12 Best Tandem Kayaks in 2023 [2 Person Kayaking]

Kayaking with your friends, spouse, kids and pets can be a lot more fun, safe, and convenient in a tandem kayak as opposed to a single.

We’ve reviewed some of our favorite tandem boats–both rigid and inflatable–to present accessible info on the most important considerations.

There are a number of advantages to purchasing a tandem kayak, but these need to be weighed against the pros of owning two single kayaks as an alternative.

Owning a tandem kayak is a great option when:

  • You want to travel longer distances
  • Efficiency and speed are important
  • You’re wanting stability for beginner paddlers or when navigating open ocean and large swells
  • One paddler is stronger than the other
  • You want to pack large items like a two-burner stove in your boat
  • You want to save money

Things to consider when buying a tandem kayak:

  • They’re much heavier than a single kayak which makes them harder to load onto your vehicle and carry down to the water
  • They will likely require additional straps to secure to your vehicle
  • They’re harder to store because they’re longer and heavier
  • They’re harder to maneuver because of their length
  • They cannot be paddled by a single paddler (in most cases)

In our buyer’s guide following our reviews of the best tandems, we’ll go into more detail about the considerations above and answer some of the most commonly asked questions about purchasing a tandem kayak.

The Top 6 Tandem Kayaks in 2023

All the Tandem Kayaks We've tested

The Blackfoot 160 Tandem Kayak is Aquaglide’s highest capacity and most stable kayak. Packed with features for fishing enthusiasts, this quality inflatable kayak is made with commercial-grade materials, enabling it to perform like a hard-shell boat.

Built to perform in a variety of conditions, the Blackfoot 160 can be paddled in rougher waters thanks to the scupper draining holes that allow for self-bailing and a splash guard designed to keep water out of the cockpit.

The open-cockpit design is ideal for casting and snagging the perfect catch, and allows for easy entry and exit of the craft. The adjustable seats also allow each paddler to decide whether they want to sit low in the boat for greater stability, or higher up for ease of standing. You can even use them as beach chairs when you reach the shoreline.

Versatility is the Blackfoot 160’s number one feature from seat position to gear storage. The kayak has 36 webbing loops along the floor for flexible seating positions, cooler attachment and other gear. It also has adjustable velcro straps and MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) pads that allow each paddler to organize their gear in a manner that suits them.

The universal attachments can be used for rod holders, anchor points, cameras, cup holders and other gadgets. Whether you’re paddling for speed or enjoying a lazy picnic on the water, the Blackfoot 160 can be customized to suit all your adventure needs.

Specs & Features

  • Materials: Duratex™ reinforced PVC & Drop-stitch Floor
  • Weight: 50 lbs.
  • Length: 16’
  • Width: 38”
  • Height: 13.5”

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.8

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Ideal for fishing
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    Packed with features
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    Versatile and comfortable seating
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    Durable
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    Stable

Things we don't like:

  • check-markTakes a little longer to inflate than other inflatables
  • check-markPump not included
  • check-markMore expensive than other tandem inflatables
  • check-markHeavier than other inflatables
  • check-markBow and stern storage areas are not waterproof
Read full review

Where to buy:

aquaglide-blackfoot-160-product-image

Aquaglide Blackfoot 160

There is plenty to love about the sit-on-top kayak developed by Brooklyn Kayak Company in spite of its hefty price tag. The manufacturer built this piece of equipment from high-density Polyethylene that has UV protection so that it stays looking and feeling new for longer. The 34 inches width is impressive too – it significantly adds up to the boat’s stability on the water.

The deck of the kayak comes with adjustable backrests for proper support of your back and average-sized padded seats for ultimate comfort when paddling.

The hatches integrated into the kayak are fully waterproof, which means your belongings won’t get wet even if they happen to get in contact with water. Not to mention the large bungee cord storage space at the rear of the kayak and its many benefits for avid kayakers.

Specs & Features

  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Length: 12.2 ft.
  • Paddles: 86 inches
  • Weight Capacity: 440 pounds
  • Dimensions: 146 x 34 x 20 inches

Our Overall Review

4.6

Things we like:

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    The built-in rod holders allow you to keep several baited lines in the water at once when paddling
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    You can store your keys, wallet, and a smartphone in the watertight hatch integrated into the boat
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    The seats have a memory foam padding and a supportive backrest

Things we don't like:

  • check-markIt is not an affordable kayak
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Brooklyn Kayak Company

Best Performance Tandem

The G3 is the Rolls-Royce of tandem kayaks. It’s a composite kayak made with fiberglass, meaning it’s an incredibly strong and robust boat. It comes with molded padded seats, a Smart Rudder System, 89 gallons of storage, and the option to add a child seat into the center hatch.

