What is a Tandem Kayak

What is a Tandem Kayak?

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There are myriad ways you can enjoy the treacherous waters when fishing or just passing time during summer. For water sports enthusiasts, paddling as a team in solo kayaks is one way of enjoying their recreational time together. However, if you’re looking to share a great kayaking experience with a close friend, a family member, or a significant other, riding on a tandem kayak is ultimately one way you can spend your time on the water together. But, what is a tandem kayak and how can you exploit it to its limit?


What is a Tandem Kayak Anyway?


Before we move on to our main topic, it’s paramount that you understand what a tandem kayak really is. Basically, these kayaks are quite the opposite of solo kayaks. They allow more than one person to seat and can sometimes accommodate even three paddlers.

They’re longer than most other kayaks with lengths that go as far as 18 to 24 ft. To compensate for your weight and the weight of your gear, these kayaks have a higher weight limit that can go upwards of 500 pounds.

Tandem kayaks are some of the best for taking your family out. They’re usually hailed by couples as they not only encourage teamwork but also provide a perfect way of building intimacy while enjoying a great time in the wild.

Expert kayakers usually recommend these types of kayaks to beginners. That’s because they offer you the safest way of learning how to kayak as there’s someone guiding you and always there to help out in case you mess up.


Why Choose a Tandem Kayak?


Now, there are many reasons why you’ll need a tandem kayak over its solo counterparts. One of these obvious reasons is the space factor. Unlike other kayaks, tandem kayaks offer ample space and are always open to customization.

In some cases, avid anglers go to the extent of removing the back seat to create more space to keep their fish and other fishing gear well organized. With that said, let’s now discuss a few more factors that explain why a tandem kayak is much better.

  • Provides Bonding Exercise:

This is, by the way, of the major advantages why people consider tandem kayaks over others. Since they’re designed to allow two paddlers to sail together, a sense of teamwork is usually developed in the process.

By doing this, you not only bond but also the pool is twice the muscular power to propel the kayak. That’s the main reason why tandem kayaks are much faster than other types of kayaks.

  • Great for Newcomers:

If you’re a beginner getting ready to explore the world of kayaking, the tandem kayak is the best to start with. Now, paddling is difficult, and learning the different stroking techniques can be challenging.

Although practice makes perfect, having someone watch your back while on the deep waters is one way of practically learning kayaking the safest way. After all, you may never know when things might get worse.

  • Offers More Space:

Just as we mentioned earlier, one major reason why you might need this two-person kayak is to take advantage of the space available. Avid anglers and paddlers going for camping expeditions find these kayaks an excellent choice because they allow for a clearer packing arrangement as compared to their solo counterparts.

  • Great for Kayaking with Kids:

If you’re looking to surprise your kids with something quite unusual, you can use a tandem kayak to have them enjoy the scenic beauty of the sky blue waters. Since they have two or more seats, an experienced kayaker can take their kids out and enjoy the beauty of the water.

However, it’s recommended that you strictly stick to the rules regarding kayaking with kids to prevent any accidents or unavoidable surprises.


Types of Tandem Kayaks


Since tandem kayaks are some of the most sort after types in the market, most manufacturers have opted to include various designs that categorize them depending on the type of activity they’re intended to handle. So, if you’re new to tandem kayaking, here are some popular types that might interest you.

  • Tandem Recreational Kayaks:

As you already know, recreational kayaks are usually suited in calmer and less challenging waters. When it comes to tandem recreational kayaks, these vessels are best for calm waters making them the best for learners and beginners.

  • Tandem Fishing Kayaks:

The best thing about tandem fishing kayaks is that most of them are actually sit-on-top. This makes them more spacious as they offer additional space to keep your fishing essentials. Due to the enormous amount of space they offer, most of them are equipped with a host of features such as pole holders and mast receiver receptacles to make your fishing, surfing and sailing experience more fun-filled.

  • Tandem Touring Kayak:

Most people perceive these kayaks to be in a class of their own. Unlike their recreational counterparts, these ones are designed to cover long distances such as extended trips when camping.

Due to their long expeditions, they’re usually exposed to unpredictable environmental conditions hence they’re built using high-quality materials that are resistant to regular wear and tear.

Since they’re designed to carry a lot of stuff, these kayaks have additional waterproofing capability and usually feature a tri-form hull (a V-shaped cross-section at the center) to allow them to navigate at a straight line while maintaining stability.

