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!
We Tested and Reviewed These 10 Tandem Kayaks
01 Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two (Our Top Choice)
We will start with the very best-rated tandem kayak on the market. The winner is the Ocean Malibu! Let’s meet this beautiful piece of art.
First of all, we will tell you what we loved about it. This sit-on-top tandem model is unusually comfortable. It has an 18.5-inch bow seat well and a 20.25-inch stern seat.It comes with an extra comfort plus seat. The seats have a 4-way adjustment feature, which provides the optimum amount of space for your needs. You will really enjoy your ride on it.
Moreover, we liked the fact that we felt so safe in it. If you are a beginner, you will definitely have a dose of fear when you enter a kayak for the first couple of times. However, this model makes you feel perfectly safe. Why is that so?
Perhaps because it has extra-safe and durable gear straps and strong, yet comfortable seats. So, we can say that this is also the best kayak for beginners.
In addition, this model is versatile, as it can be used both for solo and tandem expeditions. As a matter of fact, its maximum capacity is three people, including a tandem using it with a child or with a pet as the third passenger. The weight limit (capacity) is 425 lbs.
Also, you will notice that it is easy to enter and get off the watercraft, as its open, sit-on-top model and ergonomic handles make your job much easier. The Malibu Two is 12 feet long. It is 34 inches wide. There are XL and 2XL models available too. Last but not the least, the manufacturer provides a lifetime warranty on the hull! Now, that’s a great offer!
- 425 lbs. weight capacity limit
- 12 feet long
- 34 inches wide
- 3 seats total
- 5-inch bow seat
- 25-inch stern seat
- 57 pounds in total weight
- 4-way seat adjustment feature.
- Has extremely comfortable seats
- Can take two + one riders
- Made from 3-layer polyethylene
- Comes with side carrying handles, storage gear straps, and extra foam padding
- Compact, yet spacious, lightweight
- We couldn’t find any
If you are looking for a lightweight, well-built, spacious and comfortable, yet compact tandem model that can take up to three users (two adults and a child or a pet), Ocean’s 12-feet Malibu is the best tandem kayak for you.
We want to point to its comfort once again as its greatest advantage. The ergonomic and safe design, as well as the positioning and adjustability of the seats, are exceptional. Invest in this tandem kayak and you will certainly never regret this decision.
02 Lifetime Two Person Sport Fisher (Great for Fishing)
Second place on our list is Lifetime’s Sport Fisher Two Person Fishing model. This is an ideal fishing two seater kayak for many reasons. If you need a dedicated one for fishing, we recommend you to take this model into serious consideration. Let’s begin!
First of all, this model has built-in features required for fishing. Those include three fishing rod holders necessary for this kind of activity. Moreover, it has a rear storage hatch.
As fishermen have to make specific body movements when fishing, special attention was given to the stability and design of this watercraft. This is the reason it is based on a pretty stable hull design. Its structure and shape help avoid overturning.
When it comes to technical details, this model has a weight capacity of 500 lbs. It is a 10-foot long model. This feature is extremely useful when it comes to transport, as you will easily carry it around due to its compactness.
You will appreciate multiple footrest positions and excellent tracking. It comes with two paddles. Lifetime Tandem Sit-on Kayak has up to three people capacity, a 500-lbs. weight limit, and comfortable backrests. It is a durable material that will make your kayak resist different kinds of impacts for many years to come. The manufacturer provides 5 years of limited warranty.
- 500 lbs. weight capacity limit
- 120 x 36 x 19-inch dimensions
- 60 pounds in total weight
- 2-seat capacity
- 3 fishing rod holders included
- 5 years of limited warranty.
- Made of high-quality material
- Has a special shape and structure suitable for fishing
- Compact and lightweight
- Comes with 2 paddles
- Has 3 fishing rod holders
- More space needed for users
If you are looking for a 2-seater fishing tandem kayak, look no more. This is a great fishing model for two people and there’s no wonder why it enjoys high ratings from users.
It has the most stable design that covers multiple footrest positions, rear storage space, as well as three fishing rod holders. It is a lightweight and compact, 10-foot tandem option.
03 Lifetime Tandem Sit-on Kayak (Great Value for the Money)
First of all, we want to emphasize that this is a great tandem kayak for the money. We tested lots of kayaks, discussed different models and features with the experts, took the user-community opinions and experiences into consideration, but this model offers advanced features at an affordable price point.
First of all, it has a padded backrest, which makes the ride extremely comfortable. Also, we liked the fact that it can take up to three people. It is a stable and safe model. It is based on the hull design. It also provides excellent tracking.
Moreover, this is a lightweight model that weighs only 60 lbs. It comes with useful shock cord straps. Also, you will love the fact that it has many footrest positions. This is important for the comfort of riders of different heights. Therefore, we can say that this is a versatile and flexible model.
