At Airkayaks, we get asked all the time – what two (2) person (tandem) inflatable kayak should we buy?
In this guide, we are going to segment the 2 person (tandem) inflatables to those that are 13 – 16 feet in length. The kayaks under this range will be discussed in another guide. The reason why is that most kayaks in the smaller size range are entry level oriented. There are less differences between models.
Don’t want to read the article? Check out our FIND YOUR KAYAK Quiz where we suggest relevant options to you based on our years of experience.
In the 13 to 16 foot size range, the first thing to discuss is price. Most of these kayaks will be $899 to $1699 in price. We know that is a big range, and we will be detailing the differences for what you can expect at each end of the price spectrum.
In this range, there is a certain table-stakes level of features that you can expect, yet there are still a couple value options available. One thing you can expect: All of these kayaks will work great for a day at the lake, or a slow moving river.
Most models will offer these features
- Dropstitch (high pressure) floor
- Upgraded seats
- Multiple sets of carry handles
- Enhanced tracking such as a removable fin / skeg, or like the AE models, a hydrodynamic hull design. (AdvancedFrame & StraitEdge models)
Look at these features to differentiate models in this range:
- Carrying Capacity (AE1007E, Chelan, Blackfoot, and Deschutes Series
- Quick Dry Time (AirVolution, StraitEdge2, Chelan, Blackfoot, and Deschutes Series)
- Extra mounts (Chelan, Blackfoot)
- High Tech Construction (AirVolution)
- Ability to handle coastal and ocean paddling (AE1007E)
- Capability for 2+ paddlers, and on the other end excellent 1 person seating options. (Blackfoot 160 & Chelan 155 – 2+), (AirVolution, Chelan 140 & AE3027 StraitEdge2 – 1 person Conversions)
13-14 foot models will typically offer 40-50″ of room for the rear paddler. In most cases these are comfortable for two paddlers up to 6′ each, and if one paddler is shorter to 6′, then the other can be larger than 6′. These kayaks are excellent one paddler choices when the seat is set to the center position. See the Chelan 140 or AE3027 Straitedge2 Pro.
15-16 foot models are usually great 2 & 2 + paddler kayaks, with seating for 2 adults and a furry friend, or 2 adults and a youngster. We’ve even seen the Blackfoot 160 set up for 2 adults and 2 children.
Take a shortcut to the end of the guide for a Comparison Chart with all models.
Lightest Weight Tandem Kayak
Deschutes 145. This kayak features a unique “Feather Frame” technology with a weight of 26 lbs is the lightest in the category. At 14.5 feet long, the inflatable thwarts provide structural rigidity without an inflatable floor. A thick EVA pad, similar to a yoga mat is used to cut weight. One note on this kayak, the seating positions are fixed, and it does not offer the capability to adjust to a center seating position. Made from Duratex PVC, this boat takes no time at all to towel dry, pack and go.
Also take a look at the Chelan 140, which weighs in at 33 lbs, but includes all the bells and whistles available, including a Dropstich floor. At 13.5 feet long, the Chelan 140 is also one of the best 1 person kayaks available.
Highest Tech Tandem Kayak Design
The AirVolution2 from Advanced Elements offers a 100% Drop Stitch Design with 2 bladders, making it very easy to inflate, and incredibly rigid. Once its inflated you wont be able to tell that its an inflatable on the water. Its so stable, it can double as a stand up paddleboard for most. Our nickname for the AirVolution is the sports car, the equivalent of a BMW M5 in the kayak world. Everything on the boat is designed with performance in mind. Priced at $1699, its at the top end for kayaks in this range, but after paddling every kayak on this list, its the one I keep coming back to, time and time again.
Best “Value” Priced Kayak
In this category, value price lands at $800 – $999. These options will all have a fabric / PVC outer hull, with inner bladders.
The AE1007R at $979 is the classic 2 person inflatable which started the category. One of the best selling boats available, this kayak comes with Advanced Elements’ signature Advanced Frame Hybrid Rigid bow and stern design. This kayak will track better than just about any other on the market. The optional deck covers also enable a sit inside closed cockpit to keep you dry, or to keep the sun off your legs.
Pro Tip: Upgrade it to a Dropstitch floor and your kayak is almost identical to the “Elite”.
The Navarro 145 is similar to the AE1007R in that it is a fabric cover outer shell, but has a structurally different bladder design. The Navarro offers a dropstich floor, and optional zip in decks for one or two paddlers. It’s the least expensive 2 person kayak with this feature at $899.
The Kokopelli Moki II offers a fantastic value at $999. It includes a pump, 2 paddles, 2 foot braces, and removable deck cover, in addition to a dropstitch floor. The newest kayak in the Value Category, its a little heavier the others at 62 lbs, but its very well made and we expect it to be as durable as the others in the category.
Best kayak for coastal paddling
AE1007DS and AE1007E. The Advanced Elements Convertible Elite in the standard Red and Limited Edition Blue are 15 foot long, 2 person tandem paddlers with options for open cockpit, or single & double deck covers. These kayaks feature AE’s AdvancedFrame Rigid Bow & Stern as well as a dropstitch floor. Buy the Limited Edition AE1007DS while you can, it comes with a foot brace, pump, and padded lumbar seat in addition to the other improvements from the AE1007E. The only difference between these boats will be the price, color, and included accessories.
Best for 2+ Paddlers
Chelan 155 – This 15 foot Duratex PVC boat is one of the most searched and most popular tandems we sell. It will usually come down to the AirVolution2, the AE1007E or the Chelan 155 for people shopping in this price category. The Chelan 155 retails for $1299. The Chelan comes with 2 great inflatable seats that act somewhat like an Air-Ride suspension, and a Saddle seat (booster) for a little one. The open cockpit is 142 inches long and it provides ample space for gear storage and or kids or a furry friend or two. Our analogy for the Chelan 155 is that its built for Luxury and Comfort, but its still fast too, its the kayak equivalent of a Mercedes SUV.
If you can afford the eFinity Bundle, just buy it and thank us later when you are smiling ear to ear. This bundle turns your kayak into an “eKayak” kind of like an “eBike”. Push the on button and let the motor do the paddling when you need a break or a boost.
Best for Fishing
If you are looking for an even bigger boat, the Blackfoot 160 – at 16 feet long easily has enough room for 2 adults and 2 kids. Or two adults with a totally decked out kayak for fishing. This kayak is truly a boat, its bigger than some Bayliners out there. This will be a tough kayak to get ahold of this year, every shipment we get sells out within a week. Take a look at the Blackfoot 130, which makes a very capable one person kayak, or two person fishing kayak. Check out our Deluxe Bundle, which comes with a 2nd frame seat, hand pump, and two 240cm Adjustable Fiberglass paddles.
Best for Whitewater
Aire Tomcat Tandem – available in Green, Blue, and Red, these kayaks were nearly impossible to come by last year. They came and went within a week every time they were in stock. While not quite 13 ft, these 12’9″ boats are the best whitewater craft made in our book. Similar to the AE line, they offer a zip in bladder design which is very rugged, and fully repairable / replaceable. We’ve had customers call us and tell us that they dropped one out of the back of their truck, and dragged it for a couple miles without realizing it. Guess what? It without any issues or repair needed to the kayak when they tested it out.
Tandem Kayak Comparison Table
As always, Airkayaks.com is happy to assist in picking the best inflatable kayak for you! Call us at 833-743-0199.