The only experience better than the simple act of paddling, is sharing the paddling experience with another. A tandem sit on top kayak is one of the best and easiest ways for you and a friend or family member to take a trip on the water together.
By pairing up in a double sit on top kayak, a more experienced paddler can bring along a first-timer or assist a newer paddler in developing their skills. A tandem sit on top kayak is also a great way for friends or couples to share in the experience learning and paddling together. The communication skills you’ll develop—along with having a few laughs—are well worth the challenge of coordinating your paddling strokes!
Additionally, tandem sit on kayaks are ideal for taking a child paddling. Many two person sit on top kayaks can also be easily paddled solo, perfect for when a young paddling partner gets tired, or if you just need a kayak with more legroom or space for the family hound.
Tandem sit on top kayaks fall into two general categories: recreational and fishing. Recreational kayaks are stable, easy-to-use craft best suited to casual paddling on calm, sheltered waters like smaller lakes and slow-moving rivers. Think of fishing kayaks like souped-up recreational kayaks; these boats are packed with angler-specific accessories like rod holders, gear tracks, tank wells and tackle storage.
Some double sit on top kayaks even feature pedal drives, which allow riders and anglers to propel the kayak with their legs, like a bicycle, leaving hands free for fishing or photography.
New paddlers often ask why a sit-on-top kayak makes a good choice, compared to a sit-inside? When it comes to tandems, there are many more sit-on-top recreational and fishing designs to choose from compared to sit-insides. This is because there are some key elements that make sit-on-top kayaks especially well-suited to tandem paddling.
First, a sit-on-top kayak designed for recreational use allows both paddlers to easily climb on and off the kayak, without the hassle of entering an enclosed cockpit. This can be especially beneficial when learning how to launch and disembark from the craft as a team.
The open deck of a tandem sit on top kayak also provides greater mobility and interaction between partners. If your paddling partner needs a snack, you can easily swing around and open a drybag. If someone wants to go for a swim, they can just slide out of the kayak, while their partner continues to pilot.
Sit-on-tops are also ideal for fishing together, as one paddler can propel the kayak while the other casts or trolls, and partners can assist each other with landing fish or managing tackle. Some two person sit on top kayaks even allow the bow paddler to turn their seat around to face the stern paddler—perfect for relaxing or chatting on the water.
An important safety consideration for any kayak is the ability to recover should you capsize. Tandem recreational kayaks are very stable, but falling out of or flipping the kayak is still a possibility. When a sit-on-top kayak flips, it takes on almost no water. This means you and your paddling partner can grab the kayak, right it and simply pull yourself back onto the kayak. In contrast, a sit-inside kayak is a hollow cavity that, when capsized, can fill with water, making recovery much more difficult.
So, what is the best sit on top tandem kayak? In this guide, we’ll look at all of the top 2 person sit on top kayaks available on the market, including advice for buying new or used. Read on to learn more about the best tandem sit on top kayak for your paddling aspirations.
Top picks: Best tandem sit-on-top kayaks for 2024
The following tandem sit-on-top kayaks have received the highest star ratings by reviewers in our Paddling Buyer’s Guide. See and review all tandem sit-on-top kayaks here.