Single-person kayaks are great for beginners and seasoned kayakers looking for kayaks that are easy to control. Of course, single kayaks are much better if they're not too long nor too short. A right kayak that fits this description is Intex Challenger K1 kayak. It's a kayak that is good for single person use in terms of speediness, mobility, stability, and navigability.
I have Intex Challenger for a year now. So, I know so much about it as much as I see the palm of my hand. Today, I'll be giving you an unbiased review of Intex Challenger. I'll discuss its general info, which makes it suitable, and what makes it worse.
Before I forgot, I also published a review about the best tandem kayaks. Read my take on Sun Dolphin Journey 10 SS, Intex Explorer K2, and Intex Challenger K2 if you're going to buy a two-person kayak.
Intex Challenger K1 General Information
This is a sit-in inflatable kayak. It's part of the Intex Challenger series and is a single-person version of the Intex Challenger K2 tandem kayak. In terms of color, the Intex Challenger K1 doesn't differ with Intex Challenger K2. However, there are a few notable dissimilarities between them as per design and features.
You can use this for recreational kayaking and whitewater kayaking. You can also opt to use it for kayak fishing. However, I don't think that this inflatable kayak will do the job well. That said, I suggest that you check out my review of Sun Dolphin Aruba 10.
Intex Challenger K1 kayak might be the smallest kayak from Intexcorp. Intex Challenger K2 is lengthier than it by 2 feet. Furthermore, the Intex Excursion Pro and Intex Dakota K2 beat the length of the Challenger K1 by 3 feet and 1 foot, respectively. Lastly, Intex Explorer K2 is longer than it by 1 foot. You shouldn't get Intex Explorer K1 if you aim to look for big kayaks in the market.
The average lifetime of the Challenger K1 might be 2 or 3 years. It's a two-layer inflatable kayak, so it's prone to damage against very sharp objects. This is why you should give meticulous attention when using and storing this kayak. You have to fold it properly and ensure that it doesn't get into contact with pointed debris in the water.
This is perfect for kids and adults. However, I don't see that it would do well for heavy people. I'm pretty sure that this kayak won't float for long if it bears a lot of weight. If you're big, I suggest that you go for fiberglass or polyethylene-based single person kayaks.
That's weight capacity lags behind its peers. You should go for other Intex kayaks that I reviewed if you're looking for kayaks with the excellent weight capacity.
Still, I can say that this kayak is an Intex Kayak that easy to control. Riding it is much easier than riding Intex Challenger, K1, Explorer K2, and Excursion Pro. This might be due to its compact design that allows for reactive steering and paddling.
This is what Intex Challenger K1 is in general. Now, let's proceed to the review section and examine the kayak in more detail.
Intex Challenger K1 Kayak Review
The color of the kayak is the same with Intex Challenger K2- a combination of green and black shades. The black color dominates the stern of this kayak. The green color of the bow then meets this at the cockpit. Visibility of the kayak in the water is as weak as Intex Challenger K2. Wearing a yellow PFD might be a good idea because the color tone of the kayak brings it out.
Intex Challenger K1 has a minute and streamlined design. It's a very sleek single person kayak. You won't have trouble transporting this. Carrying this kayak on your own when fully inflated is easy. Also, loading it on the car roof rack if you're feeling lazy won't be a hassle.
Furthermore, the design of Challenger K1 allows for speed and control. Stability isn't very great, but it isn't an issue once you get used to riding Intex Challenger K1.
Intex Challenger's cockpit is pretty small. It has enough space for you to position your feet in a comfortable position. However, it doesn't allow you to reposition your feet in different angles. That said, the cockpit might make you feel cramped or restricted. I solved this problem by buying a smaller seat. Buying a smaller seat allowed for more space so that I can position myself freely.
The maximum weight capacity of Intex Challenger K1 is 220 pounds. This means that only persons weighing 85-90 kilos can ride this kayak without any problems. People considering more can ride this kayak. However, they will risk themselves from sinking or capsizing. I guess this is the reason why the cockpit of the Intex Challenger K1 kayak is small. It doesn't have a lot of space to discourage more significant people from riding.
Folding this kayak is easy. This is one of the perks that I love about Intex Challenger K1. This might be because its design doesn't come with a lot of embossments. Embossments get in the way of folding and make a kayak harder to store in the carrying bag. I'm delighted that Intex Challenger K2 doesn't have this.
Allow me to talk a little about the hand pump because I think the one that I got is pretty amazing. I love the hand pump of my Intex Challenger K1 because it's not very big. Also, it's very comfortable on the hands. It produces a lot of air on each of my push. The hand pump is one of the reasons why setting up Intex Challenger K1 is quick and easy.
In connection, the hand pump allows for ergonomic handling. Also, it's durable against dirt and drops.
