Looking for a unique way to get into kayaking with a partner or child? Tandem pedal kayaks provide a sleek, hands-free way of getting around on calm, sheltered water. These specialized open deck, sit-on-top kayaks are propelled with your feet, leaving your hands free for fishing or photography. The higher seating position of a pedal drive tandem kayak may be preferable to some people.
Some models can be adapted for use with a battery powered motor, adding versatility for kayak anglers. Tandem foot pedal kayaks allow you to work your lower body; some give you the option to use your arms to paddle, too. What’s more, a double kayak with foot pedals is ultra stable and easy to get on and off, without the confined feeling of a typical kayak.
This article provides you with all the tools to identify the best tandem pedal kayak for your needs. Two-person pedal kayaks are a niche type of kayak, but there’s still good selection. We provide you with all the tools to choose the right one, whether it’s for recreational use or kayak fishing, to provide you with countless hours of enjoyment on the water.
Top picks: Best tandem pedal kayaks for 2024
Best Tandem Pedal Kayaks
Mirage iTrek Fiesta
Mirage Tandem Island
Lure II Tandem Overdrive
BKC PK14 Tandem Pedal Kayak
Aerius 545 Quattro
BKC MPT12 3-Piece Modular Pedal Tandem Kayak
Mirage iTrek 14 Duo
Shop tandem pedal kayaks
Looking for the best tandem pedal kayak? The links in this section will take you to our comprehensive Paddling Buyer’s Guide, where you can take a closer look at every double kayak with foot pedals on the market, including specs, prices, reviews and where to buy.
You can choose to filter kayaks by type and application, such as tandem fishing kayaks with pedals and inflatable tandem kayaks with pedal drive. We’ve also narrowed down the best tandem pedal-drive kayaks by brand to help ease your search. Simply put, this is the most comprehensive kayak buyer’s guide on the web.
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Shopping for a used tandem pedal kayak?
Have you discovered a Craigslist tandem pedal kayak deal? Consider yourself lucky! Unlike other types of recreational kayaks, 2-person pedal kayaks are rare and used options can be hard to come by. But before you make an offer on a used boat, consider the following:
- Make sure you’re buying the right used kayak for your paddling preferences by researching the particular model in advance to determine whether or not it truly meets your needs. Consider the type of water you’ll be paddling; remember, the use of tandem pedal kayaks requires bodies of water with sheltered places to launch and land. Also bear in mind that if you want to mostly propel your kayak with a paddle, you should probably consider a more traditional recreational sit-on-top or sit-inside kayak.
- Take the time for a detailed visual inspection. Give the used tandem pedal kayak a once-over, looking for obvious damage to the hull (bottom), deck (top) and outfitting (seat, back rest, foot pegs, etc). Scratches aren’t a problem, but watch out for deep gouges that extend more than eighth of an inch (3 mm) into the plastic. Obvious warping in the hull is a problem to avoid, too.
- Pedal drive kayaks rely on fairly complicated mechanisms for propulsion. Make sure the pedals, drive shafts and propellers or fins are in good working condition and operate smoothly, with no deformities or corrosion.
- Try to determine how the kayak was stored. A kayak that was stored outdoors for long periods of time may be subject to fading due to UV radiation (which also weakens the kayak’s structure and foot pedal mechanism) and damage due to excessive snow loading or precipitation.
- Taking the kayak for a test paddle (pedal) with a partner is the best way to find if the two-person pedal kayak works for you, in terms of performance, handling, comfort and fit.
- Tandem pedal kayaks are niche boats and selection is very limited, especially used. You may have to take a chance on making a purchase (or consider buying a new model) if you want a kayak immediately.
For more tips on what to look for when selecting a used kayak, read our article How To Buy A Used Kayak.
Tandem pedal kayak buying guide
The selection of tandem pedal kayaks is limited compared to single pedal kayaks (and prices are quite steep), so your first step before making a purchase is to make sure you’re certain that a tandem kayak with foot pedals is right for you.
In general, tandem pedal kayaks are geared toward anglers looking for a hands-free experience, though a few models from Hobie work equally well for recreational paddling and fishing. Here are a few things to consider in assembling a list of contenders.
