Updated June 28th, 2023
The BOTE Deus Aero kayak is one of the most innovative inflatable watercraft out there. It can be used as both a kayak and a SUP. It uses full drop stitch construction so it feels and performs like a rigid kayak. It is super comfortable to sit on. Keep reading for our BOTE Deus Aero review to get all the details.
- BOTE Deus Aero Inflatable Kayak Review and Test
- Setup and Inflation
- On water performance
- Heavy weight paddlers
- Deflation and packing
- Video – How to fold Bote Deus
- The Verdict
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☆ Best Inflatable SUP Kayak Hybrid
Key Features and Specifications
- Convertible Kayak & Paddle Board – Can’t decide between a kayak and paddle board? With a removable top chamber it converts from kayak to SUP almost instantly. Enjoy the best of both worlds!
- Stable & Durable – Deus has 4-chambered Construction for stability, 10-inch removable fin for tracking, and ample keel guard for durability.
- Feature Rich – Highly configurable with removable seat back, foot bar, and top. D-Rings to tie down your cooler, anchor or rope.
- Better After Service – Based in Destin, Florida – we stand by the quality of our boards. All paddle boards are covered by a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty
- Size – 11″ x 33″ x 14″ thick
- Weight – 41 lbs
- Weight Capacity – 300 lbs
- Material – 2 layer PVC
- Paddle – Not included
- D-Rings – 11
- Fins – 2 removable fins
- Accessories – Electric pump, repair kit, ankle leash, compact backpack
- Accessory mounts – 1 Action Mount, 2 slot mounts, 1 magnepod mount
What we liked:
- Excellent performance on the water
- Very comfortable to sit on
- Stiff construction that feels like a rigid kayak
- Stable and easy to paddle
- Lots of room for gear, coolers, and accessories
- Very versatile. Can be used as a kayak or SUP
What we didn’t like:
- The bag is too small and needs more handles.
- It is very difficult to put back into its carry bag
- High cost
- No paddle included
BOTE Deus Aero Inflatable Kayak Review and Test
We have wanted an inflatable kayak for a while. The average recreational inflatable kayak uses low tech low pressure inflatable tubes. They look and perform more like rubber rafts than kayaks. BOTE makes a lot of interesting paddleboard kayak hybrid inflatable watercraft that perform far better than a basic cheap inflatable kayak.
The Deus Aero is one of the more interesting looking things that they make. It has full drop stitch construction. It can function both as a kayak and a SUP board. Its design looks more like a kayak or inflatable boat than a SUP board. It is a versatile recreational kayak that can be used for fishing, paddling, or anything else you can think of doing with it.
We picked up a BOTE Deus Aero for my wife to use. We chose the classic teak color scheme. She’s not that fond of standing on SUP boards and wanted a kayak. We have enjoyed it a lot so far.
We purchased this item on our own. Like all our reviews, we’ll give you all the good and bad about it.
The Deus Aero is 11′ long by 33″ wide by 14″ tall. That height doesn’t include the seat back. It weighs 41 lbs ready to hit the water. The total packed bag weight is 50 lbs. It has a weight capacity of 300 lbs.
You can find the BOTE Deus Aero for $1299. It is available from a variety of places including Backcountry, REI, Moosejaw, Amazon, and directly from BOTE. It seems to be exactly the same price everywhere so choose your favorite store.
The Deus has 5 air chambers that all use BOTE’s inflatable Aerobote technology. That is their term for military grade PVC drop stitch construction. They use one layer PVC on the bottom and 2 layer PVC laminate on the top.
There is one chamber for the bottom of the hull. There are 2 sidewall air chambers to finish out the hull. The seat bottom is its own air chamber. It has a small drop stitch support in the center of the seat to keep it from sagging for heavier paddlers. The last air chamber is the seat back.
The seat bottom attaches to the hull with 2 G-Hooks that go into webbing loops. It is easy and quick to attach or remove. The seat back slides into a slot on the seat bottom.
