A successful journalist and news reporter in the past, George is now focused on freelance work to be able to dedicate more time to the most important things in his life: family, friends, his dogs, and fishing.
John is an avid traveler, hiker, and RVer. Moreover, it seems like he knows everything when it comes to fishing and hunting: his father started sharing all the tips and tricks he knew when John was a kid. No wonder we trust his opinion every time a new article is being created.
Last updated: April 21, 2021
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Kayaking can sometimes be a lonely hobby, but having the option to take people in the same kayak allows you to go with family and friends, and can also help you to teach others how to kayak. Tandem kayaks can also be great to go fishing with a friend and enjoying one another’s company with more ease.
We considered 44 best tandem kayaks on the market and found that the Pelican River Gorge 130X is the best option for most people, based on its weight capacity, durability, length, and convenience. We also gathered eight other popular kayaks of high quality, each great in its own way. We hope that you will find your very best kayak in this review.
Our team has spent many hours researching the very top options, to find which tandem kayak has the best features and design, whether you’re looking for a beginner tandem kayak or a touring kayak. The first and foremost thing we looked at was durability, which is critical for any kayak type. The weight capacity was also important, as two people with their belongings will have more combined weight. The overall convenience and stability of a kayak was also crucial, as well as the balance between quality features and price. We’ve presented the research as a simple overview table which is also coupled with a list of detailed kayak reviews. At the end of these reviews, we’ve also included a buying guide to talk you through the decision-making process.
The Pelican River Gorge 130X 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.
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.
What do we love it for?
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
2020 was when the Perception brand decided to upend their Tribe kayak series and make them better than ever before. The line now boasts of more sophisticated and streamlined products, and the 13.5 model is certainly no exception.
This model comes with even more versatility, user-friendliness, and comfort, which makes it one of the best options for recreational users and kayak anglers too.
It comes with a 13’5” length and weighs up to 36 kg. While the length is great, the weight is somewhat an issue because it makes the kayak difficult to load up or unload. The good news, though, is that this model is made for two people, therefore it wouldn’t be too hard for you to share the weight when loading or unloading. Because of the length, you might need some other gear to safely have it lifted to the truck or vehicle.
The kayak has a weight capacity of 226 kg, which is enough for two people to ride in comfortably. Also, there is a bungee rigged compartment that allows you to store any accessories and gear that you might have.
In contrast to some of the models that have a similar size, this option has relatively smaller space for storing your stuff.
The material of construction is really rugged and durable. The polyethylene material used by the manufacturer comes with unique properties that make for a good pick. The one-piece construction means that there is zero chance of leakage.
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.
The Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135 is an excellent model that we have found to be one of the best options for any beginners or intermediate kayakers. It is built for relatively calm body of water, including rivers, streams, and quiet lakes.
If you are looking for a kayak that will be safe to be in with your kids or other inexperienced folks, then this is right for you as it offers some of the best stability and maneuverability in this category.
Although these features are great, one downside is he weight. It is relatively heavy and might require two people to set it up. If you have a rolling cart, though, you might not have to worry too much about that.
It has a length of 13’ 6”, which might seem cramped, especially since the model is rated to support up to three people. In actual use, we found it to be quite rosy and comfortable.
The kayak also comes with adjustable seats that can be changed to fit just one kayaker.
One of our favorite things about this model is the large cockpit. This offers you loads of space to store accessories and whatever else you want to bring, while giving you enough room to stretch your legs.
However, while this space is large, it is not really safe from the occasional paddle splash. Thus, not only might it have you wet, but it might also have you feeling cold. It is thus recommended that you only use this in the warmer months of the year.
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.
What do we love it for?
Loads of space for storage
Has rod holders for holding fishing rods
Sturdy aluminum seats
Comes with two collapsible paddles
What were we disappointed with?
Latches for keeping cargo in place are not the best quality
The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is a great tandem kayak for beginners. It is affordable and easy to use, comes with accessories and also has the ability to allow you to inflate and deflate for storage.
It’s also great for beginners due to the stability, and the fact that it has a removable skeg which helps with staying on course and heading in one direction.
It has been designed with a comfy cockpit which is padded once inflated. Being a tandem kayak, it fits two people, but this isn’t as long as some competing options. The bright color has been designed in case something goes wrong, and keeps you visible in an emergency.
