Intex Challenger K2 Inflatable Kayak Review

The Intex Challenger K2 is the inflatable kayak that screams "budget buy." Ideal for budget-minded paddlers or those who are just starting, it offers a complete package at a very attractive price point.

You might have seen this kayak before after being mentioned as one of the best inflatable kayaks on the market right now with thousands being sold every month, we had to do an in-depth review of it. The kayak itself, two paddles, a pump, and a repair kit are all included, so you can paddle on the water in no time – and without breaking the bank.

But before you hit "buy," it's important to understand what you're getting for your money. This review will delve into the strengths and weaknesses of the Challenger K2 to help you decide if it's the right vessel for your paddling adventures. We tested this inflatable kayak with our Airbank Puffer Pro and Topump TPS300 electric air pumps which are both in our best inflatable kayak pump article to help us understand how well the kayak inflated and deflated which we will go into further down below.

Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak Review

Performance: A Mixed Bag

Imagine an oversized pool floatie that (sort of) glides on water. That's the basic idea behind the Challenger K2. Sitting low in the water helps it avoid wind gusts, and the long skeg (remember to attach it!) provides some directional stability.

However, don't expect lightning speed. The plastic exterior skims the water decently, but the low ride also means you sink deeper, creating drag. This low ride also translates to a less responsive ride, making it difficult to maneuver quickly or change direction on a dime.

Maneuvering the Challenger K2 takes some muscle. The large surface area underwater makes turning a chore, especially for less experienced paddlers. It also lacks scupper holes, so any water that sneaks in – from an errant wave or a splash from your paddle – stays with you for the ride.

The included paddles are flimsy and bend easily, making it difficult to efficiently propel yourself through the water or fend off obstacles like overhanging branches or rogue logs. On the bright side, the low profile makes re-entering the kayak a breeze after an unintended swim.

Stability is another area where the Challenger K2 offers a compromise. The low ride height makes it very stable laterally, meaning it's less likely to tip over from side to side. This is a major advantage for families with young paddlers or anyone who feels wobbly on the water.

However, the inflatable sides are small and thin, leading to a wobbly experience in choppy waves or with energetic paddlers who shift their weight around a lot. In these situations, the Challenger K2 can feel tippy, especially for those who are used to more rigid kayaks.

Compare features vs Rivals

A globally trusted brand loaded with premium features

Intex Challenger


Rugged Vinyl Construction

I-Beam Floor

Low Profile Deck

Removable Skeg

Cargo Net For Extra Storage

Grab Line On Both Ends

Adjustable Seat

Includes Repair Patch

Easy to Set Up, Easy to Transport

Compared to some inflatable kayaks that can have a labyrinth of chambers to inflate, the Challenger K2 is a breeze to set up. With only two air chambers (floor and hull/sides) and inflatable seats, inflation is relatively quick (though the included pump is a patience tester).

The single layer of waterproof fabric dries quickly, and everything – the kayak, paddles, and pump – packs neatly into a large stuff sack. Weighing in at just over 27 pounds (without paddles and pump), the Challenger K2 is one of the lightest tandem kayaks on the market. This makes it easy to transport to and from the water, whether you're throwing it in the back of your car or carrying it a short distance.

The included ropes on the bow and stern make it even easier to carry the kayak once it's inflated. You can simply grab the ropes and lift, eliminating the awkwardness of trying to maneuver a bulky kayak by yourself.

Comfort for Short Hauls Only

While not ideal for an eight-hour paddle upstream, the Challenger K2's inflatable seats offer decent comfort for short excursions. They are adjustable, allowing you to find a position that minimizes back strain, especially important for those who are new to kayaking.

The mesh storage area in the bow allows you to bring some gear along for the ride, but keep in mind that any spray from the water will likely find its way in, so don't pack anything irreplaceable.

The backrests on the seats could be a tad taller to provide more support for a truly relaxed paddling posture. An additional factor to consider is that the inflatable sides, which are a benefit for stability, can become bothersome over time.

As mentioned earlier, the Challenger K2 is prone to developing bulges during inflation. These bulges can intrude on the legroom and make paddling a bit more awkward, especially for taller paddlers.

Intex Challenger Inflatable Kayak K2 Review

Durability: A Major Achilles Heel

The Challenger K2's biggest weakness is its questionable durability. It might handle a small, well-behaved dog on board, but anything more active could spell trouble. The most concerning aspect is the large bulge that appears during inflation, even when using the included gauge. This bulge not only persists but spreads with use, compromising the kayak's shape.

Made from a thin layer of 30-gauge PVC vinyl, the Challenger K2 feels more like a glorified pool float than a serious kayak. The included repair patches are small and self-adhesive, offering little reassurance in case of a serious puncture. While the price is tempting, the Challenger K2 might need frequent replacements, especially if you plan on using it regularly.


The Intex Challenger K2 is a budget-friendly inflatable kayak that prioritizes affordability and accessibility over performance. Here's a breakdown of the pros and cons to help you decide if it's the right fit for you.

Reasons to Buy:

Super Light on the Wallet: The Challenger K2 boasts a price tag that's hard to beat. It's a fantastic option for budget-conscious paddlers who just want to experience the joy of kayaking without a hefty investment.

All-Inclusive Package: Unlike some kayaks that require separate purchases for paddles and pumps, the Challenger K2 comes with everything you need to hit the water. This eliminates the hassle of hunting for extra gear and ensures you have everything for a complete paddling experience.

Calm and Stable: The low ride height of the Challenger K2 makes it very stable, especially laterally. This is a major benefit for beginners or those who feel apprehensive on the water. It's less likely to tip over from side to side, making it perfect for calm lakes or gentle rivers.

Reasons to Avoid:

Questionable Durability: The Achilles heel of the Challenger K2 is its construction. Made from thin PVC vinyl, it's more akin to a pool float than a serious kayak. The reports of bulges appearing during inflation and the small, self-adhesive repair patches raise concerns about its ability to withstand wear and tear. Frequent replacements might be necessary, especially for regular use.

Pump Up Your Patience: The included pump for inflation is known to be inefficient. Blowing up the kayak can be a time-consuming exercise, especially considering the two air chambers and inflatable seats. Factor in some extra time for setup if you choose this model.

Not the Most Portable: While the Challenger K2 is certainly lighter than some kayaks, it's not the most portable option. There are lighter inflatable kayaks on the market, and although they pack down into a stuff sack, they might not be the most convenient choice for long treks to the water.

Should You Buy It?

The Intex Challenger K2 is an inflatable kayak on a budget. Great for casual paddling on calm water, it's easy to set up, and transport, and features adjustable seats. However, don't expect top performance.

It tracks okay, but maneuverability suffers due to its low ride depth. While stable laterally, the thin sides make it wobbly in waves. Durability is a big concern - the thin PVC material and small bulges raise questions about longevity.

So, should you buy it? If you're a casual paddler looking for a fun way to spend a few days on the water, the Challenger K2 fits the bill. But for frequent use or challenging adventures, you'll need a more robust kayak. In short, this inflatable is more of a puddle-jumper than a river runner.

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