Intex Explorer K2 Review
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Intex Explorer K2
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|Pros||All-inclusive package, inexpensive, lightweight||Handles well, high durability, fast, stable, fabric is water resistant||All-inclusive package, adjustable seating, can paddle tandem or solo, comfortable seats||Everything included, affordable, durable, easy backpack carry, everything becomes part of the kayak||Very inexpensive, everything included, low and stable|
|Cons||Tracks poorly, tacos when fully inflated, deforms at full pressure, questionable durability||Heavy, floor difficult to inflate, hard to drain||Awkward bulky bag, foot pump is small, wobbly paddles||Poor paddle, rides high, blunt bow, fabric retains water, difficult to drain||Not durable, pump is inefficient, average portability|
|Bottom Line||This boat is fine if money is your bottom line, but it paddles poorly and has lackluster performance across the board||With excellent handling, a long lifespan, and great comfort, this kayak will go the distance||An inexpensive and more comfortable way to get out on the water with your friends or by yourself||For a decent kayak at a fraction of the cost of the competition, we love this backpack yak from Sevylor||What it lacks in finesse and durability it makes up for with a shockingly low price tag and decent handling|
|Rating Categories||Intex Explorer K2||Advanced Elements A...||Sea Eagle 370 Pro||Sevylor Quikpak K5||Intex Challenger K2|
|Ease of Set Up (20%)|
|Specs||Intex Explorer K2||Advanced Elements A...||Sea Eagle 370 Pro||Sevylor Quikpak K5||Intex Challenger K2|
|Measured Weight (boat and storage bag only)||26.2 lbs||33.25 lbs||42.8 lbs||23.4 lbs||27.5 lbs|
|Capacity||Tandem; 400 lbs||Single; 300 lbs||Tandem; 650 lbs||Single; 250 lbs||Tandem; 400 lbs|
|Kayak Size (length x width)||10' x 3'||10' 3" x 2' 9"||12' 6" x 2' 10"||10' x 2'8"||11' 5" x 2' 11"|
|Packed Size (length x width x height)||27" x 15" x 17"||33" x 16" x 15"||36" x 20" x 8"||22" x 17" x 9"||28" x 18" x 12"|
|Included Accessories||Repair patches, pump, and paddles||Repair kit||Foot pump, repair kit, paddles||Pump, paddle, spray skirt||Repair patches, pump, and paddles|
|Material/Construction||Polypropylene||Aluminum ribs in bow & stern, PVC-coated polyester||38 mil PVC||Heavy duty polyetster bottom, 24-gauge laminated PVC||30-gauge PVC vinyl, I-beam floor|
|Features||Removable skeg, bow & stern grab lines, adjustable backrest, manual drainage hole||Adjustable backrest, bungees, pressure relief valve in floor, skeg||Seatback pockets, bow & stern grablines, drainage hole, adjustable seats, two small tracking fins, converts to solo boat||Backpack carrying system turns into seat , storage area, bow and stern bungees, accessory D-rings, spray skirt, skeg||Bow & stern grablines, cargo net, skeg|
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Intex Explorer K2 is a tandem kayak with a 400-pound capacity. It's made of polypropylene and comes with two paddles, a hand pump, and repair patches. It features a removable skeg, adjustable seatbacks, bow and stern lines, and a manual cockpit drainage port.
The Explorer K2 sinks a lot when loaded with grown adults, adding drag to the paddling experience. It sits lower in the water than most other tandems, even with lighter people inside. Though it has shorter paddles to try to match its length, we still found ourselves clashing blades with our partners frequently. A removable skeg helps a bit with tracking, but the bottom of the boat is quite flat, lacking that cutting quality. This lower profile does help it catch less wind, though we still wouldn't recommend paddling this boat on a windy day. The cockpit has a drainage port in the back, but it's the type of valve you have to squeeze open with your hands, and so it is utterly useless for emptying the boat while you paddle.
As a very squishy watercraft, the Explorer K2 feels relatively comfortable to sit in, easily conforming to your shape and boasting adjustable seatbacks. The seats clip into place and velcro to the floor of the boat — which certainly stops them from sliding but also makes them very difficult to adjust to the appropriate amount of leg room for both passengers. Riding lower in the water is a different paddling experience than a higher-seated boat, most commonly resulting in a wetter excursion. While this lower seat makes getting in a fairly straightforward affair, getting back out proves to be more challenging.
Ease of Set Up
The hand pump included with the Explorer is quite small, and it takes a long time to inflate the boat. Ours also fell into pieces the third time we used it, though we were able to easily put it back together again. The boat itself has five chambers (two are just tiny tubes on the bow and stern to hold the splash guards taut), and each seat is a single chamber. However, there are three different valve types, forcing you to swap out pieces to get the right fit. The valve in the floor is challenging to reach, as the sides inflate over the top of it, so you have to remember to inflate it first and deflate it last. The fin on the bottom is so incredibly difficult to get fully into place that it's easy to want to give up and leave it behind. Deflating this boat requires constant attention, as the floor, bow, stern, and both seat valves are the type that requires you to squeeze them open for air to come out. This proves challenging with the floor in particular, as the valve is on the inside, so you're actively rolling up while still trying to deflate. Fortunately, the storage bag is oversized and easily fits all the components of this kayaking kit.
Impressively, this tandem kayak weighs just 26 pounds. That's on par with many of the single boats we've tested. Of course, this is achieved in part by being rather small and constructed of very thin materials. It's not horrible to cart down the path to the beach, though the duffel-style carry bag without any padding on the handles isn't the most comfortable over long distances.
The Explorer K2 suffered no tears, rips, or punctures during our extensive testing. However, we have little faith that it's up to many difficult tasks involving rocks or submerged sticks. It's made of some of the thinnest material of any boat we tested and lacks any additional layer that might protect it. The sides also deform when the boat is fully inflated. The internet is filled with reports of the seams breaking and the patch kit not working, which doesn't fill us with the same confidence we have with so many of the beefier models we tested. Even compared to other kayaks in our lineup that are sold for around the same price point, the Explorer is one of the thinnest-walled options.
Should You Buy the Intex Explorer K2?
It's tempting to see the price tag on this all-inclusive kit and think it's a great value item. But when it comes to performance, the Explorer K2 just can't compete with the others. If you can spend just a little more, there are several better all-inclusive kits that far outperform this one for not all that much more money.
What Other Inflatable Kayaks Should You Consider?
The Intex Explorer K2 is a low-cost tandem kayak that includes everything but the PFD. If money is your bottom line, this may be a tempting option, but we were underwhelmed by most aspects of its performance. Our favorite tandem is the Advanced Elements AdvancedFrame Convertible Tandem, but it will cost you a lot more. If tandem on a budget is strictly what you're after, the Sea Eagle 370 Pro is our favorite, though the Intex Excursion Pro K2 is also a solid bet. Both will cost you more than the Explorer K2, but the increase in performance (and decrease in frustration) are more than worth it, in our opinion.
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