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Tandem Kayaking (Advantages and Disadvantages)

Kayaking is a fun and adventurous water activity that can be done solo or with friends and family. If you want to try out paddling or buy a kayak, consider the different types to explore. One of these is a tandem kayak. 

A tandem kayak can fit two people and is also called a double kayak. A tandem kayak has two seats and usually includes a rudder. Paddling partners have to communicate, synchronize and learn to work together to be able to paddle successfully. A tandem kayak is more challenging to learn how to paddle. 

There are pros and cons to using a tandem kayak. For beginners, it can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. Tandem kayaks are great for a bonding exercise but can also be frustrating when two people can’t learn to work together. 

tandem kayaking

What Is A Tandem Kayak?

Typically, a kayak (single type) has room for a single person. A tandem kayak is a kayak where two people can be in the kayak and row together. Two people have to paddle together in this type of kayak. It is also called a double kayak. 

A tandem kayak is typically more difficult to use than a single kayak. It is usually around 18 to 24 feet long, depending on the brand and your size preference. They are also quite heavy compared to solo kayaks. 

Tandem kayaks are also wider than single kayaks, and this helps to make them a lot more stable on the water. If one paddler wants to take a break, this is possible. The other person can continue to paddle, but you’ll be going a little slower. 

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Just sitting without paddling is especially lovely for beginners, children, or older adults to feel what it’s like to be on a boat on the water. When both people paddle together, the kayak can go pretty quickly, which can be fun.

The key here is to paddle in unison. Try to count to 3 and start simultaneously with the paddles in the same position. This method will prevent the paddles from clashing. Also, try to match each other’s strength and speed of paddling. 

However, if one person is stronger, they should sit at the back. The front person (the weaker one) can now set the pace for the back person. When you have to turn the kayak, the front person can paddle forwards on one side, and the rear person can reverse paddle on the opposite side. 

Advantages Of A Tandem Kayak

tandem kayaking advantages

The main pro of using a tandem kayak is going paddling with another person. This can be a fun activity and create security for newcomers. It is also great for beginners that may feel unsafe or unsure when starting to paddle solo. 

Using a tandem kayak is an excellent way to introduce the sport to new people by making them feel comfortable that someone else is with them at all times. It is a good technique for adults or children who are scared to go on the water alone. 

Going on a tandem kayak with friends and family can be a great bonding experience. You may not always be with a group, so you’ll have plenty of time just with the other person. Shared activities like this, where two people have to coordinate and communicate well, are always a learning exercise.

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Other advantages of using a tandem kayak include more practical reasons. People often take their kayaks when they go camping or for a day trip to the lake. Taking only a tandem kayak and not two single kayaks saves packing space. 

Related to saving packing space, a tandem kayak can also be easier to store. It is larger than a single kayak, but it is only one kayak to store and therefore saves space and makes some more room for other things. 

Disadvantages Of A Tandem Kayak

tandem kayaking disadvantages

Before buying a tandem kayak, it is essential to try it out first. While it creates a great bonding experience between two people, it can also be very frustrating. It may not be everyone’s cup of tea. 

You may have heard of the “divorce kayak”. This term refers to the tandem, and the reason is that the only way to use it properly is if two people are communicating and paddling in sync. It can be difficult if you cannot learn to work together or if opposite personalities get in the way. 

If paddling together is too challenging, it could result in many arguments, resulting in “divorce” between couples. Therefore, you may want to try it out first for a short period or choose your paddling partner carefully. 

You and your paddling partner constantly have to learn how to work together. Although this may take some time initially, you can both certainly get the hang of it. But in some ways, this can be a disadvantage for beginners as they are not the only ones in control. 

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A solo kayak may be better if you prefer your freedom of movement. Having only a tandem kayak gives you less freedom to explore and go out on the water by yourself. If no one is available to do some with you, you could be missing out on going kayaking when you want to. 

A more practical con of tandem kayaks is that they are heavy. They are bigger than a standard single kayak and so heavy that they need both people to carry it. The weight of a tandem is about 750 to 100 pounds for a good quality kayak. 

Because they are heavier and larger with more parts (double seating, for example), tandem kayaks are also more expensive. Another extra part is a rudder, which a solo kayak does not have. Buying a tandem kayak will not necessarily be cheaper than buying two single ones. 


Tandem kayaks, or doubles, are a type of kayak that two people can paddle in simultaneously. It can be an excellent bonding exercise but also frustrating if paddlers struggle to work together. Both paddlers should be paddling in synchrony with similar strength and pace.