What is the Best Tandem Kayak of 2019? [Buying Guide]

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Are you looking for the best tandem kayaks on the market today to explore the sea with loved ones? Kayaking continues to be an extremely popular water sport, which is due in large part to the variety of uses, ability to be a group activity and the ease of access to almost all waterways.  The versatility of a kayak makes it a great choice for just about everyone. 

Whether you want a great workout, a unique adventure, or you’re just looking to paddle out on the water for a relaxing afternoon, the kayak will accommodate your goals on the water and give you memories to last a lifetime.

There are times and situations when going solo is most desired.  However, there are an equal number of times when being with a friend, a partner, your kids or even your dog makes kayaking a much more enjoyable experience.  For the latter, we recommend a tandem kayak to take on your excursion with loved ones nearby!.  

A tandem kayak is as the name implies, intended to accommodate 2 paddlers and with some models have additional space for a child or your 4 legged pal, making them a 3 person kayak.  There is a wide-variety and choice of selections, which makes finding the right boat challenging.  

To assist you in your search, the following guide is provided to answer your questions and to assist you in choosing the best option to suit your goals on the water.

Top 5 Comparison Chart

BKC UH-TK219 12 foot Tandem Sit On Top Kayak 2 or 3 person with 2 Paddles and Seats and 5 Fishing Rod Holders Included (Grey Camo)
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak (Seaglass, 12-Feet)
ADVANCED ELEMENTS AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak, 15', Red
Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T 12 Foot Tandem Angler and Recreational Two Person Sit On Top Fishing Kayak (Wildfire)
BKC UH-TK219 12 foot Tandem Sit On Top Kayak 2 or 3 person with 2 Paddles and Seats and 5 Fishing Rod Holders Included (Grey Camo)
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak (Seaglass, 12-Feet)
ADVANCED ELEMENTS AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak, 15', Red
Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T 12 Foot Tandem Angler and Recreational Two Person Sit On Top Fishing Kayak (Wildfire)
BKC UH-TK219 12 foot Tandem Sit On Top Kayak 2 or 3 person with 2 Paddles and Seats and 5 Fishing Rod Holders Included (Grey Camo)
BKC UH-TK219 12 foot Tandem Sit On Top Kayak 2 or 3 person with 2 Paddles and Seats and 5 Fishing Rod Holders Included (Grey Camo)
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak (Seaglass, 12-Feet)
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak (Seaglass, 12-Feet)
ADVANCED ELEMENTS AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak, 15', Red
ADVANCED ELEMENTS AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak, 15', Red
Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T 12 Foot Tandem Angler and Recreational Two Person Sit On Top Fishing Kayak (Wildfire)
Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T 12 Foot Tandem Angler and Recreational Two Person Sit On Top Fishing Kayak (Wildfire)

10 ​Best Tandem Kayaks Reviewed

1. ​Brooklyn Kayak Company (BKC) TK219 Tandem Fishing Kayak 

BKC UH-TK219 12 foot Tandem Sit On Top Kayak 2 or 3 person with 2 Paddles and Seats and 5 Fishing Rod Holders Included (Grey Camo)

Review

The BKC is a 12 foot sit-on-top, tandem hard-body kayak with a weight capacity of 440 pounds.  The design is ideal for those avid fisherman, touting built-in fishing rod holders: 4 flush-mount rod holders and 2 additional adjustable rod holders.

This kayak features several nice options not found in similar kayaks: 6 fishing rod holders, 2 watertight storage areas; 2 paddles included; paddle parks with bungees to secure paddles in place; 4 carrying handles; and it comes with 2 soft padded seats.  You get a lot of bang for the buck with this one.

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PROS

  • Soft padded seats
  • ​Waterproof storage area
  • Fits 2 adults and a child or pet
  • Plenty of storage area for gear

CONS

  • ​Premium Kayak
  • Some customers expressed frustration with seats sliding forward

2. ​Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak 

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump

Review

The Intex Explorer K2 is a very reasonably priced, high quality, two-person inflatable kayak that can hold up to 400 pounds. The kayak is intended for smaller bodies of water (lakes, ponds, calm rivers, or ocean inlets - avoid strong surfs) and is outfitted with a removable skeg, which assists with maintaining your heading in the desired direction.  