  • Tandem Whitewater Kayaks:

If you’re a couple or just a pair enthusiastic enough to paddle down on rough fast-moving rivers, then this is the perfect kayak for you. Just like solo whitewater kayaks, these too are constructed from heavy-duty materials that can withstand frequent knocks and rough maneuvers on fast-moving waters. They’re easy to control but lack sufficient space to store some of your essentials.

  • Tandem Inflatable Kayaks:

The beauty of this category of tandem kayaks is their ease of storage and transportation. Unlike their hard-hulled counterparts, these inflatable types of tandem kayaks can easily be stored in confined places by just deflating them.

These kayaks have bladders inside them to improve buoyancy in case they capsize. However though, due to their susceptibility to damage (especially by sharp rocks), these kayaks are strictly suited for flatwater kayaking or paddling on calm oceans, rivers, and lakes.

  • Tandem Sit-On-Top Kayaks:

Just like other sit-on-top kayaks, these too are molded into a hollow shape where you and your partner sit when kayaking. These kayaks are easy to launch and are the best for avid anglers as they allow you to stand when casting or when adjusting your fishing accessories.

The only drawback with this type of kayak though, is that it exposes you to all the negative impact rough water can throw to you.


How to Get On and Off a Tandem Kayak?


When it comes to launching a tandem kayak, there are lots of challenging situations you’ll need to deal with such as considering your partner’s wishes. This is one reason why most people, especially those that are not fond of consulting others, find these kayaks quite challenging to adapt to. However, regardless of all that, here’s a short guide on how you can launch these kayaks as a pair.

Launching From the Shoreline

  • Step 1. Although tandem kayaking is quite complex as compared to the rest, it’s one of the most exciting ways to explore the majestic waters. So, before you launch your kayak, always go through your kayaking checklist to ensure everything is set.
  • Step 2. When you’re done, push your kayak (with the help of your co-paddler) to the shoreline. Since tandem kayaks are longer than most other kayaks, they should be positioned parallel to the shoreline. Make sure the kayak is at least knee-deep on the shore.
  • Step 3. The paddler at the front should get in first. This can be done by placing the paddle across the kayak with one part on the shore while the other rests over the kayak. Your partner should hold the kayak firmly at the back.
  • Step 4. Once you’ve seated down comfortably, adjust the paddle towards the shoreline to stabilize the boat. This will allow the person at the back to get on the kayak without it tipping over.
  • Step 5. Once everyone is set, use the supportive paddle on the shoreline to push off the kayak. This will allow you to take off safely and smoothly.

How to Exit From the Shore

Just like launching the kayak, exiting the tandem kayak is pretty much the same. Here are some steps to follow.

Step 1. Start off by paddling the kayak towards the shallow point of the shore. Next, the person at the back should provide stability by putting the paddle on the shoreline. This will allow the person at the front to exit.

Step 2. Once you get out of the kayak, hold it firmly to allow the second person to exit safely.


Launching a Tandem Kayak From the Dock

Launching a tandem kayak from the dock is, by the way, one of the simplest endeavors. Here’s a short guide.

  • Step 1. The first step you need to take is to position the kayak parallel to the dock.
  • Step 2. Next, the person seating at the front should get in first. Here, the second person should hold the kayak firmly while the first person gets on.
  • Step 3. Once you’re set, the first person should then hold the dock with both hands to bring the kayak closer while keeping it firm for the second person to get on.
  • Step 4. Once you’re both seated comfortably, pick your paddles from the edge of the dock and start paddling. Note that, the person seated at the front should paddle first.


How to Exit From the Dock

  • Step 1. Exiting a tandem kayak from the shore is much like a reverse of launching it. You’ll first have to paddle as close enough to the dock as possible.
  • Step 2. Next, place your paddles on the edge of the dock so that you can hold the dock firmly with your hands.
  • Step 3. With both of you holding the dock, the person seated at the front should exit the kayak first while the one at the back holds the dock firmly with both hands.
  • Step 4. Once the first person is safely on the dock, hold the kayak tightly from the dock to allow the second person to exit safely from the kayak.



And with that said, you can have as much fun as you possibly can with friends and dear ones. As you can see, tandem kayaking is increasingly becoming popular by the day. That’s all thanks to their huge spaces, higher weight capacities, and, of course, the fact that they can accommodate more than one paddler.

So, whether you’re a professional or a beginner learning how to kayak, a tandem kayak offers you the opportunity to learn new kayaking skills as you enjoy exploring the cool waters. As for expert kayakers, taking your spouse, your kids or your canine friend out on an expedition has never been this fun all thanks to the tandem kayak.

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