Bote Rackham Aero 12’4” iSUP: Overview
The Bote Rackham Aero is the ultimate fishing iSUP. From the water up this paddleboard was designed for anglers. The extra large size and volume make it incredibly stable and the large number attachment points come in different styles to easily secure all of your fishing gear, cargo, coolers, and anything else you’d like to bring along. The Rackham Aero 12’4” also comes ready to convert to a sit-on-top kayak with the included Aero Paddle Seat and compatibility with the Apex pedal drive. If fishing is your focus, the Rackham Aero 12’4” is your iSUP.
— Bote Rackham Aero 12’4” Summary Ratings and Review —
Bote Rackham Aero 12’4”
Construction & Durability
Features and Versatility
The Rackham Aero 12’4” is the gold-standard for fishing iSUPs.
- The Rackham Aero’s large size makes it incredibly stable for anglers to cast and land fish.
- The pedal port allows you to use the Apex Pedal Drive for seated use, or keep the port closed for traditional SUP paddling.
- A large variety of mounting points allows you to easily use tackle racks, coolers, paddle holders, sand spears, and more.
- The outer fabric layer on the rails of the board adds even more abrasion and puncture resistance.
- A “Full Trax” version is also available to more easily use the forward deck of the Rackham as a fishing platform or for a passenger or dog.
- The included Aero Paddle Seat provides comfortable ergonomics for seated paddling.
- The Rackham Aero is very slow to paddle due to its large size
- Tracking performance could be greatly improved with removable side fins.
- The Included paddle sheath is only really useful when seated, as a stowed paddle takes up a significant amount of room over the board.
Construction and Durability
The Rackham Aero uses Bote’s double-layer PVC construction, dubbed AeroBOTE, for a stiffer and more durable build. It also has two air chambers – one for the primary board and another for the top deck and rails. The overall size and amount of material makes the Rackham Aero extremely heavy, though, at 45 lbs (20.4 Kg) without any accessories.
Bote uses two different types of construction for their inflatable stand up paddleboards. Their AeroULTRA construction uses a single-layer of PVC material for the deck and hull of the board while their AeroBote construction uses two layers of PVC. The Rackham Aero gets the stiffer, but heavier, AeroBote construction treatment. Having two layers of PVC on the board increases the iSUPs durability against punctures and abrasion, and it increases the overall stiffness compared to single-layer builds.
The seams on all of Bote’s iSUPs are heat-pressed – using heat-activated glue for stronger adhesion – and the rails all get two layers of PVC to stiffen the boards and provide better abrasion resistance.
On the Rackham there is an additional cosmetic layer of PVC around the side of the board to cover where the top and bottom air chambers meet. On most iSUPs with two air chambers one is a small oval in the middle of the board. This is designed to stiffen the board and provide a very slight margin of safety in case one of the chambers is punctured. On the Rackham, the second chamber is actually a 1” thick layer on the front of the deck and around the sides of the board. This gives the Aero a significantly higher volume than a 6” thick board of the same dimensions and creates a standing well through most of the board. I wouldn’t call it “recessed,” though, as you are still standing on the 6” thick main section of the paddleboard rather than closer to the water line.
The additional volume is intended to create additional carrying capacity and the overall construction of the Rackham Aero gets a little bit of a stiffness boost. Compared to the slightly smaller HD Aero, the Rackham is stiffer in our bend test overall. However, the AeroBOTE dual-layer construction still has a noticeable amount of flex in the Rackham. This is most noticeable if you get any water in the standing area of the board. Where you are standing does flex enough to cause water to pool. The taller sides of the board prevent it from draining off the side, and the uniform 6” thickness and flex in the main section of the board prevent it from draining out over the tail of the board unless you step back to lift the front of the board slightly out of the water.
When we put the Rackham Aero through our bend test, it did perform better than any of the other Bote iSUPs we’ve tested, and ranked quite high overall. With a 170 lb load the Rackham Aero deflected just over 1”. What we’ve found is that typically thicker and wider iSUPs tend to do better on this static bend test, and the Rackham Aero is both 7” thick and 39” wide.
While out on the water I did notice a significant amount of flex in the Rackham Aero that was more akin to the HD Aero. Most notably, the Rackham Aero did flex a fair amount where I was standing and caused any water that had splashed over the side of the board to pool around my feet. The flex in the Rackham Aero was also noticeable when walking around the board, but it did have a smooth, rather than bouncy, rebound that felt controlled.
