Kayaking can sometimes be a lonely hobby, but having the option to take people in the same kayak allows you to go with family and friends, and can also help you to teach others how to kayak. Tandem kayaks can also be great to go fishing with a friend and enjoying one another’s company with more ease.
We reviewed 44 best tandem kayaks on the market and found that the Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T is the best option for most people, based on its weight capacity, durability, length, and convenience. We also gathered eight other popular kayaks of high quality, each great in its own way. We hope that you will find your very best kayak in this review.
Top 9 Tandem Kayaks Review 2019
Our team has spent many hours researching the very top options, to find which tandem kayak has the best features and design, whether you’re looking for a beginner tandem kayak or a touring kayak. The first and foremost thing we looked at was durability, which is critical for any kayak type. The weight capacity was also important, as two people with their belongings will have more combined weight. The overall convenience and stability of a kayak was also crucial, as well as the balance between quality features and price. We’ve presented the research as a simple overview table which is also coupled with a list of detailed kayak reviews. At the end of these reviews, we’ve also included a buying guide to talk you through the decision-making process.
12.2-foot sit-on-top kayak with a 500-pound weight capacity, features rod holders for fishing
Large 14ft 6in sit-in kayak with a 550 max weight, ergonomically padded seats for comfort
Relatively lightweight tandem sit-on-top kayak with a 12ft 2in length and 440-pound weight capacity
13-foot sit-on-top kayak for two, includes a molded kids’ seat and storage hatches
Touring kayak with an incredible 770-pound weight capacity, features in-built waterproof storage
Lightweight 10-foot inflatable kayak, comes with paddles and a pump, as well as a removable skeg
Highly portable inflatable kayak with a very generous weight limit of 600 pounds, inflates quickly and weighs just 28 lbs.
Sit-on-top kayak with padded backrests, includes on-board rod holders and a storage hatch
10ft 9in inflatable fishing kayak made from highly durable PVC, features rod holders and adjustable seats
Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T Editor’s Choice
- Type: sit-on-top
- Weight capacity: 500 lbs.
- Length: 12ft 2in
- Weight: 72 lbs.
Extra features: 2 flush mount rod holders with caps; 4 Mounting points; features V-Wave Hatches and rear cargo area
The Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T has earned its nomination as our editor’s choice. It is such a well-designed option for any duo to go out on the water.
This is one of the best tandem kayaks for families. It has a pretty good weight capacity of up to 500lb and can be used as a 3-person kayak. So, if you want to take two of your kids out with you, you can.
There are built-in holders for small items and also a rear area for cargo to be tied down if needed. You can fit a very respectable amount of gear in this kayak before you start to run out of space.
There are loads of different options for accessories including 2 rod holders and 4 more mounting points for other rod holders.
You can buy this kayak in one of three different designs. All of the designs have cushions and footrests to help you to be comfy on the water.
The construction is very durable and aids stability, as this is a sit on top design with buoyancy, which helps with staying afloat. It is also leak-proof, which is extremely handy as you can imagine! It takes huge amount to pierce this kayak and cause any sort of leak to spring.
It’s incredibly tough to find any fault with this kayak.
- Can fit two or three people
- Capacity of up to 500lb
- Extremely solid and well-made
- Leakproof – it takes a huge amount to pierce this kayak as it is designed to last years
- Not amazing for ocean kayaking
Perception Cove Sit Inside Tandem Kayak Best Sit-In Tandem Kayak
- Type: sit-in
- Weight capacity: 550 lbs.
- Length: 14ft 6in
- Weight: 71 lbs.
Extra features: adjustable backrest, ergonomic seat padding, knee, and thigh pads for comfort; rear dry storage area
We’ve rated the Perception Cove the very best sit in tandem kayak. It is quite a long option at over 14ft, and the sit-in design is very comfortable.
Comfort features include a backrest, seat padding and even pads for your thighs and knees to keep you feel great when sitting in this highly rated tandem kayak.
As well as the comfort, this has a good level of capacity, with up to 550lb of space for people riding this (as well as equipment, of course). Within the kayak is storage for taking plenty of gear out with you, and there is also rigging on top to allow you to add more storage if you need to.
There’s a skid plate on the hull which makes this one of the best tandem kayaks for taking out and about with you as you are able to drag it without risking damage. It’s a great tandem kayak for fishing as you can use it on pretty much any water type. It makes a good tandem sea kayak as well as being suitable for use on lakes and rivers.
This kayak is so good for adults and children alike, and its comfortable and easy to store and transport.
- Very comfortable with a lot of padding
- Plenty of room for storage and 550lb capacity
- Can be dragged along when transporting
- Front storage and mounts could be a little better
Brooklyn Kayak Company TK219 12.2′ Tandem Fishing Kayak Best for Fishing
- Type: sit-on-top
- Weight capacity: 440 lbs.
- Length: 12ft 2in
- Weight: 68 lbs.
Extra features: features soft, padded seats; waterproof storage area
There are a lot of great options for fishing out there, but not every kayak is built specifically with fishing in mind. The Brooklyn Kayak Company TK219 is an example of a product that is made specifically with the angler in mind, and it shows. There are a total of six fishing rod holders built-in. This includes four flush-mount fishing rod holders and two adjustable options. This means that you can take many different rods out or you can just take your pick of the best mount.
This is a sturdy option which can be turned into a 3-person kayak making it a good option for family use as well as fishing.
The waterproof storage hatch is fantastic to store items which may not respond well to being in the water, such as your wallet and phone. You can know your valuables are safe.
This kayak has a sit-in design and two kayak seats which have padding and are relatively comfortable.
Though not the cheapest, this is a good value tandem kayak due to the high number of features and build quality.
- Can fit 2-3 people
- Rod mounts for fishing are included
- Great build quality
- Waterproof storage
- 440 lb capacity is not the highest
Perception Pescador 13.0 Best for a Family
- Type: sit-on-top
- Weight capacity: 500 lbs.
- Length: 13ft
- Weight: 69 lbs.
Extra features: quick-adjust footrests; features a molded kids’ seat and storage hatches
There are a lot of different products on this list which are suitable for families, and options that have up to 3 seats as well as being tandem kayaks most of the time. The Perception Pescador is nominated as the best tandem kayak for family use though.
The reason this brilliant recreational kayak has such aptitude for using with a family is the fact that it has a molded seat for kids already built-in when you buy it, no need for additions or modification.
The kayak manufacturers have also considered the fact that people of all sizes will be using it, as it has quick-adjust footrests to alter to the perfect size for you.
The Pescador is another option that has plenty of storage and a durable design. A respectable 500lb of capacity means two large people and some extra cargo can fit on this kayak. Storage is in the front and the rear, and you can easily fit a cooler as well as lots of other equipment.
Both of the seats are molded, and they also have protective lids in their hatches to keep them safe from harm while you’re not in the seat.
- One-piece leakproof design reduces the chances of water seeping in
- Can fit a kid or pet in the middle of two adults
- Plenty of capacity
- Not as secure when fastening the cargo as some other options
- No padding on the seats, so not the most comfortable
Brooklyn Kayak Company TK122 12.9′ Tandem Fishing Kayak Best Tandem Touring Kayak
- Type: sit-on-top
- Weight capacity: 770 lbs.
- Length: 12ft 9in
- Weight: 77 lbs.
Extra features: watertight storage and rear cargo area; 2 collapsible aluminum paddles
Looking for a tandem touring kayak with a sit-on-top design and loads of capacity for people and storage? The Brooklyn Kayak Company TK122 12.9′ Tandem Fishing Kayak could well be the option for you.
This tandem kayak has some very cool features. It has two paddles included. These are collapsible and easy to store.
Naturally, the 770lb capacity is a huge selling point. This makes the kayak excellent for multiple people to use and is suitable for three people as well as being used as a tandem kayak.
Storage is another plus point – not only can you store more due to the fact there is a high weight capacity, it also has a lot of storage compartments including waterproof storage. You can put your valuables in these and not risk them being impacted by the water.
This is a great sea kayak as well as being suitable for touring and fishing. Of course, you can take plenty of supplies with you.
The seats are upright and very comfortable. They’re great for long fishing trips! The seats have aluminum frames as well as being padded, and they even have armrests.
