Teamwork makes the dream work—what more can you say about a tandem kayak? Actually, a lot more… tandem kayaks come in all shapes, sizes, materials, and with a wide assortment of features. We’ve put in the research to help you find the best 2 person kayak for your outdoor adventures.
Kayaking is one of the best ways to get outside and interact with nature. Not only is kayaking incredibly fun while providing an adventure in a way very few outdoor activities can, it is also provides a peaceful feel and allows you to get away from the stresses of everyday life.
However, kayaking is even better when you can share the experience with someone else, such as a friend, spouse or family member. Using a tandem kayak is a fantastic bonding activity that requires teamwork. If you’ve never been kayaking in a two person kayak, then you are missing out on a fantastic experience.
With that said, having the right two person kayak can make a big difference on the quality of the experience. When using a low quality tandem kayak, you will constantly have to work much harder to get the kayak to do what you want. Plus, it can become much more uncomfortable very quickly and put you at a higher risk of capsizing in oceans and strong rivers.
For your benefit, we have compiled a list of the seven best two person kayaks on the market today. We rank, review and provide specific details on why each tandem kayak is great.
Even more importantly, you will learn what factors you should consider when choosing the tandem kayak that is best for you and your kayaking partner. By following the advice presented in this guide to the best tandem kayaks, you will be able to make the right purchasing decision. Here’s to exploring new waters effortlessly for years to come.
Why Tandem Kayaks Are Better Than Single Person Kayaks
Although single person kayaks have their own benefits, tandem kayaks are seen by many as being much more enjoyable.
The main aspect that makes using a two person kayak much better than kayaking by yourself is that you get to share the experience with someone else. Whether you’re kayaking down white water currents, fishing in the ocean, or you are simply out enjoying the beautiful view of your local lake, being out on the water in a kayak is a breathtaking experience. When you have someone there with you to talk to and simply be with, it makes it even better.
Also, kayaking with someone you want to grow closer with is one of the best, if not the best, way to get to know someone. Whether you are going on a first date, catching up with an old friend or spending time with your kids, going out on a kayak is a fantastic way to simply slow life down and have a genuine conversation with someone you care about and want to get to know on a closer level.
Related: How to Store a Kayak
Also, when using a 2 person kayak, the kayaking itself becomes much easier. Although tandem kayaks are much bigger and heavier, having two people rowing as opposed to just one makes the job for easier. Many who kayak by themselves are ultimately forced to cut their kayaking trip short due to arm and core fatigue from having to work to propel the kayak forward in still or slow current water.
However, you can more effortlessly do so when you have a partner there with you. Tandem kayaks also tend to be much safer than single person kayaks. In a single person kayak, you are at a much higher risk of capsizing and getting stuck swimming in strong currents. Oftentimes when kayaking by yourself, there isn’t anyone around to help you if you are injured and can’t make it back to your kayak. In a 2 person kayak, however, you will always have someone there with you, making capsizing far less likely and less dangerous if it were to happen.
How to Use a Two Person Kayak
Tandem kayaks do require some technique and getting used to in ways that single person kayaks don’t. However, with the right knowledge going in, you shouldn’t have any problem picking up the proper technique in no time.
The most important thing to remember when using a two person kayak is to paddle in unison, which is one reason tandem kayaking is a great bonding activity. When simply moving directly forward, you should paddle on each side at the same time. In other words, it’s the same technique as a single person kayak, except it’s twice as powerful. Turning, however, is where the technique might change slightly with 2 person kayaks. While turning in a kayak can be tricky when you are by yourself, it should be much easier in a double kayak. In a tandem kayak, one person will paddle on one side the same as they would by themselves. The second partner will instead continuously reverse sleep, which will help the kayak turn much faster and in a smoother manner.
Lastly, be sure to put the stronger of the two in the rear of the kayak. By having the stronger person in the back, you will be able to move much faster, which will allow both partners to work less to propel the boat forward. As long as you follow and keep in mind the proper tandem technique, you will have no problem maneuvering the boat to do exactly what you want it to do.
Different Types of Two Person Kayaks
The quality of your kayaking experience depends largely on having a kayak that is suitable to the conditions that you will be going into, especially with a two person kayak. Therefore, it’s important to determine what type of tandem kayak is right for you before deciding on which one to purchase.
