Buoy Touring Tandem Kayak Review

Buoy Touring Tandem Kayak Review

We had a chance to try out Buoy Touring Tandem Kayak and wanted to share our thoughts with all of you! Buoy Watersports has two lines of kayaks, Recreational and Touring.  Both are well designed and functional, with the Touring series touted as more streamlined and comfortable, albeit with a slightly higher price tag.

Though they only began production in 2022 the folks behind Buoy Watersports aren’t new to the game.  In 2011 they launched the successful Rocky Mountain Raft company, with products now being used around the world, by recreational and professional clients.

By selling direct from manufacturer to consumer Buoy aims to keep their products less expensive than competitors, something we can appreciate as families!  With a history of high quality rafting equipment we were interested to see if their recreational products matched in construction and durability.

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Boy and girl paddle a Buoy Touring Tandem Kayak across a lake.
Team member Jen’s two kids enjoying the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota with the Buoy Touring Tandem Kayak.

Use code MTNMAMA to save 20% on all Buoy Water Sports!

Buoy Touring Tandem Kayak Overview

We took the Buoy Touring Tandem Kayak out on the water in Minnesota this summer. We do a weekly trip to a favorite lake in our area with one stand up paddleboard (SUP) and having an additional watercraft was great. We typically borrow a couple inexpensive hard side kayaks from a friend to bring along as well.

Note: Buoy also makes SUPs! Check out our review of them here.

We were pleasantly surprised with how much more comfortable the Buoy kayak is than the ones we’ve been using. A friend and I easily paddled the circumference of the lake chatting. Typically I find myself distracted by adjusting a shifting seat or rearranging myself trying to feel more comfortable until I can escape the kayak for the SUP. Not so with the Buoy!

The kayak was quick to set up and spacious enough for two adults or any combination of kids (I went paddling with my 3 and 5 year old together). They never felt nervous and their shenanigans in the front never made me nervous that we might tip. The boat handled mild chop and breezy conditions without any trouble, tracking nicely.

Two young girls sit in inflatable kayak on lake
Paddling with two littles in front still felt balanced and stable.

We also used it in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area on a day trip including a few portages and found it reliable and simple to carry thanks to multiple handles. Our 13 and 10 year old enjoyed paddling together all day in the kayak and found it easier to manage than a canoe.

This kayak is best for open water, the Buoy Watersports blog shares an ocean trip adventure, something we’d love to try!

Touring Versus Recreational Kayaks

Recreational Kayaks are perfect for beginning and casual boaters. Buoy’s Recreational Kayaks are less expensive but still high quality. Touring Kayaks are designed to move more quickly and easily over longer distances. They have a longer sleeker design and may have additional features for more advanced paddlers. So does the Buoy Touring Tandem Kayak live up to its touring name?

The Buoy Touring Tandem Kayak is about 20 inches longer than its recreational counterpart. Its prow and stern are more tapered. It has a spray shield, inflatable seats, and lighter weight carbon paddles. We found that it tracks very well across large and small lakes. Our kids were able to easily keep up with our canoes during a long day paddle in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) with windy conditions.

Buoy Touring Tandem Kayak Specs

Measurements and Construction

  • Inflated Dimensions – Length 169 inches Width 39 inches
  • Weight (uninflated) – 35 pounds
  • 1000 Denier Strength-Weave Fabric for airtight performance
  • Welded Seams for no air leaks from aging glue
  • Self-Bailing Hull
  • Separate Rigid Drop-Stitch Floor
  • Universal Accessory Mount in front of seat
  • Multiple Attachment Points for your custom gear needs
  • Bungee Gear Storage System
  • Spray Shield with Nose Pocket
  • 10.5 Inch Curved Tubes for supreme stability and tracking
  • Storage in Bow and Stern
  • Adjustable Foot Rests
  • Lightweight, Carbon-Fiber Shaft with Nylon Blade Paddle. Foam Core to keep from sinking!
  • Rolling Backpack for easy transport
  • High-Capacity Bravo Pump
  • Inflatable Seat with rigid back support

Included With the Kayak

  • One Removable Center Fin
  • Two Buoy Watersports Inflatable Seats with Back Pocket
  • Two Buoy Watersports Collapsible Paddles with Carbon Fiber Handles
  • One Dual Action Hand Pump
  • One Travel Bag
  • One Repair Kit

What We Love About the Buoy Touring Tandem Kayak

I was very impressed with the construction of the kayak. The fabric is tough and welded seams solid. The handles, d-rings, and attachment points are very durable. Overall the boat has a professional feel, reflecting a company that produces rugged equipment designed to last.