The Seaward G3 Passat is one of the most iconic tandem kayaks on the Pacific NW Coast. Seaward builds a number of single and tandem touring kayaks on Vancouver Island in BC, but their G3 Passat is their best seller and most acclaimed kayak design.

Specs & Features

  • Material: Fibreglass
  • Length: 22’
  • Width: 26”
  • Depth: 15.5”
  • Weight: 90 lbs.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.7

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Best performance tandem touring kayak on the market
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    Unrivaled storage capacity
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    Great balance between stability and efficiency
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    Incredibly robust

Things we don't like:

  • check-markHard to get your hands on
  • check-markHeavy
  • check-markExpensive
Read full review

Where to buy:

seaward-g3-passat-product

Seaward G3 Passat

Best Hybrid Kayak and SUP

The Switch is a SUP kayak hybrid from Isle Surf & SUP. This is one of the most versatile inflatable craft we’ve seen in the last few years.

It’s got cargo features and accessory options that are designed in unique ways. As a tandem kayak, these features really shine through. As a stand up paddle board, the Switch is a pretty awesome touring board that has the maneuverability to match the best all rounders too.

Just to top it off, the Link System allows for more attachments, while eliminating all the D-rings used by other boards. That makes this one of the best yoga boards as well.

Specs & Features

  • Material: AirTech Fusion Lite Drop Stitch Construction
  • Board Height: 11’6”
  • Board Width: 35”
  • Thickness: 6.35”
  • Weight: 19 lbs.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.9

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Doing yoga, fishing, tandem kayaking, tandem SUPping
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    Most comfortable 2-in-1 seat
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    One of the most lightweight models out there
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    The seat can also be used as a trekker chair
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    Looking forward to future accessories with the 40 loop Link System

Things we don't like:

  • check-markCurrently no Action Mounts
  • check-markAs a trade-off, the more comfortable deck pad takes longer to dry=longer packing time
Read full review

Where to buy:

Isle Switch Product Image

Isle Switch SUP & Kayak

The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame tandem inflatable kayak is a popular choice for kayakers who are looking for a portable touring kayak for day trips or even expeditions. This kayak is made of high quality PVC tarpaulin and is compatible with the BackBone flooring accessory and Drop-stitched flooring upgrade for rigid high pressure floors.

The Advanced Element tandem inflatable kayak is portable and easy to set up after the first time. It provides kayakers with a reliable level of stability and maneuverability compared to many other similar boats.

Overall, the Advanced Elements tandem inflatable kayak is a choice for kayakers who like to get out on the water in calm conditions or protective waterways but don’t have the space to store a rigid boat.

Specs & Features

  • Best Suited For: Beginners/Day touring/Expedition touring
  • Material: PVC tarpaulin
  • Type: Sit Inside
  • Capacity: 550 lbs (249 kg)
  • Dimensions: 15’ x 32”

Our Overall Review

4.8

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Converts from single to tandem
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    Great for flatwater and lakes
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    Can deal well with formidable weather conditions
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    Very durable and tracks very well in the water
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    Has paddle holders at the sides

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot suitable for heavier kayakers
  • check-markTakes a long time to dry
  • check-markWill take on water if underinflated
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Advance Elements AdvancedFrame

Lighter & Pay Less

The Delta 17.5 T is a fantastic option for those looking for a tandem kayak that is lightweight but can be taken in larger water and on extended trips. This boat is 20 lbs. lighter than the G3 Passat and the Libra XT because it’s made from thermoformed ABS, a plastic that performs similarly to fiberglass, allowing the boat to glide through the water with ease.

The storage capacity of the Delta 17.5 T is smaller than its fiberglass counterparts. However, it’s comparable to a single touring kayak, meaning you can carry multiple days of gear and food in this boat. It also comes with extensive deck rigging allowing you to store waterproofed items within arms reach.

