Best 3 Person Kayak: Top 8 Inflatables & Hard-Shells Made For Three

They say two’s company, but three’s a crowd. I’m guessing whoever came up with that saying hasn’t had a chance to try a three-person kayak. 

Look, I’m all for spending a tranquil afternoon on the water alone with my thoughts. Sometimes that’s what you need to clear your mind, relax, and get a better perspective on whatever’s going on in your life.  

But here’s the thing: 

I’m a parent now. And, well, if I had to choose between solo paddling and spending the day on the water with my family, ten out of ten times, I’d choose the latter. 

You can’t do that with a “regular” ‘yak, though – which is kind of what started my search for the best 3 person kayak in the first place. 

If you’re in a similar boat, stick around – I’ll share all my findings with you!

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In A Rush? The Winner After 40 Hours Of Research: 

Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe 3 Person Inflatable Kayak

Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe 3 Person Inflatable Kayak

Our Rating: ★★★★★

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Why is it better?

  • It’s constructed out of K80 PVC (PolyKrylar) with high-frequency welded seams for additional durability 
  • Three separate air chambers improve safety in case of punctures 
  • The hull boasts a wider, 34-inch beam, which improves the kayak’s stability without harming its performance 
  • It can support up to 650 pounds of load, making it suitable for families of three and carrying additional gear 
  • It comes with a foot pump, two movable kayak seats, and aluminum-shaft paddles
  • The kayak weighs only 32 pounds and comes with a carrying bag, making it a highly portable option 
  • It’s rated for up to Class III whitewater rapids 

Buying Guide: How To Choose A 3-Person Kayak That Fits You

dad, mum and son in 3 person kayak

So we all know about solo or tandem kayaks but, is there a kayak for 3 people – and, if not, can you fit three people in a double kayak instead? 

Well, yes – and also no. 

As you’re about to see, most kayaks offer the two-adults-plus-child configuration. It all depends on the carrying capacity, size, and seating arrangement, though. 

But as far as tandems go, I’d generally only recommend bringing a child – or a dog – onboard as your third passenger. Squeezing three adults into a tandem kayak is usually a recipe for a pretty uncomfortable, sardines-in-a-can experience. 

Oh, and one more thing: 

I’m about to walk you through the process of selecting a so-called “triple kayak” and discuss the kayak’s capacity, size, weight, and portability – things like that. However, don’t forget the basics; factors like the materials used in the construction and choosing a suitable type of kayak for your intended use still matter. 

Weight Capacity 

Okay, I think this one’s pretty obvious. You’re planning to fit three adults – or two adults and a kid or pet, whatever your preferences might be. 

Either way, you better make sure that the kayak has the capacity to hold all of you. 

And don’t get me started on the gear-and-supplies part. Fishing gear, camping gear, water bottles, snacks, paddles, toys for the little ones or pets – you get the idea. 

I’m a pretty big guy myself, weighing over 200 pounds. Add my wife and our four-year-old son to the equation, all the stuff we bring on a typical outing – and, well, you do the math.

As impressive as it might seem on paper, 450-pound maximum weight capacity won’t be enough to meet my family’s needs. 

Fishing Kayak Capacity - What you need to know!

So, I’d suggest that you do the math for your specific needs – who’ll be joining you in the kayak, what supplies you plan on bringing, and all that – and figure out how much capacity you’ll require on average.

Then, add roughly 30% to that number – and that’s your ideal kayak weight capacity

Size 

Size kind of goes hand in hand with comfort – which we’ll discuss in a second – but the point is: 

You want the length and width of the kayak to suit your needs. 

It’s not like you can fit three people in a 10-foot solo kayak. I mean, you could try – but it’s going to have that “clown car” vibe. If it doesn’t sink straight away, that is. 

My advice here is to go for at least 12 feet in length; that would be the bare minimum.

As for the width, it dictates more than just overall comfort. A wider beam generally means better primary stability, too – and you’ll need every ounce of steadiness you could get with three people on board. 

That’s why most of the ‘yaks I picked out for you have a wider beam – some going as wide as 40 inches! 

Comfort 

If you’re going to fit three people in it, that kayak better be comfortable. 

Raise your hand if you want to spend your day squished between two other people, a dog, or additional gear with absolutely no room even to stretch out your legs a bit. 

