The Best Tandem Kayak

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Recreational Kayak

Our Top Pick for 2016: Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Recreational Kayak
Read our full review.

See it on Amazon for $699.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.
Too expensive? See our budget pick.

Kayaking is a fun and easy way to get outside and burn energy. Although the sport is often viewed as a vacation activity or a sightseeing opportunity, it is also an excellent way to get rid of those unwanted calories. One hour of kayaking can burn as many as 500 calories. The sport is low-impact, making it perfect for those who are recovering from certain injuries and those who want to go easy on their joints. Whether you are planning to take your kayak onto a quiet lake with a friend or solo on the ocean, you will want to choose a craft worthy of the water. Check out the kayaks below to get an idea of what you might want to purchase.

Table of contents

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For Single Or Tandem Use
Capacity Of One, Two, Or Two Plus A Child
Removable Front Seat For Solo Paddling
500 Lb. Weight Capacity
375-425 Lbs. Maximum Capacity
Easy Access To Storage Space
Includes 2 Soft Backrests And 2 Double Sided Paddles
2 Comfort Plus Seats
Auto Trim Hull Which Keeps The Bow Down
Lightweight 60 Lb. Design
Three Molded-in Seat Wells
Adjustable Foot Brace System
Ultra Stability And Tracking
Hull And Deck Design Allows Easy Stacking
Maximum Load Range Is 450 To 500 Pounds

*Price at time of publishing and may not reflect current pricing.

#1 Gold pick (Winner): Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Recreational Kayak

Ocean Kayak Malibu Two Tandem Recreational Kayak Gold Pick

View it on Amazon for $699.95*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-gold-winnerThis kayak is has a capacity to hold one to two adults. The maximum capacity for this kayak is 375 – 425 pounds, making it perfect for a couple with a single child. Seating positions permit paddling solo, tandem or tandem with a child. The kayak includes three seat wells and two Comfort Plus seats. Overlapping foot wells provide additional room for your feet. Convenient bow and stern handles make it easy to carry the hull to and from the water. The kayak is suitable for ocean paddling as well, although your skill also plays a large part on how well the kayak performs.

The hull and deck design of this kayak permit easy stacking of multiple hulls. That way, if you have more than one, you can easily stack them without fear of them falling. The design of this kayak ensures a comfortable fit no matter your leg length. The hull is extremely lightweight, making it simple to strap on top of a small car. If you have an SUV, you may want to enlist another person’s help to lift the hull to the proper height. Stable and easy to maneuver, this kayak is perfect for beginning and experienced kayakers alike.

Although the seats are comfortable, you may find that the seat cushions have a tendency to slip. If this is the case, put a bit of non-skid padding under the seat to prevent sliding. The stability of this kayak is such that even those who are afraid of water can feel safe in it.

Because of its design material, you will want to be sure to store the kayak out of sun and on its side. The design of this kayak is so popular that is hasn’t changed over the more than 20 years of production. Hatch covers can be purchased separately to permit access to internal storage and the underside of the deck. For a multipurpose kayak, the Ocean Malibu Two is the perfect solution!

If you are frustrated at having to take two kayaks on outings, the Malibu Two will solve your problem. Now you can go tandem with your spouse or your friend, and with the same hull, take gentle swells solo. What more could you ask for in a kayak?

Kayaking can be an activity sedate enough for older people to enjoy, but it can get as wild as riding over waterfalls if you are so inclined. If you are really adventurous, consider a solo kayak journey of exploration.

Paddling Benefits

Did you know that there are benefits to paddling? Research has shown that paddling provides stress relief along with mental and emotional benefits to those suffering from brain injuries preventing them from participating in outdoor activities. A study was performed involving a 12-week kayaking program. Following the program, participants noticed improvements in confidence and physical appearance along with a sense of improved social interactions.

You may be wondering why the Ocean Malibu Two is better than a canoe (rhyming here unintentional). Canoeists and kayakers have a copasetic relationship, but each group has a tendency to feel superior to the other. Of course, it is all in good sport and similar to the sentiment shared by skiers and snowboarders who enjoy the camaraderie of a common activity. Kayaks are known for their easy paddling, making them more suitable for beginners than canoes. They are also easier to maneuver in the water and tend to have better tracking.

Tandem Paddling

As with many other things in life, tandem paddling is a skill that must be learned. When people get into kayaking, there are a lot of decisions to make, from finding a kayak that fits their build to selecting the one that best matches the intended purpose of owning a kayak. First-time kayakers would do better to purchase a kayak meant for a single person or a single-person kayak that can convert to tandem. The latter option includes the Ocean Malibu Two.

