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Whether you’re visiting a tropical island such as the Maldives or staying at a lake house for the weekend, we all should get the opportunity to try out water sports. From jet skiing to water gliding, they’re the perfect escape from our day-to-day and get us rejuvenated for what’s to come.
Nonetheless, if you’re on the quest for a more relaxing watercraft, then kayaking with a loved one is just what the doctor ordered.
What better way to enjoy the day than to bring a loved one or acquaintance along for the ride? But, with the wealth of options that have filled the market, selecting the best tandem kayak can be an uphill battle.
Fortunately, you’ve come to the right place because this guide delves into the top models that will give you value for your money and a few buying factors to consider that will steer you in the right direction.
Best Overall Choice
1. Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
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With an overall length of 10.3 feet, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak has a depth of 15 inches, thus providing ample sitting space. Designed with durability in mind, this tandem kayak has unmatched resistance to punctures and tears from sharp rocks courtesy of the sturdy fiber.
It can withstand rougher terrain upon dragging it along the shore. The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak can comfortably accommodate two people with a combined weight of 400 pounds. And it has an inflatable l-beam floor for enhanced performance and rigidity in rougher waters.
Armed with Boston valves, inflating and deflating the kayak is a walk in the park. What sets the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak apart from its rivals is that it comes with adjustable/removable seats with a backrest that add a layer of comfort. And, for better visibility, the kayak comes in a vibrant yellow color that makes it easy to spot by emergency rescue teams if mishaps crop up.
• Built from heavy-duty puncture-resistant material
• 2 independent air chambers for faster inflating and deflating
• Bright-colored for enhanced visibility
• Impressive stability
• Excellent weight capacity of 400 pounds
• Cockpit for increased space and comfort
• Detachable SKEG for Directional Stability
• Restricted to smaller water bodies
• Loses air over time
2. Sea Eagle 370 Pro
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Built to accommodate up to 3 people with a combined weight of 650 pounds, the Sea Eagle 370 Pro weighs 32 pounds. And it’s one of the few to accommodate more than two people in its chambers. With valid NMMA certification along with three deluxe one-way valves, deflating and inflating this tandem kayak is a breeze.
Furthermore, it comes with a couple of SKEGs that sit at the bottom, thus providing enhanced speed and tracking. In turn, this makes it perfect for downstream river activities. The hull is designed from sturdy PolyKrylar material that can weather any tears or punctures on the surface.
Furthermore, the kayak has unmatched sun and water resistance giving it the uncanny ability to handle anything Mother Nature throws at it.
With a pressure gauge and repair kit, you can comfortably fill the kayak with just the right amount of air, thus increasing its durability. After all, excessive air ushers in the risk of the kayak bursting at the seams, and that’s the last thing you need.
If patience isn’t your strong suit, then the Sea Eagle 370 Pro is a perfect choice because inflating it only takes 8 minutes. Measuring 10.9 feet in length and a depth of about 20 inches, this tandem kayak allows people to sit comfortably as they paddle away.
• Stern and bow grab line for enhanced balance
• Valid NMMA certification
• Sturdy PolyKrylar hull that can withstand any puncture
• Easy to inflate
• Lightweight and portable
• Excellent depth and length for comfortable sitting
• Accommodates up to 3 people
• Lack of ropes on the sides for tying down gear
• Weak paddles that demand more effort
Best Premium Choice
3. HRH-KYT-1002 OC Paddle Ocean
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Granted, it’s one of the pricier kayaks in the market. But, like everything else in life, you get what you pay for. The impressive features and components of the OC Paddle Ocean tandem kayak make it a worthwhile investment.
It has three molded-in seat wells, a skid plate, two comfortable plus-size seats, molded-in handles, patented overlapping foot-wells, and gear straps.
