The Best Tandem Kayaks – Review 2020
In this Guide
When you think of kayaking, you probably picture yourself enjoying the splashing waters or fishing by yourself at the lake. But, of course, there are also those days when you want to go out and about with friends and family. Who says you can’t enjoy the water with friends? This is where a tandem kayak will come in handy!
Tandem fishing kayaks can be found in plenty in the market. Each has its own features which makes it unique. But, how to find the best one? Well, our Tandem kayak reviews will help you get an accurate picture of the best tandems currently in the market.
Before we move on to the Tandem Kayak reviews, it is important to know what a tandem is. A tandem kayak is basically like any other kayak, only it can seat more than one person. Some kayaks only seat two persons, while others can even go as far as to seat three persons.
These kayaks are longer than most kayaks to make room for more people. Thus, you’ll find most tandem kayaks come at about 12 to 13 feet long. They also have higher weight capacities to easily support more people.
These kayaks are perfect for taking the family out. Since it requires at least two people to paddle together, it can help build teamwork. You can even guide your kids about how to paddle or how to fish with a tandem kayak. All in all, they will make your trips much more enjoyable as you’ll be surrounded by people you love. So without any further ado, let’s dive into the reviews:
How to Select the Perfect Tandem Kayak for You – A Buyer’s Guide
There are a wide variety of tandem fishing kayaks out in the market with features of their own. When choosing one, these are the most important characteristics you should look for:
The very first thing you need to pay attention to is the size of the tandem kayak. Ensure it is long enough to comfortably accommodate all two or three of you! Otherwise, you might be stuck with less legroom. However, ensure that the kayak is not too long as it can often make it difficult for you to maneuver it when riding solo.
Best Tandem KayakThe tandem kayak weight limit is another crucial factor. You need to make sure that the kayak can support both of your weight plus the weight of the equipment you’ll be bringing on. Thus, we recommend that the kayak’s limit should be at least 50 lbs. clearance above your combined weights.
You should also note that most kayaks with higher weight capacity come with higher weights. So, ensure that the weight is enough to support you but also allows solo use of the kayak.
When you’re paddling with another person for hours on end, comfort is essential. We recommend going for kayaks with padded or cushioned seats along with multiple or adjustable footrests. Also, ensure that there is plenty of legroom for two or three people.
Needless to say, when two people are using the tandem kayak, there should be room for more storage. The storage options come in various flavors including bungee-storage wells as well as waterproof hatches. We recommend you go for a kayak that has more storage options. Also, if the tandem kayak is a sit-on-top option, then we recommend looking or more hatches.
Best Tandem KayakWhen two people paddle a boat, they might do so at different paces and different styles. Sometimes, it can lead to an unstable boat that can topple over. So, stability is quite necessary, unless you want to end up in the water.
Secondary stability is also essential, especially if you’re using your boat as a tandem fishing kayak. This allows you to be stable when the boat is not moving. So, you can even stand up to throw in a line.
Our Top 10 Picks for Tandem Kayaks 2020
1. Ocean Kayak Malibu Two
|Third seat available||Expensive|
|No padding on the center seat|
|Uncomfortable for tall paddlers|
|Need extra accessories|
The Malibu Two by Ocean Kayak is on the smaller side as far as tandem kayaks go. For those without sports utility vehicles or those who plan to paddle through confined spaces, this option is wonderful. It’s a fact: smaller boats are far easier to maneuver both on dry land and in the water.
However, the strongest feature in my mind about the Ocean Kayak that truly makes it the best 2-person kayak is the wrap-around seatbacks.
While other two-person kayaks have separated backings that can become flimsy or break, the Malibu’s contours to the share of your back, and is taller than most seatbacks as well, providing ample support. The comfort makes this option ideal for longer paddling trips.
It should be noted that the Malibu is shorter than other tandem kayaks tested. If you or your paddling partner are taller than average, space might be cramped. However, with a sit-on-top design, the kayak is comfortable and forgiving to any and all paddlers.