This kayak features abrasion pads and air chambers (even if punctured remains a float and sturdy) to offer you with extra durability; removable high back seats with lumbar support; bright color maximizes your visibility; and also included is a bag to store your kayak, paddles and a pump for inflation. 

The Intex Challenger K2 has also made our list; for details contrasting the two Intex kayaks the Challenger K2 review section provides information.

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PROS

  • Easy to deflate for storage and transporting
  • ​Affordable with lots of accessories
  • Design minimizes punctures
  • Flexibility of an inflatable kayak

CONS

  • ​Limited capacity and legroom
  • Not as durable as a hard-body kayak
  • Air pump and paddles could be upgraded

3. ​Ocean Kayak Malibu Tandem Kayak 

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak (Seaglass, 12-Feet)

Review

The Ocean Kayak Malibu is a high quality, sit-on-top, two-person hard-body kayak with a weight capacity of 425 pounds.  This kayak has two removable seats that can be positioned in the stern, bow or middle ensuring your comfort and creating versatility to match any weather conditions. 

The kayak features well positioned carrying handles; gear straps; a skid plate on the hull adding to the kayak’s durability; and foot wells for optimal comfort. 

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PROS

  • Fits 2 adults and a child or pet
  • Can be configured for solo use
  • Overlapping foot wells and adjustable seats
  • Comfortable seats

CONS

  • Paddle not included
  • Some customers felt it was bulkier then similar kayaks

​4. ​Advanced Elements Inflatable Kayak 

ADVANCED ELEMENTS AE1007-R AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak, 15', Red

Review

The Advanced Elements is high quality, aluminum framed, two-person inflatable kayak with a weight capacity of 550 pounds. The aluminum frame provides the kayak with the rigidness that most inflatable boats do not possess. 

This kayak has a sleek hull design, maximizing your speed and making it a great choice for the more adventurous.  The built-in rigid panels along the bow and stern make this kayak very responsive and does a good job tracking to maintain your intended direction in a variety of conditions.

The Advanced Elements will perform similar to a traditional rigid kayak but is on the more expensive side for inflatable kayaks.  The additional features, accessories and performance justifies the additional cost.

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PROS

  • Padded high-backed seats
  • Adjustable for either solo or tandem
  • Includes zippable spray skirt and repair kit
  • Flexibility of an inflatable kayak

CONS

  • Paddles not included
  • ​Heavier than other inflatable models
  • ​Not as durable as a hard-body kayak

​5. ​Vibe 120T Skipjack Kayak 

Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T 12 Foot Tandem Angler and Recreational Two Person Sit On Top Fishing Kayak (Wildfire)

Review

The Vibe Skipjack kayak is a rigid, hard-body tandem kayak with a weight capacity of 500 pounds.  This kayak is over 12 feet long and will accomodate 2 or 3 people. The construction design creates a very stable craft making it a good option for a fishing kayak.  

The Vibe features multiple rod holders for your convenience: two V-Wave hatches and a cargo area with bungee ties providing ample storage; cup holders for beverages; paddle holders; 4 built-in carrying handles; and cushions and footrests for your comfort.

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PROS

  • Fits 2 adults and a child or pet
  • ​2 fishing rod mounts; 4 placement options
  • Paddle holders
  • 4 molded carrying handles

CONS

  • Heavier than many similar kayaks
  • ​Only fair on the open ocean
  • Seats could be a bit more comfortable

​6. ​Lifetime Tandem Fishing Kayak 

Lifetime Sport Fisher Single or Tandem Kayak, 10 Feet, Olive Green

Review

The Lifetime Kayak is a rigid, hard-body tandem 3 person kayak with a weight capacity of 500 pounds.  This is a 10-foot durable kayak can be used in a wide range of environments and has a very stable flat hull making it a perfect kayak for hauling in the big one while you’re fishing.  

The kayak’s length, width, weight and design prioritize stability over agility and speed.  The design focus on stability ensures you remain upright with the kayak easily handling waves up to 3 feet.  The Lifetime features include molded front and rear carrying handles, 2 soft backrests for comfort and support, higher seating that keeps you dry and 2 double-sided paddles. 