Obviously, being inflatable, it is easy to store this kayak once you’ve deflated it. It’s ideal for taking in a car as you don’t have to worry about the space.
You need to be realistic about your expectations when buying a value tandem kayak such as the Intex K2. However, the features for this kayak are excellent. It also comes with a bag to store it in, paddles, and also a pump for inflation. This is all at a really reasonable price tag.
What stands out?
Affordable and great for beginners
Easy to inflate
Comes with lots of accessories including paddles
Punctures are very rare due to the rigid design
What cons did we manage to find?
Not as durable as some other options Punctures are possible, though rare
Though the Intex K2 is higher on our list due to evaluating the price as well as the great fixtures, the absolute best inflatable tandem kayak is the Driftsun Rover 220 Inflatable Tandem White-Water Kayak. It has some very impressive features and negates some of the negatives we found when looking at other tandem kayaks.
The inflation takes less than 10 minutes, so you can take it from the trunk of your car and be ready for the water in almost no time.
The aluminum paddles included mean that both of the people can paddle the kayak and you don’t need to buy separate options.
Though there’s a risk of a puncture, the PVC is pretty good quality, and there are multiple layers to add to the durability.
This is one of the rare inflatable options with comfy padded seats. It comes with a travel bag and a hand pump for inflating no matter where you are.
To keep you pointing in the right direction, there is a Flat Water Tracking Fin. There are also a lot of spots for cargo to be tied down, though this option doesn’t have as much storage as some other kayaks.
The durability is great, and the kayak can also be used for class III and IV rapids.
What stands out?
Easy to inflate
Decent capacity of 600lb, great for an inflatable option
Weighs just 28 lb, very portable
What cons did we manage to find?
Could do with a little more storage
Can puncture, though this doesn’t happen regularly
This is a durable fishing kayak which could be recommended for beginners as it makes life a lot easier when it comes to staying stable. The tracking is superb and the design is very durable, meaning even if you aren’t the most experienced kayaker, this will stay pretty stable while you focus on other things, like fishing.
The Lifetime 10 Foot, Two Person Tandem Fishing Kayak boasts a great level of build quality, too, and a 5-year warranty from the manufacturer backs this up.
500lb capacity should be plenty for you, a friend and some fishing gear, and there is a storage hatch for you to keep your cargo within.
While you don’t have to use it for fishing, and it can be a great recreational kayak, the Lifetime kayak has been designed with fishing in mind and has rod holders built into the design.
The kayak can be suitable for people of all different sizes, and the footrest options can be adjusted for any height.
High-Density UV-Protected Polyethylene HDPE construction means that this should last many years and the coloring won’t be affected by the sun. This is a well-built tandem kayak but it doesn’t have the same convenience as some competitors.
What makes it stand out?
Great tracking on the water so you don’t have a struggle to stay on track
Decent capacity of 500lb
Which disadvantages must you keep in mind?
Seats aren’t the most comfortable and they don’t have much padding
Are you looking for the best tandem kayak for fishing which is also inflatable and easy to store? The Sevylor Coleman Colorado 2-Person Fishing Kayak is an excellent sit-on-top kayak which has been built with fishermen in mind.
Plenty of space for storing tackle and other gear, combined with two rod holders, means that this tandem kayak is suitable for anglers of all kinds.
The Sevylor Coleman Colorado Kayak is designed to allow you to install a trolling motor, so if you don’t want to do the paddling yourself, this can be a great option.
An inflatable kayak needs to be suitable for use over a long period of time without having to constantly worry about getting punctures. 18-gauge construction with PVC, 1000D tarpaulin and 840D nylon are used to achieve the durability you need. Also, there are multiple chambers so if you do get a puncture, you still shouldn’t start to sink.
The brand’s Airtight System comes with a guarantee not to leak. Deflating and inflating is relatively simple and this means you can easily throw this in your car and take it to your favorite lake or kayaking location.
The floor and the sides of this kayak are very durable and rigid so it doesn’t necessarily feel like an inflatable option.
What are its best features?
Very rugged design and unlikely to cause any issues with tipping or deflation
Comes with fishing rod holders
Decent space for storage
What could be improved?
There is a risk of punctures
Tracking is not the best, control can be difficult
Buying a kayak is not an everyday occurrence, and it can be hard to know exactly what features are the most useful for you. Depending on where you will be kayaking, and what activities you will be doing (fishing, for instance) you may need to focus on different features and functions. The best tandem kayak for ocean kayaking may not be the same as the best model for families or teaching your kids on lakes, for instance. There are different criteria that will determine what’s best for you and our buying guide is designed to help you to decide what will work for you.