Yeah, I figured no one would willingly be subject to that. 

Besides having enough room – which is an absolute must – you should also look at the seating arrangements: 

Are the seats padded and adjustable? Will the backrest support your back properly? Does the kayak have adjustable footrests?

You get my point. 

Portability 

Now, your choices generally come down to hard-shell and inflatable kayaks. And yes, I’ll discuss a little bit of both in the reviews below. 

But first, we have to talk about the type of kayak you plan to get – and how that’s going to affect portability and storage

So, how heavy is a 3-person kayak? 

I know that inflatable kayaks are generally designed with portability in mind – but this isn’t your average single-person ‘yak we’re talking about here: 

A kayak that can accommodate three people is bound to be on the heavier side, even if it’s not a traditional hard-shell. Make no mistake about it; some inflatables can be relatively hefty, too. 

And if you do opt for a hard-shell? Well, good luck transporting that thing to the water – that’s all I’m going to say. Most weigh around 70 pounds or more! 

Stability 

Maintaining stability when you’re paddling alone is one thing – but attempting to keep the kayak upright and stable when there are three people in it? 

Now, that’s a challenge – especially if at least one of your passengers is a child

What are primary and secondary stability? Kayak stability explained Part 2.

The great news is that these types of two-plus-one kayaks generally tend to be a lot more stable than your average ‘yak. 

Skeg Or No Skeg? 

Most inflatable kayaks will include a skeg – a tracking fin attached to the bottom of the ‘yak – be it a removable or a fixed one. 

And what if yours doesn’t?

Does My Kayak Need a Rudder or a Skeg? | How to Kayak

Well, it’s safe to say that you won’t be too thrilled about its performance in anything but the ideal weather and water conditions. 

Type Of Pump – Hand, Foot, Electric?

Oh, did I not mention that most three-person kayaks are inflatables? It makes sense if you think about it. 

I mean, who would want to carry around a hard-shell large enough to fit three people? 

Now, the thing about inflatable kayaks is that they require – well, inflation. And that means you’ll have to take a moment to consider the type of pump you’ll be using to transform your ‘yak from a folded-down bunch of vinyl to a proper, functional vessel. 

Inflatable Kayak Pumps

A manual pump is fine – but you’ll get quite a workout from it. So, if you would prefer something more effortless and, not to mention, faster than a foot or hand pump, I’d suggest that you look into electric pumps. 

Best 3 Person Kayaks In 2021 Reviewed & Rated 

1. Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak

Sevylor Big Basin 3-Person Kayak
  • Best Affordable Three-Person Kayak
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Like most Sevylor’s inflatable kayaks, the Big Basin is spacious and easy to transport – suitable for a family of three that wants something suitable for a casual afternoon on the water. 

Now, I have to warn you, right off the bat – in terms of weight capacity, the Big Basin isn’t all that impressive. It’s limited to 490 pounds, which sounds great in theory. However, the limit becomes more apparent when you add a child, two adults, and any additional equipment. 

That aside, though, it’s a pretty decent ‘yak for the money: 

It’s made out of heavy-duty PVC, has a tarpaulin bottom for added ruggedness, a multi-chamber design to ensure safety in case of punctures, and includes adjustable seats. 

It doesn’t include paddles or a pump, though – I’m afraid you’ll have to buy those separately. 

Technical Specs 

  • Inflatable kayak 
  • Measures 12.2 x 3.1 feet 
  • Weighs 34.8 pounds 
  • 490-pound capacity 

Pros

  • A “true” three-person kayak with three included seats 
  • Multi-chamber design ensures additional safety 
  • Extra-wide, 37-inch beam provides excellent stability 
  • Relatively lightweight and portable construction 

Cons

  • You’ll have to purchase paddles and a pump separately 
  • The kayak’s weight capacity is on the lower side

Safe, stable, versatile, and predictable – in a good way – Baffin P3 is an excellent ch don’t usually bring a lot of extra gear, Sevylor’s Big Basin could be the right fit. 

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2. BKC TK181 3 Person Sit On Top Kayak

BKC TK181 3 Person Sit On Top Kayak
  • Best Hard-Shell Three-Person Kayak
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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I started this round-up with an inflatable kayak because to be perfectly honest, that’s the portion of the market where you’re most likely to find a kayak for three. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any fantastic hard-shell ‘yaks available. 

