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Choosing A Tandem Kayak: All You Need To Know

Kayaking is generally considered a single-person sport. But what about when you feel like paddling with your friend, a family member, or a loved one? You are probably thinking each person will have to come with their own yak. Well, not necessarily thanks to tandem kayaks.

Tandem kayaks are designed to comfortably accommodate two people allowing you and the other person to bond over your shared love for kayaking. You also get to save money when you buy a tandem kayak instead of buying two single-person kayaks. Paddling a tandem kayak is also a lot easier with two people. There’s definitely strength in numbers.

You can’t just buy any tandem kayak you see on the market. All tandem kayaks aren’t made equal and it’s important you buy a quality product that will serve your needs while also lasting for a long time. It is important to know all the factors you should consider before buying one. And this is where the buying guide comes in. The information here will help simplify the buying process and help you choose a tandem kayak that best suits your needs.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Tandem Kayaks

Tandem kayaks have a number of advantages over single-person kayaks. Perhaps the most obvious advantage is that buying a tandem kayak is cheaper than buying two single-person kayaks. So you are saving money when you buy a tandem yak.

It’s also easier to paddle a tandem kayak. After all, there are two of you and there’s always strength in numbers. The more, the merrier, haha. So the paddling aspect is going to be a breeze. Also, carrying the kayak to and from the shore will be easier for two people.

You get to have company on the water. Paddling with your favorite people can only be fun. Tandem kayaks are generally more powerful and stable than single-person kayaks and can take on rough waters better.

Now, let’s talk about the disadvantages of tandem kayaks. The most obvious advantage of tandem kayaks is that you will need a partner. However, most of these kayaks can be converted for solo uses.

Tandem kayaks are also bulkier than single-person yaks. And carrying these kayaks can be troublesome if you don’t have a partner. But this shouldn’t be a problem if you have a kayak cart. Kayak carts help you transport your yak to the shore with ease.

Also, tandem kayaks are longer than single-person kayaks. This means you’ll need a car to carry them or have a garage or barn to store them. This problem can be easily averted by buying inflatable tandem kayaks. This type of kayak folds up into the size of a backpack and can be easily transported. You can also store them easily by putting them under your bed, back of the closet, in a corner, and so on.

As you can see, there’s always a solution to most of the issues you might potentially have with a tandem kayak. So there is no reason for you to stay away from them.

tandem kayaks - Guide

Sit-Inside vs. Sit-on-Top Kayaks

Sit on Top Kayaks are types of kayaks where you sit on a molded-in depression on top instead of inside the kayak. It’s easy to enter and exit this type of kayak and you get more freedom of movement. This type of kayak is especially favored by fishing enthusiasts as they sit above the water level, can move more freely, and have better access to gear and casting, Scuba divers also use this type of kayak.

Sit Inside Kayak is the conventional type of kayak and what comes to the mind of most people when they are thinking of a kayak. This type of kayak has an enclosed cockpit and you actually ‘sit inside the kayak’. As the cockpit of this type of kayak is enclosed, water doesn’t get inside the yak, unlike the sit-on-top types. This makes this type of kayak ideal for touring and recreational kayakers.

The type of kayak that you choose will depend on the type of activity you intend to participate in as well as the climate. Sit-on-top kayaks are great in hot climates as you are exposed to the elements (wind) and the water that splashes on you will help keep you cool. However, you’ll have to use sit-inside kayaks in colder climates as you most definitely don’t want water splashing on you in say, winter.

Rigid vs. Inflatable Kayaks

Inflatable kayaks can be inflated as the name suggests. Rigid kayaks, sometimes referred to as hard-shell kayaks, are the traditional types of kayaks. Rigid kayaks may be made of plastic, wood, fiberglass, and so on.

Inflatable kayaks have the advantage of being lightweight and easy to transport and store. Also, inflatables are cheaper than rigid kayaks. However, inflatable kayaks have the disadvantage of requiring more maintenance than rigid kayaks. They are also less stable and difficult to maneuver when compared to rigid kayaks because they are lightweight.

Rigid kayaks have the advantage of being sturdier, more stable, and requiring less maintenance.

Can a Tandem Kayak Be Operated By One Person?

A tandem kayak is designed for two people as evident in the weight capacity and size of the kayak. However,  these kayaks can also be converted for solo use. Beginner kayakers will have a hard time operating a tandem kayak as it’ll be difficult for them to maneuver. However, advanced paddlers should have no problem operating a tandem kayak.

How to Choose Your Tandem Kayak

Materials & Durability

The type and quality of materials used to manufacture tandem kayaks have an effect on their durability. Below are common materials used to make tandem kayaks.

Polyethylene is widely used to produce kayaks because it is cheap and durable. However,  this material is susceptible to damage from UV, so you must store polyethylene boats in the shade.

Rotomold is another common material used to manufacture kayaks and is very sturdy and cheap. Like polyethylene, rotomold is susceptible to UV damage.

ABS is more expensive and resistant to UV damage than polyethylene.

Composite – These include kayaks made from fiberglass, kevlar, and carbon fiber. These materials are very expensive but are known to be very durable and lightweight.

However, you can get good and satisfactory functionality from yaks made from less expensive materials. Also, kayaks made from composite materials are hard to find.

tandem kayaks - Guide

Weight & Portability

Your home may be far from a water body thereby requiring you to transport your kayak over some distance. This means you’ll have to load the yak in your pickup truck, then transport the yak to the shore. Generally, tandem kayaks are bulkier than single-person yaks.

However, tandem kayaks are easy to lift by two people. And you can also get a kayak cart to transport your vessel to and from the shore.

If you don’t own a car or have a garage/shed/barn to store a kayak, you should consider getting inflatable kayaks as they are easy to store and transport.

Weight Capacity

Tandem kayaks by design have a larger load capacity than single-person kayaks. You should consider the combined weight of yourself, your partner, and your gear. This will help you choose the type of tandem kayak to buy. Some tandem kayaks can accommodate heavier people while some cannot.

Going over the weight limit of your tandem kayak will be counterproductive in the long run as the yak will wear out faster thereby compromising its durability.

Kayak Length

You should put some thought into the length of your kayak as it affects performance and durability. Longer kayaks are generally faster and perform better on calm waters. This type of kayak is also more suited for longer expeditions as they are more comfortable and don’t require a lot of paddling.

Shorter kayaks on the other hand are easier to maneuver and are more suited to rapids or white water activities.

Storage Capacity

You should be concerned about the storage space of your yak if you have a lot of gear. Also, some activities will require you to have more space in your kayak. Fishing enthusiasts may want kayaks with larger storage space so they can take ice boxes and other fishing gear such as crates onboard.

You’ll also need more storage space to stockpile supplies if you intend to go on long kayaking expeditions. Have a look at the storage space in a yak before buying. Touring yaks also tend to have more space than other types of kayaks.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, the very best tandem kayaks, and a buying guide to help you choose a kayak that best suits your needs. No matter your budget, preference, or skill level, there is a tandem kayak for you on this list. Choose the one that best suits your needs and start cruising the waters with your family and loved ones.

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