Specs & Features

  • Material: Thermoformed ABS
  • Length: 17’ 6”
  • Width: 27.25”
  • Depth: 13.5”
  • Weight: 70 lbs.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.6

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Lightweight
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    Affordable
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    Can tackle any conditions
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    Easy to purchase in North America

Things we don't like:

  • check-markLess storage than a single kayak
  • check-markNot as robust as a fiberglass kayak
Read full review

Where to buy:

delta-traverse-17-5-t-product

Delta Traverse 17.5 T

The Razor Kayaks R2 Ultra is a well-made inflatable tandem kayak designed to be more durable than similar boats in the market. Because of its durable construction, this inflatable kayak is suitable for paddlers of all shapes and sizes. It also opens the boat up for other activities like fishing or cruising with a heavier cooler.

Its greater weight capacity allows you to pack and store as much gear as you require for a full day’s outing or a light overnight trip.

Specs & Features

  • Material: 1000 denier PVC
  • Length: 14’ 1”
  • Width: 33”
  • Max load: 635 lbs.
  • Weight: 26 lbs.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.6

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Lightweight
  • check-mark
    Compact
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    Affordable
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    Suitable for one or two paddlers

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNo waterproof storage
  • check-markNot suitable for open ocean or multiday expeditions
Read full review

Where to buy:

Razor Kayaks R2 Ultra Tandem Product Image

Razor Kayaks R2 Ultra Tandem

Great Tracking

Despite the stated 2-person notion, the Lifetime tandem fishing kayak can withstand up to 3 people weighing collectively about 500 pounds. It’s pontoon hull creates stability too. This is great news for families with one child and couples with a furry friend.  

Built from high-density Polyethylene, the hull provides a good level of rigidness, stability, and a great level of tracking. No matter whether you’re an experienced fisherman or are just getting started, you’re likely to enjoy fishing while sitting on top of this kayak. 

Designed for use in flat waters only, the watercraft is still as mighty as a 10-feet fishing boat can get. We’re talking about the 6’ storage hatch, 3 fishing pole holders, 2 padded backrests, and 2 double-sided paddles. 

What’s more – there’s no need for you to make any additional purchases –  everything’s included.   

Specs & Features

  • Type: Sit-on-top
  • Person Capacity: 2
  • Material: UV-Protected Polyethylene
  • Weight Capacity: 500 lbs.
  • Weight: 60 lbs.

Our Overall Review

4.5

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Kayak paddles are included in the package
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    Footrests can be adjusted according to the fisherman’s height

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot really ideal for 2 fishermen
  • check-markIt’s one of the heaviest fishing kayaks on the market
Read full review

Where to buy:

lifetime-tandem-fishing-kayak-1.jpg

Lifetime Tandem

To catch up with an old friend, take Sevylor Coleman Colorado inflatable fishing kayak on a ride. Apart from catching a few of the main ingredients for the dinner, you’ll make some lasting memories.

Why Colorado? It’s one of the toughest fishing boats on the market – 1000D Tarpaulin and 840D Nylon speak for themselves. This blend of rigid materials makes the kayak durable enough to get you through the ride even if one of the air chambers develops a hole. 

On top of that, the vessel has adjustable seats and a comfortable mesh storage space. The Berkley quick-set rod holders allow you to adjust the angle of your pole when your gut tells you the fish is close to the hook. 

Specs & Features

  • Type: Sit-in
  • Person Capacity: 2
  • Material: 1000-Denier Tarpaulin, 840-Denier Nylon
  • Weight Capacity: 470 lbs.
  • Weight: 40.5 lbs

Our Overall Review

4.2

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Boston Valve enables easy inflation and deflation
  • check-mark
    Multiple air chambers ensure you don’t end up in the water in case one gets punctured

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot suitable for tall people due to the low backrest and the possibility of back strain
Read full review

Where to buy:

sevylor-coleman-colorado-inflatable-fishing-kayak.jpg

Sevylor Coleman Colorado

Best for Fishing

Although there is no designated seat for the second person, you can use the Saturn fishing inflatable kayak for paddling with a companion of your choice with no issues. Its narrow profile combined with the high buoyancy tubes makes it stand-out equipment that won’t flip in sight of waves.
You can fish all day long while also bringing your fishing essentials with you on the boat – there is enough room for a good supply of necessities.

Made from heavy-duty 1100 Dtex PVC fabric, this kayak is built to last you at least several rigorous years of use. Its floor is equipped with a high-pressure air deck and a double layer of PVC fabric in order to prevent fishing hook accidents.

You can either sit on the aluminum benches that come with this kayak or attach foldable boat chairs to the benches for additional comfort. Or, you can completely remove the benches and replace them with the regular kayak seats – your imagination can go wild here.

