Intex Explorer vs Challenger (Reviews and Comparison)

If you are in the market for an affordable inflatable kayak, you are in luck. Today we will compare the Intex Explorer vs. Challenger.  Both of these popular inflatable kayaks offer a great deal of value for the money.  This review will look at the features, benefits, and what makes each one unique.

Kayaking is a popular outdoor activity that many people enjoy. But not everyone wants to spend a small fortune on kayak equipment. If you are a casual paddler or enjoy getting out on the lake now and then, the Intex Challenger and Intex Explorer are excellent options.

Intex has been distributing high-quality products at an affordable price for over 50 years. They know a thing or two when it comes to affordable inflatable kayaks. That is part of the allure of the Intex Explorer K2 and the Intex Challenger K2, quality products at an affordable price.

Intex Explorer vs. Challenger

Intex Explorer K2Intex Challenger K2
Number of Paddlers:1 or 21 or 2
Weight Capacity:400 Pounds400 Pounds
Kayak Weight:37.00 LBS39.60 LBS
Width:36 inches30 inches
Material:Durable vinyl constructionDurable vinyl construction
What’s in the box?Two 86 inch paddles, carry bag, hand pump, two inflatable seats, repair kit, removable skegTwo 86 inch paddles, carry bag, hand pump, two inflatable seats, repair kit, removable skeg

Intex Explorer K2 summary

This brightly colored kayak is sporty and streamlined for easy paddling.  The kayak is highly visible on the water due to its coloring, an added safety measure.  The lightweight, durable kayak is perfect for two adults on a calm lake or slow-moving river. 

The Explorer K2 is easy to assemble and portable, so you can take it everywhere you go. The kayak includes an inflatable I-beam floor for added stability.  The Explorer kayak comes with everything you need to get started, including a removable skeg, hand pump, two paddles, inflatable seats, and a carry bag.

Intex Challenger K2 summary

The Challenger K2 is easy to spot on the water with its bright color and cool graphics.  The Challenger comes with everything you need to hit the water, including two paddles, a high-output hand pump, a repair kit, adjustable inflatable seats, a removable skeg, and a carry bag.

The cockpit is comfortable and spacious. The Challenger K2 kayak is perfect for two adults, but you can paddle solo as well.  You can inflate and deflate the kayak in a matter of minutes, and it is lightweight and portable to take with you everywhere you go.


The price battle between the Intex Explorer vs. Challenger is very even.  Both are low priced, affordable inflatable kayaks.  Each model comes fully equipped with two paddles, a removable skeg (for better tracking), a carry bag, inflatable, adjustable seats, and a hand pump. 

The price to value ratio is off the charts. You will be hard-pressed to find a comparable inflatable kayak at this entry-level price point.  You don’t need to spend extra money on accessories, as everything you need to hit the water is included (except a life jacket).


Each kayak can hold up to two paddlers, making it great for a leisurely day on the water.  The Challenger K2 is longer at 11’6″ long than the Explorer K2, which is 10’3″ in length. If you are looking for legroom, the Challenger is the longer option.

The Explorer is slightly wider at 36 inches wide than the Challenger, which is about 30 inches wide.  If you are interested in a wider kayak, the Explorer wins this side of the argument.

The open cockpit (sit on top) design of the Explorer leaves more space for gear than the Challengers closed cockpit (sit inside) design. It depends on how you will be using the kayak to give you the most room.

Weight capacity

Both kayaks have a weight capacity of 400 pounds, great for two paddlers or a solo kayaker and gear. We recommend that you pay attention to the weight limit, as it can be easy to overload the inflatable kayak. 

When you start adding the paddler’s weight, gear, like a cooler, etc., it’s easy to get carried away, and extra weight can add up in a hurry. The added weight will slow down the kayak and make it more challenging to maneuver. 


One of the features that make these kayaks so appealing is that they both come with all the accessories you need to get started. You don’t have to spend a bunch of extra money on kayak equipment. 

Both the Explorer K2 and Challenger K2 come with:

  • Two 86 inch kayak paddles
  • A removable skeg (for better tracking)
  • Carry bag
  • High-output hand pump
  • Two inflatable seats that are adjustable and removable
  • Repair kit

When it comes to accessories, you are all set with these inflatable kayaks.  The only thing you need to have that doesn’t come with the kayak is a life jacket. Other than that, you can hit the water right away.


The Intex Challenger K2 and the Explorer K2 both come with a removable skeg.  The skeg helps you keep the boat pointed straight (tracking). Tracking improves with the addition of the skeg.

