How to find the best tandem kayaks
Kayaking is fun, good exercise, and a perfect way to get out in the fresh air and explore beautiful places. Anything this good will be twice as nice when shared with someone else, and tandem kayaks let you split the adventure two ways. Most manufacturers make tandems nowadays, so the only challenge for would-be tandem ‘yakers is choosing the right boat. Tandem kayaks have many things in common with their smaller cousins, but they are also different in many ways, and there are two things that you must consider first when shopping for a tandem kayak: storage and transport.
2015 Hobie Mirage Oasis (Golden Papaya)
Our favorite for 2016
Advanced Elements Lagoon 2 Inflatable Kayak
A great value option
Pelican Alliance 136T Kayak
A perfect family bang-around kayak
Unless you have a waterfront home where the tandem will be stored and launched most of the time, you will be continually addressing these aspects of tandem kayak ownership. Tandems are heavy, usually anywhere from 75-100 pounds, and while some are the same length as single kayaks, most are longer – up to 23 feet for some composite boats. In most cases, two people will be required to handle the boat, and car-topping can be a real challenge. Are you prepared to trailer your kayak? And where will you keep it? Ideally, your boat should be kept under shelter, especially from the sun. Thinking carefully about things like this will help you make the first major decision when choosing your kayak: getting a hard boat or an inflatable. Let’s review a few of both types to help you get started on the way to finding the best tandem kayak for your needs.
Hobie Mirage Oasis Kayak 2015 – Like the Mirage tandem fishing kayak, the Mirage Oasis leads its class, and in terms of quality and features, it tops this review. Powered by Hobie’s patented Mirage Drive, this boat accelerates fast and cruises efficiently. By utilizing the large leg muscles for power, the Mirage extends your range and water time. A relatively light tandem at 100 pounds, the Mirage has plenty of gear storage space for longer expeditions. Three enclosed in-hull stowage bays, an on-deck cargo area, and comfortable full-support seats make this a very capable excursion boat, while still leaving the overall hull lines clean and uncluttered.
Old Town Dirigo Tandem Plus Kayak – The Dirigo Tandem Plus stands out from the pack with its extended rear cockpit that allows paddlers to take along a child, pet, or bulky gear. An attractive boat with clean lines, a low 72 pound empty weight, and a profile that balances speed and stability, this kayak makes a great family recreation boat. Built-in cushioned seats offer comfort and simplicity, while a click-seal rear bay and a glove box hatch keep gear out of the way and dry. Light weight makes the boat maneuverable enough to tackle moving water, and it can be used with or without a rudder.
Pelican Alliance 136T Kayak – The Pelican Alliance is a simple, durable, low-cost boat that is a perfect family bang-around kayak. At 72 pounds and just under 14 feet in length, this boat is easy for kids to haul down to the water, and the tough roto-molded hull is free of projections that can bruise or scratch playful paddlers. A flatbottom multi-chine hull makes for good stability, reduces drag, makes the boat track straight, and gives surprisingly high cruising speed. The padded back rests are adjustable, as are the foot pegs. An over-sized rear cockpit, stern storage bay, and deck bungees provide versatile cargo capacity.
Advanced Elements Lagoon 2 Inflatable Kayak – Loaded with features, durable, affordable, and inflatable, the Advanced Elements Lagoon 2 tops this list when it comes to the best value for the money. This kayak offers easy storage and transport, yet is very capable on the water. Built-in bow and stern panels add rigidity and let the boat handle waves better and go faster than most other inflatable kayaks. Twistlok and high-flow Spring valves make inflation and deflation quick and easy. Padded high-back seats are comfortable and help paddlers maintain optimum position. Other features include a landing plate and tracking fin, splash guards, and a foam floor panel.
Aquaglide Deschutes Two HB Inflatable Kayak – This inflatable kayak is loaded with features that support everything from recreational paddling to use as a two person fishing kayak or even in mild whitewater. With a hull built of durable 600D polyester and Duratex over a hard-bottom backbone, this high-performance inflatable is not afraid of a bit of banging around. The rigid floor makes it paddle fast for an inflatable. Generous cockpit capacity, high-back PRO-formance seats, integrated fishing rod holders, and neoprene rail pads that offer good grip and make boarding easy are just of few of the many well-thought out details built in to this high-end inflatable.
Buyers guide – how to find the best 2 person kayak
Once you choose between hard and inflatable tandem kayaks, the next thing to evaluate is the type of water you will most often be paddling on. For large bodies of water and extended exploration look at boats with the long, narrow profile and good rigidity found in tandem sea kayaks. These features allow for high top speed, good glide, and let the boat cut through waves and chop with ease. You may also want to consider a boat that can take a sailing rig. If you want to tackle some moving water and maybe even a few light rapids, you want maneuverability and stability. Look for less length and a rounded profile that places the wide point slightly behind the boat’s mid-point.
If the kayak will be trailered, and launched from ramps or level shorelines most of the time, a little extra weight will not be a problem. The opposite is true for car-topping or accessing remote spots. Seats are another factor that affects transport of the kayak. High-mounted, rigid-frame seats are great for comfort on long paddles, but must be removed and stowed in order to car-top the boat, as will many bolt-on accessories.
With so many boats and such a variety of configurations out there, it can take some work to get ideal performance and value for your tandem kayak investment. In the end, the most helpful thing you can do when sorting through the multitude is take your primary paddling partner and demo a few boats.