There is a rubber keel that goes from the nose to about half way back the bottom of the hull. This gives you a better shape for piercing the water at the bow. It gives you some structure to protect the inflatable bottom from scraping the ground.
The hull is open in the rear end so that water can run out the back. You won’t ever have to bail water out of your Deus.
Removeable adjustable Seat
The Deus can be used as either a kayak or a paddleboard. It has a removable seat and seatback to make this happen. The seat bottom attaches to the sides with 2 G-Rings. You can take it on and off by sliding out the G-Rings in a few seconds.
The cool feature of this system is the seat back. It is made from a separate air chamber. You can tune the stiffness of the seat back by adjusting the air pressure from 7 to 10 psi. The seat back has 3 straps holding it to the seat bottom by G-Rings. You can adjust the angle by adjusting the length of these 3 straps. You can make a very comfortable seating position with these adjustments.
The seat makes a pretty good beach chair if you take it off the kayak while your taking a break.
There is a full length deck pad running along the inside of the hull. It has a grooved texture with embossing on the outboard sections. It looks well attached. It’s holding up well so far under use.
Handles, D-Rings and bungee cord
There are a lot of handles, D-Rings, and mounts scattered about the Deus.
There are 6 handles in total. 1 at the front. 2 on each side at the middle. 1 at the rear. The 2 side handles make it fairly easy to carry the Deus by yourself. It is a somewhat big and awkward carry. Having a handle for each hand helps a lot. If you have a friend to help, it is much easier.
There are 11 D-Rings scattered about the Deus. 2 at the bow on the outsides. 6 inside in the nose for attaching the bungee. 3 at the rear.
There is one Scotty accessory mount at the nose.
There are 2 slot mounts just in front of the seat on the sides. These can be used for cup holders that BOTE sells.
There is a Magnepod magnetic attachment on the middle deck.
There are 2 extra webbing attachments rearward of the ones used for attaching the seat. They can be used for strapping down a cooler or other accessories.
The bottom of the hull has 3 fins. 2 small fixed fins and one removable fin. We tried using only 2 fins for kayaking as one of the BOTE video suggests. The Deus does not have good tracking without the fin. We recommend using all 3 fins whether you kayak or SUP with it.
The Deus inflatable kayak has a footrest bar that can be installed in 3 positions. It slides into 2 sets of webbing loops in the front of the kayak. It is plastic tube with some foam padding around it for some comfort if you are going barefoot.
The BOTE Deus Aero comes with a few essential accessory items. It includes a carrying bag, hand pump, drink cozy, and repair kit. They do not include a paddle or ankle leash.
BOTE includes one of the better single chamber double action pumps I have seen. It has an easy to read pressure gauge. It can inflate and deflate. The inflate port is attached to the body of the pump instead of the handle. It uses a switch to change from double action to single action instead of the typical plug. The ends of the handle can be removed to make the pump smaller for fitting into bags.
BOTE includes a storage and carrying bag. This is my least favorite part of this entire package. The bag is really sub standard compared to what other inflatable SUP and kayak brands give. This kayak weighs 50 lbs in the bag. It’s not that light. It’s not that easy to carry.
The bag has wheels on the bottom that make it possible to roll around. It doesn’t have backpack straps so this is the only way to move it any kind of distance.
The bag has one handle on the top and one handle on one side. There is also a handle on the bottom with the wheels. I have to carry this bag up and down a flight of steps to store it in my basement. It really desperately needs a handle on both sides to make this easier. For what the Deus costs and weighs, it is inexcusable to have so few handles on the bag.
The bag has some webbing straps on the sides for compressing down the packed bag. I end up using one of them for a handle. I question how durable this will be long term.
The bag needs to be a few inches larger in all dimensions so that you can easily get the kayak back into it. It is the hardest inflatable I have come across to get back into the bag. If you fold it just right, it will fit back into the bag so that you can close the zippers.