Additionally, a third center seat allows for a child to ride along. However, there is no backrest or padding on the center seat.
Features at Glance
- Sit on top style
- Fits two adults plus a small child or pet
- 500-pound maximum capacity
- The large adjustable seat rests
- Extremely comfortable seats with wrap-around backrests
- Compact for easy travel and confined space maneuvering
- Third seat available for a child
- May be uncomfortable for taller kayakers
- Pricier compared to alternative two-person tandem kayaks
2. Sevylor Coleman Colorado
|Multiple air chambers||Low-quality materials|
|Perfect for fishing|
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado is the most versatile inflatable tandem kayak for fishing and is one of the best value tandem kayaks we tested.
The kayak is made of thick-gauge PVC. It has multiple air chambers to ensure that any rare ruptures don’t cause the complete sinking of the ship.
The adjustable Coleman seats will keep you and your kayaking partner paddling comfortably during the entire trip. However, if you want to move quickly, you can always add the branded trolling motor and store your paddles in the convenient holders.
The Berkley Quick Set fishing rod holders let you adjust your fishing pole angle. This provides the ultimate hands-free fishing experience. With your hands-free, it’s easier to take care of your gear, which stores nicely in the mesh pockets or attached to D-rings.
Features at a Glance
- 18-gauge PVC construction
- Multiple air chambers to stay inflated
- Sevylor trolling motor fittings included
- Paddle holders and D-rings
- Mesh storage pockets
- The incredibly low price point for an entry-level two-person fishing kayak
- Adjustable seats ensure high levels of comfort for all paddlers
- The perfect option for fishing, with rod holders, motor mount and plenty of gear storage
- The inflatable kayak has less stability than rigid alternatives
- A far lower price point means that the materials are lower quality than alternatives
3. Intex Explorer K2
|Flexible||Not as rigid|
|Rigid for an inflatable kayak|
|Ideal for solo kayakers|
The Intex Explorer K2 is an ideal option for solo kayakers. Being inflatable, it offers incredible value, while at the same time being feature-rich and perfect for all instances.
One of the most obvious advantages of the Intex inflatable option for solo travelers is that the boats are incredibly easy to transport. This kayak deflates to such a compact size that it can be transported in the trunk of a standard sedan or hatchback.
Weighing at just 31lb (14kg), you can carry it on your back or tow it without much trouble.
However, this doesn’t mean that the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is flimsy or difficult to maneuver. On the contrary, with its removable skeg and I-beam floor, this option has increased rigidity and remains highly maneuverable, virtually indiscernible from its hardshell counterparts.
The maneuverability is a big deterrent for most lower quality inflatable kayaks, as these tend to zig-zag a good bit. The skeg keeps the kayak on course.
Now, it should be noted that this Intex option won’t be as ideal as rigid alternatives. Yet, for the occasional kayaking enthusiast, or those without the space available, it will be perfect for getting in the water. Plus the price is incredible!
Feature at a Glance
- Removable skeg
- I-Beam floor for increased rigidity
- 2 inflatable seats with backrests
- 400-pound maximum weight
- Includes 2 paddles
- Inflatable kayak allows for flexibility and portability, even for solo usage
- Incredibly rigid for an inflatable kayak
- The killer price point makes this extremely affordable
- Not as rigid as solid kayak alternatives
- Maneuverability is less precise than rigid alternatives
4. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible
|User-friendly carrying capacity||Tires give off an odor initially|
|Tie-down grip||Not a good fit for large kayaks|
|Durable for mobility|
The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak is by far one of the most attractive and innovative kayaks we have ever tested. It is unique and truly solves many of the issues present in both inflatable kayaks and tandem kayaks.
This boat is convertible in that it can be a solo or a tandem kayak. You can paddle solo using the middle seat, or tandem using the seats in the front or back. These can be changed up at any time, and the chosen setup has no negative effect on the quality and efficiency of the paddling.
