Bote HD Aero
You can really see that with the Bote HD Aero. When we talk about features on an iSUP, we’re used to talk about deck pads and fin setup. With the HD Aero, we’re talking about fishing rigs and anchor systems. In this review, of course we’ll talk about the standard iSUP points, but what sets the HD Aero about isn’t what it is, but what it can become.
- Extra long and wide to give it more stability
- Beautiful designs
- More add-ons available than on pretty much any other iSUP
- Dual air chambers for extra strength
- High weight capacity
- Included accessories are lower quality than we’d expect
- Most of what make it stand out revolve around additional equipment that is also expensive
- Not all of the advertised features are available on all models
- Heavy board
- Certain design packages exclude certain features for the same price
[ez-toc]Love ‘em or hate ‘em, Bote makes iSUPs that test the limits of what an iSUP is or could be. Something that puts this into perspective is that most of their iSUPs have a solid board counterpart, so you can say that they made the inflatable version as a way to make their solid board designs more portable.
|11′ 6″||34″||6″||315 lbs||30 lbs|
This board presents itself as an all-around board with all the bells and whistles, though as a paddle board, how does it actually do on the water? Right off the bat, you notice just how stable it is. Obviously, this is a major plus when you think about it not just as a SUP, but as board that you may end up using as a fishing boat. While it’s obviously not as stable as an actual fishing boat, passing waves and significant movement from the paddler won’t leave you feeling shaky. This is accomplished by the flat bottom on the board as well as the extra wide deck.
If you’re looking for speed, this isn’t the fastest in the lineup by any means. Even so, it’s exactly what we would expect for an iSUP of its specs. However, its maneuverability is slightly above our expectations considering that this is a somewhat long board.
Of all the boards in the Bote Aero lineup, this is one of the best suited for choppy water and small surf. As whole, Bote SUPs are on the lower end of their competitors when it comes to surf since they have a raised nose which helps in choppy waters but leaves you wanting on a wave.
When you by a Bote iSUP, you’re not buying it for the board itself. No, you’re buying it for all the stuff it has and what you can do with it. So, to understand exactly what you’re getting, let’s start with the expected features than go to the features that make that bad boy unique.
While you’d normally expect to see an EVA foam pad on an iSUP deck, here you have a BVA foam pad which Bote says is better for getting rid of any water that finds itself on the deck. Whether or not that actually true, we’re not sure, though it is super comfy.
The HD Aero also has 3 grab handles which is what we like to see. The middle handle in the center in meant to help you carry it over land while the front and back handles are to help you move it in and out of the water plus perhaps attach to a dock.
One of the things that sets this line of iSUPS apart from most others are the accessory integration systems. On this board specifically, there are 2 attachment points toward the back of the deck. We’ll get into some of the available accessories later in this review. Beyond what you can purchase from Bote directly, you can use the points to attach a GoPro, rod holder or even a fish finder.
Just forward of the accessory attachment points you’ll find 2 cooler tie downs. Essentially, these are just free D-rings that have been reinforced to allow you to have a heavier cooler on the deck without having to worry about it slipping and sliding around. Along the both sides there are attachment points for their Travelink strap.
On the back right of the board, there is an attachment for the Sandspear sheath and the very back has an attachment for the Power-Pole Micro, both of which we’ll discuss in the accessories section.
Just behind the front grab handle there is an attachment point for the paddle holder and one of the models also includes a paddle tiedown on the foam pad for storing your paddle when not in use.
The Bote HD Aero comes in 5 different design packages that are 3 groups. Group 1 has a full deck pad and include Full Trax Crimson and Full Trax Teal packages. Group 2 has a center deck pad but also the paddle holder, SandSpear sheath and include the 2 Bug Slinger models. The last group is just he classic board that includes the center pad and lacks to the 2 features in group 2. Honestly, we have no idea why they excluded some of the futures depending on the package while still charging the same price.
The bottom of the board is completely flat to give extra balance to the paddler. On the nose of the board, you’ll notice a that it’s upturned more than you might see on other SUPs. This is called an entry rocker and is put there to shed water, making it easier to get through choppy water.
As what we would expect with a board like this, the HD Aero sports a 3-fin setup underneath the board. The large center fin is removable while the side fins are not. This allows you the option of taking off that center fin for easer storage or if you in super shallow water.
An important feature of the HD Aero is its storage space. The front of the board has a 6-point bungee storage system (with 6 D-rings) and the back a 4-point system (with 4-D-rings). Considering how much time you would potentially spend on this SUP, it makes sense that you have the option to store extra gear, snacks or anything else you might need.
Right off the bat, one of the most unique things about the Bote HD Aero and all the others in the Bote line of iSUPS is that while they’re made of the quality military grade PVC that we would expect to find, it is only a single layer, compared to the 2, 3 or even 4 layers we typically see on most iSUPs. For almost any other brand, a single layer would be a giant red flag for a low-quality board.
The good news here is that it’s single layer, not because they were cutting corners, but because they use completely different construction model. Instead of building a board that gets its strength from multiple layers of material, Bote uses a system that fills the inside of the board with a composite material that makes it feel just about as hard as a solid board.
One thing that’s important to note here is that this will take you a while to inflate, especially with the included air pump. The next model up, the Rackham Aero, has 2 air intake valves to assist in the process, but alas, the HD Aero was not so lucky. Expect to spend some time filling up this bad boy or be prepared to keep it inflated between uses.
