What Is a Tandem Kayak

What Is a Tandem Kayak – Exploring The Beauty Of a Tandem Kayak

For any water sports enthusiast, a kayak can provide adventurous fun and thrill through paddling on the water alongside getting the benefits of physical exercise and enjoying the surrounding natural views.  A tandem kayak is normally designed for two paddlers who paddle in unison. However, it is sometimes built for three, or even up to four persons, for enhanced paddling fun. Tandem kayaking offers a fabulous experience for open-air adventures, with fun proportionate to the paddling speed.
The kayak (derived from the Inuit word “qajaq” meaning “hunting boat”) originated in arctic North America, Greenland, and Siberia thousands of years ago, and was built by covering wooden frames with mostly seal, walrus or other ocean mammal skins.

What Is a Tandem Kayak - Exploring The Beauty Of a Tandem Kayak
What Is a Tandem Kayak – Exploring The Beauty Of a Tandem Kayak

Tandem kayak suitability features

Present-day tandem (or double) kayaks are 18-24 feet long, 13-15 inches deep, and wider than solo (single-person) kayaks. Kayak design allows almost anyone to learn to paddle it with ease. Nowadays, kayaks are built using mostly high-density polyethylene, thermoformed ABS-acrylic, fiberglass, and Aramid (Kevlar), materials that are lightweight, durable, and easy to handle.
Tandem kayaks come in various shapes and sizes, with much weight-carrying capacity. They are ideal for long excursions and provide good stability and speed. They incorporate various performance-enhancing elements, like rudder, skeg, and tracking fins that help remain on course. Their chances of capsizing are quite low. They are safer than solo kayaks but aren’t always fast.

Some essential features of double kayaks for consideration when purchasing and traveling are:

  • It must be comfortable enough for fun on the water. Ideally, you should feel just a low level of exhaustion without pain or discomfort in the back, butt, or legs, even after extensive paddling.
  • The kayak is made with materials that determine its weight, strength, rigidity, and functional efficiency. Will the chosen material serve you well? Are you getting the best price?
  • Generally, top-class tandem kayaks have various advantages over solo kayaks.
  • Its stability is vital for kayakers who lack experience or intend to travel with a child.
  • Its rudder ensures more proper control over rough water flow.
  • It can carry about 1.5 times the volume of equipment than a solo one. But avoid overloading to sidestep sluggish movement.
  • How well can it be handled? Will it fit on the top of your car and what about adequate storage room for it? How heavy is it?
  • Is your companion likely to remain coordinated with your paddling efforts, traveling directions, and the pace to move ahead?

This water sport is quite fun to learn. It can often be a lifetime adventure with breathtaking views of natural surroundings. With opportunities for workouts and sightseeing, it is also a suitable outlet for mutual interactions with any friend or companion. For highly social persons wishing to enjoy nature with their favorite persons, tandem kayaking is befitting. Compared to solo kayaking, it is far more mentally stimulating.

Double paddling takes a little time to get used to, but once the companions synchronize their strokes, even distant traveling can turn enjoyable, safe, and tranquil. Double kayaking is like experiencing a constant thrust that helps to easily pierce through the water.

Today’s kayak designs have diversified purposes – from slow and easy touring on calm water to racing and tough maneuvering in fast-moving water bodies to fishing ventures and long-distance ocean excursions. Some tandem kayaks are designed for just one passenger and one paddler to paddle and steer, allowing increased travel stability.

What Is a Tandem Kayak - Exploring The Beauty Of a Tandem Kayak
What Is a Tandem Kayak – Exploring The Beauty Of a Tandem Kayak

Advantages of tandem kayaking

There are many advantages and benefits of using a tandem kayak:

  • A splendid way to interact, have fun, and quickly develop deeper friendly bonds with any companion while enjoying the great outdoors.
  • Allows kayak learning with interest and enjoyably, especially through an experienced paddler’s training.
  • Ideal for tours and expeditions with additional storage capacity for packing items that constitute lavish camping.
  • A stress-reducing activity with respite from a flurry of daily work.
  • Well suited for those with knee problems seeking to explore nature, since predominantly the upper body is used for paddling.
  • Less likely to tip over – a safer option for an inexperienced kayaker or to take a child alongside.
  • Faster movement with lesser effort than a solo kayaker.
  • Much quicker turn than a solo kayak through coordinated strokes.
  • Less costly than two solo kayaks.
  • Richer experience, even if costlier than one solo kayak.
  • The coordination of two persons’ paddling might be challenging initially. But, after tackling the process, they usually prefer double kayaking over the other type, since people love enjoying water sports with others.
  • A workout for 12 major muscle groups, including abs, biceps, triceps, lats, deltoids (shoulder), quadriceps (thighs), hamstrings (backside), quads (front side), glutes (buttocks), and calves.
  • Kayaking and canoeing are low-impact activities that help improve body flexibility, strength, and aerobic fitness, specifically cardiovascular fitness.
  • Paddle movement increases muscle strength, especially in the arms, shoulders, back, and chest. Also, intense paddling can have a dramatic impact.
  • Fluid paddling action is a low-impact aerobic exercise that improves flexibility and strength without degeneration of the joints as seen in many other exercises.