Specs & Features

  • Material: 1100 Dtex PVC
  • Length: 13 ft.
  • Weight: 43 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 700 pounds
  • Dimensions: 156 x 36 x 20 inches

Our Overall Review

4

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    It can hold up to 700 pounds of weight, which is a rare feature for inflatable kayaks
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    The many seating options allow you to choose your preferred way of seating

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot the most optimal kayak for uses other than fishing
Read full review

Where to buy:

saturn-fishing-inflatable-kayak.jpg

Saturn Fishing

Originally designed to accommodate 2 people, SUNDOLPHIN Bali kayak has been proven to fit a third person. This is great news for families with one child or a pet they can’t leave behind when going on a trip. Featuring a lightweight design and a handful of useful features, this kayak can easily become your go-to companion.

Besides the adjustable footrests and carrying handles, you get a big storage space that differentiates this boat from others. The two large storage hatches are not the only location where you can keep your stuff – there also is a sealed hatch in the middle of the kayak and a shock cord lashing space in the back. This allows you to bring on board not only essentials but also non-essentials items that will keep you entertained all along.

The seats integrated into the kayak are both padded and adjustable, and so are the foot braces (well, there is no padding there, but plenty of adjustment options). You are basically set to sail away into the sunset on this boat.

Specs & Features

  • Material: Polyethylene
  • Length: 13.5 ft.
  • Width: 34.5 inches
  • Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
  • Dimensions: 163 x 34 x 17 inches

Our Overall Review

4

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    The amount of storage in this kayak allows you to bring all your belongings on board
  • check-mark
    The scupper holes don’t allow any leakage
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    The foot braces can be easily adjusted for your comfort

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot the most stable tandem kayak on the market
Read full review

Where to buy:

sundolphin-bali-tandem-kayak.jpg

SUNDOLPHIN Bali

The popularity of inflatable kayaks must have started with Coleman’s Tahiti gear, just as much as it has with Intex and Sevylor models. No wonder – this kayak is made from 21 gauge PVC material that is proven to withstand harsh turns and stormy days.

The wide array of air chambers work together to provide you with protection in case one or two of them gets punctured. Tahiti can hold up to 400 pounds of weight, which gives you the possibility to hop onto it with your furry friend or a buddy without worrying about damaging the kayak.

You can paddle for long hours due to the built-in padded backrest that keeps you comfortable and safe. Just lean back and relax. The grand handles allow you to easily carry your water equipment in and out of the water without outside help.

Specs & Features

  • Material: PVC
  • Weight: 19.3 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 400 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10 ft. 4 inches x 2 ft. 9 inches
  • Use: Recreational

Our Overall Review

3.9

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    The spray covers help you remain dry throughout the entire ride
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    The 90-day limited warranty means you can return the equipment in case you don’t like it

Things we don't like:

  • check-markThe quality of the product is not as good as that of Intex
Read full review

Where to buy:

coleman-tahiti-classic-2-person-kayak.jpg

Coleman Tahiti Classic

Though it’s not very ambitious as a paddling boat, the Intex Explorer K2 is an affordable, inflatable kayak that will get people out on the water.

It’s really an advanced beach toy that offers a glimpse into what kayaking can be. The best thing about this cheap inflatable is its portability and stability on flat water.

Kids will enjoy paddling in circles within view of their parents. Two adults can hop in with a cooler bag and spend a few hours piddling about too.

But whereas there’s no performance to rave about, it’s a complete set that offers some exercise for two or one paddlers.

 

Specs & Features

  • Best Suited For: Beginners/Recreational/Family
  • Material: Rugged Polypropylene Vinyl
  • Type: Sit Inside
  • Capacity: 400 lbs (181 kg)
  • Dimensions: 10’3” x 3’ x 1’8”

Our Overall Review

3.8

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Lightweight and portable
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    Good value for money
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    Converts from single to tandem
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    Ideal for 2 person recreational kayaking
  • check-mark
    Great way to introduce kids to basic kayaking

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot suitable for heavier kayakers
  • check-markBasic paddles and accessories
  • check-markNot suitable for longer kayak trips
  • check-markMore a beach toy than a kayak
  • check-markBad tracking
Read full review

Where to buy:

intex-explorer-k2-product-picture.jpg

Intex Explorer K2

You can enjoy paddling in this inflatable kayak by Druftsun both solo and with another person. Choppy waters are no longer an obstacle to a pleasant time in the water – the boat’s pointed nose, removable tracking fin, and a rocker profile are the reason behind it.

