The Best Tandem Kayak – The Ultimate Collaborative Paddle Experience

Tandem Kayak

Taking on the water and experiencing the outdoor lifestyle is something many people love and many people should try. Kayaking is one of the safest ways to enjoy the outdoors and have some fun on the water. However, not everyone can use a kayak on their own. The best tandem kayak is not only a great way to save money but also the perfect way for beginners to get into the world of water sports.

Since I have been an avid angling enthusiast, I have a lot of experience with the kayak. Whether fishing from the shore or from a fishing kayak, you need to learn how to steer them and stay safe. When the tandem kayak was introduced to me, I had to learn how to collaborate with a partner. This gave me some much-needed information on how they work.

In this article, I have taken a deeper look at the top kayaks on the market today. With some expert help, I began obsessing about the features and the materials as you will see in the buyer’s guide. The 6 tandem kayaks I have chosen should definitely make your life a little easier and help you to have some fun with a partner on the water.

The 5 Best Tandem Kayaks:

As mentioned, there are many features that you need to keep in mind when selecting a kayak. However, if you have a limited understanding of these features, you might not really know what they mean. As you read about the kayaks I have selected, you will gain a better understanding of the features they have included. Here are the top tandem kayaks on the market today:

1. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

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Type: Inflatable

Maximum Weight: 400-pounds

Length: 10.3-feet

Intex is probably the first brand you will come across when you search for beginner kayaks. The brand has a long reputation of building quality kayaks at affordable prices. The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is an inflatable kayak made from puncture resistant vinyl. It is lightweight and can easily be packed away when you are done.

Using a pump to inflate, it does take a while to have it fully inflated. However, you can adjust the pressure to meet your needs. Using 2 separate air chambers will ensure the kayak does not completely deflate once it does have a puncture. The puncture can also be repaired with a small repair kit that can be carried onboard.

The seats also need to be inflated before the kayak can be used and Intex does not recommend making them rock hard. This did pose a small problem as you might feel like swimming in the kayak if you are a larger individual. However, you will eventually get used to the feeling and the kayak will be much easier to maneuver.

The kayak is really well built and designed for smaller bodies of water. It is not too expensive, making it a great money saver for couples that like to go outdoors. The removable skeg is one of the features the more advanced users will love. It should make the kayak much easier to maneuver and offer directional stability. I definitely recommend this to beginners.

2. Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Sports Kayak Pro Package

Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Sports Kayak Pro Package

Type: Inflatable

Maximum Weight: 650-pounds

Length: 12.5-feet

Larger couples will love the massive Sea Eagle SE370 Inflatable Sports Kayak. Made with an extra large 38mm Polykrylar hull, the kayak has immense durability and it can hold a massive weight limit of around 650-pounds. It is also inflatable, giving you the opportunity to have it deflated and stored in smaller spaces when you are done.

Originally designed for 2-people, the kayak has quickly become popular for the ability to hold three individuals. It can be used for a couple with an additional child and 2 paddles have already been included. Five air chambers will give you peace of mind when you do accidentally get a puncture. However, an additional puncture repair kit has been included in the package.

Since it has been NMMA certified, the kayak is extremely reliable to anyone looking to go out on the water. I personally love the large weight limit and it gave me the opportunity to plan something romantic as well. However, it does lack storage compartments that might a little frustrating if you love fishing.

Compared to the Intex, it is slightly more expensive, but this should not dissuade you from giving it a go. Most of the add-ons have already been included, saving you the additional costs. Overall, I think it is definitely worth the price and I also believe that it will be the best option for couples with children who like to tag along.

3. Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC UH-TK181 Tandem Fishing Kayak

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Type: Sit-on-Top/Fishing

Maximum Weight: 440-pounds

Length: 12.5-feet

I personally love fishing; especially going out on the water and the Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC UH-TK181 Tandem Fishing Kayak is one of the best options for taking your friend along for the journey. Made from high impact poly plastic, the kayak has a really good durability rating. The hull feels solid and you don’t need to deal with potential punctures.

Since this is a sit-on-top kayak, you have more functionality when moving around. 7-rod holders are also incorporated for those who love fishing. The multiple waterproof hatches are perfect for your bait and storing some of your valuable items and we have not found any leaks that appear, as the kayak grows older.

While paddles are quite expensive, this kayak already comes with the paddles included. The backend will allow you to add your very own trolling motor if you consider going into deeper water. However, these add-ons can be somewhat expensive for beginners. There are numerous different colors available as well if you are looking for something different.

