Do you like kayaking? We believe that your answer can be either: “I’ve never tried it” or “I absolutely adore it!” The first time I tried kayaking, I got instantly hooked. There is something in the way this watercraft sails and wades through the water, something in the connection between the paddles and the sound and smell of the water, it’s priceless.
Indeed, it’s fun and addictive when you go on a solo expedition, but hey, this is a next-level experience when you take others on board. It’s been 12 years since I’ve been into this exquisite sport and I know that kayaking with your loved ones is always amazing. The experience can get many times better if you can manage yourself the best tandem kayak for the purpose.
But when it comes to choosing a tandem model, it’s hard to get your head around amid so many different options. So, we set out to find the ultimate models available on the market. Today, we’ll guide you through the process of choosing the right models for your needs. Let’s begin!
Why Trust Us
We, at Kayak Fisherly, favor and work for the users of everything fishing and kayaking. When we set off on our journey about a decade ago, we didn’t anticipate so many responses from the fishing and kayaking communities around the country. They say, “With great power, comes greater responsibilities.” That fuels all our enterprises here; growing expectations from our audience.
Besides, our pro fishing and kayaking experts and industry analysts have devised a precise framework for detecting products that are not only superb in quality but also offer good value for the money. Being industry insiders serves us another advantage in this respect.
Again, we don’t have any financial affiliation with any brand or manufacturer, instead, we value facts over popularity. That’s why we don’t go with the wind relying on just ‘brand value’. We challenge the brands and put their products under our microscopes. Our mission is to enlighten our readers with all the useful information so they can make better buying decisions.
How We Picked these Products
We walked the extra mile when choosing the best tandem kayaks available on the market. We’d gone through a series of steps including market research, consumer report study, feature analysis, specs analysis, comparison, field-test and re-evaluation of the final list in the light of expert insights and suggestions.
First, we spent more than 35 hours doing rigorous online research to find out the most advanced and durable models from numerous options. That way we sorted 25 top-rated tandem kayaks up for sale with the highest number of positive user feedback.
Once we’d managed all the initially sorted models at our disposal, we proceeded to test each model. Over the next couple of weeks, a group of community-based volunteers and assisted our team to carry out the tests. We closely examined the build quality, building materials, designs, cockpit storage capacity, holding facilities, weight capacity, ergonomics, design and durability.
That led us to champion 10 models from the rest. Then we took the list to other industry experts and kayak specialists to have their insights into the models. They shared valuable insights and made suggestions that we later reflected in our reviews and buying guide.
Of course, we appreciated the invaluable insights by the experts. Are you interested in our value grid? Stay with us and learn more about different factors that shape the kayak performance, and then proceed to our reviews section.
Our 10 Best Double Kayak List
Other Notable Brands & Tested Models
During our research, we came across hundreds of reputable brands and their popular product lines. Not all of them made it to our list as we had scope for only 10. So, let’s take this space to mention their names along with their popular models:
Perception (known for Tribe, Cove, Prodigy ii Rambler 135), Necky (known for Manitou ii, Manitou 2, Sky 2, Amaruk), WEST MARINE (known for sit-inside models), Brooklyn Kayak Co. (known for rudder models), Pescador, Folbot, Pelican (known for Pursuit 140t, ARGO 136X, Apex 130T, Unison 136T, 140T, Ram X, Challenger 130t, Blitz 130T), Hobie (known for Mirage Outfitter, Odyssey, Mirage Oasis, Mirage Compass Duo), Aquaglide (known for Chinook XP, Columbia, Chelan HB), Feelfree (known for Lure II), Jackson (known for Big Tuna, Riviera), Emotion (known for Spitfire 12T, Spitfire 120), Sevylor (known for ST 6656), Dagger, Tango, Mainstream (known for Double Play), Bass Pro, Cobra, Point 65 (known for Tequila GTX, Martini GTX), Heritage, Nucanoe (known for Frontier 12), ECO (known for their Paddle Sports model), and Epic (known for 18X DOUBLE).
Other hot sellers:
Beluga, SUNDOLPHIN, Harmony Gear, RAVE Sports , POINT (known for modular/take-apart models), Equinox, Elkton Outdoors, Hurricane, Sams Club, Wilderness Systems (known for Pamlico 135, 145T, and 135T, Tarpon 130T), Riot Kayaks, Ascend, Islander, MACraft (known for Motor powered models), Native Watercraft, Field & Stream (known for Blade), LL Bean, Sea Eagle, Coleman, Intex (known for challenger), and Aire (known for Tributary Tomcat)
Other tested models:
Why Use a Tandem Kayak
What is a tandem or two person kayak? It is a type of kayak designed for two to three people. It is the perfect choice for shared paddling experience, working in a team, or enjoying cruising/fishing with your friends or family. There is enough room for two to three people in such hard-shell watercrafts (depending on the model), but you can still use it solo.
