Reviews You Can Rely On

Intex Explorer K2 Review

This boat is fine if money is your bottom line, but it paddles poorly and has lackluster performance across the board
gearlab tested logo
Intex Explorer K2 Review
Credit: Abriah Wofford
Price:  $196 List
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Manufacturer:   Intex
By Maggie Nichols ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 11, 2023
45
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 15
  • Gliding and Tracking - 25% 4.0
  • Maneuverability - 20% 4.5
  • Stability - 20% 4.5
  • Ease of Transport and Set Up - 15% 5.0
  • Comfort - 10% 6.0
  • Construction Quality - 10% 3.0

Our Verdict

The Intex Explorer K2 is a full tandem kayaking package that's about the cheapest option we've found. It includes everything you need to get out on the water beside a life jacket. Check out our review of the best life jackets to complete your kit. It doesn't track well, has a fairly small cockpit, and it's challenging not to smack paddles with your partner. With a low maximum inflation level, the Explorer K2 tends to feel a bit like sitting in a hot dog bun. But if you want a quick way to get out for a short jaunt on very calm waters, this complete package may be the easy option you're searching for.
REASONS TO BUY
All-inclusive package
Inexpensive
Lightweight
REASONS TO AVOID
Tracks poorly
Tacos when fully inflated
Deforms at full pressure
Questionable durability
Editor's Note: This article was last updated on October 11, 2023, to showcase some changes to our testing metrics.

Compare to Similar Products

 
intex explorer k2
This Product
Intex Explorer K2
Awards   Best Buy Award Best Buy Award  
Price $196 List
$151.23 at Amazon
$499 List
$499.00 at REI
$670 List
$529.00 at Amazon
$389 List
$299.00 at Amazon
$186 List
$123.12 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
45
76
74
56
39
Star Rating
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Bottom Line It's the cheapest of the cheap, and it paddles like itA marginally more affordable folding boat that's a breeze to set up and enjoyable on calm and flat watersThis yak is among our favorites and it's built to last and perform at a high levelAn affordable and pleasant paddling experience with a friend or solo on calm watersAn incredibly cheap tandem kayak, but not a bad way to get on the water
Rating Categories Intex Explorer K2 Oru Lake Advanced Elements A... Sea Eagle 370 Pro Intex Challenger K2
Gliding and Tracking (25%)
4.0
7.5
9.0
5.5
3.5
Maneuverability (20%)
4.5
8.5
7.0
6.0
4.0
Stability (20%)
4.5
5.5
7.0
4.5
4.0
Ease of Transport and Set Up (15%)
5.0
9.0
4.5
6.0
5.5
Comfort (10%)
6.0
6.5
8.5
6.5
3.5
Construction Quality (10%)
3.0
9.0
8.0
5.5
2.5
Specs Intex Explorer K2 Oru Lake Advanced Elements A... Sea Eagle 370 Pro Intex Challenger K2
Measured Weight (boat and storage bag only) 26.2 lbs 17.0 lbs 33.25 lbs 42.8 lbs 27.5 lbs
Capacity Tandem; 400 lb Single; 250 lb Single; 300 lb Tandem; 650 lb Tandem; 400 lb
Kayak Size (length x width) 10' x 3' 8'11" x 2' 8" 10' 3" x 2' 9" 12' 6" x 2' 10" 11' 5" x 2' 11"
Packed Size (length x width x height) 27" x 15" x 17" 42" x 18.5" x 10.5" 33" x 16" x 15" 36" x 20" x 8" 28" x 18" x 12"
Included Accessories Repair patches, pump, and paddles Extra plastic buckle, extra velcro patches Repair kit Foot pump, repair kit, paddles Repair patches, pump, and paddles
Material/Construction Polypropylene Double-layered polypropylene, 10-year UV treatment Aluminum ribs in bow & stern, PVC-coated polyester 38 mil PVC 30-gauge PVC vinyl, I-beam floor
Features Removable skeg, bow & stern grab lines, adjustable backrest, manual drainage hole Adjustable backrest 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 Bow & stern grablines, cargo net, skeg

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Intex Explorer K2 has a 400-pound capacity and is a tandem, or two-person, model. 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.

Performance Comparison


intex explorer k2 - getting out on the water in the inexpensive intex explorer k2.
Getting out on the water in the inexpensive Intex Explorer K2.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

Gliding and Tracking


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 frequently clashing blades with our partners. A removable skeg helps a bit with tracking, but the bottom of the boat is quite flat, lacking that cutting quality. Even with two paddlers, we found ourselves wig-wagging across the surface of the lake. If it didn't weave and taco so much, the PVC exterior would more effectively glide, and this boat could be fast. But in reality, it isn't.

intex explorer k2 - this kayak sits low in the water, even when not fully loaded.
This kayak sits low in the water, even when not fully loaded.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Maneuverability


The lower profile of the Explorer does help it catch less wind, though we still wouldn't recommend paddling this boat on a windy day. It's reasonably easy to turn quickly — if you can avoid smashing your paddle into your partner's paddle. We have very little faith that this boat is up to many difficult tasks involving rocks or submerged sticks. It's made of some of the thinnest material of any kayak we tested and lacks any additional layers that might protect it. The sides also bulge and deform when it's fully inflated.

intex explorer k2 - if saving money is your top priority, then this budget watercraft...
If saving money is your top priority, then this budget watercraft can still provide a decent time out on the water.
Credit: Penney Garrett

Stability


As one of the widest kayaks we tested, the Explorer K2 has some level of stability. The inflatable seats aren't overly thick, helping you ride lower and be better balanced in the water. While this lower seat makes getting in a fairly straightforward affair, getting back out proves to be more challenging. The most common feedback we got from our testing team is that this boat feels like paddling around in a pool toy — fun but not the most reliable. The cockpit has a drainage port in the back, but it's the type of valve you have to squeeze open with your hands, so it is utterly useless for emptying the boat while you paddle.

intex explorer k2 - the explorer k2 has three different types of valves on board...
The Explorer K2 has three different types of valves on board, including this nearly useless cockpit drainage plug that requires you to hold it open to function.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Ease of Set Up


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 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 adapters 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 seat valves are the type that requires you to hold them squeezed open to release the air. 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.

intex explorer k2 - the best thing about this boat is that it's lighter than most...
The best thing about this boat is that it's lighter than most tandems and has an oversized bag that makes it easy to fit everything inside.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Comfort


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 it very difficult for them 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.

intex explorer k2 - the length of the explorer k2 is better at accommodating the leg...
The length of the Explorer K2 is better at accommodating the leg room for a single person, but the seat placement options mean we had to remove the seats completely to make it a solo boat.
Credit: Abriah Wofford

Construction Quality


The Explorer K2 suffered no tears, rips, or punctures during our extensive testing. However, it's exceedingly thin, and 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.

intex explorer k2 - the walls of the explorer k2 bulge and deform under the...
The walls of the Explorer K2 bulge and deform under the manual-requested pressure and with regular use.
Credit: Maggie Nichols

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) is more than worth it, in our opinion.

Maggie Nichols