Two can sometimes be a crowd, even in a tandem kayak. When you aren’t with a beginner or someone who needs to be shown around the area, it’s often best to go kayaking alone. So, how does one person take advantage of inflatable kayaks for two people?
Kayaking Solo on a Two-Person Kayak
While it’s possible to use a two-person kayak alone, problems concerning weight distribution may surface when you do. You may feel that the kayak is harder to steer and is not as responsive. Thus, tracking may become even more difficult. Other potential performance problems of paddling solo involve gear placement, seat repositioning, and skeg and rudder handling.
Furthermore, issues resulting from reduced responsiveness, tracking, and steering may worsen when solo paddling on a whitewater river or on the open ocean. The same goes for bodies of water that have too many rocks, debris, and low-hanging branches.
From Two-Person to Solo Kayak Real Quick
Two-person kayaks can have either fixed or movable seats. The latter makes solo paddling easier since you can move the seats to the center of the kayak. This effectively transforms a tandem kayak into a solo kayak.
The right kayak should make tandem-to-solo conversion easy. Two-person kayaks are designed with hard shells or inflatable models that can be set up either with tandem or solo seating without reducing performance.
As mentioned previously, steering, tracking, and responsiveness issues may arise from using a two-person kayak as a solo kayak. However, since such problems result from uneven weight distribution, it’s safe to say you can manage them effectively by repositioning the seat in the middle.
Kayaks with movable seats have more stability and responsiveness regardless of configuration, thus making them excellent options for paddlers. You can use them to paddle alone or with another person.
It’s also worth noting that the kayak length can impact the steering. Converting a tandem expedition kayak into a solo kayak turns it into a shorter, more stable vessel that is easier to steer.
Where To Sit in a Tandem Kayak When Paddling Solo
Position yourself in the center if your two-person kayak converts to a solo kayak. If it doesn’t, you may have difficulty solo paddling regardless of where you sit. Sitting in the rear in a tandem kayak with fixed seats allows you to paddle with fewer difficulties. It takes the steering problems down a few notches since you’ll be positioned closer to the rudder.
However, this doesn’t eliminate the weight distribution problem. With too much weight focused on the rear, the tandem kayak’s performance may be affected drastically. Fortunately, this is an issue that you can problem-solve your way out of.
Weight Distribution Solutions
While sitting in the rear of a tandem kayak with immovable seats makes better sense, that does not eliminate weight distribution issues. That said, you may address the disproportionate weight in the kayak’s back mainly by loading up on the front.
When the kayak’s front is too light, there is a higher risk of the following taking place:
- The front of the kayak rising up and out of the water
- A less efficient hull that doesn’t cut as smoothly through the water
- Compromised speed and steering
- Reduced tracking
- Bow vulnerable to wind
To overcome these problems in a tandem kayak where it isn’t possible for the rider to sit in the center, you may:
- Load up the front with gear. Unless you’re on a fishing or camping trip, this trick usually doesn’t provide enough counterbalance.
- Fill up the front end with multiple dry bags. Water bags can pack on quite the weight, so you shouldn’t need more than three to achieve stability.
- Have a pet, preferably a dog that can swim, come along.
- In a kayak with two separate cockpits, make sure that the filled-up front cockpit is covered when wading through rough waters. Doing so ensures that the bow doesn’t pack on more weight than required.
In case you opt to use a dry bag for kayaking, choose a durable and abrasion-resistant bag to prevent frequent replacements.
Skegs and Rudders
Consider a tandem kayak with a skeg or rudder if you plan on using the vessel alone. In case your existing kayak doesn’t have either, have one added to it.
A two-person kayak used for solo paddling should be a lot easier to turn when it has a rudder. If your kayak happens to have a drop-down skeg, make sure it remains down, or you won’t feel the skeg’s benefit. Alternatively, make sure to set up the skeg in a kayak that has a detachable skeg.
Should You Use a Two-Person Kayak for Solo Paddling?
While there’s considerable evidence suggesting that a tandem kayak can be, and often is, used in solo paddling, it will never be the best choice for such an activity. Movable seats or not, these kayaks just aren’t designed for solo paddlers. That said, if you’re both a solo and a team paddler and you’re unable or do not want to invest in a separate kayak for each activity, consider a configurable two-person vessel to address your flexible kayaking ways.