When you’re paddling tandem, you will need to be patient as you learn the proper technique. Expect to cross and even bang paddles with your partner as you learn how to manipulate them. Once the skill is learned, tandem paddling can be very fast with straight tracking. Paddling in tandem can give you the benefit of only needing a single kayak instead of two. The teamwork and camaraderie that exists among tandem paddlers is something that cannot be duplicated among solo boaters. Even if you usually paddle solo, you will benefit from the ability to tandem paddle with another person.

If you are looking for one of the top solo/tandem kayaks to enjoy the great outdoors, do consider the Malibu Two by Ocean Kayak.

#2 Silver pick (Runner-up): Lifetime 10 Foot Manta Tandem Kayak

Lifetime 10 Foot Manta Tandem Kayak

View it on Amazon for $479.94*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-silver-winnerThe Lifetime 10-foot Manta is specifically designed for single or tandem use. The kayak arrives with two soft back rests and two double-sided paddles for instant water worthiness. This kayak is lightweight at a mere 60 pounds. A molded front and rear carry handles make it easy to transport and launch.

The tunnel hull design of this kayak ensures remarkably easy tracking and the ultimate in stability, making it virtually impossible to tip over. The “High and Dry” seating configuration keep kayakers off the floor of the craft. Backed by a five-year limited manufacturer’s warranty, the Manta can hold up to three people and can accommodate leg lengths of all types.

The Manta is the perfect kayak model for the beginner. A wide variety of holders makes it a multipurpose craft. These include a fishing pole holder, a cup holder and a paddle cradle. A mast receiver receptacle provides a place for you to attach a sail if you so desire. This kayak is stable enough to stand in on flat water. Some reviewers have stated that the Manta is not suitable for ocean use or rapids. However, others have commented on the extreme stability of this kayak and have used it in places like the Gulf of Mexico. I don’t recommend that you use it in six-foot seas, though. The three-person limit may be a little tight if you are thinking about adults. Two adults and a child should work well.

Those who are fans of Ocean Kayak will be pleased to note that the founder of the company designed the Lifetime Manta. The kayak can easily handle two adults and two small children. While it is not speedy, the Manta is perfect for fly-fishing and is a mere 10 feet long. For a small additional fee, you can easily purchase hatches and rigging to accommodate more gear inside the large hull. Although it is well-designed for fishing, it is not ideal for touring or long-distance paddling.

As with any other kayak or water craft, you will want to be able to easily (and safely) transport this craft on the top of your vehicle. While there are many attachments for purchase today, the strapping method remains unchanged.

Transporting a Kayak

Modern SUVs have carry racks on top of the roof to accommodate large loads such as kayaks and canoes. These racks can come in very handy for transporting the Manta. The first step is to wrap the straps over the supports at the end of each bar. Let the straps lay flat against the sides of your vehicle. To prevent the clamps from scratching the paint off your car, position the straps so that the clamps can rest on the windows instead.

Before you load the kayak onto the roof, be sure the crossbars are snug. The last thing you want is for your kayak to slip off your roof and bash in someone’s windshield while you are barreling down the freeway. Lawsuits are not an adequate substitute for a relaxing vacation. If the crossbars are loose, tighten them with a wrench or a screwdriver.

If you are fastening the kayak directly onto the crossbars of the roof rack, you will need to turn it upside down. If you are using carrier pads or special attachments, place the kayak right side up. Certain kayaks work better facing a specific direction. Whitewater kayaks, for example, tend to fit the snuggest when they are facing backwards with the cockpit against the inside of the rear crossbar. The wind created by driving will help stabilize the craft. Bring the straps over the kayak and make them tight. I repeat, make sure the straps are tight. If your plastic kayak bends a little from the pressure, that is okay. To prevent the straps from flapping in the wind, be sure to knot or wedge them. Proper transportation of your Manta kayak will ensure many hours of enjoyment on the water.

#3 Bronze pick (3rd place): Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Twin Heron Angler Tandem Kayak

Old Town Canoes & Kayaks Twin Heron Angler Tandem Kayak

View it on Amazon for $829.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-bronze-awardThe brown camo Twin Heron kayak by Old Town Canoes & Kayaks features an innovative removable front seat for solo paddling. When the seat is removed, you will have access to additional storage space for extra gear. The Auto Trim hull helps keep the bow from jutting into the air when you are a solo paddler in the stern seat. The kayak includes six Cannon mount receivers and two Cannon rod holders. Cup holders provide an easy place for you to store your drinks while out on the water. An adjustable foot brace system enables you to find the perfect fit for your build. The maximum load range for the Twin Heron is 450 to 500 pounds.