- 2 Layer Rugged Vinyl Construction
- Standard Directional Skeg
- Inflatable Seat With Backrest
- Ergonomic Paddles
- I-Beam Flooring
- Removable Skeg
Intex Challenger K1 uses I-Beam flooring. This feature is also available in Intex Challenger K1 and Intex Explorer 2. An advantage with I beam construction is that it resists tearing, stretching, and corrosion. This is pretty useful for preventing damage when riding Intex Challenger K1 undeflated. I love the flooring of Intex Challenger because it's not very wide. This means that it's easier to clean.
Many say that the construction of Intex Challenger K1 is pretty thin. However, I think that this is not the case. Intex Challenger K1 has two layers of rugged vinyl construction. Simply put, it has two separate air chambers that hold air. This is pretty useful for preventing Intex Challenger K1 from sinking immediately if it gets punctured. Furthermore, the two-layer construction ensures that Intex Challenger K1 retains its build or shape when traversing rapid waters.
By the way, the 2 layer construction is also available for Intex Challenger K2. Other Intex kayaks use a 3 layer rugged vinyl construction which is more resistant against punctures or air leaks.
I love the inflatable seats of Intex Challenger K1. Unlike the seats of Intex Explorer K2, they support the back very well. This is because the backrests are also supported by the lower end of the cockpit. This is possible because the small size of the cockpit prevents the backrest from leaning so much whenever you're reclining on them.
Also, the seat pad dries quickly. As a result, they don't get stained with fungi. This means less cleaning after a good day of kayaking.
Intex Challenger K1 comes with a removable skeg. This skeg is useful for kayaking on deep bodies of water. Unlike the Intex Challenger k2, Intex Challenger K1 doesn't rely much on the skeg for stability. Removing the skeg will only reduce Intex Challenger K1's stability a bit, but rest assured that it won't be useless. You should consider having the skeg on when kayaking on lakes and deep rapid rivers for the best kayaking experience.
Last is the ergonomic paddles. The free paddles that come with Intex Challenger are incredibly light and comfortable on the hands. They're collapsible for secure storage. Some say that they're flimsy, but I don't agree with this. The paddle blades provide considerable thrust. Whether it's for recreational kayaking or whitewater kayaking, the paddles of Intex Challenger K1 are useful. Still, you can opt to buy a new pair if it doesn't suit your needs.
Additional features that I love are the grab line and cargo net. The cargo net is useful for storing large objects that you want to bring with your kayak. However, I think that you won't be using this often because putting a lot of weight on Intex Challenger K1 will be disastrous. The grab line on the bow and stern is useful for ensuring stability. However, it snaps eventually due to wetting.
Here's my experience in riding Intex Challenger K1 at the lake, river, and sea.
The stability of the Intex Challenger K1 at the lake is fine. With or without the skeg, Intex Challenger K1 doesn't shake or wobble. Also, I love the fact that it moves for quite some time after you stop paddling. The issue with some inflatable kayaks is that they stop moving as soon as you don't paddle. This isn't the case with Intex Challenger K1. Aside from being speedy, it allows you to "freewheel" before it stops.
I can't say that my time with this kayak was very good at class 2 rapids. Still, kayaking was fine due to my skills and experience. Evading rocks and other debris was possible mainly because I abused the paddles. Stability was fine before reaching the whitewater entrance. However, entering the main flow greatly reduced it
The skeg prevented Intex Challenger K1 from capsizing. However, it didn't do well to stop this kayak from turning on its own. Navigation was solely reliant on how I used the paddles. That said, I had to make use of the paddles and do various strokes for whitewater kayaking with Intex Challenger K1.
My time at the sea was terrible. The waves fill the cockpit with water easily. I realized that Intex Challenger K1 isn't ideal for sea kayaking because it sits low and doesn't have a self-bailing function. That said, my sea kayaking experience with this kayak was short-lived. I recommend that you go for other kayaks instead of this one if you're looking for sea kayaks.
What I Don't Like About Intex Challenger K1
I am using Intex Challenger K1 for quite some time, so I can say that it's a right kayak that's not expensive. Still, it has some cons that I wish for manufacturers to address.
I think it would be better if Intexcorp redesigns the cockpit of Intex Challenger K1. Intex Challenger K1 has a tiny cockpit that doesn't have much legroom. This isn't that much of an issue, though. Sun Dolphin is a kayak that also has a small cockpit.
However, its cockpit is more comfortable compared to Intex Challenger K1. I wish that Intex Challenger K1 will come with a more ergonomic cockpit in the future. It doesn't need more legroom, but it would be great if it supports efficient body positioning.
I also think that Intex has to ditch the cargo net and replace it with a detachable storage compartment. The stern where the cargo net is placed holds a lot of space. I think that it's wide enough for a removable storage compartment. A detachable storage compartment is much useful than a cargo net because it can store phones, clothes, bottles, and various objects securely.
Intex Challenger K1 is a good purchase if you're looking for a kayak that's inexpensive but works great. You can ride it on lakes and rivers without any problems. Its stability and speed are excellent for a very challenging kayaking escapade. Intex Challenger might not be the perfect single person kayak, but the minor issues that it has will sharpen your kayaking skills.