Thinking of buying a tandem kayak is a choice wise because of its cheaper cost, easier transport, and more efficient paddling than it is in two single models. It’s great if you want to get some opportunities for teamwork.
While learning how to choose the best tandem kayaks is quick and easy, it also helps to avoid ruining down your joyful trip. So, why not? This ultimate buying guide will give you a hand!
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Table of Contents
- Top 8 Best Tandem Kayaks Reviews In 2019
- 1. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak – Best Overall
- 2. Intex Challenger K2 Kayak – Best Sea Kayak
- 3. Lifetime 10 Foot Fishing Kayak – Best Solid Tandem Kayak
- 4. Lifetime 10 Foot Sit-on Kayak – Best Tandem for Beginners
- 5. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame – Best Convertible Tandem Kayak
- 6. Sea Eagle SE370 – Most Convenient Kayak
- 7. Ocean Kayak Malibu – Best Fishing Tandem Kayak
- 8. BKC UH-TK181
- The Ultimate Guide To Choosing Best Tandem Kayaks In 2019
Top 8 Best Tandem Kayaks Reviews In 2019
1. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak – Best Overall
Here comes the very first inflatable sit-on-top tandem on my list today that meets all kinds of versatilities, from solo to tandem or simply carry a pet/kid along.
Being inflatable gives this product many advantages, such as:
- Lightweight (30.6 lbs.)
- Compact size
- Easy to transport
- Decent maneuverability
At the same time, it features perfect and rich for all instances. My first impression is its wild affordability. And next, is superbly directional stability coming from the removable skeg and wide hull.
Comfort is another of my priority when choosing a kayak and I’m glad that the two seats of this Explorer K2 are inflatable for extra comfort. They are also adjustable to help you find out the best seat position during the ride.
While other inflatables seem a bit flimsy and easy to punctured, the I-Beam floor equipped to this kayak makes it more rigid and sturdy to stay stable against light waves.
However, with sharp rocks, saltwater, or UV rays, prepare your mind that it’s prone to get damage. So, as a piece of advice, use this kayak for lake or river only.
2. Intex Challenger K2 Kayak – Best Sea Kayak
Challenger K2, on the other hand, is designed with sporty and fun in mind to conquer rougher water conditions, such as the ocean or wavy water spots.
Highlight the UV-stabilized Super-Tough vinyl material and I-beam floor, it’s ultra-durable to handle hours of sunlight exposing and puncture like a dream.
If you hate the idea of a blow-up boat, I can assert that the Challenger K2 will change your mind. Confused about the time for inflating/deflating? Its perfect combination of Boston valves and the high-capacity pump will ease your mind.
Or, worry about tears and patching stuff? Well, don’t!
The specialty of Intex inflatable kayaks is 2 separate air chambers. In the worst case when either of them is punctured, the boat won’t be sunk immediately. Plus, you’ve got an enclosed handy repair patch kit to help you.
Like the Explorer K2, is an insanely cheap price that any riders in a tight budget can take into consideration. But you can rest assured that the kayak is still certificated by the NMMA using ABYC standards for quality and safety.
3. Lifetime 10 Foot Fishing Kayak – Best Solid Tandem Kayak
Pro fishers might love this Lifetime tandem because it’s equipped up to 3 fishing pole holders.
Besides, the wide and tunnel hull shape allows you to sit or stand stably on for fishing. There are also multiple footrest positions to help you find out the most comfortable place.
At first, the 10-foot length of this kayak might make many people mislead as a weakness. Wrong. It conversely gives you three big advantages:
- Flexible in a decision between soloing or fishing with one partner or taking your kid/dog along
- Easier for transporting
- Better tracking
Contrast to its modest dimensions is a huge weight capacity of 500 lbs. – enough for maximumly three people and their essentials.
The only notice you should keep in mind is the open storage space that I highly recommend to tie your gear carefully to the boat. Or, at least, waterproof the valuable stuff, such as smartphone and wallet.
4. Lifetime 10 Foot Sit-on Kayak – Best Tandem for Beginners
Compared to the previous sibling, this Lifetime 10-feet tandem comes with a lot of similarities:
- 500-pound weight capacity
- 2 adjustable seats with backrests
- Rear handles
- Hull Shape
- Cargo area
- Included paddle design
You can tell it, the only difference between two of them is this doesn’t have three fishing rod holders. Ah, colorways as well!
But this one is preferred by beginner kayakers than the fishing boat above. You can remove two seats and then use the middle one for soloing.
This is also my favorite place for my son to sit in front of me, between my legs and join the kayaking trip in his way.
If you’re a light rider, try the forward seat when sailing solo. Thanks to the shorter length, it’s easier to maneuver or turn than other 11 or 12-foot boats. So, some learning curve with this baby is great.
Crafted from high-density polyethylene, it’s robust and durable enough to withstand salt water, UV rays, and other impacts like a breeze. So, for ocean kayaking, I don’t think you will have any trouble.
5. Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame – Best Convertible Tandem Kayak
What actually makes the Advanced Elements tandem differentiate from other inflatable kayaks is its built-in aluminum ribs. Why – you might ask?
This additional component helps to define the boat’s bow and stern, making it sturdier and more robust with better tracking ability.
Another wonderful thing is the special open deck design that you can use an optional double or single deck to convert it to a closed deck kayak in a couple of seconds. Like, buy one get three – such a good deal.
Now, if you’re wondering why this is considered an advanced kayak, it’s because of the additional features: Drop-stitch floor and Backbone accessory.
Each delivers its own benefits and when combining together, they further leverage the tracking performance and rigidity to many times.
Like other functional inflatable kayaks, the Advanced Elements have two removable and adjustable seats that you can center one to the middle for kayaking alone. It also has a mesh pocket and d-rings to enhance your gear storage.
6. Sea Eagle SE370 – Most Convenient Kayak
There are three things that I’m impressed the most about this Sea Eagle tandem:
- 650-pound capacity while the total weight is just 26 pounds
- Utilize 38 mils PolyKrylor material with High-frequency welded seam and I-beam construction floor to make it one of the most durable kayaks
- Feature 3 deluxe one-way valves that only take 5-10 minutes to complete inflating
It also eases my mind with 3 air chamber construction that can prevent the boat from sinking if one is punctured.
When unboxing the SE370, you will find a carry bag, a foot pump, a sport kayak, 2 inflatable and removable seats, and 2 AB30 paddles.
Setting up this boat is never such easy. All you need to do is pumping the kayak, adjust the seats, and done. In general, it is perfect for two riders (available for both beginners and pros) with their gear or a kid/dog along.
But what actually makes it as “deluxe” as its name defined are the additional accessories, including Bow & Stern Grab Line, and lashed down inflatable spray skirts.
Combining these two components will excel the boat’s stability and with the sun & saltwater resistant hull material, you can rest assured to ride it on Class III whitewater.
7. Ocean Kayak Malibu – Best Fishing Tandem Kayak
Designed as a recreational kayak, the Malibu is more about bringing the best comfort to users. The biggest evidence is its Comfort Plus seats with backrests and four-way adjustability. Not to say that there are some patented overlapping foot wells.
Thanks to them, riders (of all ages and heights) can find the most suitable position to sit, kayak, or leisurely flow on the water.
Compared to other sit-on-top boats featuring molded seats that I have tried, the two in this model is also better at slip prevention. They are also removable and moveable so you can flexibly utilize for tandem or solo.
With 425-pound weight capacity and 12-foot length, the boat is a good choice for intermediates or professionals.
Whether for reeling in the day’s catch, family fun, or a bit of exercise, I can assure you that this company will come in handy wherever the water leads you.
8. BKC UH-TK181
The best thing about UH-TK181 is its carefully balanced hull that excels stability to keep your fishing activities from interruption even when the water isn’t calm.
It’s also good to highlight the fact that there is a huge rear compartment and some extra storage on the back of each seat while the maximum capacity of UH-TK181 is up to 450 pounds.
Obviously, this boat is made not only to handle the weight of two adults but also to carry fishing gear and keep caught fish. With two comfortable and ergonomic seats, this tandem is also suitable for the long fishing expedition as well.
There are even 7 mount rod holders, 2 high-quality bungee paddle rests, and several footrests for extra comfort and convenience.
Its biggest weakness on the other might be the weight – 68 pounds – which is too heavy to be handled by just two people. In turns, it’s equipped with 4 handles to share the heft together.
The Ultimate Guide To Choosing Best Tandem Kayaks In 2019
Two common styles for you to consider when choosing a tandem kayak are:
- Sit-in (the traditional model)
- Sit-on-top (the modern)
As their name defines, sit-in kayaks are the style where paddlers will sit down inside a narrow, enclosed cockpit and usually, lower the water level.
On the contrary, the sit-on-top is designed with an open cockpit that you will sit on top of the vessel, which gives a higher center of gravity.
Inherently, nothing is perfect! Each of them will provide specific pros and cons:
|List||Sit-in Kayaks||Sit-on-top Kayaks|
Easy to paddle
Give higher performance
More protection in the water to keep you dry
Provide a shelter from rain, wave, and wind -> Perfect for cold weather
Deliver superior stability
Easy to get in/off the boat
Deliver stable ride
Constructed with self-bailing features for safety
|Cons||Feel cramped because of scarce leg room|
Just suitable for warm weather
Prone to get wet
|Perfect for||Advanced paddling that requires stability in open water, efficiency, and advanced paddling techniques||Recreational activities|
In a nutshell, to choose the best kayak style, you need to think about the paddler type you are as well as the purpose of use.
This element will determine how your tandem kayak performs in the water. That’s why you should consider which of these three major shapes is the best for you:
1. V-shaped hull
- Easier to maneuver and turn
- Propel you at the fastest speed
- The least stable (but still avoid tipping efficiently)
Highly recommended for: Expert kayakers who intend to ride for long distances.