Although the Twin Heron is a tandem kayak, it also performs well when paddled solo. The extra space created when the front seat is removed is plenty of room for your dog to ride along or to stow a picnic cooler. This is the perfect kayak for a family who loves to spend time in the outdoors. At 65 pounds, the Twin Heron is easy to maneuver by two people.

Kayak Fishing

You may wonder why you should even think about kayak fishing. Isn’t a motorized boat much better? Not necessarily. Yes, powered boats glide over long distances with virtually no effort on your part, but they require a massive amount of maintenance to keep them in operational condition. Aside from maintenance, powerboats need a tow vehicle to transport them and gasoline to get them going once they reach the water. The motor had better not fail while you are out in the middle of the lake, or you could find yourself with no easy way to return to shore. While a powerboat certainly has its advantages, some anglers find that using a manpowered craft translates to less time in the maintenance garage and more time on the water.

Let’s face it: Powerboats are expensive. Compared to them, kayaks are inexpensive and can last for many years with virtually no maintenance.

Any body of water with a public bank is a launch ramp for those with a kayak. The silence of moving through the water with a paddle will eliminate the risk of fish spooking by the engine or a trolling motor. The quiet of nature will be able to reach your mind and relax you without competing with engine noise. A watercraft that draws mere inches of water instead of feet will give you access to shallower bodies of water.

Muscle Tone

You can’t deny that kayaking is a marvelous way to improve muscle tone in your core and arms. Your core is composed of 29 muscle pairs in your abdomen, back, hips and chest. These muscles are responsible for supporting your spine and enabling you to get out of bed in the morning. The core muscles also include the muscles surrounding your hips and those in the pelvic floor. A strong core is important not only for athletes, but also for anyone who wants to lead a healthy, active lifestyle.

One of the biggest mistakes many people make about core strength is misunderstanding what the core actually is. The core does not solely consist of the abs. An activity like kayaking will work the entire core section of your body, giving you excellent muscle tone and strengthening your body. Having a strong core can help prevent injuries and will keep your body aligned, minimizing strain on muscles and joints. Because the muscles in your core act as a shock absorber, having stronger core muscles will provide you with built-in support for high-impact activities. Who knew that the Twin Heron could make getting exercise so much fun?

#4 Budget pick (Best cheap): Intex Explorer K2 Kayak 2-Person Inflatable Kayak

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak 2-Person Inflatable Kayak

View it on Amazon for $85.00*
*Price typically updated every 24 hours. Current price may be different.

2016-cheap-budget-pickThe Explorer K2 kayak by Intex arrives on your door step with two aluminum paddles and a high-output air pump. The low profile of this kayak makes it especially suitable for lakes and quiet rivers. The sporty design makes it very visible to any one on or near the water. The inflatable seats are adjustable with backrests for comfort and are fastened to the floor of the kayak with sturdy Velcro strips. The size of the Explorer makes it perfect for use by two adults. The Boston valves on each side of the kayak ensure that inflation and deflation are quick and simple. Grab lines and handles on each end make carrying the Explorer as easy as one-two-three. A repair patch kit will assist you in blocking up all those aggravating little holes that inevitably appear in inflatable objects.

Unlike the Intex Challenger, the Explorer is self-bailing. The raised seats keep you out of any water that may slosh into the bottom of the boat during paddling. The upturned nose helps keep the “mobile element” out of your kayak. Captain Nemo himself could not ask for anything better. Depending on your skill level, the Explorer can handle Class 3 rivers without any trouble. If you plan to use the kayak on rivers, be sure to remove the skeg to prevent loss. The weight limit specified for this kayak is listed at 250 pounds. However, you might be able to exceed that by as much as 100 pounds without a problem. One happy owner referred to the Intex Explorer as “the kayak version of the Cadillac brand.” This kayak is a great, low-price option for those just starting out in the wonderful world of kayaking.

