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First time using inflatable Kayaks: Initial thoughts

May 6, 2020 No Comments

First time using inflatable Kayaks: Initial thoughts

May 6, 2020 No Comments
1st time using inflatable kayaks was a success!

Katie here! During this crazy time of social distancing and quarantine, I was looking for something fun to do to get out the house on a nice spring weekend in Wisconsin. We were going to take the kids camping on Castle Rock Lake in central Wisconsin and I thought kayaking would be something different.

We are very amateur kayakers.  We've kayaked on trips or at various vacation rentals here and there but are by no means "experts".  
So keep that in mind when reading this!

We do not own any kayaks, so I was looking to see if I could rent some now that boat rentals are allowed in Wisconsin. I was frustrated due to the cost and not any very close to where we were camping. So, naturally I decided to look up kayaks and see how much they were to buy new. The inflatable kayaks seemed like a good option and price point for our needs of kayaking.

I wanted 2-person kayaks so that my husband and I could each be in our own kayaks with one kid each (our children are 2 and 6 years old). So I did a quick Amazon search and was seriously considering buying these: Intex Explorer K2 Kayak

When I first looked them up, those Intex Explorer K2 Kayaks were $99 (they now appear to be $89), they were an affordable price and had fairly good reviews – 4.4 stars and over 5200 reviews on Amazon.

I then remembered my good friend Brittany had inflatable kayak and she let me borrow hers before I invested in anything. Turns out she had very similar kayaks to the ones I almost bought. The ones she owns and let us borrowed were: Intex Challenger K2 Kayak

2-person inflatable kayak with kids in front

My friend said they have held up well over a couple years, although they aren’t using them every weekend. They have two medium-sized dogs and take the dogs with them on the inflatable kayaks with no issues. The seats are removable so when bringing dogs, you would just leave out the front seat and they sit further down in the kayaks. They kayaks came with a foot pump but you can use any electric pump you have.

We took them out and found them easy to use. Everything you need is stored in one bag per kayak, including the pump and oars. They inflated easily. There is a fin that attaches to the bottom – don’t forget that or you won’t be able to steer very easily.

Unfortunately the day we went was very windy and the currents were strong so we didn’t make it too far – like I said total amateurs. However, we felt secure in them. I don’t think they felt any more tippy than a normal hard kayak. I had space to set a small backpack Yeti cooler between my legs filled with food for our picnic on a sandbar. We avoided any areas that had lots of stumps/trees just because I wasn’t sure how they would withstand that.

Lightweight and easy to carry

For actual kayaking, they worked great! The biggest downfall about the inflatable kayaks for us was they were hard to clean. They got full of sand from the kids and us and that was hard to get clean out while camping. Because, I borrowed them, I wanted to make sure I got them as clean and neat as possible. By the end of the process, I think I figured out what worked best (see below).

Pros:
  • Lightweight and easy to carry.
  • Easy assembly
  • Worked great on the water
  • I liked the bright colors, made me feel more easily identifiable by motor boats
  • Everything fits in one bag, making for easy storage and transportation.
Cons:
  • Cleaning was a bit tedious
  • I was hesitant to go in areas with a lot of sticks or rocks
picnic on the sandbar
Kayaked to the sandbar for a picnic

Cleaning the kayaks:

Here was our trial and error methods. (Note: we were camping and not at home for this). First we laid them upside down on picnic tables to dry while still inflated. They mostly dried out this way, but the way they are constructed with little air pockets held water and sand in between. What I think worked the best was to deflate the kayaks, then get in between those crevices. I used a small broom to sweep the sand away carefully without it dropping down to the other part of the kayak. Another thought we had was to blow the sand off with a leaf blower, but obviously didn’t have this while we were away camping.

Once we got them cleaned up well enough, they folded up very easily and fit nicely back into the bag. That process of cleaning out the sand and making sure they were dry enough did feel very tedious to me.


Overall: Recommend for a good price point and easy to use! I think if I bought them myself, I would buy the Intex Explorer K2 Kayak. It is slightly cheaper, with better reviews.

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