Intex Challenger K2 Review

The Intex Challenger K2 is the best-selling kayak from the inflatable boat manufacturer Intex and probably the best-selling kayak on the Internet. The boat is available as a 1-person kayak (Intex Challenger K1) and as a 2-person kayak (Intex Challenger K2). There are a lot of positive reviews of this low-priced inflatable kayak online. Not to forget that the Intex Challenger K2 is supplied with all the necessary accessories (two double paddles and an air pump). This actually sounds too good to be true.

We wanted to find out what the truth is and tested it for you. We have already paddled numerous inflatable kayaks and can therefore make a good comparison.

intex challenger k2

Technical Specs

Max. paddlers:
Packed size:

351 cm | 11’5”
76 cm | 2’5”
159 kg | 353 lbs
59 x 32 x 41 cm |
1’9” x 1′ x 1’3”

Produced in:

15 kg | 33.1 lbs
0,069 bar | 1 PSI

Which model has been reviewed?

Intex Challenger K2 from 2018, Intex Challenger K2 from 2023

How did we organize the review?

We have purchased the Intex Challenger K2 ourselves.

How intensively has the product been tested?


high 1 bar = 1-3 km paddled (first impressions)
2 bars = min. 1 day/ 2 half-day tours
3 bars = min. 4 tours
4 bars = min. 8 tours
5 bars = min. 12 tours (very intense)

Where have we tested the product?


Calm rivers


Set-up and first impressions

The Intex Challenger K2 is delivered in a light and thin transport bag. The bag doesn’t make a rough impression but for short transports or storing the kayak at home the transport bag should be sufficient. The Challenger K2 is not a very lightweight inflatable. Everyone who wants to transport the kayak some hundred meters by foot should buy a larger transport backpack (e.g. the affordable Itiwit boat backpack*).

intex k2 transport bag
The Intex Challenger K2 comes in a thin carrying bag with all the necessary accessories.

The transport bag fits the complete folded boat (weighed 10.45 kg or 23 lbs) and all the accessories. These include two inflatable seats, an air pump, an inflatable “footrest” for the person in front, a skeg, two double paddles including drip rings, a measuring strip (for checking the air pressure) and repair patches. The supplied Intex Double Quick II* is a small-volume double-stroke pump with three different attachments. Double stroke means that air is expelled both when the piston is pushed down and when it is pulled up, thus enabling more efficient pumping.

intex kayak accessoires
The kayak set includes two paddles and an air pump

The boat itself consists of a bottom and side chamber, which are inflated via Boston valves with the supplied air pump. As the pump is relatively small, it takes a little while to inflate the boat completely, despite the double-stroke function. Alternatively, you could buy a larger pump, which would make it much quicker and easier. On the other hand, a small pump is of course more space-saving (especially handy when taking it with in the boat)

intex challenger k2 review inflating
The kayak consists of tow separate air chambers that are inflated one after the other.

The measuring scale printed on the air chambers is pretty practical. At the correct operating pressure, the measuring scale is 10 cm long. It is important to inflate the air chambers correctly, as too high an operating pressure can damage the air chambers and too low an operating pressure can impair rigidity and riding characteristics.

intex challenger k2 valvce air pump
The kayak has boston valves
intex k2 kayak pressure measure
Measuring scale to check the correct air pressure
Soft air chambers due to the low air pressure

The two seats consist of a seat cushion and a backrest, which are inflated by mouth or with one of the air pump attachments, just like an air mattress. Inflating them was not only a little tedious, but also a bit fiddly, as the air always escaped quickly before the valve was closed.

