Best Tandem Kayak Under $500
A tandem kayak will help you save money, foster teamwork with a friend or loved one, and paddle even more efficiently.
If you want to get into kayaking, or if you’re a beginner kayaker looking to get your loved one into it too, a tandem kayak might be right for you. Tandem kayaks, which are also often referred to as only “tandems”, do offer you a number of benefits. For example, with a partner, you simply paddle much more efficiently. Then, buying a tandem kayak often tends to be a lot cheaper and more affordable than getting two single kayaks would ever be. But of course, no matter the model of kayak you purchase, tandems will still have their disadvantages. Thus, it becomes even more important to find the right tandem kayak under in order to get the best value out of the money you spend.
In today’s article, we have put together a few suggestions of kayaks that you can look at under the price of five hundred dollars. We’ve also ensured that we’ve reviewed each of these recommendations in great detail so that you can see whether they’re a fit for you or not. On top of that we’ve also put together a buying guide just to make it easier for you to find your own kayak (just in case none of the recommendations interest you).
Let’s get started, shall we?
Quick comparison table
1. Explorer K2 by Intex
The first kayak on our list is this one by the brand Intex. It’s an inflatable type, which offers a ton of benefits to you. The first and most important one is that it’s incredibly, insanely affordable. If you’re only just getting started with the adventure of kayaking, the K2 is actually one of the best ways to do it – and you can even do it with a friend or a loved one! This kayak is so affordable that it significantly lowers the barrier of entry into this hobby. And to be quite honest, in terms of quality, it’s not at all bad either.
- Comfortable for Anyone: Kayak Includes an Adjustable Inflatable Seat With Backrest; Cockpit Designed for Comfort and Space
- Dimensions: Inflated Size 10 Feet 3 X 3 Feet X 1 Feet 8 Inch; Maximum Weight Capacity: 400 Pounds
Being inflatable, the K2 offers you the benefit of unparalleled portability. It’s rather compact, which makes it easy for you to fold up and put away where necessary. Deflate it and you can easily put it away in the trunk or your car. It’ll also easily fit in a box in your garage if you need to store it for some time. Try doing that with a rigid type kayak. It’s impossible – you would need to have a roof rack for that situation!
The Explorer K2 by Intex at a Glance:
- Skeg is removable
- Floor has increased rigidity thanks to the I-Beam technology
- Seats 2, thanks to the inflatable seats
- Seats have backrests
- Can carry maximum 400lbs
- Has two paddles
Unfortunately, the K2 by Intex still does suffer from the pitfalls that inflatable kayaks seem to have. For example, the shape of these kayaks can cause them to be pretty squirrelly when in the water, resulting in some unwanted zigzagging. However, in order to correct this, Intex has included a removable skeg in order to help you keep this boat going (tracking) straight. It’s still not going to be as good as your run of the mill rigid kayak, but for its price? Sign us right up.
- Incredibly affordable
- Light and portable
- Compact and easier to put away
- 2 seats with backrests
- Doesn’t handle as well as a rigid kayak might
2. 10 ft Manta by Lifetime
The 10 ft Manta by the company Lifetime sits on the upper end of the price range, but it still manages to slide just below five hundred dollars. The price is completely understandable, however, once you take a closer look at the boat and see its features.
- Designed for single or tandem use; 500 Lb. weight capacity
- Includes 2 soft backrests and 2 double sided paddles. UV-Protected Linear Low-Density Polyethylene (LLDPE) Rotational Molded Construction
Lifetime’s 10 ft Manta is a single-person kayak by design. However, it’s quite versatile – it can hold two, even three people comfortably. In fact, the Manta was designed to be convertible for exactly this purpose. And, despite the fact that it only weighs a total of 60 pounds, it can carry significantly more weight than other kayaks on this list. It has a maximum capacity of 500 pounds, whereas other kayaks on this list carry around +/- 400 pounds maximum.
This boat comes with two paddles for your convenience – two for a single person to row with, or one each for two boaters to use in cooperation.
