In this guide, you’ll find reviews of our top picks for the best tandem kayaks. Each review highlights the features of the models we chose, and even lists the pros and cons for each one.
In addition to detailed reviews, you’ll also find a handy buyer’s guide, where you’ll find out the key factors that should be taken into consideration when you’re shopping for a tandem kayak. We wrap things up by providing answers to some of the most frequently asked questions that consumers have about these watercrafts.
After you’ve finished reading through this guide, you should have the information that you need in order to choose the best kayak for your specific needs.
Our Top Picks
For readers who don’t have the time to read through our detailed reviews, this section is for you. Here, we highlight our top three picks for the best overall, best premium, and best budget tandem kayaks. These short reviews offer a brief snapshot of these high-quality models.
Best Pick: Advanced Elements Tandem Kayak
- Tandem, sit-on-top inflatable kayak incorporates aluminum bow and stern frame to improve tracking in open water
- Configure as self-bailing in bigger waves, or close ports in calm or cold water; heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin material for extreme puncture resistance
- Measures 35 inches wide by 13 feet long inflated; measures 18 by 12.75 by 39.5 inches (W x H x D) deflated; two-person, 500-pound capacity; 47-pound weight
- Comes with StraitEdge 2 kayak, durable storage bag, two folding seats, repair kit, and owner's manual
- Includes limited one-year manufacturer's warranty
This Tandem Kayak is our pick for the best two-person kayak. It’s designed with comfort in mind and can easily accommodate the needs of paddlers of all shapes, sizes, and ability levels. Twin comfort plus seats are ergonomically designed, breathable, and adjustable seats. Patented overlapping foot wells further add to the comfort and support, as they provide proper reliable bracing for the center-seated paddler.
Premium Pick: Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135 Sit Inside Recreational Kayak
- Offers superb maneuverability and easy entry and exit
- Signature rounded hull that delivers swift acceleration
- Converts with ease to solo use for a great day on the water
- Phase 3 Airport seats - fully adjustable, ergonomic seating with ventilated mesh to keep you cooler
- Thigh and knee padding for comfortable support and optimal boat control
For paddlers who are looking for a top-of-the-line tandem kayak and have the room in the room in their budget, the Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135 Sit Inside Recreational Kayak is a great choice. It’s a best-selling tandem that is designed to for high-performance, excellent comfort, and great stability and support. It features a rounded hull that allows swift acceleration so that you can paddle longer and faster. Dual Phase 3 AirPro Seats are completely adjustable, ergonomically designed, and covered with mesh for breathability so you can stay cool while you paddle.
Budget Pick: Intex Excursion Pro Kayak Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- Super tough laminate PVC with polyester core: Light weight and highly resistant to damage from abrasion, impact and sunlight
- High pressure inflation provides extra rigidity and stability, with high pressure spring loaded valves for easy inflation and fast deflation
- Includes 2 removable skews for deep and shallow water, 2 floor mounted footrests, 2 integrated recessed fishing rod holders, 2 adjustable bucket seats
- Removable and adjustable mounting bracket for additional accessories, such as GPS systems, fish finders, swivel fishing rod holders etc. Includes a carry bag and repair patch
- Storage space in bow and Stern with stainless steel d rings for tying down Dry bags and gear; Kayak total weight capacity: 400 pounds
If you’re looking for a reliable, comfortable, and sturdy tandem kayak, but you don’t want to invest a lot of money, the Intex Excursion Pro Kayak Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak. Unlike the previously mentioned tandem kayaks, this is one is inflatable, which helps to keep the cost down. It’s made of highly durable laminate PVC material with a polyester core, so it’s super durable, lightweight, and highly resistant to damage. The high pressure inflation delivers extra rigidity and stability, while the high pressure spring loaded valves make inflation easy and deflation fast.
Tandem Kayak Reviews
Now that we have taken a look at our top picks for the best overall, best premium, and best budget tandem kayaks, let’s take a closer look at these models – and a few additional high-quality options, too. This section features more detailed reviews of the above-mentioned tandem kayaks, as well as some other top-quality models, including pros and cons for each one.
Advanced Elements Tandem Kayak
This family fun boat is made for paddlers of all sizes and ability levels. It’s a sit-on-top kayak with a large open cockpit design offers plenty of space for two paddlers, as well as a small child or a pet. The dual Comfort Plus seats feature adjustable backs and extra breathable foam padding.
