Inflatable Recreational Kayak Review: Intex Challenger K2

Paddling Buyer’s Guide

The Intex Challenger K2 is a versatile inflatable kayak that’s fun to paddle for one or two paddlers. That’s good news if you’re among those asking, can one person use the Intex Challenger K2 kayak? Larger paddlers who max out the limited weight capacity of the smaller Intex Challenger K1 kayak will find more buoyancy in the larger Challenger K2. It’s also an ideal choice for an adult looking to get out on the water with a child or youth.

Like other inflatable kayaks, the Intex Challenger K2 sets up easily and packs small, making it great for those with limited storage. It’s also among the cheapest kayaks on the market, making it a great choice for those wishing to try kayaking without making a huge investment in a boat or a place to store it.

The Intex Challenger K2 inflatable kayak is sold with two aluminum paddles and pump. The design features of this inflatable kayak make it suited to paddling on calm lakes and mild rivers. This Intex Challenger K2 review will cover the boat’s main features, along with its strengths and weaknesses to help you decide if it’s the right kayak for you.

On the water with the Intex Challenger K2

Intex Challenger K2 Specs
Length: 11’6” / 3.45 m
Width: 30” / 76 cm
Weight: 38 lbs / 17 kg
Capacity: 400 lbs / 182 kg
MSRP: $249 USD

Performance

The Intex Challenger K2 is the bigger brother of the Intex Challenger K1. It has similar performance characteristics. Most notable is its great stability. Like other inflatable kayaks, the Challenger K2 feels slow and sluggish—especially compared to a hardshell kayak. At 11.5 feet long it’s faster and straighter tracking than the Challenger K1, yet also quite maneuverable and easy to handle in calm conditions.

Can’t decide between the Intex Challenger K1 or the Intex Challenger K2? Choose the K1 if you’re a smaller person and primarily intend to paddle solo. The Challenger K2 has much greater volume and a maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds.

Market and demographics

Like its smaller sister ship, the Intex Challenger K2 is a general purpose inflatable kayak for beginners at a bargain price. It’s best for recreational paddlers who are looking to have fun on the water, solo or tandem, for an hour or two at a time. If you’re looking to develop your skills or spend more time in the kayak, look at a higher performance (pricier) inflatable kayak to meet your needs.

The Intex Challenger K2 is versatile and can be used for many applications—just bear in mind that this cheap inflatable kayak will never match the performance and comfort of more expensive boats.

Intex Challenger K2 fishing is extremely popular. Compared to the shorter K1 model, the added length of the Challenger K2 provides more space for storing rods and tackle and greater comfort in casting and landing fish. Like the K1, the 11.5-foot K2 is stable and nimble, and provides anglers with access to the shallowest backwaters. It’s also a great option for adults who wish to enjoy kayak fishing with a young angler.

Of course, the bargain-price Intex Challenger K2 kayak lacks the specialized outfitting of more expensive fishing kayaks. But if you’re handy it’s easy to make some quick modifications, such as adding tackle storage boxes and rod holders, to improve its fishability.

Intex Challenger K2 ocean kayaking is not advised, except in sheltered bays. This kayak has a low profile in the water, allowing chop and waves to enter the cockpit. The lightweight inflatable hull can also be difficult to handle in wind and waves, so inland lakes and gentle rivers are best.

Check The Weather
  • Plan for changing weather conditions. Prepare for the worst case.
  • Don’t forget to check tide, currents, or river levels.

Comfort

The Intex Challenger K2 comes with two inflatable seats, which score high points for comfort. The seat back wraps around your ribs for a secure fit and plenty of back support. Straps allow you to fine-tune the fit. The seats are aligned so that the stern paddler’s legs extend on either side of the bow paddler’s seat, making the Challenger K2 kayak suitable for two six-foot-tall paddlers (just be mindful of the kayak’s maximum weight capacity of 400 pounds).

About the Intex Challenger K2

Design

Design features and details

The Intex Challenger K2 kayak is essentially a kayak-shaped rubber raft, like the type you will find at discount prices at any big-box department store. It has two large air chambers running the perimeter of the boat and a flat bottom made up of smaller tubes (known as “I-beams”). The Intex Challenger K2 has minimal rocker, or upsweep from bow to stern, because its air construction causes the hull to take on the shape of the water it floats upon. This is a great attribute for stability, but far less desirable if you’re interested in paddling for longer distances.