The rugged PVC Tarpaulin bottom along with the coated 840D Nylon Oxford material provides protection from tears and prolongs its life. With continuous use, you’ll soon see your return on investment.

The back seats are padded, the skegs are removable, and the bungee storage is spacious – there is hardly anything else you would need from a kayak. Make use of the paddles that are adjustable between 0 and 60 degrees and sail from one shore to another even with beginner level skills.

Specs & Features

  • Material: PVC Tarpaulin, 840D Nylon, EVA
  • Weight: 27 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 450 pounds
  • Dimensions: 10 ft. x 35 x 16 inches
  • Use: Recreational

Our Overall Review

3.7

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    The heavy-duty construction allows you to continue using it for many years
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    Aluminum paddles, hand pump, rear tracking fin, and carry bag are all included in the packaging

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot suitable for professional kayakers due to the lack of features
Read full review

Where to buy:

driftsun-2-person-inflatable-kayak.jpg

Driftsun 2-Person

The Intex Challenger K2 is an 11’6 inflatable tandem kayak that’s good for easy set up and transport. It’s a budget model that works better, for one or two paddlers, than similar boats. And with a maximum weight capacity of 400 lbs., it can carry some extra gear on top of two paddlers.

This affordable kayak tracks better than cheaper competitors and is easy to maneuver. Everything you need for your session is also included in the Challenger package.

Made of just a single-layer vinyl there’s nothing impressive about this inflatable boat as a performance boat. There are better models for touring. But for its price, the Intex Challenger K2 comes off very well compared to similarly priced inflatable boats.

Specs & Features

  • Material: 30-Gauge Vinyl
  • Length: 11’6”
  • Width: 2’6”
  • Height: 1’3”
  • Weight: 38.24 lbs.

Our Overall Review

4.6

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    Tracks better than similarly priced inflatable kayaks
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    Provides an introduction to kayaking
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    Easy to set up
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    Pretty maneuverable and stable
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    Spacious cockpit and secure bungees

Things we don't like:

  • check-markSingle-layer inflatable kayaks are less robust
  • check-markA little cramped for two 6-foot paddlers
  • check-markNo mounts
Read full review

Where to buy:

intex-challenger-inflatable-kayak.jpg

Intex Challenger K2

Best for Beginners

Whether you go camping, exploring new places, or practicing for races, this inflatable kayak by Airhead Montana will be a great option for you. It fits in the back of your car, in a suitcase, and in a duffel bag with no problems.

The 12-foot beast is built from 840D Nylon and is coated with the UV water-resistant layer that ensures the ultimate long-lastingness. The 6 d-rings at the stern and the bow of the kayak help in securing the gear, while the tracking grab handles allow you to quickly get in and out of the boat.

The seats are movable and are comfortable to use, which comes in handy when paddling for long hours at a time. You even get Neoprene elbow guards – this is a nice bonus to have.

The bright orange exterior helps to make you visible in case of an emergency and differentiate you from other kayakers.

Specs & Features

  • Material: 840D Nylon, Stainless Steel
  • Length: 12 ft.
  • Weight: 36.3 pounds
  • Weight Capacity: 500 pounds
  • Dimensions: 28.5 x 19.8 x 11.9 inches

Our Overall Review

4.2

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    The air chambers are protected by the Nylon fabric for the highest level of durability
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    The elbow guards provide additional comfort for those long paddling expeditions

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot suitable for windy weather conditions
Read full review

Where to buy:

airhead-montana-inflatable-kayak-1.jpg

Airhead Montana

Intex has already appeared twice in this guide and this is not a mistake. Rather, it’s the indicator of how qualitative the company’s products are. The Excursion kayak is just as feature-rich as the other models – it has adjustable footrests, a removable seat booster, mounting bracket for fishing accessories, and a shallow water directional skeg.

It’s built from tough laminate PVC with Polyester core that makes it lightweight and abrasion-resistant. The high-pressure inflation means this model has a great level of stability that will help in staying afloat no matter what turn the weather takes.

You’ve got storage space both in the front and in the back of the boat, and d-rings that help tie down dry bags and other gear. Feel free to bring your GPS systems, swivel fishing rod holders, and a repair kit on the boat that can all be stored in the mounting bracket part of the kayak.

