Best Tandem Kayak: Top 12 Picks For Paddling With A Partner in 2022

There are a few things as relaxing as hitting the waters alone on a sunny day. Some adventures are simply better when there’s someone to share them with, though.

That’s where two person kayaks come in: 

A two-seater can be a real workhorse that will amp up the entire paddling experience and allow you to explore the waters that you didn’t dare navigate alone, all while sharing the workload with your paddling partner. 

So, if you’re looking for the best tandem kayak for you and your paddling buddy, keep on reading!

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At A Glance – Here Are Our Picks For Top Tandem Kayaks

  • Overall Best:  Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak
    “Can’t decide between a sit-on-top or a sit-inside, tandem or solo? Well, with Advanced Elements’ AdvancedFrame Convertible, you don’t really have to.”
  • Runner Up:  Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 130T
    “Given that it can quickly transform from a tandem into a family-friendly kayak for three – or even one for solo fishing adventures – the Yellowfin 130T is definitely a versatile ‘yak.”
  • Editor’s Top Pick:  Sea Eagle Explorer 380x
    “The 380x is part of Sea Eagle’s Explorer line of inflatables – so, it should be no surprise that it can tackle up to Class IV whitewater rapids with ease.”
  • Great For Beginners:  Perception Rambler 13.5
    “It doesn’t have any bells and whistles, and it won’t be a seasoned paddler’s first choice – but the Rambler 13.5 is a fantastic kayak for beginners.”
  • Top Sit-Inside Tandem::  Old Town Dirigo Tandem Plus Recreational
    “If you prefer sit-inside ‘yaks and plan on occasionally having a third (smaller) passenger onboard, Old Town’s Dirigo is worth considering.”
  • Budget Pick:  Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
    “Simple but functional, this banana-looking 10-foot inflatable kayak should be more than enough for a pair of paddlers on a budget.”
  • Best Inflatable For Fishing:  Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak
    “If you’ve been struggling to find space for a full-sized kayak and all your fishing gear, an inflatable kayak – like the Sevylor Coleman Colorado – could be the answer.”
  • Best Inflatable For Whitewater:  Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem Kayak
    “Rover 220’s performance-oriented design makes it a rugged and agile choice for casual afternoon paddles and full-blown whitewater adventures.”
  • Fishing Ready Tandem:  Brooklyn Kayak Company TK181 Tandem Kayak
    “Brooklyn Kayak Company’s kayaks consistently top the charts – so, it is no surprise that the BKC TK181 is a recommended mid-range option for anglers.”
  • Best Three-Person Kayak:  Sea Eagle 370 Pro
    “The Sea Eagle 370 Pro is more than just your average tandem kayak. With the optional center seat, it can be a perfect choice for families of three.”
  • Best For Ocean:  Old Town Looksha T Tandem Sit-Inside Kayak
    “Inspired by Necky’s classic design, the Old Town Looksha T is the perfect modern-day touring kayak for two.”
  • Top Pedal Tandem:  Hobie Mirage Compass Duo Tandem
    “Propelling a tandem kayak should be a joint effort, as shown by the addition of a second pedal drive system in Hobie’s Mirage Compass Duo.”

In A Rush? The Winner After 41 Hours Of Research:

Winner

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak

Why is it better?

  • Constructed out of three layers of double-coated PVC fabric for puncture resistance 
  • The three different seat locations allow the kayak to be paddled solo or as a tandem 
  • It can be fitted with an optional deck to convert it into a sit-inside kayak (solo or tandem)
  • The built-in aluminum ribs define the bow and stern, adding to the structural integrity and improving its tracking performance 
  • Features six separate air chambers for maximum safety in case of any punctures 
  • Weighs a reasonable 52 pounds but can still handle up to 550 pounds of load 
  • Comes with a carrying duffel bag for portability 
  • Suitable for a range of environments, including lakes, slow-moving rivers, coastal and open waters 

Best Tandem Kayaks Buying Guide: What To Look For When Buying A Tandem Kayak?

Couple of Recreational Paddlers in  a Tandem Kayak on River

First things first: 

What is a tandem kayak? 

A kayak designed and built for two people. The name is a dead giveaway. It’s the kayaking equivalent of a tandem bicycle – that pretty much says it all.

If you ever wanted to go paddling with a partner, tandem kayaks are the way to go – they are a great way to enjoy time on the water with a friend or loved one; especially kayaking with kids or with a pet

After all, two paddles are better than one!

Double kayaks are also an excellent choice where one kayaker is pregnant – as it allows the non-pregnant person to take over the physical activity, giving the pregnant paddler a break, should they become too tired

All sounds great so far? Ok, lets review all the kayak features and kayak options you should be looking out for? Here’s how to pick the best double kayak! 

How & Where Do You Intend To Use It? 

There’s no such thing as a “one size fits all” kayak. Trust me; I’ve looked everywhere. 

What may work for me could turn out to be a completely wrong choice for you – simply because you and I use our kayaks differently. That’s why, ‘how’ and ‘where’ you plan on using your tandem kayak should be the first factor you consider. 

Just asking yourself these simple questions can help you zero in on the perfect tandem kayak for your needs. 

  • Where do you plan on using your kayak? Are you the type to stick with small bodies of water, such as calm lakes and slow-moving rivers?  Maybe you prefer the thrill of open water with the wind and waves? Or, are you planning to try something more challenging, like class III or IV rapids?
  • How do you intend to use your kayak? Ask yourself, will you be a casual weekend recreational paddler? Maybe you have plans to fish, or even camp overnight? If so, how much gear will you need to bring with you?

