Best Tandem Kayaks 2018 – Reviews & Buyer’s Guide
Kayaks are excellent boats for taking out for a quick trip or for fishing. However, often kayaks are only built for one person. This makes it incredibly easy to become separated from a group of paddlers.
Tandem kayaks are designed to fit two people or more people, which makes the entire experience much more fun. Also, it's easier to paddle with two people, as you won't get as tired.
There are several different types of tandem kayaks. For instance, some kayaks can allow the paddler to sit on top of the kayak. They can be inflatable, or they can be designed specifically for fishermen.
As you consider your kayak purchase, you must also consider precisely what your needs are as a paddler. In this guide, we'll review the best tandem kayaks on the market.
Table of Contents
- 1 Best Tandem Kayaks On the Market
- 1.0.1 1. Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak
- 1.0.2 2. Sun Dolphin Bali 13.5-Foot Tandem Kayak
- 1.0.3 More on the Sun Dolphin Bali
- 1.0.4 3. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak - 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump - 10.25ft
- 1.0.5 More on the Intex Explorer K2
- 1.0.6 4. Perception Pescador 13.0 T Tandem Kayak
- 1.0.7 More on the Perception Pescador Kayak
- 1.0.8 5. Sevylor Colorado 2-Person Kayak Combo
- 1.1 Types of Tandem Kayaks
- 1.2 How to Buy the Best Tandem Kayaks
- 1.3 Our Final Review
Top 5 Tandem Kayaks for 2018
Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu
Sun Dolphin Bali
Intex Explorer K2
Perception Pescador 13.0
This article will explore a broad range of tandem kayaks. There are inflatable kayaks, tandem sit on top kayaks, tandem fishing kayaks, and standard kayaks to consider when kayaking.
For all of these kayaks, it is important to note that paddling a tandem kayak solo is a possibility. Just because these are typically built for 2 or 3 people does not mean they cannot be used by a single kayaker.
Some of the most important features of tandem kayaks are: stability, ability to travel, friendliness for different bodies of water, lifespan, and weight limit.
Best Tandem Kayaks On the Market
The best thing about this kayak is that it can hold two people, or two people and their child, or two people and their small dog. All sorts of wonderful options!
This means you do not ever have to kayak alone or worry about getting separated from your group, because you can always bring them on your boat.
That being said, if you want to be able to get away without your family and friends, you are able to paddle from the center seat for a quiet day on the water.
The Ocean Kayak Malibu comes in at under $700, which is very affordable for its quality. While there are cheaper options out there, this is a solid tandem kayak that'll last you for years.
It is a little heavier than the other kayaks we have reviewed, but this kayak is also known for holding up extremely well in high winds.
If you live in a particularly windy area, this kayak is perfect for you. No storm or gale is going to blow you around in this little boat! That means this bad boy can float in the ocean or on your local lake.
A Few Things to Consider with the Ocean Kayak Malibu
This boat does not have particularly great handles, so it may be tricky to load and unload on your car. However, if you are taking it out with a companion, the lack of handles should not cause you too many issues.
One thing to consider with this kayak is how far you have to travel with it. If you have to carry it a long way to get to the water, it simply may not be for you as it could be quite a strain to carry 57 pounds with you.
Also, this kayak is reported to spring the occasional leak, which is odd considering its weight. So be cautious and watch your boat!
Finally, this kayak does not have much in the way of storage. If you are storing your paddles on the boat, you really will not have room for food or drinks, or much of anything else.
That means this kayak is simply not meant for long day trips or fishing. If you are hoping to take long trips in your kayak or go fishing regularly, take note of this fact! It's definitely more the recreational type.
- Very light in weight
- Made in the USA
- Ocean friendly
- Lake friendly
- Very reasonable price
- Family and pet friendly
- Can be used as a solo kayak
- Best for short kayakers
- Can cause back pain
- Can have leaks
- Very little storage
- No reports on customer service
The Sun Dolphin Bali is an incredibly sturdy kayak. It weighs approximately 70 pounds and has a length of 13 inches. This means that it would be difficult to tip in almost any sort of water current.
Just like the Ocean Malibu, this boat is not meant for solo kayakers. It would be very difficult to transport this kayak on your own--if this is part of your plan, find a way to store this kayak by the body of water you will use it in.
The handles on this kayak are made from fabric, which makes it even more difficult to carry very far. Be cautious that you do not plan to haul it a long way, even if you have a partner to do so.
More on the Sun Dolphin Bali
One dangerous note for this kayak--it has a low weight limit, which means it can take on water if you overload it. Double check that you do not weigh this kayak down too much before you take it out very far on the water. Your safety is of the greatest importance.
A benefit for the Bali is that it can haul up to 3 people or as few as 1. If you would like to take this kayak out on a solo trip, you simply paddle from the middle seat. If you would like to take companions, that is an option as well.
As with many of the kayaks on this list, it does not have waterproof compartments. Make sure you use a dry bag if you are bringing valuables.
