Best Tandem Kayak: Top 5 Reviewed In 2018

Tandem kayak is an effective tool to both give you more fun and enjoy a collaborative challenge with your partners. However, like any product on the recent market, even the best tandem kayak also has its advantages and disadvantages. To choose an appropriate model, first of all, you must definitely determine some related aspects. In this article, I will provide all essential information and the 5 best tandem kayak choices in 2018 based on my experiences and research

The advantages and disadvantages of tandem kayaks compared to single kayaks

This part helps you understand clearer which one is more suitable with your demands


  • Normally, tandem kayaks are cheaper than 2 single kayaks
  • It's more efficient than padding 2 singles
  • Gives you a short time of rest while another one is paddling
  • Tandem kayak gives you and your partner a good chance to work together


  • This kind requires another partner all the time
  • Cooperation is a key to be successful
  • You can't discover underwater on your own
  • Most of the tandem kayaks are longer than single kayaks

How to choose the best Tandem kayak

Padding with your partner or solo

Unlike the traditional kayak, tandem padding is pretty difficult and frustrating if padding alone. Moreover, patience is a virtue which you need to have when padding tandem kayak.

Kayak styles

There are 2 styles of tandem kayaks:

The old, traditional cockpit kayak (sit inside)

The design of this style has a narrow hole to let paddlers sit inside. While your legs are put inside, your torso is exposed to move and paddle easily. Although this kind of model is a bit cramped to put your legs, its performance is higher than the sit on top kayaks.

The new sit on top kayak

As the name suggests, thanks to the special design, you just need to sit on top of the kayak. Meanwhile, the room for your legs is spacious so you can get in and out easily.

Which sit-in-kayak or sit-on-kayak is better for you?

To have the answer to this question, you need to answer the following questions in advance:

Where will you paddle: warm weather or water conditions? A sit in kayak can help you handle well in cold water or weather conditions

Are you a beginner of kayaker who is worried about your kayak tipping over? What you are looking for is a sit in kayak which can provide you the best stability. For this model, you sit lower than your kayak, leading to a lower center of gravity.

Will you paddle in the ocean or calm and sheltered water? A sit in kayak can keep you away from the outside elements.

Hull shape

This element can influence how you and your partner perform kayaking in the water. And there are 3 main shapes of kayak:

  • The flat bottom hull is the most common boat for beginners because its maximum stability can ensure the safety of users on calm condition. However, I don't highly recommend this kind for people who want to challenge rough and ocean conditions since it can't cut through the surf.
  • The rounded bottom hull lets your kayak cut through the water so it can achieve a faster speed than the flat bottom without taking too much the effort on your end due to the less friction against the water. A model with little stability suits with intermediate riders.
  • A V-shaped hull provides you with the fastest speed that is ideal for long-distance travel. This kind can turn on a dime and be maneuvered easily so it just suits with expert kayakers

Gear storage

Gear storage of kayak varies in many styles. For example, sock cord and deck lashing are the most simple and common ones of the traditional models. However, sit on top kayaks also have areas for shock cord lashing. Although a storage compartment - hatch is called as a watertight choice, it is not always waterproof.

Kayak length

The vast majority of tandem kayaks are longer than solo kayaks so it may be pretty hard to transport one model alone. In general, the longer your kayak is, the harder you maneuver. What's more, in case your house is far away from the beach, make sure your car can handle well a long kayak. Normally, the length of a tandem kayak will range from 12 feet to 16+ feet so pick up one depending on your demands.

Inflatable kayaks

This kind of kayak is very convenient as it can solve the problems of others. Like a pool toy, to use, you will pump high pressure to reach a very rigid structure on durable material. An inflatable kayak doesn't take much space to fit into your passenger and car so it's perfect to transport from place to place

It isn't deniable that inflatable kayaks are useful but without carefulness, you can tear a hole in your model.

Kayak features

  1. Spray skirt protects the cockpit away from waves and water which results in submerging the boat.
  2. Rocker is a kind of shape kayak. It lets you know the amount of arc your kayak has. In sum, the more rocker your kayak has, the easier it turns.
  3. In a windy condition or padding straight over long distance, detachable skeg or retractable fin will help your kayak stabilize.
  4. Rudder has the similar function of padding. That means you can use this tool to control the direction of your kayak.

Materials of kayak

The best tandem kayak can be made from many different kinds of materials:

  • Polyethylene is a plastic material that is the cheapest and most common material to manufacture kayak. Its advantages are durable but lightweight. Furthermore, don't exposure your polyethylene kayak under the UV too long because this material is easy to break down.
  • Compared to Poly kayaks, ABS material is more resistant to sunlight, more durable and easier to repair. That's the reason why it more expensive.
  • Composite is a combination of the high-end materials including carbon fiber, fiberglass, and Kevlar. These materials make a product having the lightweight feature. Excepting top-performers across all classes, it's hard to look for one because they are very expensive.


