I am indeed a beginner when it comes to SUPs, this being my second season on the water. But “entry-level” put me on guard; the last such paddleboard I tested that made that claim was ill-constructed, flimsy, and unstable. Yes, it did get me out on the water, but I knew there were better options in the same price range.
The BOTE WULF Aero 10’4″ looked so much better than other beginner boards, and that was a great start. I tested this stylish inflatable SUP mostly on flatwater, hitting the spring-fed creeks and rivers near my Central Texas home in the heat of summer. The 3 months of paddling reinstated my confidence in entry-level SUPs, as the WULF Aero proved worthy.
In short: The BOTE WULF Aero 10’4″ inflatable paddle board has the ideal mix of stability and maneuverability for a beginner SUPer like myself. I felt confident on it, and the board continued to deliver smiles as my on-water skills improved. It’s also light, making it easy to haul and adding to its paddling agility. Finally, it’s a reasonable price of $499.
- Length 10'4"
- Width 34"
- Thickness 6"
- Weight capacity 250 lbs.
- Weight 20 lbs.
- Fin setup 1 removable (10-inch), 2 fixed
- Tie-down points 7
- Features Three carry handles, fixed bungee strap on nose, 1 D-ring on tail
- Included with SUP 3-piece aluminum paddle, backpack-style bag, hand pump, coiled leash, repair kit
- Excellent stability and stiffness
- Good maneuverability
- Generous, comfortable, and grippy deck pad
- Great value
- Small attached fins get deformed and must be straightened
- Aluminum paddle prone to damage and is slippery
- Rudimentary travel bag
BOTE WULF Aero 10’4″ Paddleboard Review
Specs & Features
On paper, the WULF Aero didn’t stand out, having similar specifications and features to other inflatable SUPs in the category.
BOTE uses its AeroUltra construction technology on the WULF Aero. What does that mean? Just that the dropstitch core only has threads that run linearly, as opposed to cross-stitch. This core is anchored to a knitted fabric and has a single-layer PVC exterior that is bonded to it with heat (not glue). The heat-pressed main seam is also reinforced with rail tape. This construction method helps keep the price down and is typical of less expensive boards.
The WULF Aero uses a removable center fin flanked on either side by two 2-inch fixed flexible side fins. The board has a slight nose camber.
An EVA foam deck pad runs almost the full length and width of the board, and there are handles at each end and in the middle. Again, standard features on some boards, but not always standard on “budget” offerings. Other than that, the WULF Aero is minimal in accouterments compared to other BOTE SUPs. It has a one bungee cargo net up front and a D-ring leash (included) attachment point at the back for the leash. That’s it.
BOTE includes a three-piece aluminum SUP paddle, a 10-inch center fin, a coiled leash, a single-chamber hand pump, a backpack-style travel bag, and a repair kit.
The BOTE WULF Aero easily fit into its travel bag, along with the three-piece paddle. I strapped the pump to the outside, and the entire system weighs less than 30 pounds.
I found the travel bag to be just adequate; it’s rudimentary, and it got the job done, but nothing more. It doesn’t have wheels, which would be ideal. But since the board is on the lighter side, for me, it wasn’t a deal breaker.
The included pump was much like the bag; it got the job done, but that’s it. I got an electric pump after sweating profusely while pumping in the Texas sun way too many times. And I’ve used double chamber pumps that were way more efficient with my effort. I chose to inflate it to the top of the 10-15 psi recommended pressure range.
The center fin uses a slide lock fin box, and although it worked fine, I could see the fin getting stuck in the box. I’ve also read and heard of the fin boxes bending, making fin insertion problematic. But during the testing period, I had no issues with the slide lock mechanism.
I noticed right away how rigid the board felt at 15 psi. It was obviously more so than other entry-level boards I’d used at that point. And it was hard not to be stoked on the 20-pound weight. This made it super easy to haul it to the shoreline with one arm.
The BOTE WULF Aero on Water
Right away, the WULF Aero felt super stable for the 10’4″ length. I attributed this to the 34-inch width carrying along most of the length of the board and the aforementioned stiffness. The vast amount of board surface on the water paid off.