Advantages of a tandem kayak
A tandem kayak allows you to go out on the water as a team rather than as individuals. It is easier to keep two people together in a kayak, and if you want to take your kids with you for instance, a tandem kayak can be a great option.
A tandem kayak can also mean less space is required for storage that taking two individual kayaks. It will be simple and easy for two of you to carry the kayak between you, especially if it is inflatable.
The social side of a tandem kayak is fantastic: it means that fishing as a duo is far more simple, and can also make it more of a family activity.
Features to consider when choosing a tandem kayak
Some of the terminology and features and functionality can be daunting if you are new to kayaks. You may not understand much about the materials they are made of, or the benefits of one type of kayak over another. We’ve discussed the vital features below. These are the features we considered when we were coming up with our list of the best tandem kayaks.
Type of kayak: sit-on-top vs. sit-inside
Sit-on-top vs sit-inside is one of the key decisions you may need to make when you are choosing a tandem kayak. However, there isn’t necessarily advice that we can give you on which is better. It basically boils down to personal preference.
A sit-inside option will feel more like a canoe which you are securely fastened within, whereas a sit-on-top feels more like you are on a small boat. Sit-on-top is marginally more popular and there may be a few more options with this design, but you need to consider which you will find the most suitable and comfy before deciding. If you don’t have any preference, then this shouldn’t be something you think too much about before buying. You can get equally effective tandem kayaks in either design.
Inflatable vs. hard shell kayaks
Contrary to what instincts might tell you, inflatable kayaks tend to be more stable. They have flat bottoms and stay very stable when you are on the water. They are also very tough to tip over so they feel very safe for beginners. The Intex K2 is an example of an affordable, yet stable kayak which is inflatable in design.
Obviously, inflatable options are much more easily portable. You can deflate the kayak and put it in the trunk of your car or even in a bag, ready to take on your next trip. If storage space and portability are important then it is worth spending some time looking at inflatable options.
Weight capacity is quite a big consideration for most tandem kayaks. Some options have capacities of around 400lb, which may be fine, but if you weigh 200lb and your tandem partner weighs 180lb, you only have 20lb to play with for storage.
You need to consider your cargo as well as your own weight, so if you plan to take a lot of stuff out on the water with you then a higher weight capacity is preferable.
A longer kayak will mean a lot more legroom, and sometimes means that you can convert your tandem kayak into a 3-person kayak. A normal length for a kayak is 10-14 feet. If you are not buying an inflatable option, you should think carefully about the length. Will it fit into your mode of transport?
The length is important for considering portability, but it can also be vital to legroom and storage. A longer kayak will often have more storage room and space for you to comfortably sit. On the other hand, a shorter kayak is easier to use.
Another hugely important feature of your kayak when it comes to portability is the weight. This will help you to establish how easy it is to move your kayak. Obviously, inflatable models are going to be lighter in weight.
If you plan to spend a lot of time in your tandem kayak, comfort is a must. The seats are the main thing that can impact your comfort. The variation in seat design and quality is really quite huge. If you’ll be spending long spells sitting in your kayak, for instance, if you are looking for the best tandem fishing kayak, then you should make sure you will be comfy throughout.
The main thing that impacts the comfort is the seats. Some have adjustable backrests and allow you to customize the shape to suit your body. An example of this technology is the Perception Cove Sit Inside Tandem Kayak. The adjustable backrest is also paired with adjustable footrests. The feet can be moved up and down to suit your height. If you are kayaking with kids, this is a great feature for making sure they are comfortable.
Material(s), stability, and overall construction
The construction and stability of your tandem kayak should definitely be considered. If you are looking to buy an inflatable model, think about the punctures. What kind of PVC is used? How does the kayak avoid getting punctured?
Also, think about the stability, which can be greatly helped by including a wider bottom and rounded hull. This can make it far more difficult to rock or tip the kayak. The wider the kayak is, the less it tends to flip or cause any instability.
Many of the sit-on-top kayaks have a double hull which is very stable. However, for sit-in kayaks these aren’t very common at all.
The construction and build-quality should always be considered. Fortunately, on our list, pretty much all of the products are very well built and durable. The 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 Pelican River Gorge 130X . 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.