Tandam Kayak for paddling with kids

The heir to the throne is approaching six and I had made a promise that once he could swim the length of the pool at the Y he could come paddling with me.

So it looks like next summer I’ll have a paddling partner! OK, thing is, he’s six (or will be) so no solo boat for him. We’ll tandam for quite a while until we’re both confident in his skills. I also don’t expect him to contribute much to the paddling effort which is ok, if he just hangs out and takes in the awe and wonder of it all that’s awesome to me. What I am looking for is a tandam which I can handle on my own on flatwater, but also something that might be a little fun in the open ocean/surf zone. (For those days I am out there with one of my buddies). ( I weigh 200, figure anyone else coming along would be 170-220), minimal gear as they’ll be day trips.

Is there such a beast? Also, any recommendations for kid size paddles, PFDs, other gear.

I am also in SE PA - near Philly. Any suggestions other than Green Lane Res., the Schulykill, or Jersey shore tidal basin for flatwater would be appreciated.

I’ve had good luck with
the Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135T. It is extremely stable and tracks straight. You can move the front seat to the middle if the heir gets tired of paddling. There is plenty of room for someone your size. It is also very quick when you get it up to speed. It weighs about 70 lbs. but almost all tandems are pretty heavy. It’s short and easy to store.

Good luck.

Palmico 135T
I agree, the Pamlico 135 T is a beast and sounds perfect for you. I bought one last year, and also do much of the paddling on my own :slight_smile: We take it into the Gulf and also on the rivers and in the bays. It is long enough for two grown adults and sometimes we take the two girls out with us at the same time–although they are both very young. The boat performs very well and is also VERY durable and stable. I highly recommend it for you.

Loon 160T
Big open cockpit, stable(both my wife and I have leaned over the same side more than you think is possible), both seats adjust fore and aft so you can adjust trim. the front slides back far enough for easy solo paddling. It big enough for you, another adult and a kid. Good as a fishing platform.

But it is on the heavy side at 78lbs.

Have you considered…
building a LIGHT boat…an incredible experience indeed…am just finishing my first kayak.

Check out:


Eric Schade’s Eider can be built with an open cockpit or two closed cockpits. It can be built at about 60 lbs (will help as I figure your son will not yet be able to help you lift a 75 lb tandem onto the car roof)…AND…if so inclined…provides an incredible experience for you and your family. I plan to build the Eider in the Spring for my wife and I to paddle.



Thanks for all the replies
I’ve been wanting to get a WS boat for a while now. I’ve been paddling the same boat for 10+ years, an Ocean Kayak Dawn Trekker - it was an attempt at being a hybrid, something for flatwater and surf zone and as such it’s good at neither. But I’ve grown accustomed to it and through experience can make it work for me, I’ve played in 8-10ft surf with it and have done 4-day ocean trips with her. Molded plastic so it’s heavy in the 70lb range so the weight of the Pamlico doesn’t bother me too much.

What I really do love about the DT is that it has scuppers so, as long as I am moving (and literally this can be at a clam’s pace) it self drains. Would it be possible to modify a 135T and add scuppers or a self draining system?

tandam kayak for paddling with kids
A recreational tandem (a 2 person kayak with one large cockpit opening) is a fine boat for exploring ponds, streams, and rivers, but is not suitable for the ocean, or even for lakes with large exposed areas of water . If you know that you’ll never be out in an exposed body of water, a recreational tandem will work for you. But since you indicated that you might wish to venture into the sea , a recreational kayak (large open cockpit) is unsuitable for the ocean, period, and especially with a child aboard. You shouldn’t go farther off shore in a recreational tandem than you and your child can safely swim to shore (30-40 feet?), and you wouldn’t want to be out in anything much greater than 1 ft seas, perhaps less . A recreational boat has a low freeboard, a big open cockpit, and no bulkheads, meaning that waves will spill into the cockpit in any kind of conditions at all, and at the best you’ll be wet, at worst you’ll get swamped. A self rescue with a recreational tandem is next to impossible, because too much water fills the bow and stern, making the boat impossible to turn back over. You’re better off in a canoe. (You can outfit your tandem with bow and stern flotation bags, and there are spray skirts for some recreational tandems , but when you start getting into that level of outfitting you are pushing the limits of your boat and what you can do with it)

A touring tandem kayak with with two cockpits will be faster , safer, and will allow you to do anything you wish to do in ponds, rivers , etc., and also allow you to expand your paddling into lakes, bays, and the ocean as your interest and skills take you.

You can take gear with you and go camping. If, say, you paddle your recreational kayak out to an island or remote campsite, the next morning there’s wind and a nasty 1 1/2 ft. chop all over the lake, you’re stuck at your campsite till the wind settles down, or, you head out because you have to get home, and put yourself and your child at risk. In a touring tandem, you pack up your stuff and off you go.

Thy are more expensive than receational boats. There are lots of good plastic touring tandems on the market. Look for a used plastic one, if you’re on a budget. If not, and you want to go fiberglass, or Kevlar, a Boreal Design Beluga or a Necky or Nootka are outstanding boats and they are fast, fast fast. There are also a few smaller models (18—19 ft. long) like the Necky Amaruk, With two good paddlers, you can average about MPH faster than a single, and a tandem is perfect for paddlers with disparate abilities. They are extremely stable, so you’ll be safe and comfortable in a variety of conditions.

