A tandem inflatable kayak is one that seats two people. Most manufacturers who craft single inflatable models also create tandem versions for people who want to ride two to a kayak or need the extra space in their craft. There are some tandem models that price as low as $300 to $400 and some that range as high as $2,500 or greater. Of course, prices will vary between different manufacturers, so it is important to cross-compare prices and specifications and features before you decide on which tandem inflatable kayak you are going to buy.
Tandem inflatables range from beginner level to advanced. Many of them are capable of navigating whitewater rapids but also function perfectly well on calmer surfaces. The Sea Eagle 330 and 370 are both examples of inflatable tandem models, and they are considered to be some of the best models to buy if you happen to be shopping on a tight budget. The Aire Linx II is also known for having a high degree of build quality, and the AE1012-R Advanced Frame tandem kayak gets both excellent speed and tracking.
The Aire Linx II is known for being very user-friendly and is a great tandem model for starting out beginners, including children. Since they can handle Class I through Class IV whitewater rapids, they are ideal for any experience and any intensity level. They also tend to last for years, so you will not have to worry about your children being too rough on these kayaks.
Some of these tandem kayaks can be used for years without incurring much in the way of wear and tear. Of course, with two people riding in a craft, the more you use it, the more likely you are to incur some breakdown over time. However, most manufacturers are switching to some heavy-duty materials to strengthen the hulls and the bottoms of the kayaks. While many people will naturally worry about puncturing holes or incurring tears along the seams, single and tandem inflatables are generally pretty sturdy.
As far as size goes, most tandem models will be at least 12 feet in length to provide plenty of room for both occupants and their cargo. Width should also be close to 40 inches to provide enough space for sitting. Anything smaller might feel a bit cramped for average to larger sized adults. The added length and width makes these tandem kayaks more stable for the crew riding in them.
You should also be looking at the warranty you get on your tandem kayak. While some of them come with as little as two-year warranties that do not cover general wear and tear, others (like the Aire Lynx II) come with extremely generous ten-year warranties that are unconditional.
Many of these tandem kayaks are fast, but some have curved hulls to ensure even greater speed while out on the water. Also, you will find that the tandem kayaks with the most rugged hulls tend to be those that are rated for Class IV whitewater rafting. Most of these kayaks can endure quite a beating while out on the water since their hulls are so thick and durable, but they should come with repair kits just in case a gash or hole does occur while you are using your tandem kayak.
Of course, you have to expect the tandem models to cost more than the single inflatable models, and some models cost exponentially more than others. For the Aire Lynx II, you will be spending a cool $1,600, but you are also getting exactly what you pay for with their solidly crafted hulls, amazing speed and tracking, Class IV whitewater rafting capabilities, and generous ten-year unconditional warranty. If you are shopping on a smaller budget, there are other durable models out there for a fraction of the Aire Lynx II's price, but you will be hard-pressed to find the same warranty.
Tandem inflatable models should ideally come with two skegs attached for extra stability, like what you will find on the Sea Eagle 370. Since inflatable models are not exactly known for being as stable as their traditional counterparts, extra measures need to be taken in order for these vessels to provide both stability and speed. Tandem inflatables can track through the water just as well as their single-seat versions, depending on how well they are constructed.
If you are someone who experiences back pain, you might want to either buy a model with better constructed seats or buy additional deluxe inflatable seats, like the ones that Sea Eagle sells. Most seats are adjustable, but they are not all built with spinal comfort in mind.
Tandem kayaks look big, but these inflatables are easy to pack down and store. They can also be toted quite easily in the trunk or back seat of even the smallest sedan or coupe. Setup never takes more than ten minutes with these models, and you might be able to get them to inflate within roughly eight minutes. Deflating and folding them back down is also pretty simple, so even children are able to help set up and put away a tandem inflatable kayak.
Overall, you cannot go wrong with a tandem inflatable if you want to seat two people in a craft. Most models are usually very similar to their single-seat variants, so if you have a single-seat model that you enjoy, chances are that you will find their tandem version just as enjoyable to use. The biggest difference is, of course, the price that you will pay for the tandem versus the single inflatable kayak.