There are two Velcro strips in the interior on the floor of the boat for attaching the seats. There is a longer strip for the rear seat so that its position can be varied. The Velcro fastening on the floor also prevents the seats from slipping while paddling. The seats are also attached to the side chambers of the kayak using two adjustable straps. These straps can be used to adjust the position of the backrest.

intex challenger k2 inflating seat
Inflating the seats
intex challenger k2 review placing seat
Placing the seats
intex challenger k2 seat buckles
Fastening the backrest using the straps

There is also a footrest for the person in front. This is a small air cushion that is placed in the bow. This gives the front paddler (especially small people) a better grip when paddling. The rear paddler already has good support when paddling due to the front seat.

intex challenger k2 footrest
Inflating the “footrest”
intex challenger k2 placing footrest
Placing the footrest

A very nice feature is the front luggage net, which is very spacious. A bag or backpack and shoes can be stowed underneath it without taking up additional space in the boat or getting in the way. The luggage net is also easy to reach on the water.

However, an additional luggage net at the rear would have been even better. For a light bag or shoes, it fits quite well at the front. However, if you want to stow more weight (e.g. a backpack with a few drinks, the cockpit will quickly sag at the front and further restrict the footwell).

intex challenger k2 review luggage net
There is a spacious luggage net at the front

Cosidering the price, it really surprised us that there is a skeg included. A directional skeg can be attached underneath the kajak hull, which is secured with a split pin. A directional skeg noticeably improves the directional stability of an inflatable kayak, as inflatable kayaks tend to float on the water rather than in the water compared to rigid hull and folding kayaks.

Overall, it is noticeable that the bottom of the kayak is very flat and has no keel. On the one hand, this speaks for good tipping stability and good trim on the water.

intex challenger k2 mounting skeg
Mounting the skeg
intex challenger k2 kayak review skeg
Bottom of the Intex Challenger K2

Review of the Intex Challenger K2 on the water

Unlike the Intex Explorer K2 and Intex Excursion Pro, the Challenger K2 does not have carrying handles. Instead, we use the safety lines for transportation, which works well due to the low weight of the kayak, as long as the kayak is not loaded with luggage. For longer transfers on river tours, however, the carrying handles would definitely be missing.

If you have got some experience with inflatable kayaks, you will also notice that the material is not as thick as used for high-quality inflatables. So, the boat skin can’t be very resistant and solid. Therefore, you should really try to avoid any contact with the ground. Be also careful outside the water with the kayak that there are no sharp stones or branches on the ground.

intex challenger k2 kayak assembled
The kayak has no carrying handles. The safety lines can be used instead

Compared to the Intex Explorer K2 or Excursion Pro, the Challenger K2 has a semi-open cockpit. A cockpit is a practical protection against splashing water. However, the space between the floor chamber and the cockpit chamber is so narrow in the kayak that you have to contort yourself to get your legs under the cockpit.

As the kayak is very flexible with the soft air tubes, it still works well enough. As long as your legs are under the cockpit, even tall people have enough legroom. On longer tours, we would feel too cramped due to the cockpit. And in many cases, the space under the cockpit is definitely too small when wearing shoes. One more reason why it is more of a fun boat, as the kayak is best paddled barefoot.

intex challenger k2 kayak legroom front
With a little effort, the legs go under the cockpit
intex challenger k2 legroom front
If the legs are under the cockpit, the person in front has enough legroom

There is much less space in the back. The legs have to be bent at an angle (e.g. 1.86cm / 6’1″ tall) in order to sit properly. If you lean heavily into the backrest, the soft backrest bends backwards. This indicates a lack of support in the lower back area (particularly important on longer trips). Moreover, the backrest is difficult to adjust on the water. The cockpit makes it difficult to reach the straps to loosen or tighten them.

intex challenger k2 legroom back
Rear footwell
intex challenger k2 kayak legroom back
The seats provide little support

We also don’t have enough space in the back when paddling. Both paddlers sit too close together. It is not possible for the paddler in the back to fully extend the arm when paddling. This is because the kayak is pretty short for a 2-person kayak with a cockpit (due to the cockpit, the seat can only be positioned far back to a limited extent) at 351 cm / 11’5” in length.

