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Intex Explorer K2 Review | Best Inflatable Kayak

One of Jake’s and my favorite purchases for our campervan has been this Intex Explorer K2 inflatable kayak. It’s easy to inflate in under 10 minutes, packs down small for easy stowaway, and gets us out onto the water. In this Intex Explorer K2 Review, we are going to break down the specs, pros & cons, and simply why we love this inflatable kayak. 

The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is a great budget-friendly portable kayak. The material is made out of rugged vinyl construction, so you don’t need to worry about brushing up on a couple of rocks and worry about it popping instantly. But I would still try to avoid much to any contact with sharp objects because the kayak can still pop.

One of the best features of this kayak is it has 3 separate chambers. So if you do have a malfunction while you are out on the water you can possibly dry it off to repair it properly, or at least get home safely with hopefully the other inflated chamers. 

Drone shot of us kayaking in our Intex Explorer, which is one of the best portable kayaks for vanlife

We have owned this kayak for 3+ years and it is holding up very well! It’s relatively comfy to sit in, but one main drawback is it is not nearly as fast as a traditional kayak. If there is much wind, this baby isn’t moving too fast. But for the price and compact storage design, we really love the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak. 

Let’s break down more details on this Intex Explorer K2 Kayak Review. 

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Specs Of The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Weight: 30.6 lbs

Max Capacity: 400 lbs

Packable Size: 16.25 x 13.50 x 23.13 inches

Kayaking on the Colorado River in Moab, Utah. Best portable kayaks for vanlife

Pros & Cons Of The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Pros Of The Intex Explorer K2 Portable Kayak

  • Inexpensive
  • Fits 2 people
  • Comfortable
  • Quick Set-up time
  • Compact
  • Comes with necessary accessories (paddles, seats, pump, carry bag & patches)
  • Easy to transport

Cons Of The Intex Explorer K2 Portable Kayak

  • Risk of popping/ not as durable
  • Slow on the water (Doesn’t go nearly as fast as a traditional kayak)
  • Manually have to inflate w/ a pump or purchase separate electric pump

How to Inflate Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Inflating the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is fairly easy and can be done in under 10 minutes. It comes with an Intex high-output pump.

There are 3 separate air chambers to pump up. 

The first step is to pump up the floor. This valve is different than the other two side chambers. Simply put the end of the hose into the entrance of the valve (it should be airtight) and pull the handle up and down to inflate. You should be able to take the hose out without any air leaking out. Simply close the cap to the air chamber.

The floor has an I-beam floor for rigidity, comfort, and easy inflation.

The two side chambers come with Boston valves. Fully tighten the valves first, and then unscrew just the top cap on each chamber. Put the end of the hose of the hand pump in the hole and start inflating. Repeat the same to the other side. Doesn’t matter which side you pump up first.

Next, pump up the inflatable seats. These valves are the traditional holes where they leak air as soon as you take the hose out. So you may need to pump the last portion with your mouth.

Lastly, there are 2 accent pieces on the front and back of the kayak. 

Important: Do not overinflate any of the chambers. The material is made of heavy-duty, puncture-resistant vinyl, but the heat of the sun may make the material blunge if over-inflated.

Jake & Emily in Intex Inflatable Kayak

How To Attach The Aluminum Paddles

The kayak also comes with aluminum paddles. They break up into 3 different parts. The black piece is the middle connector for the two aluminum oars. 

Each oar is labeled with an L for left and an R for right. You will want one of each attached to either end of the black ribbed middle piece.

Try to face the oar’s curves in the same direction, therefore when you paddle you don’t have to twist the oar as you paddle on each side. You can offset them slightly if you prefer. 

Each piece snaps into the little holes on the aluminum poles. Push the plastic button to fit the smaller black piece into the larger aluminum side.

There are also rubber splash guards that can be attached to each oar. This helps limit the water running down the paddle getting you wet with each paddle.

Where To Buy Intex Explorer K2 Kayak 2-person Inflatable Kayak

Luckily the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak is a popular item around many different stores. Of course, you can always buy directly on the Intex website. But it will probably cost the most.

Amazon will likely be your best option for getting the Intex Explorer K2 at a heavily discounted price. Walmart is usually priced similarly to Amazon, so maybe check out both sites to compare the prices. You might also be able to find it on The Home Depot or similar sites, but the price tends to be higher than on Amazon or Walmart.

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Can You Use An Electric Pump With the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

Certainly, an electric pump will make the K2 easier to inflate and overall pump up much faster. But do note, you will need somewhere to plug the electric pump in or have a battery-operated pump.

Here are a few great options for electric pumps:

How Good For Tall Persons Is The Intex Kayak Explorer K2

The kayak can fit most body types if the combined weight is under the maximum weight capacity of 400 lbs. Taller people might consider sitting in front so they can extend their legs over the side chambers. 

But if the tall person is also the heavier person, then you it might be best to even the weight accordingly. The lighter-weight person should sit in the front.