If you intend to use the Manta for fishing, you’ll surely enjoy knowing that this boat has a cargo area for all your stuff. You can put your fishing gear there, but you can also put other items such as your beer or your food. There are two seats and two backrests that give you the maximum comfort possible. And, the hull is designed kind of like a tunnel in order to give you better stability and maneuverability. It’s also exactly this hull design that is responsible for the Manta being hard to tip over. Plus, the seats are also placed pretty high above the boat’s floor, which makes it possible for you to stay mostly dry.
10 ft Manta by Lifetime at a Glance
- Great for solo kayaking, but can easily accommodate up to three people
- Lightweight, but has a maximum capacity of 500 lbs
- 2 paddles included
- 2 backrests included
- Designed for stability and maneuverability
The best part about the Manta is the fact that it is incredibly durable. On top of that, a 5-year warranty is offered by the company. And so, if you are looking for a kayak to use while surfing, fishing, and/or sailing, this one is a fantastic choice indeed.
- Plenty of features that make it great for both solo and tandem kayaking
- Cargo area, paddle cradles, rod holders for fishing
- Bottle holder and shock cord strapping
- Overlapping footwells for more comfort
- Very stable
- A bit heavy to carry if only one person is using
3. Inflatable Tandem Kayak with Hand Pump (High-Powered) by NumiTerra
This kayak is being sold by the company NumiTerra, though the actual brand of the boat is not specified. It may be a bit of a risk purchasing this product as there is also not much to be found about it online. However, for the price tag, you can’t really go wrong. Plus, on top of that, the company has included a money-back guarantee just in case your kayak falls apart on you at an unfortunate time. With all of that said, here are some of the features of this boat.
- COMFORTABLE FOR ANYONE - Our 2 person inflatable kayak includes two adjustable inflatable seats with backrest; Cockpit designed for comfort and space!
- DESIGNED FOR SAFETY - Our kayak has three blowholes that are independent of each other. Even if one blowhole is damaged the other two can work as usual, reducing the risk of accidents and making this canoe great for the kids as well as adults.
As an inflatable kayak, this is quite a lot more convenient than other rigid kayaks. It’s easier to inflate, as it includes a highly powered hand-pump to use. On top of that, it’s got two adjustable inflatable seats for both convenience and comfort. The boat also has a cargo netting for keeping your things secured. One of the best things about this kayak is the fact that it’s incredibly portable. Weighing in at only 24 and a half pounds, this boat can be easily carried by only one person if need be. But despite how light this boat is, it is pretty sturdy, capable of holding 400 pounds at maximum capacity.
Inflatable Tandem Kayak with Hand Pump (High-Powered) by NumiTerra at a Glance
- Designed to be safe to use
- Comfortable for most everyone, has 2 inflatable seats (adjustable) that have backrests
- Convenient to use includes hand pump for quick inflation
- Has elastic safety ropes for easy towing
- Baggage netting allows extra storage
- Money-back guarantee included
If you’re worried about safety, feel safe in the knowledge that this boat was designed for it. The kayak comes with three different blowholes which are all independent. So if one of the blowholes is damaged, the other two of them will still be able to work perfectly. This reduces the risk that accidents might happen, and also makes it a canoe that works great for adults and kids alike.
- Incredibly affordable
- Two seats, inflatable backrests
- Very light and portable
- Hand pump included
- Cargo netting
- Not much is known about the brand or manufacturing process, so buy at your own risk (though know that there is a money-back guarantee in place)
4. Excursion Pro Tandem Kayak by Intex
Intex is a brand pretty famous for its inflatable products such as pools and now, boats too. The fact is, we figured it would be a good idea to include the first boat above, and now it’s important to include two. The excursion Pro is slightly more expensive than the K2 we have mentioned above, but it’s actually well worth the price and here you are about to see why.