Poly or rotomolded plastic kayaks are quite expensive. However, they do offer the best possible durability you can find. This kayak will require you to have some experience when it comes to navigating a kayak successfully. For this very reason, I would recommend it to some of the more advanced kayakers. It is also highly recommended for fishing in larger lakes or water bodies.

4. Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Recreational Kayak

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Type: Sit-on-Top/Recreational

Maximum Weight: 425-pounds

Length: 12-feet

The Ocean Kayak brand is one of my favorite brands when it comes to affordability. The Ocean Kayak Malibu Recreational Kayak is designed with a rotomolded plastic hull and does not cost you an arm or a leg for this durability. At 12-feet, it is quite long and perfect for 2 people, but it might be a little heavy to carry at just over 60-pounds.

The 3 seating positions make the kayak perfect for comfort and you even have paddle rests when you feel like going with the flow of the stream or when resting. 3 different colors are also available if you are looking for something specific, but the kayak itself will already stand out amongst your peers. Since everything has been molded into the design, you won’t have any troubles with stability.

The biggest complaint that I have about this kayak is the lack of storage compartments. You might need to leave some of your personal belongings on the shore. On the upside, large carry handles have been included, making the kayak much easier for you to get into the water. However, you will need a lot of storage space.

In terms of the price, I believe this kayak is fairly priced for beginners. It might lack a couple of crucial features for the more advanced kayakers, but the small features included should be enough for recreational purposes. I highly recommend this kayak for the new couple looking to enjoy a quiet day on the water.

5. Brooklyn Kayak Company UH-TK219 12 foot Tandem Sit On Top Kayak

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Type: Sit-on-Top/Fishing

Maximum Weight: 440-pounds

Length: 12-feet

Last but certainly not least, we have the BKC UH-TK219 12 foot Tandem Sit On Top Kayak. This one is much similar to the previous BKC kayak we have tested. However, the kayak is not only made from rotomolded plastic but also features a stylish design that should attract virtually anyone. Weighing only 70-pounds, it is made for 3-people and should be easy to carry.

The 6-rod holders are definitely great additions for the avid angler like myself. Additionally, BKC has included smaller storage compartments that are all watertight and weather resistant. These compartments are perfect for storing some of your very valuable items. I love the paddle rests to keep them from accidentally falling overboard.

With all these great features, it is definitely hard to find something to complain about when you are looking at the features only. It includes multiple carry handles to help you get it in and out of the water, but the large design could make it tougher to store. You also need to have something attached to carry it when you are driving.

The price might be the only complaint, but if you are looking for the best possible quality, you need to be willing to pay for it. BKC is one of the leading brands and I definitely recommend this kayak for the avid angler and friends.  However, you do need to have some experience to use a kayak like this and intermediates will be best suited for it.

How To Choose The Best Tandem Kayak

The features for choosing the best kayak can be fairly extensive and to go in-depth will be a lot of reading. However, I have narrowed them down to only include the most important features for you to choose the best tandem kayak. If you want to see more of the extensive features, you should check out the following video:

Kayak Types:

There are mainly three different kayak styles you need to choose from. Depending on the reason and the purpose of your purchase, one of these styles should resonate with you. Here are the main styles you need to keep in mind when selecting your ideal tandem kayak for your needs:

  • Sit-on-Top: The sit-on-top kayak is designed for anglers and the seating will be slightly elevated from the hull. These kayaks allow you to move around on the kayak and you can adjust the seating to meet your own needs. If you love moving around on the kayak, you should consider this type.
  • Sit inside: if you have no business moving around on the kayak, you should choose the option to sit inside the kayak. This will limit your functionality but offer some additional stability. Beginners generally gravitate towards these types of kayaks and they are also limited when it comes to storage hatches.
  • Inflatable: The inflatable kayak is designed for those with storage problems. They are lightweight and need to be inflated. However, these kayaks do have few weaknesses related to potential punctures. If you have to store your kayak in a small area, we recommend these kayaks.

Materials

Most kayaks are made from polyethylene of rotomolded plastic. It is one of the cheapest materials that most manufacturers use for their budget kayaks. However, it does show some weakness when constantly exposed to the UV rays of the sun. I also find it to be heavier in general than some of the other materials.

ABS is another great material, but it is slightly more expensive. It feels the same as the rotomolded plastic, but over time it will hold up better against the UV rays of the sun. Since it is slightly lighter, it does make for the ideal intermediate option.

Lastly, the composite materials will cost you a fortune, but they are the most durable. Carbon fiber and fiberglass are lightweight and offer decent durability. I have also seen the top Kevlar kayaks offer a lot of durability, but they are slightly heavier. These kayaks are generally recommended for the more advanced kayakers.