BOTE uses a rubberized material for their bags. This material sticks to the PVC material the kayak is made from. This makes it harder to slide the kayak in and squeeze the seat bottom back into the bag. I’d far prefer the heavy canvas type materials used by Red Paddle Co, especially at this price point.
A standard repair kit is included with some patches and air valve wrench.
Setup and Inflation
Setup of the BOTE Deus is very easy and quick. I was surprised at how quickly I was able to set it up the first time. I expected a lot more because of how complex the inflated kayak looks.
Lay out the kayak somewhere smooth with no branches, rocks, or debris that could damage it. A tarp or mat is a good idea to protect it.
Inflating the Deus Aero
Inflate the 3 hull chambers. I inflate them to 15 psi. The hand pump is easy to use. Start it in double action mode. When it gets too hard to pump change it to single action mode. Inflate the hull bottom first. Make sure you close the air valve for the chamber you are inflating before you start to pump. Nothing is worse than inflating a SUP or Kayak only to lose all the air when you take the hose off.
I like to open the air valves for the 2 side chambers while inflating the bottom. This is to make sure that the bottom can inflate to the proper shape.
Inflate the 2 side chambers. I inflate them to 15 psi. Remember to close the valves.
Inflate the seat bottom. Here I use 15 psi also. You can inflate it before mounting it to the hull.
Inflate the seat back. It can use from 7 to 10 psi. I usually set it around 8 psi.
This seems like a lot. It took me 8 minutes and 51 seconds to inflate all 5 chambers by hand with the included pump. I’m not a terribly strong guy by any means. I expected it to take much longer. This was a pleasant surprise.
Using an electric pump
I hate hand pumping inflatable paddle boards and kayaks. My preferred electric pump for the BOTE Deus Aero is an Outdoor Master Whale. It can operate off of 12 volt power or its internal battery. The Deus is heavy and a bit awkward to carry. You want to be able to inflate it as close to the water as possible. A battery powered pump makes that much easier. See our review of the Outdoor Master Whale to learn more.
Outdoor Master Whale Electric SUP Pump
Mount the seat bottom
Use the 2 G-Rings to attach the seat back to the kayak hull. Pull the straps to tighten them. These G-Rings can be easily loosened or tightened which makes this part easy.
Mount the seat back
The seat back slides into a slot on the seat bottom. It uses 3 straps with smaller G-Rings to hold it in place. The rear strap only serves the purpose of keeping the seat from flopping forward. Set the 2 front straps first for the angle that you want. These smaller G-Rings don’t easily tighten or loosen if there is tension on the strap. They are difficult to adjust while sitting on the seat.
Set the length of the rear strap so that the seat won’t flop forward. You can leave yourself some slack so you can adjust the angle after you sit down on it.
Attach the fin
If you are using this as a kayak you don’t need to slide the middle fin on. If you are going to use it as a SUP then you want to put the middle fin on.
You are ready to hit the water.
On water performance
Now it’s time for the fun. The Deus is a great performer on the water as either a kayak or SUP. We use it as a kayak most of the time.
The Deus has a very rigid feel to it on the water. It’s the closest inflatable I have tried to a hardshell kayak. It doesn’t feel bouncy or like it’s flexing much going through chop or waves.
I was a little concerned about the height of the seat above the water. Don’t be. Once you sit down on the seat, the kayak has very good stability. You have the foot brace to give yourself more leverage. It feels very stable in the water even when doing through chop or small boat wake.
When you are getting on and off, it will feel tippy when you slide your butt out to the edges of the seat. I try to sit down as close to the middle as I can when getting on before swinging my feet into the kayak.
Tracking is very good with or without the center fin when using it as a kayak. The rubber keel and rigid nose do a good job of splitting the water and letting it easily move through chop. It has very good glide on flat water.
The inflatable seat and seat back are very comfortable to sit on. This is one of the most comfortable kayaks I have ever tried. It’s easy to set the seat back angle to fit just right. The seat bottom has enough give to feel good. You sit above the kayak sides, so you don’t feel smushed into it.