The kayak has enough durability to be dragged and towed along all kinds of terrain.
- Loads of space for storage
- Has rod holders for holding fishing rods
- Sturdy aluminum seats
- Comes with two collapsible paddles
- Latches for keeping cargo in place are not the best quality
Intex Explorer K2 Budget Pick
- Type: sit-on-top
- Weight capacity: 400 lbs.
- Length: 10 ft
- Weight: 30.6 lbs.
Extra features: includes 2 paddles and pump; removable skeg; adjustable seats
The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is a great tandem kayak for beginners. It is affordable and easy to use, comes with accessories and also has the ability to allow you to inflate and deflate for storage.
It’s also great for beginners due to the stability, and the fact that it has a removable skeg which helps with staying on course and heading in one direction.
It has been designed with a comfy cockpit which is padded once inflated. Being a tandem kayak, it fits two people, but this isn’t as long as some competing options. The bright color has been designed in case something goes wrong, and keeps you visible in an emergency.
Obviously, being inflatable, it is easy to store this kayak once you’ve deflated it. It’s ideal for taking in a car as you don’t have to worry about the space.
You need to be realistic about your expectations when buying a value tandem kayak such as the Intex K2. However, the features for this kayak are excellent. It also comes with a bag to store it in, paddles, and also a pump for inflation. This is all at a really reasonable price tag.
- Affordable and great for beginners
- Easy to inflate
- Comes with lots of accessories including paddles
- Punctures are very rare due to the rigid design
- Not as durable as some other options Punctures are possible, though rare
- Not as high a capacity as most other options
- Not as much legroom due to the shorter design
Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak Best Inflatable Tandem Kayak
- Type: sit-on-top
- Weight capacity: 600 lbs.
- Length: 12ft 6in
- Weight: 28 lbs.
Extra features: inflates in under 10 minutes; made from durable reinforced layered PVC; comes with 2 aluminum paddles
Though the Intex K2 is higher on our list due to evaluating the price as well as the great fixtures, the absolute best inflatable tandem kayak is the Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak. It has some very impressive features and negates some of the negatives we found when looking at other tandem kayaks.
The inflation takes less than 10 minutes, so you can take it from the trunk of your car and be ready for the water in almost no time.
The aluminum paddles included mean that both of the people can paddle the kayak and you don’t need to buy separate options.
Though there’s a risk of a puncture, the PVC is pretty good quality, and there are multiple layers to add to the durability.
This is one of the rare inflatable options with comfy padded seats. It comes with a travel bag and a hand pump for inflating no matter where you are.
To keep you pointing in the right direction, there is a Flat Water Tracking Fin. There are also a lot of spots for cargo to be tied down, though this option doesn’t have as much storage as some other kayaks.
The durability is great, and the kayak can also be used for class III and IV rapids.
- Easy to inflate
- Decent capacity of 600lb, great for an inflatable option
- Weighs just 28 lb, very portable
- Could do with a little more storage
- Can puncture, though this doesn’t happen regularly
Lifetime 10 Foot Tandem Fishing Kayak Best for Stable Tracking
- Type: sit-on-top
- Weight capacity: 500 lbs.
- Length: 10ft
- Weight: 60 lbs.
Extra features: features padded backrests, storage hatch, and 3 fishing pole holders; comes with 2 paddles; 5-year warranty
This is a durable fishing kayak which could be recommended for beginners as it makes life a lot easier when it comes to staying stable. The tracking is superb and the design is very durable, meaning even if you aren’t the most experienced kayaker, this will stay pretty stable while you focus on other things, like fishing.
The Lifetime 10 Foot, Two Person Tandem Fishing Kayak boasts a great level of build quality, too, and a 5-year warranty from the manufacturer backs this up.
500lb capacity should be plenty for you, a friend and some fishing gear, and there is a storage hatch for you to keep your cargo within.
While you don’t have to use it for fishing, and it can be a great recreational kayak, the Lifetime kayak has been designed with fishing in mind and has rod holders built into the design.
The kayak can be suitable for people of all different sizes, and the footrest options can be adjusted for any height.
