion

There is no doubt that tandem kayaks are a valuable addition for anyone who enjoys watersports. Their design makes it easy to facilitate a shared experience, adding value to each paddling trip.

Whether you are planning on bringing a friend, family member, or your favorite four-legged companion, these kayaks provide a wealth of ways to enjoy the water, often surpassing that of a solo kayak.

When considering purchasing a tandem kayak, looking at top-rated models can provide valuable guidance towards finding the right kayak for you. Each of these models come with high levels of praise, making them the best tandem kayaks to consider investing in.