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Tandem Kayaking

Full Guide to Tandem Kayaking

Published September 13, 2022

Tandem kayaking is one of the most exciting activities you can do on the water with your friends or family. It combines a lot of fun and adventure with a feeling of freedom and relaxation only when you paddle with your favorite person. But before you do anything else: let me teach you how you can tandem kayak properly. If you have never done tandem kayaking, this guide will be very helpful for you.

Here I will teach you how to use a tandem kayak perfectly, what things you should consider before you do it and how to get started on your tandem kayaking adventure.

So, let’s get started.

Tandem Kayaking Full Guide: Summary

What is Tandem Kayaking?

tandem kayaking full guide to tandem kayaking safely

Tandem kayaking is the act of two people paddling a kayak together, one person in front and one in the back. The two people can move as a unit or make turns and adjustments together.

You should consider kayaking tandem because you can experience the sport with someone else: that’s an incredible feeling! It’s also a great way to overcome fears about being alone on the water.

Tandem Kayaking is a fun and exciting way to get out on the water with your friends and family, but it can also be a great way to get fit. It can be done anywhere from rivers and lakes to open ocean waters.

How to Paddle a Tandem Kayak?

Paddling a tandem kayak for the first time can be a little intimidating, especially if you’ve never tried it. But don’t worry! I’m here to help.

Enter into a Tandem Kayak:

To enter into a tandem kayak, your partner will have to stable the kayak for you. They can do this with the help of their feet or hands, and you will have to enter into your tandem kayak by walking through the middle of your kayak.

This may be a little tricky, but it will become easier once you get used to it. Once inside, sit in the seat, whether the front or back of the kayak and tighten your straps (if any). You can adjust these straps to fit comfortably around your waist and thighs.

Now that you’re in your tandem kayak, it’s time to get out on the water. You should always wear a life vest when paddling on open water.

Remember the Role of Bow and Stern Rider:

In a tandem kayak, the bowrider is responsible for steering and paddling. The rough rider is responsible for using their weight to help balance the boat. So, remember this role and keep it in mind while you’re paddling.

If you’re the bowrider, keep your head up and look ahead to where you want to go. If there’s a current or wind, use them for added speed and direction. And if you are a rough rider, keep your head down and watch the water. If you see a large wave coming at you, use that motion to help you paddle faster.

Try to Paddle Stroke Vertically:

When paddling, try to keep your body as vertical as possible. This will help balance the boat and keep it going straight. If you’re a bowrider, make sure not to lean too far forward, or the kayak will tip over.

Besides, If you’re paddling vertically, it will be easier on your shoulders and back. Instead of making wide circles with your arms, keep them straight as they go through the water. This will also help you go faster because there’s less resistance against the wind or current.

Start with Shorter Strokes:

When starting, try to make shorter strokes. This will help you get used to the motion of paddling and allow you to go faster with less effort. As you get better at it, gradually increase your stroke length until you’re comfortable with long, powerful strokes that quickly move the kayak through the water.

This technique will also help you learn tandem kayaking and help you get a feel for the motion while also allowing you to focus on balance. Once you have mastered this technique, move on to longer strokes to cover more ground.

Communicate with your partner only by turning your head to the side:

Don’t talk by turning your whole body towards the rough rider while paddling. It takes too much effort, and it’s not necessary. Instead, try communicating with your partner by turning your head to the side and looking at the surrounding. This will help keep you focused on your surroundings and ensure you aren’t taking an unnecessary risk by speaking out loud.

Besides, turning your whole body increases the risk of making your kayak unstable due to the extra weight. That’s why try communicating with your partner only by turning your head to the side.

So, this is how you can paddle a tandem kayak.

If you are starting tandem kayaking, you should have a high-quality kayak that can support your weight and that of your partner. The best way to find a quality tandem kayak is by doing some research online and reading reviews from other people that have tried out different kayaks. This will help you narrow down your search for the perfect tandem kayak.