Here are a few examples of the most common uses of tandem kayaks: 

  • Recreational paddling 
  • Touring and kayak camping 
  • Fishing trips 
  • Ocean or sea kayaking 
  • Whitewater kayaking 

What Type Of Tandem Kayak Should You Get? 

Two men in tandem sit on top kayak in rapid white water

Sit-On-Top Vs. Sit-Inside Kayaks 

Tandem kayaks, both hard-shell and inflatable, come in two basic types – sit-on-top and sit-inside. 

Recreational kayaks examples; Sit Inside Tandem Kayak

Traditional sit-inside kayaks feature an enclosed cockpit, with your entire lower body sitting inside, giving you that closer-to-the-water feeling. Rough open water and choppy seas, whitewater paddling, less-than-stellar conditions, and weather; it’s scenarios like these that make you love the enclosed design.

Tandem Sit On Top kayak

Sit-on-top kayaks – If you’re the type of person who feels claustrophobic in a sit-in kayak, then a sit-on-top kayak would be a much better choice for you.  With SOTs, you sit on top of the hull rather than being enclosed in a cockpit, which makes it easier to enter and exit the kayak, as well as access your gear. They also tend to be wider and have a flatter hull shape – this provides more stability – making them an ideal choice for beginners or anglers that want to stand and fish.

Inflatable Vs. Hard-Shell Kayaks 

To inflate or not to inflate – that is the question. That’s also the main difference between the traditional hard-shells and the modern, inflatable kayaks. 

Hard-shells – non-inflatable kayaks made of polyethylene, ABS, wood, or composite materials – are typically faster, more comfortable to maneuver, long-lasting, sturdy, and offer better in-kayak storage options. They’re the definition of traditional kayaks. 

But that doesn’t necessarily make them superior to inflatable ones: 

Inflatable kayaks, while lighter and cheaper, can be every bit as rugged and puncture-resistant. Plus, they come with one hard-to-beat advantage – they transform from a light backpack into a full-blown watercraft in a matter of minutes. 

That’s actually one of the main reasons why this round-up of best tandem kayaks features quite a few inflatables:

When it comes to matters of maximum weight capacity, portability, storage, and, more often than not, cost, inflatable tandem kayaks are definitely a much better choice. 

Tandem Kayak Length & Weight 

The whole point of 2 person kayaks is that they’re longer and broader than their solo counterparts – enough to accommodate two paddlers

Kayaks : How to Tandem Paddle a Kayak

You’re probably thinking:  

No biggie, I’ll only have to deal with the weight for a few short minutes here and there – and I’ll have an extra pair of hands to help.” 

That, right there, is a trap: 

Tandem kayaks can weigh as much as 100 pounds and reach up to 12 to 16 feet in length. You have to stop and think how this added bulkiness will affect you both in and out of the water, even more so if you’re not always a part of a two-person crew.

Here are a few essential pointers on choosing the right kayak size for two:

  • Transportation – Always check the dimensions and weight of the specific kayak, and make sure that you have the means to transport it – whether on a roof rack or a dedicated kayak trailer. Transporting a 16 foot kayak is no easy task so don’t underestimate it.
  • Length – Longer kayaks – as in, those measuring anywhere between 12 and 16 feet on average – will provide better tracking and speed.  While shorter vessels – those measuring 12 feet or less – will be easier to maneuver in rapids and white waters. However, keep in mind that length has a significant impact on a kayak’s maximum weight limit.  As a general guideline, the longer and wider a kayak is, the greater its weight capacity will be.
  • Width – Wider kayaks tend to feel more stable, which can be an advantage for anglers, while narrower ones tend to be faster and cut through both calm and choppy waters more efficiently. When it comes to tandems, you generally want to aim for a beam of at least 32 inches – and up to 40 inches wide, especially if you plan to stand up and fish
  • Legroom – You and your partner should have enough leg room to sit comfortably and not feel cramped. A little bit of leg movement and a quick stretch can be more than welcome during longer paddling sessions.
  • Portability – Be sure to check whether the kayak features carrying handles that could make it easier to transport. 

How the kayak’s size relates to your body type is a deciding factor, especially in sit-inside kayaks. 

Weight Capacity: What’s The Maximum Weight A Tandem Kayak Can Hold?

two girls in the best tandem kayak

You probably know this, but a kayak’s weight capacity isn’t a mere suggestion that you can afford to overlook. It’s the maximum amount of weight that the kayak can hold while staying afloat – and a limit that you should never exceed

I get that it’s easy to forget about these restrictions with 2 person kayaks because of their overall size. 

But believe me when I say it: 

When two full-grown adults enter a tandem kayak, each of them bringing their gear, the weight adds up pretty fast. 

So, be sure to factor in your weight, the weight of your partner, and any additional equipment you may be carrying with you. Then, find a kayak that can support that kind of load. 

A good rule of thumb – for optimal performance, that is – is to keep your total weight at about 75 percent of the kayak’s load capacity limit. While you can pack it to the max, you’ll end up sitting lower in the water, and your maneuverability could suffer, too.

Onboard Storage Space 

Red Tandem kaykers at sea

You’re getting a 2 person kayak, which means you’re also getting twice as much room for gear, right? 

Wrong. 

Tandem kayaks don’t come with a promise of more space and often fail to provide an adequate amount of onboard storage. You still have to check whether it includes storage compartments, waterproof hatches, bungee deck rigging, and such. 

If you generally spend an hour or two on the water, then onboard storage probably won’t be a deciding factor. 

