Tandem kayaks have suffered from a reputation of being heavy on land, sluggish in the water, and quite a nightmare to transport. Yet, they’re the only way you can carry your friends with you or have a nice family trip on a yak.
That’s what most of us think! But the good news is there are spacious kayak options out there that are easy to maneuver, feel nimble in the water, and sails with speed. You just have to know where to look for them.
We’ve done the hard work for you and picked the best tandem kayaks that’ll help you have the best time with your family or loved ones. So, whether you want a tandem kayak to tour, fish, or race, keep reading because your next vessel might be hiding somewhere in this article.
The 5 Best Tandem Kayaks
Now that you’ve had a peek at our chosen tandem kayaks and their main features, let’s jump to the reviews and see what each model has in store for the social kayakers out there.
1. Intex Challenger K2 - Best Overall
Our top choice is an inflatable sit-inside kayak constructed from a heavy-duty, puncture-resistant vinyl that stands up to abuse. Whether you like sailing in raging seas or drifting down calm rivers, you’ll love how the Intex Challenger K2 performs.
Coming at a length of 11 feet 6 inches and a width of 30 inches, the kayak moves at an incredible speed and offers excellent tracking like that of a rigid kayak.
Despite being an inflatable kayak, it holds itself well in the water thanks to the I-beam floor and removable skeg that keeps it running straight even in windy conditions.
Equipped with Boston valves, the kayak can be inflated and assembled in less than 5 minutes, so it won’t be hard to set up even for beginners. The streamlined design makes it easier to cut water and save effort. Moreover, the bright green color on the outside makes it highly visible to other boaters.
The kayak is built to accommodate two adults with a total weight capacity of 400 pounds. There’s plenty of storage space onboard, and the built-in kayak seats, along with the Inflatable seat backs, are adjustable and amazingly comfortable.
Worried about hauling it? Well, this big guy can be reduced into a size that fits in your car trunk, and with a weight of 33.53 pounds, you won’t find any problem carrying it to the shore.
To top all these great features off, the model is sold at a very competitive price. Furthermore, it comes with a plethora of bells and whistles, including two aluminum paddles, a repair kit, a carrying bag, and a high-output inflation pump, so you won’t have to pay more for the add ons.
- Sturdy design
- Enough space for gear storage
- Comfortable seats
- Ultralight and portable
- Comes with two paddles
- Very affordable
- Lacks carrying handles
We can’t help but say that Intex Challenger K2 is the best tandem kayak you can get at a price point that doesn’t break the bank. It’s sturdy, light, portable, maneuverable, and above all comes with all the accessories needed to get you in the water immediately.
2. Airhead Montana - Best Beginner Tandem Kayak
Best Beginner Tandem Kayak
Airhead Montana has made it easy for beginners to learn how to coordinate together and get the kayak moving. It’s safe, comfortable, and extremely stable, so let’s see what this tandem kayak offers.
Weighing no more than 36.3 pounds and rated for 500 pounds, this inflatable kayak can accommodate you and a friend or a family member along with all your gear.
The air chambers are enveloped with 840-Denier nylon, so you won't have to worry about it getting punctured. The fact that there are three air valves means that if one of them pops, the other two will stay afloat to get you back to the shore safely. Moreover, there’s a drain plug in the bottom to ensure no water accumulates inside the kayak.
Measuring 12 feet long and 32 inches wide, the kayak features the right size to keep it fast and maneuverable. The v-shaped bow, along with the wide hull shape, helps with tracking and provides plenty of stability even with a wiggling canine onboard. This is made even better with the four bottom fins and I-beam floor that provides extra buoyancy and rigidity.
On top of that, it’s astonishingly comfortable. The cockpit is large so that you can get on and off easily, and the seats are adjustable, meaning you can change its position to achieve the best alignment with your paddling buddy. On top of that, there are neoprene elbow guards on the sides to keep your arms comfortable, help you stay upright, and prevent friction burns.
To store your belongings and tackles, it offers stretch nets to tie down the items you want within arm’s reach. You can also use the mesh pockets along with the 6 D-rings scattered in the front and back to secure your gear.
- Solid build
- Great stability and speed
- Easy to enter and exist
- Three air chambers
- Adjustable seats
- Neoprene elbow guards for extra comfort
- Stretch net and D-rings for storage
- Color fades with time
- Doesn’t come with a storage bag
This tandem kayak is a great option for first-time paddlers looking for a reliable and extremely fun-to-use model. The high-quality materials, along with the numerous safety measures, guarantees newcomers a safe and carefree paddling experience.
3. Driftsun Rover 120/220 - Highest Weight Capacity
Driftsun Rover 120/200 is a beast in the world of tandem kayaks. With a massive 600-pound weight capacity, it’s designed to hold two or three people with their fishing or camping gear on board. So, if you like going on touring trips with your family or tend to move with lots of gear, this tandem kayak is for you.
