Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak Review (2023)

This is a review of the Intex Challenger K1 inflatable kayak.


If you’re new to the world of kayaking, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the choices out there. As with any big purchase, you want to make sure you’re buying the best product for your needs, and when it comes to kayaks, this rings especially true. It’s important to figure out what level you’re at and find the kayak that best suits you. 

The Intex Challenger K1 inflatable kayak might be a good fit for you if you’re a novice looking for a simple yet dependable kayak. This kayak offers a great construction, a simple setup, and a price point that’s hard to beat.

Unlike some inflatable kayaks, the Intex Challenger keeps things simple and straightforward. There are no unnecessary bells and whistles with this kayak, instead, users will find an easy to put together single kayak that comes with all the basics needed to get out on the water and have a good time.

In our review of the Intex Challenger, we are going to take a look at what makes this one of the most lightweight inflatable kayaks to invest in if you are new to the sport. Along with exploring its key features and benefits, we’ll also take a look at what other users have to say about this boat.

Stick around to see if the Challenger K1 kayak might be a good fit for you and your family.

Intex Challenger K1 Pros and Cons

What I Like
  • The carrying back is lightweight at 26 pounds. When the kayak is all packed up, there is enough room in the bag to store away additional accessories like a life jacket or electric hand pump.
  • The inflatable seat is large and comfortable, offering a relaxing ride for long stretches.
  • A rigid I beam flooring and large removable skeg help proved both durability and stability to the kayak. This support greatly improves the performance of the boat, making it great for novices.
What I Don’t Like
  • Inflation can be a tedious process because the footrest and chair require manual inflation. Using an electric pump on the boat itself will help minimize inflation time.
  • Capacity is limited to 220 pounds, but smaller and shorter kayakers will find this boat offers optimal comfort. Larger kayakers can always remove the footrest for additional comfort.

Who Should Buy the Intex Challenger K1?

The Intex Challenger K1 is one of the best inflatable kayaks for individuals who are just getting started out in the water. There are no additional bells and whistles that are intimidating or difficult to use, which in turn brings down the price of the boat. This makes the Challenger K1 one of the most affordable inflatable boats to invest in.

The Intex Challenger is also great for solo kayakers who travel around a lot. Because you can deflate and pack the kayak in a nice carrying bag, you can stow it away in the back of your trunk or in the back seat. As with all inflatable kayaks, the Intex Challenger K1 conveniently gets rid of needing to have a roof rack on your car.

If you do a lot of lazy river rafting or just want an inflatable kayak for calm waters, this is certainly a good choice to go with as well. The front and back grab line allows you to kayak with others or attach an extra tube for storing items like a cooler for kayaking.

Lastly, because safety is a priority with the Challenger K1, it’s one of the best kayaks for individuals who want to outfit their loved ones with a good boat. The vibrant green allows the boat to stand out in the water, making it easy to spot. Plus, it comes with an NMMA certified U.S. Coast Guard I.D. in the event of an emergency.

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Features of the Intex Challenger K1

There are some key features and benefits that allow the Challenger K1 to stand out against other inflatable kayaks on the market. Let’s take a look at what some of these features are.

Easy Setup

The Challenger K1 is easy to set up. 

When it is deflated, it packs nicely in a carrying bag that has an easy to grip carrying handle. The carrying bag conveniently holds all of the kayak’s components. They include the kayak itself, the removable seat, the footrest, the hand pump, the removable skeg, and the three-piece paddle.

When the kayak and all its components are packed, the carrying bag weighs roughly 26 pounds. When it’s fully inflated, it measures out to nine feet by two and a half feet and can carry up to 220 pounds, seating one individual.

There are two chambers to this inflatable kayak. The top chamber gets inflated first and then the I beam flooring gets inflated second. Both chambers are inflated through an easy-to-use Boston valve, using the included hand pump. This takes about 10 minutes, but you can easily swap out the manual pump for an electric one if you want to cut down on inflation time.

When it comes to the seat and the footrest, both will need to be inflated manually. Because the seat is a bit larger than other inflatable kayaks, it can take about another 5 – 7 minutes to inflate both pieces.

Comfortable Design

Comfort is definitely a highlight feature of the Challenger K1, especially considering the distinct construction of the boat.

The first point of comfort is found in the inflatable seat. The seat can be inflated so that there is just the right amount of pressure pushing back on you. Also, the seat’s back goes up rather high, stopping just underneath your shoulder blades. This makes seating comfortable and helpful for kayakers who need that additional back support.

The straps on either end of the inflatable seat can be loosened or tightened, helping to raise or lower the back of the seat. And because the seat is rather wide and hip-hugging, kayakers will find that for long paddling adventures, this inflatable kayak does a good job.

One drawback some users point out is that on hot summer days or long excursions, the vinyl inflatable kayak can accumulate some serious sweat from your back. For shirtless kayakers, this can mean a sticky, uncomfortable ride. However, draping a T-shirt or towel over the inflatable seat before you row is an easy fix.

The footrest is another point of comfort. Because you can deflate it as needed, kayakers will be able to get the right amount of pushback as they need. If you want the footrest out of the way, simply remove it and stow it away on the front of the boat. 

Durable and Robust

The Intex Challenger is a rather durable inflatable kayak, especially considering its affordability. It is made out of a rugged vinyl material in a bright green sporty design. This distinct look allows it to stand out in the water making it visible even from far distances.

