Some adventures are far better with extra company. Kayaking is one of those adventures that you may want to share with your kids, partner, friends, or pooch. If you’re in the market for a two-seater, let us introduce you to the 10 best tandem kayaks.
Most tandem kayaks are longer and heavier than your standard single-person kayak, but you get to share the workload with your companion. These high-rated kayaks curate new memories of togetherness on the water, even if you’re a beginner. They make many inaccessible waters navigable and allow you to experience nature from an up-close-and-personal perspective.
For more of our top kayaking gear recommendations, check out these popular articles:
Sea Kayaks | Touring Kayaks | Kayaks for Beginners | Sit In Kayaks | Kayaks Under $500
Kayaks for Kids | Kayaks for Dogs | Sit-On-Top Kayaks | River Kayaks
Kayaks for Women | Kayaks for Lakes | Canoes | Lightweight Kayaks
Quick Answer –The Best Tandem Kayaks
Aquaglide Mackenzie 125View at BackcountryIntex Challenger K2View at AmazonAdvanced Elements AdvancedFrame Elite Tandem KayakView at AmazonOcean Kayak Malibu Two XLView at BackcountryOcean Kayak Malibu TwoView at BackcountryIntex Explorer K2View at AmazonPerception PescadorView at REI
Comparison Table– Best Tandem Kayak
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Aquaglide Mackenzie 125
Intex Challenger K2
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Elite Tandem Kayak
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two XL
450 – 500 lbs
Ocean Kayak Malibu Two
375 – 425 lbs
Intex Explorer K2
Want to learn more about a technical term? Check out our Features Explained section below.
Need buying advice? Take a look at these Things to Consider.
High kick rockerFlat EvoBeam base with V-hullRemovable seats with versatile positionsSelf-bailing mesh drains
BEST OVERALL TANDEM KAYAK
Optimizing space and comfort with outstanding stability in any conditions make this kayak a top contender. The Mackenzie 125 offers a spacious paddling experience for two, making it a great choice for paddling rivers and lakes. The high rocker design excels in rough and windy conditions while maintaining high maneuverability. If you do happen to find yourself in the water at any point, the open cockpit design makes re-entry simple — even for beginner paddlers. Weighing in at only 30 pounds, this kayak for two is easily managed solo.
What I like about the Mackenzie 125 is that the seats can be configured to face each other so you can share lunch or hangout facing your partner.
Paddles & pump includedPuncture and UV damage resistantInflatable I-Beam floor
BEST BUDGET TANDEM KAYAK
Finding a high quality kayak for under $300 is hard to do, but fear not, we did the research for you and found this one — rest assured, the Challenger K2 has you covered.
This inflatable kayak comes with paddles, a pump, and a carry bag, so all you need to do is add water. Using the common Boston Valve system, you can easily fill this kayak in minutes including the I beam floor that provides for extra stability. The padded seats can be removed or adjusted slightly to increase comfort and usability.
What I like most about the Challenger K2 is how durable it is for such an affordable kayak.
View at Amazon
Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Elite Tandem Kayak
Tandem/Solo adjustable seat positionsAluminum Rib-frame technologyDrop-stitch floor provides rigidity and enhanced tracking abilityHigh-back seats with inflatable lumbar support
BEST FOR: WHITEWATER KAYAKING IN PAIRS
This inflatable kayak optimizes safety and durability thanks to the brand’s unique proprietary boat design.
Thanks to a a dual air chamber design that encircles the cockpit and heavy duty drop stitch flooring, this kayak is unbelievably stable in fast moving water. Advanced Elements’ aluminum ridge frame and removable fin provide for excellent tracking, as well. The kayak’s multi-layered construction equips this inflatable kayak with superb durability.
What I like most about the Elite Tandem are the high back seats and inflatable lumbar support that make it easy to paddle in comfort all day long.
Seats two adults plus a child or dogOverlapping foot wells provide stability as you paddleSide paddle keepersBow and stern bungees
BEST FOR: HAULING A HEAVY LOAD
Hauling enough gear for two people can be an issue for most tandem kayaks, but the Malibu XL intends to change the narrative.
While designing a kayak suitable for the whole family is no easy task, Ocean Kayaks nailed it with the Malibu XL. This kayak is large enough for 2 adults, and a child or pet, making for enough space for the entire family to get out on the water. Boasting a 500 pound weight carrying capacity, you can still bring plenty of gear for the journey, as well.
