Inflatable tubing is one of the most exciting water activities that the whole family can enjoy.
Besides holding on, there aren’t any other skills you need to partake in it. Compared to wakeboarding or water skiing, inflatable tubing is far more accessible.
In this article, we’re going to be discussing some of the best inflatable tow tubes for boats on the market.
From the heavy-duty wake riders to the mellow glass riders, we’re here to help you find one so that you can get out on the lake this summer for some serious fun!
- 1 THE TOP 9
- 2 Factors To Consider When Buying
- 3 How To Use an Inflatable Towing Tube
- 4 Frequently Asked Questions
- 5 Verdict – Which to Buy
THE TOP 9
Our #1 Pick – SportsStuff Super Mable
As you can probably tell by the checkered flag design, the SportsStuff Super Mable is made for those who desire serious speed. Thanks to the backrest design, you can easily survive the most high-speed acceleration without being thrown off the back and into the water. We love the overall design, as it is made of high quality material, and bright enough to be seen out in the water while in use. This gives it an element of safety, especially when the lake gets busy on those hot summer days.
Because of the unique construction, you can either tow it from the front or back, each providing its own unique experience. Up to three riders can hop on this bad boy and take hold of the grab handles for a wild ride. Thanks to the heavy-duty K80 PVC bladder and double stitched nylon cover, this durable, towable tube will last you for years to come.
#2 – Poparazzi
Coming in at #2 because of its cool and unique design, is the Poparazzi Towable Tube from SportsStuff. It comes complete with SportsStuff’s aluminum quick connect system that helps you to get out on the water in just minutes without the hassle of setting up. Thanks to SportsStuff’s patented safety valve, inflating and deflating your tube is a piece of cake!
The knuckle guards onboard are filled with foam for added comfort, complementing the nylon-wrapped handles for strength. Put those together with the easy-to-kneel-on foam flooring, and you can truly be out on the water all day without hurting your knees. For tight turns and ultra-maneuverability, the wide wing span construction on this bad boy excels far beyond others. You can even ride it standing up because of the high construction.
#3 – Warbird 2
The Chariot Warbird 2 is one of the toughest towable tubes from SportsStuff and is constructed with an ultra-durable PVC bladder. To up the durability factor, you also get the heavy-duty nylon cover that will easily get you through a number of tubing summers. Just like the Super Mable, this comes with multiple tow points, one in the front and one in the back. The aluminum quick connect system makes it incredibly easy to set up so you don’t have to spend more time out of the water than necessary.
The wingspan on the Warbird 2 is what makes it so interesting. Because it is so wide, you have tons more stability when taking hard turns. You also get a high back design that gives riders a more comfortable seating position when being towed. That being said, the Warbird 2 gives you open ended seating positions, making it fun to explore all of the possibilities!
The Bandwagon is a better towable tube for larger parties, as you can fit a max capacity of 4 onboard. Just like the others listed before, it is constructed with a heavy-gauge PVC bladder and a double-stitched nylon cover for durability. It comes equipped with individual seating areas, meaning 4 places to ride that are separate from each other. You also get the high-back recumbent mesh seating and foam seat bumpers to make sure that you’re both comfortable and secure.
The nose is probably the most unique feature of the Bandwagon, as it is made to completely eliminate nose diving or dragging. Not only does this help you to go much faster, it also helps to save you from being thrown around during a ride. Lastly, the inflation/deflation process is as simple as ever thanks to the patented safety valve. It’s easily the best towable tube out there for the whole family to take a ride!
#5 WOW Bingo
At only 17lbs, this 2-person capacity inflatable tube is made with a high quality and durable PVC build. It also comes with a full nylon cover, heavy-duty zipper, and double webbed foam that surrounds the tube. You never have to worry about hurting your knuckles or knees thanks to the knuckle guards and foam kneepads. You also get a high backrest for extra comfort during your wild ride
The drop speed bottom is made to eliminate drag as much as possible so that your tube and boat can run efficiently. You’ll also love the Boston Valve design that makes it easy to both inflate and deflate. The flush design is excellent for ensuring a safe and secure ride, making it excellent for both adults and children! Lastly, you get an 11-inch 4k aluminum tow connector for water skiing. It’s a durable tube that gives you tons space to move around and is great for smaller parties.