Stability of the Kayak

Paddling and riding in the kayak feels very stable and secure. On the water I moved around, adjusted seats, and managed wiggly little kids without any issues. As I mentioned, our 10 and 13 year old enjoyed a full day of paddling through the BWCA without any issues, even with moderate chop and windy conditions. My 13 year old in particular is nervous in canoes, which can feel more unstable. She doesn’t have any problem in the Buoy.

We appreciate that even though an inflatable kayak puts you higher above the water than a hard side touring kayak might you really do sit down into it and are able to adjust the height of your seat by releasing air with the valve as well. I find this contributes to a greater sense of stability as well.

Teenage girl carries inflatable kayak storage bag on her back
Team member Jen’s daughter, Marin, carried the kayak easily thanks to sturdy straps.

Rolling Storage Bag

The storage bag is large enough to fit the kayak and all accessories without feeling the need to wrestle it all in. There are mesh panels on the side that allow any moisture to escape during storage. It includes backpack straps and while a little unwieldy for smaller helpers it’s not hard to carry it from the car to the beach, or down the trail as the need may be. However, we love the sturdy wheels that roll the bag easily across the grass to the beach.

Women pulls rolling kayak bag behind her to the beach
We love the wheels on the kayak bag that make it easy to transport.

Ease of Setup

Setup took about 10 minutes. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly it inflated with the dual action pump. Seats are inflated with breath, but don’t take long. The paddles are in four pieces, but feel stable and solid when locked together. There is a flexible plastic insert for the splash guard that is secured with Velcro.

Customizable Seats and Footrests

The Touring Kayaks seats are inflatable vs the Recreational Kayaks which are not. It’s a nice feature to be able to customize your seat to be as firm or as soft as you like. The seats have multiple adjustment straps that are easy to adjust while paddling. The clips that attach to the D rings are smooth and secure, easy to clip. There’s no wrenching on the straps to adjust the seat, they slide through the buckles easily but stay put after you adjust them.

The seats attach via Velcro to continuous strips along the floor of the kayak. I appreciate that you can release air pressure via the valve at the back of the seat while paddling if you want to sit a bit lower in the boat.

The footrests are easy to install as they attach via two Velcro strips to the floor of the kayak. I mess with them a bit when I first start paddling to find the arrangement that feels best. They are easy to move but stay put once you attach them to the Velcro. The cylindrical shape is comfortable on your feet.

Storage compartment on the back of inflatable kayak seat - Buoy Touring Tandem Kayak Review
The kayak has ample storage for day paddles. A roomy pocket on the back of the seat holds extras.

Storage

There is ample storage throughout the kayak: on the front and back of seats. The seat pockets are mesh with Velcro closure. The pocket at the back of the seat is sufficiently large for a water bottle, extra clothes, etc. There is additional storage behind the splash guard, and a bungee storage on the aft of the boat.

Self Bailing Hull

There are eight self bailing ports in the floor of the kayak. They have easy to unscrew caps to open if the kayak takes on any quantity of water. When we forgot to close one after a paddle it stayed open through another trip but I didn’t notice a significant amount of water in the boat after we were finished.

I never felt wet or had water collecting in the boat while paddling. The seats dry quickly and don’t feel soggy.

Separate Floor

I didn’t realize at first that the floor of the kayak is a separate and removable piece. It is a great feature that provides rigidity. Additionally, being able to take it out it after deflation allows the boat to dry more quickly.

