Author Topic: BOTE boards experience  (Read 1672 times)


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BOTE boards experience
« on: August 08, 2019, 08:34:33 AM »
I'll preface this review by stating that had I been a Zoner a couple years ago, I most likely would never have purchased a BOTE board in the first place  ::) I posted this in a BOTE FB group where many people go prior to purchase asking for peoples experiences.

This post is in no way meant as a personal attack on any of the BOTE sales staff or employees. Matt Crane at the FWB store has been an amazing guy and only ever tried to help me get on the water. I have been to many demo's and events and paddled many BOTE boards and have friends that love them. I'm just sharing my personal experience here and why I have moved onto other products from other manufacturers.
My wife and I decided in fall of 2017 that we were going to purchase a couple paddle boards. We live near Destin, FL and demo’d both BOTE and YOLO boards that year. We spent several months researching and were sold on BOTE after demo and pouring over their website. Although it was never explicitly stated, I was led to believe by their marketing that all their boards are made right here in Fort Walton Beach (FWB), FL or at least somewhere in the USA.

We purchased two inflatable BOTE Drift Bugslinger boards spring 2018 new in the box from a local guy for $850 each. I had a leak in the side of the rail on one by its third use. I was told at the FWB BOTE store that the hole was my fault because I rolled the board too tightly and that they have seen this before. I rolled it tight enough to get in the bag, no tighter. Upon further investigation on my part I found that what caused the leak was rolling the board up and standing it on end to drain after use.

If you own an inflatable you know that when rolled, the board will crease and create sharp corners on each end. The puncture was right at a corner where the board was being stressed when rolled up. From the BOTE website on inflatable technology: “Don’t worry about scratches and dings because the military-grade PVC skin is virtually indestructible… The secret is the use of composite drop stitch fibers which connect the top and bottom layers of high quality, military-grade PVC.” ( I began to wonder what their “military grade PVC” really was. I chalked this all up to a learning experience, patched it myself, and left the boards inflated for the rest of the season, then sold them in early 2019.

The same weekend that I approached BOTE about the leak in my inflatable board they were having a huge blowout sale at their warehouse store. I purchased two identical 12’ BOTE HD Lowriders for my wife and I. I bought one on the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend 2018 for $1050 and went back on Sunday to purchase a second. The sales staff offered me a price of $970, so I felt like I was getting a great deal compared to the usual retail pricing. My wife and I went out on the water on Monday together, and one of the boards barely “tapped” the ground when loading on the car and caved the nose in. Talk about bummed.

Not to be deterred, I watched many online videos of repairs and fixed it myself. I really have no complaints about those two boards for what I was using them for. My wife and I enjoyed them very much and I learned a lot about paddleboards in my experience with them. I wanted to go farther and faster so I started looking at the 14’ traveller, but balked at the $1800 price tag. I went to a demo in March 2019 and tried a 14’ traveller. I sold one of my Lowriders for $1000 and bought a damaged 14’ Traveller Bugslinger for $1000 that I spent about $200 getting professionally repaired.

Here is where I started having problems. The only damage this board had was to the bottom of the nose and a couple dings on the rails. I got these repaired locally by the guy recommended by BOTE and he did a great job, but every time I used the board it felt heavier and heavier. I kept finding leaks. It was leaking from where attachment points were inserted into the board. I fixed those. The top of one of the rails caved in when I was climbing on the board after falling in the water one time. The board cracked near the front where the deck pad ended while on top of my car after being strapped down. It seemed like never ending problems. I fixed the spots I found and sold it for $1100.

Because I was feeling dissatisfied with the 14’ Traveller, I started seriously researching paddle boards and how they are made, where they come from, what makes one better than another, etc. I researched the BOTE website again, looking to find exactly what their boards are made out of or any info about how the epoxy is applied. Every company that is worth a crap in the paddle board industry is transparent about this process (BIC Sport:, Infinity SUP:, SIC:, Sunova: Some even have videos of their factories and don’t hide the fact that they are made overseas to defray manufacturing costs. Precious few are made in the USA and those that are will be made custom and cost you near $3000 or more.

I have owned a total of 8 BOTE boards through buying and trading and coming across a couple deals on Facebook. Two inflatables, two 12’ lowriders, two 12’ HDs, and two travelers, one 12’6” and one 14’. I sold the last one yesterday. Of those boards, 3 cracked near the front where the deck pad ends and the nose begins, right where the lip is that defines the front of the standing are. These cracks are just from being stacked and hauled to the water on my THULE SUP Taxi. The deck pads began coming up on the lowriders in about a years’ time. The rubber BOTE emblem peeled off on a couple boards. The “stash pod” IS NOT waterproof. I really have no clue why they say that on their website, trust me when I say your keys WILL GET DRENCHED.

My major complaints about BOTE as a company and brand are these:

- Product and company transparency. Where it comes from, how it is made, who is responsible, etc. I know for a fact that their boards are produced in China, couldn’t believe it when I heard it, but was able to look up information online that is public record. I found names and addresses of their Chinese suppliers (listed at the end). BOTE’s website likes to use lots of industry buzzwords to sell products to uninformed consumers that don’t realize how poor their build quality really is.

- Sub-par quality control. One of my lowriders weighed 39.8lbs, the other weighed 35lbs, and one of the HDs which are advertised to be heavier was the lightest BOTE board I owned at 32lbs. This is a direct result of the folks glassing the boards not doing a good job and lacking consistency.

- The fiberglass layup is brittle. In the SUP world, EPS foam core and a good glass layup with quality materials results in boards that will flex well and spring back to original shape. In my experience, the BOTE boards have far less flex than other brands (SIC, Infinity, which we currently own, I’ve seen videos about Sunova where they stress test their designs, incredibly resilient boards, just to name a few).

- Customer support. BOTE is quick to blame customers for problems with their products. I have experienced this as have many others. It seems like they only care about publicity and image. They are quick to reach out if they feel like their image is at stake or their marketing strategy will suffer.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my experience with BOTE. If you are looking for a quality long lasting paddle board that will take a beating, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a lifestyle board that sits in the garage and occasionally is taken out to the beach or sand bar, has beautiful designs and looks great, then buy a BOTE. They are just as good as any other Chinese board on the market but don’t expect anyone to bend over backwards for you if you have issues with the product. Don’t let the fancy marketing fool you, in this case you do not get what you pay for.

Website where info was found and their suppliers:




« Last Edit: August 08, 2019, 08:39:11 AM by Iks_SUP »


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Re: BOTE boards experience
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2019, 12:15:46 PM »
Iks, Two things stood out. 

1) You didn't know about this place as a resource, and perhaps people would not have slammed the BOTE brand here eitherójust told you what worked best for them. 

2) You ordered a pork sandwich that gave you the c'hits ..and, went back to the same restaurant for seven more helpings ...including one, discounted because virulent bacteria were clearly visible, and you ate it anyway.  Too bad you had to endure that.  This sport is mostly fun.

...I did see a miracle in your story, so it's not all doom/gloom: "I fixed the spots I found and sold it for $1100."   That's a huge resale in a waining market.   

Atlantis Mistress .. Blue Planet MultiTasker ..   Atlantis Venom


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Re: BOTE boards experience
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2019, 01:42:50 PM »

I took a significant loss on the inflatables but broke even on the rest. Definitely the silver lining of the story.


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