Here are the most common types of two person kayaks:
- Sit On Top
Sit On Top Tandem Kayak
A sit on top tandem kayak is great when kayaking in still water. Sit on top kayaks provide much more flexibility to move around and are usually much wider than a more traditional recreational kayak. This allows you to even stand up in many cases. With that said, sit on top tandem kayaks are probably not a good idea if you plan to kayak in strong currents, such as white water rivers and oceans while there is a strong tide. However, sit on top 2 person kayaks work really well for lakes, ponds and calm rivers.
Recreational Tandem Kayak
If you and your partner prefer to kayak in more intense waters, then a recreational tandem kayak is probably your best option. With a recreational kayak, you will be able to go faster and turn quicker. Since recreational two person kayaks tend to be much lighter than a sit on top kayak, they are usually much easier to transport as well. However, they do have some limitations. Since recreational kayaks tend to be much more narrow, you are at a much higher risk of capsizing then you would be in a sit on top kayak.
Fishing Tandem Kayak
Fishing kayaks present themselves in many different forms, including as sit on top kayaks, inflatable kayaks and even recreational kayaks. So what makes a fishing kayak different than a traditional kayak? Quite simply, a fishing kayak has built in features that are useful during fishing expeditions, such as rod holders, extra compartments and a place to store fish and depth finders. If you want a kayak for the primary purpose of fishing in new areas, then you should consider a fishing specific kayak, which we will present to you in this review guide.
Related: Best Fishing Kayak
Sea/Touring Tandem Kayak
A sea tandem kayak, otherwise known as a touring tandem kayak, is perfect for a simple relaxing trip out in the water. Sea tandem kayaks are made specifically to handle the ocean environment. Therefore, if you plan to do most of your kayaking in oceans, than a sea kayak is probably the best choice for you and your kayaking partner. Sea kayaks allow you to cruise much more easily and are usually much more comfortable than most other kayak types.
Inflatable Tandem Kayak
The obvious benefits to an inflatable tandem kayak is that it is less expensive, much more lightweight – which make them easier to transport, and can be more comfortable than a recreational or sit on top kayak as they provide a soft sitting surface. The downside to an inflatable two person kayak, however, is that they are far less durable (although not as vulnerable as many believe). Also, they are harder to control in the water and provide a less authentic overall experience. With that said, if you simply want a kayak that will get you out in the water to enjoy the beautiful sights or wet a hook, then an inflatable tandem kayak can be a great, convenient way to do so.
How to Take Care of Your Tandem Kayak
When purchasing a tandem kayak, it’s important to consider the durability and longevity of each kayak as well as the price. By doing so, you can make sure you make a sound investment and will have a two person kayak that lasts for years to come. With that said, there are certain care techniques that can help you get the most out of your kayak.
Related: What is a Kayak
In order to get the most out of your tandem kayak, taking proper care of it is crucial. First and foremost, be sure to keep your kayak put up when it is not in use. Whether it is a garage, storage shed or a covered front porch, it is important to have a covered place at your home to store your kayak. Otherwise, you risk your tarp being exposed to harmful weather that will inevitably fade the color and damage the structure of your two person kayak. If you do keep it outside and out of cover, consider using a tarp to help protect it.
Also, to prevent the color from fading and keep small scrapes and cuts from expanding into more serious concerns, you should wash your tandem kayak every other week or after each use. Doing so will allow you to keep your kayak in good condition for years. Lastly, replace broken parts on your kayak as they occur. Over time, even the best tandem kayaks will break down and promptly repairing broken parts can make your kayak last much longer.
If you own an inflatable kayak, properly storing and consistently washing your kayak is even more vital to its longevity. As long as you take the necessary precautions with your tandem kayak, however, you should be able to enjoy the benefits for years and years without needing to replace it completely.
What Makes a Two Person Kayak Great?
It isn’t always easy to tell the difference between a high quality two person kayak and a tandem kayak that is of a lower quality. Simply because a kayak looks good and is expensive, doesn’t mean it is one of the best tandem kayaks on the market.
