Tandem Inflatable Kayak Pros & Cons

Originally kayaks were only designed for one person. If you wanted to kayak with a friend you needed to have two separate inflatable kayaks. However over time tandem inflatable kayaks have become extremely popular. If you are trying to decide whether to purchase a tandem kayak or possibly one or two solo kayaks there are a few things to consider.

Advantages of using a Tandem Inflatable Kayak
  • Promotes conversation – Often when kayaking with a friend (both in solo kayaks) it can be very difficult to carry on any real conversation or share any great sites you see. I have often ended up yelling just to get my friends attention and then need to paddle hard to get close to finish what I wanted to say. Even though you are out together, the experience is still very much like kayaking alone.
  • Great if one person is not very experienced – If one person is new to inflatable kayaking and possibly feeling a bit insecure, a tandem kayak is a great way to go. It is an ideal way to teach your new paddling partner which strokes to use and help them to gain the experience and confidence they need.  Initially the new kayaker can sit up front and once they are more comfortable they can take a turn at the back and practice steering and control.
  • Excellent for kayaking with children or dogs – Most people do not want to send their young child out in a kayak all by themselves. A tandem kayak allows all family members to participate in the fun and it is a great way to bring your dogs along as well.
  • Ability to get more power – You can pick up some really good speeds in a tandem inflatable kayak which can be a lot of fun. Also if bad weather should pick up you have that much extra power and strength to get back to shore as quickly as possibly.
  • Ability to share the work load – It can be really nice in a tandem kayak to sometimes just take turns paddling. This gives each of you a break and the ability to sit, relax and enjoy your surroundings… while someone else does the work.
Negatives to Using a Tandem Inflatable Kayak
  • Not as much control – You will always have more control in a solo kayak. A solo kayak can essentially just mesh with your body and it basically becomes your lower half. Consequently if you are skilled enough your kayak becomes an extension of yourself and far easier to control than a tandem kayak. With two people you must really be in sync to get even close to the same amount of control.
  • Lack of freedom – As fun as it can be to have two people in a kayak, it can also be just as fun to have your total freedom. You decide your every move and every experience. Solo kayaking can be exhilarating.
  • Tandem kayaks are heavier – Usually a solo inflatable kayak will be much lighter. This can be advantageous if you plan to take it traveling or of course to carry it by yourself.

Whether you choose a solo inflatable kayak or a tandem inflatable kayak will depend on your own personal preference and your own needs.

If you plan on mostly kayaking with another person it can be nice to start out with a tandem kayak and then maybe later on move into two solo kayaks.

I would highly recommend renting one of each… a tandem as well as a solo and to see which you like best before you make your purchase.

One major disadvantage to owning a solo inflatable kayak is that unless you have a friend who also has a solo kayak you may be kayaking alone a lot. If you are not around a circle of kayaking people, it can be really nice to have a tandem kayak so that you know you can always bring someone with you if you want to.

The Perfect Option… A Tandem that can be Converted to a Solo

There are a few inflatable kayaks that are tandem kayaks but the seats can be moved and they can be converted into a solo kayak. This is what I personally chose for myself. This way you can always bring someone with you but you also have the option of going solo and still having the kayak balanced. Please read our article “Convertible Inflatable Kayaks – Best of Both Words” to see a list of which inflatable kayaks offer this choice.

Or view our comprehensive inflatable kayak reviews for a complete list of solo and tandem inflatable kayaks.


  1. If you want to keep your relationship free from ‘stress’…I recommend 2 single kayaks:-)

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