The HRH-KYT-1002 OC Paddle Ocean is 12 feet long and can be paddled alone or with a partner by your side. How lovely would it be to right next to a loved one surrounded by the serenity of the water and surroundings? It’s certainly an escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city that will have you grinning from ear-to-ear.
With a width of 34 inches, it’s evident that this tandem kayak doesn’t compromise on comfort, providing ample room for two people to sit for hours on end without straining any part of their body.
• Can accommodate two people and a child
• Maximum weight capacity of 425 pounds
• Comfortable sitting for hours
• Built from puncture-resistant material
• Can withstand strong currents
• Aesthetically-pleasing design
• Pricier than other models
4. Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135
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With the ability to comfortably house three people, the Pamlico 135 is ideal for fishing and other ideal water adventures. Weighing about 72 lbs with a length of 13.6 feet, and a depth of 24 inches, this tandem kayak provides sufficient room for proper and comfortable sitting.
It can support up to 500 pounds, thus making it one of the most successful models in the market. But remember, quality always comes at a price. So, for slightly over $1000, the Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135 has Phase 3 Air Pro seats. These are not only entirely ergonomic but also adjustable with ventilated mesh that keeps you as cool as a cucumber when the sweltering summers roll around.
Furthermore, it provides optimal boat control and excellent support, courtesy of the knee and thigh padding that’s pleasantly thick.
The large padded footrests have a locking lever and can be easily adjusted to cater to users of varying heights. With a dry storage hatch in tow, you can slip in additional gear or the catch of the day. And it’s sealed, keeping the contents you carry dry and secure.
You’ll find stern bulkhead foam that’s a rarity in cheaper tandem kayaks. As a safety feature, it’s a beast at enhancing buoyancy on the water. While it’s fun to paddle with a partner in crime, there are times when you want some alone time on the water.
Fortunately, the Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135 easily and swiftly converts into solo use for a great day of adventure. Furthermore, it has a signature rounded hull, which provides impressive acceleration. It’s a lifesaver when it comes to paddling longer distances in a shorter timeframe.
• Topnotch Convertible technology that alters the kayak from dual to single-use
• Ergonomic seating for extended hours of kayaking
• Unique rounded hull for increased strength and acceleration
• Can withstand Class 3 rapids
• Built from sturdy and durable material
• Beautiful design
5. Lifetime 90806 Tamarack Angler 100
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As a sit-on-top tandem kayak, the Lifetime 90806 Tamarack Angler 100 comes with a backrest and padded seating for unrivaled comfort. So, this makes it perfect for long fishing and paddling escapades. Built with extreme stability and safety in mind, the Tamarack Angler has a flat bottom with stability chine rails coupled with deep tracking channels.
And it’s designed with dense, blow-molded polyethylene that makes it resistant to direct impact and anything Mother Nature throws at it. Weighing 52 pounds, the Tamarack Angler comes with a rear and front carry handle that makes it a breeze to transport to and from the waterfront.
Furthermore, it has an array of useful accessories that step up your fishing and paddling experience by a few notches. So, you’ll find several footrest sections, rod holder, shock cord straps, and a couple of sealed storage hatches.
• Seat pad and adjustable padded seat back for increased comfort
• Comes with a paddle
• Rear and front T-handles for enhanced portability
• Two hatches for more storage space under the deck
• Stable flat base
• Paddle-keeper included
• UV resistant
• Screws cannot be tightened
• Cumbersome to assemble
Best Budget Choice
6. Intex Challenger Kayak Series
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Are you on the quest for a fun and sporty tandem kayak? Then the streamlined Intex Challenger Kayak Series that delivers hassle-free paddling wraps up your search. And its sporty graphics coupled with vibrant green color is not only a sight for sore eyes but enhances visibility in the water. So, it’s easy to spot by the emergency crew when the need arises.
For easy deflation and inflation, the streamlined Intex Challenger Kayak Series comes with a high output pump coupled with two 86-inch Aluminum paddles. Designed from the company’s sturdy and rugged vinyl, this tandem kayak has unmatched resistance to the sun’s harmful UV rays and punctures.