The best part is, there is no need to purchase paddles, a high-output pump, or a carry bag separately – everything you need for a memorable kayaking trip is included in the package.

Specs & Features

  • Material: Laminate PVC, Polyester
  • Weight: 43.6 inches
  • Air Chambers: 3
  • Weight Capacity: 400 pounds
  • Dimensions: 151 x 37 x 18 inches

Our Overall Review

3.4

Things we like:

  • check-mark
    The seats are removable, adjustable, and feature a booster for younger kids
  • check-mark
    Every accessory you would ever need already comes with the kayak

Things we don't like:

  • check-markNot the most long-lasting kayak on the market
Read full review

Where to buy:

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Intex Excursion

Related Reviews

Buyer’s Guide to Tandem Kayaks

A tandem kayak is a great option to get out on the water with your family and friends because of their safety and stability. They’re also a more cost-effective option than purchasing two single kayaks.

Most K2s or tandem kayaks are between 17 to 21 feet long and are around 26 to 33 inches wide. Their stability comes from their width, around 8 or more inches wider than a standard single touring kayak.

Tandem kayaking also allows two paddlers of different fitness and experience levels to paddle together. You will often see school camps and tours using tandem kayaks because of their stability and because stronger paddlers can be matched with those with less experience.

tandem-kayaks-buyers-guide

Tandem kayaks are generally designed as touring kayaks with a large amount of storage space. Their storage volume is comparable to two single kayaks, but because the center hatch is built at the widest part of the boat, you can fit much bulkier items into a tandem kayak compared to a single.

Tandem kayaking will allow you to travel greater distances because you have double the power in one boat. The boat is also longer which increases its waterline length, allowing the boat to travel faster. The other advantage of having two paddlers in one boat is that one can take a break and snack while the other continues to paddle. This is especially helpful on longer trips or if racing long distances.

Purchasing a tandem kayak isn’t cheap, but you’ll still pay less than purchasing two single kayaks of the same quality. The biggest downside is that a tandem kayak always requires two paddlers (except for some inflatable options like the Razor Kayaks R2).

tandem-kayaks-storage

The other downside is their weight. A good sturdy fiberglass tandem kayak like the Seaward G3 Passat weighs around 90 pounds. Still, there are lighter options on the market like the Delta 17.5 T, or inflatable options like the R2 that allow for easier transportation. Kayak carts can also take out the heavy lifting when owning a tandem kayak, especially if you’re trying to move it while it’s loaded.

Tandem kayaking is a great way to get your family and friends out on the water safely and enjoyably. They are a fantastic option for longer trips where you want stability in bigger water and to carry a lot of gear or for a relaxed outing on the lake with your younger kids and pets.

What features should I look for in a tandem kayak?

Once you’ve decided that a tandem kayak is the right option for you (and a partner), the considerations you want to make about its features are very similar to purchasing a single kayak.

You need to ask yourself what you’re going to be using it for, where you want to paddle, and make an assessment of the skill level of the paddlers. If you’re planning to tackle a multi-week expedition in the open ocean, you will need a sea-worthy and robust boat with lots of storage space like the Seaward G3 Passat or Current Designs Libra XT.

If you’re looking to do a variety of multiday or overnight trips in large swells and flat water but don’t have the funds or arm strength to load a 90 lbs. tandem kayak onto the roof of your car, the Delta 17.5 T would be a great option, for example. Its thermoformed construction makes it both lightweight and affordable.

If you’re simply looking to get out on the water with your family and friends of all paddling skills levels and don’t need to haul days worth of gear with you, an inflatable tandem kayak like the Razor Kayaks R2 is the way to go. Not only can you transport it in the trunk of your vehicle, you don’t need 20 feet of space at home to store it, nor do you need expertise to maintain or fix it.

Paddling Solo in a Tandem Kayak

Hard-shell tandem kayaks are not designed to be paddled by one person because of their length and the fact the weight distribution in the kayak would be severely off, which affects the performance of the boat.

If you’re in a situation where the boat needed to be paddled by one person, they would need to sit in the rear (depending on where the steering mechanism for the rudder is positioned). Still, you wouldn’t want to do this over a long distance or in choppy water.

If you’re looking for a versatile option that can be paddled by one or two paddlers, you should consider an inflatable tandem kayak like the Razor Kayaks R2, which had removable seats and can be paddled solo or tandem.

Where should the heavier person sit in a tandem kayak?