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PROS

  • 2-piece sport paddles included
  • ​Fits 2 adults and a child or pet
  • ​Size makes it very maneuverable
  • Ideal kayak for fishing
  • 5 year guarantee

CONS

  • At 10 feet long, it's smaller than other kayaks
  • ​Average tracking and speed due to a wide hull

7. Sea Eagle 370 Inflatable Kayak

Sea Eagle 370 Pro 3 Person Inflatable Portable Sport Kayak Canoe Boat w/ Paddles

Review

The Sea Eagle 370 is a 3 person, inflatable kayak with a weight capacity of 650 pounds.  This kayak is made using polykrylar, which makes it a very durable inflatable.  There are 2 skegs on the hull providing better speed and tracking, while also protecting the bottom of the kayak.  

The Sea Eagle includes the following accessories: a pump, 2 inflatable seats, paddles and a repair kit.  The kayak is very maneuverable and is easily managed even by one person.  

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PROS

  • Paddles and pump included
  • ​Portable and lightweight
  • Excellent maneuverability
  • Flexibility of an inflatable kayak

CONS

  • Air pump and paddles could be upgraded
  • Not as durable as a hard-body kayak

​8. ​Intex Challenger K2 Inflatable Kayak 

Intex Challenger K2 Kayak, 2-Person Inflatable Kayak Set with Aluminum Oars and High Output Air Pump

Review

The Intex Challenger K2 is a very reasonably priced, high quality, two-person inflatable kayak that can hold up to 400 pounds.   The kayak is intended for smaller bodies of water (lakes, ponds, calm rivers, or ocean inlets - avoid strong surfs) and is outfitted with a removable skeg, which assists with maintaining your heading in the desired direction.  

This kayak features a large nose, devoted fully to storage space; a backrest the conforms to your back; built-in dedicated beverage holder; constructed with heavy-duty puncture-resistant vinyl; and durable double-welded seams construction and UV resistance.  

The Intex Challenger K2 is very similar to the Intex Explorer K2 with the following exceptions: the Challenger is a slightly longer and narrower; it weighs about 3 pounds more than the Explorer; the Challenger has the benefit of being UV resistant; and the Challenger has a little more leg room.  If you are choosing between the two options, kayakers who prefer more stability and tend to get in and out of their kayak (divers & swimmers) should opt for the Explorer K2.  If you are willing to sacrifice some stability for better performance or desire more leg room, the Challenger K2 is a better option.
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PROS

  • Mesh cargo bag for additional storage
  • ​Heavy duty puncture resistant vinyl
  • UV Protection
  • Hand pump and paddles included

CONS

  • Seats lack back support
  • ​Not as durable as a hard-body kayak
  • Air pump and paddles could be better

​9. ​Driftsun Rover 220 InflatableTandem White-Water Kayak 

Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak with High Pressure Floor and EVA Padded Seats with High Back Support, Includes Action Cam Mount, Aluminum Paddles, Pump and More

Review

The Driftsun Rover 220 is a high quality, two-person inflatable kayak with a weight capacity of 600 pounds. This kayak is designed for class III and IV rapids.  The kayak floor is a high-pressure drop stitch design that gives the feel of the traditional hard core craft.

This kayak features a removable skeg: repair kit; travel bag; 2 aluminum paddles; a high-yield pump; and padded seats. 
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PROS

  • ​Inflation takes less than 10 minutes
  • Comfortable padded seats
  • Great weight capacity 600 pounds
  • Very portable weighing only 28 pounds
  • Decent speed and maneuverability

CONS

  • Limited storage
  • Not as durable as a hard-body kayak

​10. Airhead Montana Kayak Two Person Inflatable Kayak

Airhead Montana Kayak Two Person Inflatable Kayak

Review

The Airhead Montana Kayak is a high quality, two-person inflatable kayak that can hold up to 500 pounds.   The kayak is designed for lakes and moderate white water and is outfitted with 4 bottom fins supporting tracking and maintaining intended direction.

