Nothing says summer like a day on the water. Whether it’s sailing, kayaking, canoeing, rowing, inner tubing, or another method of floating, staying hydrated is a valuable way to stay cool in the heat. Of all the ways you can get on the water, one of the easiest and most fun is stand-up paddle board (SUP).
I’ve been testing Bote’s Breeze Aero inflatable paddleboard in bays, marshes and lakes for a few months now, and I’m here to say it’s been a long time (like decades) since I’ve had this much fun on the water. If you’re looking for a way to exercise, explore the hidden corners of a swamp or lake, or keep your kids entertained and cool during those long summer days, the Breeze Aero can do it all.
Paddleboards are a versatile vessel. They can be used to explore narrow, winding waterways or as a sort of floating platform for children to play on. But traditional paddleboards don’t excel at easy storage and transport to the water: they’re big, heavy, and awkward. That’s where inflatable SUPs like the Breeze Aero come in. It’s everything that’s great about a solid paddleboard, but it packs up for easy storage in your apartment or the trunk of your car.
The additional buoyancy provided by the air makes them more stable, and they are much lighter and easier to carry. (Although, let’s face it, carrying a nearly 12-foot, 25-pound object is always awkward, especially if it’s windy.) Falling on an inflatable SUP is also significantly less painful than a solid board, which is worth keeping in mind if you’re shopping for the whole family.
The disadvantage is that inflatable SUP boards take time to set up because you have to inflate it and attach the fins in the case of the Bote Breeze Aero, and they are not as fast as solid boards because they have to be thicker. Inflation time isn’t too bad, about 10 minutes with a manual pump – less if you get the automatic pump ($200). Of course, you have to take the pump with you, which adds to the weight. Inflatable SUPs are less manoeuvrable than solid boards, but the slow speed and predictable turning are features that are a plus for beginners.
I’ve used both solid and inflatable paddleboards in the past and it just so happened that I much preferred the stability of the inflatable boards. The Breeze Aero is my favorite of the inflatable boards I’ve tried. It strikes a good balance between weight, size and durability. It’s not as strong as some 3-ply boards, but it’s much lighter.
The Breeze Aero comes in two lengths, a 10-foot, 8-inch version and the 11-foot, 6-inch version I tested. I would recommend a larger size for most people. Included in the price is a 3-piece adjustable paddle, 10-inch removable fins (there are also two permanently mounted side fins), repair kit, hand pump and backpack.
The Breeze Aero is made of strong PVC held together with a composite stitch, which is a method of weaving vertical fibers together so that they hold together when the threads reach their maximum length (when you’ve fully inflated it). The end result is a very studio board that has withstood everything I’ve thrown at it – including landings on rocks, lots of gnarly tree branches catching on the undersides, and being transported on the roof of my car.