The Best Tandem Kayaks for Families 2023 (Safe & Fun Kayaks)

Best tandem Kayaks for the Lake

If you are looking for safe and fun Tandem Kayaks for your family to enjoy on the lake, you will find it here. The key is to find the best tandem kayak for you and your family for lake adventures.

When we first moved to our lake house, I knew nothing about Kayaks. If you are like I was, this 5 minute video is a perfect crash course and will help you understand some of the things we considered when putting together or list of the Top 5 Lake Kayaks for families that are fun and safe.

Different kayaks have different uses, we were not looking for a Kayak to take on a white water adventure, and if you are reading this review, you probably aren’t either. There are so many choices for Kayaks today it can become confusing and overwhelming quickly if you let it. Besides making sure that you buy the right type of kayak for lake activities, it should also have convenient features to keep everyone safe and comfortable throughout the day. When investing in a kayak for the lake you’ll want to pay special attention to the stability, ease of use, comfort, portability and over all safety features.  Honestly my main concern was a Kayak that wouldn’t easily tip over and one that was easy to turn and steer.

We’ve compiled what we believe to be the 5 best lake tandem kayaks

We’ve compiled what we believe to be the 5 best lake tandem kayaks you can own today and a few of the most frequently asked kayaking questions many of friends have asked us before buying their kayaks. We understand that families come in different sizes, and have different needs and budgets depending on a multitude of circumstances. We tried our best to look at this from every perspective we could before making our Top 5 Tandem Kayak recommendations. We also cover the various types of kayak.

Key Factors in Choosing a tandem Kayak for the lake

Length – generally the longer the kayak, the faster it will travel

Width – the wider the kayak, the more stable it will be

Capacity – total loading capacity of the kayak. This includes people as well as everything that you pack

Weight – weight of the kayak unladen. That is without any accessories or extras

Seats – 1, 2 or 2+1 (2 adults and 1 child) are the most popular sizes

Sit-it or Sit-on-top – Sit-on-top kayaks are generally best for most people. They are safe, easy to use and provide space.

Features – seats, storage, fishing rod holders, bungee cords are just a few features to consider

#1 Pick for Lake Tandem Kayaks for the Family

Let’s get right to it, this is our #1 pick for Lake Kayaks for families

Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Sit-On-Top Recreational Kayak 


The Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Kayak specs say it can hold up to 375  pounds, and has plenty of room as far as Kayaks go. We have had no problem paddling around our lake with this Kayak with two adults and a child. Yes, this is a 2+1 kayak (2 adults and 1 child). With three positions,  the Malibu can be used by one, two, or three people at the same time. Overlapping molded-in foot wells allow everyone to use the kayak in comfort and safety. The two comfort-plus seats, molded-in handles, and side carry handles provide extra comfort and options. which makes it even more comfortable for short legged adults like me.

I think think the design is gorgeous. The hull and deck of the Ocean Kayak 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem Kayak are designed for easy stacking, for compact storage and transportation if you need more than one for a growing family.

Reviewers say It is more stable and versatile than other sit-on-top kayaks and honestly as a parent, that was what I was looking for, something stable and easy to control. The Malibu features bow and stern carry handles, gear straps, and a skid plate so everything stays easy, safe, and secure. Ocean Kayaks are known for their durability, and the 12-Feet Malibu Two Tandem will last your family for years with proper care.


  • 12 ft is the perfect size and balance between stability, speed and ability to transport
  • ​Plenty of room for two adults and a child or pet
  • Hull design allows for easy stacking
  • Has bow and stern carry handles, gear straps, and a skid plate
    Excellent handling and stability
  • ​Innovative overlapping foot wells provide good stability and leg room
  • Made in the USA


  • ​At 62 pounds, it is a little heavy to transport and will generally require 2 people and the carry handles at each end help. 62 pounds isn’t terrible, but other kayaks are lighter (and less stable).
  • Note this video is about the Malibu Two XL. It is basically the larger version of the Malibu Two. We prefer the Malibu Two due to its smaller size and ease of transporting it to the lake.

