The Aqua Marina Tomahawk Air-K 440 is an open 2-person full drop stitch kayak, i.e. both the bottom and the side chambers are made of drop stitch material. The construction method makes the kayak look like a hardshell kayak, because you won’t find voluminous air chambers in the Tomahawk. Aqua Marina is not the only brand of full drop-stitch kayaks, as full drop-stitch kayaks have been on the market for several years and in recent years this type of inflatable kayak has become increasingly popular. Among the Aqua Marina kayaks, the Tomahawk is one of the most popular kayaks of the brand. We have tested the Aqua Marina Tomahawk and would like to share our experiences with you in this review.
440 cm | 14’4”
78 cm | 2’6″
210 kg | 44.8 lbs
100 x 60 x 33cm |
3’3” x 2” x 1’1”
with PVC coating
20.3 kg | 44.8 lbs
0.68 bar | 10 PSI
Which model has been reviewed?
Aqua Marina Tomahawk Air-K 440 from 2022
How did we organize the review?
The Aqua Marina Tomahawk was provided to us on a rental basis by Arts-Outdoors, a store and online shop for outdoor gear. Our review is independent of the manufacturer or store and reflects our own opinion of the boat.
How intensively has the product been tested?
2 bars = min. 1 day/ 2 half-day tours
3 bars = min. 4 tours
4 bars = min. 8 tours
5 bars = min. 12 tours (very intense)
Where have we tested the product?
First impressions and assembly
The kayak is supplied with a transport backpack. The big advantage is not only that you do not have to buy an additional transport bag, but that you already have a bag that is perfectly suited for the boat.
The backpack of the Aqua Marina Tomahawk can be opened all around via a zipper. This large opening ensures that you can easily pack and unpack backpack. On one side of the backpack there is also a side pocket. Such side pockets are good for stowing multi-part paddles (paddles are not included in the package and must be purchased extra). Unfortunately, only one four-piece paddle fits in the side pocket of the Tomahawk backpack. The second must be stowed in the main compartment or in a separate bag. The shoulder straps of the backpack are lightly padded. For the storage of the kayak and short transport distances, the backpack is more than enough. However, if the way to the next station is longer than 10 minutes, we would have liked a hip belt and more padded shoulder straps due to the high weight. For example, the backpack from the Aqua Marina Steam is better padded, although the Steam is lighter. Overall, the backpack is a nice addition from the manufacturer. However, if you want to transport the boat over longer distances on your back, you are probably better off with a higher-quality backpack.
The Aqua Marina Tomahawk, almost like any full drop-stitch kayak, is quite bulky and heavy with its PVC coating (the Tahe Breeze is an exception in the segment with a simple PVC coating). For example, a Gumotex Seawave made of polyester coated with rubber with similar dimensions is much more compact and partly lighter than a full drop-stitch kayak.
Unpacked, the Aqua Marina Tomahawk appears with a length of 4.40 m pretty long, slim dimensioned and streamlined. From the first impression, the drop stitch kayak makes a high-quality impression. The Drop-Stitch material consists of a polyester fabric and 2 PVC layers as a coating.
In addition to the transport backpack, there is a high-pressure air pump with an integrated pressure gauge in the scope of delivery. It has a single and double action function. You use the double action function at the beginning, whereby you pump air into the air chambers during both the downward and upward movement. This way you quickly get maximum air within minimum time into the chambers. When you have reached a certain high air pressure, pumping with the Double Action function quickly becomes exhausting. Then switch to the Single Action function. With this function, only air is pumped into the air chambers during downward movement, and pumping becomes easier again when the air pressure is high. In addition, two solid kayak seats, two footrests, two fins, a valve wrench and repair materials are included in the package.
The Tomahawk consists of 3 separate air chambers, each has a spring valve. The valve cap is unscrewed, the pin of the spring is pushed out and the adapter of the air pump is put on. After that the pumping starts. You can read the air pressure directly from the pressure gauge on the air pump during inflation. Each air chamber must be pumped up to 0.68 bar / 10 PSI, which is a common value for a full drop-stitch kayak. Inflating is really easy and fast. Without much effort, the inflatable kayak with its flat air chambers is inflated after a very short time. The side chambers and the bottom have a thickness of 7 cm when inflated.
Now that the boat is inflated, the seats are placed into the boat. These are solid seats. The seat cushion is attached to the Velcro strip, which is located on the floor inside the boat. This is to prevent the seat cushion from slipping while paddling on the water. The backrest is attached to D-rings on the side chambers with four carabiners. The D-rings make a high-quality impression and are double reinforced on the side chamber. The advantage of the carabiners is that you do not have to adjust the straps again on the next kayak tour.