When purchasing a kayak, be sure to select a craft that matches your intended use. Before you type your credit card number into the box on the “checkout” page for your new kayak, take a moment to think about where you intend to use your new purchase. On the ocean? Sightseeing on a quiet lake? How far do you expect to travel on average? A couple miles? All day? These questions will help you determine the best type of kayak for your purposes. Kayaks ranging from nine to 12 feet long are best for paddling in small lakes and shallow rivers. They are not designed for use on rough, open waters. Cross-over kayaks are generally between 12 to 14 feet in length and are midway between the so-called “recreational” kayak and the touring kayak. These kayaks may be equipped with skegs to for additional trimming when weather and water conditions are less than optimal. Touring kayaks, or sea kayaks, are the longest of the three at 16 to 18 feet in length. At 21 to 24 inches in width, they are also the narrowest. These kayaks are best for the dedicated open-water kayaker with plenty of experience.

Dress Right

Before you head out for a day on the river, be sure that you dress for the water, not for the weather. Should you happen to fall in unexpectedly, you will very quickly learn just how important it is to dress according to water temperature. Along with quick-dry clothing, include hats, sunscreen and sturdy footwear.


Pre-purchase considerations

Size

Your height and weight are a huge factor in selecting a kayak of appropriate length. When determining the type of kayak to purchase, consider your own weight plus the weight of any passengers or gear you intend to take with you. Also, keep in mind how you intend to use your kayak. If you wish to take an overnight camping trip, you will have more gear to carry with you than if you are simply going to spend a few hours paddling downriver. If you can, try out the kayaks you’re thinking about buying before making a final decision. If your kayak has a cockpit, you’ll want to be sure that entry, occupation and exit are all comfortable to avoid a miserable experience.

Storage Space

Some kayaks are equipped with storage hatches. These spaces are great for keeping your gear dry and easily accessible. Often, hatches are equipped with an interior foam wall called the bulkhead. Bulkheads keep water from entering the hatch from the cockpit. The watertight feature of the hatch can also provide some additional floatation should your kayak happen to capsize. Some kayaks have a smaller hatch that is easy to access from the cockpit area. Hatches located in this position are excellent for keeping items dry and close at hand.

Pet Accommodations

Some kayak owners will want to take Fido with them on their water trips. If this is how you intend to use your kayak, you will want to think about how compatible the dog is with your craft. Is your pet large? Is he or she well-trained? Some dogs are not good at sitting still and may become anxious in the kayak. If this is the case, give Fido a chance to become familiar with the kayak before launch day. At this time, you will be able to judge whether you will need a tandem kayak to accommodate both of you or if a single-seater is sufficient. When you take your dog out for the first time, do so on a quiet lake or pond. Even if your dog can swim, be sure to purchase a personal floatation device (PFD). A PFD will give your dog additional buoyancy should he or she happen to fall in. Plus, many PFDs have handles on top to allow you to pull the dog out of the water.

Family-friendly

Depending on the size of your family, you may need more than one kayak. If you have a single small child, you may be able to get by with a tandem kayak designed for two adults. Small children can often easily fit in a kayak with two average-sized adults. Kayaking with children may seem like a daunting proposition, but it is relatively simple as long as you plan for it properly. The first thing you need is to be well experienced at kayaking. Never take a child in a kayak without an experienced paddler. Calm water and minimal current should be your goal, unless you have the experience and craft needed for more difficult routes. To keep the children engaged and happy:

• Know where bathroom breaks can happen
• Choose places with plenty of variety
• Outfit them with proper PFDs

Conclusion (Wrapping it up)

Kayaking is a fun and exhilarating activity for all who enjoy being out in the water and in contact with nature. If you are looking for an easy way to build strength and get more fresh air, take up kayaking! You will be well-rewarded.

Discussion and comments

We want to know what you think. Do you own any of the products we discussed? Which did you buy and how did it work out for you?

Do you know of an even better product?

Comment below and help your fellow consumers make the right choice. Over to you!

Resources

  1. Diana Gerstacker, Eight Reasons You Should Try Kayaking, The Active Times, April 21, 2014
  2. George Sayour, Top 10 Reasons Kayaks Are Better Than Canoes, About.com, December 1, 2015
  3. George Sayour, How to Strap Your Canoe or Kayak to a Roof Rack
  4. 1Source Outdoors, Ditch the Motor: Seven Reasons Why You Should Go Kayak Fishing, BassPro.com, April 22, 2014
  5. CoachUP, The Importance of Core Strength, CoachUp.com May 29, 2015
  6. Mark Watnabe, Top 10 Reasons You Should Start Kayak Fishing, YakAngler.com, January 7,2016
  7. Wes Kisting, Choosing the Right Kayak, RoguePaddler.com, 2006
  8. Maren Van Nostrand, Kayaking with Kids, REI.com

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