When kayaking and outdoor publications put out their lists of “This Year’s Best Kayaks,” the pages are filled with descriptions of boats that are the lightest, fastest, “most capable in whitewater,” etc. Rarely is attention paid to categories like the best boat for beginners or the best family kayak. Maybe it just doesn’t seem worth it to market these low-cost boats, but in excluding them, they’re ignoring a huge group of paddlers who just want something that’s easy to paddle and isn’t going to leave them capsized.
The Manta Tandem is a perfect example of what a family boat should be: stable, reliable, and with enough room to take a few relatives who may or may not have much experience paddling.
What to Look for in a Tandem Family Kayak
A family kayak is the kind of boat you keep in the garage for whenever a couple of family members want to spend some time on the water. It should be easy enough to use that one of the paddlers doesn’t really need to know what they’re doing. Most tandem kayaks are fairly long, making them difficult to turn.
Compared to touring kayaks, a family kayak should be shorter, because it’s okay to sacrifice some speed in favor of maneuverability. It should also be wider to make it more stable, because nothing will cause a newbie to give up the sport quicker than tipping the boat over on their first outing. Lastly, the kayak should be comfortable when you’re not paddling, with a comfortable seat and ample room to move around. Most people using a family boat want to enjoy the scenery, and they’re not going to be paddling all the time.
Lifetime 10-Foot Manta Tandem Kayak Review
This kayak is ideal for taking two adults, and perhaps a child, out for a day of paddling on calm waters. With a length of 10 feet and a width of 30 inches, it’s incredibly stable, easy to track in a straight line, and not too difficult to get turned around. It also has a unique tunnel hull that helps the bow ride up on any wave the boat might encounter. The boat’s superb stability also means you won’t have to worry about an inexperienced paddler or a wriggling child tipping it over.
The Manta can also be a great kayak for fishing when carrying one person. The boat isn’t well configured for storing gear, but its stability is ideal for reeling in something big. When in the tandem configuration, the Manta is probably too small for two people to fish from; if nothing else, it would lead to some serious arguments between the two people as they constantly bump into each other.
Lastly, the Manta Tandem retails for a little more than $500. That’s more than a tandem inflatable would cost, but is quite reasonable for a hard-shell, sit-on-top boat.
What’s Great About It?
What’s Not So Great?
This Manta Tandem review shows that it is well suited for recreational kayakers who want to bring their friend or significant other along for a leisurely paddle on flat water, maybe with a little fishing thrown in. It’s not a good choice for kayakers who want to go fast, explore rough waters, or paddle for an extended period of time. Otherwise, the Manta is an excellent addition to the underserved market of families and beginner paddlers who still want a great boat.