It’s also the lightest model on our list. At a weight of 28 pounds, this inflatable model is even lighter than one-person kayaks. You can haul it to the water single-handedly and store it in your home without the need for renting a garage.
Unlike the previous model, this tandem kayak is designed for people who want to experience more than paddling in flat waters and cover long distances. It might be hard for a beginner to handle, but a kayaker with some experience will definitely fall in love with it.
At a length of 12 feet 6 inches and a width of 38 inches, it’s got the speed and agility needed for rowing in waves and high water levels. Not to mention that the extra length means more space for the two paddlers and less chance that their paddles will get mixed up in a swordfight.
As for the build, it’s crafted from 1000-Denier PVC and reinforced with eight self-bailing ports as well as a high-density trampoline bottom. Good luck trying to puncture or even scratch it! What’s more, it comes with two padded seats, two paddles, a travel bag, and a Deluxe hand pump.
Unfortunately, this rockstar carries a hefty price tag, yet it’s your best option if you’re willing to invest in a lifetime tandem kayak.
- Rugged and durable
- Ultralight and portable
- White water-friendly
- Numerous tie-down points
- Ample storage space
For paddlers who want to step up their game and venture into whitewater, this kayak is like a dream come true. It’s fast, light, built to last, and can accommodate multiple paddlers.
4. Sevylor Coleman Colorado - Best for Fishing
Sevylor Coleman Colorado
Best for Fishing
Looking for a fishing kayak for you and your buddies? Sevylor Coleman Colorado is here to make your day. It’s a two-person kayak with a total weight capacity of 470 pounds. Pack all your fishing gear, coolers, and tools and set out to the water with a yak that weighs only 37 pounds.
It comes readily equipped with everything an angler could ask for, starting from the built-in fishing rod holders at the sides and ending with the multiple accessible storage compartments. There are also paddle holders should you want to set your paddles aside and concentrate on reeling in a big catch.
With a length of 10 feet 9 inches, this inflatable tandem is more suitable for calm rivers than fast twisting watercourses. It’s not the fastest, yet using the trolling motor fittings that come included, you can install a small motor to gain some speed.
The 19-inch width renders it stable for anglers who like to wrestle game fish while standing. As for the kayak seats, they’re adjustable and outfitted with rigid yet flexible backrests for ultimate comfort.
The quality of the build is nothing short of outstanding with the high-quality PVC and the protective layer that resists punctures and abrasions. The bottom is covered with 1000-Denier tarpaulin, and the sides are reinforced with 840-Denier nylon, rendering the whole kayak bulletproof.
- Built-in paddle and rod holders
- Easy to transport
- Tough construction
- Large storage space
- Boston valve for easy inflation and deflation
- Comes with trolling motor fittings
- Storage hatch can get wet
- Doesn’t come with a pump
If you’re looking for an easy-to-set-up and very durable tandem kayak, look no further than this model. It’s built with fishermen in mind and comes with all the features you need to set sail on your next fishing trip.
5. Intex Explorer K2 - Budget Choice
Intex Explorer K2
Buying a several-hundred-dollar kayak might not be an option for all of us. Yet, Intex Explorer K2 has made it accessible for all people to spend an enjoyable time on the water without breaking the bank.
Feature-wise, this model shares a lot with our top choice. It boasts the same multiple air chambers, robust I-beam floor, and puncture-resistant vinyl exterior that makes it withstand gliding over rocks and paddling over debris.
Yet, the difference is that it’s a sit-on-top tandem kayak rather than a sit-inside one. It also has fewer storage places and a tad bit shorter deck.
Sporting a length of 10 feet 3 inches, it falls short in speed. However, the generous 36-inch width renders it impressively stable and hard to tip over.
Because it’s inflatable, it only weighs 30.6 pounds, making it easy to transport and flip back by a single person in case it capsizes. Furthermore, it can be folded easily and won’t occupy a large space if you store it in your house or garage.
The setup takes a few minutes, and with the included hand pump, two paddles, and extra bag, you can take it to the shore right out of the box.
Due to the compact design, it’s more suitable for calm lagoons and waveless beaches. It can comfortably accommodate two people provided that their weight doesn't exceed 400 pounds.
Although the footwells don’t provide enough room for stretching, the seats are comfortable and outfitted with adjustable backrests that are easy on the back.
- Highly affordable
- Appealing design
- Holds up to abuse
- Easy to assemble
- Amazing stability and tracking
- Little space for storage
- Not enough legroom for two people
This model is your best option if you’re not sitting on a pile of cash or just looking for an affordable tandem kayak for your occasional adventures. It comes with an attractive price tag and includes all the accessories you need to get started, so do you really need to think twice?