The upper straps of the backrest are attached to the side chambers in front of the seat and the lower straps are attached to the side chambers behind the seat. This prevents the backrest from folding forward or backward. The upper straps can also be used to readjust the individual position of the backrest. In addition, there is a small simple pocket at the back of the backrest for storing utensils, such as sunscreen or snacks (not waterproof and also not completely closable. Items can be lost in the event of a capsize).
Once the seats are positioned, the next step is to install the footrests, which do not differ for the front and rear seats. Both footrests have two straps each, which are threaded through the D-rings on the side chambers. The straps are then closed via a bar buckle or ladder buckle and adjusted in terms of length. We especially find adjusting the length of the straps via the bar buckles cumbersome and annoying.
It is also noticeable that some space in the bow is wasted as potential footwell. The footrest is too wide and the bow too narrow to position the footrest further into the bow. We (1.86 and 1.89) therefore had to move the front and rear seat significantly backwards, so that both paddlers have enough space. Of course, you give away some space in the stern to store luggage and equipment.
After the seats and footrests have been adjusted to suit your needs, the fins can be slid into the two slide-in boxes provided on the underside of the boat and secured with a cotter pin. The fins are relatively heavy compared to fins of other air kayaks.
A directional fin provides better straight-line tracking and is very common on inflatable kayaks, but two fins of this size are rare to find. We are curious to see how good the straight running of the Aqua Marina Tomahawk will be.
For additional protection against waves that would otherwise slosh into the boat from the front, the front spraydeck can be stretched with a plastic part as a kind of wave/water deflector. If then a wave comes on the bow, the water does not run into the interior.
A hard-shell element is incorporated at the end of the bow and stern respectively, shaping the ends of the kayak well and protecting the air chambers in case of contact with shore or rocks.
Besides the carrying handles and the safety loops at the bow and stern, there is unfortunately no luggage net or similar. Many inflatable kayaks with an open cockpit (e.g. Tahe Breeze, Aqua Marina Steam, Gumotex Solar, Itiwit x100+, …) have a luggage net at the stern to securely attach luggage so that it does not take up space in the interior. Unfortunately, the Tomahawk does not have such a luggage net. The spraydeck at the stern of the Tomahawk is also quite small. This at least has the advantage of stowing a larger backpack or pack behind the second seat and making it easier to get into the corners when drying. For stowing luggage inside, some manufacturers like to work with D-rings on the floor so that the luggage can be secured. But even for such features to secure luggage, you look for the Aqua Marina Tomahawk in vain.
Although Aqua Marina advertises the 1-person configuration on the Air-K 440, the kayak is only half-heartedly designed for this configuration. For the 1-person configuration, there are no Velcro strips and no additional D-rings to secure the seat in the center of the interior. Instead, the D-rings of the 2-person configuration are used. We’ll go into how well this works on the water in the section below.
Review of the Aqua Marina Tomahawk on the water
The Aqua Marina Tomahawk has a total of four carrying handles. The carrying handles at the bow and stern are ideal for transporting the kayak to the water or transferring the kayak in pairs on river tours. More than lightly loaded (small daypack in the boat) we would not carry the boat with the handles, however.
If you are traveling alone, you can use the carrying handles in the middle on the inside of the side walls. This shows how unwieldy such a long boat can be. Nevertheless, the handles are absolutely sufficient to put the Tomahawk alone at short distance into the water.
Due to the open cockpit, entry is very easy. The two directional fins can be annoying on the shore. If you get in too shallow water, they tend to stick to the ground, so that you can’t get off the spot. This is partly because the fins are pretty long and there is a fin in the front as well as in the back. It is better to place the boat in the water sideways to the shore or to enter via landing stage. Alternatively, you can also leave a fin off so that the entry on the shore works better.
When paddling the Tomahawk, it is immediately noticeable at the beginning that it feels very tippy at first, as if it would tip over at the next movement. If you trust the boat and give it some time, you will be rewarded. The drop-stitch kayak is tippy, but the stability of the kayak on the water is much higher than felt at the beginning and the actual capsize point comes very late. We have challenged several capsizes on summer tours. We were surprised how late the kayak actually capsizes then. Before it tips over, it literally continues on the sidewall. If you’re fit or athletic, you’ll also manage to get out of the water back into the kayak without any problems.
If you are timid, you will not like the Tomahawk. There are much more stable inflatable kayaks on the market (e.g. Aqua Marina Steam 412, Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Convertible, Itiwit x100+ 2-seater, Gumotex Thaya, …). This aspect should not be neglected in a 2-person kayak. If you want to paddle with your partner or friends who may have never paddled before, it is easier to win them to the new activity if they feel safety and comfort at the beginning. Also, in a 2-person kayak, there are always two people who need to find the right balance together. Finding this joint balance is more important in a tippier kayak than in, for example, an Itiwit x100+ or Gumotex Thaya, which hardly tilt at all when there are unsteady movements in the boat.