Additional Options

There are two universal accessory mounts on the floor of the kayak. I’m not entirely sure what they are used for as Buoy doesn’t sell accessories that attach to these mounts. It would be helpful if they included links or information regarding the use of those features.

I’d love to try Buoy’s Softpack Cooler which straps securely into the kayak.

Tear Down

Taking the seats and footrests out is a breeze. Seats deflate with a squeeze after you open the valve. I lay them in the sun to dry at the lake if I have time.

The valves screw open so let air out quickly. When I am at the lake I usually fold the kayak up from to the front to back, valves open at the back to let out additional air as I fold. Wet gear is piled into the bag and we take it home. When camping I leave everything out to air dry the day before we break camp so I don’t have to unpack again at home!

At home my preferred drying method is:

  • Lay a tarp out in the driveway
  • Set seats out to dry completely
  • Unroll the kayak
  • Remove the separate floor to dry alone
  • Leave the kayak and floor out to dry (I did this overnight)
  • OR dry with towels if weather doesn’t cooperate or I don’t have the time
  • After everything is dry, reinsert floor into kayak, roll and repack in storage bag

Remember that an inflatable boat is most susceptible to a puncture when it is uninflated so be sure to clean up any debris beforehand and/or have something underneath it when you lay it out for drying.

It is a cumbersome project when uninflated unless you have help but it’s worth taking your time to dry your boat well to prevent mildew and mold in the off season! I appreciate the ventilation in the storage bag to prevent moisture buildup.

What We Don’t Love About the Buoy Touring Tandem Kayak

Pump Attachment Insecure

Once pressure had built while inflating the kayak the pump attachment came unscrewed from the valve. The only solution was to keep a hold of the attachment while pumping to keep air from escaping. Thankfully the valves do not release air until you twist them open. However, it’s inconvenient for inflation if you don’t have help.

PSI Not Printed on Boat

PSI is not printed on the valves or kayak body. I couldn’t remember what the video or online manual gave as a guideline so I usually ended up estimating based on firmness. 

Tip – Mark the PSI near the valve with a permanent marker.

No Printed Manual

There isn’t a printed manual or any documentation included.  Sometimes you may not have access to a digital manual so it would be nice to have the option. There is very poor cell coverage at our regular lake spot so I couldn’t rely on checking online for instructions. I did feel like the process was intuitive but I have experience with other equipment and was able to figure it out as I went along.

However, for someone new to watersports or inflatable equipment it would be very helpful to have a printed manual to flip through. Especially if the the manual were waterproof! Even better, have a quick guide label sewn into or printed on the storage bag like many tents do!

Two people paddle kayak across lake with wooded hill in the distance
Even across big lakes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area our kids paddled the kayak with confidence. They easily kept up with our canoes!

Bottom Line

The Buoy Touring Tandem Kayak is a solid pick for families who love regularly getting out on the water together. I was overall impressed with the craftsmanship and ease of use. These watercraft are only for sale on Buoy’s website, in an effort to keep costs lower by cutting out the middleman.

The kayaks are still a significant investment, though in researching similarly sized but less expensive boats I’ve noticed less durable materials listed in specs compared to the Buoy kayaks. We recommend Buoy watercraft and look forward to years of use for our family!

Two women paddle yellow Buoy Touring Tandem kayak in lake.

Buy the Buoy Touring Tandem Kayak Here! Use code MTNMAMA to save 20%!

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Buoy Watersports Touring Tandem Kayak Review

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  • Jen Levin, mama of six, lives in St Paul Minnesota. Raised in the north woods of Michigan at a year round camp, she had a wild and free childhood. Jen and her husband ran an outdoor adventure program for college age participants for 7 years in Arkansas. They enjoyed helping others experience nature through canoeing, climbing, backpacking, and caving in the Ozark National Forest. Now Jen is figuring out how to nurture outdoor kids in an urban location. She’ll drive the extra miles for a clean lake and is happiest on, in, or near the water. Her family loves camping, swimming, canoeing, backpacking, and harvesting maple syrup at their family farm.

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