Believe it or not, the old solo vs tandem kayak debate comes up all the time when I am talking to customers.
It is one of the biggest decisions you can make when buying a kayak!
The truth is that solo isn’t better than tandem and tandem isn’t better than solo. Like most things in life, there are pros and cons to each.
So let me help you decide!
In this article, we will examine solo vs tandem kayaks in terms of socialising, size, weight, ability to paddle solo, whitewater, fishing and of course, price.
Tandem Kayaks are More Social
See these two lovely ladies here in our best-selling tandem kayak, the AdvancedFrame Convertible? They can have a conversation, they can have a laugh, they can point things out to each other because they’re in close proximity.
When you’re in two solo kayaks, you can paddle near each other, but you need room to stroke, so you can’t be too close.
Now, there’s a flip side to this, that’s called the ‘divorce special’.
If you get a cheap, short tandem kayak, you end up clanging paddles all the time and it drives people insane.
If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t play well with others, maybe don’t get a tandem kayak, but if you’re the kind of person that loves to chat and you’re happy to let someone else steer, then tandem kayaking will be heaps of fun for you.
Are Solo or Tandem Kayaks Lighter? Or Smaller?
A prominent feature of the inflatable kayaks we sell is their compactness. Our kayaks all pack up into a bag and are much lighter than hard-shell kayaks.
Most people think that our tandem kayaks would pack up smaller and lighter than two of our solo kayaks.
If, for example, we had two of the AdvancedFrame Sport solo kayaks versus one of the AdvancedFrame Convertible tandem kayaks, well obviously, you’ve got two bags instead of one, but how do they actually compare?
Well, two of the solo kayaks adds up to 23.5 kgs worth of kayaks and one of the tandem kayaks gives you 23.5 kgs worth of kayak, so actually the weight is the same!
In terms of space, if we double the solo kayak bags on top of each other, you get 76 x 43 x 40 cm, which equates to 0.131 cubic meters.
The tandem kayak is a bigger bag at 91 x 53 x 28cm but actually takes up MORE space at 0.135 cubic meters.
Now, I know size isn’t everything. A lot of people call me because they’ve got a storage hatch on their caravan or on their boat, for example, and they need their kayak(s) to stay within certain dimensions.
But, given that two solo kayaks are about the same weight and size as one tandem kayak, it’s unlikely to be a factor in deciding.
Paddling Solo – What are Your Options?
Okay, I’m not going to sit on the fence with this point.
If you’re going to be paddling solo sometimes, having two solo kayaks is definitely better than a tandem.
The AdvancedFrame Convertible is a tandem kayak that allows you to paddle solo by having a seat position in the middle so you are nice and balanced in the kayak. Here is one of my customers going solo in the AdvancedFrame Convertible.
You might be thinking, why would I buy two singles if I can buy a convertible, take it out solo when I want solo and take it out tandem when I want tandem?
Well, it’s a question of size and weight. As you can see, the AdvancedFrame Convertible is way longer than the AdvancedFrame Sport.
It’s not just a little bit longer, it’s way longer!
This means the AdvancedFrame Convertible is simply too big for one person to carry down to the water once it’s inflated.
Whereas the AdvancedFrame Sport is a doddle to carry.
That’s not the end of the story though…
We sell a cart to go with the AdvancedFrame Convertible kayak.
So if you’re thinking, I really want the AdvancedFrame convertible and I want to get it down to the water by myself, you can.
The cart goes under the stern of the kayak. You strap it on, lift the handle at the bow, and you wheel it down. You are still handling 23.5 kilos of kayak but it is much easier with wheels!
Whitewater and Fishing – Solo vs Tandem Kayaks
Now, here’s another thing that most people don’t think of when they’re considering solo vs tandem kayaks – if you want a specialty kayak, you have more options if you go solo.
It’s a custom built whitewater kayak, suitable for any class of white water, depending on your skill level. We do not have a tandem equivalent of this kayak.
Similarly, on the left is the StraitEdge Angler Pro. It is our super-duper custom fishing kayak. It is spec-ed out with everything you could possibly want for an amazing fishing trip. We do not have a tandem equivalent of this kayak.
So if you go solo, you’ve got a lot more options than you do with tandem and that’s important if you want to do something specific like whitewater or full-on fishing.
Recreational kayaking is fine solo or tandem.
Price – Solo vs Tandem Kayaks
Generally speaking, it is cheaper to get one tandem kayak than to get two solo kayaks.
Obviously, it depends on which kayak models you are looking at.
I have been comparing the AdvancedFrame Convertible with the AdvancedFrame Sport because in my opinion they are comparable kayaks.
In this case, two AdvancedFrame Sports cost you about 25% more than one AdvancedFrame Convertible.
The price is something to consider, but I think it would be better if you looked at all of the other factors when making a decision.
25% is not a lot in the big scheme of things. If you were to spend a bit extra to get two singles (if that’s what you really want), it’s money well spent in my opinion.
The Verdict – Solo vs Tandem Kayaks
If you have read this far, you might have decided already whether solo or tandem is right for you.
In my experience, the most important factor to consider is whether you will be going out alone. If you are going to be paddling solo even just a bit, I recommend a solo kayak. The tandems are just that bit too heavy to be ‘fun’ for one person to carry and set up.