This enhances its durability. With dimensions of 30 X 15 X 138 inches (Width X Height x Depth), the Intex Challenger Kayak Series has a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds. And, it comes with handy accessories ranging from a high capacity pump to a repair patch kit.
• Built from sturdy and durable vinyl
• Sporty graphics and vibrant green color make it aesthetically pleasing
• Impressive resistance to UV damage and punctures
• Maximum weight limit of 400 lbs
• Fun and sporty
• Ushers in easy paddling
• Useful accessories included
• Small storage space compared to other models
• SKEG at times get jammed
7. Vanhunks Voyager Deluxe Kayak
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Designed from 5mm durable polyethylene, the Vanhunks Voyager Deluxe Kayak goes all in. With this sit-on-top tandem kayak, you have everything you need. You can take this bad boy for fishing or touring on oceans, lakes, or rivers for a day fun-filled adventure with your progeny, pet, partner, or furry friend.
You also have free rein to ride solo and get some much-needed alone time with nature. Simply position one of the deluxe foam padded seats right in the middle of the kayak.
With a width of 32 inches, the Voyager Deluxe comes with an array of storage compartments, bungee spaces, and hatches to safely keep your tent, supplies, as your rods rest in swivel and molded holders. You buckle up for the excursion on the removable and adjustable padded beach/camp chair.
The tandem kayak provides impressive stability, comfort, and easy paddling, thus guaranteeing your focus can be just where you want it. All fixtures and inserts are of topnotch quality and safeguarded via marine-grade stainless steel bolts coupled with captive brass inserts.
When it comes to portability, the 77-pound kayak has a carry handle on both sides as well as at the front and rear. And, with a maximum weight capacity of 550 pounds, the Vanhunks Voyager Deluxe Kayak has excellent resistance to impact and UV, thus boosting its longevity.
• Impact and UV resistant
• Easy to paddle
• Carry handle on all sides for better portability
• 500-pound maximum weight capacity
• Eye-catching design
• 12-month warranty included
• Doesn’t perform well on high waves
8. Pelican Tandem Recreational Kayak
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With two detachable carrying handles, the Pelican Tandem Recreational Kayak is lightweight and easy to transport. As a sit-on-top model with an open cockpit, it comfortably carries two kayakers. For enhanced support for hours on end, you’ll find an adjustable backrest and padded seat cushion.
The Pelican Tandem Recreational Kayak comes with a rear tank well covered in bungee lacing and a dual-quick lock hatch to store all your essentials for your excursions on the water.
With a twin-arched Multi-Chine hull design, this tandem kayak delivers impressive tracking and stability as it holds up to 500 pounds (227 kg). It also comes with handy accessories.
They range from molded footrests for increased comfort, bottle holders, four accessory eyelets for attaching optional gear on the kayak, and secure foot bracing, to paddle tie-downs for safely tucking away your paddles when they’re not in use.
• ERGOFIT seating
• Remarkable tracking
• Excellent stability
• Weight capacity of up to 500 lbs
• Easy to carry and from the waterfront
• Comes with retractable carrying handles
• Lack of drain plugs for taking out the water
Buying Guide: How to Choose the Best Tandem Kayak
Here’s a breakdown of the buying factors to consider when choosing a tandem kayak to ensure you pick an option that will best fit your needs and expectations.
The heavier a tandem kayak is, the greater its stability in the water. It’s essential to make sure the model you opt for has a wide beam or is heavy. Shorter kayakers should ensure that the tandem kayak they select isn’t overly long; otherwise, paddling can become an uphill battle.
Contrarily, taller kayakers require longer models as they provide more control and legroom. Furthermore, they should double-check the paddle length to ensure they’re not too short.