Another odd feature of this tandem kayak is its weight capacity. It is rather low, only 325 pounds, although there have been some successful trips of over 500 pounds. It may be smart to purchase this tandem kayak for your family--adding children as the other kayakers would not cause it to pass its weight limit.
- Can have up to three kayakers
- Easy to steer
- Not easily tipped
- Ocean friendly
- Lake friendly
- Solo kayak as well
- Long life duration
- Seats are adjustable
- Paddle Rests
- Wide beam
- Poor handles
- Heavy kayak
- Low weight limit
- Little storage
The Intex Explorer Kayak is an inflatable tandem kayak, which means it is incredibly light. This does not matter too much when it comes to traveling with the Intex, but it does have a great effect on the ease of paddling it through the water.
Because it comes in at 36 pounds, it is incredibly easy to paddle this kayak. This makes it a little more ideal for beginners.
One disadvantage to paddling this kayak is the oars. Aluminum oars are significantly heavier. A beginning kayaker may not want to use these oars, as they will become very sore. They are also more sensitive to temperature changes, meaning they can become very cold when used in colder weather.
More on the Intex Explorer K2
To set the Intex Explorer K2 Up, you must open the boston valves and attach the pump. The boston valves are an excellent perk, because they allow air to travel into the boat but not out. Even if you make a mistake while pumping, you will not lose air.
The pump used for this boat is very easy to utilize and it is included with the purchase of the kayak. Receiving oars and pump with the kayak make this a smart choice economically.
As this kayak is inflatable, one of the key concerns is that it will spring a leak. The team at Intex has included a US Coast Guard certified patch kit to keep you safe in your boat. It is recommended that you always keep an extra patch kit in the kayak, so you would need to purchase another.
Things You Should Know about the Intex K2 Kayak
This kayak is not meant for river kayaking. Rivers can change speeds very quickly, and if this kayak is smashed against rocks it runs a higher risk of springing leaks.
Additionally, this is not a tandem ocean kayak. The Intex K2 is simply not meant to withstand the high waves which can occur on the ocean.
However, this kayak is perfect for lake kayaking. It is even easy to crawl in and out of while on the lake, which makes it great for swimming. This makes this kayak a good option if you have children.
For an inflatable kayak, the Intex K2 has a very high weight capacity of 350 pounds. However, this does not afford much weight per kayaker, so be cautious.
The K2 is the best tandem kayak for the family!
- Very Cheap Tandem Kayak
- US Coast Guard certified patch kit
- Lake friendly
- River friendly
- Can swim off of
- Family friendly
- Excellent beginner kayak
- Wide beam
- Very light
- Inflates easily
- Little storage
- Leaks easily
- Low speed
- Low weight capacity
The Pescador 13.0 is just that--13 feet in length. Due to this length, shorter kayakers may struggle with paddling.
The beam, or the width, on this perception tandem kayak is 34 inches. While this makes for a very wide kayak, it also means that this kayak will not tip in the water.
Much like the Bali, this kayak weighs 69 pounds. Again, this is not a kayak for those planning on doing solo trips or carrying the kayak a long way.
It would be very difficult to carry such a heavy kayak, especially as it only has two handles. As suggested with the Bali, store this kayak as close to your body of water as possible.
More on the Perception Pescador Kayak
Due to the durability of the Pescador, it is very difficult to damage this boat enough to cause it to take on water. As it is capable of supporting 500 pounds, it is difficult to weigh this kayak down enough to allow water over its 15 inch deck.
This kayak has a very heavy frame and a wide beam, which means it is ocean, river, and lake friendly. Feel confident that you are safe in this boat!
If you are hoping to take this kayak out solo, do not purchase it if you are a beginner. Due to the length and the width, it is very difficult to handle if you are new to kayaking.
The Pescador only has bungee storage which means it does not have waterproof storage. Be very cautious with what you store in your kayaks storage.
It is highly recommended you purchase dry bags to keep inside of the storage compartment on this boat.
- Great length
- Ocean friendly
- Lake friendly
- River friendly
- Long kayak
- 3 storage compartments
- Wide beam
- Only two handles
- Not beginner friendly
- Not for solo kayaking
The Sevylor Colorado 2-Person Kayak looks more like a tandem canoe. This is because, just like the Intex K2, it is an inflatable kayak.
Unlike the Intex K2, it is not extremely cheap, but it does come with two paddles and a pump. This inflatable tandem kayak also comes with a pressure gauge, allowing you to make sure it is properly inflated while you are on the water.
Additionally, this kayak comes with a 1 year warranty. This is a major perk, as inflatable kayaks are known for springing leaks.
However, it is incredibly difficult for leaks in this kayak to cause it to sink. It has a tarpaulin bottom which makes it difficult to be punctured at all. If this tandem kayak is punctured, it has multiple chambers of air, which means only one section of the kayak will deflate and the kayak will stay afloat.
More on the Seyvlor Colorado Kayak
While this kayak is great for lake use, the Sevylor Colorado Kayak is also recommended for class 2-3 whitewater scenarios. As this is the recommendation, this tandem kayak is much more durable than the Intex.