Patented overlapping foot wells provide a place for paddlers seated in the center to brace their feet. Built-in paddle holders keep your paddles in the proper position and ensure they are within easy reach. Due to the sit-on-top design, there’s more freedom, flexibility, and stability.
There’s plenty of space on the deck to store your gear, and the built-in bungee will keep your stuff secure. Molded-in side carrying handles and toggle handles in the bow and stern make for easy transport, and with a 500 pound capacity, this tandem kayak can easily accommodate two adults, a child or pet, and your gear, too.
Backed by a limited lifetime warranty and featuring a soothing blend of blue and turquoise colors, this kayak is as attractive as it is durable, sturdy, and comfortable.
- Sit-on-top, open design offers plenty of space and great stability
- 500 pound maximum load capacity
- Twin Comfort Plus seats are adjustable and double padded
- Patented overlapping foot wells
- Built-in paddle holders
- Storage space with a deck bungee
- Molded-in side carrying handles and toggle handles in the bow and stern
- Screw-in drain plate
- Very stable and secure
- Backed by a limited lifetime warranty
Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135 Sit Inside Recreational Kayak
The Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135 Sit Inside Recreational Kayak features a top-of-the-line design and is made with stability and comfort in mind. It features a rounded hull, which delivers swift acceleration and allows you to paddle faster and for longer distances.
Phase 3 AirPro seats are easy to adjust, ergonomic , and 3D foam with honeycomb-vented covering for exceptional comfort and breathability. The large padded foot rests further add to the comfort and enhance the support.
There’s even padding for the thighs and knees for even more comfort and support, as well as improved control over the vessel. An Orbix sealed dry storage hatch is the perfect space to keep you gear safe and dry, and it’s compatible with the Orbix Round Pod for additional storage.
And thanks to the sliding seat system, the bow seat is totally adjustable and allows for smooth and comfortable solo paddling.
- Sit-in design can accommodate tandem and solo paddling
- Features two Phase 3 AirPro, fully adjustable ergonomic, padded, and breathable seats
- Thigh and knee padding for improved comfort, support, and control
- Adjustable padded foot rests
- Dry storage hatch
- Rounded hull for swift acceleration
Intex Excursion Pro Kayak Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak
The Intex Excursion Pro Kayak Professional Series Inflatable Fishing Kayak is an affordable way to enjoy tandem kayaking. Because it’s an inflatable kayak, it’s more affordably priced than the previously mentioned options, yet it’s still highly durable and reliable.
Made of super touch laminate PVC material with a polyester core, it’s lightweight and very resistant to damage that may be caused by abrasion, impact, and the harsh UV rays of the sun. High pressure inflation gives the vessel extra rigidity and stability and high pressure spring loaded values allow make inflation easy and deflation fast. Two removable skews enable deep and shallow water use.
Two seats are equipped with backrests and are fully adjustable and removable for added comfort. The footrests are adjustable, too. It even features a removable and adjustable mounting bracket that can accommodate add-on accessories, such as GPS systems, swivel fishing rod holders, fish finders.
With storage space in the bow and the stern with stainless steel D rings can for tying down gear, you’ll be able to keep your gear close at hand. It comes complete with a convenient storage bag, two oars, and a high-output pump, and it can accommodate up to 400 pounds.
- Made of high-grade laminate PVC with a polyester core
- Lightweight and highly resistant to damage
- High pressure inflation offers added rigidity and stability
- High pressure spring loaded valves allow for easy inflation and fast deflation
- Dual adjustable and removable seats with backrests
- Removable and adjustable mounting bracket
- Bow and stern storage space with stainless steel D rings
- Comes with two oars, a high-output pump, a storage bag, and a repair patch
- Affordably priced
Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Convertible Elite Inflatable Kayak
The AdvancedFrame Convertible Elite is a fifteen foot tandem kayak that offers plenty of space, comfort, stability, and support for two paddlers. It’s another inflatable kayak that features a rib-frame and drop-stitch technologies with a built-in aluminum rib-frame that’s as durable and high-performing as a hard-shelled kayak.
The open design can easily be converted into a closed deck and the top-quality lumbar seats offer exceptional comfort and support. Pre-assembled, it’s easy to set up; just unfold it, inflate it, and attach the seats.
