Inflatable tandem kayaks are a great choice for recreational paddling at the cottage, the beach, on rivers or for kayak fishing. You’ll find a wide range of models of these open-deck, sit-on-top kayaks for a variety of uses and price points. Choosing the best 2 person inflatable kayak requires an honest assessment of your objectives in kayaking to make a wise decision. Do some research to discover the best two person inflatable tandem kayak for your needs.
Inflatable double kayaks have many advantages. For starters, they’re often quite cheap and available at many big box retailers. An attractive price point combines with great stability, safety and ease of entry and exit. Two person inflatable kayaks are lightweight and store easily in the back of a closet—and they’re simple to transport to and from the water without the need for expensive roof racks.
Some higher performance models are also great for globetrotting adventurers to save on airfare and kayak rental expenses at your destination. Portability and ease of storage, however, come at the expense of some paddling efficiency on the water compared to hardshell kayaks.
This article provides you with all the tools to identify the best 2 person inflatable kayak for your needs. We provide you with everything you need to choose the right kayak, whether it’s for recreational use with your family, kayak fishing or international travel, to provide you with countless hours of enjoyment on the water.
Top picks: Best inflatable tandem kayaks for 2023
The following inflatable tandem kayaks have received the highest star ratings by reviewers in our Paddling Buyer’s Guide. See and review all inflatable tandem kayaks here.
Best Tandem Inflatable Kayaks
Blackfoot Angler 160
Hydro-Force Cove Champion X2
Shop inflatable tandem kayaks
Our Paddling Buyer’s Guide features every tandem inflatable kayak on the market. You can choose to filter 2 person inflatable kayaks by type and application, such as recreation, fishing and whitewater, and also by brand. Then, click on specific models to see specs, prices, reviews and where to buy. You won’t find a better kayak buyer’s guide on the web.
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Shopping for a used inflatable tandem kayak?
You’ll come across plenty of used inflatable tandem kayaks on buy-and-sell websites like Craigslist, Kijiji and Facebook Marketplace. Buying a used tandem inflatable kayak is a good way to score an inexpensive kayak for family fun and kayak fishing that doesn’t require a large space for storage and transports easily in even the most crowded minivan. However, it’s important to do your due diligence to find the best tandem inflatable kayak for your needs.
Your first step is to research the specific attributes of the 2 person inflatable kayak model you are considering. Our Paddling Buyer’s Guide is the ideal place to start. If you think you’ve found a contender, consider the following advice to make a good used purchase:
- Many inflatable tandem kayaks are cheap, and therefore more impacted by wear and tear compared to more expensive and well-built kayaks—especially in areas like the inflation valves and hull. Start by examining the overall condition of the kayak. Open up the package and inflate it. In the process, listen for air leaks in the valves and tubes and watch for any stains and mold, which may reveal the kayak was stored wet. Is there any fading in the kayak’s deck (top) or hull (bottom)? Fading reveals UV damage, which will compromise durability. Make sure there are no missing parts; check for seat(s) and seat back(s), deck rigging such as grab lines, skeg (a removable fin that slides into the hull) and pump, if included.
- Minimal outfitting is common in most inflatable kayaks. Take a close look at comfort features like the seat (is it supportive for your body type? Does it hold air?). Foot rests are critical to give you purchase on the kayak to paddle efficiently and are often absent in cheap tandem inflatable kayaks; if they’re present, make sure they’re functional and appropriate for the leg length of both paddlers.
- Outfitting is the critical interface between the paddlers and kayak, including the seats, back supports, thigh rests and foot rests. Often these features lack refinement in budget-priced tandem inflatable kayaks. They’re also usually air-filled, so be sure to check for leaks. Examine these parts individually and consider how well they work together as a whole—the easiest way to achieve this is by sitting in the boat (and ideally paddling it) to make sure it feels comfortable. Think about how long you’ll be sitting in the kayak. If it’s uncomfortable in a quick test, how will it feel after an hour? Outfitting often comes down to personal preference; there’s no one-size-fits-all. One of the drawbacks of most cheaper inflatable kayaks is substandard outfitting. Take a close look and consider investing in a more expensive kayak if you plan on more serious paddling.
- The only way to fully appreciate the comfort and performance of a kayak is to try it before committing to a purchase. Arrange a meeting place with the seller that allows you to take a few moments on the water. Bring your usual paddle (and your typical paddling partner) and dress in what you plan to wear while paddling. Be sure to assess how easy the boat is to enter and exit.
- In general (that is, before Covid-19 put a premium on outdoor equipment) the typical starting point for a used kayak in moderate condition was about half its retail price. All that’s changed in the wake of boat shortages brought on by the pandemic, but you can use it as a starting point in haggling a fair price.
- If you’re offered a PFD as part of a used kayak sale make sure it’s in good shape, fits properly and is Coast Guard approved for the location you’ll be paddling.