With my 6′ tall, 168-pound frame, it felt stable enough for me to put my hyperactive 50-pound dog on it, and I never fell or worried about falling, regardless of wind chop (the board has a 250-pound weight capacity).
Stability usually comes at the cost of maneuverability, but I felt that BOTE did a great job finding a sweet spot. I could still turn the board at a rate I felt was appropriate for a beginner board. Spinning a 180 was pretty low effort and only required one or two strokes. I could turn on the tail without feeling sketchy due to the board’s inherent stability.
The low weight contributed to quick acceleration. And for such a stable board, it felt like it glided well. It wasn’t any speed demon, but for the intended customer and all-around usage, the WULF Aero’s speed felt fine.
The board tracked well for the short length, making it easy to stay on course without too much conscious effort. The large center fin surely contributed, and maybe the pair of short fins did as well.
In some of the shallower creeks, swirling currents were common, and the WULF Aero was easy to keep on track, and it reacted to corrective strokes in a predictable manner. Nothing about the way the board tracked caused any surprises, and this resulted in relaxed paddling.
One thing that struck me repeatedly was how stiff the board felt on the water, especially considering its 20-pound weight. This single attribute stuck out the most for a board at this price. Other beginner and entry-level boards weren’t nearly as stiff, which after being on the WULF Aero, made them feel cheap.
The embossed BVA foam deck pad (EVA foam with a “B” logo embossing) was comfortable and had the right amount of grip for wet, bare feet or sandals without being too aggressive. It’s also heat-sealed to repel water. Even after long days barefoot, my unusually sensitive feet felt fine.
The rear of the deck pad has a more aggressive surface, which was perfect when I had to load the tail to get the front to pop up. I also appreciated that the deck pad covered nearly the entire length of the board, as did my daughter and dog when we doubled up.
Finally, the WULF Aero is a good-looking board. More than a handful of times, other paddlers commented on how attractive the Native Floral board was. I agreed that it looks much better than any SUP I had tested to date.
Overall, the BOTE WULF Aero impressed me. But being a gear guy, I do have to mention a few nicks.
First off, the paddle. Aluminum-shaft paddles are not good for me. I am not particularly careful with gear, nor should I feel like I should be. I know that eventually, I will bend the shaft, and it won’t be repairable. And that shaft got stupid hot in the Texas summer sun, so much so that I would dunk it in the water, which made it slippery.
I’ve had other “beginner” SUPs come with a composite paddle, and I would rather pay a little more to get one. (Aluminum paddles are also much heavier; a minor con for younger kids who want to paddle.)
Secondly, the transport bag. Yes, it was fine to carry on my back, but again, I’ve used similarly priced boards that came with wheeled bags. It’s nice to have the option to roll it versus carrying it backpack style. Though, eliminating this feature keeps the cost down.
Lastly, the small secondary fins always got in the way of folding and rolling the board up for storage. They also got deformed, much more so during the hottest months of the summer. And if I didn’t remember to straighten them out, they would cause the board to pull to one side, and not track well when paddling on the water.
I will mention that the manual pump was only adequate (yes, most boards come with a similar pump). Dual-chamber pumps are so much better and, well, electric pumps take the cake for speed, efficiency, and convenience.
Conclusions on the BOTE WULF Aero 10’4″ Inflatable Paddleboard
For a second-year paddler, the BOTE WULF Aero was great. It proved super rigid and stable and agile for an all-arounder. The 10’4″ length was just a hair shorter than the standard 10’6″, but made this SUP more manageable than others, too.
Combined with its width, it felt spacious, and the generous deck pad was comfortable and grippy. I could paddle without much conscious thought as the board tracked well (as long as there were no issues with the side fins), and the WULF Aero didn’t suffer any damage whatsoever during the testing period.
There were a few minor negatives, but nothing that would cause me to not suggest this board to any of my outdoor friends that want to venture into SUPing. Of all the entry-level boards I had tried over 2 years, the BOTE WULF Aero was far and away my favorite.