In addition, it has a good weight capacity – 500 lbs. It measures 120 x 36 x 19 inches. You can remove one of the backrests and make more space for one person when paddling solo or with a child.
Last but not least, this is an affordable model that provides excellent safety, durability, and overall value for the money.
- 500 lbs. maximum weight capacity
- 2-3 people kayak
- 120 inches’ long
- 36 inches’ wide
- 60 lbs. total weight
- This model has many footrest positions
- It comes with three seats
- It comes with comfortable backrests
- It has a stable hull design
- Affordable and durable
- Some materials used violate the California Proposition 65 on toxicity and safety
If you are looking for a cheap tandem kayak model with good value, i.e. you are on a rather limited budget, this could be your perfect pick. Lifetime Tandem Sit-on Kayak has up to three people capacity, a 500-lbs. weight limit, and comfortable backrests. Most importantly, it is the ultimate budget choice.
We liked the fact that the manufacturer didn’t save money on the material and structure design. It is a stable, safe, and durable model we definitely recommend.
Other popular Lifetime models: Envoy 106, Kokanee 106, Manta 100, Beacon
04 AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak
If versatility is the feature you value the most when buying a kayak, the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible and inflatable model might be the right kayak for you.
First of all, this inflatable, 15-foot model can be used as a solo or a tandem model. You can decide to use it as a single deck. Moreover, it has good design and construction. Its rigid frame is an excellent feature as well. All of these design specs enable maximum safety, flexibility, and durability of the watercraft.
In addition, you will get a rich package. The manufacturer provided a carrying and storage bag, a repair kit, a User Manual with thorough descriptions, as well as two folding seats.
This model measures 180 inches long and 32 inches’ width and has a 52-pound total weight. Its maximum capacity equals 550 lbs., which is more than the average on the market. Moreover, it is made from a durable, double-coated, 3-layer material.
This blow-up model has six chambers, which increases your safety in case of a puncture. Also, it increases the watercraft’s balance and stability. Moreover, the integrated aluminum ribs improve tracking and define the kayak bow.
You will also appreciate the paddle holders, a pressure relief valve in the floor, padded back supports, D-ring tie-down braces, as well as rubber handles that are pretty comfortable and convenient.
In addition, it is easy to set up, inflate, and deflate. You don’t have to worry that you would lose time, as it is a quick and effortless process.
- 550 lbs. capacity
- 3-people kayak
- 6 chambers
- 180 x 32 x 12 inches
- 52 pounds of total weight
- 3-layer durable material.
- It is suitable for three people
- Extremely versatile
- You can transfer it from a single to a double deck model
- It can be inflated and deflated quickly
- You will get a rich package with accessories
- Can be shipped only within the USA
- Slightly more expensive than the average models
If you are looking for a versatile kayak that quickly transforms from a single to double-seat, with excellent, double-coated, 3-layer material for improved durability, and 6 chambers for extra safety and stability, the Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Convertible model is a superb pick for you.
This 3-people inflatable kayak weighs 52 pounds and has an excellent capacity of 550 lbs.
05 Driftsun Voyager 2 Person
Are you looking for a compact tandem kayak? Driftsun Voyager can be an excellent option. There are many peculiarities of this unique 2-person Inflatable model. Let’s find out what makes it so special.
First of all, this is one of the rare high-end inflatable tandem kayaks that gained popularity among the users. Moreover, it is easy to inflate and you won’t lose time. It takes only 5 minutes to fully inflate it and it reaches its full size, measuring 10 feet in length, 35 inches’ width, and 16 inches from the bottom to the top. In addition, you will get the hand pump with the package.
We also liked the fact that this model is maneuverable, compact, lightweight, and easy to transport or store. It measures only 27 lbs.! This is one of the greatest advantages of the top-class inflatable kayaks. You will also get a carrying bag to safely store it when deflated.
Moreover, its bottom is made from heavy-duty PVC called tarpaulin that ensures maximum durability, protection from impact, scratches, and punctures. It has safe double Boston valves, and 840D coated nylon Oxford fabric as its main body material.
We tested this model and were amazed by its extraordinary performance. Even though it is an inflatable model, its pointed nose bow and excellent rocker profile account for good behavior in the water and easy control by the users. Also, responsive tracking is enabled by the removable deep fin.
- 450 lbs. weight limit
- 27 lbs. total weight
- 2-seat kayak
- 2 paddles included
- 3-chamber inflatable kayak
- 1 hand pump included in the package
- 1 removable tracking skeg included in the package.
- Good for cruising, river exploration, and paddling
- High portability, takes less storage space
- Weighs only 27 lbs.
- Good for 2 people
- Made from durable materials that are puncture-resistant
- The paddles and the pump cannot fit into the carrying bag
Driftsun Voyager is an ideal choice for 2 people river exploration, kayaking, cruising, and paddling on an inflatable model that is compact, and safe. This is also the lightest model on the market. Being inflatable, it offers superb portability too.
