Nothing says summer like a day on the water. Be it sailing, kayaking, canoeing, rowing, inner tubing, or some other method of floating, getting to the liquid is the time-honored 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 the stand-up paddle board (SUP).

I’ve been testing Bote’s Breeze Aero inflatable paddle board for several months now in bays, marshes, and lakes, and I am here to say it has been a long time (like decades) since I’ve had this much fun on the water. If you’re looking for a way to get a workout, explore the hidden corners of the marsh or lake, or keep your kids entertained and cool during those long summer days, the Breeze Aero can do it all.

SUP Inflatable

Paddle boards are versatile watercraft. They can be used for exploring narrow, winding waterways, or as a kind of floating platform for the kids to play on. But the traditional paddle board doesn’t excel in easy storage and transportation 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 paddle board, but it packs down for easy storage in an apartment or the trunk of your car.

The additional buoyancy provided by the air makes them more stable, and they’re much lighter and easier to carry. (Though, let’s face it, carrying an almost 12-foot-long, 25-pound object is always awkward, especially if there’s any wind.) Falling on an inflatable SUP is also considerably less painful than on a solid board, which is worth keeping in mind if you’re buying for the whole family.

The downside is that an inflatable SUP board takes time to set up since you need to inflate it, and attach the fin in the case of the Bote Breeze Aero, and they’re not as fast as solid boards, since they have to be thicker. Inflation time isn’t too bad, about 10 minutes with the hand pump—less if you spring for the automatic pump ($200). You have to bring the pump with you of course, which adds some weight. Inflatable SUPs are less maneuverable than solid boards, but the slow speed and predictable turning are qualities that are a plus for beginners.

I’ve used both solid and inflatable paddle boards in the past and happen to much prefer the stability of 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 quite as tough as some triple-layer boards out there, but it’s much lighter. 

Bote Breeze Aero paddle boards

Photograph: Bote

The Breeze Aero comes in two lengths, a 10-foot, 8-inch, and the 11-foot, 6-inch version I tested. For most people I would recommend the larger size. The price includes 3-piece adjustable paddle, a 10-inch removable fin (there are also two side fins that are permanently mounted), a repair kit, a hand pump, and a backpack.

The Breeze Aero is made of heavy-duty PVC held together with a composite drop stitch, which is a method of weaving together vertical fibers so that when the threads hit their max length (when you’ve fully inflated it) they hold. The end result is a very study board that has stood up to everything I’ve thrown at it—including rocky landings, plenty of gnarled tree limbs clawing at its undersides, and transport on the roof of my car.