Intex is a very-known brand for infltable products. The Intex Challenger and the Intex Explorer are one of the most popular entry-level kayaks on the market. Both kayaks cost about the same. At the first glance both inflatable kayaks differ only visually, but there are some more differences between the two boats. We have reviewed the Intex Explorer K2 and Challenger K2 under the same conditions and would like to present you the two inflatable kayaks in a direct comparison. We definitely enjoyed both inflatable kayaks. For about $100 you get a functional inflatable kayak. But it is doubtful how long such a cheap inflatable kayak will last. The material of the boat skin is not very robust and also the paddles included are only suitable for short kayaking tours. Both inflatable kayaks should rather be seen as fun boats for sunny days on calm lakes than as real inflatable kayaks.
Both inflatable kayaks are very similar in construction and easy to set up. Only inflating the seats by mouth was a bit more challenging. The setup time for the Intex Explorer K2 was about half a minute faster than for the Intex Challenger K2.
The inflatable seats are identical on both inflatable kayaks. The seats are attached to the floor with hook-and-loop closures and straps including clip fasteners on the side tubes. On the Intex Explorer, the backrests can be adjusted more easily as the belts are easier accessible. Due to their low air pressure, both inflatable kayaks are soft and quite comfortable, which is great for relaxing on the lake. The boats are not suitable for longer paddling tours, as the air pressure is quite low and the seats do not provide enough support. All in all, the Explorer K2 is a little more comfortable. It is an open kayak, which gives more space for the paddlers and makes it easier to get in and out.
Both inflatable kayaks are equally well made. Both the Challenger and the Explorer are made of PVC only. This is definitely thicker than any air mattress, but very thin for an inflatable kayak. This is not a good basis for a long life, which is not surprising considering the price of the two boats. With high quality kayaks there is an extra nylon protective cover (e.g. Sevylor Adventure) or the boat skin is made of a fabric material (e.g. Innova Twist).
The Challenger K2 offers more legroom due to its length. The Intex Explorer K2 has thicker side tubes, so the interior is narrower. For paddlers there is more space in the Challenger K2. Also the Challenger K2 offers a luggage net on the bow, which is very useful and which Explorer K2 does not have. All in all the Challenger offers more space for paddlers and luggage
The Challenger K2 reaches a higher speed. We measured 0.35 mph more. This is because the Challenger K2 has a longer hull. When paddling comfortably both boats are equally fast, about 2,2 mph. Both boats surprised us regarding the speed. However, a fast paddling is only possible in good conditions, i.e. no wind and no waves.
Both inflatable boats are equipped with a skeg, which is indispensable. Without a skeg the boats do not have a good directional stability. With the skeg the boats have an acceptable directional stability. On longer distances and in light winds you have to correct the direction more often. There is no difference between the two inflatable kayaks in terms of directional stability.
Unlike the Explorer K2, the Intex Challenger K2 is a semi-open kayak, so it has a deck. This means that less splash water gets into the boat when paddling. The Explorer K2 has a splash cover at the bow and stern. But these are very small and serve more as decoration.
Overall, both boats need several strong paddle strokes from the paddler in the back to change direction and they react slowly to changes in direction. The Intex Explorer K2 is a little bit more agile than the Challenger K2 because of its wider hull.
The two kayaks do not differ in stability. Paddling is not a shaky affair, but compared to other inflatable boats (e.g. Innova Swing 2) you can definitely capsize with the Intex kayaks. It is recommended to wear a life jacket.
The Intex Explorer is easier to dismantle. Bow and stern are easier to reach inside. There is no deck, only small spraydecks. So the boat can be wiped out better. The Intex Explorer K2 also has a drain valve. It should be closed during the trip, because otherwise water can get in. But this a very useful feature for dismantling. The boat only needs to be tilted and the water in the boat drains off without any problems. In the Challenger K2 the water has to be wiped out with a sponge, especially in the front interior it is very difficult to reach. In addition, it is easier to let the air out of the Explorer K2. This is thanks to the three separate chambers instead of 2 chambers from the Challenger. The boat skin of both boats dries very quickly.
The Intex Explorer K2 is 2,2 lbs lighter and when folded is slightly smaller than the Challenger K2. The Explorer K2 also has carrying handles at the bow and stern, which makes it easier to handle. Compared to the Challenger K2, the Explorer K2 is the more transportable inflatable kayak, both when inflated and folded.
Both boats had two double paddles and an air pump included. These are identical. The paddles are not designed for longer paddling trips, because they are a bit wobbly. Also the paddles are a bit short and you can always easily get against the side tubesof the boat when you stick the paddle into the water. Here 90 inch paddles would be better. The air pump serves its purpose.
In a direct comparison it is 9:7 for the Intex Explorer K2. You can see that both inflatable kayaks are very similar. In the individual categories the Explorer or Challenger impresses with slightly better characteristics. For those who like it more comfortable, the Explorer K2 is the better choice. You sit more open and comfortable, the assembly and especially the disassembly is less complex. Who likes it more sporty and wants to take more luggage with him, should take the Challenger K2. It is a bit faster and you sit more sporty in the kayak. Also for tall people the Challenger K2 is more suitable. You will find detailed reviewreports on both boats in the boxes below.
If you are looking for another kayak than the Challenger K2 or Explorer K2, then you should check out the Sea Eagle 330. This one is also an entry-level kayak and comes in a complete set with paddles, air pumpt and bag. The Intex Excursion Pro looks quite similar to the Explorer K2 but the biggest difference here is the material and quality, which is why this kayak is also more expensive.