Thinking about buying an Intex Explorer K2 kayak? You’re not alone- it’s one of the most popular entry-level inflatable tandem kayaks on the market, thanks to its affordable price point.
After years of considering and researching it, my husband, Justin, and I purchased it last year and have used it several times, on everything from lakes and rivers to even ocean waters. If you, too, are considering making this purchase, keep on reading for our review of the Intex Explorer K2 kayak.
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Pros & Cons of the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
If you want a more robust review, keep on reading below, but if you just want the highlights, here’s our takeaway after a year with the Intex Explorer K2 kayak:
- Comes with everything you need (i.e., carrying case, kayak, pump, seats, double blade paddles, and patches)
- On the lighter end of the weight spectrum for tandem inflatable kayak
- Easy to assemble, disassemble, and transport
- Multiple air chamber design is safer, in case one is punctured during use
- Thoughtfully designed (e.g., carry handles for easy transport and removable skeg for better directional stability)
- Versatility (can be used as either a 1- or 2-person kayak)
- Material is less durable than more expensive inflatable kayaks
- Lack of storage space
- Seats can be a bit uncomfortable after prolonged use
- Slower than a hard shell kayak and is only suitable for flat water kayaking
Specifications of the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
Number of people: 2
Max capacity: 400 lbs.
Pack size: 10’3″ X 3′ X 1’8″
Weight: 30.6 lbs.
Review of the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
For years, Justin and I would hike to some epic alpine lake or drive past a sparkling turquoise body of water in a national park, look at each other, and say “If only we had a kayak.” Given our more limited budget and also that we wanted the ability to take the kayak on hikes, an inflatable kayak made a lot more sense for us than a hard shell. And, after researching several brands within our price point, we made the leap to purchase the Intex Explorer K2 kayak.
One of my favorite things about this kayak is that, out of the box, you get basically everything you need to get out on the water, other than life jackets (which are legally required to have in most states).
Some reviewers have said negative things about the paddles, complaining that they’re wobbly or too short, causing water to drip into the kayak. I frankly haven’t experienced either of these issues, but, if the paddles bother you, you can easily upgrade to a better one, like this one. And even with that extra purchase, the Explorer K2 will still be a more economical option than most other inflatable kayaks on the market.
When setting up the kayak, you’ll need to inflate several different air chambers (two sides, one ground, one stern [the back], and one bow [the front])- I love this design aspect as it makes it safer (i.e., one chamber could pop and you should still be able to get to land safely in most situations).
Set-up is generally easy and fast (usually, you can be all set to go in 10 minutes or less!)- the valves are easy to handle and there’s a measuring strip to help you confirm you have the right air pressure. The only annoying thing is using the manual pump (it’s just tedious, more than anything), but you could easily upgrade to a rechargeable electric air pump.
In terms of taking it out on the water, while you’ll obviously go faster and have better directional control with a hard shell kayak, I’m quite pleased with Explorer K2- it can go reasonably fast and, with the skeg, it’s easy to control which direction the kayak is going in.
That being said, given the kayak’s construction, this definitely isn’t a boat you’d want to be using in super choppy waves or down Class IV white water rapids. This is the perfect kayak for enjoying a gorgeous day and chilling on a calm lake or river, but taking it on hundred-plus mile paddling adventures? Not so much.
Before making our purchase, I was pretty worried about the kayak popping in the middle of the water. The Explorer K2 is made out of a rugged PVC material, but is more lightweight than some of the higher-end inflatable kayaks, like the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Inflatable Kayak.
This has both pros and cons.
Because of its materials, it’s lighter than lots of other inflatable kayaks on the market.
This is actually a huge bonus for us- as previously mentioned, we wanted to (and have taken!) our Explorer K2 on hikes with us and, given how light it is, it’s super easy to carry all of the necessary parts between Justin and me (pssst… fitting the rolled up kayak in the small openings of our backcountry backpacks is… challenging. If you’re interested in hiking with your Explorer K2, too, I’d recommend considering getting a backpack with a large opening, specifically designed for carrying inflatable kayaks, like this one).
On the other hand, its construction may be less durable than some more pricey options on the market (the Advanced Elements kayak, for example, has three layers of materials for maximum puncture resistance). For what it’s worth, we’ve definitely scraped the Explorer K2 against quite a few rocks and logs and haven’t had an issue in the past year (knock on wood!), but I wouldn’t recommend, say, paddling it through a particularly stabby oyster bed, for example.
Two of my biggest complaints aren’t really specific to the Explorer K2, but are more tied to the design of inflatable kayaks in general.
The inflatable seats are squishy and pretty comfortable for an hour or so, but after that, the lack of support, especially with more vigorous paddling, can start to be bothersome.
Additionally, there’s pretty limited space for storage- we usually stow our two life jackets behind Justin’s seat in the back and put our dry bag (usually with a couple beers, snacks, and our electronics) up by my feet in the front of the kayak. It winds up feeling a bit on the cramped side and it would be virtually impossible to bring anything larger, like a cooler or camping backpack, with you if you’ve got a second person in the kayak with you.
That said, this kayak would provide TONS of space (and additional weight capacity) if using it solo.
Disassembling the kayak is just as easy as assembling it. There’s a drain valve to help quickly get out any water that’s made its way into the boat and the material dries quickly and is easy to fold back up and pack away in its transport bag.
And really, for us, that’s one of the biggest selling points- how insanely packable it is. It’s perfect to just throw the Explorer K2 in its bag, toss it in the back of our trunk, and forget about it until we’ve found an awesome lake to paddle around it.
Verdict on the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak
After a year, I’m happy to report that we love our Explorer K2. For our purposes, it’s perfect- affordable, lightweight, and does everything we’d want a kayak to do. And I’d venture to say it’s an awesome choice for other casual kayakers- if you want something compact and budget-friendly to bring along with you while you’re out RVing or on a road trip, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a better value for your money.
If you’ve got a need for speed, though, or are wanting something a bit more rugged, I’d recommend considering either a hard-shell kayak or something a bit more premium, like the Advanced Elements inflatable kayak.
Happy paddling! Let me know if you have any questions about the Explorer K2 in the comments below and I’m happy to share more about our experience!
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