If you don’t have lots of space in your garage, or you are looking for an inflatable model specifically, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy this amazing watercraft.
06 Driftsun Rover 220
Hunting for a whitewater kayak? Look no more. This is our No.1 when it comes to whitewater kayaking! Let’s meet this amazing model by Driftsun.
We will start with its technical features. When inflated, the Rover 220 measures 12.5’ft. x 38”. When deflated, it measures 24.5”x 21” x 10”. Its inflation time equals 9 minutes.
The Rover 220 weighs only 28 lbs. On the other hand, it has the better capacity than any other models we presented here, the amazing 600 lbs.!
It is a durable model that is easy to set up and carry. It is made from a heavy-duty PVC Tarpaulin (bottom) and anti-puncture body material, with layered, 1000D reinforced PVC side tubes. Such construction and material choice to ensure stability and good maneuverability.
It is excellent for whitewater adventures, including rafting up to class III and IV rapids. You will appreciate the fact that there are eight self-bailing ports and lots of tie-down points for your equipment. There is also a front action camera mount.
You will get a rich package with this top of the line inflatable boat, including two padded seats, back supports, two paddles made from aluminum, a hand pump, a travel bag, a tracking fin, and a repair kit.
- 600-lbs. weight capacity limit
- 5’ft. x 38” dimensions
- 9-min. inflation time
- 2 paddles included
- 28 lbs. total weight
- Excellent for white-water rafting
- Suitable for up to class III and IV rapids
- Durable, safe, and stable
- Made from quality materials
- Comes with lots of useful accessories
- Great weight capacity
- It is more expensive than the average models on the market
If you are looking for a 600-lbs. Capacity, white-water rafting kayak, this inflatable model by Driftsun is the right choice for you. It is definitely one of the coolest tandem options on the market. It is durable, convenient, and well-built.
You will get lots of useful accessories, including a hand pump and the paddles. Also, we should emphasize that this kayak is suitable for up to class III and IV rapids. Enjoy your rafting!
07 BKC UH-TK219 Tandem Kayak
Here’s another kayak that is an excellent choice for fishing. The BKC UH-TK219 is designed according to the requirements of the fishermen. It is a stable, yet flexible model. Moreover, it comes with 6-rod holders.
Four of them are flush-mount, while the remaining two-rod holders are the adjustable ones. You and the other riders can keep multiple rods in the water simultaneously!
In addition, this amazing package comes with two waterproof storage sections. It is pretty convenient if you want to store your keys, wallet, and valuable private items. This feature is rarely found in other models. This makes it stand out from the rest.
Similarly, there is a cargo area you can use to secure your cooler or helmets. It comes with bungee tie straps. It is a secure and convenient feature.
Also, you will like the paddle rests that enable you to have a rest when you are not actively paddling. The rests are secure and well-designed.
We also liked the carrying handles. They are ergonomically shaped. 4 carrying handles make the kayak transport easy and convenient. It weighs 68 lbs. Its total weight capacity is limited to 440 lbs. It is 12 feet 2 inches long. It can accommodate two to three people.
It is made from high-density polyethylene with UV protection. UV protection is another valuable feature that is not common, yet it significantly affects the kayak lifetime. You will be able to use it for a long time.
- 2-3 people kayak
- 12 feet 2 inches long
- 35 inches wide
- 68-lbs total weight
- 440 lbs. weight capacity
- 4 carrying handles
- 6-rod holders
- 2 waterproof storage areas.
- Accommodates 3 people
- Comes with 6-rod
- Has 4 comfortable carrying handles.
- Has UV protection.
- Packs 2 waterproof storage areas
- Could be more stable when it comes to standing while fishing
If you are looking for a 3-people fishing kayak with 6-rod holders and waterproof storage, this is the pick for you. It is a 12-feet and 2 inches long model that weighs 68 lbs. It has a weight capacity of 440 lbs.
It is well-equipped, with carrying handles, a cargo area, bungee tie-down straps, rod holders, storage area, and many other features that will make your 3-people fishing trips comfortable and safe.
08 SUNDOLPHIN Sun Dolphin Bali 13.5-Foot Tandem Kayak
Are you looking for the ultimate 3-person kayak on the market? We believe that we have found the right one! This sit-on, recreational tandem model by Sundolphin is among the most popular 3-person choices on the market. Let’s learn more about this amazing watercraft.
It is 13.5 feet long and has 3 seats. This is a comfortable model with quality back supports that enables many hours of paddling and cruising. It also has three storage compartments and is, therefore, suitable for family or friend recreational kayaking trips.
It has a shock cord deck rigging and adjustable foot braces. You can comfortably lean back and effortlessly paddle while enjoying nature and views.
