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I went to Amazon to look for the cheapest kayak I could find and found the Intex Challenger K1. It normally retails for $170 but I bought it on sale for only $83.20! And it comes with a paddle, pump, and carry bag!
I wasn’t sure about buying the kayak, but a lot of people like this introductory kayak!
It has received 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon with over 30,000 ratings! That’s incredible!
With those ratings and that price, I couldn’t pass up reviewing this beginner kayak.
Did the solo Intex Challenger K1 pass the test?
I’ll tell you what I found out and I’ll also cover specs for the 2-person Intex Challenger K2. Let’s get to it!
Pros and Cons of the Intex Challenger K1
- Price! The Intex Challenger K1 may be the cheapest kayak on the market. It can often be found on sale for less than $100.
- Super lightweight, compact, and easy to carry.
- Easy to transport and store in its carry bag.
- Stable, tracks well, and is quite maneuverable.
- Easy to set up, paddle, and super affordable!
- Inflation instructions say to fill “until it is stiff to the touch but NOT hard.”
- An inflation ruler is included that proved to be inaccurate.
- The short air pump is a backbreaker. I don’t like bending that far over to pump up the kayak and it doesn’t feel very sturdy.
- The K1 is listed at Amazon as having a 220 lb load capacity, yet the label on the kayak says 1 person up to 165 lbs or 220 lbs with person and gear.
- The 220 lb load capacity of the K1 makes it necessary for larger adults to choose the K2 with a 400 lb capacity.
- Lacks legroom for taller people.
- It put my feet in an uncomfortable position.
Performance of the Intex Challenger K1
I honestly wanted to dislike this kayak but I was pleasantly surprised by how well the Intex Challenger K1 performed.
I weigh 180 lbs. While I was over the 165 lbs one-person weight limit of the Challenger K1, I was under the 220 lbs maximum weight capacity of the kayak that includes person and gear. I wasn’t sure if this would be a problem that could affect the kayak’s performance. It didn’t seem to be.
The Intext Challenger has an inflatable I-Beam floor for rigidity and stability.
The kayak’s stability on flat water is excellent which provides confidence when paddling. However, when leaning over on its left or right edge, the kayak can easily continue to roll and tip over as your weight causes air in the seat and hull chambers to shift to the opposite side.
On one of my trips, I took the kayak out on a lake on a day with 12 mph winds with gusts up to 23 mph. I had no problem with the boat’s stability on the waves I experienced.
Tracking on shorter kayaks like the 9-foot K1 can be an issue. With the slide skeg installed, it tracks well maintaining a straight course when paddling. The K2 being longer tracks better.
Not fast nor is it designed to be.
The inflatable design of this kayak allows for it to flex which makes it less efficient to paddle than a hardshell kayak or an inflatable kayak with drop-stitch construction.
I found the Intex Challenger K1 easy to maneuver on an open flat water lake and calm river. It was responsive and turned with ease.
Durability of the Intex Challenger K1 and K2
The Challenger is made of heavy-duty puncture-resistant 30 gauge PVC with welded seams. This vinyl construction is durable and resists abrasion and impacts with blunt objects. It is susceptible to puncture from sharp objects.
Speaking of punctures. I would not use this kayak as a fishing kayak. Be careful with hooks, pliers, knives, and other sharp objects if you do.
Should you get a smaller puncture, your Challenger comes with contact adhesive patches that are easy to use.
The vinyl used to make the Challenger does not have the same UV protection as more expensive inflatable boats and should not be stored in the sun. It will also expand and contract with changes in temperature. To prevent rupture, you need to relieve air pressure as temperatures rise on a hot day.
Safety of the Intex Challenger K1 and K2
Where many inflatable kayaks have three or more air chambers the Challenger K1 and K2 have two main air chambers… the floor and the upper deck. This means if you rupture one of the chambers you will probably be swimming back to shore instead of being able to paddle back.
The kayak is fairly comfortable when inflated properly. More on proper inflation later… Don’t trust the measuring tool that comes with the kayak!
The comfort of any kayak can be subjective to one’s size, weight, age, and other physical ailments. I am 6’1″ and 180 lbs, in my mid-fifties, and have a bad back. This may give you a reference point for making your own decision.
Out of five trips in this kayak, my longest excursion was an hour. I was on a relatively flat lake though there were wind gusts up to 23 mph on one of the outings.
