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Single vs. Tandem Kayaks

Whether you enjoy solo or group kayak adventures, there are numerous boat styles to meet your needs. One of the more common questions that comes up, however, is whether to invest in a single kayak or tandem kayak if you plan to use the craft for both group and individual trips. Brooklyn Kayak Company has compiled some facts, figures, and features to consider when making this purchase to ensure your kayaking needs are met.

Single Kayaks

As the name implies, a single kayak is a kayak boat built to only seat one person. Options include sit-in, sit-on-top, pedal, paddle, different sizes, and varying hull designs depending on what adventure you plan to use your kayak for, e.g. fishing, travel or touring, exercise, or just recreational paddling. The freedom of the waters are yours, and yours alone, with a single kayak – you decide the what, where, and how!


Single kayaks tend to be smaller and more easily transportable, both by car and by hand, due their shorter and more compact frame. It is also lighter than its tandem counterpart, which for some may make it easier to handle when loading and unloading your kayak alone. Solo kayaks are also fast and easier to maneuver in the water-- you don’t have to worry about synchronizing paddle movements to get where you’re going, and it takes less correction and precise steering to move where you need to as well. So anglers wanting to get into those nooks where the fish are biting should be no problem.


While the idea of enjoying the freedom of the open waters alone is appealing to many, some may feel intimidated to ‘go it alone’. It may be easier for an experienced boater to make their way around steering a single kayak; however, some beginners find it difficult to learn from watching someone in a different boat. In this case, manning a single kayak by themselves might steepen the learning curve. Solo kayaking is just that: solo. You are on your own to do all the paddling, pedaling, maneuvering, steering – and if you want to enjoy kayaking with your family or friends, they will need their own kayaks.

Tandem Kayaks

As you may have guessed, a tandem kayak is one that holds two (or three) people in one boat. Tandems are typically larger, heavier vessels, but also come with options for sit-in, sit-on-top, pedal, paddle, different hull designs, and different sizes. Tandem kayaks are great for experiencing your water adventure with your family or friends – whether for recreation or serious angler fishing.


The biggest advantage to tandem kayaks is there are two people to not only share in the fun of your water adventure, but to share in paddling, pedaling, maneuvering, steering. So when one gets tired, the other can take over. Tandem boats are also sometimes easier for beginners, as you have a helpful partner with you the whole way. It can also be easier on your wallet to just deal with one boat as opposed to two. There are some tandem kayak models that come with an adjustable/removable second seat, so you’re able to have the best of both worlds. But, you can actually go solo in a tandem kayak by operating the tandem from the back seat and adding some gear to the front of the kayak to distribute the weight evenly for balance and stability.


Probably one of the biggest disadvantages is not having the freedom you would have in a single kayak. While it is only one boat, tandem kayaks are a bit heavier and not as easy to transport or maneuver. You also have to be aware of how your partner is rowing and moving in order to avoid going in circles the whole trip. To successfully navigate a 2-person kayak, you and your partner need synchronicity in both mind and body to avoid arguments, loss of friendship, or a divorce! Also, if you do try to ‘go it alone’ in a tandem kayak, just be careful as it may change the balance and stability of your vessel.

In summation, both boats are good for different strokes. When choosing your kayak, keep in mind your budget, your skill level, and how you want to use your kayak. Brooklyn Kayak Company has some great models of both single and tandem kayaks for you to explore, so be sure to check out the one that best fits your style!




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