Rick is a former news reporter who decided that the corporate world wasn't for him and took off to travel the world. He's been to every continent (yes, even Antarctica!) and has tried out a multitude of outdoor gear along the way. From tents to hiking boots, he's probably tested it all. Now, he's one of our full-time product testers and experts.
Bryan is one of our leading experts since he's got a vast expertise in practically everything connected to the outdoors. He's been hiking since he was a young boy, was an organizer of kayaking tours which later led to another passion of his - kayak fishing. Now, he's a part-time expert consultant involved in our multiple product tests and topic research.
Last updated: April 26, 2022
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Kayaking can sometimes be a lonely hobby, but having the option to take people in the same kayak allows you to go with family and friends, and can also help you to teach others how to kayak. Tandem kayaks can also be great to go fishing with a friend and enjoying one another’s company with more ease.
We considered 44 best tandem kayaks on the market and found that the Pelican River Gorge 130X is the best option for most people, based on its weight capacity, durability, length, and convenience. We also gathered eight other popular kayaks of high quality, each great in its own way. We hope that you will find your very best kayak in this review.
Our team has spent many hours researching the very top options, to find which tandem kayak has the best features and design, whether you’re looking for a beginner tandem kayak or a touring kayak. The first and foremost thing we looked at was durability, which is critical for any kayak type. The weight capacity was also important, as two people with their belongings will have more combined weight. The overall convenience and stability of a kayak was also crucial, as well as the balance between quality features and price. We’ve presented the research as a simple overview table which is also coupled with a list of detailed kayak reviews. At the end of these reviews, we’ve also included a buying guide to talk you through the decision-making process.
Extra features: NMMA certified, 2 skegs on the bottom for better tracking & speed, I-beam construction floor, 5 deluxe 1-way inflation/deflation valves
Sea eagle is a popular brand that has been around for decades now. They are top contenders in the industry and are best known for making the best inflatable boats and the SE370 is no exception.
The SE370 is an incredible beginner model that is not so affordable but incredibly comfortable and easy to paddle. You can do whole-day paddling trips without a hassle.
The kayak features a self-bailing drain valve that allows you to quickly get rid of excess water in case you need to. It also has 2 skegs on the bottom to help with tracking. The 2 skegs make it such a rarity because base level inflatable kayaks hardly track well.
The SE370 is a fairly lightweight and easy to maneuver kayak, coming in at 32 pounds. You can load it up with up to 650 pounds of cargo and it will keep tracking and floating pretty well. It can comfortably accommodate 2 people.
The Kayak is made of 3 separate air chambers which will only take you about 6 minutes to fully inflate with the foot pump it comes with.
What’s more, the SE370 is built to last with strong seams and high-quality valves. Its construction is not as high-quality as that of the brand’s higher-end models but its material holds up well.
Extra features: built-in aluminum ribs, high support, 3 seat locations, reinforced bow and stern seams, durable double-coated fabric
This is one of the most loved inflatable Kayaks from Advanced Elements. The Advanced Frame convertible is a tandem kayak with 3 seat locations. It is meant to be paddled by two people but if you have enough strength you can paddle it solo. It’s a bit on the heavier side, thus paddling it solo can be quite a hassle.
This kayak is an exceptional hybrid of a foldable and inflatable. Unlike most inflatables that ride on the water, the Advanced Frame convertible has robust aluminum frames that make it ride in water.
The kayak is made to hold up well to regular use and abuse with durable double-coated fabric that is puncture resistant. For added durability, it has landing plates on its bow and stern which protect it from the hull of rocks and other dangers.
The Advanced frame convertible is 15ft long and weighs 52 pounds. It can hold up to 550 pounds.If you ride solo you can bring along plenty of gear. Plus, if you install the extra deck, you’ll have a total of 2 mesh pockets.
Moreover, you can use the kayak in oceans, lakes, rivers and class 3 rapids. Thanks to its tough hull, it can survive the rocks and rough objects in class 3 rapids. Also, its tough aluminum frame combined with the skeg make it glide through water like a hot knife through butter. They make it track almost as straight as a hardshell.
Extra features: heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin bottom, tough 840D coated nylon oxford fabric top cover, high-quality EVA padded seats
Driftsun has been a household name in the Kayak industry since the creation of the company in 2014. The voyager 2 is their latest 2-person inflatable kayak invention. It was specially designed for people new to the kayaking world and are enthusiastic about safe kayaking and other water expeditions.
The voyager 2 comes in a lightweight and compact build. Setting it up is such a breeze. It will take you less than 5 minutes to either inflate it or deflate it after use. Its 27 pounds make it easily portable. Its removable features like fins for tracking also add to its easy portability. It can comfortably hold up to 450 pounds which is somewhat limiting for a 2-person inflatable but still manageable.
