Intex Challenger K2 vs
Intex Explorer K2

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.

Intex Explorer K2

2 persons kayak

Intex Challenger K2

2 person kayak

Set-up: It's a bit faster with the Intex Explorer

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.

Intex Challenger K2
Intex_Explorer_K2_setup
Intex Explorer K2

Comfort: The Intex Explorer K2 is a bit more comfortable

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.

Material and quality: There are no difference

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).

intex challenger k2 quality
Intex Challenger K2
Intex Explorer K2

Space: The Intex Challenger K2 offers more space for legs and luggage

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

Speed: The Intex Challenger is faster and more sportive

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.

The Intex Challenger K2 on the water
Intex Challenger K2
The Intex Explorer K2 on the water
Intex Explorer K2

Directional Stability: Both kayaks come with a skeg

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.

Splash guard: The Intex Challenger K2 protects you more from splash water.

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.

Manoeuvrability: The Intex Explorer is a bit easier to navigate

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.

Stability: Both boats are quite stable

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.

Dismantling: The Intex Explorer K2 is easier to dismantle

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.

Transportability: The Intex Explorer K2 is easier to transport

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.

Accessoires: Both kayaks come with the same accessoires

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.

Final Result: Intex Challenger vs Intex Explorer

Intex Explorer K2

2 persons kayak

Intex Challenger K2

2 person kayak

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Intex Explorer K2

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Intex Challenger K2

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.

Alternatives to Intex Explorer and Challenger

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.

Sea Eagle 330

2 persons kayak

Intex Excursion Pro

2 persons kayak

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Hi there, I am curious if these could fit into a larger backpack to be carried? I live 2km (way up hill) from a river and would like to be able walk down and paddle around and hike back home. There are only 3 parking spots near the river so being able to walk would be best.

    1. Hello Sarah,

      it depends on the size of your backpack and especially on the opening. But there are backpacks where it’s no problem to fit them in.

      Christian

  2. Hi Christian,

    So you feel that the Sea Eagle 330 is similar to the 2 entry level Intex kayaks but will last longer due to the materials of the kayak? Are the paddles with the Sea Eagle better than with the Intex? I am only 5’4 and have kayak’d maybe twice in my life but after an unexpected divorce have decided to do more fun things like kayaking.

    1. We haven’t paddled the Sea Eagle kayak yet and can’t tell if we think that the kayak could last longer. Buthe model from Sea Eagle is similar to the Intex kayaks. Paddles from the package seem also close to the ones from Intex. They are good for starting if you are a beginner and not sure about kayaking yet but they can’t compete with high-quality inflatable kayaks.

  3. Xlnt article! Thank you for this great bit of info. We bought the Explorer simply due to an amazing sale price, not knowing there was a Challenger version. Your detailed look eased our minds and we are ready to get in the water(we live a few short blocks from a pretty calm estuary in Seaside, Oregon).

  4. One quick question: can one person manage an Explorer K2? My wife is 5’4 and 120lbs, I’m 5’8” and 190lbs.

    1. Hello Conrad,

      it’s ok if only one person paddles and the other one relaxes but you will be just much slower or you have to put much more force in. I have also seen people who paddled the Intex Explorer K2 solo. Ideally, you put some weight in the stern.

  5. Hi Christian,
    Would these kayaks be ok on the ocean? Thinking more for relatively calm and sunny days at the beach.
    Cheers

    1. Hi Nick,

      if you stay close to the beach on calm days it should be ok. However, don’t forget to wear life jackets.

      Best
      Christian

  6. What an excellent write up and comparison. Thanks so much for your work on this. Really helped make a decision. Will use you buy it links!

  7. HI, It looks like both are for 2 people, yet the graphics seem to indicate the Challenger is for 1 person? This is confusing.
    Let’s say I’m 5 11” and want to Kayak with my daughter who is 5’4”…
    Can either of these accommodate us?
    Thanks

    1. Hello Steven,

      there was a typo in the graphic, which I have just corrected. The Intex Challenger K2 is indeed for two persons. This kayak would be suitable in terms of size for you and your daughter. Please keep in mind that this is a pretty cheap entry level kayak. For short tours on calm water and sunny days they will do the job. However, I would personally prefer a more quality one like a kayak from Advanced Elements or Itiwit. But it’s also a question of budget.

      Best regards
      Christian

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