Additionally, while inflatable, this tandem kayak has an aluminum frame, providing strong rigidity lost on most other inflatable options (this comes at an increased price compared to alternatives). It will perform almost exactly like an equivalent rigid kayak.
Unusual features such as deck rigging and a spray skirt round out this awesome option.
Features at a Glance
- Adjustable for 1-2 people
- Aluminum frame inflatable boat
- Padded seats
- Capacity: 550 lbs
- An inflatable kayak with an aluminum frame makes for a rigid alternative with stability
- Can work perfectly as a solo or a tandem kayak
- Easy setup and teardown, quick transport
- Comes at a far higher price point than other inflatable options
- Aluminum frame, while compact, takes up more space than most inflatable options
5. Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 130T
|Adjustable metal frame suspension||Expensive|
|Extra features not present in other 2+ person kayaks||Bulky|
|Highly adjustable footrests in front and back|
The Vibe Yellowfin 130T is a feature-rich, long, and wide tandem kayak. However, it has a price to match. Yet, this tandem kayak is the absolute best option for small families and/or dogs (two adults and a child, or one adult and two children).
One of the main features to notice on the Vibe Yellowfin 130T is its footrests.
While most kayaks have molded footrests at predetermined levels (think a ratchet), the Yellowfin changes things up. Their footrests are adjustable through a range, to adjust to the perfect fit for your leg length and comfort needs. This is a feature common on higher-end kayaks, now available in a solid kayak at an entry-level price.
Additional features include two sealed hatches, molded drink holders, and two mounted fishing rod holders, as well as cord lashing for added fishing gear. This is a great option for small families, and is far more portable than a canoe alternative!
Features at a Glance
- Fully adjustable suspended metal frame seats
- Two sealed hatches
- 2 Flush mount rod holders
- Fully adjustable footrests
- Includes 2 paddles
- Completely adjustable metal frame suspension
- Many extra features not present in other 2+ person kayaks
- Highly adjustable footrests in front and back
- Far higher price point
- Is a bulky kayak, hard to load on top or into cars compared to inflatables
6. Lifetime Beacon Tandem Kayak
|Tunnel hull design for better stability||No watertight storage options|
|For both solo and tandem use|| Not enough room for the rear seat for taller people
|High and dry seating area|
There’s little doubt that this boat features the greatest combination of quality and price. The value of this boat is outstanding and it makes an excellent choice especially for beginners or those on a budget!
I like that there are plenty of footrests to allow for some flexibility. Maybe the most unique feature is the wheel built into the skeg so you can roll the kayak for easy transport.
The adjustable seats are a nice touch, I would have liked to see a little more storage. This boat has one storage hatch between the rear paddler’s legs.
There’s also plenty of bungee rigged storage for coolers, PFDs, or other gear. for additional storage. I like they have molded-in drink holders for each paddler to keep a beverage handy.
Because this boat is a sit-on-top model it makes it easier to dump water out. If you happen to tip the boat then you can upright it much easier compared to traditional cockpits.
It is the best option for the paddlers looking for the best tandem kayak at an insanely affordable price tag.
Features at a Glance
- Adjustable seats with high back supports
- 1 sealed hatch
- Deck lashing for extra storage
- Integrated skeg
- Sit on top style kayak
- Molded footrests and padded seats for comfort
- Large tandem kayak weight limit
- Tunnel hull design for better stability and tracking
- For both solo and tandem use
- High and dry seating area
- No watertight storage options
- Might not be enough room for the rear seat for taller individuals
7. BKC UH-TK219 12 foot Tandem Sit on Top Kayak
|UV protected durable material||Not stable enough to support standing|
|Lightweight and portable||Needs paddles and seats separately|
|Includes paddle rests|
If you’re looking for the best 2 person kayak from the best brand in the market, then the BKC UH-TK219 Tandem is perfect for you. This high price range 12-foot longboat can actually accommodate up to 3 persons. On the other hand, if you’re looking to ride it on your own, then the boat is light enough to be maneuvered by a single person.