The kayak is built to withstand the test of time with heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin. The bottom is not only super-durable but also leak-proof and abrasion proof. It also has a pointed nose bow entry and rocker profile that makes it an excellent performer both in calm and harsh weather.
What’s more, the kayak comes with a ton of accessories including; a repair kit, a carry bag, 1 removable tracking skeg, 2 removable padded EVA seats with back support and 2 adjustable paddles with ergonomic grips.
Extra features: 6-inch long oars, 3 separate air chambers, an inflatable I-beam floor, adjustable seats
This is one of the most popular inflatables for water sport enthusiasts. The Dakota K2 boasts sleek design that is super-easy to paddle. It comes in bright sporty colors that make it easy to spot in water. The 2-person vessel can be used for various escapades in calm rivers and lakes.
The kayak is fun and easy to assemble. It is fairly lightweight, coming in at 30.6 pounds. You can carry it anywhere you want the fun.
Moreover, it is durably made with rugged vinyl. Its comfortable and rigid floor is inflatable and with its removable skeg you can count on it for directional stability. It features a long skeg that is great for straight-line tracking and a short skeg for quick and easy turns. They both make the kayak fast and agile in water.
The vessel comes with 2 super comfy inflatable seats that are adjustable. For added comfort and convenience you are provided with a grab handle and grab line at each end. Setting it up is such a breeze as it has a Boston valve on each of its sides.
The Dakota K2 can comfortably handle up to 400 pounds. This is a bit on the lower side for a 2-person kayak but it won’t stop you from having fun.
Extra features: 2 lightweight breakdown paddle, travel bag with backpack straps, adjustable high back seats
The Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Inflatable Tandem Kayak is a lightweight, portable and heavy-duty kayak that’s ideal for family adventure trips. The bottom is a rigid dropstitch floor, that allows you to stand and move around freely. The kayak has multiple air chambers which keep it afloat if you do encounter a problem on the water. The seats and footrests are adjustable to make paddling fun and easier. If you’re looking for a two-person kayak that’s ideal for activities, such as fishing, touring, fitness, exploring, and casual paddling, this is a good option.
The kayak cockpit measures 12.6 feet long and 39 inches wide and it’s a generous space for two paddlers. The Elkton has fitted a premium grade air valve to this kayak which ensures that inflation and deflation are easy and safe. The maximum weight for this kayak is 600 lbs which is enough for safe pet transfer and mild ocean travel on a flat sea.
The Elkton Outdoors Steelhead Inflatable Tandem Kayak includes a removable skeg, 2 lightweight breakdown paddles, a travel bag with backpack straps, 2 padded high back adjustable EVA seats, 2 drop-in adjustable footrests, dual-action high volume/high-pressure hand pump. The back of the seats has a handy zipper pocket to securely store your items in the event of a tipping incident. Adjusting the seats and footrests correctly will allow you to paddle comfortably for hours without straining your muscles.
Why is it special?
This is a lightweight, durable and easy to use kayak.
Casual users will enjoy the space for two paddlers.
What are the flaws?
This is not the best kayak if you want to venture out onto the ocean.
Extra features: includes 2 paddles and pump; removable skeg; adjustable seats
The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is a great tandem kayak for beginners. It is affordable and easy to use, comes with accessories and also has the ability to allow you to inflate and deflate for storage.
It’s also great for beginners due to the stability, and the fact that it has a removable skeg which helps with staying on course and heading in one direction.
It has been designed with a comfy cockpit which is padded once inflated. Being a tandem kayak, it fits two people, but this isn’t as long as some competing options. The bright color has been designed in case something goes wrong, and keeps you visible in an emergency.
Obviously, being inflatable, it is easy to store this kayak once you’ve deflated it. It’s ideal for taking in a car as you don’t have to worry about the space.
You need to be realistic about your expectations when buying a value tandem kayak such as the Intex K2. However, the features for this kayak are excellent. It also comes with a bag to store it in, paddles, and also a pump for inflation. This is all at a really reasonable price tag.
What stands out?
Affordable and great for beginners
Easy to inflate
Comes with lots of accessories including paddles
Punctures are very rare due to the rigid design
What cons did we manage to find?
Not as durable as some other options Punctures are possible, though rare
Extra features: inflates in under 10 minutes; made from durable reinforced layered PVC; comes with 2 aluminum paddles
Though the Intex K2 is higher on our list due to evaluating the price as well as the great fixtures, the absolute best inflatable tandem kayak is the Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak. It has some very impressive features and negates some of the negatives we found when looking at other tandem kayaks.
The inflation takes less than 10 minutes, so you can take it from the trunk of your car and be ready for the water in almost no time.
The aluminum paddles included mean that both of the people can paddle the kayak and you don’t need to buy separate options.