There is plenty of room for a cooler and fishing gear or other accessories. The hull sides in front make it very easy to store gear without worry that it will roll off. There is a large space behind the seat that is perfect for a big cooler. BOTE makes several cooler options that fit and can be strapped on.
The Deus has a few things going for it as a SUP that a normal SUP board doesn’t have. The inflatable side rails give you hand holds above the board. This makes it easier to stand up. You can grab the rails and not have to bend over as far.
The board has a lot of width carried to the rear. It is a really stable board when you try to stand up on it.
There are some downsides to these features. It takes a little effort to lift your paddle above the sides when switching sides. You have to lift it high enough to clear the side structure. Once you stand up paddle it for a little bit you get used to this.
The side rails give it a lot of windage compared to a normal flat SUP board. You will have to fight the wind to keep it going straight and trying to turn the board. The Deus works best as a stand up paddle board on a calm day. If it is windy out, stick to kayaking it. You will have way more fun.
Heavy weight paddlers
We have tried the Deus with over 250 lb paddlers. It works fine. I have no doubt it will work well right up to its weight limit. It feels very rigid on the water. It doesn’t feel like it’s flexing or bouncing with a lot of weight on it.
Deflation and packing
Now that the fun is over it’s time to put the Deus away. I will start with this disclaimer. This is the hardest inflatable I have come across to get back into its bag. BOTE has a quick video on their website showing how to roll it. It’s of little to no help. Neither is the little instruction sheet they give you with it
Set the Deus down somewhere flat and clean. Take the seat back, seat bottom, and fin off if you used it.
Let everything dry as much as possible. If you don’t have time you can roll it out at home to let it finish drying. Don’t store it for a long time still wet.
Deflate all the air chambers. Use the hand pump or an electric pump to suck them all down to a vacuum.
There are a few key points when rolling up the Deus so that it will fit in the bag.
The first fold is critical. You have to fold the rear end of the kayak up in a small fold. Then the second fold is the center fin. The third fold goes around the 2 small fins. If this isn’t done correctly you have no hope of getting it into the bag.
I put the foam blocks back on the fins because they roll up inside. This is another area of the design I don’t like. I am worried they will damage the PVC over time if you don’t put the foam blocks back on them.
Roll from here the whole way to the front and squeeze out any air left inside. Close off the 3 air valves and put the caps back on.
You have to unroll it a few feet. You have to fold the nose over to the side at a 45 degree angle to the kayak. You have to roll the rest of the kayak over the nose. Then wrap the strap around it and tighten it.
I put the kayak into the bag with the folded nose sticking up and towards the wheel end of the bag. From here you should be able to get the zippers to slide to the front.
Squeeze the air out of the seat back. Slide this up under the zipped cover. There should be space in front of the folded over nose.
You should have about 6 inches of empty space in front of the folded kayak. You can fold the seat bottom and squeeze it into this space and over the front end of the kayak. The zippers will go around the front and close.
Stuff the fin, foot support, and anything else you used back into the zipper pocket on top of the bag.
Video – How to fold Bote Deus
I made a video of this whole process. See below.
The BOTE Deus Aero is a really unique and fun inflatable kayak and SUP. It is the best performing and most comfortable inflatable kayak we have tried. If you are looking for an inflatable kayak SUP hyrbid check it out.
See our guide to the best inflatable SUP kayak hybrids for other great options.
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Co-Founder & Editor
Kate is from Taiwan and came to the US after meeting her husband Doug. She has degrees in Fashion Design, Sales, and Marketing. The first thing we did her first winter here was go straight to the mountains and start ski lessons. These days she is an expert black diamond skier and waits for no one at the bottom. She also loves hiking and biking. She comes from Taiwan where people ride scooters way more than cars. She would rather bike or scooter and only drives when she absolutely has to.