Can One Person Use The Intex Explorer K2?

Of course, the Intex Explorer K2 can be used by just one person. You can adjust the inflatable seat to be more in the middle or toward the back to better distribute your weight.

But if you are using the kayak exclusively as a single paddler, you might consider the Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak instead. 

How To Take The Fin Off The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

The Intex inflatable raft comes with a removable skeg. This specifically helps with directional stability while paddling. 

The skeg is easy to insert and remove from the beam floor. Once fully inflated, lift the back (grey side) of the kayak. There will be a plastic insert where you will slide the fin in. You slide the fin in from the front and add a little force to the back.

When you are ready to take the fin off, simply re-lift the backside again and pull toward the front to disengage the hold. 

It might be helpful to have a partner to hold the kayak up.

Note: There are times when you might consider using the inflatable kayak without the skeg. 

Jake and I have used the Intex K2 Explorer kayak for floating down mellow (class 1 & 2) rivers in Colorado. Many times the river will be shallow and might rip the fin out potentially “ripping or tearing” the plastic off the bottom. Or breaking the fin in half. 

If you are in deep waters, such as a lake, then you will likely want to add the skeg.

How To Carry The Kayak To The Water

Now that you have the kayak all pumped up, you are ready to set sail. There are two grab handles and two grab lines at the front and back of the kayak. Each person can grab the handle and carry the kayak down to the water. 

Intex k2 inflatable kayak couch mode
Intex K2 inflatable kayak in couch mode
(we turn the kayak sideways and float down mellow rivers with our cooler in the middle)

Where Can I Use The Intex Explorer K2 Kayak 2-person inflatable kayak

The Intex K2 Explorer is designed for primarily calm waters. It has a low profile for lakes and mild rivers. 

It can be hard to use in windy conditions and not easy to paddle.

The Intex Explorer K2 is not really designed for the ocean. The waves and current will not be your friend. Once water goes over the edge, it does not flush out as well as ocean kayaks. Plus the Intex Explorer can be quite slow, so if you get caught in a current, it could bring you far from shore quickly and hard to get back. Therefore, I would only use the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak in ocean bays or where there are no strong currents.

While the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak can be used for fishing, just remember it is inflatable. Be extra cautious when using the sharp hooks. If any part of the kayak gets hooked, there is a good chance it can pop your raft. If you choose to fish, stay close to shore in case you encounter a pop.

How To Use The Drain Valve In The Intex Explorer K2

If the kayak does fill with water, there is a drain valve in the back of the raft. You should lift the kayak up onto land first and try to get the front higher than the back. Then, unplug the drain valve to let the water drain out. Be sure to replug the drain valve so water does not get back in.

How To Break Down The Intex Explorer Kayak For Storage

Breaking down the kayak is just as easy as inflation. You will unscrew each valve and it will instantly deflate. 

The floor has a slightly different valve, so it may need to be squeezed with your fingers to get all the air out. (We sometimes use a chip clip or similar to hold the valve completely open. Just be sure to take it off when stowed away so it doesn’t disform the plug).

Another good idea is to use a towel to thoroughly dry off the raft. If the raft is put away wet, then you expose your chances to mold growth.

Before rolling, fold in the side chambers one on top of each other. Then roll the inflatable into small sections. We tend to start with about 1 ½ foot segments, and it will grow larger as you roll to the end. Then, place it in the provided storage bag. 

Are Intex Inflatable Kayaks NMMA Certified (U.S. Coast Guard I.D.)

Yes, Intex Kayaks go through the process to get their U.S. Coast Guard I.D. and pass NMMA certifications. This provides confidence that the inflatable raft complies with the industry safety and construction standards by federal regulations.

Do You Need A Life Jacket When Using The Intex Explorer K2

You should always have a life jacket any time you are going out on open water. Especially with the Intex Explorer Kayak being inflatable, means it is more vulnerable to popping.

Here are some great life jacket options that are small and packable:

Jake & Emily posing with their hands up in the Intex Explorer K2 on Cascade Lake in WA
Intex Explorer K2 on Cascade Lake in WA

Intex Explorer K2 Kayak Review (Our Personal Thoughts)

The Intex Explorer K2 is one of the best-selling inflatable kayaks on the market today.

We hope this Intex Explorer K2 Kayak Review outlines all the positives and negatives of this inflatable kayak to see if it is the right purchase for you. We absolutely love it and it fits the budget for us to have this as a fun vanlife toy. It does run the risk of popping, but we have had great luck so far using it and it’s definitely a better option for us versus having a hard shell kayak sticking off the van.  

If you are looking for a single version of this kayak, the Intex Challenger is a great alternative. 

The Intex Explorer K2 kayak is the absolute best budget-friendly option if you just want a way to get out onto the water. But if you need something a little more rugged, compact, or fast, then you might want to consider one of these other Best Portable Kayaks

Or if you are looking for some of the absolute lightest kayaks on the market, we have a whole post about each and every one of those too!

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