In terms of handling characteristics, the kayak’s initial impression on the water is impressive considering the low price. For an entry-level kayak with a relatively low operating pressure, the Challenger K2 can still be paddled relatively quickly on the water. The skeg also ensures good directional stability. However, if you paddle too fast (around 6 km/h or 3.73 mph), paddling becomes a wobbly affair. Compared to other inflatable kayaks, the Challenger K2 is somewhat sluggish and reacts slowly to a change of direction. The person in the back needs several powerful paddle strokes to move the kayak in the desired direction.

intex challenger k2 review lake
The double paddles fulfill their purpose for short tours
intex challenger k2 review lake two seater
The kayak can be paddled relatively quickly on the water
intex challenger k2 review tour
The kayak is fine for short trips on the water.

The seats are very comfortable to sit in. However, the emphasis is on relaxation. The seats are not designed for longer trips. The seats are too soft and provide too little support. The Challenger K2 also has a relatively low operating pressure (0.069 bar). Higher quality inflatable kayaks (e.g. Gumotex Solar, Gumotex Seawave, Itiwit x500, nortik scubi 1 XL, …) have a 3-5 times higher operating pressure, which results in considerably better handling characteristics and a significantly higher rigidity.

The paddles supplied (1000 g or 2.2 lbs each, which is not too heavy for an entry-level double paddle) definitely serve their purpose for beginners and are comfortable to paddle for short distances. But you shouldn’t expect much more from these double-blade paddles. However, you should not forget that a high-quality paddle often costs more than the whole Intex boat.

The paddle blades have a high flex (very flexible) so that powerful paddle strokes quickly become ineffective. They are also 5-piece paddles. This saves a lot of space when disassembled, but the double paddles also make a somewhat wobbly impression with a total of 3 plug-in connections. On the other hand, the drip rings, which reduce splashing water in the boat, are a positive feature.

Intex Challenger K1 as a 1-person kayak

The Intex Challenger K2 can also be used as a 1-person kayak. The Velcro strip on the floor and the seat straps are long enough so that you can position the front seat sufficiently far back or in the middle of the kayak. The footrest cannot be used in this configuration. Nevertheless, a reasonable paddle is possible, although the footrest would be missing on longer tours in the long run.

intex challenger k2 solo review
The Intex Challenger k2 can also be used as a single kayak

There is plenty of space in the 1-seater configuration. There is also enough space behind the seat to stow a large backpack.

Although the trim of the kayak is still good on the water (despite the low operating pressure), the straight-line stability and speed are logically poorer when using this 2-persons kayak as a 1-person kayak. Nevertheless, with the Intex Challenger K2 in the 1-person configuration, you can reach a speed of approx. 5 km/h or 3.12mph, which surprised us.

intex challenger k2 kayak review solo
The trim on the water is still amazingly good

Dismantling the kayak

Dismantling the boat has proved to be harder than the setup. On one hand it was not easy to wipe out the water. The Challenger K2 has some hard-to-reach areas (especially in the bug) that makes wiping the boat dry quite difficult. Whereas deflating the air chambers was easy thanks to the Boston valves

Strengths and Weaknesses

The greatest strength of the Intex Challenger K2 is the unbeatable price including the accessory. And, that’s why this kayak is so popular. You have got everything to start paddling. But for this low price you shouldn’t really expect a high-quality kayak. Intex kayaks look great and professional regarding design but at a closer look you notice big difference with inflatable kayaks from other manufacturers that cost much more.

The operating pressure is quite low and the material of the boat skin is too thin. On our first day, we had already two little holes in the floor chamber and we have started paddling yet. We could repair it quickly without any big problems. But the used material for the boat skin is very sensitive and the greatest weakness of this inflatable boat. So, we can only partly recommend the Intex Challenger K2. We wouldn’t call it an actual kayak but rather a fun boat. For paddling  from time to time a bit on a calm and small lake where you want to relax the Challenger K2 is great option. But this boat is not a good option for anybody looking for a real kayak. If you want to do regularly some longer tours, you should invest in high-quality kayak.

intex challenger k2 kayak review


+ very affordable + very handy cargo bungee net in front + kayak paddles and pump already included seats can be positioned variably + comfortable seats for chilled kayak tours + can also be used as a single kayak Good speed and good directional stability + good trim on the water + attractive design