Aero Bag: a backpack that allows you to be able to easily store and transport the SUP when not inflated. Unlike some similar brands, this bag doesn’t have wheels. Also, it doesn’t seem like it’s comfortable enough to carry round for a while, mostly just for putting it into the back of your car.
3-Piece Fiberglass Paddle: this paddle is made of one of the lightest yet strong materials that we see in SUP paddles of this level. Quick to adjust and easy to break apart and put back together. Bote makes a point to let their customers know that this paddle does not float in the water.
Detachable Center Fin: Having the ability to take the fin off makes for easier storage and gives you the option to not use the fin in shallower waters. This uses its own specific type of fin box which makes it non-compatible with third-party US fin box fins.
Hand pump: A basic hand pump is included to allow you to inflate the board on site. We would have liked to have seen a double chamber pump.
Repair Kit: This includes everything you need to make minor repairs to the board if there are tears or rips. We’re happy to see that this kit includes glue and not just patches like we see from other comparable brands’ repair kits. The glue isn’t expensive, but this detail means that the company cares.
Rac Receivers: These are points that you can screw onto the board at two attachment points towards the back of the deck. With these mounted, you’re able to attach the rac accessories that are sold separately.
Paddle Sheath: This neat feature shows you just how this iSUP was originally designed as a hard board. On the hard version, this is an indentation on the nose, but here it is an attachment that is screwed on and gives you a place to quickly store your paddle by the blade.
Sandspear Sheath: This is another attachment that allows you to use the Bote Sandspear as a quick and easy way to anchor your SUP without having haul any heavy equipment. The Sandspear itself is sold separately.
Travelink Sling: This attaches to 2 D-rings on either sides of the board and lets you travel over long distances than simply holding the center handle.
Onyx Inflatable Lifejacket: This compact lifejacket contains a CO2 cartridge that gives you the same amount of buoyancy as a jacket many times its size. This helps it to stay out of the way.
Aeropump: This high-quality electric pump gives you the option to use your car’s cigarette lighter or battery as a power source. Probably one of the best electric iSUP air pumps on the market.
Tackle Rac: Now we’re starting to get serious about the fishing aspect of a Bote and the company said that it is by far the most popular of their racs. This attachment inserts into the rac receivers quickly and without any real effort. There are two pegs near the top to keep your gear high and out of the water. On the back, there are 2 rod holders that will accommodate conventional, spinning or fly reels so that you can either just have them sitting there without you having to hold them or so that you can do some SUP trolling. It’s made with marine grade aluminum and powder coated for your choice of color.
Bucket Rac: This is for you who really want to bring a bucket with you either for bait, storing your catch or just to load up with refreshments of the soft or hard varieties. Although lower than the Tackle Rac, one of the benefits is that it can hold 4 rods compared to just 2. You can fit a standard 5 gallon bucket or use the optional KULA coolers.
KULA Cooler: Designed in-house, this cooler comes in both 2.5 and 5 gallon models and both hard and soft materials. However, most of the best features are in the hard-shell model. It can be opened with one hand and the handle even has an integrated bottle opener. The bottom has slip resistant feet and the top is made if the same material that they use on the deck. This is so that you can sit or even stand on it without having to worry about any water on your cooler. The last feature that we really liked is that there are grooves in the bucket itself so that when the cooler is open, you can rest your rod in a place where it won’t slip out.
Palms Towel: It’s a…towel. In their defense, it’s made out of high-quality cotton and is super thick, but it’s still an expensive towel. But hey! They put the Bote logo and palm trees on it — so there’s that.
Power-Pole Micro: This is a wireless anchor system for shallow waters. Although there is an attachment for this on the back of the SUP, as of this writing, this accessory is not available. The reason for this is unknown.
Bote offers a wide range of ways to purchase. While you can purchase at one of hundreds of dealers throughout North America, they aren’t sold in larger sports supply stores. For most of us, buying online might just be the best bet. You can purchase through Amazon[i] or via their own webstore[ii]. Regardless of how it’s purchased online, there is always free shipping in the lower 48 states.
Something we love to see in a SUP is a generous return policy. Bote offers a 60-return policy if you don’t like it for any reason. Above and beyond that, you have a 2-year limited warranty for any defects on the board itself.
If you purchase from Bote directly, you have the option purchasing via Affirm. This option, although not unique to Bote, gives you the option to finance the board interest free for up to 12 months. Remember that this is not a program via Bote, so any questions you have about the process needs to go to Affirm directly.
As a whole, some may find that all these features distracting in an iSUP. This model and the Rackem are both very specialized boards that serve a purpose. If you happen to want to use your iSUP for fishing or water adventures, this would seem like perfect match. If you’re just looking for a good SUP for yoga, SUP fitness or just paddling, for the money you could get yourself a better board for that purpose.
Our biggest complaint is with value. While it’s true that this is a remarkable iSUP for fishing, you get what you pay for minus the included accessories. Compared to how much you pay, they just feel cheap and flimsy. It obviously that Bote doesn’t expect you to just use the board out of the box and in order to get the most out of this iSUP, you could easily shell out an additional $500 above and beyond the purchase price.
If you are an avid fisherman who will be out on the water on a regular basis and aren’t hurting for cash, then you may want to seriously consider the Bote HD Aero for your next purchase. Otherwise, if you’re not in that group of people, there are a lot of better all-around iSUPs for a considerable amount less.