With a listed 400lb carrying capacity, the Rackham Aero 12’4” is the highest capacity iSUP that Bote makes. It definitely has the space and stiffness to support heavier loads across the board, or even paddling with a passenger or large dog. It’s also the heaviest iSUP in Bote’s collection, weighing in at 45 lbs just for the board itself. When packed up with all of the accessories, the Rackham Aero kit tops the scales at well over 70 lbs.
(SUP & accessories)
Features, Accessories and Versatility
The Rackham Aero is decked out for fishing. There are several types of mounting points all over the board including many that are specific to fishing equipment (though not all are). This is great for paddleboard anglers, however it does limit its versatility for other types of paddling.
The Bote Rackham Aero is first and foremost a fishing SUP, and honestly, it’s general versatility outside of angling is fairly low. However, if you are a SUP Angler, there’s not much out there that can beat the Rackham Aero’s transformative design to customize to your fishing experience.
A few basic features to mention first – the Rackham Aero has two cargo bungees (one on the nose, one on the tail) that have a small amount of adjustability to securely hold dry bags, soft coolers, or other items. The front cargo area is quite large as it spans most of the width of the board. You’ll also find the familiar velcro straps and d-rings along the sides of the board to function as paddle holders and attachment points for the Aero Paddle Seat or Bote’s Travel Link shoulder strap.
The deck pad is a logo-embossed EVA foam Bote calls “BVA”. It also has deeper grooves running from front to back to help further increase traction. Deck pad is comfortable to stand and sit on and does provide good grip for both bare feet and shoes. The top deck of the standard version of the Rackham Aero is PVC, however there is a “Full Trax” version available that has the traction pad extended onto the top deck as well. This is a great option if you do like to stand up a little higher or at the front end of your board to cast or land fish.
At the front of the Rackham Aero are four threaded mounts that are designed to hold the included Paddle Sheath. The paddle sheath lets you store and retrieve your paddle quickly by inserting the blade into the sheath. Unfortunately I found that the angle at which the Paddle Sheath holds the paddle severely limits where you can stand on the board, especially if you are using a tackle rack, and it could even be a safety issue in choppy conditions. If you are using the Rackham while seated, then the paddle sheath will hold the paddle over your head (but it may still interfere with casting). I wasn’t greatly impressed with the overall utility of the Paddle Sheath and would recommend using the velcro tabs on the side of the board to hold your paddle instead.
There is a small plastic bracket installed just behind the cargo bungee on the top deck. This bracket is part of the mounting system for the Apex Pedal Drive system. The other part of this mounting system is the Pedal Port. The Rackham 12’4” has a large hole in the center of the board just forward of the center handle. This hole allows you to use the Apex Pedal Drive to propel the Rackham Aero rather than a paddle. The pedal drive attaches to the bracket and the Pedal Port after you remove the clear plastic plate from the port. While the clear plastic plate is installed and the Pedal Port is attached to the bottom of the board, it does create a watertight seal. However if the Pedal Port is not installed (or not latched all the way) water will enter the board as it splashes up while paddling.
Just behind the Pedal Port is a Bote Magnepod attachment point. This heavy-duty magnet works with a range of accessories sold by Bote (tumblers, water bottles, speakers and can koozies) for incredibly easy access while still being held securely in place.
There are two rack-feet mounting points behind the standing area, and the Rackham includes the necessary feet adapters, that you can use to attach a tackle rack or cooler rack to hold your fishing equipment. There are also four velcro straps labeled “Sandspear.” Now, I’m primarily a lake and stream angler, so I don’t do much flats fishing or have much need for a sand spear, but I cannot determine what, exactly, these straps are meant to accomplish that wouldn’t be accomplished with the other “paddle holder” velcro tabs on the sides of the board – and Bote doesn’t show these velcro straps in use in any of their media either. If you do know what they are for, please let us know in the comments! Right now my interaction with them has been limited to opening the rear straps to allow the rack feet to more easily slide into the mounting brackets – a minor inconvenience, but one that’s easily fixed.
There are mounting points on either side of the board for the Sandspear Sheath (also included with the Rackham). Like the Paddle Sheath, this plastic anchor point is bolted to the board after inflation, and is meant to provide a solid connection to the Rackham Aero for the Sandspear when using it as an anchoring device.
Lastly, the Rackham Aero has a mounting plate on the very tail of the board that allows you to attach a spring-loaded rudder system (the rudder will lift up when it hits a shallow section of water) to steer the Rackham Aero when using the Apex Pedal Drive.