Disadvantages of tandem kayaking

Weigh the following downsides with the advantages to make a prudent decision:

  • Muscular exertions that push the paddle can sometimes lead to injuries, like a shoulder sprain. The repetitive action of moving the paddle may cause overuse wrist joint injuries.
  • Less stable than canoes and more prone to capsize.
  • Harder to enter and exit than canoes.
  • Much lower load capacity than canoes.
  • Although lighter than two solo kayaks, it surpasses one solo kayak by weight and length.
  • While low-quality models weigh less, good-quality ones weigh 35-50 kilos. So you will surely need a hand when lifting and transporting it.
  • Costlier than a solo kayak.
  • Need to look out for and overcome possible hazards like overhanging or submerged tree branches, rushing water, unpredictable currents, excess swelling water, extremely cold water, other crafts, marine animals, and snakes.
What Is a Tandem Kayak - Exploring The Beauty Of a Tandem Kayak
What Is a Tandem Kayak – Exploring The Beauty Of a Tandem Kayak

Types of tandem kayaks

These are the main types of tandem kayaks:

  • Recreational tandems: suitable for short trips on less challenging water and ideal for novice paddlers not intending to camp, race, or tour.
  • Whitewater tandems: suited for paddling down fast-moving rivers or in challenging waves, being compact and highly maneuverable, but isn’t ideal for touring or camping.
  • Touring kayaks: straighter movement with less stability, quite prone to roll, can cover enormous distances, and carry more equipment, being more efficient and faster than recreational ones.
  • Folding kayaks: efficient performance with the convenience of being carried like inflatable ones, costlier than other kayaks, the best option for topmost performance, and easy to store in desired folded size.
  • Inflatable tandems: can be inflated or deflated in just a few minutes, easily stored in a suitcase or backpack, increasing popularity for their portability and ease of storage, wider and cheaper than hard-shell kayaks, more stable in the water, require low maintenance, have adjustable seats, footrests, paddle holders, fishing rod holders, etc., aren’t suitable for challenging water conditions, with many of them having reinforced bottoms for wear and tear protection.

Although there are sit-on-top versions of kayaks, the most common type is the sit-inside or sit-in kayak, the full range of designs for which is huge, like sit-in recreational kayaks, whitewater kayaks, touring kayaks, sea kayaks, racing kayaks, tandem kayaks, etc.

Kayak selection considerations

Selecting a kayak for use depends on several factors as follows:

  • Intended use: For kayaking on calm lakes and slow-moving rivers, a recreational kayak or touring kayak is suitable. But, for rough waters or whitewater rapids, you’ll need a specialized kayak like a whitewater kayak or sea kayak.
  • Experience and skill level: Beginners need a stable and easy-to-handle kayak that won’t tip over easily. Experienced kayakers can get upgrades that offer advanced maneuverability.
  • Size and weight: A lightweight kayak may be easier to handle and transport, but a larger one has more stability and storage space. The right size kayak for yourself must have a maximum capacity rating of at least 125 pounds over your body weight, e.g. if you weigh 100 pounds, the kayak should be rated at least 225 pounds.
  • Materials: Each material has specific advantages and disadvantages in terms of weight, durability, cost, etc.
  • Comfort and features: Comfort is crucial for long-duration journeys. Seek a comfortable seat, adjustable footrests, ample storage space, paddle holders, rod holders, and rudders or skegs for improved steering.

Question & Answers:

1. What’s the best way to get into and out of a double kayak?

Answers: To get into it, one person should hold the kayak steady while the other person gets in. After the first person is seated, he must hold the kayak steady for the second person to get in. To get out, just reverse the process.

2. What must be worn when kayaking?

Answers: Wearing well-suited comfortable clothing for the weather is important, such as a wetsuit or drysuit, water shoes/sandals, and, vitally, a life jacket.

3. How fast can tandem kayakers move?

Answers: The speed depends on the strength and coordination of the paddlers, the water conditions, and the kayak design. On average, a double kayak can attain speeds of around 4-5 miles per hour.


Tandem kayaking is a superb way to enjoy the outdoor environment with any companion. Whether you want to experience a leisurely approach, an adventurous excursion, or anything in-between, double kayaking can be an ideal option for you to become stress-free with some fun mixed in. However, first of all ensure that you choose the most suitable kayak for yourself.

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