As an avid stand-up paddle boarder always on the hunt for the highest quality gear, I was eager to test out the Bote HD Aero inflatable SUP. Bote has become one of the most respected and innovative brands in inflatable paddle boards. I took the Bote HD Aero out for extensive testing in a variety of water conditions, for fishing and leisure to fully evaluate its performance and features.
My past experiences with inflatable SUPs have been hit or miss – some excel while others leave much to be desired. Inflatables will never fully replicate the stiffness and responsiveness of a hard board, but they make up for this with their portability and convenience. I wanted to see if the Bote lived up to its reputation for delivering an inflatable paddling experience on par with solid boards, providing added use cases for fishing, exercise, and leisure.
Here is my detailed review after many hours of testing out the Bote HD Aero inflatable SUP on many camping trips and lakes here in Utah.
Unboxing First Impressions
The Bote HD Aero arrived in a large backpack-style bag that makes transporting it very easy. No more trying to lug around a bulky board! It weighs in at just under 23 lbs packaged.
Inside the bag are the rolled-up board, a detachable central fin, a 10′ coiled ankle leash, a Bote branded pump with pressure gauge, and a 3-piece Bote paddle.
My first impression upon unrolling the board was how thick and sturdy it looked, the construction was much higher quality than some cheaper boards available on Amazon. The top deck is equipped with 6 stainless d-rings and a large bungee cord storage area in front and back of the deck pad. The d-rings can be used to secure the optional Kula (cooler) or attach a carrying strap.
The board felt smooth and rigid in hand before inflation. The materials used for construction are very high quality. I could tell right away this would be at the higher end for an inflatable paddle board and justified the cost for higher quality materials and construction.
Inflation and Setup
Inflating the Bote HD Aero is quick and straightforward. The included pump is high capacity – it only took me about 8 minutes or 200 pumps of the manual pump to reach the recommended inflation of 15 PSI. I highly recommend investing in a battery-powered paddle board pump, they are a game changer for me. You can view a review of the Outdoor Master Pump here, it’s one of my favorites.
One of the things that makes Bote boards unique is the performance enhancement “rails” located underneath along the edges. These rigid rails provide increased thickness and stiffness along the board’s rails once inflated. This allows it to handle and track more like a hard board.
The last step is attaching the removable center fin. The fin clicks easily into place and is secured with a nylon push-in tab.
Once fully inflated, the board felt extremely rigid with no flex. Impressively, it has very similar stiffness and dimensions to a solid board, although larger dimensions. All of the Bote HD Aero paddle boards are 11′ 6″ long, 34″ wide, and 6″ tall. This makes the board slower on the water than a narrower board, but a lot more stable which I love for fishing and going out with multiple people on the paddle board.
Transporting the Board
One of the best features of an inflatable paddle board is how easy it is to transport from your home to the water. No need for roof racks – the Bote HD Aero packs down into a backpack with shoulder straps for easy carrying. The backpack also has additional attachment points to carry accessories like the pump and paddle.
I was able to fit the bag into my car trunk along with my other gear with room to spare. The bag is so compact compared to transporting a hard board.
The additional accessories like the Kula and Aero Rac are great to have but can be a pain to travel with. The Kula takes up a lot of room and the Aero Rac won’t fit in the backpack. This requires multiple trips to the water to bring all the gear with you.
Now onto how it actually performs on the water! With inflatable boards, you always have to temper your expectations around glide, speed, and tracking compared to a hard board. However, with each year, inflatables get closer to replicating the performance of solid boards.
I took the Bote HD Aero out to the lake and river to test it in a variety of conditions.
The HD Aero has excellent glide, especially for an inflatable of this size. The slick bottom surface and pointed nose help it move smoothly through the water. It loses a bit of momentum after strokes compared to smaller narrower paddleboards.
The HD Aero isn’t going to win any races, but what it lacks in speed, it makes up for in Stability.
This board has tremendous stability in all kinds of water. The width combined with the rigid rails make it very difficult to tip. I was able to stand fully upright and comfortably on the board. Beginners would have no problem balancing on this board. It is also great for a Yoga paddle board. The paddleboard really shines as a fishing paddleboard with the ability to add a seat and fishing pole rack and stand.
The HD Aero tracks surprisingly straight for an inflatable. The removable fin helps keep the board pointing in the right direction. The 10″ fin is larger than you might find on other inflatable paddleboards and helps with stability and tracking. It takes minimal effort to maintain a straight trajectory. Even when paddling in wind or small chop, the board continued moving forward with little sideways drift.
