Is the Intex Challenger Worth It?For almost four decades now, Intex has been rolling out high quality inflatable kayaks. One of their more impressive offerings to those who love to get on the water is the Intex Challenger K1.
This one-man vessel stands out from the rest with its incredibly low price tag from a big-name brand like Intex. It's great for those looking to grab an inflatable kayak on a budget.It is a perfect inflatable kayak for beginners and offers the kind of performance you get from other entry-level vessels like the larger Intex Challenger K2 and the Sea Eagle 370. With all the hype it’s getting in the market, just what can you expect from this boat? Let us find out in the following Intex Challenger K1 kayak review!
What inflatable kayak should i buy?As this review is regarding the Intex Challenger, let's focus on this particular raft. The Intex Challenger was built for flat water canoeing. It may not hold up well on rough whitewater or in windy conditions. However, you can expect the best out of it on those calm summer days on the lake or when you want to cruise along ocean bays. Overall, it is the kind of vessel you take on a camping trip.
RatingMade by one of the most reliable inflatable kayak brands in the market, the Intex Challenger K1 boasts an impressive rating to go with stellar reviews on Amazon. Its rating stands at 4.3 stars, with more than 11,000 users from across the globe offering their take on the boat's capabilities. This also makes it one of the best-selling inflatable kayaks in the uk for the retailer, which goes to show just how popular it is with water outdoor enthusiasts.
Intex Challenger K1 ReviewLet us now take an in-depth look at the different specifications on the Challenger K1:
SizeThe Intex Challenger K1 measures 9’ x 30’ when fully inflated but it is delivered packed in a storage bag that measures 23' x 14' x 8.5'. Once fully set up, the kayak’s weight is around 27lbs, which makes it one of the lightest inflatable kayaks you can find. It a great choice if you’re looking for convenient portability and transportation. Despite its low weight, the kayak can comfortably support up to 220lbs, which is the weight of a fully-grown man, with extra room for other accessories.
DesignThe Intex Challenger K1 was built to serve you for the long haul. It features a PVC construction, which is a standard fabric used on most inflatable kayaks and inflatable paddleboards.
This material is not only flexible but also durable, and allows the boat to come out of any accidental falls or brushes with rock edges and branches inside the water in one piece.The manufacturer used a blend of green, blue, and grey on the body of the kayak, to make for adventurous colors that add to the experience on the water. You’ll also notice the conspicuous 'challenger' logo on the front side of the boat.
A simple webbing strap construction enables the seat to be adjusted both on land and on the water. Meanwhile, the cockpit area is spacious enough to allow for seamless entry and exit for young, as well as old kayakers.This also gives you more than enough wriggle room for your legs and body when paddling. In case the boat capsizes (highly unlikely) a self-bailing and buoyant system on the Challenger K1 makes recoveries pretty easy!
ManeuverabilityIf you’re going on a day excursion on the water, this budget vessel can take on anything that a small river or lake can throw its way. However, we wouldn’t recommend it for an obstacle course as making tight turns can be a tall order.
Furthermore, paddling in fast-moving waters is also a challenge, and you run the risk of paddling way off-course.In essence, your goal when using the Intex Challenger K1 should be to have fun and get acquainted with the basics of kayaking while at it. It is what makes it such a great choice for entry-level paddlers who are taking their maiden steps into the sport. If this is your main agenda, you won’t get a better performance elsewhere!
SpeedAs far as speed is concerned, don’t expect to break any kayaking records when paddling this little guy. It’s not the widest boat you can find, and this tends to affect its stability on the water at high speeds.
Tracking and StabilityStability is one of the first things people look for in a kayak. It is an important feature that helps to keep the kayak stable on wavy waters, ensuring that your experience is trouble-free.
This is something you’d want for rookie kayakers who tend to fidget a lot than it’s necessary. Overall, the K1 offers tremendous primary stability that serves to prevent rocking and keeps the boat centered at all times.Additionally, the floor of the boat features an I-beam construction, which makes it quite stable and user-friendly. Inflated seams run horizontally along the vessel, making for enhanced rigidity when the kayak bends or flexes. This allows you to stand on the floor without difficulty, which is not the case for other inflatable boats. The inclusion of a removable skeg at the bottom enables the Challenger K1 to move in a straight line when the wind is mild. However, its performance notably diminishes when the conditions get crazier, meaning the kayak can easily be knocked off-course in breezy situations.
DurabilityThe PVC material that takes a good share of the boat’s construction holds up well down the line, as long as you treat it carefully. During transportation, you always want to carry the kayak and not drag it, whether inflated or deflated. The boat features different tubes that independently inflate.
