What Is A Tandem Kayak?

A tandem kayak is a two-person kayak, and is also referred to as a double kayak.

Their extended decks are usually 18 to 24 feet long, and the two people inside the kayak will paddle simultaneously.

It can be tricky to get to grips with, but with enough practice you’ll be able to achieve perfect synchronization.

So, what else is there to know about tandem kayaks? The following article will break down all of the benefits of using this kayak, as well as the potential downsides. We’ll also be explaining how to paddle a tandem kayak.

The Benefits Of Using A Tandem Kayak

There are several benefits to using tandem kayaks, rather than a solo kayak.

Ideal For Beginners

Learning how to paddle a kayak on your own for the first time can be nerve wracking (especially if you don’t like getting wet), and a tandem kayak allows for a more experienced kayaker to teach you how to paddle and offer you support.

Or, if not an experienced kayaker, someone who’s also new to the practice and will struggle alongside you in solidarity.

Using a tandem kayak is the safest and most comfortable way to introduce someone to kayaking.

It’s also just a lot more enjoyable, kayaking with someone else (depending on the company, of course).

The Social Aspect

It’s a bonding exercise, really.

Considering you’re required to match the other person’s paddling, it’s quite hard to avoid the need to bond, otherwise you’ll end up falling out (both with each other and into the water).

Learning how to work together is an ideal bonding experience.

More Packing Space

If you’re bringing your kayak on a trip, one tandem kayak’s going to take up far less room than more than one single kayak. This will make your trip far more convenient (or worth taking at all).

A tandem kayak is also easier to store in your own home, when you’re not off on trips.

While a tandem kayak is technically a little longer, it’s also a lot lighter than a single kayak, and will take up less space in your home than two single kayaks would.

The Downsides Of Using A Tandem Kayak

The Downsides of Using a Tandem Kayak

We’d be lying if we said there were no potential downsides to using a tandem kayak over a single kayak.

The Price

While you’ll probably be able to find a tandem kayak that’s cheaper than the price of two single kayaks put together, said tandem kayak probably wouldn’t feature a rudder.

This is what tandem kayaks of a higher quality have, and is what often makes them more expensive than buying two one-person kayaks.

The rudder is important, so don’t assume that just because a tandem kayak is cheaper than two solo kayaks, you’re getting a good deal- you might not be, in the long term.

The Weight

Another factor to consider is weight. Some tandem kayaks will weigh considerably more than single kayaks.

The weight will probably be noticeably less than the weight of two single kayaks, but this is less ideal when it comes to actually lugging it out to the water.

Feels Different To Paddling Solo

Naturally, the feel of paddling with someone else will be a lot different to the feel of paddling on your own.

Having to match someone else’s paddling can make it harder to understand just how your actions are affecting your kayak- so if you’re confident learning how to paddle in a single kayak for your first time rather than in a tandem kayak, then it might be something you’ll want to consider.

Less Freedom

While tandem kayaks are great for the social aspect, it does mean that if you can’t find anyone who wants to go out on the water with you then you’re out of luck.

It’s a struggle to control a tandem kayak on your own, due to its size and weight. If you could see this being a problem, consider a single kayak instead.

Arguments May Ensue

While it’s true that the tandem kayak can be a great bonding exercise, teamwork of this nature will always come with the risk of arguments.

If you’re struggling to paddle together effectively, it could lead to a blowout, in which case you might find yourself regretting not just going with the individual kayaks. Deep breaths!

How To Paddle A Tandem Kayak

So, how do you actually paddle a tandem kayak?

It’s a very different process to paddling in an individual kayak. The key is to paddle in unison, or as close to unison as possible.

This will provide the most power, and not only moves the kayak forward more quickly, but will also prevent your paddles from clashing. It’s all about practice, practice, practice.

If one of you is notably stronger than the other, they should go at the back of the kayak, so that the person at the front can dictate the pace. You can then adjust the pace of your own paddling to match the pace of theirs.

Most tandem kayaks have a rudder to assist with turning, but you shouldn’t be relying on this.

Have the paddler at the front of the kayak do a forward sweep to one side, while the paddler at the back takes a reverse sweep on the other side.

Conclusion: What Is A Tandem Kayak?

A tandem kayak is just another name for a two-person kayak, or a double kayak.

There are a number of benefits to using tandem kayaks instead of single kayaks; it can be a great bonding experience, they take up far less space than two single kayaks would, and it’s a good way for a beginner to learn the ropes.

The only real downsides are that they can be quite costly, and because such teamwork is required to achieve synchronization, they may result in arguments. Still, if you can get the teamwork down, they’re a lot of fun.

George Alexander
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