Can One Person Use A Two-Person Kayak?

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Paddling with someone in a tandem kayak can be great fun. That’s how my dad introduced me to this sport when I was younger. Now, it’s a passion that we share and practice together but not anymore in the same boat.

The old two-person kayak we used to go in the water with is still intact. So I recently wondered if it would be safe and comfortable for me to paddle in it alone. Well, here’s what I’ve found with my experimentations and some complimentary research.

Can You Use A Two-Person Kayak Alone?

One person can generally use a tandem kayak successfully. It will only be more complicated and less comfortable to maneuver because it’s adapted for two paddlers. The long and heavy boat design is not ideal for someone alone. But some two-person kayaks can be suitable for solo use.

If you want to paddle in such conditions, there are some things you should know. A tandem kayak is different from a single one, especially if you don’t have a partner to help you out.

That’s why I would generally not recommend using a two-person kayak alone. After your reading, you will have all the information necessary to understand whether you should do it or not.

What Should You Know About Tandem Kayaks?

A two-person kayak is an excellent option to paddle with someone else. Whether you want to bring your child, pet, or friend on the water, it’s the perfect type of boat for this purpose. Experts often use tandem kayaks to introduce someone to this sport, as my father once did several years ago. It’s more fun and easy for beginners to learn that way.

Different Types Of Two Person Kayaks!

Just like for single kayaks, tandem models come in multiple designs. Some are made for the river conditions when others will do better in the ocean. That’s why they won’t all offer the same paddling experience. It also means that some two-person kayaks are more appropriate for solo use than others. Now let’s see what the options on the market are.

In general, you will find 4 main types of tandem kayaks:

  • Sea/Touring.
  • Whitewater.
  • Recreational. (Sit-On-Top)
  • Inflatable.

Each of them has a design intended for a specific environment, so their construction and features aren’t the same. Therefore, the type of two-person kayak will influence if you can use it safely and comfortably alone.

An open cockpit is generally more suitable for solo use because the seat position can be adjustable. Tandem kayaks with a sit-on-top platform (Recreational & Inflatable Models) also tend to be less bulky and better for maneuverability.

On the other hand, a closed design will reduce the versatility of the boat. That’s why sea, touring, and whitewater two-person kayaks are more difficult to use without another paddler.

Pros & Cons Of Tandem Kayaks!

Although each type is different, all two-person kayaks still have common points. Some are good, and others are bad. Before paddling with someone else in the same kayak, you must know what to expect.


Here’s what’s nice about tandem kayaks:

You’re Not Alone.

The principal benefit is that you get to enjoy this fun activity with a loved one. You can talk, enjoy nature, and share unforgettable memories. A little bit of company might improve your overall experience in the water.

They Can Go Faster.

After some practice, using a tandem kayak can also be much faster. With the force and synchronization of both paddlers, your speed can drastically increase.

You Might Save Money.

Even if a two-person kayak is usually more expensive than one for solo use, it’s still an excellent investment. Keep in mind that you won’t have to buy two of those. (One for each paddler) So a tandem kayak will generally cost you less than two single models of the same quality.

Learn More About How Much Kayaks Cost!

They Are Ideal For Beginners.

Another advantage is that you can rely on the experience of your partner. Kayaking on your own can seem complicated and intimidating if you’re just getting started. Therefore, having someone to help you learn the basics directly in your boat is an excellent idea.

You Can Share Your Passion.

If you’re the expert, a two-person kayak can be great for introducing other people to this sport. Whether it’s for a friend or child, your presence will boost his confidence and make his first adventures on the water more enjoyable.


Tandem kayaks also have downsides you must take into account:

You Need To Accommodate Your Partner.

My biggest concern with this type of design is the lack of freedom. Since you’re two in the kayak, it’s becoming a team sport. So you always have to consider your partner’s needs, skills, and preferences.

They Don’t Offer A Lot Of Control.

Because of their long and wide construction, two-person kayaks aren’t as easily maneuverable as single models. It’s especially true when you use them alone. So don’t opt for a tandem kayak if you want to have optimal control while paddling in the water.

You Might Have Difficulty To Carry Them.

Tandem kayaks are generally bigger and heavier to accommodate two people. Well, their bulky design makes it complicated to load and transport them from one point to another. It shouldn’t be problematic if you have a partner to help you out, but good luck if you’re alone.

Can One Person Use A Two-Person Kayak?

Now that you understand what this type of boat is all about: let’s see if it’s possible to ride it alone. The short answer is yes: one person can use a tandem kayak. However, it’s generally not recommended.

Why? Simply because it’s not the right boat design for this purpose. In my opinion, you shouldn’t paddle in a two-person kayak alone unless you have no other choice.

It will be heavier to carry, harder to maneuver, and less comfortable than a single model. But in certain situations, it might be an appropriate solution for your needs.

For example, it can be worth considering a tandem kayak if you plan to use it regularly with someone. You might also take it for solo adventures from time to time when your partner isn’t available to keep you company.

Another way to make the most of the double boat design is to use the other seat as extra space for storage. Whether it’s to carry your fishing or camping gear, an empty cockpit might be convenient.