– lack of carrying handles on bow and stern – more fun boat than inflatable kayak – sensitive boat skin – low operating pressure and therefore soft air chambers – more difficult to dry/clean due to lack of drain valve and existing cockpit (hard to reach places in the interior) – little space with shoes (especially at the front due to the cockpit) – little space for the rear paddler to paddle properly (short seat distance) – footrest not very useful – seats provide too little support on longer tours – wobbly double paddles – short warranty period of 90 days (from day of purchase)

Conclusion on the Intex Challenger K2

The Intex Challenger K2 is a very affordable inflatable kayak and very popular among beginners. It comes with an astonishing amount of accessories and nothing is missing that you need for paddling. You only need to buy two life jackets. However, due to the low price, you should not expect a real inflatable kayak, but rather a fun boat. The operating pressure is too low for this and the material is too thin.

intex challenger k2 inflatable kayak review
Perfect for short tours, but still more of a fun boat than an inflatable kayak

We even had two small punctures in the bottom chamber of one model on the first day, even though we hadn’t even paddled yet (most likely caused by stones when setting up on the shore). This can be mended, but it is still an indication that the material is not very resistant. The Challenger K2 can therefore only be recommended to a limited extent.

It is intended for smaller tours on lakes where the focus is on chilling on the water. The Intex Challenger K2 is also suitable for a leisurely river or lake tour lasting a few hours, as long as you avoid ground contact and don’t have too high expectations. It is not intended for people or aspiring ambitious paddlers who want to go on regular tours lasting several hours.

intex explorer k2 challenger k2 comparison
Unfortunately, the Intex Challenger K2 does not have carrying handles

If you’re wondering whether the Intex Challenger K1 or K2 is right for you, we recommend reading the article 1, 2 or 3-seater canoe – Which boat size should it be? Here we compare the different sizes of inflatable boats and show under which circumstances which size is most suitable. There are also frequent questions about the differences between the Intex Challenger K2 and the Intex Explorer K2. We have tested these two inflatable kayaks for you in a comparison test.

Accessories for the Intex Challenger K1

The scope of delivery of the boat includes the following accessories:

  • Kayak paddle
  • Inflatable foot brace
  • Air pump
  • Fin
  • Repair patches
  • Transport bag

In addition, we recommend the following accessories:

  • Life jacket: Itiwit BA 50N+ * (good life jacket for beginners, very good price-performance ratio, more details in our test report).
  • Dry Bag: Itiwit dry bag 10L* (ideal for protecting items from splashing water and short immersion in water, good workmanship, with carrying strap, available in different colors and sizes)
  • Transport backpack: only a bag is included, which is intended for storage and short transport of the kayak to the water. If you want to transport the kayak longer distances and more comfortably to the water, we recommend the Itiwit transport backpack*, which is comfortable to carry and has enough space for the kayak and accessories.

Alternatives to the Intex Challenger K2

A similar inflatable kayak is the Intex Explorer K2. The biggest difference is the design. We have also an article where we compare both boats: Intex Challenger vs. Intex Explorer.

The Intex Excursion Pro looks quite similar to the Explorer K2 but here there are especially differences regarding material and quality. The Excursion Pro is the most expensive inflatable kayak from Intex but the boat skin is much thicker and it has much more features. If you are willing to pay more, then this one might be the better choice for you.

The post has 1 comment

  1. The comments on the K2 were really informative and helpful. Both my wife and myself are retired. So there is no desire to go kayaking for miles and miles. Just a steady and slow float around the Life Guard area of our favourite beach at Bigbury On Sea here in Devon. We’re not too bothered about the pro’s and Cons you mentioned. As we both improvise, adapt and overcome by using a common sense approach to some of the pit falls you mentioned. This didn’t put us off buying a K2 Kayak. Though life jackets are a MUST. Anyone who thinks that NOTHING will happen to THEM, are in for a culture shock when it does. I know. I served at sea for 40 years. So I am well aware of those hidden dangers that the sea can throw at the unwary and foolhardy. Sometimes at an unfortunate loss.


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