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Best Overall: Ocean Kayak Malibu 2XL at Austin Kayak
"Ready for almost any water condition and is suitable for beginners and intermediates alike."
"Comes with everything you need to get started including two aluminum paddles and front storage."
Best Inflatable: Advanced Elements Island Voyage 2 at L.L. Bean
"Features a rear drain plug for easy deflating and is made of durable 600D polyester."
Best Sit-on-Top: OC Paddle Tandem Kayak at Overstock
"This sit-on-top kayak features a polyethylene frame that can hold two adults and one child."
Best for Lakes: Brooklyn Kayak Company PK14 at Brooklyn Kayak Company
"Gives kayakers the option to use their hands or feet to maneuver the boat on the lake."
Best for Fishing: Feelfree Lure II at Austin Kayak
"A motor can attach behind the rear seat, converting this kayak into a serious fishing boat."
Best for Whitewater: Aire Lynx II Inflatable Kayak at Sunny Sports
"The kayak's rockered bow and continuous curve shape make it ready to charge every rapid and eddy"
If you’re looking to spend some time out on the water with a friend, family member, or significant other, a tandem kayak is a great option. Unlike most kayaks, tandems are built for two people, making the experience a much more communal one. But two-person kayaks come with a few compromises when compared to the smaller, more maneuverable single-person boats that paddlers should consider when purchasing. While sharing your kayak with another person can be a lot of fun, tandem models tend to be considerably longer than standard kayaks. This can make them more challenging to transport to and from the water, and make it more difficult to store when not in use. Additionally, a two-person kayak often has less overall space to carry gear than two individual boats would have, which can be an important consideration if you’re embarking on a longer paddling excursion. However, tandem kayaks tend to be faster and more stable, making it easier for two paddlers to go further than they would on their own. Plus, they turn what is often a solitary sport into something you can share with others.
Read on for the best tandem kayaks available.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Ocean Kayak Malibu 2XL
Ocean Kayak's Malibu 2XL kayak is our top pick because it's ready for almost any water condition and is suitable for beginners and intermediates alike. This 13-foot 4-inch kayak is a bit longer than some others on our list and has good traction and stability on flat water, light tides, or river currents.
It’s a value kayak that stays in the three-digit price range but still offers the quality expected from this respected kayak brand and a 5-year warranty to back the name. You also get the versatility of being able to convert it for paddling solo so you’re not limited to times when you only have two paddlers. Simply remove one of the Comfort Plus seats and position the other one in the center of the boat. Since these seats are adjustable, this kayak can be used by anyone in the family, regardless of size. It weighs 68 pounds and can hold up to 500 pounds.
Best Value: L.L. Bean Manatee Deluxe Tandem Kayak
If you're new to kayaking or only plan on using your kayak a few times a year, the L.L. Bean Manatee Deluxe Tandem Kayak will allow you to get started on a budget. It comes with everything you need including two cushioned seats, two aluminum paddles, and front and rear storage options.
The 14-foot 6-inch kayak is easy to maneuver in calm and slightly windy conditions. Its hull shape allows for solid traction on the water and it comes with two handles, so bringing it in and out of the water is effortless. The Manatee's cockpit is big enough for most adults and the adjustable leg lifters allow you to stretch out while paddling. This boat weighs 73 pounds and can hold up to 550 pounds.
Best Inflatable: Advanced Elements Island Voyage 2
Many tandem kayaks are so long that they are difficult, if not impossible, to transport without a large truck or roof rack. Inflatables such as this one open up kayaking to those with smaller cars or those who want to take their kayak on a plane without using up all their storage space.
The Advanced Elements Voyage 2 is made of durable 600D polyester and measures 11 feet 2 inches in length so paddlers won't be cramped. There are multiple seat positions that allow you to use it as a tandem or a solo kayak, and the boat's pontoon-style side tubes make for a stable kayak that's great for beginners. This kayak also features a rear drain plug for easy deflating. However, shoppers should note that you need to buy the inflation air pump separately.
Best Sit-on-Top: OC Paddle Tandem Kayak
This sit-on-top kayak from OC Paddle features a rigid polyethylene frame that delivers efficient power transfer from your paddle strokes so you can paddle longer distances easily. It measures 12 feet in length and can hold two adults and one child comfortably. The two Comfort Plus seats are located in the bow and stern, and the middle seat has footbeds for added comfort.
The molded frame features two hatch covers for storing accessories, five fishing rod holders, two handles, and a drain plug. Unlike most kayaks, it’s also available in seven different colorways ranging from muted deep green to bright pink pastels. Its maximum capacity is 375 pounds.
Best for Lakes: Brooklyn Kayak Company PK14
You can paddle long distances on the lake with Brooklyn Kayak Company's PK14 kayak. This sit on top kayak comes with two collapsible aluminum paddles and two pedal drives, giving kayakers the option to use either their hands or feet to maneuver the boat. It also features a hand-controlled rudder next to the rear seat that provides optimal steering and control. Unlike many cheaper kayaks, the PK14 has seats that have a rigid frame with padding so you can stay on the water longer without discomfort.
Details aren’t forgotten here, either, with a cup holder, three fishing rod holders, a storage hatch, a recessed cargo area, and four carrying handles. There’s even an attachment point for an optional trolling motor to turn this into a boat/kayak hybrid. This kayak measures 14 x 34 inches and can carry up to 670 pounds. It also comes with a 5-year limited warranty.
Best for Fishing: Feelfree Lure II
The Feelfree Lure II is built for fishing. Designed to hold all your gear, this kayak has rear storage space for holding a cooler, front and rear rod holders, and a sonar pod to mount a fish finder. It also comes in five different camouflage colorways for maximum concealment as you glide into fish-heavy waters.
This versatile kayak also offers multiple configuration options to give you more flexibility. The two Gravity seats are well-made and supportive to ensure you don't mind long days casting in the saddle. The seats are also removable, so you can convert this boat into a one-person kayak with more space to hold your gear and additional standing room. There's even an option to attach a motor or pedal behind the rear seat, converting this kayak into a serious fishing boat.
Best for Whitewater: Aire Lynx II Inflatable Kayak
Aire is one of the most respected names in river running crafts and this agile tandem whitewater steed lives up to their reputation. The Lynx II is designed to be used in whitewater conditions, but it can also convert to a larger solo kayak with plenty of room for storing your stuff on an overnight river trip.
The kayak is loaded with 17 cargo loops for securely lashing your stuff down for when the water gets turbulent. It also has two grab handles on both sides underneath the boat that can be used to easily tip the boat back over if you capsize. The kayak's rockered bow and continuous curve shape make it ready to charge every rapid and eddy. This boat comes with a full repair kit and a 10-year warranty.