My family is 2 adults, 2 big teenaged boys, and a dog who may go with us occasionally. We have tried out some canoes and tandem kayaks, and prefer the tandem sit on top kayaks. We will mainly be using them on fairly flat reservoirs and lakes, and may be hauling some camping gear with us sometimes. I like the Ocean Malibu 2XL for its size and stability, but we are open to any recommendations?
Local Shops & Groups
Check your local paddling shops. Many offer trial days where they will bring a bunch of boats to a public area and let folks try-before-they-buy. Some will even rent boats and apply the rental fee to a purchase. One of the local shops here in West Kentucky (Hooper’s Outdoors) does that. The big-box stores (Gander Mountain, Dick’s, Academy e.g. do not.
Also see if there is a local paddling group that might have a member that either has one or is familiar with that particular model.
Have you looked at the user review section on here? Though you have to take some opinions with a grain of salt (amazing how many people rate their first boat a “10 out of 10” when they admit to never having been in any other model) it is one way to find out what issues or advantages various models have.
Though you say that you prefer tandem kayaks, I would think canoes would be a better choice both for carrying the dog and for camping. Sit on tops don’t have a lot of cargo room. And they are terribly heavy.
Buying used is usually a good option for starting out. You should check Craigslist in your area – tandem kayaks are common in mine for much better prices than new.
There really is little difference between models in tandem sit on tops. You get what you pay for and more costly brands like Wilderness Systems, Native and Perception will have better seats, more consistent hull thickness and higher quality fittings than cheaper brands like Ocean, Pelican and Future Beach. Other than that, “performance” isn’t really a factor in these style of kayak – pretty much all are barges.
Have you considered buying a tandem plus a couple of solo sit insides? I know a lot of teenaged boys and most prefer to paddle solo under their own power rather than sharing with a parent or sibling.
But you know your family best.
Thank you for the thoughts and suggestions!
Most of the canoes we have looked at have weighed more than the Ocean tandem kayak- for example, the Old Town Saranac Family is 79 lbs. and the Ocean tandem is 61 lbs. We also felt like handling the kayaks was much easier than the canoes. I do like the idea of a couple of singles for the kids, but am concerned about storage and hauling. Maybe we need to try out a few more before we make our decision- which is fine- we plan to buy by next summer.
We have been keeping an eye out for used for about a year,but rarely see sit-ons, much less tandems sit-ons. Most people around here tend to use sit-ins for white water use.
Thanks again for the thoughts- very appreciated!