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How To Kayak 2 Person

Kayaking is a really fun activity and is the perfect way to get out onto the water and explore nature. You can kayak solo, or you can use a tandem kayak that 2 people can sit in at the same time.

How To Kayak 2 Person

This means that you have double the paddling power and can build up some good speeds, and you have someone to talk to and share your adventure with. 

Tandem kayaking is different from solo kayaking. You need to make sure that you and your paddling partner are in sync with each other and are working together to steer and control the kayak,

otherwise, it could be a disaster! So how do you kayak as two people?

Let’s find out today! We have put together this useful guide with everything you need to know about 2 person kayaking. 

What Is Different About A Two-Person Kayak?

Solo kayaks are fairly small, lightweight, and nifty. Tandem kayaks need to be larger to fit two seats, which means they are heavier and bulkier.

They have a higher weight capacity and a larger cockpit, and they are usually a little wider as well as longer than solo kayaks. 

Should You Get A Sit-In Kayak Or A Sit-On Kayak?

Tandem kayaks come in two different types- a sit-in kayak or a sit-on kayak. A sit-in kayak has a cockpit area that is sunken in. This protects you from splashing water and the wind.

Sit-on kayaks are much shallower and offer less protection, but also have less resistance towards the water so they can build up faster speeds. 

Kayaks are also divided into two other types – solid structure or inflatable. Solid structure kayaks are made from hard plastic and are not collapsible. Inflatable kayaks are made from PVC and can be deflated and folded up. 

Solid kayaks tend to be more durable but are also heavier and more difficult to store. Inflatable kayaks are not as sturdy but they are easier to transport and store. You can get solid and inflatable tandem kayaks. 

Getting Into The Kayak

When there are two paddlers, you need to decide who is going to sit where. The paddler at the front will have more control over the speed of the kayak,

and they will have a better view of any upcoming obstacles, hazards, or changes in direction. 

The rear paddler will have more control over the steering of the kayak but will need to take their directional cues from the front paddler who can see up ahead.

They will also need to be able to keep pace with the front paddler by watching and mimicking their rhythm. The kayak will be better balanced if the heavier paddler sits in the back. 

The front paddler needs to get in first. The back paddler can hold the rear of the kayak to keep it steady while the front paddler makes their way to their seat.

Once they are sat down, their weight will help to balance the kayak while the rear paddler climbs in.

How To Kayak 2 Person

When getting out of the kayak you should do the same but in reverse- the rear paddler should climb out and then steady the kayak while the front paddler climbs out. 


Before you set out, make sure that both paddlers are aware of the area and the route that you intend to take.

Look at a map of the body of water you are kayaking on, and check tide times or water current so you know what to expect.

Think about the areas that might be more challenging, and what hazards or obstacles you could come across so that you are both prepared. 

It might be helpful to choose one person to be ‘in charge’. There could be moments where a quick decision needs to be made about which direction to go and what kind of maneuver to perform to keep the kayak steady, safe, and afloat. 

Disagreements and hesitation can sometimes be dangerous, so it is best to let one person make the executive decisions. This should probably be the person at the front, as they have a better view of the path ahead. 

Staying In Sync

Both paddlers must stay in sync with each other. Paddling out of sync can cause the canoe to be unstable, will slow you down,

and will make it much more difficult for you to steer the kayak. It is a good idea to practice while you are in shallow water, especially if this is the first time that you have paddled together.

Practice the basic paddle strokes, changing direction, reversing, and braking. Once you feel confident, you can head to deeper waters or start your journey. 

Make sure that you communicate with each other while you are in the water. Every time you need to change direction or adjust your speed,

you need to make sure that your paddling partner knows what to do and is on the same page. As mentioned earlier, it is easier for the front paddler to set the pace and the rear paddler to watch and match it. 

Changing Direction 

You will need to think about which side of the kayak you are paddling on and how this affects the direction that the kayak is traveling. Alternating sides with each stroke should keep the kayak moving forwards in a straight line. 

If you want to move sideways or change direction, you will need to paddle on the same side as each other. Otherwise, your paddle strokes will cancel each other out and the kayak won’t change direction. 

Stamina Is More Important Than Strength 

You need to make sure that you pace yourselves to make sure that you can keep up an even pace. There is no point setting off with fast, super powerful paddle strokes and then running out of energy after ten minutes.

Find a pace that works for both of you, that you can both keep up for a long period of time. Take breaks if you need to. 

Final Thoughts 

And there you have it, how to work a two-person kayak! It can be a little different than solo kayaking, and you do need to work as a team,

but with lots of practice, we are sure you can master it! Remember to work with your partner and to communicate clearly at all times to prevent any issues in the kayak. 

Look after each other and keep safety a priority to avoid any accidents while you master the two-person kayak!

Hi! My name is Adele Stevens, and I have a big passion for water sports. I love nothing more than traveling to my favorite kayaking spots on my days off and spending hours out on the water.

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