Getting out on the water is great fun, whether for fishing or just exploring your local waterways, and I try to get out as often as possible. Sharing the days out and adventures with family or a friend make it even better, so I started wondering about the best tandem kayaks available.
There is a vast range of tandem kayaks on the market, from the cheap and cheerful suitable for a bit of fun on quiet lakes to professional quality costing thousands of dollars that can tackle difficult conditions and white water running.
This means there is something for everyone in the kayak market. The best tandem kayak I found was the mid-priced Intex Explorer K2. It comes complete with everything you need to get out on the water, except lifejackets, has some outstanding features, and will give many years of enjoyment on the water.
The 5 Best Selling Tandem Kayaks
For your convenience, the below list shows the 5 best selling tandem kayaks currently for sale on Amazon.com. This list is automatically updated daily.
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 tandem 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 10 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.
Our Selection of The 5 Best Tandem Kayaks:
As mentioned, there are many features that you need to keep in mind when selecting a tandem kayak. However, if you have a limited understanding of these features, you might not really know what they mean.
As you read about the best kayaks I have selected, you will gain a better understanding of the features they have included. Here are the 10 best tandem kayaks currently on the market:
1. Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Tandem Kayak
- Well built
- Removable Skeg
- Puncture resistant
- Inflatable seats move around
- Only 10 feet long
Maximum Weight: 400-pounds
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 Tandem Kayak
- Maximum weight capacity of 650 pounds
- Over 12 feet long
- Lack of storage compartments
Maximum Weight: 650-pounds
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
- Over 12 feet long
- Seven fishing rod holders
- Waterproof storage compartments
- Low maximum weight capacity
Maximum Weight: 440-pounds
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 Kayak
- Very secure seats
- Built-in paddle rests
- Low maximum weight capacity
Maximum Weight: 425-pounds
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 Sit On Top Tandem Kayak
- Built-in paddle rests
- Waterproof storage compartments
Maximum Weight: 440-pounds
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.
6. Solstice by Swimline Durango Kayak
- Strong construction
- D-ring tie-downs
- Fore and aft spray covers
- Low 440-pound weight limit
- Paddles are extra
Constructed from heavy-duty 840 nylon, with a 1000 denier bottom, they design the Solstice kayak to be tough. Attached to the I-beam inflatable base is a detachable skeg, ideal for coming into shallow water.
The two seats are detachable and you can easily convert the kayak into a single-seater. Elastic cords on the fore-and-aft spray covers provide extra storage, along with strong D-ring tie-downs. Inflation and deflation are quick using the high-pressure Boston valves.
Included in the price are a foot pump and storage bag, but paddles are extra. Overall, it’s a good first kayak for beginners or intermediate paddlers.
7. Airhead Montana Tandem Kayak
- 500-pound weight capacity
- Strong construction
- Four fins for improved tracking
- Paddles not supplied
Priced at around $400, the Airhead sits firmly in the mid-price range for inflatable kayaks. It has been designed for use on lakes primarily, but can also be used on easy white water areas.
Built using heavy gauge PVC, and lined with 840 denier nylon for protection, the Montana is a strong and durable kayak. The base is an I-frame construction the has four fins to aid directional stability and is reinforced for safety and a longer life.
With a weight capacity of 500 pounds, comfortable seats, and spray covers fore and aft, this is a great kayak for getting out and exploring. The Airhead is not supplied with paddles, so this will be an extra cost.
8. Sevylor Fiji Tandem Kayak
- Sturdy construction for the price
- Only one paddle
- Difficult to steer – you need to buy a skeg separately
At the lower end of the price bracket, we have the capable Sevylor Fiji. Although built down to a price, the construction is strong, using 22-gauge PVC and multiple air chambers for safety. The bottom of the kayak is a single compartment and does not have a skeg, which impairs steering a little.
Spray covers are supplied for the bow and stern to keep your gear dry, but this isn’t really designed for rough water or windy days.
The Fiji is great as a fun kayak for a couple of people to get out on the water cheaply, but serious kayakers or anglers should look elsewhere and spend a little more for the features they need.
9. Intex Excursion Pro Tandem Kayak
- Built-in mounting brackets
- Shallow water skeg
- Fishing rod holders
- Narrow seating area
The Intex Excursion Pro is at the top end of the mid-priced two-seat kayaks but is packed with features that justify the price. Fishermen will appreciate the mounting bracket for their fishing accessories, while the integrated fishing rod holders allow hands-free angling.
They include two skegs with the Excursion Pro, a deeper one for directional stability, and a shallow water skeg allowing you to explore further. The I-beam floor provides good rigidity, with high pressure, spring-loaded valves allowing quick inflation and deflation.
Supplied with the kayak are a pressure gauge for accurate inflation, a hi-output pump, two paddles, and a carry bag. You’ll find plentiful storage in the bow and stern with D-rings to secure your gear.
10. Advanced Elements Convertible Elite Tandem Kayak
- Rock-solid stability
- Backpack style carry bag
- Aluminum frame
- High total weight capacity
The Convertible Elite from Advanced Elements has some great features, making it perfect for your next fishing trip. The high-pressure floor adds considerable rigidity and combined with the aluminum front and back ribs give the kayak real stability in the water. Straight line stability is further improved by the skeg tracking fin at the stern.
Onboard, you’ll find plenty of storage for your gear, both behind the rear seat, in the bow, and under the bungee strapping.
The seats feature high backs and lumbar support for comfort, making all-day fishing trips a joy. For extra comfort, you can add the optional decks and even a spray skirt if required.
The Convertible Elite is not cheap, but you get a quality product that will give you years of use.
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:
Types of Tandem Kayaks
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 Tandem Kayak
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 Tandem Kayak
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 Tandem Kayak
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 / Durability
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.
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.
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.
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 Tandem 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Popular Tandem Kayak FAQs:
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 tandem 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.
Can one person row a tandem kayak?
The quick answer is yes, most twin-seat inflatable kayaks can be paddled perfectly safely by one person, but there are some disadvantages:
- The kayak is bigger and heavier as they design it for two
- Steering may difficult as there is less weight in the kayak
- You may be more susceptible to strong winds
Where should the heavier person sit on a tandem kayak?
As a general rule, the heavier person should sit at the back for several reasons:
- To set the boat correctly in the water. With the heavier person in front, the bow will have a tendency to dip under any waves
- Tracking is better if the heavier person is at the back
- The person at the back is the helm, and it requires more effort, strength, and paddling than the front person
How to store a tandem kayak?
The key points to look out for when storing are:
- Thoroughly clean and dry the kayak before storing, especially if it has been used in saltwater
- Deflate the kayak to take the pressure off the seams and inflation valves
- If you have space, leave it unfolded, but don’t worry about folding it into the storage bag
- Store the kayak in a cool, dry area out of direct sunlight
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.
This article was last updated on November 28, 2022 .
The Outdoors Blog is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn More.