Having owned a One-Seater Stearns Spree kayak and used it for more than a year in Illinois River and lake waters, I recently decided to upgrade to the Stearns Spree Two-Person inflatable kayak. I’m a tall guy (about 6’2”) and the older inflatable had always been a little cramped. Since I wanted to take my new kayak out fishing, I got the 2 seater tandem and took it out for a test run in a lake and then a nearby shallow river.
The two person tandem kayak handles very well in calm lake water, cutting a track easily with any kind of stroke. It’s very easy to paddle and the stability is great. This is because the boat is shaped like a canoe though you sit in it like you would in a kayak. I think it would tip over only if you were standing in it.
The following day I took the canoe out to a shallow river with fast moving currents and found that the kayak was stable and easy to handle there as well. The skeg was a just a little problematic, as in a fast flowing river the skeg can drag every shoal with it and come to a halt.
I also found that the boat has a slight tendency to turn around towards the back. It’s also a little awkward with one person in the boat. If you sit in the front, the bow is a little lower and if you sit in the back seat the stern is lower. I solved this problem quite a bit by storing the ballast at the bow while I paddled in front.
Setting the kayak up is a breeze. As with other advanced inflatable kayaks, inflating and deflating takes just a few minutes, especially with my Boston valve fitted bellows foot pump. It’s also easy to get into the water. I stowed my shoes under the cords that holds the life jacket at the stern and slipped my legs under the spray cover. The spray cover has a useful mesh pocket to store your gear in. I kept my bailing bucket and water bottle in there and my fishing gear stowed in the back seat.
While it is a tandem, there is a maximum weight rating of 280 pounds. So two large adult men may not be suitable for the boat, but if you were around 160 pounds (as I am) and carried a child with you that should be okay. If you need a boat with a higher max weight rating then you can read these tandem kayak reviews.
Quality & Build
Durability is usually of greatest concern with inflatables. On that count, I found the Stearns Spree inflatable kayak quite tough, with a rugged hull that can be dragged over beaches and rocks with no damage. The two issues I have with the design is that the short fins are a little flimsy and if you’re back from muddy water, you’ll have to clean out the mud manually or it can stain. All in all, if used in calm water and maintained, it should last a long time.
Aside from some minor gripes, I was very pleased with this sturdy kayak, great for calm waters. It folds up easily into a small bag and can be stowed in your car trunk. Aside from whitewater, I think it could do very well in most lakes and rivers. I’d highly recommend it to newbie or moderately experienced kayakers as well, since it rates pretty high on stability.
This is probably one of the best and real video reviews available on this kayak. However it is for the One-Person version of it so keep that in mind when viewing it: