If you are like me, you probably vividly remember your first outing on a kayak for 2 people.
It was many moons ago and it happened to be the Odyssey by Hobie which I took out with my son.
It handled the smooth lake water beautifully and did not do so badly on choppy water either.
Can I be honest with you? I have held on to that kayak and long thought it was the be all, end all of all tandem kayaks.
But what if I told you that inflatable kayaks for 2 people can offer an even more incredible experience!
They did for me!
I have found 5 of the best inflatable kayaks for two people which I will share with you as well as the top questions you must ask yourself when buying any inflatable kayak so that you always end up with the best equipment.
How Do Inflatable Kayaks Differ from Hard-shell Kayaks
First off, inflatable kayaks are lighter in weight and easier to carry because of their inflation and deflation.
This aspect has made its popularity go through the roof because it makes the kayaks comfortably portable.
Consider this: lugging around a hard-shell kayak or folding up an inflatable one into a duffel bag for a vacation to your favorite lake spot.
Second, they tend to have a higher weight threshold than most hard-shell versions. Because hard shells tend to sit low in the water too much weight can make their stability precarious.
When there are two of you, the amount of gear you pack may be more. However, additional gear is not a problem if the kayak is light in the first place as is the case with inflatable tandem kayaks.
They also are more durable because they bounce off rather than crash into hard surfaces like rocks. Quality inflatable kayaks feature tightly interlocking fibers within the construction and durable PVC on the exterior of the board, both of which make them near indestructible.
Now smart inflatable kayak owners know that they must always carry a patch kit just in case a sharper than usual rock does some damage.
On the flip side, while inflatable tandem kayaks are quite stable because they have a wide base controlling them can be a challenge sometimes because they are light.
This is especially true if you are playing in rough waters. This is where hard-shell tandem kayaks come out on top because of their rigidity. However, technology has enhanced the performance of inflatable tandem kayaks so you can find offerings that perform exceptionally in rapids and choppy surf.
Five Questions Inflatable Tandem Kayak Shoppers Must Answer to End Up with Quality Equipment and the Right Model
Who is Your Partner?
You are probably wondering: why does it matter?
Well, if you have a human partner you have an extra pair of hands and an extra paddle helping with steering the kayak.
However, if your partner is a pet the dynamics change drastically because you will be steering alone.
While the kayak can certainly withstand your dog’s claws, it is important to settle for a kayak with raised sides which act as walls to keep your pet safe.
Guess what? Some kayaks even have a versatile doggy deck which is non-slip and can be placed in the second seat so your dog can be comfortable.
Better yet, some inflatable tandem kayaks will fit two adults and because of their extra large cockpits, you can fit in a dog with one adult.
Be Honest: Are You an Avid Kayaker?
If you and your partner only enjoy a few trips all year round your kayaking needs are different compared to a kayaker who goes out on the water every week, if not daily.
You should consider a investing less in a kayak because your usage is quite minimal.
We’ve all been there: you buy an expensive, fully kitted piece of equipment only to use it once in a blue moon.
My recommendation is not to buy a cheap model, just one that’s more in tune with your needs.
However, when you are out on the water daily or several times a week with your kayak, investing more in your kayak is advisable.
A capable, durable kayak will give you long service and will comfortably take the rigors of daily forays into water although these models usually cost more.
What will You be Using the Kayak for?
You and your partner should agree on the use you will put your kayak to. Perhaps you both like racing and fishing, so get an all around kayak as opposed to a specialty one.
This question really speaks to the amount of weight you need it to hold and how fast you want it to move.
Whether it is for multi-day trips or fishing expeditions, ensure you buy a kayak with enough storage room and other convenience accessories like cup holders, fishing rod holders, bungee cords and D-rings as well as a slot for your phone.
Do not skimp on these accessories only to find yourself with a highly unfunctional kayak that you can’t really use. Remember the more weight you carry the harder paddling and maneuvering will be.
How Easy is it to Maintain Inflatable Tandem Kayaks
The care of inflatable kayaks remains the same whether they are solo or tandem models.
If you do not have a lot of time to allocate to the care and maintenance of your kayak, find a service provider where you can drop it off so that it is taken care of.
Giving a good wash with fresh water after use and letting it dry completely are the most important things to do.
Storage is also key so when removing it out of its package pay attention because you will need to place it back the same way.
Top Five Inflatable Kayaks for Two People
Advanced Elements AE1007-R
When you think of a kayak for two, you may want to consider its convertibility into a solo kayak during those times when your partner is missing in action.
The Advanced Elements AE1007-R gives you that option to flip it into a solo or tandem kayak as you need to.
It also takes its versatility to the water with high performance on everything from choppy surf to calm lake water and even white water rafting in class II-IV rapids.
It comes with a backbone (bought separately) which keeps the tips straight and aluminum ribs built into it, both of which give it a rigidity similar to a hard shell kayak.
As a result, you have better tracking and control of the kayak no matter what waters you are in.
Here is the kicker: This kayak has one over traditional whitewater rafting kayaks. It fairly stays on course as you keep controlling it, showing off its superb tracking ability even in moving water.