I fit pretty well in the kayak. My feet were in an uncomfortable position down at the inflatable footrest placed in the bow of the kayak. I would find this very uncomfortable if I was out on the water for an extended period of time. I didn’t try removing the footrest. This might help.
The inflatable seat was relatively comfortable. The back of the seat has adjustable straps that clip to the sides of the kayak while the seat bottom is held in place by a strip of velcro.
The seat also places you up off the floor of the kayak which keeps you out of any water that might get in the bottom of the kayak.
Intex Challenger K1 Specifications
|Best Use||Calm Water: Flatwater Lakes, Bays, Mild Rivers|
|Skill Level||Beginner – Intermediate|
|Cockpit Type||Sit-In / Closed Deck|
|Chambers||2 (Floor and Upper Deck)|
|Air Valves||2 Boston Air Valves|
|Inflation time||5-10 minutes|
|Material||Heavy-Duty Puncture-Resistant 30 Gauge PVC|
|Floor||Inflatable I-Beam Construction for Rigidity|
|Whitewater Rating||Moderate Water Only|
|Inflation Pressure||1 lb|
|Grab Lines||Both sides in Bow and Stern|
|Skeg||Removable 7″ Skeg|
|Warranty||90-Day Limited Warranty|
Boat Specifications Challenger K1 vs Challenger K2
|Challenger K1||Challenger K2|
|Seating Configuration||Solo||Solo or Tandem|
|Paddler Size||Up to Large Adult||Up to Two Large Adults|
|Load Capacity||1 Person or 220 lbs |
|2 Persons or 400 lbs (180 kg)|
|Hull Weight||23.9 lbs (11.2 kg)||33.5 lbs (15.2 kg)|
|Dimensions||9′ L × 30″ W × 13″ D||11’6″ L × 30″ W × 15″ D|
|Deflated||23.03″ x 16.14″ x 8.66″||23.76″ x 16.75″ x 13.07″|
Key Features of the Intex Challenger K1 & K2
Boat In A Bag
In the carry bag of an Intex Challenger is everything you need except a PFD… kayak, seat(s), footrest, skeg, paddle(s), paddle drip rings, pump, 2 patches, and instructions.
The heavy-duty puncture-resistant, 30 gauge PVC, inflatable I-beam floor of the Intex Challenger improves rigidity and improves performance.
Removable Slide Skeg
For improved tracking, the Challenger has a 7-inch removable slide skeg that can be removed when paddling in shallow water.
The removable, inflatable seat has adjustable straps for the back for improved comfort and a custom fit. If you have the K2, you will have two seats.
The inflatable footrest slides into the bow of the kayak for comfort and bracing during paddle strokes for improved efficiency.
Boston Air Valves
Two easy-to-operate, one-way air Boston valves for quick inflation/deflation, one on the floor and the other on the deck while the seat and footrest have smaller valves like you’d find on a beach ball.
The supplied hi-output pump quickly inflates the hull’s two air chambers, seat(s), and footrest. I was able to fully inflate all air chambers in under 5 minutes.
Grab lines are on both sides of the kayak in bow and stern.
Bungee straps on the bow deck provide easy and secure storage for extra gear.
Under Deck Storage
There is a little storage room under the front deck between your legs and storage under the rear deck behind the seat though there is no way to access this area when on the water.
Tow Line Nub
There is a nub with a hole on the bottom of the bow for a tow line that you might connect to another kayak.
This five-piece aluminum and plastic paddle has snap lock buttons for easy assembly, disassembly, and multiple feathering positions to accommodate your paddling style.
Intex Challenger K1 & Challenger K2
The Intex Challenger comes in two lengths The 9′ solo K1 and the 11’6″ 2-person K2.
The kayak packages include:
- One Intex Challenger Kayak K1 or K2
- One 7″ Removable Center Fin
- One Seat for the K1 and Two Seats for the K2
- One Paddle for the K1 and Two Paddles for the K2
- Two patches
- One Hand Pump
- One Travel Bag
Suggested Accessories for the Intex Challenger
There are a lot of great accessories that can be used with the Intex Challenger. Here are some you might consider.
PFDs are a boating safety necessity. They keep you alive and are required by law on government waters. Always take one with you!
There isn’t a hatch in this boat. Dry bags are the answer for keeping your wallet, lunch, clothes, medications, and more safe and dry while out on the water.
