SB Staff Review: BOTE Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP)
SUP ON A BOTE
The biggest question I get while helping customers with our BOTE SUP's is why they would choose to buy these SUPs vs any other inflatable, especially the inexpensive ones you can sometimes find at big box stores.
BOTE's own verbiage on this topic hits the nail on the head, and I agree with it wholeheartedly; "these are not pool toys". Many of the inflatable SUPs you can get for less are not really intended for oceans or lakes. They're made poorly, they're less stable, they're harder to maneuver, and the quality of the materials is questionable. While I am not going to drive my Ram 2500 over mine (like BOTE themselves did), the first time I set one up and tried it out, I immediately noticed how well built and sturdy it is.
When inflated to 13-15 psi my BOTE Breeze and HD both ride 100% like a rigid board, yet each board fits into a backpack. If that doesn't answer the question of inflatable vs rigid, I don't know what does. Rigid boards require a truck or racks, and lots of other gear just to transport. While there are some advantages of rigid SUP, they are few and far between and transport and storage is the killer for most of them.
These are not racing SUPs, and they're not really designed for super rough waters, but they're great for probably 95% of users out there. Honestly, BOTE's founder himself said it best: "I wanted a board that was stable enough to fish from, yet paddled efficiently. A board that could hold a cooler for my beer. A board that was simple, fresh and fit our lifestyle. A board that virtually anybody at any age could paddle with ease. It needed the capabilities of a boat with the simplicity of a board. And, it needed to look good…really good".
So you're on board (hah) with inflatable SUP and with BOTE in particular, but how do you choose a model? One of the main differences between the HD and the Breeze is that the HD has some mounting points for storing the paddle (so you can do other things with your hands, like fish), mounting a cooler easily, or mounting fishing pole racks. Choosing a height is also pretty straightforward: are you carrying a bunch of weight, like coolers or big dogs? If the answer is no, then the 10' 8" Breeze is perfect. My wife can take our dog out on her 10' 8" with no problems though, so even that rule is pretty flexible. If you are someone who wants to load up your SUP with dogs or a cooler and other gear, you might benefit from the 11' 6" version since it's slightly more stable.
BREEZE AERO INFLATABLE PADDLE BOARD - STARTING AT $649
Another difference between the Breeze and the HD is the level of durability. Now don't get it twisted: although the Breeze models are the lightest and most stable SUPs on the market, they're still tougher and more stable than the big box store alternative.
The HD takes this durability up several notches: it uses military-grade PVC skin, which means it can withstand being tossed around, banged, bumped, and scraped with low risk of damage or permanent blemish. The HD is the true "do anything board" for someone looking for the most versatility.
BOTE HD AERO INFLATABLE PADDLE BOARD - 11’6” - $999
Both models are super easy to blow up with the pump it comes with. I blew one up just a few weeks after shoulder surgery, with one arm, in just minutes. Although neither comes with a leash or PFD, we do sell those as accessories (and they're pretty affordable). Everything else is included in the backpack and will get you from your car to paddling.
Stay tuned - in July my wife and our dogs and I will put the Breeze and HD to the test hitting Deschutes River, Lava Lake, Hosmer Lake, and Sparks Lake. We'll take plenty of photos and I'll add more to this review if any new insights come to light. I have no doubt they'll be able to handle pretty much anything, though!