Nothing says summer like a day on the water. Whether it is sailing, kayaking, canoeing, rowing, inner tubing or any other way of floating, getting to the liquid is the well-established way to stay cool in the heat. Of all the ways you can get on the water, one of the easiest and funniest is stand-up paddle boards (SUP).
I’ve been testing the Botes Breeze Aero inflatable paddleboard for several months now in bays, bogs and lakes, and I’m here to say it’s been a long time (like decades) since I’ve had so much fun on the water. If you are looking for a way to work out, explore the hidden corners of the marsh or lake or keep your kids entertained and cool during the long summer days, Breeze Aero can do it all.
Paddleboards are versatile watercraft. They can be used to explore narrow, winding waterways or as a kind of floating platform for the kids to play on. But the traditional paddleboard does not excel at easy storage and transport to the water: they are large, heavy and awkward. This is where inflatable SUPs like Breeze Aero come into the picture. It’s all that’s great about a solid paddleboard, but it’s packed down for easy storage in an apartment or the trunk of your car.
The extra buoyancy that the air provides makes them more stable and they are much lighter and easier to carry. (However, let’s face it, carrying a nearly 12-foot-long, 25-pound object is always awkward, especially if there is wind.) Falling on an inflatable SUP is also significantly less painful than on a solid board, which is worth remembering if you are buying for the whole family.
The downside is that an inflatable SUP board takes time to set up as you have to inflate it and attach the fin in the case of the Bote Breeze Aero and they are not as fast as solid boards as they need to be thicker. The inflation time is not so bad, about 10 minutes with the hand pump – less if you jump after the automatic pump ($ 200). You must of course have the pump with you, which gives some weight. Inflatable SUPs are less maneuverable than solid boards, but the slow speed and predictable rotation are qualities that are a plus for beginners.
I have used both solid and inflatable paddle boards in the past and happen to prefer the stability of inflatable boards. Breeze Aero is my favorite among the inflatable boards I have tried. It has a good balance between weight, size and durability. It’s not quite as hard as some triple-layer boards out there, but it’s much easier.
The Breeze Aero comes in two lengths, a 10-foot, 8-inch and the 11-foot, 6-inch version I tested. For most I would recommend the larger size. The price includes 3-piece adjustable paddle, a 10-inch detachable fin (there are also two side fins that are permanently mounted), a repair kit, a hand pump and a backpack.
Breeze Aero is made of strong PVC, which is held together with a composite drop seam, which is a method of weaving vertical fibers together, so that when the threads hit their maximum length (when you have inflated it completely) they hold. The end result is a very study board that has stood up to everything I have thrown after it – including rocky landings, lots of gnarled wooden limbs scratching on the underside and transport on the roof of my car.