When you’re buying a kayak, there are quite a few questions you’ll want answered before you pull the trigger. Do you go for a touring kayak? Do you get a fishing kayak? Or, do you get something that’s small and works very well in whitewater? The thing is, all of these questions are secondary. The main question you’ll want to be asking is whether you should get a single kayak, or a tandem one.
There are a few considerations that might tip the scales one way or the other, but if you think about it, a tandem kayak is a bit better in a few regards. So, if you’re considering which one to go for, why would you get a tandem kayak over a solo one? Let’s take a look at some of the differences.
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This is the first reason why you would want a tandem kayak over a solo one. Now sure, the first thing you’ll think of when buying a kayak, provided you’re buying it alone, is that you’re buying it for yourself. This is why you’ll primarily be looking at solo kayaks.
However, going out on the water alone will get boring eventually. You have nobody to talk to, for example, and this can be extremely boring if you’re out for four or five hours, fishing and waiting. This could be solved by finding someone to paddle with, but is that always an option?
If you already have a partner, or a good friend that would like to join you in your water adventures every once in a while, a tandem kayak will make things much easier. You can just grab them along and enjoy together – whether it’s for an hour-long trip, just for fun, or for a full day out on the water, fishing gear and all.
When you’re out on the water, there is always the possibility of something unexpected happening. Whether you’ll capsize, or the weather will turn bad, you could easily get in trouble. Things are even worse when you’re paddling in unexplored territory. Maybe you took your kayak along on a family trip and have nobody to take with you. A GPS navigation device might help, but your best bet is a person familiar with the terrain. If you don’t have one, someone who will keep you calm and help you make reasonable decisions to get yourself back to safety is also helpful.
Now, if you were to have a tandem kayak, you could easily take your friend, or your partner, along for the ride. If not, you could find someone from the locals that has experience and knows the waters you’d be paddling, so they can guide you and tell you whether there’s an unexpected problem you might not have foreseen.
Before we dive into this argument, we must mention that the same thing can be said for a large solo kayak. But if you’re getting a larger kayak anyways, might as well get one that fits two people, right? There’s also the fact that a single kayak is narrower than a double one, which also helps.
The fact that a wider kayak is more stable is simple physics. There’s a larger contact area with the water, meaning tipping over is much less likely to happen. Compared to a single kayak, you can easily have two people stand up in most tandem kayaks, without it tipping over, without issue. With a tandem kayak, the center of gravity behaves a bit different, too, and the fact that you have more gear in it weighing it down, helping with stability, is another benefit.
Let’s discuss speed for a minute. You might be thinking that a wider kayak is slower, and to some extent, you would be right. However, all of that is countered, and even improved upon, with the fact that a longer kayak is often more aerodynamic. The shape of the hull allows it to cut through the water more easily, with less resistance, resulting in more speed. The last argument we’d like to make when discussing the paddling ability is the tracking. A longer kayak will maintain direction much more easily. This is very welcome, especially with novice paddlers who are still getting used to things.
The last advantage that tandem kayaks have is all the room you’re getting. A single kayak can only have so much room, which might be problematic if you’re out on a multi-day trip, or you want an extended fishing trip. Packing your backpack and a few essentials is okay with any kayak, but if you want a couple of fishing rods, a sleeping bag and a tent, as well as food and drinks for a few days, you’ll have a lot of problems fitting all of that in a solo kayak.
Oh, and there’s one thing we didn’t mention. You could have all that room for yourself, and your gear, if you don’t have another person that wants to join you. But if you do have a pet, for example, why not take it along for the ride? All that extra room can comfortably seat your furry friend, and if they like water, they’ll have just as much fun as you, if not more.
A solo kayak might seem like a good option if you’re paddling alone. However, when you take into consideration all of the advantages you have if you get a tandem kayak, justifying a solo one becomes increasingly difficult. If you’re looking at one kayak to do everything for you, from a quick solo trip out, to a multi-day trip with your significant other, a tandem kayak is the way to go.
Andrew is a seasoned kayaker with 15 years of experience under his belt. He began kayaking as a way to reduce work stress but quickly became an avid kayak fisher and lure expert. He currently enjoys both lake and ocean kayaking and loves to write and share his experiences.