We tested this model and liked perfectly positioned and designed carrying handles and paddle holders. You can easily carry it, despite its 70-lbs. weight.
Moreover, you will like the fact that this kayak is fully designed, produced, and assembled in the USA. Now, let’s see the full specs, pros, and cons list, as well as our final verdict on this model.
- 500-lbs. capacity
- 1, 2, or 3-people kayak
- 5-foot length
- 34-inch width
- 70 pounds in total weight
- 3 seats
- 3 storage compartments.
- It is suitable for one, two, or three people.
- It has comfortable seats.
- It is made from rugged UV-stabilized high-density polyethylene material.
- It has a good capacity of 500 pounds.
- It is made and assembled in the USA.
- This model is a bit more expensive than the average tandem kayak offer on the market.
This comfortable 3-person model by Sundolphin is marketed by quality removable seats, adjustability, excellent UV-stabilized high-quality PVC material, as well as good capacity measuring 500 lbs.
Moreover, it has 3 storage compartments and lots of space in its 13.5-foot body and is therefore perfect for family expeditions and touring with your friends.
09 Old Town Twin Heron Angler Tandem Kayak
First, let’s talk about the advantages of this model. We must say that this is the ultimate river kayak on the market and we have a good number of reasons for that. It has a removable front seat and adjustable padded comfortable flex seat.
Moreover, its shape and hydrodynamic design are suitable for river expeditions. It is safe and stable, yet fast and comfortable. In fact, it’s one of the fastest models on our list. It’s auto trim hull doesn’t allow bow popping, which maximizes the overall stability and passenger safety.
You will also like the cup holder and the paddle holders convenient if you are not actively paddling. You can also accommodate fishing gear or your equipment if you remove the front seat.
The foot brace system allows better maneuvering and more comfort. There are multiple fishing rod mounting positions, as well as carrying handles.
This model has a 500-pound weight capacity and measures 13 feet 6 inches. Total weight of the kayak equals 62 pounds. The manufacturer provides a lifetime hull warranty!
- 500 lb. weight capacity
- 2-people kayak
- 5-inch wide
- 13 foot and 6 inches long
- 2-people kayak
- 60 pounds in total weight
- 23 by 93.5 inches of cockpit dimensions
- 6-rod mount receivers
- 2 cannon rod holders.
- Adjustable, removable, and ventilated seats
- Has a secure footing feature with the glide track foot brace system
- Strong and durable handles enable easy and safe transport
- The thin-back construction allows mounting a different seat
- Cannot be shipped internationally
If you want to buy a river kayak, we definitely recommend the Old Town Twin Heron. This model has both a hydrodynamic and ergonomic shape, which makes it perfect for enjoying river expeditions with maximum comfort and safety for the riders.
It is an adjustable and flexible model suitable for 2 people. It is extremely comfortable, with lots of safety features. You can’t really go wrong if you take it out on river expeditions.
Other popular Old Town models: Otter, Loon 160T, and Dirigo 155.
10 Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 130T
If you want to enjoy kayaking with your family, a two-person kayak can’t offer enough space to suit your needs. In that case, Vibe has brought you a great model here. Yellowfin 130T offers just the right amount of space to carry more than two people and that makes it an excellent choice for family trips – kayaking, fishing, kayaking, lake exploration, and other recreational activities.
This Yellowfin supports up to 500-lbs. of weight. It weighs 80 lbs. with a length of 13 feet. You’ll get 2 flush mounts for holding rods and caps. Besides, we were pleased to find multiple mounting points dedicated to Scotty rod holders or RAM.
Vivo’s family kayak also helps you perform solo rides. You don’t necessarily have to go out with three people every time. The central paddle installed in it is just perfect for camping and solo expeditions.
Nonetheless, when you go out with the family, you can benefit from the huge storage space, a couple of bags with hatches, the bungee system for bow cargo, and a big tank well. This certainly makes it a well-equipped and versatile kayak!
The manufacturer intended to maximize your kayaking experience, so they’ve also added adjustable footrests to the kayak making the watercraft even comfier. Let’s dive into the full specifications, pros, and cons.
- 2-people kayak
- 500 lbs. weight limit
- 13 feet long
- 35 inches wide
- 80 lbs. total weight
- 2 flush mount rod holders
- 2 paddles included.
- It comes with two paddles
- It is good for three people
- Solid and authentic build quality
- There is lots of room for everyone
- It is also suitable for solo paddling
- It comes with accessories and lots of storage space
- It is significantly more expensive than other listed models
If you are looking for a family kayak that can accommodate three people, with a 500-lbs weight capacity, we can’t recommend Vibe’s Yellowfin 130T enough.
This comfortable and safe, 13-feet model is perfect for long trips, both solo and tandem, up to three people. It offers lots of storage space, great stability, and durability. Simply put, this is the ultimate choice for family trips.
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: Features to Expect
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.