No matter which model you purchase, this is a worthy investment so you should choose a product that comes with the longest warranty. Keep in mind that a lot of kayak manufacturers only take responsibility for manufacturer defects and a limited warranty.


Q: How do you paddle a tandem kayak?

A: The fact is that a tandem kayak always requires more effort on your end than paddling a single kayak so you are in need of a partner when playing this outdoor activity. A person sitting in front of the model will take responsibility for setting the pace. This way helps both of you minimize the number of times bonking paddles gradually. Meanwhile, the task of the one at the back is to keep the rhythm and paddle stronger to have your kayak go straight in the direction.

Q: How do you steer a tandem kayak?

A: When it comes to steering the tandem kayak, the role of the one at the back is really important because while the kayaker in the front is paddling in the rhythm, another in the rear takes responsibility for changing the direction. In case a pair of strong paddles can't help you achieve your aim, you may need the support of a backstroke to turn in the right direction quickly.

Q: How do I transport a tandem kayak?

A: Like what you will do with a single kayak, a car attached to a suitable roof rack is a must. You will place your tandem kayak on the roof rack of your car and drive to the beach safely. When arriving in the beach, your second task is to transport the kayak from your car to the water. There are many ways to perform but the most common one is through portaging. Two people performing this task is piece of cake. Each one grabs an end of the model then flip it over your head to carry above both of you. If the transporting task belongs to only you, you should have the support of a dolly.

Q: How to paddle a tandem kayak solo?

A: All we know that tandem kayak is designed for 2 different people paddling. However, for a reason of something, you would like to use your tandem kayak for a solo trip, I will show you the way. Normally, a tandem kayaks have a lot of different seats so a solo trip with a tandem kayak requires you sitting in a middle seat of the kayak. It makes sure you don't tip the kayak when you sit too far forward or at the back. The disadvantage even when you properly follow my guide is that you need to take extra effort on your end to turn the long tandem kayak.

Q: How to flip a tandem kayak?

A: Knowing how to roll your kayak is the key. This is important when you use a tandem kayak because you need to master it well to coordinate with another one. Before anything else, it's essential and important to determine which one is stronger to be the leader. Another just need to mimic the movements of the person in the front. This combination helps both of you act more synchronized to be successful.

Q: How to store a tandem kayak?

A: You need to invest in a kayak carrier to store your model up off the floor safely without taking much space. When it comes to inflatable kayak, it's not hard to store. If your space is limited, you can store it outside but ensure it is kept away from the direct sunlight. Also, keep in mind to always rinse before storing to keep it look new in a long time.

Tips for beginners of tandem kayaking

Kayaking just can bring a lot of fun if you know how to get the best experiences safely:

Remember to always wear a life jacket while kayaking because it will support you in case you fall in water for any reason. Even you feel sweltering outside, dressing in the proper clothing is a must. You don't know how it's cold underwater. Nothing can make sure you don't get wet while playing in a water environment.

It's better to go with a person who has a lot of experience of kayaking. He or she will let you know what you should do for the first time.

Your safety is always the top priority so you have to have a careful preparation before going to the kayak especially paddling. You can refer to some videos about how to paddle in a kayak

The review 2018 of the best tandem kayak

The design of this tandem kayak provides 3 seats: two ones for adults and one for a kid. However, you need to make sure that the total weight is not over 500lbs.

This kayak features its versatility that means you can use it as a recreational method (kayaking) or a great fishing vessel due to the well-outfitted preparation. For example, while you are fishing, you can store your different rod accessories in 2 capped flush mount fishing rod holders and 4 mounting points especially there is a special spot for storing your paddle. In particular, if you bring big gears, you can store them in a tank with a bungee cord.

This kayak is attached to 4 carrying handles to help users transport out of the water as easy as possible.


  • Can paddle solo, two or three people at the same time
  • Very well made
  • Super sturdy on the water
  • Wrapped in a super heavy moving blanket and tons of huge bubble wrap so you can keep that blanket for other uses.


  • Heavy on the land, requiring 2 strong people to load and carry
  • Doesn't track super straight

Sun Dolphin Bali 13.5 Foot Tandem is a stable design which it has no trouble for 2-3 people to use without tracking.

For its weight, only one person can take this kayak from the land to the water.