However, the longer you stay out – half a day or more – the more room you’ll need for food, water, equipment, and clothing. The same goes for anglers who typically carry tons of additional gear.

I would say aim for a vessel with a capacity of 500 pounds or above, this should accommodate the average kayaker and any essential gear.

Materials & Construction Quality 

Tandem Kayaking at Sea in the best tandem kayak

Did you know that the Inuit people used tailor-made hunting kayaks constructed out seal skin for thousands of years? 

I’m not saying you should get a tandem kayak made of seal skin; I just figured it’s a fun fact worth mentioning. 

On a more serious note, the choice of material is of utmost importance in terms of durability. If you want this to be a long-term investment – and especially if you’ll have kids or pets on board – you need something that can stand up to the abuse. 

So, what are your options? 

When it comes to modern-day watercraft, the choice of construction materials narrows down to: 

  • Rotomolded Polyethylene – The so-called Tupperware kayaks are incredibly resilient and cost-efficient – and can last for years with minimal care. Rotomolded polyethylene is highly susceptible to UV damage, but you can address that with a UV-blocking spray. 
  • Composite Materials – Fiberglass, Kevlar, and carbon fiber fall into composite materials, all of which are variations of synthetic fabric construction. The stiffness of composite materials makes these tandem kayaks the lightest, fastest, and most responsive options – but they’re also the most expensive.
  • Thermoform ABS – Impact-resistant ABS plastic with an acrylic finish makes for sturdy, lightweight, UV-resistant, easy-to-repair tandem kayaks. It tends to degrade over time, but it’s recyclable.
  • Wood – Wooden tandem kayaks, mostly a product of DIY home builds, can be surprisingly durable and lightweight. Plus, the natural beauty of wood is hard to beat. Hiring someone to make a wooden kayak, however, often comes with a premium price. 
  • PVC – PVC, often reinforced for added tear resistance, is the most common material for inflatable tandem kayaks because it’s cheap, easy to patch up, relatively lightweight, and manageable. 

Frequently Asked Questions on Tandem Kayaking

Can you paddle a tandem kayak solo?

Tandem kayaks are great for paddling with a partner. But what if your kayaking partner can’t make it out on the water with you?

Is it possible to paddle a tandem kayak alone?

The answer is yes, but there’s always a catch: You must balance your weight and that of your gear – distributing it equally from the bow to stern. Ideally, move your seating position towards the center of the kayak. Failure to do so, may cause the bow or stern to sit higher in the water affecting the handling of your vessel

The good news is; some manufacturers have even redesigned their boats to allow for an easier solo setup, by adding a center seat fixing point in the middle of the kayak


Where should the heavier person sit in a tandem kayak?

Generally speaking, the heavier of the two kayakers should be seated in the back of the tandem kayak because that way, the bow of the kayak will sit a bit higher, with the stern of the ‘yak low in the water, making it easier to control. You should generally aim to distribute the load as evenly as possible, though.  


Who steers in a two-person kayak?

Paddling a tandem kayak relies on teamwork, meaning you are only as good as the least skilled paddler onboard. Since you can’t both steer the kayak at the same time, it is recommended that the more experienced kayaker sits in the back so that they can match the bow paddler’s rhythm and use corrective paddling strokes to keep the kayak on course. 


What is better, a tandem kayak or a canoe?

Comparing the two is like asking if it’s better to get a plane or a helicopter. Both can get you up in the air – but they use different mechanisms to get you there. Moreover, tandem kayaks and canoes both have their advantages and disadvantages. That said, tandem kayaks are generally more versatile and capable of navigating a wide range of waters – while canoes are much better for long-distance trips, where cargo capacity and comfort are a priority. 


Best Tandem Kayaks – Top Tandem Kayak Reviews & Recommendations

How We Tested & Rated Our Top Picks 

The kayaks featured in this round-up were reviewed and rated based on the same set of criteria: 

  • Build Quality – This score is based on the quality of the construction, the material used, expected longevity, and performance in different environments and conditions. 
  • Weight Capacity – This score is based on the kayak’s manufacturer-specified maximum load capacity and whether or not it meets the average paddling duo’s needs. 
  • Weight – This score is based on how the weight of the specific kayak compares to other similar models and how it impacts its performance and portability.
  • Performance/Handling – This score is based on how well the kayak performed in terms of tracking performance, primary and secondary stability, turning, and speed. 
  • Price – This score is based on an estimate of how well the RRP (Recommended Retail Price) aligns with the kayak’s features and overall value. 

Each product was then graded on a scale from 1 to 10, on which 1 was the lowest and 10 was the highest score. The only products that earned a 10/10 rating were those that met – and, more importantly, exceeded – expectations within each category.

Best Beginner Tandem Kayak

Perception Rambler 13.5

Recommended for lakes and slow rivers – maybe even sea, if the waters aren’t too choppy – the Perception’s 13.5-foot Rambler is best suited for novice paddlers. It won’t be a seasoned paddler’s go-to, but it’s impressive, nonetheless: 

This 78-pound kayak’s hefty single-piece rotomolded construction and 550-pound capacity are meant for two. Besides the two molded-in kayak seats, there’s also a center, a kid-friendly one, so there’s room for one more. 

At this weight, the Perception Rambler 13.5 falls into the category of heavier tandem ‘yaks – but there are definitely heavier models featured on this list. The average weight for a tandem sits at around 60-70 pounds, so it’s not too heavy.

Then again, this kayak is almost impossible to handle on your own – it is a tandem kayak, after all – and you will need help transporting it and getting it in and out of the water.