- Super tough laminate PVC with polyester core: light weight and highly resistant to damage from abrasion, impact and sunlight
- High pressure inflation provides extra rigidity and stability, with high pressure spring loaded valves for easy inflation and fast deflation
Excursion Pro is made out of laminated PVC. But, it’s not just any PVC – it’s super tough super-durable laminated PVC. It’s incredibly lightweight, but it’s also very resistant to abrasion damage, to impact damage, and to sunlight damage. This boat makes use of high pressured inflation which provides it with extra stability and rigidity. Naturally, this translates into better control when you’re out on the water. For quick inflation and easy deflation, this boat makes use of spring-loaded high-pressure valves.
Excursion Pro Tandem Kayak by Intex at a Glance
- Inflatable, incredibly convenient
- Makes use of durable laminate PVC and a polyester core
- Inflated with high pressure, which means more stability and rigidity
- Easy to inflate, quick to deflate
- Adjustable seats
- Holders for fishing rods
2 skews that are removable are included for both shallow and deep water. There are also 2 footrests that are floor mounted, 2 fishing rod (recessed) holders, and 2 bucket seats that are adjustable. If you want to use your other accessories, you might enjoy the fact that this boat has a removable adjustable bracket on to which you can mount them.
Finally, if storage space is your concern know that there is ample space provided in both the stern and the bow. There are D rings made of stainless steel with which you can tie down your gear and your dry bags. All in all the maximum capacity of this kayak is 400 pounds, enough for 2 adults or an adult and a child.
- Incredibly affordable
- Very versatile and adjustable
- Loaded with features
- Lightweight and easily portable
- Stable in the water
- Not ideal for rough waters
Your Buying Guide For The Tandem Kayak
We’ve gone through each of our recommendations above. Every detail was looked at with a fine-toothed comb, and we’ve also made sure to review them all including the pros and cons. But what if you still don’t know which to pick? And what if none of the options on the list strike your fancy at all? Well, don’t worry – we’ve still got your back on that one. In today’s buying guide, we’re going to help you figure out what you need to look for in a tandem kayak. Here are the things you need to consider!
Tandem Kayak or Single Kayak?
One of the first things you probably want to ask yourself is if you really need a tandem kayak. They do have their advantages, but on the flip side, they also have their downsides. Let’s take a quick look at them:
- Usually, a tandem is much cheaper than buying two separate kayaks
- Having two people paddling one kayak is more efficient
- You or your partner can take breaks as the other one paddles
- Fosters teamwork and bonding
- Carrying a boat is easier when two people can lift a single boat!
- Unless you have a kayak with adjustable seats that can convert it to single, you’ll always need to have a partner otherwise you’ll be pretty imbalanced
- Can’t explore on your own, you’ll have to agree where to go
- A lot larger, heavier, and longer in general, as compared to single kayaks
If you know that you’ll always have a companion to kayak with, then a tandem is a no-brainer. But if you think that you’ll likely end up boating on your own here and there, perhaps purchase a boat with adjustable seats – or just go for a single kayak instead.
Styles of Kayaks
There are 2 main styles to keep in mind when it comes to tandem kayaks. You have the “sit inside”, and then you have the “sit on top”. The traditional version is the former; the sit-inside kayak which has a cockpit for the boater. They sit on top kayak, on the other hand, is a newer style that has come to popularity in recent years. Each of these styles offers their own advantages and disadvantages which we will now look at here today.
- Sit-in kayaks are the type where the paddler will sit inside a narrow hole carved into the hull or the body of the kayak. The paddler’s legs are inside of the boat, while the torso remains exposed in order to allow for paddling and moving around. While in most cases cockpit style kayaks do in a way feel more secure, the tradeoff is that these kayaks may feel quite cramped. Unless the paddler is small in stature, chances are legroom will be difficult to come by. However, sit-in kayaks do tend to have a higher performance in general when compared to sit on top kayaks. This is why most advanced paddlers prefer the cockpit-style for the extra control and performance it affords.
