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Sevylor Madison Review

A short tandem sold as a complete kit to get you out for a leisurely paddle
Sevylor Madison
Photo: Sevylor
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Price:  $729 List
Pros:  Everything included, durable design, simple
Cons:  Poor pump, cramped cockpit, inelegant handling
Manufacturer:   Sevylor
By Maggie Brandenburg ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Jul 16, 2021
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50
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#10 of 13
  • Handling - 25% 4
  • Comfort - 25% 6
  • Ease of Set Up - 20% 4
  • Portability - 20% 5
  • Durability - 10% 7

Our Verdict

The Sevylor Madison is an all-inclusive kayak package with everything you need to get on the water aside from PFDs. It's made of durable materials with a simple, straightforward design that's easy to learn and use. It rides high and has a flat bottom and short length, helping it turn on a dime but making it track less effectively. It doesn't have a lot of extra space in the open cockpit, which may feel cramped for taller paddlers, and we found its included foot pump to be nearly unusable. But it's easy to set up and pack up and may just be the casual kayak solution you're searching for.

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Sevylor Madison
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Price $729 List$540 List
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Pros Everything included, durable design, simpleHandles well, high durability, fast, stable, fabric is water resistantHandles and tracks well, very durable, helpful features, option for single or tandem paddlingComplete package, doesn't soak up water, spacious, can paddle solo alsoExtremely portable, maneuverable, stable, easy set up
Cons Poor pump, cramped cockpit, inelegant handlingHeavy, floor difficult to inflate, hard to drainHeavy, no paddles or pump included, expensiveSmall paddle blades, unimpressive attachments, materials less durableLow durability, poor tracking, weight doesn’t include pump or paddle
Bottom Line A short tandem sold as a complete kit to get you out for a leisurely paddleWith excellent handling, a long lifespan, and great comfort, this kayak will go the distanceRather heavy but a great performance for a two-person model that can also be used soloEverything you need to get out on the water with a friend or by yourself for a great priceGetting on the water miles from any roads has never been easier than with this extremely portable kayak
Rating Categories Sevylor Madison AdvancedFrame AdvancedFrame Conve... Intex Excursion Pro K2 Advanced Elements P...
Handling (25%)
4.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
4.0
Comfort (25%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
4.0
Ease Of Set Up (20%)
4.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
Portability (20%)
5.0
6.0
4.0
6.0
9.0
Durability (10%)
7.0
8.0
8.0
4.0
3.0
Specs Sevylor Madison AdvancedFrame AdvancedFrame Conve... Intex Excursion Pro K2 Advanced Elements P...
Measured Weight (boat and storage bag only) 38.2 lb 33.25 lb 55.2 lb 34.6 lb 5.25 lb
Capacity Tandem; 440 lbs Single; 300 lbs Tandem; 550 lbs Tandem; 400 lbs Single; 250 lbs
Kayak Size (length x width) 10' 8" x 3' 10' 3" x 2' 9" 15' x 2' 8" 12' 6" x 2' 8" 7' 6" x 2' 11"
Packed Size (length x width x height) 29" x 19" x 13" 33" x 16" x 15" 35" x 21" x 12" 26" x 19" x 19" 14" x 12" x 7"
Included Accessories Paddles, pump, pressure gauge, and repair kit Repair kit Repair kit Paddles, pump, repair kit, GoPro/phone mount, fishing rod holders, and pressure gauge Repair kit
Material/Construction Heavy duty tarpaulin Aluminum ribs in bow & stern, PVC-coated polyester Aluminum ribs in bow & stern, PVC tarpaulin, 3 layers rip-stop material 3-ply PVC vinyl laminate with polyester core Polyurethane-coated ripstop polyester
Features Paddle keepers, adjustable backrest, carry handles Adjustable backrest, bungees, pressure relief valve in floor, skeg Paddle keepers, seatback pockets, bungee straps, D-ring attachment points, converts to solo boat Adjustable backrest, drainage hole, foot braces, carry handles, fishing rod holders, phone/GoPro mount, skeg, tracking fin, converts to solo boat Rubber-molded handle, mesh carry bag doubles as onboard storage, accessory D-rings

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Sevylor Madison is an inflatable, convertible tandem kayak with a 440-pound capacity. It weighs 38.2 pounds and is made of heavy-duty tarpaulin on the bottom with a fabric top. It comes with a foot pump, two paddles, and a repair kit and features paddle keepers, adjustable backrests, and carry handles.