To help you, I’m also going to share my review of the 3 best-rated safe tandem kayaks that you can consider buying in 2022.

So, let’s have a quick look.

3 Best Rated Safe Tandem Kayaks

Following are the 3 best-rated safe tandem kayaks that I have used in the past and loved their performance and durability:

BKC TK219 Tandem Kayak

90+ Reviews

The BKC TK219 Tandem Kayak is perfect for two anglers who want to go kayaking together, and it comes with a ton of great features. This kayak has two seats, so sharing the fun is easy. The seats are padded, so you’ll be comfortable no matter how long your day on the water lasts.

In addition to being comfortable, this kayak is also lightweight and portable. It weighs only 68 pounds, making it easy to transport from place to place without worrying about your gear weighing too much or causing problems when transporting it.


Size: 12′ 6″ X 34″

Type: Hard Shell Kayak

Material: Polyethylene

Weight Capacity: 595 lbs

Weight: 68 lbs

Detailed Review

The BKC TK219 Tandem Kayak is a beautiful, lightweight and simple kayak that can be used for fishing or just having fun on the lake. It has a durable and comfortable plastic hull designed to give you the right balance of speed and stability in the water.

It has a spacious cockpit that allows you to carry up to two people comfortably. The cockpit also includes two storage areas for your gear and life jackets.

This kayak is easy to paddle because it has a shallow draught, and it’s built with a solid hull, making it very stable in the water. The design of this kayak makes it ideal for fishing as it provides adequate space for your tackle box, which means no more searching around trying to find room for everything!


  • It is a very stable and durable kayak. You can take it with you on camping trips, and it won’t break or crack.
  • It’s lightweight and easy to carry around.
  • It has two seats, so you can easily take your partner with you if they are willing to enjoy their day on the water.
  • The seats are very comfortable, and they provide good back support.
  • You don’t have to worry about your items getting wet because the kayak has a large storage area.


  • Not very fast, not good for racing or white-water rafting


This is a great kayak for beginners and those who want to enjoy their time on the water without going too far. You don’t have to worry about getting wet or tipping over because this kayak is very stable. It’s also very affordable, so it’s perfect for those looking for something that won’t break the bank.

Perception Rambler 13.5 Tandem Kayak

130+ Reviews

The Perception Rambler 13.5 is a recreational kayak perfect for two people. The included storage with tie-downs makes it easy to transport, and the sit-on-top design allows you to get in and out of the water easily. This kayak is also made with durable polyethylene to enjoy the water without worrying about damage or wear and tear.

With its Sit on Top design, Revelation 13.5 offers a stable ride in all conditions. And with its large storage compartment and lightweight aluminum construction, it’s easy to transport and store when not in use.


Size: 162″ x 34″

Type: Hard Shell Kayak

Material: Polyethylene

Weight Capacity: 550 lbs

Weight: 78 lbs

Detailed Review

The Perception Rambler 13.5 Tandem Kayak is a great choice for people looking for an affordable, high-quality boat. It’s built with the buyer’s needs in mind, so you can rest assured that it will meet your expectations.

It is made from polyethylene, which allows it to be lightweight and durable simultaneously. The polyethylene is also resistant to impact damage, so you don’t have to worry about getting scratches or dents on your boat if you use proper care and handling when transporting it from one place to another.

The seating system on this kayak is comfortable and durable, with a backrest that can be adjusted according to your size preferences. Two cup holders in the front of the boat are designed so they won’t spill if they’re knocked over by accident—which isn’t something many other boats offer these days!

This kayak is easy to maneuver because of its wide stance and shallow hull profile, which makes it ideal for beginners who are just getting started with recreational boating or fishing trips down at their local lakes or rivers.


  • It is a very stable and durable kayak.
  • It has a high quality, lightweight, and durable construction.
  • It has plenty of storage space for gear, food, and water.
  • The seats are comfortable and adjustable, which allows you to fit in all types of people.
  • It has an adjustable foot brace system that makes it easy to get in and out of the kayak easily.


