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What Is A Tandem Kayak?

Kayaking is a great way to explore and experience nature, whether you’re just out on the water for an afternoon, or an entire day. 

There are a large variety of kayaks available on the market.

In addition to the traditional single kayaks, there is also the tandem kayak, which is designed for two people.

If you want to explore the water with a partner, you may be wondering, “What is a tandem kayak, and how is it different from a single kayak?” 

A tandem kayak is a boat that’s designed to be used by two (or sometimes more) people, and has two openings with seats inside – one behind the other. A single kayak, on the other hand, only has one opening.

In this article, we will take a closer look at what a tandem, or double, kayak is, how to use it correctly, and some tips for tandem kayaking.

What Is A Tandem Kayak?

Three tandem kayaks and one single person kayak on a beach

As opposed to a single kayak that only has one opening, tandem sit-inside kayaks come with two openings with seats inside.

People who share a tandem kayak sit one behind the other. 

A raised area at the front of this kayak, called a deck, often holds an additional paddle or is used for storage space.

The primary purpose of a tandem kayak is to make it easy for two people of any size to kayak together.

Most tandem kayaks are made for two people to paddle together, although there are some that can even fit three.

How Are Tandem Kayaks Different From Other Kayaks?

While your average solo kayak or canoe is designed to be used by only one person, tandem kayaks are specifically designed for two people.

A tandem kayak is typically longer than other types of kayaks, and has more room, making it easier to paddle through the water with two people.

You can use tandem boats with a friend, family member, young child, significant other, or anyone else! 

A tandem kayak has multiple seats, so one person can take the lead paddling while the other relaxes in the front or back seat.

This works especially well if you plan to use the kayak with a small child.

Just keep in mind that you’ll have a little less freedom with a tandem kayak than if you paddle in two separate kayaks.

Some couples even use them as a bonding exercise! 

What Is A Tandem Kayak Used For?

Man and child paddling on a tandem kayak together

Tandem or double kayaks are used for a variety of different purposes, including fishing, nature exploration, and hunting.

The tandem design makes these boats ideal for fishing, as both people can use their own rods and paddles at the same time. 

Anyone who wants to explore the water with a partner can enjoy using a tandem kayak.

Hunting is another popular activity that some kayakers enjoy doing in a tandem boat. 

Some prefer using one tandem kayak over two solo kayaks, because it makes it easy for one person to kneel, lay down, or sit and hunt while the other person can paddle.

Tips For Using A Tandem Kayak

Before going out on a fishing or exploring water adventure, there are some helpful tips that will make tandem kayaking a more enjoyable and safe experience.

One important thing to consider is that both paddles should match in size and weight. 

It’s also best to choose a calm, flat body of water where you won’t be fighting winds and waves. 

And, most importantly, make sure you and your partner practice paddling with your tandem kayak on flat water before taking it out in any open water.

It’s also recommended that if possible, two people of a similar size and weight should paddle a tandem kayak together. 

If you’re introducing a less experienced person to paddling, it’s wise for the more experienced, stronger paddler to sit in the back of the kayak.

This person will be in a better position to paddle with forward strokes and steer with the rudder when needed. 

Even with two experienced kayakers, it’s generally recommended that the weaker paddler be seated in the front, with the stronger kayaker in the back.

With this arrangement, you’ll be able to move the boat surprisingly fast across the water. 

Where To Buy A Tandem Kayak

If you’re interested in buying a tandem kayak, there are several places where you can look.

The best place to start is online, since it will be easier to compare models and prices.

There are many reputable websites where you can buy quality tandem kayaks, such as Amazon, Dick’s, or Sportsman’s Warehouse. 

Before purchasing a kayak, it’s important to consider your individual needs and personal preferences to ensure that you choose the right boat for your next adventure.

Tandem Kayak Care

Just as with any other kayaks or canoes, a tandem kayak (and your paddle) need to be cared for properly. 

It’s a good idea to dry both your kayak and paddle off when you’re done kayaking, and clean your paddle with water on both sides.

Don’t leave your kayak out in the sun, or the material will warp and become difficult to handle. 

Finally, rinse off your kayak after using it to avoid dirt and damage.

Does a tandem kayak come with seats?

Three tandem kayaks with two separate seats inside the hull

Most tandem kayaks have two separate seats inside the hull. However, some may only have one seat. 

A sit-on-top tandem kayak is somewhat similar to a paddle board, but with two seats attached to the top.

To help you choose between a sit-inside or sit-on-top tandem kayak, consider the same things you would think about when buying a solo sit-inside or sit-on-top kayak.

Make sure the kayak you choose has two seats that are far enough apart so that both people can keep their paddling pace in sync.

Both the front paddler and the rear paddler should have enough room so that in both the reverse sweep and the forward sweep they are not in danger of knocking their partner out of the boat when paddling!

What is a tandem kayak used for?

The main purpose of a tandem kayak is to make it easy for two paddlers to enjoy the water together. 

Learning how to paddle a tandem kayak can make your kayaking experience more fun, especially for new paddlers who might need some instruction on paddling and steering their boat. 

In order to paddle a tandem kayak and keep your boat going straight, both paddlers need to communicate and work together as they paddle on opposite sides. 

Keeping the boat balanced despite two people’s movements is another area that can be a bit of a learning curve. 

Can one person use a tandem kayak?

Yes, this type of kayak can be used by just a single paddler, if needed. Tandem kayaks typically have plenty of space for one person to sit or kneel in the front or back of the kayak.

Some kayakers actually prefer tandem kayaks to single kayaks, because they enjoy having more space. Being able to utilize more packing space can be especially handy for people who like to fish or go camping.

What’s the best tandem kayak for fishing?

A tandem fishing kayak should be designed to make it easy for one person to kneel, lay down, or sit while the other paddles. Most types of fishing reels can attach to this type of kayak. 

When choosing a tandem fishing kayak, make sure that it is long enough, and that there is adequate storage space for all of your gear.


If you are one of the many people looking for a new way to explore the water with a partner, a tandem kayak is a perfect choice. Enjoying nature and having fun with friends and family is easier than ever with this innovative kayak design. 

By following these helpful tips, you’ll be ready to give a tandem kayak a try soon!

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