- Think about where you will be using the 2-person pedal kayak. Most models are ideal for calm, sheltered water; a few, however, are capable offshore fishing rigs. Be sure you’re buying the right tandem pedal kayak for your application.
- Each manufacturer uses a slightly different tandem kayak pedal drive mechanism. Do a bit of research to learn more about the technology and what sort of maintenance is required to keep it operating smoothly.
- Do you want to paddle your pedal kayak, too? If so, make sure you choose a model that offers ergonomic seats for paddling. Some models feature an upright seating posture that makes paddling difficult.
- Consider the weight limit of the tandem pedal kayaks you’re considering and make sure that you won’t exceed their load capacity.
- What accessories do you want? Some tandem pedal kayaks offer optional battery-powered trolling motors for added versatility.
- A tandem pedal kayak is a substantial investment: Be sure to try as many models as you can to make the best purchase for your needs.
The more time you can spend on the water trying out your options, the better the purchasing decision you will make. Here are answers to some of the most common online questions about tandem pedal kayaks.
Who makes tandem pedal kayaks?
Cheapest tandem pedal kayak
Brooklyn Kayak Company offers some of the cheapest prices on tandem pedal kayaks. However, this brand’s consumer-direct sales format and limited distribution makes it difficult to try before you buy.
Tandem pedal kayak vs canoe
A tandem pedal kayak is meant to be propelled with your feet, using a mechanism that’s similar to a bicycle. A canoe is meant to be used with paddles. The advantages of a foot-propelled kayak depends on the user. Pedal-drive kayaks are ideal for kayak fishing, since it keeps your hands free for casting and landing fish.
Pedal-drive kayaks are also often more stable than a canoe. However, a canoe offers greater simplicity, with no moving parts, and the ability to float in shallower water (since the propeller system of a pedal kayak has a deeper draft). Pedal-drive tandem kayaks are an extremely niche category of boat for paddlers with specific needs (e.g., two-person fishing); a canoe is a far more versatile option.
Tandem pedal kayak vs paddle
Tandem pedal kayaks have about the same top speed as a paddle-powered kayak. Pedal kayaks rely on complex mechanisms for propulsion that include far more moving parts than a typical kayak; the gears, driveshaft and propeller system are also far heavier and add substantial weight to the kayak. On the other hand, pedal kayaks are easier to use for beginners, offer outstanding stability and are easy to get on and off, with ergonomic seats for exceptional comfort.
Pedal kayaks also allow you to use your legs for propulsion, which is a great option if you have weaker arms—and especially if you want to keep your hands and arms free for fishing or nature photography. Tandem pedal kayaks are far more expensive than typical paddle-powered recreational and fishing kayaks.
Tandem pedal kayak vs single
Choose a tandem pedal kayak if you wish to enjoy time on the water with a partner. You’ll find a limited selection of these models from manufacturers like Hobie, Brooklyn Kayak Company and FeelFree. On the other hand, single pedal kayaks are far more abundant so you’ll benefit from greater selection and a wider range of prices.
You may find that you have more space for gear (especially bulky fishing items) aboard a single pedal kayak vs a tandem pedal kayak. Be aware of the maximum weight capacity of tandem pedal kayaks to avoid overloading and compromising safety and performance.
Tandem pedal kayak vs trolling motor
Tandem pedal kayaks offer greater simplicity than a trolling motor. For starters, most pedal drive systems are carefully engineered; installing a trolling motor on a kayak is often a trial-and-error process. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about keeping batteries charged to operate a pedal-power kayak. Trolling motors, on the other hand, offer greater versatility in that they can be removed and swapped amongst different boats.
Tandem pedal kayak vs propeller
A tandem pedal kayak vs propeller is quieter and simpler to use, especially if electric motors are involved. You’ll find a variety of propeller systems built into tandem pedal kayaks, depending on the manufacturer. Most have replaceable blades for easy maintenance and clever bounce-up mechanisms that protect fragile parts from impact in shallow areas.
Tandem pedal kayak reviews
Find our expert reviews of an array of tandem pedal kayaks below to help you in selecting the best boat for your paddling aspirations.