Tandem Touring Kayak?

What to buy? What to buy?

I am looking to buy a touring kayak, something that I could use in the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay area. For myself (185# and 6’) and my wife (145# and 5’-8”) or my 12 year old son. I’m thinking a tandem would be good for my wife who thinks she is a passenger. Also, for my 12 year old, who does not have much experience.

Our previous experience is canoeing on rivers and inflatable kayaks on white water. I own a Hyside Padilac 2 man inflatable Kayak, which we use a few times a year. So, this is something new for us.

I am having a hard time finding tandem kayaks. I’m thinking I want a touring kayak, but one that can still be turned without a major effort. So maybe leaning a little towards transitional touring kayak? We would use it mostly for day trips along the bay, but would like stowage space for one night overnight trips.

What would you recommend?

I like the Seda Tango
Fast and stable, Tons of room for gear. When you see the size of it you think “sea pig” until you paddle it, it cruises effortlessly.

A freind and I did better that 7 mph over a measured mile, and just over 6 mph average in a 12.6 mile race (Wye Island Regatta 12.6 miles in 1:59:52).

Second the Tango

Was just out in mine yesterday, paddling a teenage daughter who is more content to lay down her paddle, hook her feet over the sides and bask. Even paddling two people solo, this boat moves. (Read my review.) If you can lift it, manage and store its size, it will do everything from plunk around the lakes and streams, to taking on serious open water conditions with supreme poise. If you’re buying new, the fg layups now produced are SIGNIFICANTLY lighter than the 100+ lbs. of my old, battle scarred rental fleet acquisition.

More info:
I should have mentioned that I am leaning towards a poly kayak. First, so it can take some abuse, and second to keep the cost under $2,000. I am, however, noticing that most of the 18’+ long poly tandem reviewers complain of soft plastic and oil canning issues.

The Manitou II looks interesting, but is short on stowage space.

So any suggestions on 15’ to 18’ poly tandems?



– Last Updated: Jul-20-08 4:21 PM EST –

One option:

The problem with plastic tandems is that polyethylene is a poor structural material. Its great virtues are impact resistance and low cost, which makes it ideal for whitewater and rec boats. But trying to make something 20' long, narrow, and rigid out of a relatively soft, flexible material means that you need to use a *lot* of it to get acceptable stiffness, and you end up with a 90-pound boat.

If you're not looking to log a lot of miles there are some nifty compact tandems, like the Prijon Capri II.
The downside is that you HAVE to paddle in synch with your partner, which can be frustrating if your styles don't match.

An Eddyline Whisper might be a nice fit if you could find a used one. I did see an ad for a used one for 2K, but it was in California.

Prijon makes a couple…

…Brad at Stark Moon might be able to help.

Manitou II is a good choice
It’s small enough that you can be the prime motor and it’s efficient, another consideration but up in price is Current Designs Kestrel 170T composite double, it’s significantly cheaper than other composite doubles and fits your criteria. BIG plastic doubles are HEAVY. BIG composite doubes are HEAVY. Manitou II is a good design.

Current Designs

“turned without a major effort”?
Have you ruled out 2 single kayaks?

2 singles?
2 singles versus a tandem? My thinking is to start with a tandem that I can familairize my boys with before adding single kayaks. In addition to my 12 year old, I have a 10 year old.

just the right age to start in a single
My son got a Perception Umiak for his 10th birthday & he slept in it for several nights - actually until I hung it on the wall. After his first paddle, I could no longer keep up with him & had to buy a faster boat for myself just to keep up. Paddling with a 10 year old forced me to become a better paddler. Today at 20, he has excellent skills, and I don’t even try to do what he does everyday.

Too bad I sold both Umiaks
I sold my kids’ Umiaks cheap 2 years ago to a fellow who was giving them to his kids to learn. They were 7 and 9 years old.

CD tandems
The Current Designs Double vision looks very tempting to me, but it is twice the price of the Manitou II! I have visions of my boys abusing a tandem kayak; running it into rocks to land. How would a fiberglass & kevlar boat hold up to this?

Forgive my ignorance, but do you “land” a Kevlar kayak without grounding?

The wilderness systems Northstar roto

Northstar tandem
Yes, I considered the Northstar, but I am concerned of other reviewers saying it is a too soft. Also, it is listed as 94# which is getting heavy.

I really like the looks of the Current Designs Double Vision. The size and weight are appealing. The $2,800 price is a little steep for what I am looking for. Also, I don’t know how much abuse a composite kayak can take compared to a polypro kayak.

just got out of a northstar 30 min’s ago
if you want good price point, huge gear capacity, ability to turn without rudder, nice top speed, awesome seats, ability to paddle without being in sync, then consider the northstar.

If you will have to carry it very far forget it, but dollies are a good thing.

We slammed a major rock landing today with no damage and only the slightest blem-not even a scratch…I can see 2 people paddle camping out of this kayak and living like kings and queens.

Tandem Weight
I’d echo what some others have alluded to as far as weight goes. My Tango is a beast-over 100 lbs. Once she’s in the water this becomes a non issue, but the transport gets wearing, even with a roller. On vacation, when we’re (I say this collectively, but it’s really just ‘me’.) taking the boat on and off the car, this becomes like a workout in itself, particularly at the end of a day’s paddling. Light is right, so to speak. 21’ is lot of boat to have up on a roof, when it weighs somewhat more than the 26 lbs. of my surf ski at a similar length.

With a composite boat, you will have to be more careful of rocks, beach landings, etc., but IMO the feel, etc. outweighs all that. I’d skip the plastic and try to locate something used in fg, which you could likely resell without much difficulty if you needed to. Buying one of those rec class wide open cockpit tandems might do fine for calm lakes, but I believe you referenced taking it out in the Chesapeake, in which case, separate cockpits and BULKHEADS would be very nice to have.

Go for singles
I’ll also vote for single kayaks. Your boys will do fine with them, I bet, and you will struggle to keep up with them after one outing. I take out a lot of first-time paddlers and see this with kids all the time. By the end of a 2 1/2 hour paddle, they are buzzing along with no problem and have to wait for the adults to catch up.

We find the Wilderness Systems Tsunami SP to be great with kids and small adults. The Umiak works well, too. I think Atlantic Kayak Tours has a couple of used ones for sale - not real close to you, though.

Have fun with it!


Tandem vs single kayak
Thanks everyone for the suggestions. I’m concerned about starting the boys out in single kayaks. I’m now thinking that I need to find a place to rent a tandem or singles to see how we like them. Perhaps a few lessons would also be good.

maybe swimming lessons first
they should be old enough to paddle single kayaks, so maybe work on swimming skills first? I see plenty of 7 & 8 year olds paddling small singles like the Umiak. Once their swimming skills are solid, then kayak lessons could follow. They will pick it up very quickly and you will be amazed.