- The construction is solid and is made to withstand all types of rigors
- It has two flotation devices to ensure each acts as a backup up to the other
- It has impeccable stability regardless of weight
- The carrying case is sturdy
- You have to really fiddle with the seat and perhaps get some more seat accessories to get comfortable
- For whitewater rafting, the lack of a footrest is quite destabilizing
- It is heavier than other kayaks in its category
The Sea Eagle 380x Explorer Pro
Sea Eagle has held on to their top spot as manufacturers of exceptional inflatable kayaks of all kinds.
With this model, beginners and seasoned kayakers can find a lot of joy in kayaking. First of all, it is lightweight at only 42 pounds so moving it around once inflated is not an issue.
Because of the skeg, it tracks like a dream so even an amateur can keep it on course. The stability allows you to fish in it and you can even stand up in it without tipping it over.
It can really take gear, including your dog, and the construction is durable and sturdy without compromising on remaining lightweight.
It is wonderful for white water rafting, withstanding class IV rapids with ease. I love that it can easily become a family kayak.
Imagine this: you can put a sail on it and turn it into a sailboat taking a break from the paddling.
- It is very stable in all types of water
- It is versatile in use from being a recreational kayak to a touring or even fishing one
- Despite its solid construction it is still light enough to be carried by one person
- It is not very fast
Intex Challenger K2
This is a sleek but sporty kayak that is fantastic for recreational kayaking. If your recreation includes exciting adventures like white water rafting and hitting choppy surf conditions, it works just as well in those scenarios too.
The package comes with paddles which most of the other kayaks expect you to buy separately.
It has air chambers within the body so it will remain afloat in case of a puncture. However, a puncture is highly unlikely because the exterior is made from hardy, rugged vinyl that is very tough.
It performs very well in fast-moving waters and apart from being adjustable, the seats are also inflatable for added comfort. This makes it an ideal kayak for long distance tours where you are not sure of the terrain ahead.
Remember when I said earlier that you should not buy an expensive kayak if you are only on the water once in a while?
Well, this is an excellent kayak to buy for occasional kayakers.
- Easy and fast to assemble
- Works well in all types of water surfaces
- It is very portable and can be used by both amateurs and experts.
- It is a tight fit leaving little room for gear storage
- The skeg can easily detach and get lost in the water.
Aire Lynx II
From excellent maneuverability to high-quality features there is nothing this kayak does not have.
Aire has been producing amazing kayaks that stay with you for a lifetime. The Aire Lynx II is the kind of kayak meant for multi-day trips because it has plenty of room for storage.
It is comfortable with a length and width that make it roomy. It tracks very well giving it speed and control.
It has PVC coated floors and tubing which allows it to withstand class IV rapids in white water rafting. At 32 pounds it is very lightweight and comfortably portable.
For additional padding, you have thigh straps. This is one of the most valuable kayaks for two people on the market today.
Here is where it becomes interesting: Aire is so confident in their equipment that it comes with a 10-year unconditional warranty!
- It is extremely durable, lasting for decades
- It is fast with great maneuverability due to its ergonomic shape
- The warranty is fool proof
- This is not a beginners kayak
The Sea Eagle 330 Inflatable Kayak
This is a cozy kayak for two people. It is actually 11 feet 2 inches but feels more compact giving it a sturdy powerful build that can really withstand the swift-moving water in white water rafting.
It comes with inflatable spray skirts which are essential when you are out on rough waters to keep water out.
Despite its compact build, it is comfortable for tall people just like it is for short people.
It also has great stability which makes it wonderful for crabbing and fishing.
Although this is an ideal model for beginners, it feels heavier than the 26 pounds it is said to weigh. You can load it up with up to 500 pounds. It inflates in less than 10 minutes so you can unload it and have it out on the water in no time at all.
It is more suited to lakes and rivers than to the ocean surf but I must mention it does not respond very well when you try to paddle in reverse. If you reverse paddle you will find yourself losing speed very quickly.
- It has “fins” in the rear which help it fight the drag from the water
- You can inflate both the bottom and rear of the seat for added comfort
- Very sturdy with great storage capacity
- It can feel cramped for some people
My Top Tandem Kayak Recommendation for You and Your Kayaking Partner
I know how you feel. With all these great models here, which one do you choose? This gets even harder when you have to consider someone else’s needs when they are in the boat with you but here we go.
I love how both Sea Eagle models have that tenacity and durability much needed in kayaks but they haven’t skimped on stability and comfort either.
On the other hand, the Advanced Elements AE1007-R has ingeniously paired high performance with heavy duty quality durable materials giving you a kayak that can go anywhere.
Now for my recommendation:
My go-to kayak for two people has to be the Aire Lynx II.
This kayak is a marvel in terms of speed, functionality and durability. Some people have had their Aire kayaks for decades and they still perform like they did when they were new.
Kayak enthusiasts always pick a reputable brand over the fly by night brands that are here today and tomorrow are gone leaving you with a worthless kayak.
It is imperative that when you are looking for an inflatable kayak for two people you assess your needs before you spend money on any model.
Look for quality and do not be overly impressed by too many features that you really do not need.
More than anything, always make sure that your kayak can keep up with you!
Now let’s go and hit the water for some fun with your new kayak!