Where is the Best Place to Sit in a Tandem Kayak?

tandem kayak paddlingA few very common questions are who sits where in a tandem kayak? If paddling a tandem kayak solo, is it best to sit in the front or the back? Should the seating arrangements be any different if you are paddling an inflatable kayak? Here are some facts that will help you to answer these questions…

Consider the weight of each person

A kayak will perform best when loaded evenly. If it cannot be completely even then you want the heavier weight to be at the back… unless you are paddling into heavy winds then it will be better to have more weight up front.

Who is the more experienced kayaker?

Besides the consideration of weight it is usually better to have the more experienced kayaker sit in the rear. This is because the person in the back will usually be steering the kayak and will have the experience to know better how to direct it. However in calm conditions it is a great idea to put the new kayaker in the back seat so that they can gain experience as well as confidence.

Paddling a tandem kayak solo?

Many tandem kayaks have the ability to rearrange the seats. If possible remove one of the seats and secure your seat in the middle of the kayak. This is where you will get the best performance out of the boat and you will have the best control. If that is not possible then sit in the back of the kayak and place some gear or weight in the front of the boat to even out the weight distribution. You will have good control here, but not as good as in the middle of the kayak. I would not recommend sitting in the front of the kayak as you will have very little control in that seat.Sea Eagle 370 inflatable kayak with dog

If you bring along your dog or a child they will be best seated in the bow of the kayak. Keep yourself at the back so that you can see what is going on and be able to direct your boat and your crew on a fun adventure.

Do the seating arrangements stay the same in an inflatable kayak?

Yes they do stay the same. It makes no difference whether you are in a hard-shell kayak or an inflatable kayak. The same principles apply in order to get the best performance out of your boat.

Bottom Line…

So bottom line is when in doubt, put the larger person in the back of the kayak – otherwise known as the captains seat. However it is personal preference and you should do what feels right for both of you.
If paddling a double kayak solo, sit in the middle whenever possible, otherwise place yourself in the rear of the kayak with some extra weight up front.

With a little practice and experience you will know very quickly where you like to sit the most and what works best for you. It only takes a few quick trips to get to know your kayak well and to understand how it maneuvers. Apply the principles above and you will have no problems. Happy paddling!

Check out our list of the best online retailers for inflatable kayaks to find the best places to shop for kayaks, gear and accessories.


  1. There are missing words in the header:
    “Do the seating arrangements stay the same in … and inflatable kayak?”
    Supposedly has to be “hard-shell”
    Generally useful comments for the beginners.
    Thank you,


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