In this post we compare the Intex Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak vs Advanced Elements Lagoon Inflatable Kayak. This is a comparison of a super budget inflatable kayak (the Intex) with a more expensive inflatable kayak. The Advanced Elements Lagoon Kayak is about five times the price of the Intex Challenger. So of course, you have to wonder, is it worth the extra money? Read on and find out.
Related Post: Read about what it is like to dry camp on Santispac Beach, Baja California Sur
Inflatable Kayaks vs Hardshell Kayaks
Of course, it goes without saying that it is easier to transport and store an inflatable kayak than a hardshell kayak. This is especially important if you like in a small space, such as an RV. However, many people think that we are making some kind of compromise by having inflatable kayaks. We have learned that this is simply not true.
Joe and I recently rented some hardshell kayaks for a 5-mile paddle. We both had very sore backs and butts at the halfway point of the trip! Granted, rental kayaks will not be top-of-the-line models. However, this experience suggests that one might have to purchase a very expensive hardshell kayak to get the comfort provided by our entry level inflatables.
By the way, we were surprised to learn that inflatable kayaks are more durable than hardshells – they are designed to bounce off obstacles such as rocks. Rocks can easily damage hardshell kayaks. They are also more stable in the water, making them well suited to beginners. This is because they settle into the water, rather than sitting right on top. Also, because they are wider.
Getting into the Kayaks
We find both of these kayaks equally easy to get into. They are both more stable than an equivalent sized hardshell kayak, which makes them easier to get into. Joe in particular is not exactly a gymnast, but he gets in and out without embarrassing himself!
This video shows how easy it is to get into the Intex Challenger kayak. The person getting in is our friend Zee, who was trying out a kayak for the very first time!
Treat Your Inflatable Well!
We started out with two Intex Challenger K1 Kayaks, and quickly discovered we really enjoyed kayaking. But then one of our Kayaks developed a leak. It must be said that the leak was likely caused by us not deflating the kayaks when transporting them from the campground to the lake in the back of our truck. We think we snagged it on our hitch. We have learned our lesson and now make sure that we inflate and deflate at the lake before and after use.
We tried to repair the leak, but found that the included repair kit was basically useless to repair a one-inch gash. Strangely, we were unable to find a decent repair kit anywhere – online or in hardware stores. All the available kits were really intended for small plastic toys, not kayaks. Are we living in an era of throw-it-away if it breaks?
Amazon Return Policy
We complained to Amazon about the useless repair kit. Much to our surprise, they took the entire product back and issued us a full refund! One of the reasons we are frequent Amazon shoppers is that we really enjoy the very generous refund policy. We do our best not to take advantage of it, knowing that many of the suppliers are small businesses – not as small as us, but still small!
Upgrading to an Advanced Elements Lagoon Kayak
Now that we knew that we enjoyed kayaking, we of course still needed to have two kayaks. We decided to upgrade the replacement kayak, and see if we had better luck with it. We were sold on the inflatable concept (easy to store in the back of our truck, and comfy for the rear end!). So, we researched some alternatives. We compared a range of kayaks at a bricks-and-mortar store, and decided upon the Advanced Elements Lagoon Kayak.
Advanced Elements makes a whole range of inflatable kayaks – from recreation models (like the Lagoon 1) all the way to white-water models, and everything in between. This is the cheapest model in their line-up.
Similarities between the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak vs Advanced Elements Lagoon Kayak
Both kayaks are easy to pump up and pump down. We are not that young any more, but we don’t break a sweat. They both fold up into a carry bag. When paddling, both kayaks are light and nimble. Since both kayaks have inflatable seats and back rests they are extremely comfortable, even on longer kayaking expeditions.
Layers of Material on the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak vs Advanced Elements Lagoon Kayak
The main difference between the Advanced Elements Lagoon Kayak and the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is the materials they are constructed from. The Advanced Elements Lagoon Kayak is made of a rigid fabric shell, with inflation chambers inside. The material makes the kayak feel much more robust than the vinyl shell of the K1 Kayak.
Also, the Advanced Elements has three layers of material, as compared to just one layer on the Intex. So, getting a leak is way less likely with the more expensive kayak. The internal air chamber of the Advanced Elements Kayak can be swapped out with a new one after a few years’ use. Clearly, this more expensive kayak is intended to last for many years.
Comparison of What’s in the Box
With the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak, you get the kayak, the paddle, the pump, and the (unfortunately not very useful) repair kit. With the much more expensive Advanced Elements Lagoon Kayak, all you get is the kayak and a much better repair kit. You need to buy a paddle and pump separately.
Both kayaks come with a handy carry bag for storage and transportation.
With the Advanced Elements Lagoon Kayak, you need to buy the paddle separately. It is obviously a more expensive paddle than the one that comes free with the Intex kayak. However, we find it impossible to feel any difference in paddling efficiency between the two oars. You also have to buy a pump if you get the Advanced Elements kayak. With the pump, we definitely found that the high-quality Advanced Elements pump was superior to the free pump that came with the Intex pump. See more details in the next section.