The sit-on-top kayak weighs merely 68 lbs yet it can hold a weight capacity of 440 lbs. The boat includes a 34-inch beam which helps it gain superb stability. This makes it easier to row it in the choppiest of waters.
What’s more, is that the kayak has multiple storage options including two waterproof hatches.
The wide variety of storage options mean that you can use it as a touring kayak and for kayaking overnight. However, that’s not all! You can also use it as a fishing kayak.
When you feel like taking a break, the BKC comes with paddle rests as well where you can secure the paddles. This way they won’t go overboard and will stay safe. Moreover, the kayak is quite easy to carry as well.
The BKC will last you a long time too since it is made up of durable High-Density Polyethylene. The material is UV protected as well which ensures that the color does not fade off due to countless hours in the sun.
Features at a Glance
- 4 easily accessible handles
- Built-In Rod Holders
- Waterproof Storage
- 2 soft padded sit-in kayak seats
- Capacity for 2-3 persons
- UV Protection
- UV protected durable material
- Various waterproof and bungee storage options
- Lightweight and portable
- Can be used by 3 people
- Includes paddle rests
- Not stable enough to support standing
- You have to buy paddles and seats separately
8. Perception Kayak Pescador 13.0
|Adjustable and padded seats||Not for solo use|
|Abrasion-resistant construction||Needs paddles and plugs separately|
|Features a kid seat|
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, then the Perception Kayak Pescador 13.0 is the best kayak under 600. The boat features unmatched stability and tracking to allow paddlers to take advantage of the premium design of the kayak.
The Pescador is perfect for a team of two people who want to fish or just enjoy a day out at the lake. What’s unique about this boat is that it is a one-piece construction and so is extremely leak proof. Furthermore, the kayak includes the patented Comfort Seating System.
It includes molded footwells that can easily accommodate users of all sizes. The 13-foot kayak also features a special kid seat that can easily accommodate kids. When it comes to storage options, none can beat the Pescador. It features two different storage hatches that will keep all your essentials dry.
The Pescador is unmatched when it comes to durability. The construction includes High-Density Polyethylene which is resistant to all sorts of wear and tear. Also, it is resistant to UV light so the colors and the graphics will never fade away.
The kayak molding includes leading processes to ensure the best construction in the market. Lastly, it might be a bit heavy, but it is definitely portable due to multiple handles.
Features at a Glance
- Adjustable seat back positioning
- Center molded-in seat
- Quick-adjust footrests
- 2 Storage hatches with protective lids
- Convenient drink holders
- Comfort Seating system with adjustable and padded seats
- Extremely durable and abrasion-resistant construction
- Multiple storage hatches and wells
- Features a kid seat
- Portable and easy to carry
- You have to purchase paddles and plugs separately
- Not for solo use
9. Sun Dolphin Bali 13.5-Foot Tandem Kayak
|Multiple storage options||Not much legroom|
|Deluxe adjustable seats||Bulky|
|Great for single-use|
The Sun Dolphin Bali kayak is an exceptional piece of construction that is as durable as it is comfortable. This 13.5-foot kayak can easily accommodate 1, 2, or even 3 persons.
This is because you can easily position the seats. If you wish to ride the tandem solo, you can easily do so by placing a seat at the center. The boat might be long, however, it is nimble enough that a single person can maneuver it without hassles.
Also included are three waterproof storage hatches that will keep all your electronics and other items dry. This feature is quite crucial when it comes to sitting on top kayaks since they tend to get very wet. But, that’s not all! The boat also features storage well at the rear with shock cord rigging to help keep larger storage secure.
The tandem does tend to be a little heavy at 70 lbs. However, the two handles at the side, as well as the two T-handles at the bow and stern, make it easier to drag it out into the water. What’s more, is that the kayak includes an HDPE construction that features UV protection. This protects the boat from all kinds of dents and scratches. It also makes it perfect for braving on the rough seas.