This ensures that in the event one tube is punctured or leaking, the kayak manages to remain afloat, giving you enough time to paddle ashore.All brands of kayaks require constant maintenance no matter how strong a fabric they are made out of. For the Intex Challenger K1, a repair patch is conveniently included in the package for easy DIY fixes in case of any punctures or fractures. You should also be on the lookout for leaks around nozzles and seams, and take care not to over inflate the boat. This is a common mistake for novices, which tends to weaken the PVC fabric, thus increasing the probability of damage. If you plan to go kayaking with your furry friend tagging along, the boat is will comfortably accommodate them. The only thing is that the K1 is relatively small, so only smaller breeds of dog will fit in without overcrowding the space.
PortabilityMeasuring only 27lbs, the Intex Challenger K1 is possibly the lightest inflatable kayak out there. It comes with a tote-style storage bag and that's useful when you want to carry or transport the vessel after use.
All the valves are easily accessible and the included hand pump makes for a straightforward assembly.The same is true when it comes to deflating the boat. You only need to open the valves and the kayak deflates to a compact and packable size that you simply roll into place. However, you want to make sure that the boat is dry before storing it.
StorageThere is a decent amount of storage space in the cockpit just underneath the spray skirt. This should be enough to accommodate a 10L-15L dry bag in case you want to carry some extra accessories. Bungee nets at the top of the kayak’s nose allow you to hold more stuff while paddling, and this will be ideal for things like water bottles.
The netting is easily accessible from your paddling position and very much secure. You can even place up to two dry bags under the nets without the risk of them falling off.Furthermore, you get a rope at the rear end of the kayak that can be used to secure extra gear or for tying down the boat when you dock. Overall, the Intex Challenger K1 was not meant to carry too much luggage. It is a boat designed for calm and recreational kayaking, so you don’t want to overburden it with unnecessary extra gear.
SetupFor first-timers, setting up the Intex Challenger and getting it on the water will take an average of about 10 minutes. The first 7 minutes will be spent on inflating the boat while the remaining 3 will be for securing the seat, attaching the paddle, and sliding in the skeg. However, the setup time gradually reduces as you get more used to doing it with every trip to the water.
The process is made easier with the inclusion of a little hand pump that can be slightly awkward to use.Despite this, it gets the job done and its minuscule size fits nicely inside the carry bag so that you don’t have too much clutter in your boat. Unfortunately, the pump doesn’t come with a pressure gauge, meaning you won’t know the air pressure you’ve attained when inflating the boat.
You want to start by inflating the two air valves on the boat. Using the hand pump provided, inflate the valve on the floor first before moving to the one on the side, making sure to check air pressure while at it.
Turn your kayak on its bottom and slide in the skeg. This happens smoothly and shouldn’t take much of your time.
Use the hand pump to inflate the seat then secure it to the Velcro strip found on the kayak floor.
Proceed to affix the straps of the seat to the D-rings on the boat’s floor, ensuring that it’s stable enough.
Piece up the paddle together. This comes in 5 pieces that are easily linked up to form a complete paddle.
Lastly, put on your PFD and you’ll be good to get on the water!
PerformanceThis is where it gets interesting for most kayakers as the performance of the vessel determines the amount of fun you’re going to have on the water. At first glance, I didn’t expect paddling the Intex Challenger would be an enjoyable session. However, my attitude was transformed as soon as I got on the water. This boat holds up better than most inflatables in its price range.
Paddling it is an easy task, even for newbies and its stability on calm waters is very reliable.The included skeg does a great job of keeping the Challenger moving in a straight line, even though it is not a very fast boat. You don’t want to get into a paddling competition with your buddies; it will put you at a disadvantage. Still, you require very little effort to propel the boat forward. Gentle strokes from side to side will have you covering some respectable distance and the boat turns quickly and almost effortlessly. From the more than 11,000 most positive reviews on Amazon, it’s clear why the Intex Challenger K1 is such a favourite of many! Just find the perfect conditions to get it on the water, and you can look forward to an exciting time.
SafetyYou won’t have to worry about your safety when paddling the Challenger K1. As long as you use it on the recommended waterways, the boat feels very stable and there is no risk of tipping over. Nevertheless, you want to take note of the many safety precautions printed on the back end of the boat. These should ensure that you understand the Dos and Don’ts when using this vessel. Unlike most inflatable kayaks, the Challenger only comes with two valves as opposed to three. Generally, models with three air valves are significantly safer. In the event of leakage in one of the valves, the other two continue working normally to give you ample time to paddle back to safety.
The fact that you only get two air valves on the K1 notably reduces its safety rating. Having said that, it would be wise not to venture too deep into the water and away from the mainland.Also, be mindful of the nature of the waters you’re getting on and make sure that the current is manageable. Another thing you want to do is get off the water when you see the weather taking a turn for the worse. Finally, you always want to wear a lifejacket to enhance your visibility to other vessels on the water and other kayakers in case of any emergencies.