That’s not to say that you can’t use it on your own: 

You can convert it into a single-person kayak by purchasing four additional deck loops!

There’s a rear bungee cord lashing to secure your gear and multiple handles for easy transportation.

Technical Specs 

  • Type: Sit-on-top hard-shell kayak 
  • Hull Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.8 feet 
  • Hull Weight: 78 pounds 
  • Materials: Single-piece rotomolded polyethylene
  • Weight Capacity: 550 pounds

Pros

  • Spacious enough for up to two adults and a child 
  • Multi-position footrest for taller paddlers 
  • Rear, front, and side handles
  • Stable, beginner-friendly tandem kayak

Cons

  • The included seating isn’t comfortable for prolonged paddling 
  • The middle seat requires additional purchases 
  • There’s no other storage space other than the bungee deck rigging

There aren’t many bells and whistles, and I would personally swap the seats out for the comfort plus seats from the Ocean Kayak Malibu Two – which can be brought separately.  But the stable and versatile Rambler is still a good value for novice paddlers – and at an affordable price!

Runner-Up Tandem Kayak

Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 130T

Yellowfin 130T shares some similarities with my previous pick. A sit-on-top kayak with rotomolded polyethylene construction, 13-foot length, 500-pound capacity, and 80-pound weight are all in the neighborhood of what the Perception Rambler has to offer. 

However, as you can already tell, this kayak is actually heavier than Perception’s Rambler and has a slightly smaller weight capacity, which not only makes it more difficult to manage on land but limits its ability to carry additional gear, too.

On the other hand, it is more practical to maneuver since it has four built-in easy-grip carrying handles, whereas the Rambler only has two.

This tandem-by-default can quickly transform into a family-friendly kayak for three or one for solo fishing trips. 

Plus, it’s beyond feature-rich: 

Two sets of adjustable footrests and dual-position seats, two cup holders, 12 scupper holes with plugs, four top-loading gear racks, two fishing rod holders, bungee tie-down storage areas, two sealed 8-inch hatches – and I’ve barely scratched the surface! 

Technical Specs 

  • Type: Sit-on-top hard-shell kayak
  • Hull Dimensions: 13 x 3 feet 
  • Hull Weight: 80 pounds 
  • Materials: Single-piece rotomolded polyethylene
  • Weight Capacity: 500 pounds

Pros

  • Transforms from fishing kayak to recreational family watercraft 
  • Ample onboard gear storage space, including two sealed hatches 
  • Dual seating positions with breathable and comfortable seat backs
  • Sturdy construction and slip-resistant deck 

Cons

  • Drink holders are located in awkward spots 
  • It’s not particularly agile or fast, especially when paddling solo
  • A skid plate would’ve been nice

Regardless of which setup you pick – two adults, solo, or two adults and child, fishing or recreational paddling – the feature-rich, fully customizable Yellowfin 130T doesn’t disappoint!

Best Sit-Inside Tandem Kayak

Old Town Dirigo Tandem Plus Recreational

Old Town’s Dirigo Tandem Plus is one of the two sit-inside models that made it to my round-up of best tandem kayaks – and you’ll see why soon enough. 

This 15.3-foot kayak – essentially a tandem version of Old Town’s popular Dirigo series – weighs 72 pounds, despite the triple-layer polyethylene construction. That puts it in the “slightly heavier” category of tandem kayaks – but it still isn’t something that two paddlers can’t handle. 

What’s interesting is that, despite the closed-off cockpit, it’s anything but restricting: 

The non-confining cockpit openings made a massive difference in comfort and ease of entry. Plus, they’re spacious enough to allow for a third, removable child seat to be thrown in when needed. 

On that note, the Dirigo Tandem Plus has a 475-pound capacity, which probably could’ve been a bit higher for a two-plus-one kayak. 

That becomes glaringly apparent when compared to the previous two ‘yaks that boast a weight capacity of 500-550 pounds – especially considering that the Vibe only has two seats. 

Keep that in mind if you’ll have a third passenger onboard. 

As for storage options, it’s equipped with a rear quick-seal storage hatch, a smaller glove box hatch for small-item storage, and an on-deck bungee rigging cargo area. 

Technical Specs 

  • Type: Sit-inside hard-shell kayak 
  • Hull Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.5 feet 
  • Hull Weight: 72 pounds 
  • Materials: Three-layer polyethylene
  • Weight Capacity: 475 pounds

Pros

  • Non-confining cockpit openings for easier entry 
  • Option to add a third child seat in the middle 
  • Features a click-seal hatch for dry storage 
  • Glide-track foot braces and thigh pads for comfort and control
  • Stabil-Form hull design for efficient stability 

Cons

  • You’ll have to buy the paddles separately 
  • It’s rudder-ready, but the rudder isn’t included in the purchase
  • It tends to be a bit slow

If you and your paddling buddy prefer sit-inside kayaks and will occasionally have a third passenger onboard, Old Town’s 15-foot Dirigo Tandem Plus might be the right choice! 

Best Budget Tandem Kayak

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

For a couple of novice paddlers on a tight budget, the Intex Explorer K2 – an inflatable sit-on-top tandem kayak – should be more than enough. 

Yes, it’s simple and far from feature-rich, but that doesn’t make it any less functional: 

This yellow-colored, banana-looking 10-foot kayak has a vinyl-made hull, a three-chamber design, and an I-beam floor for rigidity. Moreover, it includes two inflatable seats, a kayaking starter kit – paddles, pump, repair kit, and carry bag – and a detachable skeg.