A removable skeg (or fin, which attaches to the stern of the kayak) aids in keeping travel in a straight line. The large, open cockpit of the Intex Challenger K2 kayak is easy to enter and exit, and combined with the boat’s exceptional stability, makes this model ideal for first-time paddlers. Along with the boat’s shallow depth, an open cockpit increases the risk of swamping in rough water. The Challenger K2 should only be used in sheltered, calm conditions.

Material and construction

Like other inflatable kayaks, the Intex Challenger K2 kayak is constructed of vinyl plastic with welded seams. This construction is quite durable and resistant to impacts with blunt objects and abrasions. Inflatable kayaks like the Challenger K2 aren’t as stiff as hardshell kayaks, which allows them to flex in the water. This makes the hull durable, but also less efficient to paddle. Narrow, high-pressure air tubes in the floor of the kayak (known as “I-beams”) add rigidity and larger chambers around the perimeter of the hull provide buoyancy.

The vinyl hull can be damaged by punctures, so it’s important to be careful with sharp fishing hooks and cutting tools around the kayak. A punctured tube won’t sink the Intex Challenger K2, but it will affect performance and buoyancy and should be paddled to shore and repaired as soon as possible. Holes are easy to patch using contact adhesive—a repair patch kit is included. Cheap kayaks like the Challenger K2 don’t have the same UV-resistant qualities as more expensive boats, and therefore should be stored out of the sun.

Outfitting and accessories

As mentioned earlier, the seats in the Intex Challenger K2 kayak provide air-ride comfort and adjustable back support that wraps around your sides. It’s worth investing in a high-back PFD specifically designed for recreational kayaks to dial in a more comfortable fit.

The Intex Challenger K2 kayak skeg is a key accessory that improves tracking; this removable fin attaches to the stern of the kayak to make it easier to paddle in a straight line. A convenient mesh cargo area provides plenty of storage on the front deck for items like water bottles, waterproof cameras and snacks. You’ll also find grab lines on the bow and stern of the Challenger K2 kayak for carrying the boat with a partner to and from the water.

Wear A Life Jacket
  • Everyone, even strong swimmers, needs to wear a life jacket at all times when on the water. It is extremely difficult to put a life jacket on once you fall into the water. Even a light wind can blow any paddlecraft away from you, faster than you can swim.
  • Buy (and wear) a comfortable Type 3 or S life jacket specifically designed for paddlesports.

Intex Challenger K2 kayak modifications

Kayak anglers love to modify their kayaks and there are many possibilities with the bare-bones Intex Challenger K2. Browsing the Internet reveals many options for upgrades, including adding rod holders, action camera mounts and installing tackle and drink holders. The vinyl hull material is compatible with PVC pipe cement, making it easy to attach various accessories.

Make sure your Intex Challenger K2 modifications don’t impede your ability to enter or exit the kayak. Similarly, avoid modifications that may make the kayak more difficult to handle in wind and waves. Test out any modifications on dry land and critically assess how the changes will affect the kayak’s safety and performance.

Setup and assembly

Intex Challenger K2 kayak inflation is easy and takes a typical paddler less than 10 minutes. The boat features two one-way Boston valves, one to inflate the hull and the other for the deck. The seats inflate with two smaller valves, which must be sealed quickly to keep air from escaping. An inflatable footrest is slid into the bow of the kayak for the bow paddler to brace their feet. Intex Challenger K2 kayak skeg removal and installation is easy; simply slide the plastic fin into the track on the stern of the kayak.

After a day on the water you may ask, how do I collapse my Intex Challenger K2 kayak? The process is easy, just open up the valves to deflate. Make sure you rinse your kayak and allow it to dry thoroughly before long-term storage.

How it compares

  • Intex Challenger K2 kayak vs Explorer K2

    The Intex Explorer K2 is a tandem inflatable kayak that’s comparable in price and performance to the Intex Challenger K2. The main difference is that the Explorer K2 features more rocker (or lift in the bow and stern) to improve maneuverability; it’s also a foot shorter, further contributing to ease of handling and making the Explorer K2 a good choice if you like paddling on meandering rivers.

