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All about tandem kayak with a child seat, and tips on its use - Tandem Kayak Report

All about tandem kayak with a child seat, and tips on its use


If you are searching for an adventurous sport that you can always enjoy with your entire family, kayaking is that adventure. Its minimal equipment requirements mean that many people can enter into it, even with small investments, and it still gives you a form of alternative exercise. Its nature is excellent for people that want the element of portability as you go for your adventures, as the kayaks themselves are highly portable.

However, you may not consider kids as part of the kayaking experience. The general attraction of kayaking is that they allow you to move through the water with ease, especially when you are using a solo kayak. Tandem kayaks with child seats though, are an entirely different scenario – especially when you are going along with some kids. A tandem kayak is more difficult to turn, and its general movements will depend on the synergy between the two paddlers. If you are heading out with a child, that is major concern, especially when the child becomes cranky or tired when you are out in the water.

When used well though, they can be very rewarding due to the extensive experiences. Read on for some more tips on using a tandem kayak with a child seat.

Important facts about tandem kayaks

The ability to let a person paddle a kayak on their own is what has made kayaking became so popular, especially in recent decades.

Tandem kayaks have a problem in their use though – they tend to zigzag all through your course, and you can easily hit the other person if you fail to time your strokes properly. However, you can avoid the problem, through the following tips:

  • Always allow the front paddler to control the speed and rhythm of the strokes (unless you have an inexperienced child, in which case you should have practice sessions with them and have another adult at their front)
  • If you are in the rear, always correct the course
  • Before starting the whole experience, ensure you agree on the side to start the paddling (to avoid any accidents or reduce the kayak’s stability)
  • Always use paddles that are suitable for your skill level – for more experienced paddlers, a bigger blade paddle is great for stronger movements, and for less experienced paddlers or kids, the paddles should have narrow blades
  • The weaker passenger (in this case the child) should be at the front
  • Always be patient and be in constant communication, especially if you are going with a first-time kayaker
  • Allow the front kayaker to enter the kayak first

What do you need?

When going out for kayaking with your kids, there are important things to note – particularly their age. If the child is younger than ten years old, it is essential to go on the same kayak with them. You need to let them sit in front of you, and then you will be the person responsible for steering the boat.

If they are older than ten, you can choose to get a solo kayak for them – although you need to make sure they have the physical strength to paddle all the way.

When the child is just starting, it is best to have them duff (riding in the center part of the kayak). It will help them learn the feel of the water, with these guidelines coming in handy when considering where to place them:

  • If they are 8 or younger – they should duffer
  • Over eight years – you can give them a bow paddler
  • If 4 to 7 years – you can provide them with a bowrider or paddler
  • If the child is at least ten years and has some skill – they can use a single small kayak
  • If they are at least 14 years and have some expertise – they can use a single medium kayak or canoe

Important notes on safety

Even though tandem kayak with child seats are great, you also need to be very careful with who you allow to join you. That is mainly in regards to your own experience in the water – if you do not have much experience in kayaking, then avoid taking children along with you.

When selecting paddles, you need to consider their weight as this will affect how comfortable it is for the hands and arms. When going with children, the standard paddle they get is usually more prominent in the diameter of the handle, to allow them to hold it comfortably.

Always get a PFD that is suitable for the child’s age, and this will protect them in case of emergencies. Never let them wear an adult-sized PFD as these are too big, and will not allow their heads to stay above water in case anything happens.

Planning the whole experience

When having kids in kayaking situations, always aim to find water with minimal currents, unless you have a high level of skill and can quickly take care of emergencies. Always begin by testing on slow rivers, small lakes, and bays.

Because you are with young children, it is essential also to plan the length of time you will be out on the water.

A great tip you can always count on is signing up you and the kid for some kayaking lessons and swimming classes. You can also build their confidence by having workout sessions with them.

What are the advantages and disadvantages?

Even though there is plenty of information regarding tandem kayaks and solo kayaks, getting to choose between them presents a headache because you have no idea if you are making the right choice. It gets even trickier when you are considering placing a child seat in the kayak.

However, the best option would be to look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Pros of tandem kayaks

  • They offer you the best opportunity to hang out with your kids, significant other, or friend. Because the experience of paddling them requires teamwork, they are essential in promoting conversation and bonding while also giving you exciting adventures on the water – especially once you get the hang of them.
  • In the long term, you will also spend less on them than if you were to buy two separate solo kayaks.

Cons of tandem kayaks

  • They do not offer you as much freedom as a solo kayak. You will never admit you are in the wrong when you disagree with the other person – it is a part of human nature, especially when you do not want to deal with kids when they annoy you.
  • They have limited space for loading extra cargo
  • It will tend to be unsafe when it is off balance, so you need to be careful when using it


Final thoughts

Kayaking is an exciting experience that you will look on fondly, and when you tag your kids along, it gets even better. That company will reduce your fatigue than if you were planning on going solo, and when your child is seated in the, it enhances the experience for them. Above all, it is important to start small and be ready for any surprises that may happen.

However, as with all things involving young ones, you need to be careful with how you handle the situation, to protect your child from danger. Using a tandem kayak with a child seat will guard them as they are out with you, and it will give them lasting memories. With the correct equipment and mindset, you will rarely experience problems when going out into the water.


About Author

Steve has been into sports all his life. As a young boy, he started with swimming; this only propelled him into more water sports. When he tried kayaking, the thrill captivated him and now, it is his favorite sport. As a ranger, Steve is always in the outdoors where he likes it. He became a ranger right after college. He is married and has three kids whom he loves going to expeditions with. When he is not at work or with his family, he loves writing. He is now the lead blogger at Tandem Kayak Report, always writing about his passion.

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