The heavier person should generally sit in the back of a tandem kayak to avoid the boat nose-diving into the water if you’re surfing waves or paddling in choppier water. Depending on where the steering mechanism is however, you may want the more experienced paddler to be in charge of navigating the boat.

Most touring kayaks will have the steering in the rear cockpit of the kayak, so if the more experienced paddler is lighter, you could always pack the boat with heavier items in the rear hatch to counterbalance the weight.

Best Techniques for Paddling a Tandem

Paddling a tandem kayak is the same as paddling a single kayak, except that the two paddlers should always be in sync for greater paddling efficiency and balance. This is also the best way to avoid clashing of the paddle blades.

The stronger paddler is also usually placed in the rear of the kayak to perform as the consistent motor of the boat while the paddler in the front sets the pace. It’s up to the paddler in the rear cockpit to mirror the pace of their partner in the front of the boat, which is why the more experienced paddler is usually placed at the back.

Transporting a Tandem Kayak

It might seem daunting, but moving your tandem kayak is similar to transporting a single kayak, with the additional consideration of the greater weight and length of your boat.

When traveling with a tandem kayak on top of your car, it’s wise to use bow and stern tie downs like the Sentry Ratchet Kayak and Canoe Bow and Stern Tie Downs that attach to the tow hooks or chain loop on the hitch of your car. You can also use an easy-to-install option like the Shoreline Marine Hood Trunk Tie Down Loops if you don’t have a secure anchor for the straps to hook onto.

Always check the weight capacity of your racks, especially if they’re inflatable racks like the HandiRack Universal Inflatable Soft Roof Rack Bars to ensure they can hold the weight of your tandem kayak.

Storing a tandem kayak?

Storing your tandem kayak can be challenging, especially if it’s 20 feet long. If you don’t have space in your garage or in a storage shed in your backyard, you can always consider a free-standing option from brands like Rad Sportz or Suspenz.

Kayaks are always better stored out of the elements, but if you have to store them outside, you can cover them with a tarp to prevent UV exposure. In the winter, it’s best to store your boats under the house or even at your local paddling or sailing club to prevent damage from the colder temperatures.

Just Get Out There

There are great advantages to tandem kayaking. It’s obviously a more social way of paddling–not necessarily verbally though. The bottom line is that it’s a good way for two people paddling together to the same destination. It’s also a great way to just get out on the water.

Think about the logistics, as we’ve noted above, but think more about getting on the water and experiencing it. Any reservation about the size and weight of the boat can be overcome. Almost always.

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

What is the best tandem kayak?

For a kayak to be considered the best in its class, it has to combine comfort, stability, buoyancy, and maneuverability.

Check out the list of our favorite tandem kayaks:

  • Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak
  • Advanced Elements Convertible Inflatable Kayak
  • Airhead Montana Inflatable Kayak
  • Lifetime Tandem Fishing Kayak
  • SUNDOLPHIN Bali Tandem Kayak
  • Brooklyn Kayak Company Sit-on-Top Kayak
  • Sevylor Coleman Colorado Fishing Kayak
  • Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak
  • Driftsun 2-Person Inflatable Kayak
  • Coleman Tahiti Classic 2-Person Kayak
What is a tandem kayak?

Much like a tandem bicycle, a tandem kayak is designed for two-person recreational transportation. It can accommodate two kayakers of any skill level and provides them with good maneuvering, stability, ample storage space, and comfort. Read more about how they work and which ones are right for you.

How to paddle a tandem kayak solo?

It really isn’t difficult to paddle a tandem kayak by yourself. Paddling solo in a tandem kayak is exactly the same as paddling in a single person kayak. The only difference is that you need to take into account the extra length of the kayak and realize that you won’t have as much maneuverability compared to a single person kayak.

Where should the heavier person sit on a tandem kayak?

The heavier kayaker should sit in the back seat of the tandem kayak. This will balance out the weight of the kayak and allow the kayak to maintain a good level of buoyancy as well as ensure the traction keeps the kayak’s direction. The kayaker in the back seat plays the role of maneuvering and maintaining the kayak’s course. The kayaker at the front seat maintains the pace and speed of the kayak through paddling.

Should I wear a Personal Flotation Device when kayaking?