High-Density UV-Protected Polyethylene HDPE construction means that this should last many years and the coloring won’t be affected by the sun. This is a well-built tandem kayak but it doesn’t have the same convenience as some competitors.
- Great tracking on the water so you don’t have a struggle to stay on track
- Very durable
- 5-year warranty
- Decent capacity of 500lb
- Seats aren’t the most comfortable and they don’t have much padding
- Could do with more storage
Sevylor Coleman Colorado Best Inflatable Fishing Kayak
- Type: sit-on-top
- Weight capacity: 470 lbs.
- Length: 10 ft 9 in
- Weight: 40 lbs.
Extra features: durable 18-gauge PVC construction; features adjustable seats, mesh storage pockets, and 2 fishing rod holders
Are you looking for the best tandem kayak for fishing which is also inflatable and easy to store? The Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak is an excellent sit-on-top kayak which has been built with fishermen in mind.
Plenty of space for storing tackle and other gear, combined with two rod holders, means that this tandem kayak is suitable for anglers of all kinds.
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado Kayak is designed to allow you to install a trolling motor, so if you don’t want to do the paddling yourself, this can be a great option.
An inflatable kayak needs to be suitable for use over a long period of time without having to constantly worry about getting punctures. 18-gauge construction with PVC, 1000D tarpaulin and 840D nylon are used to achieve the durability you need. Also, there are multiple chambers so if you do get a puncture, you still shouldn’t start to sink.
The brand’s Airtight System comes with a guarantee not to leak. Deflating and inflating is relatively simple and this means you can easily throw this in your car and take it to your favorite lake or kayaking location.
The floor and the sides of this kayak are very durable and rigid so it doesn’t necessarily feel like an inflatable option.
- Very rugged design and unlikely to cause any issues with tipping or deflation
- Comes with fishing rod holders
- Decent space for storage
- There is a risk of punctures
- Tracking is not the best, control can be difficult
Buying a kayak is not an everyday occurrence, and it can be hard to know exactly what features are the most useful for you. Depending on where you will be kayaking, and what activities you will be doing (fishing, for instance) you may need to focus on different features and functions.
The best tandem kayak for ocean kayaking may not be the same as the best model for families or teaching your kids on lakes, for instance. There are different criteria that will determine what’s best for you and our buying guide is designed to help you to decide what will work for you.
Advantages of a tandem kayak
A tandem kayak allows you to go out on the water as a team rather than as individuals. It is easier to keep two people together in a kayak, and if you want to take your kids with you for instance, a tandem kayak can be a great option.
A tandem kayak can also mean less space is required for storage that taking two individual kayaks. It will be simple and easy for two of you to carry the kayak between you, especially if it is inflatable.
The social side of a tandem kayak is fantastic: it means that fishing as a duo is far more simple, and can also make it more of a family activity.
Features to consider when choosing a tandem kayak
Some of the terminology and features and functionality can be daunting if you are new to kayaks. You may not understand much about the materials they are made of, or the benefits of one type of kayak over another. We’ve discussed the vital features below. These are the features we considered when we were coming up with our list of the best tandem kayaks.
Type of kayak: sit-on-top vs. sit-inside
Sit-on-top vs sit-inside is one of the key decisions you may need to make when you are choosing a tandem kayak. However, there isn’t necessarily advice that we can give you on which is better. It basically boils down to personal preference.
A sit-inside option will feel more like a canoe which you are securely fastened within, whereas a sit-on-top feels more like you are on a small boat. Sit-on-top is marginally more popular and there may be a few more options with this design, but you need to consider which you will find the most suitable and comfy before deciding. If you don’t have any preference, then this shouldn’t be something you think too much about before buying. You can get equally effective tandem kayaks in either design.
Inflatable vs. hard shell kayaks
Contrary to what instincts might tell you, inflatable kayaks tend to be more stable. They have flat bottoms and stay very stable when you are on the water. They are also very tough to tip over so they feel very safe for beginners. The Intex K2 is an example of an affordable, yet stable kayak which is inflatable in design.
Obviously, inflatable options are much more easily portable. You can deflate the kayak and put it in the trunk of your car or even in a bag, ready to take on your next trip. If storage space and portability are important then it is worth spending some time looking at inflatable options.