How well this kayak tracks depends on many factors, including the paddler’s skill level, the weather, and water conditions (especially if it’s windy). You have to understand that these kayaks are entry-level inflatable kayaks.

Either kayak will track reasonably well, give it’s in an inexpensive, entry-level model.  If you are looking for precision on the water, you may want to look at other models.


When talking about how well each kayak moves on the water in the Intex Explorer vs. Challenger battle, both kayaks perform well. The nice thing is, with two paddlers, you can maneuver the kayak well, and even as a solo paddler. 

Either kayak is excellent for beginners or people who are paddling with kids. These are entry-level inflatable kayaks, but they do move well on calm water.

When the conditions are favorable, both kayaks are solid. If you run into windy situations, you can expect some difficulty handling the kayak and getting it to go where you want it. 

These kayaks are not as nimble as the solo version of the Challenger, though.


The Explorer K2 and the Challenger K2 are great from a stability standpoint. Both kayaks are excellent for beginners or if you are kayaking with children. 

The wide hull and inflatable I-beam floor add comfort and rigid elements to the kayak.  The low-profile design has a lower center of gravity, which helps each kayak with stability.

Both the Explorer and Challenger are stable with two paddlers, or if you are solo. The Explorer is 36 inches wide, compared to 30 inches with the Challenger.  The Explorer K2 provides more stability with a wider hull.


The primary design difference between the Explorer K2 and Challenger K2 is the cockpit.  The Explorer K2 is an open cockpit kayak, known as a sit on top kayak. The Intex Challenger K2 is a closed cockpit, known as a sit-inside kayak. 

The open design of the Explorer K2 gives the paddler more legroom and more room to store gear compared to the Challenger K2. The Explorer K2 also has a wider hull, which allows you to carry more equipment. We do recommend that you are aware of the weight limit when you load up your boat.

The other noticeable difference from a design standpoint is the color scheme.  Both are brightly colored and sporty, improving the kayak’s visibility when you are on the water. Improved visibility is essential when you are paddling, and there are motorboats around.


Both the Intex Challenger K2 and Explorer K2 come with inflatable seats that are adjustable and removable.  If you are paddling solo, you can take out one seat and have room for extra equipment. The bottom of the seat and the backrest are separate air chambers so that you can inflate them to your liking.

Honestly, the seats don’t provide much in the way of back support.  Some people only inflate the backrest and not the bottom so that the backrest sits up higher on your back. 


These lightweight kayaks are very easy to set up, and a high-output hand pump comes with each kayak.  Boston valves help with quick and easy inflation and deflation. With experience, you can be on the water in about 10 minutes.

The Explorer K2 or the Challenger K2 is excellent for beginners or people paddling with kids because they are easy to set up and takedown.


One of the significant benefits to owning an inflatable kayak is how easy they are to transport. You don’t need to purchase an expensive roof rack for your car.  Inflatable kayaks fit nicely in the trunk or backseat of a vehicle and are excellent if you own an RV.

Many people even take an inflatable kayak when they travel on an airplane.  The point being, either the Challenger K2 or Explorer K2 are compact, lightweight, and easy to transport wherever you go. Once you arrive at your kayaking destination, it’s easy to carry your kayak to launch.


Along with easy transport, storing an inflatable kayak is a snap. The Intex Explorer K2 and Challenger K2 are lightweight and fit in a nice compact carry bag.

You can store the kayak in a closet or in your garage. These kayaks are ideal for people who have limited space to store a kayak.

The other nice thing about storing your kayak inside your house or apartment is keeping the kayak safe from potential thieves. 

Wrapping up – Intex Explorer vs. Challenger

Intex Challenger K2 vs Explorer K2 - Review and comparisonPin

If you are in the market for an affordable inflatable kayak, the Intex Explorer K2 and Challenger K2 are great options.  Both are great for beginners or those paddling with kids. The kayaks are designed for two paddlers but can also paddle solo.

Which model you choose will depend on the differences between each model. The Challenger K2 is longer and more narrow, so it is a little more sleek. The Explorer K2 is wider and shorter than the Challenger, making it a bit more stable.

The Challenger K2 and Explorer K2 are versatile, lightweight, easy to set up and store. You can take them just about anywhere you travel.

For other great inflatable kayak options check out this article.

Get out there and paddle!

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About the author
Steve Morrow
Steve Morrow owns Paddle About, an outdoor recreation and travel blog. Steve loves to travel, kayak, paddle board, camp, hike, and spend time outdoors with his wife and two kids. When he's not exploring the great outdoors, Steve enjoys writing about his adventures and sharing tips for getting the most out of your outdoor experiences. He has a lot of interesting stories to share, and he's always happy to help others get more out of life.