This kayak features 3 air chambers that are completely enclosed by 840-denier nylon with UV and water-resistant coating; stretch net on the bow and 6 D-rings for securing gear; bright orange color providing visibility while you are on the water; and Boston valves for quick inflating and deflating.
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PROS

  • UV and water-resistant coatings
  • Lightweight compact and portable
  • Movable and removable inflatable seats
  • Front and back spray covers
  • Tubular I beam floor

CONS

  • Paddles and air pump not included

Tandem Kayak Buyers Guide

​The advantage tandem kayaks provide is that they allow you to enjoy this water sport as a team.  If you’re looking to bring your children with or you’d like to take your pet out with the family or friends, a tandem kayak is ideal.  Although 2 individual/solo kayaks can provide a means for 2 people to enjoy the water as well, they do come with some down sides compared to a tandem style:

  • Tandem kayak requires less storage space
  • Tandem kayak requires only a single roof rack for transporting
  • Easy for 2 individuals to carry a single kayak
  • Tandem kayaks create a more intimate and social outing and supports being a family activity
  • A partnership if you should choose to go fishing becomes simpler

So, if you are still interested in a tandem kayak the following information should help you in making your decision.

Types of Kayaks

Sit-on-top or Sit-inside

Your decision of whether to purchase a sit-on-top or a sit-inside kayak will come down to your personal preferences.  Sit-on-top kayaks will provide you with a few more options and are slightly more popular. A sit-on-top is similar to being on a paddle board or a small boat where you are on top of the craft; a sit-inside is more like riding in a canoe.  

You should make your decision based on your intended uses, which suits your circumstances the best and your comfort level in the kayak.  ​

Sit-on-top

PROS
  • ​ Beginner friendly
  • Easier to get in and out of
  • ​Self-bailing
  • Accommodates bring a child or pet along
CONS
  • ​ Best for warm water/weather
  • ​More likely to get wet from waves

​Sit-inside

PROS
  • ​Shelters your lower body
  • Warmer paddling
  • Lower profile slightly easier to paddle
  • Lower center of gravity for more stability
CONS
  • ​More difficult to get in and out of
  • Not self bailing (need to flip over to drain water)

​Types of Hulls

  • Flat Bottom: Maximum stability, ideal for beginners, not recommended for rough water or the ocean.
  • Rounded Bottom: Cuts through the water requiring less effort to go faster, as a result there is less stability compared to a flat bottom, best suited for intermediate level kayakers.
  • V-shaped: If you are looking to maximize your speed the V-shaped hull is the direction you should go.  If you are planning to travel longer distances in your kayak, the increased speed, ability to make quick, sharp turns, increasing maneuverability the V-shaped will be your best fit.  V-shaped kayaks are best suited for the skilled kayaker as they are the least stable and require a good skill set to ride. 

Inflatable or Hard-Body

Inflatable kayaks have flat bottoms and are often more stable than a hard-body.  A stable kayak provides a secure safe feeling and are ideal for beginners. Inflatables are often less expensive, are much easier to transport, not requiring a roof rack or trailer and are much easier to store.  Inflatable kayaks are ideal for camping, vacationing, exploring remote areas.

Inflatable

PROS
  • ​Lighter and easier to carry than hard body
  • Deflate and fit in tote bag or backpack
  • Easy to store and transport
  • Lighter does not mean weaker; some Inflatables actually have higher weight threshold and are made with durable materials
CONS
  • Need to inflate and deflate to use and store
  • You get what you pay for, some individuals attracted to lower cost. Those built for rapids cost similar to hard boy kayaks
  •  Need to wash, air, and dry your board thoroughly before packing
  • ​Can be more difficult to control

Hard-body

PROS
  • Ready to go when you arrive at destination
  •  More control
  • Better suited for rapids and the ocean
CONS
  • ​Heavier and bulkier to transport
  • ​Usually a lower weight threshold
  • ​More difficult to store and transport

​Weight Capacity

The amount and weight of your gear along with the weight of the individuals who will be kayaking should be considered before purchasing your kayak.  Some kayaks have weight capacities of approximately 400 pounds. If you have 40 pounds of gear, you weigh 210 pounds and your tandem partner weighs 170 you would be 20 pounds over this kayak’s weight capacity.  

Length

If you are taller a longer kayak will provide more leg room.  Longer kayaks allow you to convert a tandem into a 3 person kayak.  Typically kayaks are anywhere from 10-14 feet long. Consider how you will be transporting and storing, if you will be portaging,  how much storage you will need and your skill level.

Weight

The weight of your kayak should be taken into consideration, relative to your upper body strength, height and how much energy you are able or willing to expend.  Inflatables are obviously a lighter option. If you are leaning towards a hard body you will need to factor in loading and unloading, storage, transporting, portaging your kayak and any circumstances where you have to move or manage your kayak.

