Kayaking is making real strides in popularity across the world, but particularly in the USA. This rise in popularity can be attributed to a number of factors, not just that kayaking is awesome. Firstly, with all the press around the environment and how some ecosystems days seem to be numbered, so getting out in the open and experiencing things before too late has to be up there. Secondly, and perhaps what will begin to take shape in to the bulk of this review, is how extremely good value kayaks have become in recent years, largely thanks to revolutionary new construction methods and diversification of materials.
The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak really epitomizes the latter of those two points. Designed to be cheap, effective and accessible to all, the Challenger K1 aims to fill that kayak shaped void in your life and get you out on open water, albeit relatively slow moving water, but we’ll talk about that later. As an introduction, all you need to know is that the Challenger K1 is setting the bar for inflatable kayaks, and lowering the price. Available at the time of press for just $119, you don’t have to spend months saving up your hard earned wages just to dip your included oars in the water. Read on to find out just what makes this kayak such a bargain!
It’s tough to chose a starting point for all of the positive features of the Challenger K1. Perhaps the most stand out of these positives is the price. Intex really needed to be given recognition for producing such as a high quality kayak for such a budget price. The reason for the low price is the material. Constructed from super tough vinyl which is puncture and UV damage proof, this inflatable kayak is both lightweight and durable. As well as lightweight, the kayak is capable of keeping unto 220lbs buoyant at a time, so it’s by no means week. Also, with the benefit of it being an inflatable kayak, it will collapse down to fit into the trunk of your car, making it extremely portable which only goes on to further your scope for kayaking locations. A common concern with inflatable products is their stability, anyone who’s ever tried to surf a “lilo” into a swimming pool will testify to balance being difficult to obtain. Well, this kayak is built with stability in mind, with I-Beam support added to the already natural buoyancy of inflatable kayaks. This gives enough support for you to sit however you like, as well as the ability to stand up when needed without the risk of taking a swim. Comfort is also considered, with the cockpit designed for maximum space, as well as containing an inflatable seat back for that extra support during the longer outings. Finally, there is a handy cargo net to lock down whatever you are carrying with you, so the cockpit remains uncluttered.
Finally, and perhaps what the uneducated kayaker will miss, is that this kayak is colored with safety in mind. As a brightly colored kayak, with particularly striking decals, everyone can see it. Where some may say its garish, I say it’s safe. As a kayak is so low to the waters surface, it’s too easy to go unnoticed by other water users. With striking body work, this kayak is sure to stand out from the colour of the surrounding reeds and water, giving other waters no excuse to collide with you. As well as all of the above, the Challenger K1 also comes with everything you need to get going. Bundled with your new kayak comes an 84″ aluminium oar, a high output hand pump and a puncture repair kit.
Unfortunately there is a flip side to every coin, and their are some features that Intex have not completely nailed with the Challenger K1. Before discussing them, I’d say that there is good reason why this kayak is scored so highly on Amazon, it suits the basic needs and ticks the boxes well. However, it’s not really an all purpose kayak.
With the inflatable build and leisurely tracking pace, this kayak is really only suited to lakes or slow moving rivers. It’s very difficult to get ample traction when you’re battling against any kind of current in the Challenger K1, so it’s not recommended you take it out on the open ocean or white water rapids. This immediately restricts the number of places you can take your lovely new kayak, so you need to think about your needs before you go ahead and take the plunge with this one. Also, kudos to Intex for including an oar, everyone loves to see that. It’s a shame really that this oar seems to fall in the same category as all the other included oars from other manufacturers. That category is kindly labelled, ‘not very good’. Many users have reported that the oar has broken on their first outing, so there’s definitely an issue with quality control here. Where you can pick up a decent set of oars fairly cheaply, this is adding your budget which isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
All in all, this is a really great offering from Intex. For people looking to get out on the water without having to break the bank, it’s absolutely perfect provided you can out source some oars. For the beginner, it’s hard to fault it. It’s nimble, easy to manoeuvre and has designated storage space which is surprisingly rare to come across. However, for anyone other than beginners, it’s tough to see what you can gain from the Challenger K1 over the kayak you already have. If you need to go out in fast paced water, or are looking to fish offshore then you should carry on your search as this isn’t the kayak for you. To sum it up, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better first kayak, but it’s not an essential addition to your kayak fleet.