Factors to Consider Before Buying a Tandem Kayak
As you’ve seen from our tandem kayak reviews, there are a lot of features to consider. You don’t want to buy a model that doesn’t suit you and find out you’ve thrown your money down the drain. We don’t want that either, so here are the factors you should keep in mind before you invest in one.
First, decide whether you want a sit-on-top or sit-inside kayak. The former is where you sit on an elevated seat with your body exposed to the water, while the latter is where you paddle from a semi-enclosed compartment.
Naturally, sit-on-top kayaks are easier to get on and off. They offer more freedom to kayakers who like to stand on their vessels or slide into the water for a quick swim and climb back.
However, since nothing is shielding you from the water, it’ll be much harder to stay dry paddling a sit-on-top kayak, so it won’t be your best option if you usually kayak in cold water areas.
On the other hand, sit-inside kayaks make the best option for kayaking in cold weather. They keep your lower body dry and provide better access to cargo. Their only drawback is that they’re harder to mount again in case you capsize or trip over your kayak.
Tandem kayaks come in all sizes and shapes. To decide on the best length and width, consider your skill level and the type of water in which you’re going to spend your time.
For instance, tandem kayaks shorter than 11 feet tend to be lighter and easier to maneuver. They’re best suited for beginners who sail in calm rivers and backwaters.
On the other hand, longer kayaks provide more speed and overall stability, making them a better choice for larger lakes and oceans with harsher currents. However, the tradeoff is that they can be liable to twisting and jerking, so people with experience under their belt will be better off with them.
Also, note that broader tandem kayaks provide more balance but less speed, while narrower ones tend to be shakier but faster.
Since tandem kayaks are designed to accommodate more weight, they’re usually rated for up to 700 pounds. Exceeding your yak’s weight limit won’t necessarily sink your vessel but will cause it to go lower in the water, making it harder to move.
Calculate the total weight of the paddlers plus the objects on board, and make sure you choose a tandem kayak that can handle that much weight.
An aspect that most people overlook when buying a kayak is how much it weighs, which takes us to the point of transportation.
Most tandem kayaks weigh from 30 pounds and up to 75 pounds. Kayaks on the heftier side can be a hassle to transport to the launch site, especially if you don’t have helping hands. The wisest decision would be to opt for the lightest model you can find.
Another good option is to go for inflatable kayaks. These don't weigh a lot but can hold a fair amount of weight and, above all, can be reduced to a size that fits into a car trunk.
That goes hand in hand with the weight capacity. Naturally, the more weight the kayak can hold, the more tackles and personal items you can pack with you. However, another aspect you should consider is where you’re going to store these items.
Check the storage hatches of your tandem kayak and take a moment to think if they’re enough to store your tools, snacks, extra change of clothes, first aid kit, and angling gear if you use it as a fishing kayak.
Keep in mind that sit-inside kayaks usually have more ample storage space than sit-on-top ones due to the larger bow and stern cargo areas. Also, their storage compartments tend to stay dry, so they’ll save your wallet and phone in case water gets into the cockpit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Still have some unanswered questions? Here is a list of questions we’re often asked and their brief answers.
Are Tandem Kayaks Safe?
Yes! In fact, a tandem kayak is usually longer and wider than a solo kayak, making it more stable and capable of handling the wiggling of small kids and pets.
Can One Person Ride in a Tandem Kayak?
Yes! Actually, paddlers who move with lots of gear prefer buying a tandem kayak so that they can have extra space for storage. However, sometimes it can be tricky to handle a two-person kayak on your own in windy conditions. In this case, try sitting on the center seat if there’s one and distribute the weight of your gear on the bow and stern so that you can achieve better balance.
Is Tandem kayaking Hard?
It’s not hard but somewhat different. When you kayak with a partner, you should know how to paddle in sync to avoid going in zigzags and losing power quickly. It’s quite the opposite of the freedom you get from paddling alone. Moreover, you’ll have to learn how to maneuver yourselves not to clash paddles, and communicate over the best paddling technique and seating positions.
Where Should the Stronger Paddler Sit in a Tandem Kayak?
When two people are paddling, the front kayaker sets the pace while the one in the back controls the strength and direction of the strokes. That’s why the stronger paddler should always sit in the stern.
Kayaking is fun, but it’s not an adventure unless you bring a buddy along! From our research, we think that the Intex Challenger K2 is the best tandem kayak out there.
It ticks all the boxes in terms of sturdiness, ease of setup, and value for the money. Moreover, it’d be your cool choice whether you’re looking for laidback paddling trips in calm waters or open-water adventures.
Airhead Montana is an excellent entry-level tandem kayak for kayakers starting their kayaking journey. It’s portable, comfortable, feature-packed, and above all, super-easy to learn on and use.
Finally, if having the widest space on deck is what’s in your mind, Driftsun Rover 120/220 has enough capacity to hold two-three adults and a kid or a four-legged companion. On top of that, it should be your kayak of choice if you like venturing in open water and waves.