One of my favourite past times in the summer is dusting off the kayak in my garage and heading out to the local lake for a morning paddle.
There’s something about hitting the open water in the early morning before the world has woken up that stimulates my creativity for the rest of the day. You feel at one with nature and closer to a natural state than would otherwise be possible. It’s incredibly cathartic.
If you’re and avid kayaker yourself you might be in the market for a new kayak in the near future and there are a lot of good ones to choose from. We’re going to take a look at some of the best options for you and we’ll go into detail explaining the main features of each one.
A good kayak is a real investment in both your physical and mental health so it’s something you should take the time to research properly. Fortunately we’ve done a lot of legwork for you.
There is one important question to consider though. Should you go with a single person kayak or a tandem kayak?
A tandem kayak isn’t required for those early-morning paddles we spoke about earlier, but it’s a great way to connect with family members and friends by doing an activity that both of you love together. That’s why we decided to make tandem kayaks the focus of this article today.
We’ve organized this article into two basic sections. In the first section we take a look at the main features and qualities you should be looking for in a good kayak and believe it or not there is a lot of variety out there so it pays to know what to look for. Then we take a focused look at our choice for the top five tandem kayaks on the market today.
- 1 Tandem Kayak Reviews
- 2 Critical Things to Consider With Tandem Kayaks
- 3 Final Thoughts
Tandem Kayak Reviews
Advanced Elements AE 1007-R
Advanced Elements AE 1007-R is one of the best tandem kayaks if you have your heart set on one that’s inflatable. This one is a little on the shorter side at about 15 feet, but it is long enough to seat two people comfortably.
It weighs in at 56 pounds, which also makes it lighter and easier to move then a standard kayak. Ideally it’s designed for about 300 pounds, but it will handle up to 550 pounds.
What makes this kayak unique is that it also comes with two decks that you can use to set it up as either a single kayak or a tandem kayak. This is a nice feature as it allows you to use it in different ways and eliminates the need to purchase two separate kayaks.
While the stability of an inflatable kayak will never match a standard kayak this one does a pretty credible job of making sure you have the stability you need while you paddle. It incorporates a rigid bow and stern frame that gives it the stability it needs.
The first kayak that I owned was an inflatable one, but it didn’t have this rigid structure which made it quite a challenge to operate. This design is a great improvement on older inflatable kayaks like the one I had.
The other thing that’s a big concern when using an inflatable kayak is the possibility of puncture. Clearly they aren’t as rigid as standard kayaks, but this one has unique design features that make it highly resistant to punctures.
It’s built with three layers of material for added protection. If the first layer is punctured you still have two more layers to protect you.
This kayak also has two high support adjustable padded seats for a nice comfortable ride. If you love to spend hours in the water comfort has to be something you take seriously.
You can also adjust the seat location to make sure you’re seated in the most comfortable position. Overall this is a nice option for anyone looking for a kayak that doesn’t have to be transported on the roof rack.
Advanced Elements AE 1007-R Summary:
- Lighter and easier to move
- Handles up to 550 pounds
- Rigid bow and stern frame
- Puncture resistant design
Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak
If you’re looking for an affordable tandem kayak you may want to consider the Sea Eagle 330. This particular model typically retails for under $300 and it also happens to be one of the lightest kayaks around.
It weighs in at just 26 pounds and that makes it easy to take this one with you just about anywhere. Surprisingly it also has a 500 pound weight limit – which isn’t bad for such a light kayak.
Keep in mind though that while it is convenient its light weight nature will make it less stable in the water and more difficult to paddle with.
It's made from a puncture resistant K-80 polykrylar material that's very resistant to punctures. It may not be as durable as a standard kayak, but it's pretty close.
This kayak is rated up to class III Whitewater capable so you can use this one just about anywhere you like to paddle.
With this tandem the padded seats are built right in. Once you’ve inflated the boat you won’t have to worry about inserting the seats as they’re already there for you. These inflatable seats do have a back rest for maximum comfort and it will accommodate a typical sized adult.
The only major issue I have with this kayak is its length – it’s only 7 feet long and that’s a little on the short side if you happen to be taller than average. Other than that it’s a great choice if you’re on a tight budget.
Sea Eagle 330 Summary:
- 500 pound weight limit
- Lightweight design
- Padded seats
- Retails for under $300
Lifetime 10 Foot Sport Fisher Tandem Kayak
For those that prefer a hard shell kayak the Life 10 Foot Sports Fisher Tandem is a good choice. As its name implies this kayak is 10 feet long, which is long enough to accommodate the average sized adult.
It’s made from a high density polyethylene material that holds up well even in rough conditions. You can actually accommodate three people in this kayak if required and it’s capable of holding up to 500 lbs.
This tandem has plastic molded seats built-in to the frame, but it also has two padded back rests that can be inserted when you’re ready to use it.
