Can One Person Use a Two-Person Kayak?

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, kayaking has grown in popularity as a sport and a recreational activity. Apparently, being cooped up brings out the athletic side in some folks. 

After all, how long can one be content with the couch potato lifestyle? And if you’re looking for a way to pass the time, you can’t go wrong with kayaking.

Many newcomers are overwhelmed by the variety of boats available and simply choose a standard single person kayak. However, many are less than impressed with the amount of room and options for carrying an extra load once they sit in the boat.

Some may not have enough room to take any additional items in their kayak, especially if they plan to go on a long-distance paddle. In such situations, you may wonder, “Can a person use a two-person, or tandem, kayak even if they’re alone?”

You certainly can, and the best part is that you’ll be able to store more gear than in a traditional solo kayak. But there are also a few negative possibilities you should consider before you go out to paddle solo in a tandem kayak.

Are There Any Negative Consequences You Should Know?

To begin with, many tandem kayaks designed for two people are significantly heavier than a traditional solo kayak designed for one person. As a result, maneuvering and paddling tandem kayaks by yourself is much more difficult than maneuvering and propelling solo kayaks.

Many paddlers find that it takes time to adjust their paddle strokes and build enough upper body strength to paddle their tandem kayak easily by themselves. At the beginning of this process, you may find that paddling takes more time and effort than usual, and that it is harder to keep the kayak balanced as you sit in it.

This problem also applies to loading and unloading the kayak, when the extra weight can really be a burden for a single paddler. Trying to load a tandem kayak solo can be close to impossible if you’re trying to lift it onto the roof of your vehicle. 

The loading dilemma is enough to discourage many people from using a kayak built for two people instead of simply a solo kayak.

In addition, the boat will likely be unbalanced due to the fact that you’re sitting on one end with no one on the other end to balance out the weight. Since the boat was designed for more than one person, it can be difficult to balance as you’re paddling when you are seated in the front seat or back seat without a way to distribute the weight.

It can also be difficult to steer from either of the two seats, as there will be an uneven distribution of the boat around you. All of these factors increase the likelihood of the kayak sliding below the safe water level. 

To address this concern, often a solo paddler will opt to install a clip-in kayak seat in the center of the boat for improved control and balance. Adding a seat in the middle puts you in a better position for balancing and paddling the tandem kayak alone.

You may face a few hurdles if you’re going to be using a tandem kayak as one person alone. So why might some choose to use a two-person kayak instead of a single person kayak? 

Why Should You Risk It?

Well, mainly because it isn’t really a risk. Almost every problem we’ve covered is manageable in some way.

And there are even several advantages. Why might one person use a two-person kayak?

Those who usually kayak with a partner will no longer be dependent on the other person to come along when the desire for spending time on the water suddenly strikes them. When a couple purchases a tandem kayak they have the option to take it out together or each of them can use it by themselves. 

This freedom is only possible if the couple purchases a two-person kayak. Having the room for family members, like a small child, to tag along when they want to is sometimes enough even for those who often go kayaking alone to purchase a kayak designed for two people.

Using a two-person kayak alone also gives you more storage space and usually a higher weight capacity to accommodate your gear. This is often a big draw for those who enjoy kayak fishing.

Fishing from your kayak is an activity that requires a substantial amount of gear. Having room for all of their fishing equipment is a main reason why many kayak fishing enthusiasts use tandem kayaks.

Tall kayakers may enjoy using tandem kayaks solely for the added leg room. Being able to sit comfortably in the rear seat and stretch out in their two-person kayak makes kayaking much more enjoyable for those who need the extra space for their legs.

Moreover, if you are a kayaking pro, this can be a way to challenge yourself. Using a heavier, two-person kayak will increase your strength and stamina. 

How Can One Person Use a Two-Person Kayak?

Feeling comfortable taking out a two-person kayak alone is just a matter of being familiar with the adjustments you’ll need to make. 

First up, practice loading and unloading the kayak at home. If you choose a lightweight tandem kayak, you may be able to handle the weight by yourself. 

If you cannot lift the kayak on your own, you will need to make sure someone is there to help you load and unload the boat. If you kayak with a friend this may be a simple transition. 

Previously you two may have loaded two single kayaks, now you’ll simply load your tandem kayak instead.

Some prefer inflatable kayaks. They can be a great option because even tandem inflatable kayaks are lightweight and can easily be lifted by a single person.

Second, you take advantage of the equipment available, such as a clip-in seat as mentioned before. To maintain the most control over the boat, simply remove the extra seats and sit in the middle. 

Installing one seat in the middle will also offer better control when using a tandem kayak because you will be in a better position to steer. You can also improve the weight distribution since you, likely the heaviest object, will sit centered in the middle of the boat as you paddle.

Furthermore, if you don’t own a kayak yet, we suggest you consider a convertible tandem kayak. Convertible kayaks can be adjusted to be a single kayak or tandem kayak.

Buying such a kayak allows you to choose the set-up you want at any given moment. This option on convertibles to switch between single kayaks and tandem kayaks makes paddling a breeze.


Here are our final thoughts: you can use a two-person or tandem kayak on your own. There are a few associated concerns regarding weight, speed, and stability, but nothing too alarming. 

Furthermore, there is a way to overcome most of these issues, and they don’t even affect all kayak users. All you need to do is take the appropriate precautions.

Hopefully, our assistance in elevating your kayaking experience proves beneficial. Have fun on your next paddle!