Also, the 400-pound maximum weight capacity is pretty impressive for a 30-pound inflatable kayak! 

If you’re looking for something more robust when it comes to cargo-carrying abilities, though, the kayaks I’ve previously discussed may be a better option. In other words, this kayak will not suffice for those who typically bring a lot of extra gear and supplies.

But make no mistake about it: 

Its performance is nothing short of impressive for a budget-friendly inflatable kayak designed for two.

Technical Specs 

  • Type: Sit-on-top inflatable kayak 
  • Hull Dimensions: 10.25 x 3 feet 
  • Hull Weight: 30.6 pounds 
  • Materials: Vinyl 
  • Weight Capacity: 400 pounds

Pros

  • Suitable for novice kayakers due to the low price
  • Three-chamber design for safety 
  • Bright yellow color improves visibility 
  • Comes with a kayaking starter kit 

Cons

  • Low-quality carrying bag 
  • No dedicated onboard storage space 
  • It’s only suitable for small bodies of water 
  • The seats offer very little back support

For your first tandem kayak, price-wise, it probably won’t get much better than the Intex Explorer K2 – an excellent value kayak. It’s more than enough for occasional paddling trips!

Best Tandem Fishing Kayak

Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak

Don’t have room for a rigid tandem kayak as well as storing all your fishing gear and accessories? Then you need to get yourself an inflatable fishing ‘yak – in steps the Coleman Colorado to save the day!

The Sevylor Coleman Colorado is made of thick-gauge PVC, with a 1000-denier tarpaulin bottom and an 840-denier nylon cover, all while weighing approximately 40 pounds. Plus, it has a three-chamber design for added safety. 

The Coleman Colorado can hold up to 470 pounds, which is pretty darn close to what top rated hard-shell kayaks can handle. And once you factor in that it weighs a mere 40 pounds, you can’t deny how practical it is.

The additional weight it holds is necessary for all the fishing equipment – and, hopefully, the fish that you’ll catch when you and your fishing buddy hit the waters.

Besides being robust and having a 470-pound capacity, Sevylor’s 10.75-foot kayak offers plenty of room for expansions and packs several features that anglers will love: 

It comes with adjustable fishing rod holders for a hands-free fishing experience, mesh storage pockets, D-ring tie-downs, and integrated paddle holders. Best of all, you can attach a trolling motor if you ever get tired of paddling! 

Technical Specs 

  • Type: Sit-on-top inflatable kayak 
  • Hull Dimensions: 10.75 x 3.25 feet 
  • Hull Weight: 32.9 pounds 
  • Materials: 18-gauge PVC
  • Weight Capacity: 470 pounds

Pros

  • Lots of room for two adults and gear 
  • Mesh storage pockets and D-ring tie-downs 
  • Integrated rod holders for hands-free fishing 
  • Trolling motor attachment point

Cons

  • The location of rod holders can interfere with paddling 
  • The kayak doesn’t come with a pump or paddles 
  • Tends to catch wind

The Sevylor Coleman Colorado is a pretty sweet deal for anglers. Even if you’re not into paddling, the trolling motor fitting will ensure an outstanding fishing experience!

 Best Whitewater Tandem Kayak

Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem Kayak

If you’re considering taking on white water rapids, Driftsun’s Rover 220 is worth considering. 

The layered construction of reinforced 1000-denier PVC and a high-pressure drop-stitch floor lend this 12.5-foot kayak a rigid, heavy-duty feel and a 600-pound capacity. It’s impressive for an inflatable that weighs 28 pounds. 

If you look at the previous two inflatable ‘yaks, you’ll see a significant improvement both in terms of the kayak’s weight and its load capacity. The fact that this mighty, high-capacity kayak weighs only 28 pounds is nothing short of astounding – making it the lightest tandem kayak in this review

Additionally, it is longer than the Sevylor Coleman Colorado, as well as the Intex Explorer, which could make it difficult to maneuver in turbulent waters – especially if you’re a less than experienced paddler. 

Here’s the good news, though: 

The traditional river runner rocker profile, seven self-bailing drain plugs, and a detachable skeg allow the Rover 220 to navigate both Class IV whitewater rapids and calm waters with equal ease. 

It also includes an action camera mount, EVA-padded seats, adjustable footrests, and corrosion-resistant hardware. 

Technical Specs 

  • Type: Sit-on-top inflatable kayak 
  • Hull Dimensions: 12.5 x 3.2 feet 
  • Hull Weight: 28 pounds 
  • Materials: 1000-denier reinforced layered PVC
  • Weight Capacity: 600 pounds

Pros

  • Heavy-duty construction and multiple air chambers 
  • Navigates up to Class IV rapids
  • Seven self-bailing drain plugs 
  • Detachable skeg
  • Includes corrosion-resistant hardware, camera mount, and carrying handles

Cons

  • The price isn’t exactly budget-friendly
  • The kayak doesn’t offer much onboard cargo space
  • It doesn’t feel as stable in extremely windy weather 

High-quality construction and performance-oriented design make the Rover 220 rugged and agile enough for both whitewater adventures and relaxing afternoons on the lake.

Overall Best Tandem Kayak

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak

Yup, that’s right – a convertible tandem kayak, and an inflatable one, at that!

The fact that this 15-foot kayak features built-in aluminum ribs at the bow and stern combined with puncture-resistant three-layer PVC material is impressive enough.