You can’t put a hard cooler on this kayak but my ICEMULE Classic Medium 15L works well on the back deck of the kayak.
An electric air pump is the way to go if you want to speed up inflation and not wear yourself out. This little pump can get you close then finish topping off with the provided pump.
Problems with the Intex Challenger Kayak
There were three things I didn’t like about the Intex Challenger Kayak package the paddle, the measurement ruler for inflation, and the rear storage. Then there was one other thing you might look out for that happened with mine.
The paddle blade and shaft flex when put under pressure which reduces the power output for your efforts. If you notice the blade bending, you’ll probably want to back off on the force you are applying so you don’t waste your energy.
The instructions also say to inflate the kayak until it is stiff to the touch but NOT hard.
Don’t trust the measuring tool that comes with the kayak. The first time I took the Challenger K1 out on the water I used the inflation ruler to make sure it was inflated to the designed specifications. The result was an underinflated kayak that showed creases along the sides at the seat position and it leaned to the right side. This made the kayak very uncomfortable to sit in and paddle. I hated the experience!
After inflating the kayak beyond what the inflation ruler specified, I enjoyed the kayak.
If your Intex Challenger inflatable kayak leans to the right or has folds in the sides at the seat, the kayak is probably underinflated as mine was.
There is room for storage under the rear deck, but there isn’t a good way to access this area after the seat is installed. Bungee straps on the rear deck would also have been helpful.
Missing Rubber Washer on Boston Valve
The rubber washer was not in the valve cap on one of the Boston valves. I found it later. Not a huge deal but a minor detail and a bit of a hassle.
When you unpack your kayak for the first time, stay in one spot until you know you have all the pieces. Otherwise, a little washer like this one could easily get lost.
Who is the Intex Challenger Kayak K1 or K2 for?
The Intex Challenger kayak is for someone who isn’t a kayaking enthusiast. It’s best for someone new to kayaking who’s interested in seeing if kayaking is an activity that they might like.
This is a great boat you can get from Amazon for very little money. The Intex kayak K1 and K2 come with the kayak, seat(s), footrest, pump, paddle(s) with drip rings, skeg, carrying bag, detailed instructions, and a couple of patches… everything you need except a life vest.
No roof racks are needed since it’s inflatable. It fits in a little bag that is easily transported in your car and it doesn’t take up much room for those who lack storage space at home.
Intex Challenger K1 vs K2
The biggest difference between the Intex Challenger K1 and K2 is the length. The 9-foot K1 is a solo kayak with a 220-pound load capacity while the K2 is an 11.5-foot kayak with a 400-pound load capacity that can be used as a solo or 2-person kayak.
Both the K1 and K2 are outfitted in the same way with the K2 having one extra seat and paddle for the second person.
The longer length of the Challenger K2 provides greater tracking. It’s just the nature of longer kayaks. The trade-off is that a longer boat takes a little more effort to turn.
The K2 provides more versatility.
Consider the Intex Challenger K2 if…
- You want the option of paddling tandem.
- You want to be able to take your kid along.
- You are a heavier person.
Choose the Intex Challenger K1 if…
- You will be paddling solo.
- You and your gear are under 220 pounds. (The label on the kayak says a kayaker under 165 lbs and gear. I am 180 lbs and it performed well for me.)
Intex Challenger Care and Maintenance
- Do not store inflated.
- Replace all air valve caps after deflation and before cleaning or storage.
- Clean with fresh water, a soft sponge, and mild soap.
- Dry after use and/or cleaning to prevent mold and stains.
- Folding and storing in its carry bag can help prevent damage during storage.
- Fold the kayak loosely. Sharp bends and creases can cause damage.
- Store in a temperature-controlled, dry place between 32-104 degrees Fahrenheit (0-40 degrees Celsius).
Intex Challenger K1 Review Conclusion
Though the Intex Challenger inflatable kayak is not for me. It is a great kayak for those who are trying out kayaking for the first time.
The kayak is stable. It tracks well with the skeg installed. It maneuvers well. It is sufficiently comfortable. Everything is included other than a PFD. And above all else for an entry-level kayak, it’s super cheap!
You can’t beat the value you get for its low price.
The Intex Challenger kayak K1 and K2 is best for beginner to intermediary kayakers.
Thank you for reading my review of the Intex Challenger K1! Feel free to leave comments and questions below, and if you buy a Challenger inflatable kayak let me and fellow readers know what you think!