Although it’s made out of rugged vinyl material, it’s incredibly lightweight both when you pack it in its carrying bag and when you are toting it around fully inflated. It’s not just the material that gives the Intex Challenger a durable feel, it’s the intentional construction as well.

While snags on sticks and scrapes over particularly jagged rocks could puncture the vinyl construction, your Intex Challenger does come with a repair patch. This will help to elongate the life of your kayak. 

However, because the Intex Challenger is not meant for rough riding, you likely won’t need to use your repair kit unless you drag it along shallow waters.

The grab lines on both ends of the kayak make this a great kayak to use for some calm water rafting. Attach a swim tube or inflatable kayak to it and you’ll have loads of fun.

While this inflatable kayak is not intended for white water rafting, it is quite dependable and stable for short and long paddling trips. You can even use it for fishing adventures over calm water.

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Great Stability

The Intex Challenger K1, along with its Big Brother, the K2, which seats two individuals, features an I beam construction flooring. This construction is what allows for better stability and tracking. Plus, the I beam gives the boat a nice rigidity, making it firm and stable. 

While the I beam flooring will have you sitting higher on the water (as is the case with most inflatable kayaks) there is a remedy if you don’t like this. You can deflate the bottom chamber a bit and you will have less bounce back.

Along with the rigid flooring chamber that lends well to a stable ride, the Intex Challenger K1 has high buoyancy side chambers. These side chambers offer the boat greater directional stability too. While you paddle, you won’t feel like you are being blown to one side or another even though you are sitting high on the water.

The removable skeg at the bottom also helps with the stability of this inflatable kayak. In conjunction with the I beam flooring, you will be able to track much better on the water.

Storage Capacity

There’s a really nice-sized cargo net at the front of the Intex Challenger that is larger than your average inflatable kayak storage net. This storage net is secured by five points and easily holds your most needed items while you are kayaking.

Because the net is made out of a bungee cord, it does a really good job storing and holding onto your belongings. You can stow away your water bottle, clothing, and any extra gear that you will be using often. 

If you need to store extra gear in your kayak but don’t have enough room in the cargo net area, no worries. If you pull back the chair, you will find there’s a nice nook of space for you to store away other belongings. 

This extra storage is helpful if you are going on a long adventure. It can also be a really good place to store away necessary items like an extra life jacket or some extra snacks ( just be aware that it may not stay dry).


While this inflatable kayak does away with any unnecessary bells and whistles, that doesn’t mean it’s not versatile. Don’t let the Challenger K1’s small size fool you. If you are someone who enjoys fishing, you can easily take this boat out for a lazy day on the river.

The large storage net of the Intex Challenger K1 can easily strap down your fishing gear if you want to bring it along. Also, because you are sitting above the water, you’ll have enough room to maneuver around comfortably when you are casting a line or reeling it in.

Speaking of comfort, the Challenger K1 inflatable seat will support you, giving you ample reason to relax while you take your time out on the water.

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ALSO READ: Our review of the Sea Eagle 380x Inflatable Kayak.

What Users Say About The Challenger K1

Kayakers who want to get out on the water but don’t want to dish out big bucks for an inflatable kayak love this boat. Time after time, users have been pleased with the performance, quality, and affordability of the Intex Challenger K1. One Reddit user urges those looking for a good inflatable kayak to take the jump.

Another Reddit user highlights the same sentiment but suggests upgrading to the Intex Challenger K2 in order to share the fun with a buddy.

Another user online shares how the Challenger K1 is a great kayak to invest in if you enjoy traveling around and doing low-impact kayaking. TianaT45 explains how, as someone who does a lot of road tripping, the kayak is easy to bring along because it stores away nicely into the trunk of her Prius. 

After inflating it several times, she’s managed to cut down on the setup process. Also, she highlights that as a smaller-sized woman, the kayak is easy for her to carry around when it’s inflated without any additional assistance.

After scouring countless other reviews of the Intex Challenger K1, our consensus is with the majority. We’ve settled on this being a great kayak for individuals who want something reliable yet cost effective. It’s easy to see why this is one of the best kayaks to consider if you are someone who is on a budget but doesn’t want to skimp out on quality or safety.

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Alternatives to the Challenger K1

1. Intex Challenger K1 vs Sea Eagle 330 

sea eagle 330 kayak

If you like the no-nonsense construction of the Intex Challenger K1 but want a boat with a little more to offer, then we’ve got an alternative. The Sea Eagle 330 might be a better fit for you, especially if you want something that you can take out on rougher waters. 

While the Challenger is the best kayak for a new or intermediate kayaker looking to get out on the water, the Sea Eagle offers a bit more durability.

The 33 mil Polykrylar (K80 PVC) material used in the 330 along with its design allows it to be used on Class III rapids. If you want to forgo the white waves, and just want the peace of mind that you have a durable kayak, then the 330 is a good option.

If you want a greater carrying capacity, then the 330 could be a better option for you. With the 330, you can bring along another passenger as it has a carrying capacity of 550 pounds, more than double the Intex Challenger K1. However, this of course comes at a cost – so it is up to you whether you want to stretch your budget; the 330 may be more than a beginner kayaker needs. 


YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Our review of the Intex Explorer K2 Inflatable Kayak.

Overall, the Intex Challenger K1 gives kayakers a simple but versatile boat to get started with. The affordable price point allows this kayak to stand out among the competition in its class and, the durability of the boat beats any extra bells and whistles that you might find on other inflatable kayaks.

For calm summer sailing over calm waters, you can’t go wrong with the Challenger K1. Ready to start exploring the water with this great kayak? Click here to get yours today!

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