The Bote Rackham Aero does come as a nearly complete kit. The pedal port, Sandspear Sheath, Paddle Sheath, and rack mounting feet are all included. You also get the Bote Aero Paddle Seat – an inflatable seat designed to provide a comfortable and ergonomic sitting option to use with a kayak paddle or the Apex Pedal Drive. This seat is made of drop stitched PVC and uses the same Halkey-Roberts valves as the board itself. It can be inflated to 10 PSI and the extra block at the front of the chair lifts your legs into a comfortable position rather than being straight out in front of you.
You also get the Bote Axe three piece fiberglass/nylon paddle, a 10” center fin, basic repair kit, and double-action hand pump. All of this fits (with a little bit of planning and effort) into the heavy-duty, wheeled, carrying bag. The bag is large enough to fit the entire kit, but only just. I’ve had some minor difficulty getting it all to fit in, but eventually it works.
The Rackham Aero 12’4” is missing one piece of equipment – a leash. In fact, it does not even have a dedicated leash attachment point. Leashes are very important pieces of safety equipment, and it is disappointing to see that there is no attachment point on the Rackham Aero. When asked about why leashes or leash attachment points are not included on several Bote iSUPs, their response was that they wanted to provide the customer with the option of what leash to use. Bote does sell one leash as an accessory, however you’ll have to get creative on where to place it on the Rackham Aero. Hopefully Bote will include at least a leash attachment point in future versions of the Rackham Aero as leashes, along with PFDs, do save lives.
The Bote Axe three-piece fiberglass/nylon paddle has a relatively large blade size that does a good job of propelling the Rackham Aero.
The Bote Axe paddle uses a fiberglass shaft to reduce weight and maintain a comfortable amount of flexibility. The nylon blade is durable (great for shallow water) with a modest scoop from top to bottom and a smooth dihedral shape from side to side to hold well in the water without fluttering. The large surface area and very low rake angle make it comfortable to use for slow, casual, paddling, but lose efficiency when paddling quickly. It does hold well in the water and can easily move the Rackham Aero through the water.
The handle section is also fiberglass with a length scale on one side, but no indexing mechanism. You’ll need to align the handle with the blade each time you adjust the length. The grip itself is made of molded plastic and is relatively comfortable, but feels thin.The large plastic blade is heavy enough to be a little unbalanced, but this is really only noticeable after longer periods of time on the water. If you are fishing with the Rackham Aero and only paddling shorter distances from fishing hole to fishing hole, the weight of the blade is not very noticeable.
The Bote Rackham Aero 12’4” is the most stable single-person iSUP I’ve tested to date, though there is one way it could be even better.
With a 39” width and the additional volume from the upper air chamber, It should be no surprise that the Rackham Aero is incredibly stable on the water. There was absolutely no rocking, twitching, or wobbling while standing or paddling on the Rackham Aero.
Holding the Rackham Aero on its edge was actually very difficult, but not because it was hard to keep from tipping over, but because it was hard to even get it on its edge at all. Once it was on its edge, I still felt completely stable.
The extra volume on the nose of the board also makes it very easy to walk all the way out to the front of the board – and it was stable while standing there. The Full Trax version of the Rackham Aero even has the BVA deck pad on this front section. This is great news for moving around to keep a fish on the line or land a fish, or for a dog or passenger to hang out.
There is one way that the Rackham Aero’s stability could be improved even more – and that is through stiffness. The 15 PSI maximum inflation pressure and standard knitted drop stitch fabric let the Rackham Aero flex just enough that it creates small wells at your feet, which can make you feel less secure than on a stiffer board. The Rackham Aero’s stability could benefit by changing to a stiffer material or higher pressure rating.
I’ll keep this section short and sweet. As a paddleboard, the Rackham Aero is not fast. At 39” wide with a wide nose and rectangular shape it wasn’t designed to win any races. It’s one of the few paddleboards I haven’t been able to break 5 MPH with, and it barely scraped into the 3 MPH zone for a constant-paddle cruising speed. From an efficiency standpoint, the Rackham Aero has a glide ratio of just under 1.5 board-lengths per stroke. For every paddle stroke you can expect to move about 18 feet before noticeably slowing down. This isn’t a particularly high glide ratio, but it’s also not low – especially for the board’s size. So while you won’t win a sprint race on the Rackham Aero, it will get you to your favorite fishing hole just fine.
With the Apex Pedal Drive, I would expect the perceived efficiency to be even better as you get constant propulsion, and you are able to use your larger leg muscles to propel the board.
While the Rackham Aero is not a fast iSUP, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s built to be a fantastic fishing paddleboard with stability and capacity as its leading stats.
Maneuverability and Tracking
The Rackham Aero 12’4” is a very large iSUP, and as such I would not expect it to be particularly maneuverable. However, with a little bit of skill, the Rackham Aero will turn quickly when you need it to.
With such a large overall size I did not expect the Rackham Aero to be an incredibly nimble paddleboard, but overall I’d say it actually did pretty well in our testing. When turning the Rackham Aero in a full circle (from a standstill) it took an average of just over 10 forward-sweep paddle strokes to complete the 360° maneuver. For other iSUPs around 12.5’ long we typically see results closer to 8 paddle strokes to do the same.
However, it is possible to turn the Rackham Aero much faster by changing which strokes you use. First up is the reverse-sweep. While this stroke does stop any forward momentum you have, because it works against the fin, you can make the same 360° turn in fewer than half the number of strokes (just over 4). Another great way to turn this paddleboard is to use a bow-draw. This is a little bit more advanced and requires some good timing (or you can throw yourself over the board on accident) but it also quickly turns the Rackham Aero. Lastly, if you don’t have any equipment on the back of the board, you can step back to the tail and do a pivot turn and make that same full-circle in a single stroke. Chances are, however, that while using the Rackham Aero you’ll have some amount of equipment on the board, so this isn’t quite as useful.
When we see a paddleboard that doesn’t perform as well in our maneuverability test that normally means it will do better in our tracking test. The Rackham Aero did well when we saw how effective it was at paddling a straight line, but not as well as we had hoped. Instead, the tracking performance was more similar to shorter all-around paddleboards, averaging 19° of course deviation over 10 paddle strokes. The extra width of the Rackham Aero makes it harder to keep your paddle blade straight up and down in the water, and also puts the paddle blade farther away from the centerline of the board. Both of these will work against you when trying to paddle in a straight line.
The Rackham Aero comes with one 10” deep, high surface area fin for its center slide-in fin box. It also comes with two small, fixed fins on either side. While the large center fin helps the Rackham stay stable by resisting any rolling forces, and helps it track straighter while paddling, the same can’t be said for the small fixed fins. They really are a cosmetic addition rather than functional. They have neither the depth, length, nor surface area to make any noticeable difference in how a board this size handles on the water.
Warranty and Customer Support
Bote offers a two-year warranty with all of their iSUPs, however you must register your board after purchase in order to activate this warranty. Additionally, the included accessories are covered under a 90-day warranty. Bote also has a 30-day return period. If you are not satisfied with your board, you can return it to Bote, but are responsible for shipping and a 20% restocking fee. If you have any questions for Bote regarding their products or to file a warranty claim, you can reach them via phone, email, website form, website chat, and social media.
The Bote Rackham Aero stands out in a class of its own. There aren’t really any other inflatable SUPs like it on the market and it’s designed for a specific set of paddlers – SUP anglers. It also includes a good set of accessories, and has many other items available designed to work specifically with the Bote Rackham. This niche board has a niche price point, but it still offers a great value for paddlers looking for the ultimate fishing iSUP.
Overall Impressions/Review Summary
If you like to fish and you like to paddleboard, the Bote Rackham Aero is absolutely the paddleboard for you. It’s a purpose-built fishing machine. The mounting points and available accessories make it completely customizable to your style of fishing whether that’s sitting down and using the Apex Pedal Drive for long-distance runs across the lake, or standing on the upper deck for a better view to sight fish on the flats.
Bote Rackham Aero 12’4” iSUP FAQ
Is the Bote Rackham Aero a good fishing paddleboard?
The Bote Rackham Aero is possibly the best iSUP for fishing available. It’s incredibly stable and chock-full of fishing-specific features.
Is the Bote Rackham Aero heavy?
The Bote Rackham Aero weighs about 45 lbs on its own, and the whole kit is over 70 lbs. It’s definitely not a lightweight SUP, but is still a fraction of the weight of a comparable-size fishing kayak.
Can I take my kids or dog on the Bote Rackham Aero?
Yes. There is plenty of capacity and room on the Rackham Aero for a passenger or dog, however you will need to be mindful of where they will be in relation to any accessories like the Apex Pedal Drive or Tackle Rack.
What is the hole in the Bote Rackham Aero?
The Rackham Aero is compatible with Bote’s Apex Pedal Drive system. This is a propeller system you pedal with your feet (like a bicycle). The Apex Pedal Drive mounts to the Rackham Aero through this hole. The Rackham Aero includes the Pedal Port to either install the Apex Pedal Drive, or seal up the hole by leaving in the clear plastic plate.
How long does it take to inflate the Bote Rackham Aero?
The Rackham Aero has two air chambers. The primary air chamber is quite large and does take 10-15 minutes to inflate to the maximum 15 PSI depending on how fast you pump. The secondary air chamber is much smaller and only takes about 3 minutes to inflate.