For more tips on what to look for when selecting a used kayak, read our article How To Buy A Used Kayak.
Tandem inflatable kayak buying guide
Tandem inflatable kayaks are available across North America in box stores and online outlets, as well as outdoor stores and paddlesports retailers. A huge variety of inflatable kayaks are available; this type of kayak is a good choice if you’re low on storage space and looking for a casual kayak for recreational paddling on calm, sheltered water without breaking the bank. A smaller subset of more advanced models (usually more expensive and sold at higher-end retailers) are great for travelers looking for a compact inflatable kayak that matches their globetrotting ambitions.
Tandem inflatable kayaks are available for a range of needs, including recreational paddling and fishing, for families and adult paddlers of all sizes. As an added bonus, most 2 person inflatable kayaks can also be configured to paddle solo, making this a versatile choice if you wish to paddle both alone and with a partner.
Most tandem inflatable kayaks are meant for recreational paddling, such as getting out on the water at the cottage or campground, spending an afternoon at the beach or fishing on a lazy river or calm pond. Bear this key point in mind if you’re looking for higher performance; even the best inflatable kayak cannot match the glide and efficiency of a hard-shell kayak (but try fitting a rigid kayak in a condo storage locker!).
Tandem inflatable kayaks are categorized by activity and user. Activity, or type of paddling, includes recreational (short and stable kayaks meant for casual use); and fishing (“souped up” recreational kayaks with add-ons specific to anglers, such as rod holders and tackle storage areas). Some smaller models are maneuverable and great for paddling rivers; others are designed for whitewater and are capable performers in Class I to III rapids.
Remember that online research will only get you so far in choosing the best 2 person inflatable kayak for your needs. The best advice we can offer is to always test paddle before buying any boat. Most paddlesports specialty stores offer the opportunity to take new boats for a quick spin; but that’s not possible at big box stores (and certainly not if you choose to order online). You can also try to borrow friends’ inflatable kayaks for test paddling in real-world conditions. The more time you can spend on the water in a similar style of kayak, the better the purchasing decision you will make.
Here are answers to some of the most common online questions about tandem inflatable kayaks.
Can one person use a 2 person inflatable kayak?
Most 2 person inflatable kayaks can be paddled by one person, however performance varies. Larger people often fare better paddling single in a 2 person inflatable kayak; lighter people will be more impacted by wind, waves and currents and have a harder time controlling the boat.
If you’re looking for a hybrid solo/tandem inflatable kayak, bear in mind your weight, that of your partner and the load capacity of the kayak, as well as its dimensions. Often a smaller kayak will be easier for single-person paddling.
Best 2 person inflatable kayak for whitewater
There are many good choices available if you’re looking for the best 2 person inflatable kayak for whitewater. Specifically, consider models like the Lynx or Outfitter II from AIRE, or the STAR Raven II, if you wish to invest in a serious whitewater performer that’s capable on big rivers and built to last.
Most durable tandem inflatable kayak
Material and seams are the two main criteria that determine what makes the most durable tandem inflatable kayak. Most inflatable kayaks are made of PVC, a tough plastic laminate that’s extremely rugged. For better paddling efficiency, invest in models with drop-stitch floors (for added rigidity) or hybrid models (such as Advanced Elements kayaks) that integrate different types of plastic for better glide and aluminum frames for added stiffness.
Be sure to buy a tandem inflatable kayak with welded seams for greatest durability. When it comes to toughness, a higher price is often a good indicator of a more durable tandem inflatable kayak.
Tandem inflatable kayak vs canoe
A tandem inflatable kayak is far lighter and more portable than a typical canoe—and often cheaper in terms of entry level models. Canoes, on the other hand, offer more space to move around than the typical 2 person inflatable kayak. Canoe seats allow for sitting (or kneeling) in a higher position, which may be more comfortable for some paddlers.
The lower seating position of an inflatable tandem kayak, however, is more stable. Canoes are meant to be used with single-bladed paddles, while the seating arrangement of inflatable kayaks is usually best for double-bladed paddles. Hardshell canoes tend to be faster and provide more glide than the average tandem inflatable kayak.
2-Person inflatable kayak reviews
A great next step in your buying journey is to read informed and reliable reviews of the models you’re interested in. Find our expert reviews of two-person inflatable kayaks below.
- Inflatable Kayak Review: Sevylor Colorado
- Inflatable Recreational Kayak Review: Intex Challenger K2
- Inflatable Recreational Kayak Review: Intex Explorer K2
- Inflatable Kayak Review: Sea Eagle 370
- Inflatable Recreational Kayak Review: Innova Thaya
- Inflatable Kayak Review: Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Elite
- Inflatable Kayak Review: Aquaglide Chelan 155 HB XL