Inflating the Two Kayaks
Although we already had our Intex pump, we ended up buying the pump recommended for the Advanced Elements kayak. It was clearly better quality, and included a pressure gauge and a variety of fittings. The pump that is included with the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is more basic. However, it must be said that both pumps work quickly and efficiently. We never break a sweat using either! We did however give away the Intex pump, as the Advanced Elements pump is so much better.
And thanks to its various fittings, we can also use the Advanced Elements pump for other purposes. For example, the other day the grand-kids came for a sleepover, and it was quick and easy to blow up an air mattress with this pump. Even three-year-old Hunter took a turn (although admittedly, if left to him alone, we would still be inflating that mattress).
The inflation control for the Advanced Elements Lagoon Kayak is very precise, since it is a PSI reading on the pressure gauge. The inflation control of the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is simple. A clear plastic ruler is supplied, which you place over the printed guide on the two inflation chambers of the kayak. It is easy to over-inflate the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak. However, that does not seem to do any harm.
Of course, if you decide to get an Intex Kayak, there is nothing to stop you from buying a better-quality pump than the one that is supplied free with the kayak. But quite honestly, if we had not upgraded to an Advanced Elements pump, we would not have thought about upgrading our pump. We were pleasantly surprised with how quickly and easily we could inflate our Intex kayak with the supplied, basic pump.
Performance Comparison of the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak vs Advanced Elements Lagoon Kayak
Related post: Read our review of the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak here.
Surprisingly, we can’t tell the difference in performance between the kayaks, and nor could a friend of ours when we asked him to compare the experience. Both kayaks give a great kayaking feeling. And with a bit of effort, you can whip up quite a bit of speed!
Related Post: Read about what it is like to dry camp on Santispac Beach, Baja California Sur
We certainly noticed that both of the inflatable kayaks are more stable in the water than hardshell kayaks we have rented. This is because inflatable kayaks are wider than hardshells. Of course, this makes inflatables better for beginners.
Putting the Kayaks Back in their Bags
After use, we deflate the kayaks and pack them back into the bags that came with them. This is surprisingly easy to do, whether you are working on the beach or on a picnic table. I would say it is equally easy with both kayaks, although the Advanced Elements has a few extra small compartments to deflate. Here is a series of photos Joe took of me deflating the Advanced Elements kayak.
See also our review and video of the Arizona Oasis RV Resort, situated right on the Colorado River.
Aesthetics of the Two Kayaks
Another difference between the kayaks is that the Advanced Elements Lagoon Kayak has an inflatable collar around the cockpit, which makes it appear more like sports equipment and less like a toy. In general, you can tell just by looking which is the more expensive item.
Bottom Line on the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak vs Advanced Elements Lagoon Kayak
Bottom line after one year is that Joe and I recommend both kayaks.
The Intex Challenger K1 Kayak is a great, entry-level product which is very inexpensive. This kayak is suitable for someone just starting out in the sport, who does not want to spend a lot of money. And it has lasted us an entire year so far. We have done lake, river, and ocean kayaking. No white-water! When we purchased our kayaks they were just slightly less than $100 each. That was a great deal. But now, they are just a little more than $60, which is an amazing deal.
The Advanced Elements Lagoon Kayak is an upgrade to the Intex Challenger K1 Kayak because of its more robust materials. However, a complete kit including pump and paddle will cost you between $300 and $400. Even though it’s the cheapest of the Advanced Elements line-up, it looks great and offers a great kayaking experience. If you are sure you like kayaking, this is an entry-level kayak at a much higher level. The kayaking feeling will be much the same, but this one is certain to last you a lot longer. And if you care about appearances, this one looks like a real kayak, as opposed to the Intex, which does look a little like a toy.
Technical Specs, as Provided by Manufacturers
- Nimble, durable kayak is made of durable welded material with eye-catching graphics for added safety on the lake or slow-moving river
- Cockpit is designed for comfort and maximized space, and inflatable I-beam floors add stability
- Cargo net to store extra gear, and grab line on both ends of kayak; inflatable seat with backrest
- Comes with 84-inch aluminum oar, repair patch and Hi-output manual hand pump. Rugged vinyl construction
- Measures 30-by-15-by-108 inches (W x H x D), with 27.2-pound weight and 220-pound maximum capacity
- 9’ x 2.6’ x 1’1’”
- 9 lb
- Comes with repair kit
- Single-person inflatable kayak for lakes, mild rivers, bays, and more
- Built-in rigid panels on the bow and stern to improve tracking
- Quick-inflating Twistlok and high-flow Spring valves for easy setup
- Padded high-support seat; molded rubber-grip handles; bungee deck lacing
- 250-pound weight capacity; measures 8 feet 4 inches long
- 1 pounds
Extras We Bought for the Advanced Elements Lagoon 1 Kayak
- It is durable
- High flow inflation
- It is made of multiple adaptors
- This high flow pump inflates and deflates
- Designed with a pressure gauge
- Portable Kayak Paddle
- Light-weight Kayak Paddle
- Asymmetrical blades
- Weighs 2.7 Pounds
- 60 deg. RHC, LHC and Unfeathered
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