Tandem kayaks are popularly used for recreational purposes because it is easy to learn the basics of kayaking, but almost as many people use them simply because they are more fun than single kayaks. Tandems are also great for people who might not be able to enjoy kayaking solo because of physical disabilities or living in areas where there is no access to waterways.
Tandem boats consist of two seats, one right behind the other, with a second seat facing backward. A good tandem kayak will have plenty of weight capacity and can handle gear that can help make your trip easier or more enjoyable. They usually have hatches on the front and rear that allow you to store items inside the boat. Some tandems come with thwarts, which are small seats that can be used to carry additional passengers or your camping gear.
Tandem kayaks have more stability than single kayaks. If you take a quick glance at one while it’s floating in the water, all you see is one wide flat surface. This gives tandem boats their characteristic sleek shape and makes them hard to flip over. But although they may not capsize easily, it is still possible for a large enough wave to push the boat over on its side and hold it there until you punch out (paddle backwards) or it fills with water and sinks. The best way to stay safer in a tandem is if both people instinctively lean away from turns and help each brace against waves by leaning into them.
In a lot of tandem boats, the rear paddler controls both steering and propulsion. The rear paddlTandem
er can paddle with a single blade or a double-blade paddle to add stability. In other setups, one person steers while the other propels using two blades. This does require more coordination between the two kayakers because if you’re going to turn, you have to do it at exactly the same time in order for it not to flip over.
It takes about the same amount of effort for either person to paddle because there is almost always an adjustable foot brace allowing each person to adjust their seat forward or backwards until they are comfortable. Once you get used to it, this makes moving around your tandem much easier than in a single kayak.
Tandems are usually built from rotomolded plastic, but can also be made from fiberglass or aluminum. The material a tandem is made from affects the price and weight of the boat, as well as how it handles in the water. Fiberglass tends to be more expensive but lighter and provides better glide performance because it’s stiffer than rotomolded boats. Aluminum tandems are durable and can handle currents faster than fiberglass models. Some aluminum models have a keel on the bottom that increases their tracking ability while still allowing them to turn quickly when needed. Plastic is by far the most common material used to build a tandem because they’re inexpensive and easy to repair if damaged beyond use.
Let’s do a quick review of one of the best tandem kayaks in the market – The Hobie Kona II Kayak.
The Hobie Kona II Kayak is known for its relatively fast speed and ability to be assembled quickly. The kayak comes in two models, the standard model that runs $1,199 (US) and the Lite version at $1,799 (US). Both models are sold with two fins designed specifically for performance driving on each side of the kayak. While both models come equipped with a front bungee cord holder, only the standard model comes with a cargo net which can be attached behind the seat. This allows users to carry small objects like water bottles or fishing gear without having to purchase additional accessories.
The seating structure for this vessel consists of high-density foam that provides excellent lumbar while paddling. What makes the kayak unique is the wave shield that has been installed to prevent waves or spray from impacting the paddler. Like other Hobie kayaks, the Kona II is constructed using polyethylene material making it lighter weight than models made with fiberglass composites. The vessel’s hull is designed for maximum stability even during high speeds allowing users to enjoy this model on all water conditions including lakes and moderate surf zones.
The keel fin of this vessel provides excellent tracking control while paddling, however like most kayaks there are times that the user will need to make minor adjustments to their direction by applying slight edge strokes or corrective paddle strokes even in calm waters. While weighing 55 pounds (25 kilograms), this model provides multiple attachment points at the bow and stern making it easy to transport on roof racks or car pulled trailers.
The stability of this vessel makes it a great option for anglers looking for a fishing kayak that can handle rough waters. While the standard model comes equipped with two flush mount rod holders, the Lite version only includes support rods in lieu of flush mounts which may not provide enough attachment points for many users desires. However, both models come equipped with the Hobie Hatches from which anglers can store their fishing poles or reduce water entry into the vessel by simply closing hatch covers securely before heading out.
Standard Model: 44 pounds (20 kilograms)
Lite Model: 52 pounds (23 kilograms)
Price Range: $1,199 – $1,799 (US)
– Fast speed for a kayak.
– Comfortable seating and back support system.
– Assistance of wave shield to reduce impact from waves or spray during paddling.
– Optional accessories may be required to add on additional features such as rod holders or storage compartments behind the seat.
– Can be rather heavy and can cause difficulties when transporting on roof racks or car pulled trailers.