Tandem vs. Two Single Kayaks (Which is Better?)

Tandem Vs.Two Single Kayaks (Which is Better?)

You and your partner have finally decided to take the plunge and buy yourself a kayak or two to traverse the beautiful oceans, lakes, rivers, and streams this country has to offer, congratulations!

Now you need to answer one burning question: do you buy two single kayaks or a tandem kayak?

Not to worry, we are here to walk you through the considerations you need to make when choosing between a tandem kayak or two single kayaks.

Tandem Vs.Two Single Kayaks (Which is Better?)

While a tandem kayak is not necessarily better than two single kayaks and vice versa, both have their advantages over the other. It will be less expensive to purchase a singular tandem kayak, and they are also much more stable than their singular counterparts. However, two singular kayaks allow each user to go out on their own, and for one kayak to rescue the other in a capsize situation.

If you need help determining which option is best for you and your family, a tandem kayak or two single kayaks, keep on reading. We will walk you through the considerations you need to make and the advantages and disadvantages of both options.

Tandem Vs.Two Single Kayaks (Which is Better?)

Tandem Kayaking and Divorce

The first thing you need to consider when you are making the choice between a tandem kayak and two single kayaks is how simpatico you and your partner are. If you didn’t already know, tandem kayaks are often referred to as “divorce boats”.

While a tandem kayak can look like a great deal at first glance as they often cost about the same as a singular one-person kayak, be aware that this investment in you and your partner’s outdoor adventures could potentially lead to disaster.

Tandem kayaks are great for couples with similar build and strength who both have a laid-back attitude and work well together. One will not out-paddle the other, and they will be able to navigate difficult situations with ease. If this is the case for you and your partner, a tandem kayak can lead to plenty of fun adventures where you will feel closer and more bonded with one another.

However, if your relationship has any issues bubbling under the surface, they will absolutely show themselves when you begin paddling in tandem. You don’t want to be the couple that is constantly shouting and arguing with one another and constantly making left or right circles. That is an easy way to take a romantic and relaxing vacation in the outdoors and turn it into a necessary call to a relationship counselor.

Even if you and your partner are certain that a tandem kayak is for you, be aware that they are very wide and very heavy compared to a single kayak. It may be easier to maneuver and transport two singular, lighter-weight kayaks than it is with one tandem kayak.

If you do decide to buy a tandem kayak for yourself and your partner, it is best to choose one with moveable seats to make it a singular kayak. That way, if a disaster happens and your partner is incapacitated, or if they decide to leave the relationship, you can paddle the tandem kayak by yourself while you think about your life choices.

What’s Your Purpose?

Now that we have gotten the potential drama involved with a tandem kayak out of the way, the next step is to determine the purpose of your kayaking adventures if you are still considering purchasing a tandem kayak.

If buying a kayak or two is an effort to spend quality time together and strengthen the relationship and the communication skills between yourself and your partner, a tandem kayak could still be a great choice.

Even if there are relationship issues, tandem kayaking could be a good outlet for working out communication blocks that affect other parts of your relationship in adverse ways.

However, if you and your partner are more of the adventurous types and often enjoy many different outdoor activities with one another, you may enjoy developing your own kayaking styles individually and tackling more difficult waters, which you won’t be able to do in a tandem kayak the way you can with two singular kayaks.

If you and your partner will appreciate the freedom to explore on your own time during lengthy outdoor adventures, it may be better to go ahead and invest in two singular kayaks. That way, if one of you wants to stay behind and get breakfast and the campsite ready in the morning, the other is free to kayak around the area without needing an additional paddler.

Skill Level is Important

So, you’ve defined the purpose of your kayaking trips. Whether it is to bring you closer together or to have a grand adventure, it is important to consider the skill level of both yourself and your partner while deciding if you should buy a singular tandem kayak or two one-person kayaks.

If you are both beginners, or if one of you is a complete newbie, it could be better to get a tandem kayak. This will allow one of you to take a short break if you get tired of paddling, and you can both learn and perfect your paddling skills together as a team. Tandem kayaks are also very stable, so you won’t have to worry about tipping over as much when you are learning the basics.

If you both have experience in this regard, you will likely enjoy two single kayaks much more. You will be able to have a lot more speed and maneuverability and do more interesting things in your single kayaks than you could do in tandem.

Tandem Vs.Two Single Kayaks (Which is Better?)

The Pros and Cons of Tandem and Single Kayaks

You’ve visualized some of the scenarios you could find yourself in, and you’ve considered the purpose of your kayaking and the skill level both you and your partner bring to the table.

If you are still undecided on if buying a tandem or two single kayaks is the best choice for yourself and your partner, here is a final list of pros and cons of both options to help you make the right choice for your unique dynamic.

Tandem Kayaks


  • Great way to spend quality time with your partner
  • Can strengthen the bond between yourself and your partner
  • Can help you and your partner build better communication skills with one another
  • Are able to be engaged in conversation during your excursions
  • Paddling in sync can make long journeys go faster
  • One person is able to take breaks if needed
  • Save money on buying one tandem kayak versus two singular kayaks


  • Lack of freedom, if one person wants to go out by themselves, they will have a difficult time doing so in even a convertible tandem kayak as it is so much heavier
  • Both people will need to be game to go out at the same time
  • The blame game can be very common, where one person feels like the other is always doing the wrong thing and causing the issues
  • Less cargo space, even though a tandem kayak is bigger, when you add two people there will be less space for gear than if you had two singular kayaks
  • Very bad idea for fishing, you will probably end up hooking one another

Two Single-Person Kayaks


  • Freedom to go wherever you want whenever you want
  • Complete control over the kayak and yourself
  • Argument-free kayaking experience
  • Have the option to go out by yourself if your partner is unavailable
  • Lighter so each kayak is easier to load and unload than a tandem
  • Better for fishing
  • More room for gear and equipment
  • If one boat capsizes, the other kayak can serve as the rescue boat


  • If you have young children, there probably won’t be space for them in a singular kayak
  • You may lose an opportunity to bond and communicate with your partner
  • Will be more expensive to buy two kayaks as opposed to a singular tandem kayak

A Potential Solution: The Best of Both Worlds

If you are still struggling over the choice between a tandem kayak and two singular kayaks, there is one potential solution that could help alleviate the doubt you are experiencing. That solution is the convertible kayak.

While not all tandem kayaks are convertible, there are many options on the market these days that have moveable seats, allowing the kayak to be easily converted from a tandem to a singular kayak.

Some of these kayaks actually have a seat molded into the center of the kayak that can be used in such a scenario, or can even be a great spot for your child to sit while you and your partner paddle in-tandem.

If you are wanting to paddle both in tandem but also solo, this could be the perfect option for you without breaking the bank and needing to store a lot of kayaks at your home. These kayaks will have all the same advantages as a regular tandem kayak.

Some of those center molded seats can be a bit uncomfortable, so if you plan on using the kayak for solo paddling regularly and not just in a pinch, it will be better to spend a little more and get a tandem kayak with moveable seats that turn it into a solo kayak. For all of the advantages, these kayaks still have the same disadvantages as a standard tandem kayak, as well.

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Tandem Vs.Two Single Kayaks (Which is Better?)

Kern Campbell

Kern is a life long boater who finds great happiness sitting at the helm of a boat running on the open water. When he's not running the boat, he's likely anchored up along the beach with his wife, kids and good friends enjoying a great day at the coast.

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