Tandem for paddling with kids


I’m thinking of buying a tandem this spring so I can take my seven year old out on some flat water excursions. I’m assuming I am going to be doing most of the paddling as he will tire out so I want something that’ll track exceptionally well. Weight will be an issue as well as I will have to load and off load it myself for the most part. Any suggestions? Also, best gear for kids - paddles, PFD, etc.

Pamlico 145
from Wilderness Systms is probably your best bet. The front seating area is tight for most fully grown men, but would be just fine for a kid. Weight is about 70 pounds in poly, or you can order it in glass and get the weight into the 50s (though at more than double the price). The Pamlico 145 is a bit narrower at the ends than most rec tandems, which lends itself to both smaller paddlers in the front and for solo paddling, as you’re not barging through the water as you do with most rec tandems.

After doing some research on the boards I think I might go with getting him his own boat, the EpiSea looks like he can handle it and it also looks cool.

Buy the child his/her own !
When tired you can always tow. See pic of my sister and her son:


Unless you are one of those parents who must do everything for their child, this is the only way to go in either case!

That the decision I came to myself.

Another possibility for a light tandem:
You might want to consider building Eric Schades’ tandem kayak. Can be built with or without cockpits, and weighs about 60lbs when completed. Eric provides excellent plans and telephone support. It might be fun to build it with your child, and then paddle together in the spring!



Same Advice as last time you posted
this exact same question in November 2005, suraniz.


I disagree
Well, maybe not disagree completely, but I think the double is the best way to go.

I have a Pygmy double that I built about 6 years ago – why did I build a double? Because I have kids who wanted to go paddling. The double made it possible to go in conditions that were well beyond the capability of a 6 year old. There’s just no way that a kid younger than 8 or 9 years old can paddle any distance or in rough conditions – they just don’t have the stamina or the muscle.

If you’re looking to get into a boat just to splash around in while not travelling any distance, go for a single (the Perception Acadia Scout is a great first boat, as is the Perception Carolina 12, the WS Tsunami SP, and the Current Designs Raven). But if you’re looking at having your child join you on camping trips where you’ll have to paddle more than 3 or so miles, a double just makes more sense.

My youngest daughter is now 9 and has just advanced to a single last summer (we got her a Current Designs Raven for Christmas). She’s able to paddle about 4-5 miles at a time solo. My 12 year old daughter has been paddling solo for about a year now and is able to paddle 15 miles in a day if we take it easy and don’t push her too much. My 15 year old son has paddled up to 25 miles in a single day with no problem.

The point is that my kids have all been paddling (in the double) since they were each about 5 or 6 years old and have enjoyed it immensely. I think part of the reason for their enjoyment is that they were never pushed beyond their capabilities at any time. For the most part, when they were at a young age, they merely sat in the front and watched the scenery go by as I did all the paddling. They were very happy doing this and it got them comfortable with being on the water.

Once they were physically strong enough to paddle their own boat, they were given the opportunity and have done extremely well at it.

You also have to consider how much you will enjoy each outing if you end up having to tow them all the time. And you have to consider that they will not get as much enjoyment out of paddling if they are pushed to the point of needing a tow. It’s VERY important to not push your child or he/she will not enjoy themselves.

For these reasons, I suggest a double until your child is physically strong enough to paddle a single boat.



Racking the Yak
My wife and I have spent a good deal of time our Sundance II (Perception). In all conditions the boat tracks well with one or both paddling. We only use the rudder in windy conditions. The Wilderness Pamlico gets good reviews on this site, but I have never been in one.

Getting the yak on top of our car was our biggest issue. Tandems are long, and heavy enough to be awkward. It took some figuring out, but we have it down to a routine. I would also recommend the purchase of a wheelie-cart to get the boat down to the water (worth every penny).

To echo the comments by PeterBr on Nov-09-05, these are fair weather boats. Our Sundance II did not have enough positive flotation to attempt an open water re-entry. The act of getting into the boat puts the cockpit underwater leaving the boat swamped. Bow and stern floatation bags or marine foam are, in my opinion, a necessity. The Perception Acadia II has a bulkhead, which eliminates some of this problem. The other alternative would be a sit-on-top (Malibu) which might be a little safer if you plan to use in open-water.

As for PFDs, fit is more important than brand. Pick the one that you won’t mind wearing.