But here’s the cool part:

With the right Conversion Deck attached, this kayak goes from an open-deck tandem to a sit-in one – and can even be converted into a sit-inside solo kayak, too. However, the Conversion Decks aren’t included, so you’ll have to settle with the “basic” version for the time being.

It boasts a 550-pound capacity, although the onboard storage is limited to bungee rigging and D-ring tie-downs. That makes it more “Advanced” in the weight category than most of the inflatable kayaks I’ve reviewed here. 

But, I have to warn you that it’s also heavier than its inflatable counterparts.

The 52-pound weight isn’t too bad – but it’s generally on the heavier side as far as inflatables go.

You may have to figure out an optimal way to get all your gear on board with the limited storage – but it’s comforting to know that this kayak can handle some hefty equipment in addition to two paddlers.

Also, at 15 feet, it’s the longest inflatable ‘yak that I’ve shared with you so far, so if you prefer the extra space, you’ll definitely love this one.

Technical Specs

  • Type: Sit-inside inflatable kayak
  • Hull Dimensions: 15 x 2.7 feet
  • Hull Weight: 52 pounds
  • Materials: PVC construction and aluminum ribs
  • Weight Capacity: 550 pounds

Pros

  • Aluminum rib-frame design
  • Converts to a sit-inside, solo or tandem, with three seat positions 
  • Six air chambers for added safety
  • Includes a skeg for improved tracking 

Cons

  • Heavier than an average inflatable kayak
  • Conversion Deck kits have to be purchased separately
  • It doesn’t feature footrests
  • Doesn’t include a pump and paddle

Advanced Elements’ kayak is a tandem by default – but with the right accessories, it turns into a solo kayak, be it with a closed or open deck. How’s that for a Convertible? 

 Best Tandem Fishing Kayak

Brooklyn Kayak Company TK181 Tandem Kayak

If you have been researching tandem fishing kayaks, then I am sure you have come across the BKC range. One look at the BKC TK181’s distinctive camo pattern and you can tell what this tandem kayak is designed to do – sneak up on the fish.

The 12.7-foot, 68-pound rotomolded polyethylene hull has all the characteristics of a lean, mean fishing machine, starting with the extra-wide, 34-inch beam.

Besides impressive stability, it also boasts a 595-pound weight limit, which should be more than enough for two anglers, their gear, and, hopefully, their catch.

Depending on what you prefer portability and storage-wise, you can either go with an inflatable fishing kayak or opt for a hard-shell like the BKC TK181, which is certainly a beast in all aspects of its design. 

Just for reference, the Sevylor Coleman Colorado fishing ‘yak weighs 40 pounds and has a load capacity of 470 pounds.

You can tell how much more refined the Brooklyn Kayak Company’s kayak is in that aspect – but don’t forget that it’s definitely more complicated to store compared to an inflatable.

It’s equipped with two watertight storage hatches in the foot wells, a rear tank well with bungee rigging, and a total of seven rod holders – three articulated and four flush-mount ones.

I’m not too fond of the seats, though. They’re not flat-out uncomfortable, but they wouldn’t be my first choice for longer fishing trips.

Technical Specs

  • Type: Sit-on-top hard-shell kayak
  • Hull Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.8 feet
  • Hull Weight: 68 pounds
  • Materials: Rotomolded high-density polyethylene
  • Weight Capacity: 595 pounds

Pros

  • Spacious deck and extra-wide hull design 
  • Two watertight hatches and a rear tank well
  • Fitted with seven fishing rod holders
  • It comes with two aluminum paddles

Cons

  • It takes on quite a bit of water in light chop
  • Not suitable for stand-up fishing
  • The seats aren’t comfortable for prolonged fishing trips

There is a very good reason why this model finds a place onto many fishing kayak reviews. As far as tandem hard-shells for fishing go, the Brooklyn Kayak Company BKC TK181 is a highly recommended mid-range option. If you’re up for some fishing with a buddy, this could be the ‘yak for you!

Best Three-Person Inflatable Kayak

Sea Eagle 370 Pro

I’ll add another inflatable kayak to this round-up of best tandem kayaks – and an impressive one, at that:

This 12.5-foot long kayak, constructed out of K80 PVC, takes the cake when it comes to cargo-carrying capacity. It weighs a comfortable 32 pounds, which is pretty much the average for two-person inflatables, and yet, it can carry a mind-blowing 650 pounds!

As you’re likely aware, none of the kayaks that I’ve covered thus far were able to hold this much weight, which makes this Sea Eagle model the front runner in that regard – and a recommended option for those who like to have a bunch of gear on them.

What makes it more impressive, though, is that the weight-to-load-capacity ratio is so drastic. 

The fact that a 32-pound kayak can hold that much weight is mind-blowing.

That brings me to my next point:

The Sea Eagle 370 Pro is capable of accommodating up to three paddlers due the optional center seat. 

On the flip side, it doesn’t have any onboard storage – not even simple D-ring tie-downs – which is a shame given its load capacity.

You’re getting everything you’ll need to hit the waters, though – two paddles, a pump, carry bag, and even two skegs for improved tracking.

Technical Specs

  • Type: Sit-on-top inflatable kayak
  • Hull Dimensions: 12.5 x 2.8 feet
  • Hull Weight: 32 pounds
  • Materials: K80 PVC
  • Weight Capacity: 650 pounds

Pros

  • Accommodates three people with an above-average capacity
  • Rated for up to Class III rapids
  • Suitable as a costal ocean kayak
  • Equipped with two skegs
  • Paddles, pump, and carry bag are included

Cons

  • The paddles aren’t long enough for a kayak this wide
  • It doesn’t offer any storage options
  • The lack of a high-pressure floor causes some sagging

Given the above-average 650-pound capacity, I’d recommend the Sea Eagle 370 Pro to bigger paddlers, families of three, and even kayakers with four-legged best friends!