Carving sharp turns on a paddle board requires stiffness throughout the board to rail the edges. The HD Aero can’t quite rail a turn like a smaller board, but the rigidity provides decent turning when moving back on the board.
While no inflatable will keep pace with a hard board, the HD Aero has noticeable drag compared to smaller paddleboards. On a glassy lake the paddleboard can really get up to speed and you can feel the momentum of the board carrying through the water. The pointed nose helps with glide as you paddle.
I noticed in heavy winds a bit of flex in the paddle and shaft. I didn’t feel like I could muscle as much as I would have liked to when fighting a strong headwind.
The HD Aero really shines when equipped with additional accessories. This was the first paddle board I have tried with a cooler chair. At first, I didn’t like lugging the additional cooler around. However, once was fishing on the paddle board and had a place to store my paddle, fishing pole, and a seat, it was worth all the effort.
The Bote HD Aero comes with its own Bote branded 3-piece adjustable paddle. The paddle performs okay, it’s lightweight and sturdy with a comfortable grip. The adjustability accommodates paddlers of varying heights. While not as nice as a $250+ high-end paddle, it’s a great included accessory that will meet most casual paddlers’ needs.
One downside I mentioned before is the flex in the paddle when fighting a strong headwind.
Here is a quick look at some of the other notable features that make the HD Aero a versatile, well-equipped board:
- 6 Stainless Steel D-Rings for securing gear and accessories
- Front and rear cargo area with bungee cord to stash bags, water, etc.
- Magnetic built in for water bottle attachment
- High density grip pad covers centerline for comfort and traction
- Removable deep fin for tracking/stability
- Fixed small fins for easy manuverability
- Leash with comfy ankle cuff
- Valve uses standard Leafield adapter for simple inflation
- Center, front and rear carrying handles
- Adjustable 3-piece Bote paddle
- 10′ Bote branded ankle leash
- High capacity pump w/pressure gauge & hose
- Removable center fin
- Repair kit
This is a very standard repair kit that comes with most paddle boards. There are much better and easier repair kits available.
I highly recommend investing in an electric paddleboard pump, or even better a battery-powered paddleboard pump.
Durability is always a concern with inflatable paddle boards – will it hold up to the wear and tear that comes with paddling? After many outings, the HD Aero there are some signs of use where the paddleboard has been folded or rubbed up against rocks and the printed design shows superficial scratches. This doesn’t affect the overall durability of the board, it’s only cosmetic.
The top and bottom layers use military-grade PVC tarpaulin with drop-stitch construction in between. This results in a very thick, rugged material that can handle scrapes against docks or being inflated on rocky shores.
It seems highly resistant to dings or punctures. As long as the PVC surface remains intact, you should get many seasons of use out of the HD Aero.
First off, I’d highly recommend buying the optional accessories. The Bote Inflatable belt PFD is a very low-profile way to stay safe on the water.
The Kula makes the perfect seat for fishing on the HD Aero. There are two attachment points to secure it to the paddleboard. It also has a soft top and magnetic water bottle holder.
The tackle Rac is so nice for holding a couple fishing poles. It is worth noting the Rac isn’t extremely secure and can be cumbersome to transport. Once you have it is a nice addition for fishing.
The paddle storage is really nice and convenient especially when fishing. I do have some concerns about damaging the paddle if you were to pull it all the way forward or backward. So far I haven’t had any issues with it.
Pros and Cons of the Bote Aero HD Paddleboard
- Excellent rigidity when inflated – feels similar to a hard board
- Remarkably stable standing platform in all conditions
- High-quality construction and materials
- Includes a lot of nice accessories like cargo area, paddle, leash
- Packs down very small for easy transportation
- Performs well in flat water and moderate surf
- Very durable/puncture-resistant construction
- Loses a bit of speed/momentum compared to a hard board
- Not quite as responsive carving
- More expensive than most inflatable boards
The Bote HD Aero delivers an inflatable paddle-boarding experience that feels much more premium than the cheap Amazon paddleboards. The innovative construction provides a high level of rigidity and stability. It performs admirably across a range of water conditions and is one of the more stable paddleboards I have used thanks to its wide width and large fin.
The paddleboard tracks and maneuvers well on lakes and streams. It really stands out as a fishing tool that is far more fun than a kayak.
The cost is hard to ignore, but you are definitely getting a superior product with accessories that other paddleboards don’t even offer. If you are a paddleboard fisher, this is a no-brainer to get you into any position you want to land the perfect catch.