It also has multiple ridges down either side that are designed to be used as foot rests so it can accommodate paddlers of many different sizes. This is particularly useful if you want to go kayaking with different partners at different times.
This kayak is surprisingly light for a tandem kayak. It weighs only 65 pounds which makes it easy for two people to lift and even relatively straightforward if you happen to be taking it out for a solo paddle.
That’s a good thing if you own a larger vehicle such as a minivan or an SUV. If you’ve ever tried to lift a kayak by yourself onto the roof rack of a minivan you’re probably aware of how challenging that can be.
This is a good quality kayak and the manufacturer backs their product with a five year warranty. If you’re a dedicated fisherman, this is the tandem fishing kayak for you.
Life 10 Foot Sports Fisher Tandem Summary:
- Made from a high density polyethylene material
- 500 lbs carrying capacity
- Built-in plastic molded seats
- 5-Year Warranty
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Kayak
The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem kayak is a sit on top model made from a polyethylene plastic.
It’s 12 feet long and is designed to hold up to 425 pounds at any one time. That means it should be able to handle two adults without a problem. It’s probably not suitable for use by two adult males at the same time, but it’s ideal for the married couple.
This boat was designed with comfort in mind. It does have welded-in seat molds, but it also comes with padded seats that you attach every time you use the boat.
These seats have a high back rest as well which is always a good idea if you’re heading out on a long trip. There are molded-in floor wells along either side of the boat that allow you to adjust your seating position to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible.
It has three different seating positions you can choose from which can come in handy depending on the size of your passengers.
It’s always nice to take your child out for a boat ride and it’s nice to know you can adjust the seating to accommodate them. With these three different seating options you can do that. This is our choice as the best tandem sea kayak on our list.
Ocean Kayak Malibu Summary:
- Made from a polyethylene plastic
- Welded-in seat molds
- 12 feet long
- Holds up to 425 lbs
Lifetime 10 Foot Manta Tandem Kayak
This kayak features a hard shell made from a polyethylene material that’s light weight and durable.
The total weight is only 60 lbs so you won’t have any trouble lifting it out of the water or placing it on top of your vehicle for transport. There are molded front and rear handles built right into the frame as well.
It’s rated to handle up to a 500lb payload so it will easily accommodate two adults at a time.
The tunnel hull design gives it extra stability in the water and by giving you extra distance from the water will also help to keep you dry. It comes with two soft padded seats that you insert in the boat when you’re ready to take it out.
When you do head out you can take three people in the kayak at a time if you like, but the third person will not have a padded seat. This is a great tandem kayak for beginners.
Lifetime 10 Foot Manta Summary:
- Hard shell made from a polyethylene material
- Durable and lightweight
- 500 lbs payload
- Tunnel hull design
Critical Things to Consider With Tandem Kayaks
Below is a great video discussing the pros and cons of tandem kayaks.
The Kayaks Weight
One of the main things you need to keep in mind when purchasing a tandem kayak is that they tend to weigh a little more than a single person kayak.
A single person kayak typically weighs between 40 and 60 pounds, but a tandem kayak can be quite a bit heavier. It’s not unusual for a tandem kayak to weigh as much as 100 pounds – that can make it difficult to load on the top of your car when you’re ready to use it.
If you’re not prepared to do some heavy lifting then you may want to think long and hard before purchasing a tandem kayak.
The Length of the Kayak
Another key difference between a single person kayak and a tandem kayak is the length. As you might expect tandem kayaks or typical longer to accommodate two users. There is no standard length though – they can range between 7 feet and 23 feet. While longer kayaks are ideal to accommodate two users it will also make it a little more awkward to maneuver on land.
Kayaks can be made from a few different materials. The less expensive and mid-priced models are normally made out of hard plastic and while they are good boats they’re not as durable as some of the other types.
Higher-end kayaks are typically made out of fiberglass or Kevlar. These are very durable materials that stand up to a lot of wear and tear and will make it less likely you’ll spring a leak if you happen to bump up against a rock in the water.
There are also inflatable kayaks that are typically made from a flexible synthetic rubber material, but keep in mind if you’re considering one of these they’re bound to be a little less stable in the water because they’re normally much lighter.
Yes they are convenient and you can quickly fold them up and put them in the trunk of your car, but you have to be aware of stability issues when it comes to inflatable kayaks.
A kayak made from the hard materials we already mentioned above is normally quite stable in the water.
A tandem kayak is a versatile and light weight boat that’s great for recreational use for exercise and other things like fishing. There’s a lot to think about when you’re looking to purchase one, but it boils down to three things really – comfort, durability, and weight capacity.
Inflatable kayaks are easier to travel with, but they aren’t as stable in the water so you have to keep that in mind. As long as you make sure you buy one of the best tandem kayaks you’ll get years of use out of it and any of the kayak’s we’ve reviewed here will do the job nicely.