Submitted: 04-13-2011 by Jay
I picked up my K2 Explorer on Ebay as well. I did a lot of research on finding the best quality, lowest cost inflatable kayak. I looked at brands such as Sevylor, Airhead, Sea Eagle, Coleman, Stearns, etc. and I decided to buy a Pathfinder kayak from Ebay. It leaked, but the seller kindly accepted the return. So, FINALLY, I purchased a K2 Explorer for $350 with free shipping and it sat in the garage until the weather was warm enough for a journey.
It was easy to inflate and looked to be made of high quality, thick materials. It was much heavier than I expected, but in a good way. This is not a pool toy by any means. I inflated the kayak and had the seats on in 15 minutes, though after you get used to it it takes less time. The paddles were questionable at first but proved to be quite sturdy (3 paddles included!) The seats are supportive and adjustable.
The kayak is quite rigid. The underside is made from some kind of really heavy rubber or plastic that is very tough. I was on the river with my dry bags and cooler in very little time. All the d rings make for nice tie down points. I as in flat water and up to class 2 rapids and it performed very well. I had the self bailers closed on the flatwater section and pulled over (after the first rapid) to partially deflate it and open the self bailing ports. This took 5-10 minutes, but it was easy and worth it. It bailed fairly well, but my rear was still wet, but I was not sitting in water. The ride was stable and I never felt as if I as tipping, yet it paddled easier than I thought in the flat water. It would spin around in circles if I stopped paddling, but if I kept good stroke, I could go quite fast. I was surprised!
I have since taken it on quite a few journeys and I have never had a problem, besides when I accidentally stabbed a hole in it with a recently sharpened knife (don't ask) I was upset, but to my surprise, I patched it quite easily. There are actually 2 tubes inside the boat that are accessible through zippers on the side. I patched one of the side tubes and then I used another included patch to repair the outside. I let it dry and I has never leaked again.
I will give this boat as follows:
10 for value
9 for appearance
9 for durability
9 for customization
6 for paddles
9 for comfort
9 for stability
9 for whitewater (not big drops)
8 for flatwater (have not tried the skegs)
I am no pro, but this is a good inflatable. I have rented many "duckies" from outfitters, and this is comparable in quality to what is used by rental fleets for intermediate whitewater and below. It is better than I expected, and I have had no problems to speak of as far of quality.
I have hit my hand a few times on the d-rings and maybe they can be placed a little lower to avoid this. not a huge deal, though.
It does not bail as quick as some, so your rear will get wet in splashy continuous rapids.
The paddles are questionable, but as the last reviewer said: they have not failed me yet.
If anything changes about this review, I will try to update it as the paddling season progresses.