Tandem kayak with adjustable seats

I am looking for tandem kayaks that have fully adjustable seats. Basically, we are looking for a larger kayak we put a large (80-95lb) dog on and can strap some gear onto for short jaunts to campsites. The kayak will be solo paddled, so my wife can paddle with one dog and I the other. I see a lot of tandem kayaks, but it’s hard to tell if I can remove one set and secure the second seat more toward the middle.

I have a canoe but have noticed the kayaks are much more stable and so I am leaning heavily toward the kayaks. I would consider larger solo kayaks that would hold me, the dog, and some gear. 500lb capacity would be ideal as that would give me 250 lbs leeway so I am not too heavy.

Advice or leads would be appreciated.

Look more closely at canoes.

The Pakboat skin and frame folding kayak model Puffin Saranac can be configured for solo or tandem paddling. Weight rating is 400 pounds which would be fine solo with the dog. Dogs can ride in these since the skin is PVC and you can put a yoga mat or ensolite pad in the hull for them to stand or lie on.

WAY lighter and easier to transport than a hardshell sit on top – it’s around 30 pounds and hardshell tandems will weigh twice that. And they can be converted from open boat to a closed kayak by adding the optional decks. I’ve been paddling various PakBoat models for years and have a solo Puffin. Very well made and easy to assemble. Can store one in its duffel bag in a closet or check as airline baggage if you want to take it on vacation. Super comfortable seats, very adjustable. These paddle as well as a comparably sized hardshell and are very stable, with inflatable sponson tubes along the sides to tighten the skin and add flotation.

The model is on sale at the moment, per their website. $1900 including the optional tandem deck, with free shipping from New Hampshire. First link is from an outfitter, second is Pakboat from whom you can order direct.


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Also, if you can find a used one for sale, the 33 pound Feathercraft Java inflatable tandem sit on top kayak can be converted from solo to double and has a 450 pound capacity. I have one of those too – has a skeg and a rudder and can be put together in 15-20 minutes. Though it does have inflatable structure, the bladders are encased in cordura nylon sleeves so they are protected from dog claws.

These do sometimes show up for sale used and well taken care of (they cost nearly $4000 new so owners tend to maintain them well – I got mine for $650 plus $70 for shipping in two cartons and it is good as new despite being 12 years old.)

There are also drop stitch floor kayak models from companies like Sea Eagle that can be converted from solo to tandem, but they will not perform as well as folding kayaks with additional metal frame structure, especially with a lot of weight in them.

Java Kayak

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We had a similar dilemma and ended up with a playful kayak and a pack canoe for gear (drone, food etc ) and then we trade off. This works with one dog, not sure about two.

I was curious about the Current Designs tandem because I love their boats and we can find used in PNW at a fantastic price point.

Another option would be the Mad River Adventure 16 plastic tandem canoe. You can paddle it solo from the middle bench seat, though you can also paddle solo from the stern seat if you put enough ballast (in addition to the 95 pound dog) in the bow.

These are heavy (I used to own one) but fun to paddle and have a massive capacity of 950 pounds. Reasonably priced and often available used on Craigslist or FB marketplace for under $600. Pretty bombproof – got ours used for $400 and the seller threw in an electric motor and a pair of paddles. We even used it a few times in class 2 whitewater.

More weight capacity than you need but that assures that even with all 3 of you in it you will still be stable and have a good water line. Can even add a small trolling motor to these.

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Perception has made a sit in with adjustable seats over the years that has gone by many names, it’s currently known as the Cove. It is 14.5 ft, but its heavy.
I have an older version of it that I picked up used for the kids May as well move to a canoe as you would get more carrying capacity and stability, especially with a pup.

I’d like to know more about the waterway because I know that would play into what we would choose.

We tried a big inflatable kayak and felt it was a toad in the wind.

I have to say I have never personally had any luck with inflatable anything. I’m probably an outlier but i observed this guy coming into the shop with a new SUP that had a leak when I was doing the demo on my Braveheart. My worst nightmare is drowning my dog.
Also I hate the sound of the pumps because it messes with my mojo and we go out early in the vicinity of others camping in solitude.

I know they are a great solution for some!

I’d need to know “where.”