- Sit on top boats are a bit different. They are basically open-air and you essentially just sit on the top of the boat. Tons of legroom are available, so that’s definitely a huge plus! Getting in and out of sit on tops is quite easy, making it advantageous for those who are just getting into this activity. And of course, if you somehow managed to flip your kayak, flipping it back over right side up will make itself drain. Recreational paddlers should choose this option over sit-ins. This is because of the increased comfort that these offer on top of the fact that more freedom of movement is also made possible.
Generally, the style of kayak that you choose is subject to your own personal preference. However, we do suggest that if you know you’ll be paddling in colder water, it might be better to choose a sit-in style instead. Also, if you’re not as confident or experienced with kayaking just yet, a more traditional sit-in kayak may also prove to be rather beneficial to you.
Storage Options on Kayaks
Not all kayaks are meant to be used for all the possible activities on the water. For example, some of them are made specifically for whitewater rafting, while others may be designed specifically for fishing or for surfing. For this reason, not all kayaks have the same amount of storage space or options available. Therefore, when you are looking to purchase a kayak, it’s important to check the storage options and whether they are enough for your needs.
Some boats will have a little nook where you can put your gear, often with some gear lashing to keep your stuff in place. Other kayaks, on the other hand, may have hatches that seal up and are waterproof so you can keep your valuables in there as well. The number of storage options on one boat may vary from manufacturer to manufacturer. There are boats that only have one storage option, while there are others that have multiple. and so, For this reason, make sure that you look at every boat’s specifications to find one that suits your needs perfectly.
The next thing that you should consider when shopping for your kayak is its length. There are a few things to remember when you look at these kayaks. First of all, kayaks that are longer are a bit harder to maneuver in the water. So immediately you should be keeping that in mind when looking at tandem kayaks, which, by default, are far longer than single kayaks.
Here are some other ways in which the length of the kayak can affect your experience:
- Longer kayaks are harder to steer and maneuver in the water
- Tandem kayaks are generally longer by a couple of feet or more
- Some things that you need to consider is how to transport your kayak – if it is 12+ feet, you will struggle to fit it on top of a smaller car, and so on
In general, tandem kayaks tend to be around 12 feet to 16 feet in length. Just something to keep in mind.
Inflatable or Not?
When you’re shopping for a kayak, you may encounter a number of things. For example, you have your absolutely traditional rigid kayak, which is the way that kayaks have been since we all can remember. And now, thanks to technology, we have inflatable kayaks! But which of the two options are better for you? Which should you purchase for all of your boating, fishing, surfing, or whatever other trips?
Inflatable boats have their advantages and disadvantages. On one hand, they are not that durable and it is very likely that you won’t feel as secure as you paddle in one of them. There will always be the doubt that the kayak may suffer a rip or a rupture, causing you to sink at inopportune moments. It could also leak air, and if you don’t notice it until you’re far out in the water it could truly be problematic. However, an inflatable kayak is incredibly affordable which makes it a great choice for those who only intend to go out on the water on rare occasions. Furthermore, they are extremely compact, lightweight, as well as easy to store.
If you are on a budget, it may be a good idea to choose an inflatable kayak because there are simply far more affordable than the other options on the market. Also, if you are worried about being able to carry your kayak by yourself, or if you’re concerned about transporting your kayak in a small vehicle or without a vehicle at all, then, by all means, an inflatable might just be the best choice.
Truth be told, a tandem kayak is not always necessary. In fact, you might probably be able to get away with purchasing 2 single person kayaks as this does have its benefits overusing one that is designed to hold 2 people. However, tandem kayaks do still indeed have plenty of benefits that should not be ignored. So if you’re looking to get started with kayaking or if you’ve already experienced it before and you want a cheap option to get started with, we hope this article has been helpful to you. Here, we hope that you have found an affordable kayak for 2.
And remember, the tandem kayak can also be a convertible (as in it can be used for a single person or for 2 or even 3).
With all of that said, make sure that you always look for quality and durability. And the biggest consideration here should also always be safety. As long as that is kept in mind as you purchase your tandem kayak, you should be able to have an amazing day on the water every time you head out!