The seats can be placed in three different locations, too, so you can paddle in tandem or alone. Bungee deck lacking provides a safe and secure space to keep your gear close at hand, and it comes with a duffle bag with removable straps for easy storage and transport.
- Made of three layers of high-grade materials and features a built-in aluminum rib frame in the bow and stern
- Drop-stitch technology in the floor area
- Design offers improved tracking, rigidity, and hull speed
- Fast and easy to set up
- Comes with two inflatable seats with back rests that are easy to attach to the vessel
- Seats can be placed in three locations for tandem or solo paddling
- Can accommodate up to 550 pounds
Pelican Tandem Recreational Kayak River Gorge 130 X Tandem
Another high-quality tandem kayak is the Pelican Tandem Recreational Kayak. This highly durable hard-shelled kayak is lightweight, and with dual retractable carrying handles, it is easy to transport.
The two seats feature adjustable backrests and padded seat cushions for great comfort and support. The sit-on-top design with an open cockpit provides greater freedom, movement, and stability.
Two quick-lock hatch and a rear tank well with bungee lacing offers plenty of space to store all of your gear. A twin-arched multi-chine hull design offers extreme stability and exceptional tracking and can support up to 500 pounds.
Built-in bottle holders, paddle tie-downs, molded footrests, and four accessory eyelets round out the features that this tandem kayak offers.
- Sit-on-top open cockpit design
- Two ERGOFIT seats feature padded seat cushions with adjustable backrests
- Two quick lock hatches and a rear tank with bungee lacing for plenty of storage
- Built-in storage for bottles
- Paddle tie-downs
- Molded footrests
- Four accessory eyelets
- Lightweight design and two retractable carrying handles for easy transport
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-on-Top Recreational Kayak
The Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-on-Top Recreational Kayak features an open cockpit for more space and freedom to move. It’s constructed of highly durable materials, yet is lightweight, fast, and easy to transport. It can easily support solo, tandem, or tandem paddling with a child or a furry friend.
The two Comfort Plus seats can be adjustable into four positions so that you can achieve a custom fit, and offers greater slip prevention than molded seats. Patented overlapping foot wells enable center-seated paddlers comfort and support. Thanks to the open hull design, entering and exiting the kayak is a cinch.
With a maximum weight capacity of 425 pounds, it can easily accommodate you, another paddler, and even a child or pet. With a lifetime warranty on the hull, you can buy with peace of mind.
- Made of high-quality, durable, yet lightweight material
- Comfort Plus seats can be adjusted to four positions and features seat backs for increased comfort and support
- Patented overlapping foot wells enable center-seated paddlers comfort and support
- Sit-on-top, open-hull design makes it easy to enter and exit the craft
- Can support up to 425 pounds
- Lifetime warranty on the hull
- Affordably priced
Lifetime Beacon Tandem Kayak
Wrapping up our list of the best tandem kayaks is this option from Lifetime Beacon. It’s equipped with two built-in padded seats with adjustable padded seat backs and a seat bad for added comfort.
The molded-in Freedom Footwells offer secure foot bracing and advanced comfort. Made of high-density polyethylene material, this kayak is super durable, UV resistant, and lightweight.
A skeg wheel allows for advanced tracking and easy transportation. The rear tankwell and cargo net lacing offers plenty of secure storage space. Dual paddle keepers secure your paddles directly to the vessel. The sit-on-top design features an open hull that offers more freedom and makes I easier to move and get on and off of the boat.
Backed by a five year limited lifetime warranty, you can purchase Lifetime Beacon Tandem Kayak with peace of mind.