 Best Whitewater Tandem Kayak

Sea Eagle Explorer 380x

Back when I did an in-depth review of Sea Eagle’s current line-up of inflatable ‘yaks, my general impression of the Explorer 380x was: 

If there was ever a “go anywhere, do anything” type of inflatable kayak, the Sea Eagle Explorer 380x would probably be it. If you’re looking for a mid-sized, versatile ‘yak, it’s worth considering.” 

And I stand by what I said. 

The 380x is a mid-sized, 12.5-foot inflatable ‘yak made of 1100 reinforced Decitex material, with a removable high-pressure drop stitch floor and quadruple overlapped seams. Furthermore, the kayak features three air chambers, which, coupled with the build quality, add an additional layer of safety. 

If you thought that its cousin, the Sea Eagle 370 Pro has a high capacity, you will be blown away by the 380x’s 750-pound load limit. That is more than enough for three people – but you can also take it out on the water solo. 

Oh, and another thing: 

The Explorer 380x is rated for up to Class IV whitewater rapids, which makes it one of the best – if not the best – whitewater tandem kayaks I’ve seen recently. 

Technical Specs

  • Type: Sit-on-top inflatable kayak 
  • Hull Dimensions: 12.5 x 3.2 feet 
  • Hull Weight: 40 pounds 
  • Materials: 1100 Decitex reinforced material
  • Weight Capacity: 750 pounds

Pros

  • Suitable for up to Class IV whitewater rapids 
  • Accommodates up to three people but can also be paddled solo
  • Features three separate air chambers for additional safety 
  • Can be equipped with an electric motor  

Cons

  • It’s not capable of achieving any significant speeds 
  • The high profile could lead to handling and performance issues in strong winds

Once again, I am genuinely impressed by the quality of Sea Eagle’s inflatable kayaks – both the 380x and the 370 Pro – and highly recommend checking out this in-depth review of Sea Eagle’s current line-up. 

Best Tandem Ocean Kayak

Old Town Looksha T Tandem Sit-Inside Kayak

The Old Town Looksha T is one of the few sit-in kayaks featured on this list. Actually, there are only two other sit-inside models – and Old Town’s Dirigo is one of them. 

I can tell you – straight away – that this thing is a beast. Measuring 18 feet in length, the Looksha T is, hands down, the longest tandem kayak you’ll see today. While that adds quite a bit of weight – it clocks in at 96 pounds, to be precise – it also makes it suitable for tandem touring expeditions and ocean kayaking. 

Looksha T’s design is heavily inspired by Necky’s famous sea kayak design. Johnson Outdoors, the manufacturer of Old Town kayaks, managed to breathe new life into this classic design – and turn it into the perfect modern-day version of a touring kayak. 

On that note, one thing it doesn’t lack is space: 

The spacious interior features two cockpits equipped with cushioned seats, foot brace systems, and Comfort Fit adjustable thigh braces to help you maintain an optimal paddling position. Plus, it features a foot-pedal-operated rudder for enhanced control in choppy waters. 

In addition to that, Looksha T’s 18-foot hull also accommodates two dry storage hatches – with a combined capacity of 190 liters – and on-deck bungee rigging. And given its 625-pound capacity, it’s capable of carrying two paddlers plus the gear and supplies needed for long-distance trips.

Technical Specs

  • Type: Sit-inside hard-shell kayak 
  • Hull Dimensions: 18.1 x 2.5 feet 
  • Hull Weight: 96 pounds 
  • Materials: Single-layer polyethylene 
  • Weight Capacity: 625 pounds 

Pros

  • The long, planing hull ensures efficiency for long-distance paddling 
  • Above-average load capacity suitable for longer trips and kayak camping 
  • Onboard storage includes bow and stern hatches and bungee rigging 
  • Spacious interior with cushioned seats and thigh and foot brace systems 
  • Features a foot-pedal-operated rudder for improved control 

Cons

  • The kayak’s weight and size make it virtually impossible to carry single-handedly 
  • The rudder is a must-have on long-distance trips

Old Town’s Looksha T managed to bring Necky’s iconic sea kayak design back to life but did so by incorporating a modern twist. It feels familiar, yet new and different.

Best Tandem Pedal Kayak

 Hobie Mirage Compass Duo Tandem

I’ve been thinking… You know what is missing from this round-up? A tandem kayak with a pedal drive system. 

That’s where Hobie’s Mirage Compass Duo comes in: 

This 13.5-foot kayak boasts not one but two pedal drive systems – one for each paddler. There’s the MirageDrive 180, Hobie’s forward-and-reverse system, and a separate, forward-only Mirage Drive with Glide Technology. 

Impressive, huh? 

The Mirage Compass Duo comes with some fishing-specific features, like the four molded-in rod holders, a transducer cavity, and four H-Tracks for mounting accessories. 

Storage-wise, there is a rear tank well, a mesh-covered bow storage area, and two hatches, but I do feel like the 475-pound capacity doesn’t quite compare to the other tandems on this list. Oh, and it weighs 92 pounds, so you’ll definitely need an extra set of hands to move it. 

There’s another thing I should warn you about: 

Hobie is, by no means, a budget-friendly kayak brand, and the fact that it’s fitted with the Mirage Drive pedal propulsion system doesn’t help the already high price tag, either. 