In this review guide we will show you the seven best tandem kayaks on the market in 2018. You will also learn, in depth, what makes a two person kayak truly great as we highlight the most important factors to consider when choosing the best tandem kayak, including the design of the kayak, comfort level, additional features, ease of use both in and out of the water, durability, and, of course, the price. We will also leave you with a detailed overall recommendation of each tandem kayak.
In order for you to have a full understanding of what makes a two person kayak truly great, it’s important to understand what exactly each considerable factor means. When considering the design of a 2 person kayak, you should not only consider the aesthetic appeal, but should also consider how the design affects the overall use of the kayak while in the water.
Also, it can be beneficial to have an understanding of your preference as far as comfort level. If you prefer a more spacious kayak, then you should look for longer kayaks. If you would rather it be easy to navigate while in the water and transport before and after you use it, then you may prefer a smaller, more practical option.
Lastly, each tandem kayak has its own set of features. It can be helpful to know what features you want out of your personal tandem kayak and choose one that is complementary to your needs.
Although all seven tandem kayaks are great options regardless of personal preference, it’s good to do your own research and consider what exactly you want and expect out of your own personal tandem kayak.
Ranking and Reviewing The Best Tandem Kayaks
Now, let’s get into the seven best tandem kayaks on the market today. Each kayak is reviewed and ranked by the eight most important considerations, which are:
- Comfort level
- Features offered
- Ease of use
- And an overall combination of all factors
While the quality and quantity of reviews aren’t a main consideration, they do play a role in the ranking and will be referenced periodically throughout the review.
Also, it’s important to keep your personal preference and needs in mind as you make your tandem kayak decision. If kayak A is ranked above kayak B, but kayak B better fits your exact needs then you should consider going with kayak B even though it isn’t ranked as high on this particular list.
Inflatable tandem kayaks continue to rise in popularity for good reason. Inflatable kayaks are by far the least expensive kayak options, the easiest to transport and can be very comfortable to sit in. The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is one of the best inflatable tandem kayaks on the market and is available for a very affordable price.
At the low price of $79.99, this two person kayak is a steal. While the average tandem kayak, which tend to be more expensive than single kayaks, cost close to $1,000. Getting the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak for under $100 is one of the best deals you will find on the market today.
While many inflatable kayaks lack a creative design and can look more like a pool float than a kayak, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak actually looks better than most recreational kayaks. Made with a sit on top design, this two person kayak is great for spending a relaxing day out on the water.
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Many sit on top, recreational and sea kayaks can be uncomfortable and cause back pain. Since the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak has a soft, inflatable feel to it, you are sure to be comfortable while sitting in the kayak for an extended amount of time. It also has ample leg room for both passengers.
The drawback of most inflatable kayaks, including the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, is they tend to lack features that many other style kayaks may offer. With that said, this 2 person kayak comes with an adjustable inflatable seat with a backrest and a removable skeg for directional stability.
Ease of Use
There isn’t an easier tandem kayak on the market today to transport from your vehicle to the water and back then the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak. However, inflatable kayaks in general can be much more difficult to maneuver in the water. With that said, if you plan to use your kayak primarily in lakes and mild rivers, then this tandem kayak will work great.
There is often a misconception with inflatable kayaks. Many believe that since there is a chance, albeit a very minor chance, to pop and go flat while you are in the water, they aren’t durable. However, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak has over 1,700 positive reviews in large part due to its durability and reliability.
Overall, the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is the best combination of price and quality on the market today. When considering its well above average for inflatable kayaks, unbeatable price and the outstanding quality and quantity of reviews, it is a no brainer that this is one of the best tandem kayaks on the market today, especially if you are on a budget.
There isn’t a better recreational kayak on the market than the Ocean Kayak Malibu, which features a clever, unique design, numerous features and a fantastic price. With this tandem kayak, you and your kayaking partner will look good while in the water.
When considering all that the Ocean Kayak Malibu offers, it is hard to believe that it only costs $629.99. Most two person kayaks that are of similar quality, which there aren’t many, cost far more than $1,000, so you should consider yourself lucky to get this two person kayak at such a low price.