Also how you paddle as a couple because my husband I don’t mind being mismatched in speed as he is always messing with a drone or cameras. Then if he wants to play, we trade boats at the site.

We hope to camp before summer ends and have the location picked out.

@willowleaf, I have one and never thought about that!

There are sit inside kayaks (such as the Perception that @Paddlinpals referred to) that have the adjustable seat to allow them to be paddled as singles or tandems, but pretty much all are recreational class kayaks. Recreational class kayaks are fine in appropriate conditions, which basically mean flat/calm water close enough to shore that you can swim should you flip. They generally don’t have enough inherent flotation to reliably get back in to in deep water. They are also barges, so won’t be fast nor good for long distances.

Another option would be a sit on top that has adjustable seats, like the Ocean Kayak Malibu 2 or 2XL. These can be set up with a middle seat and paddled solo, or with 2 (or 3) seats for multiple people (small people, in 3 person mode). Sit on tops have inherent flotation, so are safe in more conditions than a recreational class sit inside. Still a barge.

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Will you enjoy paddling that? Is the question we kept asking.


Maybe someone can answer this.

If you bought the big CD tandem could you roll like this? Or would it be too hard to paddle.
I know the issue for us was that we needed something more lightweight for road trips and launching.

If I understood correctly the weight and power balance would be less than ideal.

Yeah, most inflatables are slugs and more raft-like than kayak-like but there are notable exceptions. Itiwit even makes an inflatable racing kayak.

My Java, like my folding kayaks, is low profile, long and relatively narrow beam and the internal tubular frame makes it stiff. Not much affected by wind.

I have never used motorized inflation for it or for any of the sponsons in my folding kayaks over the years. I have a simple large volume plastic hand pump that only takes one minute to fill each of the four bladders. I can carry the pump with me stowed under the deck lines if I need to top up (cold water immersion will shrink the air volume.) 5 minutes of hand pumping is a good pre-launch warm up, too!

Fast forward to around 5:30 in this Java assembly video to see how easy the pump up is.

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Video of TsunamiChuck and Paris the Pup paddling his Java in Alaska. Start at timestamp 0.30 to get past the talking heads. This actually may be the exact kayak I have because I think the guy I bought it from may have got it from Chuck. He had a sail rig for it and there are videos of them sailing it in the coastal passages.

If you put 2 or 3 jugs of water in the bow hatch it might ballast it enough with the dog. I used to paddle with a kayaking guide whose Akita would ride in his front hatch. looks like your pup is might be too large for that.

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I enjoyed that!

That was my fat dog and he died. The new dog has a waist

I’d like to try him in a tandem CD touring one day.

The other dog would sit in my kayak in the yard and
He really wanted to go and would swim after us through the waves in Tofino! It was problem.
We had to paddle alone and the other stay with the dog. I could have tied him to a tree but maybe the wolves would get him, it didn’t seem right.

Someday I’ll meet somebody in the PNW that will let me try it out. I might even be able to rent one when we get home.

I saw this

That old Perception was the Pamlico, if you are looking for a used one. It had seats attached to rails that could be adjusted for trim or solo use.

I worry about an inflatable for several reasons. One is an excited dog’s claws. The other is that all of them I have seen should have had long strings attached because all I have ever seen looked like kites in the wind.

I think a different canoe might suit you better. Putting a solo seat in one is not hard as they just hang from the gunwales, I have even seen some with three seats that can work as solo or tandem from the factory. There are too many questions to be answered for me to say what is best for you, so go out and find her. a canoe that fits you is worth the effort.

Unlike cat’s claws, dog claws are not retractable and are usually fairly dull due to wear from walking on hard surfaces. High quality inflatables are rugged — I have never heard of a dog puncturing them. My Java has vinyl bladders encased in tough cordura (nylon canvas) fabric sheaths which protect them from abrasion and puncture.

Most inflatables people see on the water are low end to midprice things that are more raft or pool toy than kayak in structure and performance. Yes, they tend to catch wind and can puncture with abuse… You get what you pay for. An inflatable or folding/inflatable hybrid kayak that doesn’t act like a beach ball will run you $1500 to $6000 new. They do exist,

Wilderness Systems