Light Tandems?

Do yall know a good, light, relatively cheap tandem that would be suitable for two beginners? My folks have recently expressed an interest in paddling after seeing my brother in his Perception Sound and me in my Old Town Guide 119. They are going to need a fairly light boat in that my Dad just had his shoulders replaced. I expect that they will be using their new boat on lakes and rivers in nothing over Class IIs. Any advice would be appreciated.

Unfortunately, light and inexpensive are usually opposites in the paddling world. A used boat would be the best option.

What’s a reasonable weight for him? Some Royalex tandems are in the 55-60 pound range, which isn’t bad for two people.

Available but
When canoes are built light in weight, they become fragile of expensive.

Adirondack Lakes and Trails sold three Swift Tandems this past weekend, A Prospector 15 @ 30#, $3450, a Keewaydin 16 @ 34# $3495 and a Keewaydin 17 at 36#, $3595, all Carbon/Kevlar hybrid construction with integral rails.

Those prices and weights contrast with an Old Town triple dump Discovery 169 that catalogs @ 85# but often scales near 100#, at $1100 something.

One can draw two parallel lines, putting 100 at the left side on one and 30 on the other, 1000 at the left side of the second and 3500 at the right. Then pick your weight along the first continuum and the price below on the second will be pretty close.

They need to visit a paddlesport shop
and see what they can manage for weight.

Buying a boat is not unlike buying a car. You can do tons of Internet research to narrow down choices but you have to actually "kick " the tires.

For your Dad a choice of paddle is going to be just as important as the boat to prevent overstressing the shoulder. Lessons in proper technique will also pay off. The average canoeist is an arm paddler and that is lousy technique. Young studs can pull it off without too much injury, but its imperative your Dad learn correctly about the use of torso muscles from the get go.

So for him save some $200 out of the boat budget for the paddle. The paddle is just as important. For most its the afterthought.

There is no such thing
"a good, light, relatively cheap tandem"

Jack L

Think I might have your Dad take it easy
but try to build up his upper-body core/skeletal strength before deciding on a boat. As said…a used composite tandem fits most. I’d seriously have him build up his strength yet take it easy this year by staying on ponds/lakes in a canoe and just visit streams/rivers on foot…


Thanks for the advice, everyone. Would fiberglass be an option? I know they are more fragile, but also light and cheap. Are they too fragile?

Fiberglass fragile?
Chopper gun fiberglass boats are heavy and not as strong as fiberglass roving boats. S glass is quite strong.

Milbrook boats uses fiberglass in whitewater boats. It is stiffer than ABS but hardly fragile. Most fiberglass boats are not very light, but keep in mind that quite a bit depends on how many pieces of fabric are used and where they are used. A skilled builder can make a reasonably light and quite durable boat.

For sure look at fiberglass boats. There are lighter options that are more durable but also lighter will be your wallet.

Fiberglass - not fragile.
And easy to repair. Lots of good fiberglass canoes that are lighter (if only slightly) than royalex.

How about this, in Tuf-weave (fiberglass/polyester)…

If you take the “cheap” out of the…

– Last Updated: May-15-12 8:27 AM EST –

equation, you would do a a lot better at looking at a ultralight tandem kevlar canoe.
If your parents are not going to drag it over rocks, or paddle it in shallow rocky rivers, it would fit the bill nicely.
My wife and I have a fourteen year old, 39 pound, 17 foot long Wenonah kevlar one and have paddled it for many hundreds if not thousands of miles.
If for some reason we get a bad scratch on the bottom, we just use two part epoxy to coat the scratch.
They are a delight to paddle and easy on the old bod.

Look around for a used one.

Jack L

Look around for a used one

Light and cheap
I’d like to second the request: Does anyone know of a good quality, light tandem kayak, that is also cheap? I’d like it light, but I can’t afford a lot of money. Preferably out of carbon fiber, if you can. Thanks!

Millbrook Coho or AC/DC might be
candidates, but they are $1550 and $1600, repsectively. The Coho is probably a better, more stable boat for the couple in question. As I recall, both boats are in the middle 40 pound weight range.

Millbrook boats are not just “fiberglass.” Kaz the builder uses ~2 outer layers of S-glass, and two inner layers of Kevlar. The resin is vinylester, and most Millbrooks are vacuum bagged.

Kaz uses ash gunwales, so Millbrooks should be stored indoors. I own two Millbrooks. The S-glass exterior is very hard and does not scratch easily. Millbrooks when pounded hard, may show small compression cracks in the outermost S-glass layer, but these are easily fixed. Kevlar usually keeps the hull from tearing catastrophically. At present, the only other canoe builder routinely using S-glass over Kevlar is Souris River.

I have not seen a light, durable canoe available new for less than $1500. I still suggest the Wenonah Tufweave Aurora, which weighs in the 50s but is a good, general purpose canoe.

light but not cheap
Skin on frames are the lightest boats. If you have shop skills you could build one. (the example linked below is an extreme example – selling for $5000 – but it is only 47 lbs.)

There is also the folding Pakboat Pakcanoe 150T at 48 lbs (less than most solo kayaks) and $1995.

what exactly is “light”?

Might say that a tandem under 55# is
light, and one 40# or under is very light, or ultralite. I don’t know of an acceptably durable tandem cruiser under 30 pounds.