Last updated on March 11th, 2018 at 10:55 pm
Intex Explorer K2 Kayak vs Intex Challenger K2 Kayak at a Glance:
Who it’s best for:
- Paddlers that want an exceptionally stable kayak.
- Swimmers and divers that will be getting on and off in the water.
- Coastal paddling in fair weather with minimal wind.
Who it’s best for:
- Paddlers who are willing to sacrifice some stability for better performance.
- Flat water paddlers that don’t expect waves or choppy conditions.
- Taller paddlers than need some extra legroom.
(prices updated as of 2019-05-25 at 23:36 – Details)
If you’re in the market for a budget-friendly inflatable kayak that’ll get you and a buddy on the water without breaking the bank, both the Explorer K2 and Challenger K2 from Intex offer excellent value for your money and are hard to beat.
Choosing between them largely comes down to how you plan to use them and your personal preferences for performance vs stability. You can learn more about either in the full Challenger K2 review or the Explorer K2 review.
They both come with included paddles, air pump, and carry bag, so this comparison will focus just on the kayaks themselves.
- Portability & ease of storage – Both the Explorer and Challenger measure in at over 10 feet, but pack down to the size of a small suitcase, making them exceptionally portable compared to traditional hard-shell kayaks. They can easily be transported in the trunk of a car or stored in a closet with room to spare.
- Removable skeg – Each kayak includes a removable skeg that helps improve tracking and minimizes side-to-side swerving as you paddle through the water.
|Explorer K2||Challenger K2|
|Length||10′ 3″||11′ 6″|
|Weight||31.13 pounds||33.57 pounds|
|Weight Capacity||400 pounds||400 pounds|
|Number of Passengers||2||2|
How the Explorer and Challenger Differ
Like most inflatable kayaks, both the Explorer and Challenger have good stability on the water, but the Explorer definitely has an edge. The Explorer has a wide, 36-inch hull and larger air chambers, which both act to increase its stability. The Challenger, on the other hand, has a relatively narrow 30-inch hull which lowers its overall stability.
Inflatable kayaks, in general, will not perform as well as a hard-shell kayak, so neither is kayak likely to win any races. Having said that, the Challenger’s narrower hull helps it to glide better through the water compared to the Explorer’s wider than average hull.
The lower profile of the Challenger also gives it an edge in windier conditions as there’s less surface area for the wind to push against. While it can shield paddlers from the odd splashing wave, the Explorer’s larger air chambers are more likely to get pushed around by the wind, especially if it’s a crosswind.
Intex makes both the Explorer and Challenger out of a 30 gauge vinyl, so they’re very similar in terms of durability. The Explorer does have a slight edge over the Challenger though, due to its reinforced bow and stern, which gives it a bit of extra protection during collisions with other objects.
The Challenger comes with a built-in cargo storage net, which comes in handy for carrying food, water, or extra clothing. While the Explorer doesn’t have any dedicated storage space, there is room at the front and back of the boat to store a small amount of gear.
The Explorer’s curved bow and stern give it a bit of an edge over the Challenger in slightly choppy conditions – though neither kayak really designed for rough conditions. The curvature helps the Explorer ‘climb over’ light waves and chop that might wash straight over the bow of the Challenger and into the seating area.
The Explorer also has built-in carry handles, which make it easier to move around before it’s in the water; it’s definitely an underrated feature if you have to carry it more than a few dozen feet.
The Explorer is about a foot shorter than the Challenger, so it naturally has a bit less legroom. On top of that, though, the Challenger is designed so the rear passenger can slide their legs on either side of the front passenger’s seat. While it’s not perfect, it’s better than the Explorer and allows the rear passenger to stretch their legs out.
Swimming & Diving
It’s fairly common for paddlers to use their inflatable kayak as a platform for swimming and diving. Between the two, the Explorer makes a better platform due to its better stability, which will make it easier to scramble back on once you’re in the water. The Challenger’s partially enclosed cockpit could also be a little awkward to work around when getting back in the kayak.
A Step Up in Quality – The Sea Eagle SE370
Both the Explorer K2 and Challenger K2 make for solid entry level inflatable kayaks and are among the top picks in our inflatable kayak reviews. Having said that, they’re definitely not the most durable inflatable kayaks.
If you want something that is a little tougher and more capable, consider the Sea Eagle SE370; it’s definitely a step up in terms of quality and durability.
It’s built out of 38 mil Polykrylar, which means it’s more puncture resistant than the Explorer, and with a weight capacity of 650 pounds, it can easily handle two full sized adults with room to spare. It’ll even hold a third passenger in a pinch.
The SE370 is also longer than either the Explorer or Challenger, measuring in at 12′ 6″, which will give you some welcomed legroom if you’re on the taller side or plan to paddle with your camping gear.
It also offers a good compromise between performance and stability with a hull width narrower than the Explorer but wider than the Challenger.