#2 Pick for Lake Tandem Kayaks for the Family - best Inflatable Family Kayak

This is a beast of a kayak and extremely popular with those on long road trips.These are lightweight, easy to pack and handle and yet very stable and puncture resistant. They are also surprisingly easy to inflate with the pump.

Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak



This tandem kayak has a capacity of up to 550 pounds. It collapses down into a bag for the most convenient portability possible, while inflated, the built-in aluminum ribs define the bow and stern for improved tracking. If you will be transporting your Kayak to the lake or river, this may be your best choice. Three layers of material provide sturdy puncture resistance for safety, and it has three paddle positions for both solo or tandem kayaking.

When folded, the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak weighs 52 pounds and is just 35 x 21 x 12 inches. It is pre-assembled, so you just unfold it, inflate it, and attach the supportive, adjustable padded seats. It has an integrated pressure relief valve, molded low-profile rubber handles, reinforced seams in rip-stop fabric, a skeg tracking fin, and six chambers. D-ring tie-downs and deck lacing provide easy options for gear and transporting the kayak.

For an additional purchase, you can take advantage of AdvancedFrame’s different deck configurations and make the most of this convertible kayak, so you can have the open, closed, or tandem decks that suit you best. This is quality constructed Kayak and one my step-son uses when he travels to different lakes with his buddies.


  • Lightweight and portable
  • Three seat configurations
  • Seat backs are comfortable and adjustable
  • Holds up to 550 pounds


  • Does take time to deflate, clean, and dry out for packing away
  • Not quite as stable as a traditional kayak in rough waters

#3 Pick for best tandem Kayaks for the lake - Cheapest Inflatable Family Kayak

This is an amazing value for money inflatable kayak that has outstanding reviews. It comes complete with paddles, pump

Sea Eagle 370 Inflatable Sport Kayak


The Sea Eagle is another quality inflatable kayak and a great option for anyone who loves to kayak, but doesn’t have the space to store a solid frame kayak. Even though this kayak can easily hold multiple people, it only weighs 33 pounds, which makes it perfect for a single person to handle on their own without much difficulty. We actually have a family that lives on our lake that keep 5 of these Sea Eagle Kayaks tied up at their doc, one for each member of the family. Noting that this kayak is a 2 +1, meaning it can hold 2 adults and 1 child.

This kayak comes as part of a set, which is great for anyone who doesn’t have kayaking accessories you get everything you need to start enjoying your lake, righ out of the box. It ships with two paddles, two removable seats, a carry bag, and a foot pump. Thanks to the five valves designed for both inflation and deflation, the foot pump can easily pump up this kayak in a short period of time, allowing you to get out on the water as fast as possible.

The hull is designed to resist the corrosive effects for those that may be using it in saltwater, which makes this a great kayak not only for use in rivers and lakes, but also out on the ocean. The hull is made from PolyKrylar, which can also resist puncture and damage from dogs getting in and out of the boat. Kayakers can finally bring pets along with them without being concerned about nails puncturing the hull.

The grab line on the bow and stern makes it easy for a single person to control the kayak and get it in and out of the lake. Additionally, it boasts a self-bailing drain valve, making it easy to keep water out of the kayak in choppy or rough conditions if using this kayak on a river.


  • 650-pound capacity is great for taking up to three people out at a time
  • The two skegs on the bottom ensure great speed and tracking
  • Great value for money


  • Does take time to deflate, clean, and dry out for packing away
  • Not quite as stable as a traditional kayak in rough waters

#4 Pick for Lake tandem Kayaks for Family - Larger Kayak for touring- 13ft.

A quality Canadian made tandem kayak. This kayak will last and provide many years of lake fun. It is a solid, fast and stable kayak.