- Made of UV-protected high-density polyethylene material
- Skeg wheel offers enhanced tracking
- Molded-in Freedom Footwells
- Two seats with adjustable padded backs and seat pads for greater comfort
- Rear tank well with cargo net lacing keeps your gear safe and secure
- Two paddlekeepers attach the paddles to the kayak
- Four carry handles allow for easy transport
- Affordably priced
- Backed by a 5 year limited warranty
Other Best Selling Options
- Constructed of UV-Protected High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE)
- Versatile Design Allows for Solo or Tandem Paddling
- Two Adjustable Quick Release Seat Backs for Comfort
- Multiple Footrest Positions for Different Size Paddlers
- One Hatch for Added Storage Beneath the Deck
- Recreational Kayak – 12’ Foot Two Person Tandem Kayak is Perfect for Fishing, Travel, or Family Recreation - 500 pound weight capacity can accommodate two paddlers + center seat for child or solo paddling
- Tough and Rugged Design – Hull is constructed from Single Piece Rotomolded UV Resistant High Density Polyethylene for Unmatched Strength and Durability
- Adventure Ready – 4 Flush Mount Capped Rod Holders and 2 Mounting Points for Scotty Accessories, Rear Tankwell Storage with Bungee, Dual Watertight Storage Hatches with Inserts and Built in Cup Holders
- Fully Outfitted – 4 Fixed Carry Handles for Easy Transportation, Two Paddle Park Holders to Secure Paddles when not in use, and Molded Center Cockpit Seat
- Package Includes – (2) Adjustable EVA padded seats w/ High Back Support, (2) Anodized Aluminum Performance Kayak Paddles with Ergonomic Grips and (8) Scupper Plugs for Self Bailing Ports
- Perception’s bestselling sit-on-top kayak – Made in the USA – Top choice for beginner to intermediate paddlers
- New adjustable framed seatback with cushy padded seat pan - Paddle with greater comfort
- Molded knee/Thigh areas for added comfort/fit - Additional mold-in center seat for the kids or dog
- Integrated footrests to accommodate paddlers of different sizes
- Front and rear tank well storage with bungee tied owns
- Heavy-duty PVC construction is rugged for lake use
- Tarpaulin bottom provides durable protection from punctures
- Multiple air chambers allow another chamber to stay inflated if one is punctured
- Airtight System is guaranteed not to leak
- Boston Valve is double threaded for easy inflation/deflation
- HOLDS 2 PEOPLE UP TO 400 POUNDS: Inflatable 2-person kayak with included 86-inch long oars and air pump can hold up to 400 pounds; Dimensions (L x W x H): 10.25 x 3 x 1.6 feet
- DESIGNED FOR SPEED AND AGILITY IN THE WATER: Long skeg is great for straight-line tracking, while the short skeg is great for quick and easy turns
- TOUGH VINYL CONSTRUCTION FOR ADVENTURING: Heavy-duty, puncture-resistant vinyl with 3 separate air chambers and an inflatable I-beam floor for rigidity
- EASY TO HANDLE IN AND OUT OF THE WATER: Grab line and carry handles on the front and back for easy transport even when inflated
- INCLUDES: Inflatable seats with backrests that are removable and adjustable; 2 dry bags and a carry bag for carrying the kayak and accessories when not in use
Tandem Kayak Buyer’s Guide
There’s nothing better than enjoying Mother Nature’s beauty with someone you love. If you like paddling the open water and you want to share your passion with someone else, you may be considering a tandem kayak. Also simply referred to as “tandems”, these kayaks are designed for two people to use at the same time.
A tandem kayak offers numerous benefits. They encourage teamwork, as and your partner need to work together in order to successfully utilize the water vessel, and they actually help both parties learn how to paddle more efficiently.
While more expensive than a single person kayak, a tandem can actually end up saving you money in the long run, as you won’t need to purchase two individual vessels. And of course, there’s also the benefit of just enjoying a fun activity out in nature with someone else.
If you’re interested in taking advantage of all the benefits that a tandem kayak offers, it goes without saying that you want to be sure that you choose a high-quality, safe, comfortable, and reliable vessel. But like single person kayaks, there are so many tandems models on the market that trying to figure out which one will best suit your specific needs can seem like a challenging task.
To help you avoid the hassle of sorting through the dizzying array of tandem kayaks that are on the market, we’ve taken the liberty of doing the work for you. After conducting extensive research, we’ve read through the descriptions and customer reviews of dozens of tandems and have compared and contrasted the models and narrowed down the choices to what we think are the very best options currently available.
Now that you’ve read through our list of the best tandem kayaks, you’re probably wondering which one to pick. In order to choose the best kayak to meet your specific needs, you’re going to want to take some key factors into consideration. In this section of our guide, we share those key factors so that you can determine which vessel will best meet your needs.
First, you should decide what style you want. There are two main styles:
- Sit-in. This style, as the name suggests, allows you and your paddling partner to sit inside the vessel. The hull is enclosed, which helps to protect you from splashing water and can protect your gear from the water, too; however, because of the enclosed sides, some people find that they are a bit constricting.