    The shorter length makes the Explorer K2 somewhat slower than the Challenger K2, but the difference is negligible. The biggest difference in the designs is the Explorer K2’s more open cockpit, which is easier to enter and exit. Both kayaks are constructed of welded vinyl and have upper weight limits of 400 pounds.

  • Intex Challenger K2 vs K1

    The Intex Challenger K2 is a larger kayak with capacity for two paddlers. It has the same outfitting and accessories as the K1. The main difference with the Intex Challenger K2 is that it can be paddled with a partner or solo (a good option for larger, heavier people), making it more versatile than the Intex Challenger K1. The Intex Challenger K2 is faster and tracks better than the K1, however it’s also less easy to handle in wind—especially for smaller solo paddlers.

    Choose the Intex Challenger K1 if you’re a smaller or average-sized paddler (under 6’2” and 220 pounds) and if you have no intentions of paddling with a partner. The K2 is a great choice if you’re larger or if you’d like the option of paddling tandem.

  • Intex Challenger K2 vs Excursion Pro

    The Intex Excursion Pro is a step up from the Challenger K2 in terms of performance and outfitting, but the upgrades come at about double the price. Serious anglers will appreciate integrated rod holders and a mounting bracket for a fish finder or other accessories.

    The Excursion Pro is constructed with a more durable, lightweight laminated PVC plastic and comes with two skeg options for good tracking in shallow or deep water. Comfort upgrades include greater adjustability in the seats and molded grab handles. The open deck of the Excursion Pro is easier to enter and exit than the more confined, partially decked cockpit of the Intex Challenger K2.

Dress For Immersion, Not Air Temperature
  • Your body loses heat much faster when immersed in cold water than it does when dry.
  • Avoid cotton clothing like t-shirts and jeans; they retain water and accelerate cooling when wet. Synthetic fabrics, or wool, are generally a better choice. If the water is very cold (60° fahrenheit or less), you should wear a wetsuit or drysuit.

Where to buy the Challenger K2

The bargain-priced Intex Challenger K2 kayak is available online and in various big-box stores. Amazon’s Intex Challenger K2 prices are among the best you’ll find. You can also buy an Intex Challenger K2 kayak at Walmart.

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Intex

Challenger K2

The Intex Challenger™ K2 Kayak is sporty and fun with a streamlined design for easy paddling. The bright green color and sporty graphics make the kayak highly visible in the water. Great for experiencing lakes and mild rivers solo, this Sports Series kayak is perfect for two adults. Lightweight and compact, this kayak is very easy to assemble and, with the Boston valve, it inflates and deflates in minutes. You can take the fun of kayaking wherever you go. Made with rugged vinyl construction and built for performance, this sturdy kayak has an inflatable I-beam floor, a low-profile deck and...

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Price: The Intex Challenger K2 is one of the cheapest kayaks you’ll find, often available for under $200 US.
  • Versatility: A cheap price gets you a versatile kayak that’s suitable for one or two paddlers, and perfect for an adult and child.
  • Portability: The Intex Challenger K2 kayak rolls up and fits in a large gym bag, even with paddles, and weighs under 40 pounds.
  • Easy set up: The Intex Challenger K2 kayak goes from bag to the water in less than 10 minutes. Take down is even faster.
  • Super stable: The Intex Challenger K2 kayak is wide and features a flat bottom for ultimate stability. The large cockpit is easy to enter and exit.
  • Beginner friendly: You don’t need any paddling experience to get out on calm, sheltered water in the Intex Challenger K2, whether you’re looking for a quick outing or an angler looking to try kayak fishing.

Cons

  • Limited seaworthiness: While the Intex Challenger K2 inflatable kayak won’t sink, its large cockpit and low profile allows waves to enter the boat. This design is meant for use on flatwater lakes and gentle rivers only.
  • Slow and sluggish: The inflatable hull flexes and doesn’t cut through the water smoothly. Combined with a short 11.5-foot length, the Intex Challenger K2 kayak won’t win any races and is difficult to paddle for long distances.
  • Difficult to handle in the wind: The Intex Challenger K2 is light and floats high in the water, making it prone to getting blown around by the wind, especially for beginners.
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