What I like about the Malibu XL is its superb stability that allows you to float with ease — no matter how many paddlers or how much gear you plan on bringing.
Skid plate for durabilityScrew-in drain plugMolded-in side carry handles at bow and sternGear straps for storage
BEST FOR: THOSE WHO PREFER THE SIT-ON-TOP DESIGN
If you need a compact kayak that can handle any water environment, the Malibu Two is a capable boat to consider.
Equipped with a bare minimum of accessories, the Ocean Kayak includes everything you need — without the fussy frills. A continuous rocker design with a built-in skeg keeps you moving forward with minimal effort and maneuvering easily through the water. Molded handles with a rubberized grip make transporting this boat a breeze.
What I like most about the Malibu Two are the adjustable foot rests that make it possible for both people to paddle comfortably all day long.
Bright Yellow Color (for high visibility)Two Separate Air Chambers (so you stay afloat if one pops)Made of Puncture-Resistant Vinyl (so pops shouldn’t happen in the first place)Comes with Removable Seats, Two Paddles, a Pump, and Carry BagGrab Lines and Handles on Both Ends (for hauling)
BEST FOR: SMALLER BODIES OF WATER
Go straight from the bustling city to the tranquil waters with this two-person kayak. You can single-handedly carry the boat to the water, fill it with air, and make your way into the blue in a matter of minutes. You can always go alone, but the boat can certainly accommodate the company of another person.
Adjustable Seat-Back Positions (for your preferred recline)Center Molded Seat (for a child, dog, or solo rider)Multiple Footrest Positions (for different rider sizes)Between-Leg Cup Holders and Storage Hatches on Front and BackBungee Storage Compartments at the Front and Back
BEST FOR: BEGINNERS AND PROS WHO NEED SPEED
If you’re looking for a tandem kayak that still allows for speed, the Pescador is your answer. At the same time, the width and buoyancy of the boat give you extra stability to make speed and wake feel manageable. It tracks straight and turns fast too. The ergonomic seats and ample leg room let you play out on the water as long as you want to.
View at REI
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING A TANDEM KAYAK
Tandem kayaks tend to cost more than single-person versions, but price is also affected by type and engineering. Solid models and state-of-the-art features always cost more than more basic boats. Check your intended use and desires against your budget to determine your ideal price range.
Two-person kayaks can weigh upwards of 90 pounds. Typically, you’ll have another passenger to help carry the boat. However, if you or your passenger have weight restrictions or you choose to ride alone, make sure you can carry the boat yourself or make arrangements to get it to the water.
The weight of two full-grown adults plus their gear can add up fast. Check the listed weight limit on your tandem kayak to ensure you don’t exceed that limit. If you exceed the weight limit, the boat may sink deeper into the water and be harder to handle.
Tandem kayaks come in either solid or inflatable models with sit-in or sit-on-top designs. Your legs go inside the cockpit of a sit-inside kayak, which feels more stable, while sit-on-top styles may feel more open. The inflatable versus solid choice is usually just a matter of preference or how much storage space you have available at home.
For more advice about how to pick the right kayak, click here.
The cockpit is the area inside the kayak, where you sit. The cockpit should have enough legroom for you and your passenger to comfortably sit, plus extra space for your belongings if you need to bring them along.
Kayaks usually have either movable pegs or molded footrests where you can brace your feet while you paddle. If you’re on the short or taller end, you want to make sure the foot pegs accommodate your size for a more comfortable ride. Find out how to find the right fit.
Ergonomics is the science of efficiency and proper posture. Ergonomic seats, for example, allow you to sit with proper posture and back support. An ergonomic seat can make all the difference between a long, comfortable ride and a ride that’s cut short by back pain.
Splash guards are raised shields, almost like mini windshields, on the front and/or back of the boat that protect your body and clothes against splashing waters. Although you should expect to get a little wet when kayaking, a splash guard can help prevent you from getting completely soaked.
A rudder, or skeg, is a small fin-like attachment on the bottom of the boat that keeps the boat from getting pushed by crosswinds. The rudder helps you steer straight so you don’t have to expend all your energy paddling against the wind.
Learn more about parts of a kayak here (+ downloadable pdf).
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