Lastly, this kayak is all about durability! The tandem kayak has a hull that is well constructed to cut through water quickly.
Features at a Glance
- Accommodates up to 3 persons
- Three Covered storage compartments
- Onboard shock cord deck rigging
- Deluxe adjustable seats with back supports
- Storage compartments
- Multiple storage options
- You can easily carry it around
- Durable and UV resistant hull
- Comfortable and ergonomic
- A single person can use it as well
- Harder for a single person to carry it due to its weight
- Not much legroom for three people
10. Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T 12ft Tandem Kayak
|Multiple storage options||The front seat does not have much legroom|
|Used for both fishing and touring||Bulky|
|Large weight capacity|
The Vibe Kayaks Skipjack is perhaps the best tandem kayak when it comes to versatility and reliability. The high price range kayak is a little heavyweight at 72 lbs, however, the 500 lbs. weight almost makes up for it. This means that 2-3 people can easily use the kayak without worrying about overloading the boat.
The kayak can function as a fishing kayak as well as a touring kayak. It comes with 2 capped fishing rod holders as well as 4 different mounting points for Scotty or RAM mount rod holders.
The kayak is equipped with multiple storage options. These include two sealed hatches which will keep your storage dry. The hatches also include 2 cup holders to allow for a safe storage option for smaller items.
For items that are too big such as a cooler or a backpack, the kayak includes a storage well that has a bungee system to secure your baggage. And it doesn’t end there! You can rest at ease by putting your paddles into the paddle parks. No more worrying about overboard paddles!
The Vibe kayak also comes with various kayak accessories such as two kayak seats and kayak paddles. In fact, the Vibe kayak paddles are generally considered to be the best kayak paddles in the market.
Features at a Glance
- 3-person sit on top fishing kayak
- 500-pound weight capacity
- 2 flush mount rod holders with caps
- 4 Mounting points for Scotty, RAM, or Railblaza mount rod holders
- 2 sealed hatches with built-in cup holders
- 4 carrying handles for easy transport out of the water
- Includes multiple storage options
- Can be used for both fishing and touring
- Large weight capacity
- Comes with kayak paddles and seats
- Includes various fishing rod holders and mounts
- Heavy and hard to carry
- The front seat does not have too much legroom
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Advantages of a Tandem Kayak?
Some are comfortable kayaking alone but others prefer companionship. Both options are advantageous depending on one’s circumstances and goals, but let’s focus first on the points for the tandem kayak’s side.
One of the topmost reasons why buyers choose a tandem is because they’ve got a kid to take along with them on that water adventure. Who wouldn’t want to make sure their kid is safe while having fun? If your kid’s safety is a priority for you, then you’d surely want to make sure that no small kid gets to paddle on their own.
A tandem will allow you to stay at the back of the boat while your kid stays in the front spot where it’s easy for you to see and assist if need be. Plus, if you’re planning to bring in more gear for your family’s getaway, a tandem will surely have more space for what you need.
There are those who could benefit from having someone to chat to amidst the sight-seeing. Some just couldn’t leave their beloved pet behind, too.
Calm waters are easier to navigate. However, going through trickier sea realms or river rapids would benefit much from the kayak stability that having two paddlers could provide.
Tandems are also good for those intimate couple adventures. Having a kayak each is quite nifty, but staying on the same boat is more romantic.
What are the disadvantages of a tandem kayak?
In as much as we could see the advantages of a tandem kayak, it’s always better to have a more holistic picture to come up with a more viable, well-balanced decision.
Thus, looking at the tandem’s disadvantages, we have the following: It could mean harder work. As the tandem kayak is definitely bigger, it is heavier and definitely more difficult to stir. Even if you’re not alone, your companion may be doing less paddling than you would.