- Easier to get in/off the boat
- More stable than the V-shaped hull kayak
- Can cut through the water to reach a moderate speed
- Don’t work its best at any aspects
Highly recommended for: Intermediate kayakers
- The most stable hull shape out of the three in calm waters
- The slowest
- Can’t ride in the ocean or rough waters
Highly recommended for Beginner riders
Material is a key-core feature that determines how durable and lightweight of the rig. In terms of tandem kayaks, there are three common kinds of materials:
Polyethylene: The cheapest but also the heaviest material out of a bunch. Its biggest weakness is lack of UV stabilization so, very easy to wear off.
Composite: Which can be carbon fiber, fiberglass, or Kevlar and they are usually expensive. In turns, their biggest selling point is lightness and decent performance.
ABS: Highlights with UV resistance and superior durability than polyethylene. Plus, very easy to repair. Of course, equivalent to that better performance is a higher cost.
Kayak Length and Transportability
There’s a matter of the fact – Tandem kayaks are longer than the traditional models. They may vary in length within 12 to 16 feet, which leads to two biggest consequences:
- Harder to turn when you’re in the water
- Harder to transport
But with good teamwork and lightness, I believe they are not bothering. Just ensure your vehicle can handle such a long boat.
Gear storage includes some flavors when it comes to tandem kayaks.
With the sit-in, shock cord and deck lashing are two most common types while with the SOT kayaks, hatch and shock cord lashing are preferred.
Why not is a deck lashing on the sit-on-top? Well, the reason is simple: Based on the special construction of the boat that deck lashing will be open to the water. And, if the boat is capsized, oops!
With a hatch, it’s not utterly waterproof but at least, this type of gear storage offers more watertight to keep your essentials from sinking.
Waterproof hatch is also available but this type only suits for rough waters where the kayak tends to be soaked. But in reality, not many paddlers are brave enough to challenge their valuable stuff in these conditions.
Inflatable or not?
Next up is the element that people ask me a lot – inflatable or solid?
Commonly, this question comes from the confusion inflatable kayaks as junky gimmicks. From my experience, this kind of boat is truly reliable and easy to use, especially with modern models.
There has been much improvement now on the valve construction to avoid air leaking, the multiple air chambers to avoid the whole boat from sinking if one is punctured, or even the more heavy-duty material.
Some high-end models even perform as excellent as a solid kayak.
The best thing I’ve found in the inflatable is its superior portability that you can deflate when not in use and place in the passenger cars without taking space up.
The only gripe is their higher cost, which is not the good news for tight-budget riders.
Weight & Weight Capacity
The total weight of a kayak and its transportability have a close connection.
Tandems are varied in weight and usually within 70 to 100 pounds. A basic rule of thumb is the more additional features, the heavier the kayak.
Of course, with such heft, it’s really difficult to hoist it above your head onto the roof of an SUV. Instead, I highly recommend using a kayak trailer. Besides, for easier transport, rear handles and bow handles are very helpful.
Next is weight capacity, a tandem kayak usually features weight capacity of 350 to 800 lbs. To figure out which range is the best for you, consider two things:
- You and your partner’s bodyweight
- Amount of gear you intend to carry along
1. What is the best 2 person fishing kayak?
A 2-person fishing kayak that’s considered the best should meet these criteria:
- Huge weight capacity
- Closure gear storage
- Ultra-durable and scratch-resistant
- Equipped with supportive features for fishing like fishing rod holders, paddle holders, and UV-stabilized material
From that point, my picks are:
- Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
- Intex Challenger K2 Kayak
- Lifetime 10 Foot, Two Person Tandem Fishing Kayak with Paddles
2. What is the lightest tandem kayak?
For the lightest tandem kayaks, my selections are:
- Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
- Intex Challenger K2 Kayak
- Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Sport Kayak Deluxe Package
3. What is the best kayak for older adults?
A kayak that’s best for older adult riders should at least have extra comfortable seats and roomy leg room so that they can find the best sitting position.
Besides, it should be lightweight and portable enough to easily transport on their own. So, my recommendations are:
- Lifetime 10 Foot, Two Person Tandem Sit-on Kayak with Padded Backrests
- Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak
- Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Sport Kayak Deluxe Package
4. Can 1 person use a 2 person kayak?
Absolutely yes if the boat has removable seats to center it in the middle of your boat for better balancing. But you should take note that soloing on a tandem kayak is a different story from on a single model. It will be harder to turn and handle in the wind or waves.
Also, it will be bulkier to get you stuck in some water spots.
The last words I would like to talk to you are tandem kayaking requires lots of teamwork. It means you need to ensure successful communication with your partner from the smallest things during the trip. For example, where to you, how and when to turn.
The fact that tandem kayaking can be frustrating and hard, which is the best way to make enemies with your friends. So, make sure both of you have enough discussions on this trip. And patience is my advice to you.