Technical Specs

  • Type: Sit-on-top hard-shell kayak 
  • Hull Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.9 feet 
  • Hull Weight: 92 pounds 
  • Materials: Polyethylene plastic 
  • Weight Capacity: 475 pounds

Pros

  • Fitted with two removable MirageDrive pedal propulsion systems 
  • Features two hatches, a tank well, and a mesh-covered bow storage area 
  • Uses a Kick-Up rudder to avoid obstacles in shallow waters 
  • Fishing-specific features include rod holders and H-Tracks for accessories 

Cons

  • Hobie’s kayaks aren’t affordable, and the Mirage Compass is no exception 
  • The weight capacity doesn’t quite measure up to other tandems I’ve reviewed 
  • Comes with only one paddle 

If you and your kayaking buddy ever get tired of paddling, know that Hobie has you covered with the Mirage Compass Duo – well, if you have the budget for it, that is.  

Top Rated Tandem Kayaks: A Quick Side-By-Side Comparison Chart 

You have seen some of the top-performing tandem kayaks currently available on the market and know what to expect from each ‘yak in terms of performance, load capacity, hull size and weight, and construction quality, among other things. 

That may not be enough for you and your paddling buddy to make your final decision, though. In fact, I wouldn’t blame you for feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the options. 

So, let’s do a side-by-side comparison and sum up the crucial points – including the advantages and disadvantages of each tandem kayak below: 

Great For Beginners
Perception Rambler 13.5
Runner Up
Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 130T
Top Sit-Inside
Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Dirigo Tandem Plus
Budget Pick
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
Best Inflatable For Fishing
Sevylor Coleman Colorado™
Best Inflatable For Whitewater
Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Kayak
Overall Winner
ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame Convertible
Fishing Ready Tandem
BKC TK181 Angler
Best 3-Person
Sea Eagle 370 Pro
Editor’s Top Pick
Sea Eagle 380x Pro Package
Best For Ocean
Old Town Looksha T
Top Pedal Tandem
Hobie Mirage Compass Duo Tandem
Model
Model
Perception Rambler 13.5
Vibe Kayaks Yellowfin 130T
Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Dirigo Tandem Plus
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
Sevylor Coleman Colorado™
Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Kayak
ADVANCED ELEMENTS AdvancedFrame Convertible
BKC TK181 Angler
Sea Eagle 370 Pro
Sea Eagle 380x Pro Package
Old Town Looksha T
Hobie Mirage Compass Duo Tandem
Our Rating
Our Rating
8.4/10
8.7/10
8.1/10
8.5/10
8.6/10
8.6/10
9/10
8.4/10
8.7/10
8.7/10
8.5/10
8.5
Build Quality
Build Quality
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Type
Type
Sit-on-top hard-shell kayak 
Sit-on-top hard-shell kayak
Sit-inside hard-shell kayak
Sit-on-top inflatable kayak
Sit-on-top inflatable kayak 
Sit-on-top inflatable kayak 
Sit-inside inflatable kayak
Sit-on-top hard-shell kayak
Sit-on-top inflatable kayak
Sit-on-top inflatable kayak
Sit-inside hard-shell kayak 
Sit-on-top hard-shell kayak
Dimension
Dimension
13.5 x 2.8 feet 
13 x 3 feet 
15.3 x 2.5 feet 
10.25 x 3 feet 
10.75 x 3.25 feet 
12.5 x 3.2 feet
15 x 2.7 feet
12.7 x 2.8 feet
12.5 x 2.8 feet
12.5 x 3.2 feet 
18.1 x 2.5 feet 
13.5 x 2.9 feet 
Hull Weight
Hull Weight
78 pounds
80 pounds
72 pounds 
30.6 pounds
32.9 pounds
28 pounds
52 pounds
68 pounds
32 pounds
40 pounds 
96 pounds 
92 pounds 
Materials
Materials
Single-piece rotomolded polyethylene
Single-piece rotomolded polyethylene
Three-layer polyethylene
Vinyl
18-gauge PVC
1000-denier reinforced layered PVC
PVC construction and aluminum ribs
Rotomolded high-density polyethylene
K80 PVC
1100 Decitex reinforced material
Single-layer polyethylene 
Polyethylene plastic 
Capacity
Capacity
550 pounds
500 pounds
475 pounds
400 pound
470 pounds
600 pounds
550 pounds
595 pounds
650 pounds
750 pounds
625 pounds 
475 pounds

Wrapping Things Up Best Tandem Kayaks

You probably guessed it by now, but the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak takes the cake as the best tandem kayak in my book. I’m not saying that the others on the list weren’t any good – each of the tandems I talked about today, both hard-shell and inflatable, had something unique to offer. 

But here’s the thing: 

Tandem kayaks should be about versatility – and no other model offered as much of it as the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame. It’s called the “Convertible,” after all. 

It doesn’t matter whether you’re going on full-blown paddling expeditions, family adventures, or a solo fishing trip – this highly convertible kayak has you covered! Plus, it’s built with puncture resistance in mind, performs incredibly well, offers sufficient onboard storage space, and backs all that up with its 550-pound capacity. 

The AdvancedFrame Convertible is what top-notch versatility looks like – and what other 2 person kayaks aspire to be!

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Sam OBrien

As the founder of one of the top-ranking websites in its niche, WaterSportsWhiz.com, Sam has dedicated himself to educating people on water-based activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, fishing, and diving. When he's not busy writing about water sports or testing out the latest gear, Sam can be found enjoying a good surf or kayak session with friends.