Gatorshell vs Aero Paddle Boards

Gatorshell (Solid) vs. Aero (Inflatable) Paddle Boards

Are you the type of person who reads hundreds of reviews, watches at least a handful of YouTube videos, and searches by hashtag on Instagram for social reinforcement before making a purchase? If you feel seen, you're not alone. We get that buying your first paddle board is kind of a big deal and we want to help you make the best decision for your lifestyle.

Choosing between solid and inflatable BOTE paddle boards can be particularly tricky because the options are many. Both styles offer a range of colorways that speak to your personal style, innovative compatibility features to maximize use of the space, and unique construction you can only find at BOTE. While we continue to expand our product line to provide more choices and bad ass designs, we understand the selection process can be overwhelming if you're new to the stand up paddle board game.

When buying a paddle board for the first time, we recommend evaluating your top few SUPs based on the following criteria

Solid vs. Inflatable SUP Comparison


When it comes to performance, you have to get familiar with hull design. Performance can mean a lot of different things based on your lifestyle, which should play a key role in your hull design choice. For instance, if you're all about fishing, you want a displacement hull on a solid paddle board, like the HD or Rackham, to help displace the water and keep your board moving efficiently while loaded down with fishing gear. And for long-distance paddling the displacement hull paired with the long, narrow body of the Traveller is built for cruising. But if you're planning to spend most of your time practicing SUP yoga or in the surf, the planing hull (or a surf-style hull) you'll find on the Flood series provides a highly versatile flat, wide surface.

The complementary inflatable styles for each paddle board series—Flood, HD, Rackham, and Traveller—offer entry rockers with a flat bottom that sit higher in the water, making each Aero paddle board feel more stable to newer paddlers but require a little extra power to get going than their solid SUP counterparts.

Looking for speed and efficiency and an overall smoother ride?

A guy holiding a BOTE Rackham Gatorshell Paddle Board
Two gatorshell paddle boards on the beach
Guy paddling on a BOTE paddle board

Portability and Storage

Although solid boards can make for a beautiful wall decoration or dress up an otherwise cluttered garage, traveling long distances with a 10′ to 14′ paddle board isn't for the faint of heart. Even if you're a pro at vehicle mounting your solid paddle board, there's a clear winner when it comes to portability and storage, and it's not a solid paddle board.

Aero SUPs win hands down due to their lightweight construction and ability to be rolled up into a bag. With the 11′ Flood Aero Inflatable Paddle Board weighing in at 28 lbs fully inflated (up to 10 lbs less than its solid SUP counterpart) and 42 lbs in a fully loaded bag, inflatable SUPs take the cake.

“The Aero boards are my all-time favorite do-all boards. They have so many applications and you can take them anywhere. Whether I’m rolling them up and throwing them on a plane to the tropics to chase bonefish or stashing one on my skiff to slip up on accessible reds, they do the trick every time.”

– Lacey Kelly, BOTE Ambassador


You may have heard a lot of chatter about the accessory compatibility options for our solid SUPs. But what you may not have realized is that you can accessorize the hell out of every BOTE board, and that includes our inflatable paddle boards.

This includes everything from the essential Travelink™ and rac systems including Tackle Rac’s to Bucket Racs, Grab Racs, and Wheel Racs. Bug Slinger™ HD boards (solid and inflatable) are also compatible with the Sandspear and Power Pole Micro.

A guy paddling on a Bug Slinger solid paddle board
A guy fishing on an HD Bug Slinger Inflatable Paddle Board


Our Gatorshell is 6x tougher than traditional epoxy, and that durability shows when you compare the abuse it can take to other solid boards on the market. But don’t take our word for it.

“I live in Southern California and this board performs well in the ocean. Better than my old ocean kayak trident. Lighter, sturdier, well made, easier to transport and store, built tough, and a lot more stable. I wanted something that was going to last and meet all my needs when it comes to spearfishing, fitness, fishing, and fun. Worth the money.”

– Direk, BOTE HD Stand Up Paddle Board customer

But our inflatables can take a pretty heavy beating, too. The AeroBOTE construction can withstand being tossed around, banged, bumped, and scraped with lower risk of leaving a permanent blemish. This makes our inflatable SUPs a great option for people looking for a family board that can handle rowdy kids, or newer paddlers who aren’t quite adapted to maneuvering something as large as a paddle board.