Speeds of 6 to 7 km/h during leisurely paddling for two are possible without any problems. The kayak accelerates very well and has a good glide with only a very small bow wave. Overall, the trim of the kayak is really good on the water and forms a nice long waterline.
With the two fins, the straight line runout is also very good. If both people stop paddling, the kayak does not drift, but keeps track. These are definitely ideal conditions for a relaxed and yet speedy tours, where the kayak continues to run straight even during a short break.
On large rivers and lakes with sufficient depth and space, the two fins are a real gain. On small rivers, however, the kayak with two fins would be too little maneuverable for us. Here we would use only one fin at most. On rivers with obstacles, we would not use a fin at all, because the fin is too rigid and the risk of getting stucked or the fin breaking away is too high. This happened to us on the Aqua Marina Steam on a river tour, which has the same fins and slide-in boxes on the bottom. Other manufacturers like Gumotex have a fin attachment that allows the fin to bend to the side. With the Tomahawk, however, this is not possible, because the fin is in a fixed insertion rail.
For multi-day trips, we think the Tomahawk lacks space for luggage and protection from splashing water, light rain and cold. Here, other inflatable boats are clearly ahead (e.g. Verano California Duo*, Gumotex Seawave or Rush 2, Advanced Elements Advanced Frame Convertible Elite, nortik scubi 2 XL). If you still want to take the Tomahawk on multi-day trips in summer, you should take the 3-person kayak Tomahawk Air-C 478*, which is 38 cm longer. However, it should be noted at this point that the Air-C 478 has no footrests. For use by three people, footrests are probably not even necessary. Due to the short interior space for 3 people, the front person rests his feet in the bow and the rear people against the backrest of the front paddler.
When paddling the kayak alone, the trim on the water remains amazingly good despite the boat’s length thanks to the drop-stitch technology, so that even as a solo paddler you can make very good progress on the water in the Tomahawk Air-K 440. The maneuverability with two fins is only moderate for a 1-person kayak.
Space is more than enough for one paddler and luggage in the 1-person configuration in the Tomahawk Air-K 440. The large transport backpack can be placed in the back behind the seat. The unused D-rings can be used to attach the backpack or additional dry bags.
In the 1-person configuration, the footrest is indispensable to find sufficient support in the boat. The footrest is fine or better than nothing, but proper footrests such as with the Itiwit x500 would have been a great feature to allow the kayak to be paddled more cleanly. The aspect that the seat cushion is not attached to the floor via a Velcro strip in the 1 configuration proves to be practically uncritical.
Dismantling the boat
Dismantling the boat is quite simple. Water standing in the interior of the boat is very easy to drain through the drain holes in the stern. If the seats are wet, they must be dried in the air.
The kayak is dismantled as quickly as it is assembled. It is easy to wipe dry and put back together. If you fold it neatly, the kayak goes back into the transport backpack without any problems. The backpack is sufficiently large dimensioned to still stow the air pump or life jackets.
Strengths and Weaknesses
We liked the glide and straight line performance best for an inflatable kayak with a full drop stitch construction in this price range. Nevertheless, the Tomahawk does have a few weaknesses that you should be aware of before buying.
+ spacious transport backpack included + high pressure air pump included + comfortable seats + good running characteristics and very good straight running with two fins + enough space for two large paddlers + solid workmanship + very easy and fast assembly and disassembly
– moderate footrests (difficult to adjust) – seats have to dry separately and can’t be simply wiped dry – very tippy at the beginning (especially in the 2-person configuration) – directional fins break easily when touching the ground intensively – no luggage net (few stowage and fastening options for luggage) – low splash protection (no possibility to close the cockpit)
Conclusion on the Aqua Marina Tomahawk
The Aqua Marina Tomahawk is a classic full drop-stitch kayak that is ideal for half-day to day trips on calm waters in the summer. It is aimed at recreational paddlers who accept a certain tippiness in favor of better running characteristics. Due to the good gliding characteristics and the good straight running, it allows a speedy progress with comfortable paddle strokes. The solid workmanship, the slim construction and the drop-stitch chambers give the kayak a high value.
Although the Aqua Marina Tomahawk Air-K 440 has a length of 4.40 m, there is little space / options for stowing or attaching luggage. A small 10 liter pack can be stowed in the front in the bow and the large transport backpack (with some content) and the air pump in the stern. For multi-day trips this would be too little. Therefore, we see the kayak primarily as a kayak for day trips.