Weight capacity is quite a big consideration for most tandem kayaks. Some options have capacities of around 400lb, which may be fine, but if you weigh 200lb and your tandem partner weighs 180lb, you only have 20lb to play with for storage.
A longer kayak will mean a lot more legroom, and sometimes means that you can convert your tandem kayak into a 3-person kayak. A normal length for a kayak is 10-14 feet. If you are not buying an inflatable option, you should think carefully about the length. Will it fit into your mode of transport?
The length is important for considering portability, but it can also be vital to legroom and storage. A longer kayak will often have more storage room and space for you to comfortably sit. On the other hand, a shorter kayak is easier to use.
Another hugely important feature of your kayak when it comes to portability is the weight. This will help you to establish how easy it is to move your kayak. Obviously, inflatable models are going to be lighter in weight.
The highly-rated Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak weighs just 28lb. On the other hand, the sturdy and larger Brooklyn Kayak Company TK122 weighs 77lb.
Comfort: seats and adjustability
If you plan to spend a lot of time in your tandem kayak, comfort is a must. The seats are the main thing that can impact your comfort. The variation in seat design and quality is really quite huge. If you’ll be spending long spells sitting in your kayak, for instance, if you are looking for the best tandem fishing kayak, then you should make sure you will be comfy throughout.
The main thing that impacts the comfort is the seats. Some have adjustable backrests and allow you to customize the shape to suit your body. An example of this technology is the Perception Cove Sit Inside Tandem Kayak. The adjustable backrest is also paired with adjustable footrests. The feet can be moved up and down to suit your height. If you are kayaking with kids, this is a great feature for making sure they are comfortable.
Material(s), stability, and overall construction
The construction and stability of your tandem kayak should definitely be considered. If you are looking to buy an inflatable model, think about the punctures. What kind of PVC is used? How does the kayak avoid getting punctured?
Also, think about the stability, which can be greatly helped by including a wider bottom and rounded hull. This can make it far more difficult to rock or tip the kayak. The wider the kayak is, the less it tends to flip or cause any instability.
Many of the sit-on-top kayaks have a double hull which is very stable. However, for sit-in kayaks these aren’t very common at all.
The construction and build-quality should always be considered. Fortunately, on our list, pretty much all of the products are very well built and durable. The Perception Pescador Sit On Top Tandem Kayak is an example of this build quality, with a one-piece design and a lot of strength and durability.
Another thing you should factor into your buying decision is the extra features included, and any extra accessories that the tandem kayak might ship with. This can include things like handgrips, fishing rod holders, storage and stowing compartments, waterproof sections and more.
There are a lot of different manufacturers, all trying to outdo each other. These extra features can make a big difference.
If you are going for an inflatable kayak, make sure it comes with a repair kit and a pump for easy inflation.
Tandem kayaks are usually designed for two people, but this can vary. Many of the options on this list can safely and easily be converted to take three people. Just be careful you don’t go over the weight capacity. Often, a tandem kayak is great for an adult and two children.
Inflatable kayaks are very safe. Many have multiple air chambers so even if one gets a puncture, you won’t sink. Also, they stay steady on the water and the design makes it much harder to tip an inflatable kayak.
It’s a matter of preference. If you do want to include more than two people, you may want to go for a sit-on-top option as these are more likely to be adjustable and allow you to convert to a 3-person kayak.
The number one product on our list and our ‘editor’s choice’ is the Vibe Kayaks Skipjack 120T. It is durably built, designed to be comfortable and easily has the ability to be converted into a 3-person kayak. It has earned a 9.8/10 rating on our list of the top options.
A close second is the Perception Cove Sit Inside Tandem Kayak which is well-made but also comfortable, and has loads of storage space and leg space, with a 14-foot long design. It has a dry storage area too, so you can keep valuables safe while you’re on the water. We’ve rated it 9.7/10.
The Brooklyn Kayak Company TK219 comes in at third with a rating of 9.5/10. It is very durable, has a waterproof section, and features padded seats. It also has six rod holders making it the best tandem kayak for those who want to go fishing on their kayak, too.