You might try
Blue Marsh Lake, near Reading, although right now the water level is low for the winter. Mauch Chunk Lake near Jim Thorpe is nice, even if it is a little trek up the turnpike. The Carbon County Evironmental Education center is there as well, where they have captive (unreleasable) Bald Eagle, Golden Eagle, Redtailed hawks, owls, and other neat raptors. Great place for a 6-year-old. The Delaware river in the Water Gap is also a thought.

Tandems & Kids
I have an Oldtown Loon 138-T and use it with my nieces & nephews. A great boat for fooling around lakes and slow water. I live in Burlington NJ. There are many lakes in the area. If you want to try out the Loon E-Mail me and we’ll set up a time.

Good Luck


I’m with Peter
I think you’ll be able to enjoy a much greater scope of kayaking with a touring tandem. I have children, ages 10 and 13, and we’ve used a NDK Triton kayak with great success. My children have been able to enjoy a true Lake Superior expedition paddling in the boat with me, as well as putzing around on small lakes and rivers at other times. It has enough stability for their first voyages, but enough performance to really respond well to their steep paddling learning curve. I think you’d really be limiting your enjoyment of paddling with your kids if you buy a rec boat, particularly once their paddling skills improve.

Enjoy the ride.


Thanks Peter
That was kind of my thoughts when I took a look at the Pamlico. I’ve never been a big fan of the open cockpit boats and as my sons (and the other 3 kids behind him) skills increase we would definetely venture into more open water areas, to include the ocean.

If you read my initial post the issue here’s the issue I have - I love playing in the surf zone and because of his age (6) I need a tandem that I can handle on my own (plus until he’s ready I would still like to be able to take the boat into the rougher stuff.

I was looking at a Wilderness System Northstar as a possible choice. Any suggestions? I am defintely in the plastic budget range so anything more exotic is out.

Thanks again for the help.

suraniz — option 2

– Last Updated: Nov-10-05 6:52 PM EST –

I have a ten year old and I paddled with him since age 8 in his own small boat. In our case, we each have a 12 foot 42 lb plastic Prijon Capri, and as you can see from reviews on -pnet and others, it is an exceptional vessel. I too struggled with precisely the question you are asking, but reviled the weight of teh tandem (esp since he cannot help me portage or cartop it), and the inflexibility of having a kayak that, in essence, requires two people to paddle comfortably. Like you, at times I want to go alone, or with another paddling adult, so in the end I opted for two lighter weight, shorter and more manageable boats, and guess what, my now 10 yo son loves it! I can get them off the car one at a time, and now I can launch him and then get my yak, not bad since 42 lbs each. He feels like he has his own boat, he can paddle well as it is light (he uses a standard 220cm paddle, although for yur 6 yo you might want a whitewater paddle), I can rescue him if he dumps (hasn't happend yet though)as I'd be upright still (will come a day when he saves me I am sure), I plan to practice rescues and dumps with him this summer since we have our own boats, and you save yourself the boat sinking issue that peterb accurately mentions above. When he tires (which on some days is pretty fast, other days he can paddle for an hour or two), I tow him. Yep, put a carabiner on each carrying toggle and paddle with him pulling behind me. One time he was kicking back and eating Pringles back there and the fisherman said, "Hey, I want his boat!" He weighs about 80 lbs now and I still can tow him with relative ease... it is good exercise for me, and although I am not super fit, I have paddled him for several miles in this fashion. And, I have the flexibility of using these matched, paired boats with adults. I find the towing to be easy as we are each in 42 lbs boats, and I tried a tandem rental once with him in it at age 6 and --forget the gutbusting hassles of cartopping, fitting the longer yak on the roof, etc.-- it was much harder in my opinion to paddle with his dead weight in the tandem (esp in the front seat, which is where the lighter paddler usually goes, making it weathercock like a son of a gun and hard for you to "push" control/ directional control in the tandem. The towing is much more natural. The prijon capri you should check out www.wildnet.com, nice boats, on sale about $600 each but IMHO better than other plastic yaks by far, and can handle, rudderless, some chop (but it is not an ocean kayak)--lighter than other 12 foot plastic yaks. Just a thought. Nigel Foster in his DVDs has a segment on towing, and they have specific tow lines and belts with some stretch for rougher water, but son and I seem to do well with good old fashion rope. He is already developing soem paddling skills that I don't think he'd have if we were still in a tandem.

Admittedly, your son is just turning 6, small, but I doubt you will find a good tandem that you can manage cartop and launch all on your own, that you'd be happy paddling totally alone (it can be done, but not well), and in the blink of an eye your son will be 8 like mine when I got the two Capris. Even if junior cannot paddle at all now, I would say that you cold pull hmi/tow hmi right from the get-go and with his light weight, you'd likely do fine and little by little he'll start to chip in on the paddling effort. No one would take a 6 yo on the ocean in a tandem or otherwise, so flatwater is the name of teh game for him anyhow.

Totally your option, just presenting you another view that seemed to work for us. Good luck.

Acadia2 by perception
Have seen lots of parents paddle there kids in this boat. and i have solod it myself. it is well worth trying out.

So what will you do, suraniz?

Seda Amigo
Nice kayak