There are some disadvantages to this type of kayaks as well. The greatest disadvantage refers to the users who value their own freedom of movement. It is somewhat restricted in a tandem model, as you must coordinate your moves with the partner. Also, you must learn how to share the room with them.
Now, here comes another important question: What is the best tandem kayak? Any tandem kayak might not be the dream choice for you, but could be the right pick for someone else. This depends on the number of people who will be using it, type of water, and purpose.
However, there are certain features that mark a good model, regardless of its purpose or your specific requirements. This is why you should learn how to recognize the right model. Let’s see what makes an ideal tandem kayak!
Tandem Kayak: Buying Guide
Choosing a kayak requires serious considerations of many things at a time. Kayak models vary as you consider their weight capacities, stability features, materials, warranty information, etc. The basic considerations are almost similar for most kayak styles (sit-on-top and sit-in), and tandems present a few differences which I’ll discuss here to help you guys find the right choice.
1. Build Materials
Common materials for such narrow watercrafts include polyethylene, ABS, wood and composite materials, having something to do with the vessel’s durability and resistance to punctures and scratches.
- Polyethylene is an inexpensive choice. Such models don’t require inflated air chambers built inside the hull. This material makes the heaviest of models but requires you to avoid exposing the vessel to the sunlight for long.
- ABS plastic is a more expensive option and makes slightly lighter models that come with UV resistance of some sort but the same durability as polyethylene structure.
- Composite materials come in variations like polymer, carbon/graphite, and Kevlar; all contributing to lightweight and high-performance models that are not strong for impacts. These materials are great for sea kayaks.
2. Size, Weight, and Capacity
Sure, you would agree that these kayaks are bigger, and thereby, heavier than other styles.
The tandem you buy needs to have the capacity to hold the weight of both you and your partner. The average capacity of tandems is 600 pounds with some models offering higher capacity. Look at the following calculation to determine the right capacity.
Your weight + Your partner’s weight + 25% (of the combined weight) = (The appropriate) Weight capacity.
You can use either your hands or legs for propelling. Double-bladed paddles are for hand use and are ideal when the overall weight of the watercraft is not too much. Then again, you always have the option for adding a trolling motor for hands-free propulsion.
Here’s a quick list of measurements to help you determine the right size:
- Kayaker Seat (Front) may accommodate kayakers having a height from 70 inches to 78 inches.
- Kayaker Seat (Rear) may accommodate kayakers having a height from 80 inches to 90 inches.
- Pedal kayaks (with radar) may be suitable for those with a height around 72 inches.
- Anyone with a height of over 72 inches may need to choose a paddle to steer instead of driving with pedals.
3. Design & Color
The design of a tandem kayak varies a lot. The sit-on-top kayaks are not the same as sit-in alternatives. High-end models would allow more space, higher buoyancy, more holders, freezers and so on. We’d suggest you pick ones that offer more space, storage and higher stability. Remember that some models are more prone to flip over than the others.
When it comes to color, we’d suggest that you go for the bright ones because they are more visible in poor lighting conditions. The most common colors for such watercrafts are red, orange, yellow, white, black, blue, cyan, teal, and purple. Talking about visibility and location detection, a good kayak GPS system can offer great service in times of losing track of where your location.
4. Other Considerations
There are other factors that you want to consider, such as the cockpit sizes and hatches.
- Cockpits: Open-top Tandem cockpits come in both small and large sizes with the large ones allowing you to get in/out easily and the small ones offering a snug fit. One of you might have an average build while another may have a larger bottom. So, consider the size of you and the partner and choose what suits you most.
- Hatches: Since two people count, there might be the needs for additional storage which may not be available with all models. So, look for one with access to two interior storage areas. Also, make sure you keep a child seat when planning to take a child on board. A roof rack can always save you from sudden rain and the naked sun.
Still feeling confused about choosing the right tandem kayak? Don’t worry! Spend a few more minutes to read this article to get complete education on tandem kayaks.
Wrapping It Up
Finally, we hope you enjoyed our reviews on the best tandem kayaks that offer the ultimate value for their prices. Hopefully, the reviews justified our claim.
We chose the Ocean Kayak 12-feet Malibu as the overall top choice, and the runner-up was the Lifetime Sport Fisher. These two models had all it took for a comfortable, safe, and enjoyable kayaking experience that you won’t find when canoeing.
On the other hand, the Lifetime Tandem Sit-on Kayak is a must have if you’re short on budget. Again, the Vibe Yellowfin 130T is a family model. And for fishing BKC UH-TK219 is totally authentic.
However, this is not the end. There are lots of other amazing tandem models out there, such as specially designed tandem models for oceans or seas. Choosing the right option depends entirely on your individual needs. Let’s sort that out first. And never forget to put on a sun-blocking hat when out in the sun.