However, due to 13.5-inch kayak, if you use this model alone, you need to use extra effort on your end to keep it going on. In this case, you should move one of the seats into the middle position to paddle by yourself.

In the front and back of the kayak, there are many extra storage and hatches including dry storage for your cell phone, for example. A few mesh bungees and space at the back are also used for storage. You can store your fishing gears like some rod holders in these storing spaces to make a trip for fishing with this kayak.

The manufacturer provides their users with 2 paddle holders to replace in anticipation of losing one of them.

Other smart design of this product is the well-positioned scupper plugs that filter out any water and drain inside when the level of water gets too high.

Its seats come with adjustable padded seats and high backrest to provide users the best comfort.


  • Reasonable price
  • Goods tracking for its side
  • Big and sturdy


  • Hard for 3 people to use at the same time
  • No deluxe seat in the center

This is a great model having a speed boost, and the improved storage options.

Perception Kayak Tribe is made from a custom, and high-grade polyethylene plastic material and must undergo a specific rotational molding process so its construction is very strong and durable. Moreover, this combination also comes with the following features: UV resistance, and impact resistance.

The design of the hull varies in thickness, giving extra strength for essential positions but it doesn't go with any unneeded weight. There is a replaceable skid plate in stern to add up to the durability but if you have many ones, it can be stackable.

This model is ideal for people who want to carry a lot of things because it comes with a wide range of storage choices. For example, there is a small tank well in the bow and a bigger, recessed one in the stern attached to bungee cords to secure your gears. In front of the seat, there are a desk plate, a cat bag, and a molded-in bottle holder in your arm's reach to store your essential things.

Seats are removable, adjustable, and high-back padded so users will feel as comfortable as possible.

Molded-in footwells have a wide room to let you freely adjust your position anytime.


  • Incredible performance

  • Very sturdy

  • Not too heavy and bulky

  • Soft touch handles

  • Enough room to bring your pet


  • Easy to have scratches

This Ocean Kayak is designed with 2 comfortable accompanying seat backs among 3 molded-in seat wells available. The lightweight on board lets you sit higher on the kayak so the water doesn't come through the scupper holes.

Footwells are designed to overlap so the center paddler can sit in any position comfortable and free.

Skid plate is a revolutionary kayak accessory, taking responsibility for lengthening your kayak's lifespan. For example, when keeping it in place, you can limit the damage of its keel. Moreover, it is possible to replace so there is no need to worry if you lose it. You should have a spare because the skid plate can't last forever.

The Ocean Kayak has some attractive designs and colors such as green, yellow, and sunrise orange which helps your model spot in the water easily.

This model is designed for 2-3 people but it can still work well when you use by yourself


  • Lengthy warranty coverage
  • More spacious
  • Easy to use for beginners


  • Expensive
  • A bit heavy on sides

Lifetime 10 foot is designed for 3 people that means you can use solo or tandem.

This model suits any players. It provides the best comfort for beginners and pleasure for experienced kayakers.

The kayak has a plenty of uses. Obviously, its function is kayaking but with a fishing rod holder or a sail, you have several choices of water activities to join

There are 3 contoured seats which come with 2 padded backrests. They make sure to offer your small family (2 adults and a kid) a comfortable long trip. However, keep in mind that the maximum of the total weight is 500 lbs

In particular, the footrest positions are spacious so there is no need to be worried about whether your legs are long or short, they can provide the best comfort.

Each model is attached with two 7-feet push-button symmetrical aluminum paddles. Both are adjustable to multiple angles (up to 90 degrees) depending on your specific padding style. The combination of paddles and vinyl grip puts a complete control in your hand while paddling.

At the end, there is a storage place which is used to store what you need for your kayaking trips such as fishing equipment, foods, and drinks. Then the safety is added with shock straps (bungee cords). Plus, you can keep your small bits and pieces in some ditty trays, your drinks in a bottle holder. In case you just want to float or go fishing, simply, simply, put your paddles in a paddle cradle.


  • Stable hull
  • A mast receiver receptacle to attach a sail
  • Easy to carry
  • Excellent stability
  • 5-years limited manufacturer warranty
  • Inexpensive


  • Not too fast
  • Hard to maneuver

Enjoying your trip

Kayaking by yourself is great but it will be better to enjoy a kayak trip with your loved ones. The best tandem kayak has from 2-3 seats for members of your family or your friends. I highly recommend Lifetime 10 Foot, Two Person Tandem Sit-on Kayak with Padded Backrests because it is designed for many people.

Moreover, there is a lot of useful storage space in the kayak. Wheather you are a beginner or experienced kayaker, this model can meet very well your demands with the best comfort

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