If your goal is to transport your tandem kayak a fairly large distance to the waterfront, then a lightweight option with the firm and comfortable handles is right up your alley. It’s crucial if solo kayaking is in the pipeline. But, if you’re going to bring a partner in crime along for the rides, then the weight is a non-factor.
Another recommendation is to ensure you pay attention to how a kayak responds to strong winds. If you plan to transport it on the roof of your car, you’ll want to ensure it is strong enough to withstand wind currents.
When selecting the best tandem kayak, keep in mind the body of water on which you’ll be using it. Ocean-friendly models have a wide beam and are heavier. So, keep this in mind if you intend to use your tandem kayak on the deep blue sea.
If not, the chances of it tipping over are visibly higher. River-friendly kayaks are strikingly similar to the ocean-friendly counterparts that have a wide and heavy beam. But what they’re more durable as they can handle tree branches and rocks regularly.
So, aside from ensuring your tandem kayak has sufficient durability, avoid buying the inflatable options for river kayaking unless they’re designed to be used on rapids. Most tandem kayaks are ideal for lakes because they don’t have varying waves and current, as seen in rivers and oceans.
Shorter and lighter kayaks are great for lakes. But, they have a higher likelihood of tipping. Keeping that in mind, a lighter tandem kayak also ushers in increased speed.
If your goal is to fish or spend hours on end in your kayak, then it’s a no-brainer that a lot of gear is needed. So, double-check that it has sufficient storage to house all your necessities when out on the water.
And, more importantly, make sure it can keep all your contents dry by packing important items in a dry bag. A major advantage over tandem kayaks is that they provide sufficient room to house all your gear on solo trips.
5. Weight Capacity
It’s advisable to experiment with the weight capacity of your tandem kayak before embarking on long excursions on the water. By knowing the weight capacity of a model before you purchase it, you’ll know right away whether or not it’ll fit your needs based on what you intend to carry on it.
Remember, if you overload it, water will start seeping in. So, to avoid resigning yourself to this fate, ensure you don’t try to fit more than the required number of people. For instance, if it can accommodate up to 3 people, do not ride it with a fourth person on board. For added safety, you can tie up your kayak to a dock and fill it with your normal weight for hours on end before you take it out.
When selecting the best tandem kayak that best suits your needs, consider the material it’s designed from, as discussed below.
- ABS: If you live in hotter areas, then a tandem kayak constructed from this material is your Holy Grail. While it’s pricier, ABS offers more resistance to damage than the polyethylene counterparts. Moreover, it’s easier to repair.
- Composite: These range from fiberglass and carbon fiber to Kevlar. Moreover, tandem kayaks built from composite will cost you an arm and a leg. They’re lightweight and provide excellent performance across all classes. Nonetheless, they’re a rarity.
- Polyethylene: Tandem kayaks constructed from this material are the most affordable and popular. While polyethylene is cheaper, it’s heavy. And, it breaks down easily with UV exposure. So, storing polyethylene boats in the shade is crucial to their longevity. They’re also not ideal if you intend to be out on the water for hours on end when the sweltering summers roll around.
When selecting a tandem kayak, consider a model with the following essential features for a better paddling experience.
- Rocker: Here’s where the boat’s shape comes into play. Rocker describes the amount of ‘banana’ or arc shape the kayak has. The more ‘rocker’ it is, the easier it is to maneuver.
- SKEG: As a removable fin, SKEG aids in the stabilization of some tandem kayaks in windy conditions or as you paddle straight for a long distance.
- Rudder: While it’s similar to a SKEG, the rudder is a beast in controlling the kayak’s direction for improved paddling.
- Spray Skirt: If your goal is to use your tandem kayak on whitewater or for touring, then ensure it has a spray skirt. It prevents water and waves from entering the cockpit and, in turn, sinking the boat.
Tandem kayaking can be one of the most exhilarating experiences of your life, but only if you purchase the best option for you. Hopefully, this guide will help you narrow down your search and make the right choice for you and your partner in crime.