Is Tandem Appropriate Choice?

Please accept that I am a complete newb, so I apologize in advance if my question is absurd (I did try to search old messages).

I would like to take up kayaking as a hobby for lakes and rivers around the southern coast of NC. I envision recreational excursions primarily, nothing more than a few hours. I have a wife and three children, any one of which may be interested in joining me sometimes.

I was wondering, is it practical to get a tandam kayak to enable me to go out with one of the wife or kids occasionally, but which is generally suitable for solo use most of the time? I don’t know if tandem kayaks are designed such as to be impractical for extended solo operation. Obviously the cost and transportation issues of two kayaks compared to one have me concerned.

If such a tandem kayak is practical, any suggestions of make/model for someone just starting out such as myself?

I appreciate any advice anyone has to offer.

What I did

– Last Updated: Jun-01-06 2:11 PM EST –

I was in the same position as you about 6 years ago. I bought a Tandem Hobie Oddysey Sit on Top. It's 14' and can hold two adults and a small child. You can set it up with a seat located in the center position and paddle it solo. It moves along just fine like this and I went on many trips of 5 -10 miles with other kayakers. After a while only one of my sons showed much interest in Kayaking and we got single kayaks. (We now have about 7 kayaks and waveskis) We kept the hobie for family trips and taking friends, son's girlfriends etc along. Recently I sold the used Hobie for about 85% of what I paid for it (it was slightly used when I bout it) so it was a bargain. I would not suggest buying a sink Tandem and paddling it solo as your first investment in Kayaking.

My first yak was a tandem

– Last Updated: Jun-01-06 1:16 PM EST –

Wilderness Systems 135T which I still enjoy and recommend. I have been out in it many times with my wife and children. They only want to paddle with me and not alone.

It can be paddled solo because the front seat moves back to the middle. However, as my skills advanced (to an intermediate beginner) I found it awkward to paddle solo so I purchased other yaks.

Good luck whatever you buy.

Solo in a tandem

– Last Updated: Jun-01-06 1:42 PM EST –

Just remember that you'll be more vulnerable to wind because of the increased freeboard, and you may have a harder time manuevering in current because of the size. You can minimize those problems by making good choices about where & when you paddle.

Some tandems may be too wide to paddle comfortably from the center. Plastic tandems also tend to be very heavy to load or unload by yourself.

A small canoe would be another option for a solo/tandem boat. Many people use double-bladed paddles in canoes to make soloing easier.

Demoing a few boats will tell you a lot.

Tandem = VERY Heavy.
That is usually a dealbreaker.

Click Search Archives under Tandem and see many detailed replies to your similar question that comes up about once a month (you wouldn’t know that). Many buy more than one kayak and tow line if weaker paddler or tired kid.

Good luck.

Phoenix Vagabond only 46 lbs
and paddles well as solo or tandem.

The stock seats aren’t very comfortable, so you have to modify them for yourself.

It tracks well while you’re paddling, but tends to turn when you stop paddling.

It’s fiberglass, so you probably wouldn’ want to run it up on shore a lot like many people do plastic kayaks.

It’s veeeeeeeeery stable.

No hatches or bulkheads. Use flotation bags if you think you might manage to tip it over.

I prefer paddling it solo rather than tandem because the seat postions are close together.

See it at

lakes and rivers
sounds to me like a canoe would suit your needs better than a kayak.


– Last Updated: Jun-01-06 4:34 PM EST –

My two cents.

A canoe sounds like a better choice in your case (you could take the wife AND the kids all at the same time).

Many models paddle well either solo or tandem and generally a decent canoe is lighter than a tandem plastic kayak.


Good points
Honestly, I never thought about a canoe (which is consistent with my earlier statement that I am a complete newb at this).

Never having been a boater I just associated canoes with more heavy duty boaters, with kayaks being the lighter, more flexible alternative. I rented a kayak last summer and just kind of focused on kayaks. But looking at weight and tandem considerations, I understand your points.

Thank you everyone for your feedback. I hope to join your ranks soon.

canoes are heavier?
actually, a great many are lighter than kayaks. consider … they have only a hull. no deck. thus, less weight. i have a Wennonah Minn. II in kevlar which weights only 43 pounds. quite light by kayak standards and FAR lighter than most tandem kayaks.