Pelican - River Gorge 130X Tandem Kayak


One of the main benefits you may want to choose this durable kayak is its ability to coverage larger distances with ease. At 13ft, and with a width of 34in, this kayak provides a great balance between stability and speed for long distance paddling. The aerodynamic design of the kayak, it easily tracks through the water & can be paddled quickly, allowing for a lot of speed in the water if that is what you are looking for.

It’s much more rigid than other kayaks on we have tested, but the seats still offer good comfort. The hull is stable so the kayak doesn’t feel flimsy or like it will tip, Nothing worse than a flimsy Kayak. This is a responsive kayak that is easy to maneuver through tight spaces, despite its length. This makes it a popular choice for recreational water users. 

The 500-pound load capacity means that it can carry two adults with plenty of gear with them without worrying too much about the weight limit. The storage spaces are great for kayakers who want a little extra freedom and movement when on the water, which who doesn’t, right?

The twin-arched hull design offers excellent stability and control. The hull is also designed with safety in mind and includes extra flotation mass inside the hull. 


  • Comfortable seat for long distance touring
  • Lightweight at 73 lbs for a 13ft kayak
  • 2 x drink holders and great storage


  • Length and weight could be a issue for getting this kayak to and from the lake

#5 Pick for best Lake tandem Kayaks for Family - Sit in kayak

To round out our top 5 tandem kayaks, we have selected out favourite “sit in” kayak. Sit In kayaks have the advantage of weather protection and keeping dryer. They also have some challenges such as getting in and out and knowing how to flip them back over should they flip.

Wilderness Systems Pamlico 135


This is the undisputed champion of tandem sit-in kayaks in our opinion! It is a top seller and offer great performance for tandem paddlers. 

Much research has gone into this USA made kayak. It features a rounded hull that provides great acceleration and the ability to maintain a good speed for covering longer distances.

What we also love about this kayak is that it converts easily into a single kayak. As a single kayak, it is also very quick and easy to control.

The seating is comfortable and adjustable, while the cockpit provides a level of protection from the weather. That makes this a great choice in cooler conditions.

 At 500lbs capacity, this is a sturdy and reliable tandem kayak.



  • Protection from wind and less likely to get wet given the sit-in cockpit
  • Good acceleration, speed and trackability
  • Comfortable for long distance kayaking


  • Harder to get in and out of compared to a sit-in kayak
  • Must learn how to flip the kayak back the right way
  • Length and weight could be a issue for getting this kayak to and from the lake

Frequently Asked Questions for tandem kayaks

Even if you don’t live on a lake with a dock. More and more families are developing the desire to load up your kayaks and spend the day at your favorite watering hole with friends and family.  As kayaking takes off as one of the more popular outdoor activities, many families are taking on this adventure. Kayaks can be seen in the different bodies of water in communities all around the world, whether they are taking an afternoon stroll at the lake house or paddling on the rougher waters downstream. Local and state parks are often renting out kayak tours for locals and visitors to introduce them to the watercraft and the benefit it provides on the water. The popularity of Kayaking is at an all time high.

Because of this excessive presence in society, many families have decided to seek out their own kayaks for their fresh and saltwater adventures. These adventures create a bonding experience between those taking on the water and a quality workout for all skill levels. Kayaks come in a variety of sizes and features, and i when choosing a family kayak, it is important to know exactly what you are looking for and your goals on the water. 

What Are The Most Common Types Of Kayaks?

A kayak can be used for a number of different reasons. Whether just for a leisurely ride on the river, sport racing, or tackling rapids, the design of the kayak is critical to how it will function in the water.

  • Whitewater Kayaks
  • Touring Kayaks
  • Recreational Kayaks

For families that are just getting started in kayaking, and taking things at a beginner level, recreational kayaks are the most recommended options on the market today. These kayaks are designed to assist those who are learning to maneuver this type of watercraft.

