What Is a Tandem Kayak?

A Kayak, or kayaking, is the use of a small boat (called a kayak) to travel across water. It usually has one open cockpit in the front with room for one person to sit in it with his/her legs extended in front of him/her. A Tandem Kayak is just what you think-a kayak that can hold two people at once! These are great if you want to go out on the water with someone else, but haven’t yet mastered the art of steering yourself. Tandem Kayaks are also a great way for children to get out on the water with their parents.

In addition, if you’re not afraid of the open water, kayaking is a great sport that’s fun and easy to learn. Many people choose to take up kayaking as a hobby or even an extracurricular activity in the summertime.

Tandem kayaks can either be sit-inside or sit-on-top, and they typically hold 2 people in them. They do make kayaks that will hold more than 2 people, but what you typically see are the ones seating two.

Here are some things to know about tandem kayaks:

  1. Tandem kayaks can be rigid or inflatable.
  2. They often have a large storage space at the back for equipment and/or supplies.
  3. If it is a sit-in kayak, the rear person will not get wet.
  4. They are often faster than single kayaks since they have two people powering them.
  5. Tandem kayaks usually do not tip (not even if one person stands up and starts to dance in it!).

Why Do People Call Them tandem kayaks?

Why Do People Call Them tandem kayaks?

Tandem kayaks are also sometimes called divorce boats. The term is split into two parts, the literal meaning of what it’s called and its history. So what exactly are people referring to when they say this weird term?

Tandem kayaks are what some people call divorce boats because they’re what you buy if your marriage is ending. This term has been floating around since the 1970s, and it seemed to start with a kayaking community in Colorado.

The two-seater tandem kayak was what couples bought when they were splitting up, and eventually what they would sell for half what they paid, hence the term ‘divorce boats’.

Although this might sound like a joke now, back in the 70’s it was really serious stuff. Divorce rates jumped up to about 50% of all marriages then, and most people attributed that to what seemed like an easy escape route.

As far as what the kayak has to do with that, we aren’t completely sure what couples were thinking. Maybe they thought that if they could save some money by splitting up their stuff, they would be more likely to stay together?

Or maybe it was just a coincidence and the term had nothing to do with what people actually bought (or sold).

Regardless, the term has stuck ever since.

The Pros of Using a Tandem Kayak

  • You can socialize with your partner while kayaking, which creates good memories for the both of you
  • If you have children, it’s also a lot more fun to bring them along

The Cons of Using a Tandem Kayak

  • Even though some places offer ‘double kayaks’, they are often more expensive than what they would have been had you just bought two separate kayaks
  • You have to find a way for two people to fit what they need into the one boat
  • Requires at least two people, so not solo travel

How to Paddle a Tandem Kayak?

How to Paddle a Tandem Kayak?

To know how to paddle one, you need to follow what the person in front of you is doing with their paddling. Usually, this is what happens:

  1. The paddler in front picks which side they want to use for the rest of the ride, usually left or right depending on what side is best for what they want to do.

  2. The paddler in the back picks what side they will be paddling on, usually the opposite of what the person in front decides (and it doesn’t matter what side you pick because either way you’re still paddling on what will become your ‘good’ side).

  3. The paddler in front does a few ‘practice’ strokes to get the momentum going.

  4. The paddler in front keeps what side they decided on and starts doing what is called a ‘draw stroke’. A draw is what you call what looks like a backward letter J that you do with your paddle. You want to transition from the top of your paddle to what is called the ‘ferry position’ before you start what looks like an upside-down U. This is what people call a sweep stroke, and what you do with it is basically pull on one side of your paddle while still on the other side, which will cause the boat to turn on that side.

  5. The paddler in the back does what is called a forward stroke which helps the tandem kayak go straight.

  6. After this, it’s pretty much what you would do in a canoe: alternate what side and what ‘stroke’ each person uses to keep going in a straight line and at a good pace.

What is the best size for a tandem kayak?

This will depend on you what you’re using it for. If there are two of you (and one other person), then an 11-foot version should be what you buy. It’ll work if what your looking to do is explore rivers or lakes, but it might not give what you need if what you’re looking to do is what some might call ‘serious’ kayaking.

In your opinion, what type of kayaking do you think is easier? Tandem or solo? Why?

I would say what most people think: it depends what you what to do on what kayak. If what you what is a fun experience with another person or two, what you might want to go for is what’s called a ‘tandem’ (two-person) kayak. But if what you what is something more personal and less of an activity, I would recommend sticking with what’s called a ‘solo’ kayak (one-person).


Tandem kayaks are what you need when you want to explore a new destination with your significant other, or when one of the two people in the kayak wants to paddle while the other person relaxes. They can also be helpful for those who have physical limitations that make it hard for them to balance on their own and paddle without assistance from someone else. In this article, we’ve explained what tandem kayaks are and why they call them divorce boats. We hope our explanation has helped! If not, please leave us a comment below so we can help answer any lingering questions about these fun watercrafts.


What is the difference between a tandem kayak and a kayak?

The main difference is that there are two people in a tandem kayak while there is only one person in a single kayak.

What are the advantages of buying a tandem kayak?

The advantage of having two seats in your kayak is that you can take along someone else with you on the trip. If you go for what most people buy, it'll be perfect if you have small children or an energetic dog who needs to get out of the house all of the time.

What are the drawbacks of a tandem kayak?

The disadvantage of having two seats in your kayak is that it'll be larger (and take up more space) than what you might want to carry. You should also take into account what other things you can bring on the trip with you, like camping supplies or food for yourself and the person/people you're bringing along.

What is a good material for a tandem kayak?

A good material for a tandem kayak may be wood, plastic, or aluminum.

Is it possible to paddle a tandem kayak solo?

Yes! If what you what is what's called a 'tandem kayak', what it means is that what might be for two people could what be for one person. It depends on what you what to do with your kayak, but if you what to use it solo, all you have to do is remove the second seat(s) what most people what to do with their kayak.