The Ocean Kayak Malibu is offered in three different multicolor options, which are envy, sunrise and yellow. The first thing you will notice about the Ocean Kayak Malibu is the aesthetic appeal. While the appearance of a kayak doesn’t always correlate with the quality of a kayak, in this case it does.
Due to its unique, innovative design, this two person kayak is extremely comfortable. Included with the Ocean Kayak Malibu are two padded seats. Also, this tandem kayak offers you three different sitting positions overlapping foot wells and ample amount of foot space.
The most innovative features of the Ocean Kayak Malibu are the aforementioned ones that make it more comfortable, including the interchangeable sitting positions and overlapping foot wells. This two person kayak also has a hull and deck design that allows for easy docking.
Ease of Use
The Ocean Kayak Malibu weighs less than 50 pounds, which is much lighter than the average two person kayak. Because it is lightweight, it is easy to transport to and from the water. The lightweight nature also makes it easier to turn this tandem kayak while in the water.
This two person kayak has close to a five star review due to its reliable nature. As long as you take the proper care of your kayak it should last you for years without needing to be replaced, even if you were to use it in more harsher conditions.
The Ocean City Malibu is the perfect sit on top kayak for a relaxing afternoon out on the water or even fishing expeditions. Due to its spacious nature and comfortable seating, it is easy to move around and wet a hook while out on the water enjoying the beautiful sights and sounds.
The Perception Kayak Pescador is one of the most stylish tandem kayaks on the market today. With numerous multicolor options to choose from, you are sure to be able to choose an option that you find appealing. This two person kayak also has multiple interesting features and is available at a very generous price.
Depending on the size you choose, which is offered in 10, 12 or 13 feet, the price ranges from $549 to $655, which is a fantastic deal considering the quality of this tandem kayak. If you want a two person kayak that looks and feels like a $1,000 kayak, but you want to save money at the same time, then this is the 2 person kayak for you.
The most interesting factor of the Perception Kayak Pescador is the unique design. Along with it’s five interesting color schemes and three different sizing options to choose from, this two person kayak also offers a practice design system that makes navigating yourself through water very easy.
For the most part, the Perception Kayak Pescador is comfortable. Included with this tandem kayak is a very spacious sit on top design with molded-in footwells and molded seats with adjustable padded backrests. The Perception Kayak Pescador is very proud of its comfortable design system and for good reason.
The Perception Kayak Pescador has some really cool features, such as the bow and stern day hatches, a paddle park system, molded footwells and seats and kayak carrier handles that makes transportation much easier. With all of the features, this tandem kayak provides a comfortable, easy to maneuver trip out onto the water.
Ease of Use
As previously mentioned, the Perception Kayak Pescador is easy to carry due to its kayak carrier handles. So even though it weighs close to 80 pounds, it is still easy to carry with two people. While in the water, there are few sit on top kayaks that are as easy to control than this 2 person kayak.
This tandem kayak, like most Perception Kayaks, are made to be durable with the properly optimized weight. It is made resistant to harmful UV impact and saltwater that can cause damage to the kayak and fade the color. While taking proper care of it is still important, it is reliable either way.
The Perception Kayak Pescador required detailed designing and the results can be strongly noticed. From its creative appearance to its comfortable sitting features, it’s easy to see why customers of the Pescador are thrilled and happy with their purchase.
Whether it is the Intex Explorer or the Intex Challenger, the fact of the matter is Intex makes quality inflatable kayaks. Although the Intex Explorer is ranked higher, the Intex Challenger is still one of the best inflatable kayaks on the market today as it is made of high quality and is available at an affordable price.
The Intex Challenger K2 Kayak is currently available for less than $100, which is a great deal. When considering the price and overall quality of this two person kayak, there are few kayaks on the market today that are a better overall value. While you will need to take special care of it, this tandem kayak should last you for years without needing replacement.
I don’t know how Intex is able to create such elegant inflatable kayaks that look so similar to more traditional kayaks. The Intex Challenger K2 Kayak not only looks the part, but it is designed to be very practical and is arguably the best inflatable tandem kayak for stronger current waters.