The touring kayaks are designed for the longer trips where kayakers will engage the wilderness for several hours or days at a time, usually on river tours. For those who like to tour and cover large distanceson the water, this may be the right kayak to consider. 

The whitewater kayaks are often reserved for those who are the most experienced on the water. These kayaks have a design that allows kayakers to manipulate the vessel to fit their direction on both rough and calm waters. Most lakes don’t have rapids and whitewater!

Why Do Kayaks Have Different Designs?

The answer is specifically based upon the experience of the kayaker, and where they’ll be kayaking. For example, the design of the whitewater kayaks is not appropriate for a wilderness tour. The whitewater kayak is not designed to stay in a straight line like touring kayaks. When a kayak is longer in design, it is meant to be directed in a straight line consistently, which aligns with the purpose of the touring kayak. These kayaks are also much harder to turn, so taking them on a rapids adventure may prove to be very difficult, unpleasant and actually dangerous.

The length and width of a kayak is important for the kayaker. For those who are newbies, the longer  the kayak, the easier they are to paddle and can reach your destination faster, as they pick up speed traveling in a straight line. The wider the kayak, the generally more stable that they are. They are also able to carry more equipment. Those who enjoy fishing while on their kayaks tend to favor those with longer, wider designs due to their performance, balance, and stability in the calming waters, which is helpful when fishing from a Kayak.

The wider the kayak is, the easier it is to turn on the water with stability. However, they are harder to keep in a straight line, requiring more paddling from the kayaker.

Should I Purchase Solo or Tandem Kayaks?

A solo kayak includes room for one person, while a tandem can either hold two adults. Some of the tandem kayaks are actually 2+1 kayaks, meaning 2 adults a 1 child or animal. Families often migrate immediately to the tandem option as a way to kayak with their spouse or children. Most families we talk with who don’t initially invest in a Tandem Kayak, wish they had. It is important to remember that even as a family, a tandem kayak is much longer than a solo kayak, so it can be more difficult to turn and maneuver. Should the tandem kayak be used for an adult and two children, the adult should be physically able to paddle more profusely in tandem than in a solo kayak as it will require constant paddling. 

Solo kayaks are much easier to paddle and manage on the water, so some families find themselves purchasing several solo kayaks for their family. For families that are just beginning, solo kayaks are a good option. They allow you and your spouse to learn the basics of paddling, as well as build your stamina for the sport. In our lake community we have many families that opted for solo kayaks for each member of the family while others opt for tandems! It is a personal decision.

Is There A Size Difference In Kayaks?

Kayak come in both youth and adult sizes ranging from about eight feet to sixteen feet long. Most Kayaks are adult sized.

Before your family makes the investment in a kayak or kayaks, make sure that you are choosing the appropriate size kayak for your planned excursions. Once you have decided on solo, tandem, or both, depending on the size of your family, you should make sure you are comfortable while riding and steering. Kayaks come in both youth and adult sizes, and depending on the type of kayak & materials it is manufactured with, the weight limits can vary and should be considered prior to purchasing. These sizes only have limited amount of space equipment and the kayaker, so it is important to purchase them with gear and body that will be in the drivers seat, in mind. We think around 12-13ft for tandem is the sweet spot.

Final Thoughts on the Best tandem Kayaks for Families

When kayaking with kids and pets, safety is the most important thing. For that reason, our No. 1 recommendation for those with small children and young pets is the Ocean Kayak Malibu Tandem.  It has a good weight rating, excellent handling, and is perfect for two adults and a child or a pet, even if you’re looking to go ocean kayaking and handle some waves. Kayaking is a spectacular family-friendly activity, whether it’s just exploring and playing, or fishing and relaxing, and these kayaks are a great way to do it together safely. As previously shared The Ocean Malibu Kayak is our number one choice.

Inflatable kayaks are another option if you don’t live on the lake and don’t have the means to easily transport a large kayak. The quality brands are actually easy to inflate and also very puncture resistant.