Legally you should have a PFD on board with you whenever you are kayaking. For tandem kayaks, you need two PFD (one for each kayaker). This is particularly important for those who have difficulty swimming. Check out our list of best life vest:

  • O’Neill Men’s Superlite USCG Life Vest
  • Onyx MoveVent Dynamic Paddle Sports Life Jacket
  • Stohlquist Fit Life Jacket
  • O’Brien Men’s Biolite Traditional Life Jacket
  • Stohlquist Toddler Life Jacket Coast Guard Approved Life Vest for Infants
  • Mex’s Flex V-Back Neoprene
  • O’Neill Men’s Assault USCG Life Vest
  • Stohlquist Men’s Trekker Life Jacket/Personal Floatation Device
  • O’Brien Focus Neoprene Life Jacket
  • Astral Ronny Fisher Life Jacket PFD
How fast is a tandem kayak?

The speed varies depending on each of the kayaker’s ability and experience. While an average kayaker will maintain a speed of about 2.5 miles per hour (or 2 knots), a more experienced one will be able to go as fast as 6.5 miles per hour.

A tandem kayak that is more than 12 feet long is generally made for speed. The Advanced Elements Tandem or the Sundolphin Bali Tandem are some of the fastest tandem kayaks on the market.

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Christos
Christos
Reply to 

Hi Katherine,

If weight is your main concern, I recommend getting an inflatable kayak like the Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak or the Driftsun 2-Person Inflatable Kayak.

Inflatable Kayaks are great for recreational kayaking and are extremely lightweight and portable.

Hope this helps.

Christos
Christos
Reply to 

Hello Chanel,

Given your requirements, consider the Brooklyn Kayak Company Sit-on-Top Kayak. This is a tandem kayak that should be able to accommodate your husband given his height. The dimensions for this kayak are 146 x 34 x 20 inches.

Hope this helped.

Katherine Amelia Gleiss
Katherine Amelia Gleiss
Reply to 

Hello,

We have a 10-year-old tandem Necky kayak that as we enter our 70’s we are having more trouble getting it up on the top tier of our slip and due to the coronavirus we have been told we can’t ask for help for the helpers at our Lake Michigan beach.

Does anyone have a recommendation for a fairly economical tandem that is much lighter?

Thank you.
Kathy

Chanel L Rodgers
Chanel L Rodgers
Reply to 

My husband is 6’4. We are looking for a tandem kayak. What would be the best length to get for a sit on top?

Christos Nicolaou
Christos Nicolaou
Reply to 

Hi Igor,
Having a cockpit (or sit inside) kayak for touring is ideal as it protects you from the elements. Personally I would recommend the Advanced Elements Advancedframe as it is perfect for touring.
Otherwise from the Sea Eagle’s range of kayaks the Explorer model is suitable for Ocean paddling as it has a similar design to an ocean kayak.
Hope this helps.

Igor
Igor
Reply to 

Dear friends,
I am interested in buying a tandem kayak for touring and expeditions, which is capable to handle seakayaking too. Indeed, I have been given many advices and recommendations what kayak I should buy (i.e. Advanced Element AdvancedFrame convertible Elite, Aquaglide Navarro 455, Aqua Marina etc.).

I have recently learnt about Sea Eagle kayaks and I have started looking at them closer. I must admit that I like their design and overall philosophy and technology used.

Two types of Sea Eagle kayaks caught my attention:
1. Explorer 380x or 420x
2. Razor lite 473rl

According to your opinion, are they good for touring and expeditions? Which one would be more suitable for touring and expeditions?

I like Explorer 420x as it can carry 3 paddlers. But can 1 paddler handle the kayak on its own as well? Explorer 420x seems to be quite wide for one paddler to handle long distances. Is my assumption correct? Or is it easy also for one paddler to paddle it? Or is it designed better for short trips and more stronger rivers (whitewater)?

Can both kayaks (Sea Eagle Explorer and Razor Lite) be used in sea waters? Can they handle salty sea waters?

For touring and expeditions, should I rather look for kayak with cockpit / cockpit protection (it seems that neither of them, not Explorer 380x / 420x ni Razor Lite 473rl is equiped with cockpit)? How much should I focus on that feature when looking for touring kayak? Is it really must to have it? Or is it an extra bonus, which is really worth considering that one would place Advanced Elements AdvanceFrame convertible tandem Elite or Aquaglide Navarro 145 in front of Sea Eagle Explorer 380x / 420x or 473rl? Which out of 4 mentioned above would the best for touring and expedition purposes?

Many thanks in advance for any advice, sugeestion or recommendation.

Igor

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