Storage Hatches

I prefer having a kayak that enables me to store some of my personal belongings and when it is waterproof, that is even more beneficial. However, some of the smaller kayaks are only designed for recreational purposes and this will not enable you to store your belongings. I recommend looking for a kayak with storage if you are using the kayak for touring long distances.

In conjunction with the storage hatches, you should consider smaller things like rod holders and paddle rests. The paddle rests are designed to keep your paddles safely store when they are not in your hands. Nothing can be more frustrating than having the paddles fall into the water. They might float, but can be frustrating to retrieve. If all else fails, store them in your waterproof boots.

Length

Kayaks vary in length and this is not only because the designer thought it should be a specific length. The length is related to the reason you will be using the kayak. In general, the tandem kayak is longer than your solo kayak. It does make them a little harder to maneuver, but 12-feet is still ideal for beginners to move around in the water.

The longer 16-inch kayaks great when you are looking for more storage options, but they are really hard to maneuver around the water bodies. If you plan to use the kayak for advanced kayaking and to become a top kayaker, you should master the longer kayaks as well as the shorter versions. Once you handle a long kayak, the smaller options should be much easier.

Weight Limit

The weight limit is one of the first things that many people consider. However, it is not as important as many of the other features we have discussed. Some kayaks are designed for 2 people, with the additional option to add a third child. When it comes to the weight limit, you should consider something over the 400-pound mark if you are 2 people.

If you like to take your family on tour, you can choose the 600-pound weight limit, making it possible to tour around the lake without any fears of the kayak falling over or tipping.

Additional Kayak Considerations:

Now to dive a little deeper into the more technical details for advanced kayakers, I have added some of these advanced features. We recommend doing some of your own research to help you gain a deeper understanding of these small, but really important features.

  • Skirt: Commonly referred to as the spray skirt, this feature is included in many of the kayaks you find for whitewater rafting. The skirt is a small attachment that ensures water does not get into the cockpit. You can have this additionally added if you are taking on some rough waves.
  • Skeg: The skeg is a small detachable fin that is added to some of the competition kayaks. It is used for stability and will keep the kayak from losing this stability in rough waters. We recommend this if you are prone to paddling long distances.
  • Rocker: The rocker is part of the shape of the kayak. It refers to the banana curve on the kayak. The more curve the kayak has, the easier it will be to turn and maneuver in tough conditions. Most tandem kayaks are fairly straight without too much of a rocker.
  • Rudder: The rudder is occasionally confused with the skeg, but it actually works in conjunction with the skeg to make the kayak a little easier to maneuver. If you have steering problems, consider looking at the rudder.

There are a couple more intricate features, but these are some of the most important that you should consider. Some of them might not even apply to your tandem kayak, especially if you are choosing one of the cheaper models.

Frequently Asked Questions:

While you might have a better understanding of the top features, we still recommend that you look at some of the questions we have answered. Many people have asked them and we have decided to answer them to avoid potential confusion:

  • Can these kayaks be used for touring?

If you like to tour around the lake, you might have heard of the touring kayak. These kayaks allow you to sit inside and they are easy to maneuver. However, they are quite expensive compared to some of the other kayaks. The kayaks we have selected are recommended for recreational purposes and fishing, but they can be used for short touring trips.

We do recommend that you have a look at some of the features in the previous section to help you understand which of the kayaks will be best-suited to meet your touring needs. The Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak is one you should consider if you love to tour around the lake.

  • Can I use any kayak for fishing?

I have personally used most kayaks for fishing, but not all of them offer the same comfort. If you are using a kayak that forces you to sit inside, you might not have the best fishing experience. I personally recommend choosing a kayak that allows you to sit on top and move around freely. Additionally, you should consider having rod holders.

  • Will the paddles sink in the water?

The paddles are often made from durable aluminium and this may frighten many people who may think the paddle will sink in the water. However, technology has greatly improved in the last century and all the paddle nowadays are designed to float. You don’t need to buy a specialized paddle and you paddle will easily float.

Conclusion

Testing some of the best tandem kayaks is one of my favorite hobbies and while I don’t always have the time to do this, I do some in-depth research on a regular basis. The products that have been selected are top quality and they will definitely enhance your experience. If not, look at some of the key features when you are looking for something else.

We would like to thank you for reading this article and encourage you to share some of your thoughts on these kayaks. Let us know in the comment section which of them you like and if we might have missed any of your favorite options.

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