Take the BKC TK181, for example: 

This 12.4-foot hard-shell is constructed out of rotomolded polyethylene, has a 595-pound weight capacity, and comes with two padded seats, paddles, a tank well with bungee cargo tie-downs – and two waterproof hatches. Moreover, the 34-inch beam promises a great deal of stability.

Oh, and did I mention it’s perfectly equipped for fishing trips, too? 

It also features a total of seven built-in rod holders – four flush-mount and three articulating rod holders. 

Being a hard-shell built for three, though, the TK181 is anything but lightweight. This BKC kayak clocks in at 68 pounds, which makes it one of the heavier models on this list. 

You’ll have to decide if that’s a deal-breaker for you or not. 

Technical Specs 

  • Hard-shell kayak 
  • Measures 12.4 x 2.8 feet 
  • Weighs 68 pounds 
  • 595-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Has an extra-wide hull for additional stability 
  • Features two dry hatches and a tank well 
  • Includes a total of seven fishing rod holders 
  • Great value for money 

Cons

  • The third passenger has to sit in the cargo area 
  • The included seats aren’t comfortable for longer outings 
  • Somewhat heavy

If you’d prefer to get a hard-shell over an inflatable kayak, I highly recommend that you consider BKC’s TK181 – especially if you’re known to turn a paddling session into a fishing trip from time to time. 

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3. Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe 3 Person Inflatable Kayak

Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe 3 Person Inflatable Kayak
  • Overall Best Three-Person Kayak
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★★
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Okay, now it’s time to go back to the inflatable portion of the market and take a look at one of my favorite inflatable three-person kayaks – the Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe. 

This 12.5-foot ‘yak is constructed out of K80 PVC, has an I-beam floor and features three air chambers to ensure additional safety in case of punctures. What’s more, it has a wider, 34-inch beam to provide better stability – but it’s not so wide to compromise the overall performance. 

As for the capacity, it’s capable of handling up to 650 pounds. 

Granted, you’re not getting much in terms of onboard storage solutions; you’ll have to share the cockpit with your gear. 

That aside, there’s a lot to look forward to since the 370 Deluxe includes everything you’ll need to hit the waters – including two aluminum-shaft paddles, two skegs, a foot pump, and two seats that can be moved around to accommodate a third passenger. 

Oh, and it comes with a carry bag – and given the fact that it weighs only 32 pounds, it’s a highly portable option, too. 

Technical Specs 

  • Inflatable kayak 
  • Measures 12.5 x 2.8 feet
  • Weighs 32 pounds 
  • 650-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable design
  • The heavy duty PVC construction provides good protection from punctures. Multiple air chambers will keep the kayak afloat should one develop
  • The two seats can be moved to accommodate a third passenger
  • The removable skeg improves the tracking performance 
  • Comes with a pump, paddles, and a carry bag 
  • Rated for up to Class III rapids 

Cons

  • Doesn’t include any onboard storage solutions 
  • The includes seats aren’t that comfortable and might need to be replaced

All things considered – lightweight construction, portability, higher-than-average capacity – this Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe kayak is one of the best out there. And it doesn’t cost a fortune, either. 

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4. Driftsun Almanor Inflatable Kayak – 2 Plus 1 Child

Driftsun Almanor Inflatable Kayak - 2 Plus 1 Child
  • Best 3-Person Inflatable Kayak For Families
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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When I was reviewing tandem kayaks, Driftsun’s Almanor got the title of the best tandem kayak for families – and now, as I’m writing this, I have to say that it’s still deserving of that title. It’s still one of the best ‘yaks out there for a family of three.

This 14.5-foot kayak is designed to accommodate two adults and a child – or a pet, if that’s more your thing – and boasts a 600-pound capacity to boot. 

And despite the relatively durable construction – which includes reinforced 600-denier polyester with an I-beam PVC floor and a UV-protection layer – the Almanor still weighs a reasonable 33 pounds. 

Besides the actual kayak, you also get paddles, a pump, a quick-release fin, two adjustable EVA foam seats, footrests, and a travel bag. It’s not the cheapest of inflatable kayaks – but there’s no room for complaints given all the extras. 