In the same way relaxing on an inflatable pool float is fun and comfortable, relaxing on the Intex Challenger K2 Kayak is just as enjoyable. While many kayaks tend to be hard and cause back and leg pain, this two person kayak gives you a comfortable sitting experience while out on the water.
Similar to almost every other inflatable tandem kayak, the Intex Challenger K2 Kayak doesn’t come with many unique features. However, this two person kayak does come with aluminum oars, a high output pump and a streamlined design for easy paddling.
Ease of Use
The knock on many inflatable kayaks is that they can be difficult to maneuver while in fast rivers and rough oceans. While the Intex Challenger K2 Kayak may not be as easy to maneuver as a more traditional recreational kayak, it is one of the best inflatable tandem kayak you will find.
Like all Intex kayaks, this 2 person kayak is durable and backed with extremely good reviews due to its reliable design. Although you will need to take extra special care of it since it is inflatable, there is little reason to doubt the longevity of the Intex Challenger K2 Kayak.
If you are on a budget and want to save money while at the same time getting a kayak that you can trust to safely get you out on the water on a beautiful, sunny day, then this is the best tandem kayak for you.
The Vibe Kayak Skipjack 120T is one of the highest quality two person kayaks on the market in 2018. Not only is this 2 person kayak intelligently designed to handle tough rivers and ocean climates, but it also has multiple design features that work to keep you comfortable while out on the water.
Sometimes you simply have to pay for quality. Although the Vibe Kayak Skipjack 120T is one of the more expensive kayaks on this list of the best tandem kayaks, it is still a great bargain when considering the quality of construction and additional features offered by this $778.99 two person kayak.
The Vibe Kayak Skipjack 120T is creatively designed with a really cool color scheme. At first glance, the first thing you notice is the elegant, attractive style that this two person kayak is designed with. It is also very intelligently designed to provide comfort and maneuverability while navigating through rougher waters.
This two person kayak provides superior comfort by offering multiple interchangeable seat options, a padded backrest and ample amount of foot space. If you and your kayaking partner plan on spending large amounts of time at once out on the water, then this is the perfect tandem kayak for you to do so.
Name a feature and this tandem kayak probably has it. Designed to be angler-friendly, this two person kayak has two flush-mount rod holders and four integrated gear tracks for customized rigging. It also includes multiple storage options for your fishing supplies or personal belongings.
Ease of Use
This tandem kayak is extremely easy to use both in and out of the water. While in the water, the Vibe Kayak Skipjack 120T is designed to be easily controlled and turn without hassle. Although it is one of the heavier two person kayaks on this list, it does have handles to make carrying it effortless.
The Vibe Kayak Skipjack 120T is designed to be able to withstand rocks, cement or any other damaging surface your kayak may be forced to experience. Due to its durable construction, you can feel comfortable taking it into rough waters without fearing it breaking down and needing replacement.
This two person kayak may be the highest quality kayak on this list. Therefore, if you are only concerned with finding a quality kayak and aren’t concerned with price, then this might be the best tandem kayak for you personally. With all of the features and the quality construction, this two person kayak is certain to be a fantastic purchase.
If you’re not a fan of the flashy designs of many of the newer kayaks on the market and you simply want a high quality kayak that looks good and isn’t “over the top” on its design, then this might be the best tandem kayak for you. The Sun Dolphin Bali has a simple design and is very well constructed.
Although it offers many of the same features the Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T offers, it is priced about fifty dollars less at $724.59. Many two person kayaks that are of similar quality can cost as much as a thousand dollars, so to be able to get this 2 person kayak for so cheap is a great deal.
Although it is only a single color and some may view it as a basic design, the Sun Dolphin Bali is still very attractive and stands out while in the water. Most importantly, however, this two person kayak was designed for maximum effectiveness in the water and works well with navigating your way through rivers, lakes and oceans.
The Sun Dolphin Bali offers adjustable seats and a padded backrest for maximum comfort. Also, at 13.5 feet this is the longest two person kayak on this list and one of the longest tandem kayaks on the market in general. Therefore, you will have tons of foot space to go along with your comfortable sitting position.
Along with the longer design and the adjustable, padded seats, the Sun Dolphin Bali also offers several storage compartments, onboard shock cord deck rigging, and the ability to accommodate as many as three people at a time. Also, this two person kayak offers a middle seat for a third passenger.