Though there’s a risk of a puncture, the PVC is pretty good quality, and there are multiple layers to add to the durability.
This is one of the rare inflatable options with comfy padded seats. It comes with a travel bag and a hand pump for inflating no matter where you are.
To keep you pointing in the right direction, there is a Flat Water Tracking Fin. There are also a lot of spots for cargo to be tied down, though this option doesn’t have as much storage as some other kayaks.
The durability is great, and the kayak can also be used for class III and IV rapids.
What stands out?
Easy to inflate
Decent capacity of 600lb, great for an inflatable option
Weighs just 28 lb, very portable
What cons did we manage to find?
Could do with a little more storage
Can puncture, though this doesn’t happen regularly
Extra features: features padded backrests, storage hatch, and 3 fishing pole holders; comes with 2 paddles; 5-year warranty
This is a durable fishing kayak which could be recommended for beginners as it makes life a lot easier when it comes to staying stable. The tracking is superb and the design is very durable, meaning even if you aren’t the most experienced kayaker, this will stay pretty stable while you focus on other things, like fishing.
The Lifetime 10 Foot, Two Person Tandem Fishing Kayak boasts a great level of build quality, too, and a 5-year warranty from the manufacturer backs this up.
500lb capacity should be plenty for you, a friend and some fishing gear, and there is a storage hatch for you to keep your cargo within.
While you don’t have to use it for fishing, and it can be a great recreational kayak, the Lifetime kayak has been designed with fishing in mind and has rod holders built into the design.
The kayak can be suitable for people of all different sizes, and the footrest options can be adjusted for any height.
High-Density UV-Protected Polyethylene HDPE construction means that this should last many years and the coloring won’t be affected by the sun. This is a well-built tandem kayak but it doesn’t have the same convenience as some competitors.
What makes it stand out?
Great tracking on the water so you don’t have a struggle to stay on track
Decent capacity of 500lb
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Seats aren’t the most comfortable and they don’t have much padding
Extra features: durable 18-gauge PVC construction; features adjustable seats, mesh storage pockets, and 2 fishing rod holders
Are you looking for the best tandem kayak for fishing which is also inflatable and easy to store? The Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak is an excellent sit-on-top kayak which has been built with fishermen in mind.
Plenty of space for storing tackle and other gear, combined with two rod holders, means that this tandem kayak is suitable for anglers of all kinds.
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado Kayak is designed to allow you to install a trolling motor, so if you don’t want to do the paddling yourself, this can be a great option.
An inflatable kayak needs to be suitable for use over a long period of time without having to constantly worry about getting punctures. 18-gauge construction with PVC, 1000D tarpaulin and 840D nylon are used to achieve the durability you need. Also, there are multiple chambers so if you do get a puncture, you still shouldn’t start to sink.
The brand’s Airtight System comes with a guarantee not to leak. Deflating and inflating is relatively simple and this means you can easily throw this in your car and take it to your favorite lake or kayaking location.
The floor and the sides of this kayak are very durable and rigid so it doesn’t necessarily feel like an inflatable option.
What are its best features?
Very rugged design and unlikely to cause any issues with tipping or deflation
Comes with fishing rod holders
Decent space for storage
What could be improved?
There is a risk of punctures
Tracking is not the best, control can be difficult
Buying a kayak is not an everyday occurrence, and it can be hard to know exactly what features are the most useful for you. Depending on where you will be kayaking, and what activities you will be doing (fishing, for instance) you may need to focus on different features and functions.
The best tandem kayak for ocean kayaking may not be the same as the best model for families or teaching your kids on lakes, for instance. There are different criteria that will determine what’s best for you and our buying guide is designed to help you to decide what will work for you.
Advantages of a tandem kayak
A tandem kayak allows you to go out on the water as a team rather than as individuals. It is easier to keep two people together in a kayak, and if you want to take your kids with you for instance, a tandem kayak can be a great option.
A tandem kayak can also mean less space is required for storage that taking two individual kayaks. It will be simple and easy for two of you to carry the kayak between you, especially if it is inflatable.
The social side of a tandem kayak is fantastic: it means that fishing as a duo is far more simple, and can also make it more of a family activity.
Features to consider when choosing a tandem kayak
Some of the terminology and features and functionality can be daunting if you are new to kayaks. You may not understand much about the materials they are made of, or the benefits of one type of kayak over another. We’ve discussed the vital features below. These are the features we considered when we were coming up with our list of the best tandem kayaks.
Type of kayak: sit-on-top vs. sit-inside
Sit-on-top vs sit-inside is one of the key decisions you may need to make when you are choosing a tandem kayak. However, there isn’t necessarily advice that we can give you on which is better. It basically boils down to personal preference.