A major perk for this kayak is that it is easy to keep in your car at all times. You do not need to store it outside of your vehicle or take it off the top of your vehicle. Because it is so compact when deflated, it does not take up too much room in your trunk.
This makes it great for solo kayaking as well, because it is not very heavy. Additionally, the weight capacity on this kayak is approximately 470 pounds, which means you can bring a partner and quite a bit of gear (cooler, paddles, etc) and still not have to worry about take on water or tipping.
Finally, the seats are adjustable on this kayak, making it friendly for kayakers of varying heights.
- Pressure Gauge
- Comes with Paddles
- Comes with Pump
- 1 Year warranty
- Multiple air chambers
- Tarpaulin bottom
- Heavy weight capacity
- Seats are adjustable
- Pricey for an inflatable kayak
- Paddles are not the best
- Seats are not super comfortable
Types of Tandem Kayaks
If you are looking to paddle long distances, this type of tandem kayak is for you. They are so sturdy that they can handle rough weather as well. While they are more expensive than recreational kayaks, they are well worth the investment.
Touring kayaks also have more space, allow for more storage for the gear you bring on your trip. Touring kayaks typically are 12 to 17 feet long. Some touring kayaks have a skeg or rudder, which can help in navigating your kayak. Most importantly, touring kayaks are designed to deal with rough waters.
If you are a beginner or only go out on the water once in a while, this type is more suitable. Recreational kayaks are ideal for lakes, ponds, and some rivers. While they are relatively affordable, they are only meant to be used on calm waters.
As they don't have much storage, they are meant for short trips only. Lengths vary from 10 to 12 feet, but the cockpit is usually fair big. While recreational kayaks are great for beginners, tracking can be quite difficult.
Sit on Top Kayaks
These are perfect if you are paddling solo or tandem. The design of sit on tops makes them quite ideal for children and those who only go kayaking once in a while. Sit on tops are also ideal for fishing, so they are very marketable to many groups of people.
If you are going to paddle for recreation purposes, inflatable kayaks are the best thing for you. They are super simple to set up, which means you could be on the water in a matter of minutes. Storage is easy with inflatable kayaks, and many of them are quite durable.
Folding kayaks are similar to inflatable kayaks, but they allow for more storage. They are best for touring and lengthy paddling trips. The great thing about folding kayaks is that you can store them easily.
When you consider buying a tandem kayak, there are several features you need to consider. These include maneuverability in the water, transferability to the water, durability, versatility, ability to haul gear, and weight capacity.
For kayaks, the heavier they are the more stable they are in the water. It is important to ensure your kayak is either heavy or has a wide beam.
If you are a shorter kayaker, you want to make sure your kayak is not too long. If it is too long, it can be very difficult to paddle.
However, taller kayakers may need a longer kayak length. This affords them more legroom and greater control over the kayak. Taller kayakers should also double check the length of the paddles which come with their kayak--if the paddles are too short they will struggle with this boat.
If you plan on carrying your kayak a ways to the body of water where you will use it, ensure your kayak has good handles and is lightweight. This is crucial if you are planning on solo kayaking as well.
However, if you are only going to tandem kayak you may not be as concerned about the weight.
Another recommendation is to make sure you pay attention to how your kayak handles high winds. If you carry your kayak on top of your car, you want to make sure it will not be damaged by the wind currents.
Friendliness Towards Bodies of Water
Be aware of where you plan on using your kayak.
Ocean friendly kayaks are going to be heavier and have a wide beam. Be sure that this is the case if you hope to use your tandem kayak in the ocean. If it is not, you will find yourself at danger of tipping.
River friendly kayaks are very similar--heavy with a wide beam, however they are often more durable as river kayaks will face rocks and tree branches quite regularly.
Ensure your kayak is durable enough and do not purchase inflatable kayaks for river kayaking unless they are rated for rapids.
Most tandem kayaks are great for lakes. Lakes do not vary in current or waves as much as the ocean or rivers, which means it is easier to choose a kayak.
Lighter shorter kayaks are fine for lakes, although they do run a higher risk of tipping. That being said, the lighter shorter kayaks also allow you to get up to a faster speed.
If you hope to fish, you need a lot of gear. If you hope to spend all day in your kayak, you need a lot of gear.
Double check that your kayak has the storage you need, and always ensure the things you are storing are safe from water. One perk for tandem kayakers is that on solo trips you easily have enough room for your gear.
A final serious note--make sure you know the weight capacity of your kayak. It is often recommended that you experiment with the weight capacity before you take your kayak on long trips.
If you overload your kayak, it can easily take on water. For kayaks where you are taking multiple people in one boat, you can overload the boat. Consider tying your kayak up to a dock and filling it with your normal weight for several hours before you take it out. This will ensure your safety.
Our Final Review
Tandem kayaking is a wonderful adventure because you bring someone with you in your kayak. That being said, you still must be cautious that you can transport your kayak to water, do not overload the kayak, and that you are able to bring all the gear you need.
Always double check your weight capacity, the storage of the kayak, and the weight and handles of the kayak. This will ensure the best tandem kayak purchase for you.
So, what's your favorite tandem kayak? Share with us below!