- Sit-on-top. Also known as SOT, the hull of this style kayak is opened and allows you to sit on top of the water. Because there aren’t any sides, it has a more open feel and gives you more space to move; but, because the lack of sides expose you to splashing. Some models features enclosed storage space to keep gear dry.
The style that will best suit your needs depends on your preference. Consider how much movability you’d like and if you want to avoid getting wet or don’t mind getting splashed.
Hard-shelled or Inflatable
Next, you’ll want to decide if you would like a hard-shelled or inflatable kayak. Hard-shelled kayaks are more durable and sturdier, but they’re also heavier and more expensive. Inflatable kayaks are lighter weight and easier to transport and store, but they do need to be inflated and deflated and they aren’t as durable, as they are prone to puncturing.
To determine which one would better suit your needs, think about where you will be using the kayak, what your storage accommodations are like, and which option would be easier for you to move about.
Once you’ve decided on the style and whether you want a hard-shelled or inflatable kayak, you should determine what length you would like. Naturally, tandem kayaks are longer than solo kayaks, as they are designed to fit two people; however, tandem kayaks do vary widely in terms of length.
Longer vessels offer more space and can even accommodate two paddlers and a passenger; however, they are more difficult to maneuver and harder to carry. While shorter kayaks are easier to carry and easier to maneuver, there is a downside: they have a greater chance of capsizing.
You’ll also want to consider the level of comfort the kayak offers. Paddling can be hard work, especially if you plan on being out on the water for a prolonged period of time. Molded-in seats are durable, but they are hard and can get uncomfortable after a while.
Padded seats, adjustable seats with back rests are your best bet for comfort, as you’ll be able to position the seat to the ideal location, and you’ll have something you can lean back on for added support.
Foot rests make a difference in your comfort level, too. Padded and adjustable foot rests will offer the highest degree of comfort, as they can be moved to better accommodate the size of the paddlers, and the padding gives your feet some shock absorption, too.
It’s also a good idea to consider the storage space that the kayak offers, as you’re probably going to want to have some essential gear close at hand, like beverages, a towel, and maybe even a change of clothes and a snack.
If you plan on fishing, you’ll also want to have a space where you can put your tackle and other fishing gear. The best tandem kayaks offer both dry and deck storage options.
Dry storage usually features a hinged top that conceals your gear and shield it from water, while deck storage should feature a bungee or some other way of latching your gear to the vessel so that it doesn’t fall off.
Of course, you should also consider the stability of the vessel, as stability determines your safety and your success on the water. Keep in mind that shorter tandem kayaks tend to be less stable, while longer kayaks are more stable.
If you plan on paddling on calmer waters, such as a lake, a shorter kayak may offer you the stability you need; however, if you are going to be paddling on choppy waters, then a longer kayak would be a better bet, as it will offer you more stability.
The amount of weight the kayak can carry is also a very important factor to consider. Who and how much you plan on bringing on board the vessel should be considered when you are trying to determine what load capacity you will need.
Typically, the capacity of a tandem kayak ranges between 400 and 600 pounds. If the paddlers are heavier and you plan on bringing a good bit of gear with you, then you’re going to want to look for a kayak that has a higher load capacity.
Lastly, you’ll want to consider the cost of the tandem kayak. These vessels vary widely in price; generally speaking, inflatable styles are less expensive, while hard-shelled models tend to have higher prices.
The more features the kayak offers the higher the price tag will likely be, too. Before you start shopping for a kayak, make sure you determine how much you want to spend so that you don’t end up exceeding your budget.
Tandem Kayaks FAQs
What are the advantages of a tandem kayak?
Tandem kayaks provide space for at least two paddlers, and some can accommodate an additional passenger. They are great for enjoying paddling with a partner and promote teamwork. While they’re price tags may be higher, in the long run, they’re usually less expensive, as you’ll only need to purchase one vessel.
What are the disadvantages of a tandem kayak?
A tandem kayak may require more work, as these vessels are larger and heavier; plus, you need to make sure that you and your partner are working in unison in order to be successful.
What size should I buy?
The size of the kayak you need depends on your intended use. If you plan on bringing along a passenger or you have a lot of gear, a longer kayak may be a better option for you; furthermore, if you’re going to be using it on choppier water, a longer vessel may be a better choice, as longer kayaks are more stable.
A tandem kayak is a great way to enjoy the open water with a partner. With the information presented in this guide, you should be able to choose the best model for your particular needs so that you can comfortably and safely paddle the open water.