Tandem Kayak VS Single- The Differences

Fact Checked By James A Rockey | Post Updated On: December 4, 2022
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The main difference between a tandem kayak and a single kayak is that a tandem has two seats, while a single kayak only accommodates one person.

Key Takeaways

  • A single kayak is available in various options like the sit-in and sit-on kayak
  • Transporting a single kayak is easier because it is smaller and has a more compact frame
  • Single kayaks provide no room for rest as well as it has a low storage capacity
  • You can use a tandem kayak in oceans, rivers, lakes, or streams
  • A Tandem kayak is very heavy, therefore it is very difficult to carry or transport this type of kayak

Single Kayak

A single kayak is a kayak with only one seat, meaning that it is made for just one person. They come in different options, like the sit-in and sit-on. It also has different hull designs, and these kayaks come in different sizes. They also have different widths and heights to accommodate a paddler of any size. They are also available for kids. Some kayaks have enough space for an extra, like your favorite pet. Deciding which is better between the tandem kayak and the single kayak will require you to understand the pros and cons of each.

Advantages Of A Single Kayak

1. Transporting a single kayak is easier because it is smaller and has a more compact frame making it easier to handle. It is also lightweight, making it possible for a single person to load and unload a car quickly. Carrying it to and from the water is also not a problem.

2. Single kayaks are faster than tandem kayaks because of their small size.

3. These single kayaks can maneuver more quickly in the water, so you will not have a problem turning, especially when quick action is required. You will not need to synchronize movement with a partner for you to have a smooth ride. As long as you know how to paddle, you are safe. 

4. If you like fishing when kayaking, a single kayak will provide you with more space to place your gear and cargo than tandem kayaks.

5. When you use a single kayak, you will have the freedom to choose where you want to go, and when. You will not have to wait for your partner to make time for you. Arguments will be reduced a great deal as you don’t have to synchronize paddle with anyone. You can also act quickly when required of you.

6. One boat can be used as a rescue boat in case the other capsizes. This is in the point where you went out with a partner, but everyone had their kayak. 

Disadvantages Of A Single Kayak

1. Kayaking alone may bring with it boredom and loneliness. There will also be not much security since you will be alone. Even though some people like it, some people will prefer to have company, which is okay.

2. As a beginner, it may be challenging to learn if you are only watching from a different kayak, mainly because it will require you to be attentive twice. But a tandem kayak allows you to concentrate on learning, as you won’t have to worry about maybe hitting a rock that you couldn’t see because you were looking somewhere else.

3. Single kayaks provide no room for rest in that you do all the paddling, steering, and maneuvering alone.

4. You may miss an opportunity to bond with your loved ones since they will neither hear whatever you’ll be saying, nor you’ll be alone.

5. It is relatively more expensive to buy and maintain two single kayaks than one tandem.

Tandem kayak

Have you heard of tandem kayaks? We guess yes, and if not, then this is a type of kayak with two seats that you can use with your partner or family when you go out on the water in oceans, rivers, lakes, or streams, as you enjoy its beautiful scenery. Suppose you are a beginner or have little experience in kayaking. In that case, the tandem kayak is what you need because, in getting to know how to kayak or gain experience, you need a trainer to take you through this and give you basic tactics that you should have as a kayaker. Having an extra seat for your coach will avoid being squeezed had your kayak had a single seat.

When paddling with your friend, partner, or trainer, the tandem will give you plenty of fun adventures as no one will out-paddle the other, and you’ll navigate through a difficult situation with ease. With that being known, let us take you through the advantages and disadvantages of a tandem kayak. 

Advantages of Tandem kayak

1. It’s great for those who love to spend quality time with their friends, family, or partner on water, and also for a beginner who has no or little experience in paddling and wants to have a trainer.

2. Kayaking in a tandem kayak will strengthen the bond between you and your friends or partner.

3. As you kayak together, you’ll improve your communication skills with whoever you are kayaking with.

4. You won’t be silent all the time as you paddle. Still, you will engage in conversation with your partner concerning your experience and make the excursion lively through storytelling.

Disadvantages Of A Tandem Kayak

1. Lack of freedom. A Tandem kayak is heavy, and therefore it’ll be difficult to paddle alone, which means you have to be accompanied by another person, which will deny you the chance to go out on your own.

2. It has less cargo space. Despite being bigger, the ability of tandem to accommodate two people reduces the space that could have been used to carry your gear or cargo.

3. Not suitable for fishing. If you use a tandem kayak for fishing, there are high chances of hooking one another.

4. It has a blame game. When paddling in tandem, one person may feel the other person is doing wrong things that are causing issues.

Factors To Consider When Choosing Between A Tandem Kayak And A Single

1. Seating Position- kayak exists in two types, the SIT-ON-TOP and SIT-IN. If you are interested in fishing, then consider having SIT-ON-TOP. But if you are looking for better ergonomics, fast paddling, and long-term comfort, then get yourself an SIT-IN kayak.

2. Kayaking Experience- Before choosing a tandem kayak, you have to consider your level of expertise. It’ll be ideal for you to have, if you are a beginner, because of the extra seat it has for your trainer. Being trained when everyone is on their kayak may pose a challenge, especially for the beginner. If you are an experienced kayaker, it is advisable to accompany somebody on their single kayak. 

3. Users. Tandem kayaks have two seats, compared to standard kayaks that have a single seat. If you would like to kayak with your friends, family, or partner most of the time, then consider having a tandem. But if you will be kayaking alone mostly, go for a single kayak. It will be easier to transport even when going alone.

4. Types Of Kayaks- kayaks are designed differently according to their uses. For recreational use or beginners, tandem and single kayaks with a wide base are perfect for this purpose as they increase stability. A broader and longer kayak for touring will be ideal for you because it streamlines faster in the water than a recreational kayak.

5. Material. This is the foremost aspect you should consider before buying any kayak. Ensure that the material used to construct the kayak is of top-notch quality, and it’s long-lasting. Kayaks built from high-density polythene are good because this material is heavy-duty and less expensive. If you are affluent and can afford an expensive kayak, choose one constructed from fiberglass material. It is lightweight but has excellent sturdiness. Kevlar is indestructible and is more durable compared to the rest. It is strong, affordable, and light and can be used for a long time.

Best Of Both Worlds

If you are confused and unable to decide even after going through the whole article, then we still have a situation for you. With the development of technology came the development of many things. You can now purchase a convertible kayak. As the name suggests, you can convert it at your convenience. You can convert it to tandem when you want to kayak with a partner in one kayak. On the other hand, when you want to kayak solo, you can convert it to a single kayak.

Final Thoughts

We hope that even as well come to the end of the article; you have learned a thing or two concerning the differences between tandem and single kayaks. We are sure you can now decide which one you want, and which one will suit your needs perfectly. Have fun as you plan your next kayaking trip.


  • https://www.tycoonvilla.com/tandem-vs-single-kayak/
  • https://coolbreezeboatrentals.com/2021/10/solo-vs-tandem-kayaking/
  • https://versusdepot.com/tandem-vs-single-kayak/

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