Performance Comparison


A little light on legroom, the Madison does decently on calm days in...
A little light on legroom, the Madison does decently on calm days in calm waters.
Photo: Jason Peters

Handling


The Madison is just 10'8" long, making it one of the shortest tandem boats we tested. Combined with its flat bottom and tendency to ride high out of the water, this boat turns very well but tracks below average. The flat bottom is also a bit floppy, slowing you down while you paddle rather than slicing through the water or cruising on top of it. As a short watercraft, the Madison requires more thought put into seat placement and weight balance, but the velcro-bottomed seats are difficult to rearrange once you're on the water. Small figures on the floor of the boat indicate where to place the seats for tandem or solo paddling, but they don't take into account the potentially imbalanced weights of passengers. A lack of finesse and handling ability make this boat best for calm days on flat waters.

A flat, floppy bottom slows down progress made in the Madison.
A flat, floppy bottom slows down progress made in the Madison.
Photo: Jason Peters

Comfort


The Madison has inflatable seat cushions covered by fabric. Finding the perfect level of inflation for your personal comfort takes some practice. As a tandem boat, this short kayak has limited legroom and feels a bit cramped. It's nice and wide, though — at 3 feet, it's one of the widest boats we tested. This helps it be stable and easy to get in and out of, but also means paddling is more challenging because you have to reach around the tall, thickly inflated edges. On the flip side, the included paddles are comfortable and easy to use — and we appreciate that they come standard with the boat.

Inflatable seat cushions take some practice to get comfortable.
Inflatable seat cushions take some practice to get comfortable.
Photo: Jason Peters

Ease of Set Up


The Madison comes with a foot pump, which we found so difficult to get attached to the valves that we gave up using it and used another instead. The foot pump is made to be threaded onto the Boston valves, which are simple to use but clunky. However, to do so, you have to twist the entire hose, resulting in kinks that prevent airflow. The valves involve a two-cap system for separate inflation and deflation, but the two caps with their two leashes readily get tangled with each other. When completely open, they leave gaping holes in the hull of the boat that can get sand kicked into them. Lacking a drainage hole, the Madison must be flipped over to empty. What makes this kayak far worse than most others to put away is that everything on top and inside of the boat is made of fabric that soaks up water and holds it for a very long time. This prevents you from simply wiping down your kayak after use and means the whole boat stays wet for hours. We highly recommend that you unfold and air out this boat once you get it back to your house to prevent it from molding.

The included air pump has to be threaded onto the Boston valves but...
The included air pump has to be threaded onto the Boston valves but doing so tangles the hose and is an exercise in frustration.
Photo: Maggie Brandenburg

Portability


Weighing 38.2 pounds, the Madison is just on the high side of average weight among tandems we tested. Its storage bag is large and easy to use, with straps both inside and outside that allow you to cinch down the contents. Long handles let you loop it over your shoulder for easier carrying. Once set up, side carry handles on the boat double as paddle holders to make it easier to cart this boat from the car to the beach.

Side handles that double as paddle keepers.
Side handles that double as paddle keepers.
Photo: Jason Peters

Durability


The PVC tarpaulin bottom of the Madison is thick and sturdy. The fabric top and interior are also decently thick. The worries we have about the durability of the Madison are more with its accessories and inability to dry quickly. We've already mentioned the foot pump that's nearly impossible to use and slow to inflate. Similarly, with so much fabric staying wet after your day at the lake, this boat is more likely to grow mold as it sits in the bag in your closet. The boat itself, though, proved hearty and well-built during our several months of testing.

The Sevylor Madison (right) alongside the Intex Excursion Pro K2...
The Sevylor Madison (right) alongside the Intex Excursion Pro K2 (left).
Photo: Jason Peters

Value


Considering the Madison includes paddles and a pump, its price point isn't horrible. But we're less stoked on its versatility of use, as a short tandem that's wide and clunky and has subpar handling. There are other convertible tandems we like more that cost less.

Conclusion


The Sevylor Madison is an okay convertible tandem, best suited for smaller paddlers having very casual adventures. It takes a long time to dry all the fabric but comes as part of a kit with everything you need to get out on the water faster (minus the life jackets).

A wide, rectangular boat for recreational paddling where speed and...
A wide, rectangular boat for recreational paddling where speed and accuracy of direction matter less.
Photo: Jason Peters

Maggie Brandenburg