Technical Specs 

  • Inflatable kayak 
  • Measures 14.5 x 3.3 feet
  • Weighs 33 pounds 
  • 600-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Relatively lightweight and portable design 
  • Travel bag, pump, paddles, and quick-release fin included 
  • Features two EVA foam seats and footrests for comfort 
  • Can accommodate a third passenger – a child or a pet 
  • Extra-wide hull for added stability 

Cons

  • It’s somewhat pricey for an inflatable kayak 
  • The extra width takes away from the kayak’s handling 
  • The P3 model is on the pricier side

Are you looking to take up kayaking as a family hobby? Well, then, I’d suggest that you consider the Driftsun Almanor – a lightweight, stable, inflatable ‘yak with a 600-pound capacity. 

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5. AQUAGLIDE Chinook 120 Inflatable Kayak (2 plus 1 child)

AQUAGLIDE Chinook 120 Inflatable Kayak (2 plus 1 child)
  • Best Kayak Ever
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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Here’s another inflatable kayak worth considering – the AQUAGLIDE Chinook 120. Much like my previous pick, Aquaglide’s Chinook, it’s designed to accommodate two adults and a child, although you can also bring a pet on board, or go on a one-parent-plus-two-kids trip. 

Whatever works for your family – there’s a solid amount of legroom, either way. The only thing to remember is to stick to the 500-pound limit.

The kayak’s construction is pretty impressive; the HexShell 600-denier polyester fabric and the PVC-like material on the bottom are confidence-inspiring. I don’t like the left-and-right chamber design, though. If you were to puncture it, that would mean that half of your ‘yak would deflate. 

Another thing I’ve noticed about AQUAGLIDE Chinook is that it’s incredibly wide, measuring 41 inches across. Of course, that adds lots of stability – but it also takes away from its performance, mainly speed and maneuverability. 

On the plus side, it weighs only 29 pounds. 

Technical Specs 

  • Inflatable kayak 
  • Measures 12 x 3.4 feet 
  • Weighs 29 pounds 
  • 500-pound capacity 

Pros

  • The kayak is incredibly lightweight at 29 pounds 
  • The extra-wide, 41-inch beam adds a lot of stability 
  • A removable child seat is great for casual family outings

Cons

  • The extra-wide design takes away from its maneuverability and speed 
  • The left-and-right air chamber design could be an issue 
  • Pump and paddles are sold separately

AQUAGLIDE’s Chinook 120 wasn’t built for speed. This kayak is all about comfort, and as such, I feel like it’s an excellent choice for casual, family-friendly afternoons on the water.

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6. BKC TK122U 2 Or 3 Person Fishing Kayak

BKC TK122U 2 Or 3 Person Fishing Kayak
  • Best 3 Person Fishing Kayak
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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Now, back to hard-shell kayaks – and, more specifically, BKC’s TK122U. 

This 12.7-foot kayak is made of rotomolded HDPE and features UV protection, has a wide, flat bottom and a 34-inch beam, which promises excellent stability, and comes fitted with two seats with aluminum frames that are padded and fully adjustable. 

Moreover, it’s ready for fishing trips, boasting several rod holders. 

The kayak’s capacity is beyond impressive, too. It has a 770-pound limit – one of the highest in this category – and includes two dry storage hatches, on top of being able to accommodate two adults and a child. 

I should “warn” you about two things: 

One, the TK122U weighs 74 pounds and is, hands down, the heaviest three-person kayak I’ve reviewed. And two, it’s also the most expensive one – although, given what you’re getting for the money, it’s hard to argue with its value. 

Technical Specs 

  • Hard-shell kayak 
  • Measures 12.7 x 2.8 feet 
  • Weighs 74 pounds 
  • 770-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Wide, flat bottom ensures improved stability 
  • Features several rod holders 
  • Comes with two aluminum-frame seats
  • Molded-in central seating area for a third passenger 
  • Exceptionally high, 770-pound load capacity 
  • Two dry storage hatches and a tank well

Cons

  • It’s the heaviest kayak on this list, clocking in at 74 pounds 
  • The price tag might not fit everyone’s budget 

If you’re looking for a fishing kayak that could accommodate up to three people, look no further. Brooklyn Kayak Company TK122U has a high capacity, comfortable seats, and seven fishing rod holders!

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7. Driftsun Teton 120 Hard Shell 2 or 3-Person Sit On Top Kayak

Driftsun Teton 120 Hard Shell 2 or 3-Person Sit On Top Kayak
  • Best Hard-Shell Kayak For Families
  • Rating: ★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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Yup, there’s Driftsun again – but this time, with a hard-shell kayak. If you assumed that the brand only deals with inflatable kayaks, you were wrong: 

Teton 120 is a 12-foot kayak constructed out of rotomolded UV-resistant polyethylene capable of handling two adults and a child, much like my previous picks. It has a 500-pound load capacity – so, I guess that depends on how big the people onboard are. 

Speaking of load limits, you’re getting two hatches for storing your gear, which is always a nice touch. 

Oh, and I have to add that it’s fitted for fishing, too, featuring four flush-mount rod holders and two additional points for mounting Scotty accessories. 

One potential downside would be that the Teton 120 weighs 72 pounds. It’s one of the heaviest ‘yaks on my list – but if you have another paddler there to help, I’m sure transportation won’t be such a big issue. 

Technical Specs 

  • Hard-shell kayak 
  • Measures 12 x 2.7 feet 
  • Weighs 72 pounds 
  • 500-pound capacity 

Pros

  • Onboard storage includes two watertight hatches 
  • Comes with four fishing rod holders 
  • Features two additional mounts for Scotty accessories 
  • Can accommodate a family of three 
  • Two padded and one molded-in seat 

Cons

  • The 72-pound weight makes it a bit hard to carry around 
  • You might want to replace the built-in handles with something sturdier

Driftsun isn’t only known for its inflatable kayaks – the Teton 120 is proof of that. If you want a hard-shell ‘yak and you’re not worried about the additional weight, this could be a solid choice for you.

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8. Sea Eagle 465 FastTrack 3-Person Inflatable Kayak

Sea Eagle 465 FastTrack 3-Person Inflatable Kayak
  • Best High-Capacity Triple Kayak
  • Rating: ★★★★★
  • Price: ★★★★
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Okay, here’s another Sea Eagle kayak I wanted to show you – and I promise that’s it for this list. At a glance, it might look like all the other Sea Eagle kayaks, but if you take a closer look, you’ll notice a distinct shape of the hull: 

An asymmetrical design that’s wider at the stern and narrower at the bow. 

The sharper bow allows it to cut through the water more easily. The FastTrack handles well and glides over the water – offering better speed and tracking performance than many inflatables on the market. 

Even better, excellent on-the-water performance is paired with impressive construction quality – FastTrack is made of 1100 Decitex reinforced material and has a high-pressure drop-stitch floor. 

And given that it’s a true three-person kayak, it boasts a mind-blowing 795-pound load capacity and three seats – making it one of the few models that can accommodate three adult paddlers. If that doesn’t meet your needs, I’m not sure there’s a kayak that will. 

Technical Specs 

  • Inflatable kayak 
  • Measures 15 x 3 feet 
  • Weighs 44 pounds 
  • 795-pound capacity 

Pros

  • A “true” three-person kayak, at 15ft long, there is ample space
  • Features an inflatable NeedleKnife keel 
  • The highest load capacity of all three-person kayaks
  • Asymmetrical design improves on-the-water performance
  • 20 D-ring tie-downs 

Cons

  • It’s on the heavier side for an inflatable kayak 
  • You might want to purchase an electric pump 
  • Not so affordable

It can handle nearly 800 pounds of weight – and yet, it’s pretty easy to carry around. If camping trips are your jam or you need room for three adults, the FastTrack is the ‘yak to consider. 

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3 Person Kayak: Final Recommendations

Family paddling in 3 person kayak

So, there you have it – some of the best ‘yaks designed to accommodate up to three people, be it two adults and a child, three adults, or maybe two grown-ups and a pet. You can get creative in terms of who you bring on board. 

Now, my vote goes to the Sea Eagle 370 Deluxe 3-Person Inflatable Kayak

But as always, I encourage you to take a moment to think about what you need – besides a high enough capacity – and choose accordingly. The truth is, all these ‘yaks offer something of value, whether it’s lightweight design, fishing-ready outfitting, or above-average capacity. 

Let me know which one you pick!