However, just like anything, having the right mindset and the right amount of briefing and preparation before taking on that big decision could make the difference. Disadvantages can be turned into things to resolve, prepare for, and (eventually) hurdle for that greater goal.
What is a Sit-on-top tandem kayak?
For scuba divers and fishing enthusiasts, this is said to be the most popular recreational kayak.
The seat is above the water level, so paddlers are able to exit and enter the watercraft more easily. To achieve stability, this kayak has a wider configuration, so you are able to store more gear, too.
What is a Sit-inside tandem kayak?
This more traditional-looking kayak type is enclosed and has cockpits where the paddlers could sit. It is said to be best for touring purposes.
Paddlers stay dry and are more comfortable because they are sheltered from water splashes, the wind, and other elements.
Which one is better? Sit-on-top or Sit-inside?
The answer depends on the purpose of the activity. If the kayak is meant for activities where ease of movement is more important, then the sit-on-top design is better. However, if it’s for tourism purposes wherein not getting wet is a must, then the sit-inside configuration should be more appropriate.
Some sit-inside kayaks even have skirts to wrap around the paddlers up to the waist, which is a great shield and best for colder areas. Summer-time will need more breathing space, so that’s when the sit-on-top versions come in.
What is an Inflatable Tandem Kayak?
As we outgrow the traditional and move toward modernity, kayaks have also ceased to look like how they usually should.
One such example is the inflatable kayak, which could be easily transformed from an easy-carry backpack into a watercraft. Simply pump in air, and you’ve got a kayak to go. Plus, this kayak type can come in different shapes and sizes and could cater to one or many.
What is a Rigid Tandem Kayak?
This is a traditional kayak type. Also called a “hardshell kayak”, it includes non-inflatable kayaks made up of “wood, plastic, fiberglass or composite materials”.
Which one is better? Inflatable or Rigid?
The main difference between the two kayak types is whether they could be inflated and deflated or not. As to which one would suit your needs better, here are the usual considerations:
- In terms of weight, the inflatable kayak varieties are lighter.
- In terms of convenience, inflatables could be collapsed into backpack size and are, thus, easily stored, stacked, carried, and used.
- Inflatables are cheaper, too. Thus, it won’t be a surprise if it’s more popular for beginners and new kayakers.
- In terms of durability, cheaper inflatables are puncture-prone, not as strong, and more likely to sink. Rigid kayaks are therefore better in this regard as they are sturdier and could last longer.
- As they are lighter, inflatables are not too stable and difficult to maneuver.
- In terms of maintenance, inflatables require less upkeep.
What Should My Tandem Kayak Be Made of?
Rotomold is said to be the sturdiest, cheapest, and most widely used material. They are good for those rocky adventures. However, they are the heaviest and are susceptible to UV damage.
Fiberglass is made of a lighter material and, thus, the swiftest one. However, it is costlier.
Kevlar is another synthetic fiber material, which is lighter and sturdier than fiberglass. It is even stronger than steel and heat resistant, too.
Thermoform is light, durable, cheap, and UV resistant, so it combines the advantages of the other kayak materials. The plastic may degrade over time but is recyclable.
Of course, the final decision would always be dependent on what’s more important to you and what you would be willing to pay for your kayak of choice.
All in all, our best tandem kayaks are perfect for most families as they provide ample space. The best part about our tandem kayak reviews is that they include all types of kayaks, from short ones to longer ones. So, if you’re looking for the best kayak under 300 or the best kayak under 600 or even more, you’re sure to find them here.
Our top 10 kayaks are all quite durable, stable, and easy to use. Furthermore, they also include amazing comfort and storage options. You can use them for a day out with your friends or solo to relieve some stress. They’re a must-buy for any fishing or kayaking enthusiast!
Tandem fishing kayaks are a great way to develop teamwork and bonding. Taking the kids out every weekend with you not only helps them learn the value of patience but also allows them to have fun! What’s more, is that the fish dinner at the end of the trip will make it all worth the wait!