A sit-inside option will feel more like a canoe which you are securely fastened within, whereas a sit-on-top feels more like you are on a small boat. Sit-on-top is marginally more popular and there may be a few more options with this design, but you need to consider which you will find the most suitable and comfy before deciding. If you don’t have any preference, then this shouldn’t be something you think too much about before buying. You can get equally effective tandem kayaks in either design.
Inflatable vs. hard shell kayaks
Contrary to what instincts might tell you, inflatable kayaks tend to be more stable. They have flat bottoms and stay very stable when you are on the water. They are also very tough to tip over so they feel very safe for beginners. The Intex K2 is an example of an affordable, yet stable kayak which is inflatable in design.
Obviously, inflatable options are much more easily portable. You can deflate the kayak and put it in the trunk of your car or even in a bag, ready to take on your next trip. If storage space and portability are important then it is worth spending some time looking at inflatable options.
Weight capacity is quite a big consideration for most tandem kayaks. Some options have capacities of around 400lb, which may be fine, but if you weigh 200lb and your tandem partner weighs 180lb, you only have 20lb to play with for storage.
You need to consider your cargo as well as your own weight, so if you plan to take a lot of stuff out on the water with you then a higher weight capacity is preferable.
A longer kayak will mean a lot more legroom and sometimes means that you can convert your tandem kayak into a 3-person kayak. A normal length for a kayak is 10-14 feet. If you are not buying an inflatable option, you should think carefully about the length. Will it fit into your mode of transport?
The length is important for considering portability, but it can also be vital to legroom and storage. A longer kayak will often have more storage room and space for you to comfortably sit. On the other hand, a shorter kayak is easier to use.
Another hugely important feature of your kayak when it comes to portability is the weight. This will help you to establish how easy it is to move your kayak. Obviously, inflatable models are going to be lighter in weight.
If you plan to spend a lot of time in your tandem kayak, comfort is a must. The seats are the main thing that can impact your comfort. The variation in seat design and quality is really quite huge. If you’ll be spending long spells sitting in your kayak, for instance, if you are looking for the best tandem fishing kayak, then you should make sure you will be comfy throughout.
The main thing that impacts the comfort is the seats. Some have adjustable backrests and allow you to customize the shape to suit your body. An example of this technology is the Perception Cove Sit Inside Tandem Kayak. The adjustable backrest is also paired with adjustable footrests. The feet can be moved up and down to suit your height. If you are kayaking with kids, this is a great feature for making sure they are comfortable.
Material(s), stability, and overall construction
The construction and stability of your tandem kayak should definitely be considered. If you are looking to buy an inflatable model, think about the punctures. What kind of PVC is used? How does the kayak avoid getting punctured?
Also, think about the stability, which can be greatly helped by including a wider bottom and rounded hull. This can make it far more difficult to rock or tip the kayak. The wider the kayak is, the less it tends to flip or cause any instability.
Many of the sit-on-top kayaks have a double hull which is very stable. However, for sit-in kayaks these aren’t very common at all.
The construction and build-quality should always be considered. Fortunately, on our list, pretty much all of the products are very well built and durable. The Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak is an example of this build quality, with a one-piece design and a lot of strength and durability.
Another thing you should factor into your buying decision is the extra features included, and any extra accessories that the tandem kayak might ship with. This can include things like handgrips, fishing rod holders, storage and stowing compartments, waterproof sections and more.
There are a lot of different manufacturers, all trying to outdo each other. These extra features can make a big difference.
If you are going for an inflatable kayak, make sure it comes with a repair kit and a pump for easy inflation.
Tandem kayaks are usually designed for two people, but this can vary. Many of the options on this list can safely and easily be converted to take three people. Just be careful you don’t go over the weight capacity. Often, a tandem kayak is great for an adult and two children.
Inflatable kayaks are very safe. Many have multiple air chambers so even if one gets a puncture, you won’t sink. Also, they stay steady on the water and the design makes it much harder to tip an inflatable kayak.
It’s a matter of preference. If you do want to include more than two people, you may want to go for a sit-on-top option as these are more likely to be adjustable and allow you to convert to a 3-person kayak.
Without the right information, choosing the best tandem kayak for your water escapades as a water sports enthusiast can be quite challenging. Our product reviews will help you make the best informed choice. Top on our list, the Sea Eagle 370 Pro is the best tandem kayak you can get if durability and high weight capacity are your main priorities. It is not the most affordable beginner kayak out there but it is worth the buy.
Our second best pick, the AdvancedFrame Convertible is the best you can buy if you are on the market for a Kayak with multiple attachment options. It is also an interesting choice because unlike many inflatables, it rides ‘In’ water instead of ‘On’ water. Our third best choice, the Driftsun Voyager Kayak is the best lightweight 2-person inflatable kayak that money can buy. It only weighs 27 pounds yet it can withstand up to 450 pounds.