SB Staff Review: BOTE Stand-Up Paddleboards on Pinecrest Lake
By Rich De Borba, SB Campbell GM
You might have read my previous review about BOTE stand-up paddleboards, coming from the perspective of a longtime paddleboarder and professional sports gear retailer. It breaks down the differences between the two models we sell, and talks about why BOTE is as great as it honestly is.But this review is not just about specs and data points. This review is about the real deal; what happens when the rubber hits the...water. My wife and I finally got to take the 10"8 Breeze and 11'6" HD out this weekend to Pinecrest Lake, one of our favorite SUP spots. We didn't take our dogs (for once) so we were able to really put these SUP's through their paces. Pinecrest Lake was packed and windy, so it was going to be an experience for sure.
GETTING PREPPED TO PADDLE
First off, inflating them with the provided pump isn't too bad and I can inflate each boat in under 5 min. The initial inflation is very easy but as you take the SUP from 7psi (when the gauge first shows pressure) to 10 PSI it becomes a bit more laborious. Inflating both boards before heading out was a little tiring but by far not exhausting. Carrying both to the lake was also a bit laborious and while the Breeze isn't that heavy, you probably wouldn't want to carry it hundreds of yards.While inflating the Breeze, it is immediately obvious that this is a very durable and well built SUP. When you have the HD and Breeze next to each other you can notice the Gatorshell HD construction on the HD. It also is substantially heavier; 30+ lbs for the HD alone and about 50lbs with all the gear in a backpack. This is not something you going to be throwing around effortlessly. Alternately, the Breeze 10'8 is 20lbs alone and 26lbs in the backpack with the paddle, so it's significantly more approachable. My main reason for purchasing the HD is that I am very hard on my gear and I wanted to fly fish off it. The HD offers a paddle holder on the nose (standard) and an add-on mount for fishing poles. If It wasn't for that I would have probably purchased another Breeze. Speaking of add-ons, the bungee systems on the SUPs work well and my Yeti Flip 8 fits perfectly on the front of the HD.
WHAT IT MEANS TO GO WITH BOTE
One of the differences I noticed with these boards is the use of three fins, the large one being removable for transport. It might not seem like a big deal, but compared to many others I have demoed and owned in the past, these SUPs track very nicely and feel very stable. I also love the mechanism they use to quickly remove the center fin.
We did a 3.2 mile paddle in very choppy waters with headwind for half of the lake, but the SUPs were very easy to paddle along. Being 6' tall, in the headwind I went down to my knees to paddle so I wasn't such a sail. I was extremely impressed with the padding on the HD and Breeze alike - I was perfectly comfy kneeling on the board for long sections.Overall we were very stoked on the BOTE SUPs. We saw so many different SUPS on the lake, and you can really see the difference in construction, quality, and ease of paddling on the BOTE compared to all the big box store brand ones we saw.
TAKING YOUR SUP EXPERIENCE TO THE NEXT LEVEL
One last thing! After we came home, I was finally able to finally demo the BOTE 12v Aeropump which I ran off my Goal Zero 500x. The pump is very quiet and I like that you can set the desired PSI on the pump and it will turn off once it has reached the desired pressure. The interesting part was that it took about the same time to inflate via this electric pump as it did to do it manually with the included pump. The electric pump just lets you save all your energy for the paddle and allows you to get all your gear together while it's inflating. So it's for sure a luxury item, not a necessity, but I plan on adding one to our kit. Another major plus: you can deflate the SUP as well! The Aeropump sucks all the air out, making it very easy to roll back up and stick in the backpack again.
All in all, I'm beyond pleased to own the HD as well as the Breeze, and now the Aeropump too. I'm super proud of the Sports Basement buyers for making such a savvy decision bringing BOTE into our stores versus some other, less durable, less stable brand. It just underscores how we work to prioritize quality and usability over everything else, and no, I'm not just saying that 'cause I've worked here forever.