  • The seat back is not padded, which can cause discomfort after prolonged use.


The Perception Rambler 13.5 is an affordable kayak that will provide you with many years of fun on the water. It’s a great option for beginners because it is stable, durable, and easy to maintain.

Driftsun Teton 120 Recreational Tandem Kayak

30+ Reviews

The Driftsun Teton 120 Recreational Tandem Kayak is a great way to get out on the water with friends and family. This sit-on-top kayak is made of hard shell material, durable and lightweight. The two-person package includes two padded seats, an aluminum paddle, fishing rod holder mounts, and a carrying bag with a shoulder strap.

It is made of Polyethylene and has an aluminum extrusion for increased durability. The hard shell construction makes this kayak extra durable, so you can enjoy your recreation time on the water without worrying about it breaking.


Size: 12.2′ ft x 32″ in

Type: Hard Shell Kayak

Material: UV Resistant Rotomolded Polyethylene

Weight Capacity: 500 lbs

Weight: 72 lbs

Detailed Review

The Driftsun Teton 120 Recreational Tandem Kayak is a great tandem that can handle the majority of recreational paddling. It has a pretty flat profile with a broad hull, making it easy to maneuver and comfortable for two people to sit in. The seat is adjustable, and the cockpit is spacious enough for two people to carry on their laps comfortably.

This kayak has an adjustable foot brace that allows you to customize the stiffness of your seat, but it’s not as easy to adjust as some models. Overall, it’s a great kayak. However, if you’re looking for something simple and lightweight, this kayak fits the bill!

The Teton 120 has nice features like a waterproof cover over the cockpit and side pockets that are big enough to store things like wet suits or life jackets without taking up too much space in your boat bag.


  • This kayak is very stable and easy to paddle.
  • The hull is made from polyethylene, making it durable and long-lasting.
  • It has an adjustable seat and footrests, so you can customize your position to fit you.
  • The cockpit is easy to enter and exit, so you never have to worry about getting stuck.


  • A little narrow for some people and hard to get in and out of the kayak (but that’s just me).


Overall, this is a great kayak for beginners. It’s stable and easy to paddle, making it perfect for those new to kayaking or who want something that doesn’t take much effort.

Tandem Kayaking: FAQs

Where should the stronger paddler sit in a Tandem kayak?

If you are a stronger and more experienced kayaker, you should sit in the stern of your tandem kayak because you will be able to give your partner more support. If you are a beginner, however, you should sit in the bow because it is easier to learn how to paddle from the front.

Can you solo paddle a tandem kayak?

Yes, you can. You will need to be able to paddle both ends simultaneously, though, so if you are a beginner, then it is probably best not to try it until you have experience with solo kayaking.

Where should the heavier person sit in a tandem kayak?

The heavier person should sit in the stern. This will allow you to use your weight to help paddle and steer so that you can go faster. If you are both of similar weights, it does not matter which one of you sits where.

Who steers in a tandem kayak?

The person sitting in the stern is usually responsible for steering a tandem kayak. This means they will use their weight and paddle to steer the boat. The person sitting at the bow should assist by paddling in a direction that helps move the boat forward and turn.

Who should sit in the back of a tandem kayak?

The person in the back of a tandem kayak should be experienced. They must use their weight and paddle to help steer the boat. They must also have good balance, so they do not tip over or get knocked around by waves.


So this is how you can paddle a tandem kayak and enjoy a tandem kayaking experience if you have never tried it. Tandem Kayaking seems like a difficult task, but you can easily learn to paddle a tandem kayak after a few attempts. It is also important not to forget your safety gear, like a life jacket or PFD, because it will make your experience even more enjoyable.

Jay Schwartz author of Kayak Guidance

About the Author - Jay Schwartz:

Hey there kayak lovers! I’m Jay Schwartz, the author here at Kayak Guidance! You know water sports – you know me! My life is all about it. Kayaking, Paddleboarding, Fishing, Snorkeling and so much more. I love to share my passion and knowledge with all of you. 

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