Seat Adjustability and Comfort

The design and quality of seats varies significantly from kayak to kayak.  Longer adventures or if you are out fishing in your kayak will make your level of seating comfort of utmost importance.    

Adjustable backrests, footrests, lumbar supports, etc. can make for an enjoyable adventure or if not available can be the cause of an unpleasant experience.

Construction

Stability: Wider flat bottom kayaks provide more stability.  Inflatables have flat bottoms and generally are more stable. Wider round hull kayaks are more stable and more difficult to flip.  Double hull kayaks, although not common, are very stable.  

Construction: Inflatable models can potentially get punctured.  The design and quality of how the kayak is built always needs to be considered; you are going to be out on the water and your energy level does have limits.  

Additional Features

Depending on how you plan to use your kayak the features offered should be considered.  Typical features found on various kayaks include: fishing rod holders, hand grips, storage compartments, waterproof stowage, paddle holders, cup holders, repair kits for inflatables, paddles and air pump included, etc.

Speed

Two paddlers means more potential for speed, efficiency, and ease, since the workload is shared.  Longer boats cut through water quicker and with more ease.  

Stability

Tandem kayaks are much more stable, which makes them great for beginners or teaching someone how to kayak.  The design, width and length of the kayak determines the degree of stability and generally tandem kayaks provide greater stability over solo kayaks.

Space and Storage

Tandem kayaks offer significantly more storage area for gear over the standard solo kayak.  It is important to note that all kayaks have weight limits and that the heavier your kayak the poorer it will perform and respond.


​Frequently Asked Questions ​About Tandem Kayaks

What is the best kayak for a beginner?

With a beginner we are often worried about tipping over the kayak.  The more stable the kayak the better for the beginning kayaker. Inflatable kayaks have a flat bottom and are generally more stable.  They are also easier to maneuver. A sit-in kayak is also more stable due to the fact that because you are sitting down in the kayak your center of gravity is lower thus making you more stable.   

Are inflatable kayaks safe?

Inflatable kayaks are generally very safe. Most have multiple air chambers, so even if a puncture occurs, you will be able to stay afloat. Additionally, inflatables are relatively more steady on the water and the design makes it much harder to tip over.

How do you transport a kayak?

Transporting a tandem kayak is very similar to a solo kayak.  There are several quality roof racks you can purchase for your vehicle that will allow you to get to and from your destination safely.  

When you are at the water the task is made easier with the tandem because there are two of you.  Portaging your kayak to and from the water is done by simply flipping the kayak over your head and carrying it above you.  You can also consider purchasing a dolly to transport your kayak. 

Inflatables simply have to be deflated, stored in your trunk, back seat or bed of the truck and you are set to go.  

​Is paddling a tandem kayak more difficult than a solo kayak?

More effort is required to paddle a tandem kayak compared to a solo kayak because of the size difference and the fact that you have to sync with your kayaking partner.  As a general rule the person sitting in front sets the pace. This is done to avoid banging your paddles together, wasting time and effort. The rear person in the kayak is responsible for maintaining the direction and steering the kayak.  

​Final Thoughts

There is no better feeling than being out on the water taking in all that nature has to offer, especially when sharing that experience with loved ones.  Tandem kayaks provide a great means for exploring almost any body of water, as well as the option to go solo or bring along a friend, family or your pet.  This buyers guide and kayak recommendations should help you invest in a quality boat, and get on the water in no time.

Here we’ve provided our top 5 recommendations , along with 5 additional crafts for you to consider.  However, of all the kayaks the Brooklyn Kayak Company (BKC) TK219 checks all the boxes followed closely by the Intex Explorer K2, Ocean Malibu, Advance Elements and Vibe 120T Skipjack kayaks.  The BKC provides a great deal of versatility whether you’re a serious angler or new to kayaking.  

We hope this buyers guide and our top 10 recommendations help you get started kayaking as soon as possible. Did it help you in choosing which tandem kayak is right for you? We’d love to hear about it in the comment section below!

Want to get the Best Tandem Kayak money can buy? Then you\'ll want to read our reviews, ratings, and Buying Guide before making a purchasing decision!

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