While we can’t discount the durability of the Gatorshell finish, the AeroBOTE wins this durability category simply because it’s a hell of a lot tougher than most people think.


BOTE boards are designed to stand out. That’s why we offer eye-catching designs across every category, with new colorways and patterns released every year. Whether you’re deciding between an inflatable or solid SUP, our iconic patterns can be found on both types of platforms.

A guy carrying a Flood Gatorshell paddle board


When it comes to paddle boards, one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. This is why we’re constantly working on new, innovative products.

We prototype every solid paddle board in the Dark Room and it’s our largest category by design. Our solid paddle board line up includes a wide range of board styles to ensure there’s something out there for everyone.

Because our inflatable SUPs all share a flat bottom hull and entry rocker design, choosing the best inflatable for you is heavily influenced by your capacity and accessory needs. Alternatively, our solid boards are built with enhanced benefits such as varying lengths, hull styles, and weight capacities, allowing us to accommodate individual needs in a nuanced way that can’t be replicated in our inflatable category.


Are you in camp who think inflatable means cheaps? Think again. While our inflatable paddle boards are moderately priced, they’re also made with high quality materials and close attention to detail. On the same token, our Gatorshell solid boards have been designed to be some of the best and toughest options available in the solid paddle board space.

Overhead view of Rackham Gatorshell paddle board

Both options are made with the highest quality standards in mind, they simply use different construction materials to get the job done.

A girl holding up two BOTE inflatable paddle boards

Okay, okay. So it’s a tie. (Did you see that coming?)

As you can see, there are advantages to both solid paddle boards and inflatable SUPs, and at the end of the day the “right board” comes down to your personal priorities.

SUP Comparison Chart

We want to do our part and provide you with the tools you need to make the best possible decision. If you feel like you need a little bit more guidance, it’s always a good idea to get familiar with product specifications.

We put together a SUP comparison chart focusing on our best selling solid and inflatable paddle boards to help guide your decision-making process. For instance, people who are taller and/or carry extra weight (either on your person or with a lot of gear) should eliminate boards under 11’ due to weight capacity; you’ll be able to move more nimbly on a longer board. Or for someone who plans to go fast and far, and often, you probably want to focus on a planing hull.

Technical Specs

Flood Flood Aero HD HD Aero







10′6″ & 12′


10′6″ & 12′


Avg. Weight

35 & 38 LBS

28 LBS

38 & 45 LBS

30 LBS


230 & 300 LBS

275 LBS

240 & 315 LBS

315 LBS

Hull Design

Planing Hull

Flat Bottom
Entry Rocker

Displacement Hull

Flat Bottom
Entry Rocker


Flood Flood Aero HD HD Aero

MAGNEPOD / Stashpod Lid

APEX Pedal Port

Cooler Tie-Down Points

Rac Mounting Points

Paddle Sheath

Paddle Straps

Full Trax Styles Only

Full Trax Styles Only

Sandspear Sheath

Bug Slinger™ Styles Only

Bug Slinger™ Styles Only

Sandspear Straps

Bug Slinger™ Styles Only

Bug Slinger™ Styles Only

Power-Pole® Micro Mounting Points

Bug Slinger™ Styles Only

Bug Slinger™ Styles Only

Travelink™ Storage Points

Front Bungees

Rear Bungees

BVA Foam Deck Pad


Flood Flood Aero HD HD Aero

Travelink™ Compatible

Tackle Rac Compatible

Bucket Rac Compatible

Wheel Rac Compatible

Top Mount Only

Top Mount Only

Top & Bottom Mount

Top Mount Only

Power Rac Compatible

Rocket Rac Compatible

Sandspear Compatible

Bug Slinger™ Styles Only

Bug Slinger™ Styles Only

Powe-Pole® Micro Compatible

Bug Slinger™ Styles Only

Bug Slinger™ Styles Only

MAGNEPOD™ Accessory Compatible

Shop the Journal

Breeze Aero

Available in 10′8″ and 11′6″

Flood Gatorshell

Available in 10′6″ and 12′