Ease of Use
Although it is much longer than the average two person kayak, which makes it slightly more awkward to carry, it only weighs 70 pounds. Because it weighs less than most kayaks of similar size, it is easier to carry and much easier to turn and maneuver while out in the water.
Made of a very strong material, the Sun Dolphin Bali is extremely durable and can withstand maximum pressure from rocks found in rivers, oceans waves, UV exposure and any other potential danger. As long as you take proper care of this two person kayak, then you should be able to enjoy it for many years.
The Sun Dolphin Bali takes tandem kayaks to a whole new level by adding a middle seat, which allows for a third person to join in on the fun. If you want more space to either stretch out or add a third passenger, then this is the best tandem kayak for you.
This is an almost identical model to the Vibe Kayak Skipjack 120T mentioned above. However, this kayak is constructed with a camo color design, which is perfect for anyone who loves camo. This kayak by Vibe also has numerous features and a clever design and is available for a very reasonable price.
Although it is slightly more expensive than the average double kayak at $778.99, it is well worth the price due to its quality of construction, comfortable sitting surface and really cool features.If you’re looking for a great combination of both price and quality, then this is a great tandem kayak choice.
For those who love to fish, the camo design is probably the most appealing part of this double kayak. Not only does the Vibe Kayak Skipjack 120T Camo look good, but it is also practical as well and makes navigating lakes, rivers and oceans very easy.
As all kayaks designed by Vibe are, this camo colored kayak is also extremely comfortable. With adjustable padded seats, ample leg room and built in cup holders, this tandem kayak is extremely comfortable to sit in while you waste the day away on the water, wetting a line along the way.
The Vibe Kayak Skipjack 120T Camo arguably has more features than any other 2 seater kayak on this list, including two flush mount rod holders with caps and four mounting points, multiple storage compartments, drink holders, two paddle parks to secure the kayak when not in use and four carrying handles for easy transport out of the water.
Ease of Use
Due to its extensive list of unique, helpful features, using the Vibe Skipjack 120T Camo is easy both in and out of the water. Although it is heavier than most tandem kayaks, it is very easy to carry because of the carrying handles provided and the heavy weight means you will have more control over the movement of the kayak while in the water as well.
As one of the most durably constructed 2 seater kayaks on the market today, you can feel certain you are purchasing a kayak that will last for years with the Vibe Skipjack 120T Camo. With this two person kayak, you can feel confident when heading towards unavoidable rocks and hard surfaces.
If you want a kayak that is absolutely perfect for fishing(and I mean absolutely perfect) then this is the best tandem kayak for you and your fishing partner. With multiple unique fishing specific features, a comfortable sitting surface and a very hard to beat price, this is one of the best tandem kayaks on the market in 2018.
Things to Remember
Here are a few key things to remember before purchasing a tandem kayak. If you follow these three tips, along with the other informative tips presented in this review guide of the best tandem kayaks, then you will be able to choose the right 2 person kayak for you, use your tandem kayak in the proper manner and ensure your kayak lasts for years to come.
- Consider your personal preference before making your decision. Everyone wants something different out of their tandem kayak, and it is important to factor these differences into your decision. While all seven of these tandem kayaks are great for anyone, you should choose the one that will work best for you and your kayaking partner.
- Tandem kayaks are different than single kayaks. With tandem kayaks, your entire kayaking trip will be slightly different, mostly in a good way. For starters, transporting your kayak will be much easier as you will have two people to carry and balance the weight. Also, remember the paddling process will be different as well. Remember to paddle in unison and use the tandem kayak turning method when turning.
- Take care of your tandem kayak to ensure it lasts for years. If you properly keep your tandem kayak covered and stored, wash it regularly and replace any broken parts as soon as possible, then your two person kayak, especially if it is one of these seven, will last for a long time to come.
The quality of your kayaking experience is usually determined by the quality of your kayak. Especially when kayaking with a partner, you should strive to purchase a double kayak that is perfect for both you and your kayaking partner. By following the advice presented in this review guide to the best tandem kayaks on the market today, you should be able to find a kayak that you are sure to love for a long time.