One Persone Use Tandem Kayak

Things To Consider Before Paddling Solo In A Tandem Kayak!

If you want to use a two-person kayak alone, feel free to give it a try. However, I recommend analyzing a couple of factors to make sure you can do it safely and comfortably.

Sometimes, paddling in a tandem kayak without a partner isn’t possible. On the other hand, it can be OK if the conditions are appropriate. So here’s what you should look at when planning to use this type of boat alone.


The weather is an essential element to keep in mind on paddling adventures. Whether the temperature is hot or cold doesn’t matter in our context. However, strong winds can be problematic if you plan to use a two-person kayak on your own.

You won’t be able to control it because the empty side will get pushed in every direction. That’s why you should always check the meteorological conditions before heading out in the water.


Where you want to use a tandem kayak alone is another consideration not to neglect. Some places are more appropriate for solo adventures than others. For instance, calm and safe flat water would be ideal in this case.

On the contrary, going down technical and dangerous rapids in a two-person kayak without anybody to help you isn’t a good idea. You won’t have enough control to paddle in such conditions safely.

The Boat Design.

As I already told you, there are different types of tandem kayaks. Some of them are easier to use alone than others. That’s why you should keep that in mind.

Double whitewater, touring, and sea kayaks are generally either wider, longer, or both. So they are less appropriate for solo use. Tandem inflatable and sit-on-top kayaks are more likely to be safe and comfortable to paddle without a partner.

Your Kayaking Skills.

Not everyone will be able to use a two-person kayak alone. It requires advanced paddling and maneuvering skills. Therefore, it might be complicated or impossible if you’re just getting started.

Where Do You Sit In A Two-Person Kayak If You’re Alone?

One common question concerns the appropriate positioning. If you use a tandem kayak without a partner, you have a difficult choice to make.

Do you want to sit in the front or back? If there’s a middle seat, the decision is easy. But otherwise, you might not know what you should do. Here’s what is the best option!

If you use a two-person kayak alone, it’s usually better to sit in the back seat. You will have more control over the boat than if you were sitting in the front.

The rear position also offers an excellent overview of the situation. So by sitting in the back seat, you will make solo paddling in a tandem kayak less complicated and more enjoyable.

Single Kayak VS Two-Person Kayak

Now you perhaps ask all the questions above because you’re uncertain if a tandem kayak is what you need. Many people want to paddle with someone else but wonder if they should buy a two-person kayak, both a tandem and single one, or two single models?

The answer will vary depending on your situation. Nonetheless, there are a few things you should consider to make the right decision. Here are some of them!

Is A Single or Double Kayak Easier?

For ease of use and transportation, the single kayak wins all the time. With two individual boats, it’s generally easier to maneuver for each paddler and more simple to carry than a tandem kayak. The one-person model offers more freedom and control in the water.

Do You Really Need A Tandem Kayak?

If you consider purchasing a two-person kayak, you need to make sure it’s worth the investment. Your partner should be available to paddle alongside you relatively often. Otherwise, you might end up alone most of the time.

Many people think: I will get a tandem kayak to bring my friend in the water from time to time. But if you also want to paddle solo regularly, you should also have a single model available.

That’s why I would not recommend to a first-time buyer to opt for a two-person kayak. Unless you only plan to use it with a partner, it won’t offer you the best solo experience in the water.

What If You Want One Kayak For Both Single & Tandem Paddling?

The ultimate solution would be to invest in a two-person kayak and a single one. However, not everyone can afford it. So here’s an alternative for you to make the most of both worlds without breaking the bank.

You can find a convertible tandem kayak suitable for solo use. It can work for you when alone or with a friend because of the adjustable design.

For example, the AdvancedFrame is a fully convertible two-person inflatable kayak. Another great option is the Perception Rambler Tandem (Sit On Top), which is also suitable for solo use.

This type of hybrid kayak is worth considering if you plan to paddle alone as much as in tandem. On the other hand, it’s only available in a sit-on-top or inflatable design. It’s also not the best option for an optimal experience on the water because versatility affects performance negatively.

So if you have the money, I suggest investing in two single kayaks and a tandem one. Otherwise, you can always look for a convertible model. Just make sure to choose the right equipment for your needs.

Last Thoughts About Kayaking Alone In A Two-Person Kayak!

Finally, one person can use a tandem kayak in appropriate circumstances. If the wind is too strong, the water is not calm enough, and you don’t have the right equipment, it won’t be safe nor fun.

A two-person kayak is also much more challenging to control and transport alone. That’s why it’s generally not recommended to paddle solo in this type of boat. But if you do it, the best place to sit is in the back seat.

The ultimate way to know whether something is possible or not is to try it. Stop wondering and start taking action. By using a tandem kayak alone, you will understand everything I’ve shared in this article and be able to draw your own conclusions.

Whether you want to enjoy this sport with or without a partner, I’m sure you will have a lot of fun. Now it’s time to leave aside the questions and prepare yourself for kayaking.

See You On The Water!

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