#6 Great Big Mable
The Great Big Mable is built pretty much exactly the same as the Super Mable, though is made for 4 people rather than 3, hence the name. You get the safety valve for accelerated inflation and deflation, getting you out on the water much quicker than other tubes. In terms of durability, the full nylon cover, heavy-duty zipper, and PVC bladder, will give you performance that will last for years to come. As for comfort, riders will dig the EVA foam pads for protecting their knees, as well as the knuckle guards for protecting their hands.
The tube allows for two different riding positions thanks to the two tow points and multiple grab handles around the tube. Lastly, you get the handy self-draining vents so that you never have to worry about your tube collecting any water while in use. We highly recommend the Great Big Mable if you’re looking for an inflatable tube that is both versatile and large.
#7 Airhead Slash II
Made for parties of two, the Airhead Slash II is a total speed demon and is great for those who want to push hard, carving turns. Thanks to the cockpit-like design, you get tons of protection from getting splashed and/or falling in the water. Compared to most other tubes on our list, this one is extremely aerodynamic. The featured plastic fins are sewn nicely into the sides of the tube that help it to cut through the water while providing stability, just like a surfboard.
We really dig the easy entry on this one, making it a piece of cake to hop back on if you get lunged off the back. The bright orange and black design not only looks super cool, but doubles as a safety feature in that your tube will stand out from everything else on the lake. The 840 denier and double stitched nylon gives this thing some serious durability points and the reinforced fabric helps to retain that durability over the years. Whether on the lake or ocean, this is an all-around great, 2-person tube.
#8 Airhead Hot Dog
The Airhead Hot Dog Inflatable Tube is easily one of the silliest tubes on the market right now. Don’t let it fool you though, as this thing provides just as wild of a ride as its competitors. With a 3-person capacity, you have multiple seating points with separates handles to hold onto. You can set it up for tow thanks to the heavy-duty Kwik Connect, giving it tons of user-friendliness. In terms of durability, it’s a winner.
You have three 30-gauge vinyl chambers to hold in your air, each protected thanks to the 840 denier, double stitched nylon cover. You also get deluxe nylon-wrapped handles and neoprene knuckle guards to make sure that your can get a comfortable grip onboard. Perfect for children and adults alike, the Airhead Hot Dog is sure to give you hours of sausage-style fun out in the water!
The Airhead G-Force is constructed with a heavy-duty 30-gauge virgin PVC bladder with 840-denier double-stitched nylon for added durability. You also get six neoprene knuckle guards, as well as deluxe nylon-wrapped handles for comfort and protection. If you enjoy wild rides on the water, you’ll love the G-Force. It’s basically a giant inflatable toilet seat that is extremely fun to ride on.
You get the high-impact Kwik Connect system with a 1-inch diameter hole for strong hold. It is made to hold a maximum of 3 people onboard and completely defy centrifugal force with the G-Force topside stabilizer fins. Unlike the others on this list, this tube is more in a traditional design. If you’re looking for something simple, fast, and easy to use, look no further than the G-Force.
Factors To Consider When Buying
Below are the 5 most important factors to make sure you are picking the right water tube.
Size and Capacity
The first thing you’ll want to consider is the number of people that will be riding on your tube. If you want something that the whole family can enjoy, consider getting a tube with a 4-person capacity. The kids may want to do some side-by-side riding, so getting one that can fit multiple people should certainly be a thought. In the same way, you also must consider the space you have available. A 4-perosn capacity tube is much larger than a single or double rider tube, meaning it will take a lot more work to bring it down to the water.
Type of Tube
Open top tubes are the ones you see most commonly and are designed somewhat like donuts. Riders of all ages and sizes can ride these very comfortable. They also allow for multiple riding styles if you ever get bored and want to switch it up. If you just want to chill out and take a slow ride, you can put your bottom in the center and rest your feet over the side. However, if you’re looking to pick up speed and maybe get some air, you can lie on your stomach with your head facing forward. Make sure to always check the dimensions of your open top tube, as some are better suited for kids than adults or vice versa.
If you have a strong grip and are looking for a much faster ride, we recommend going with a deck tube design. These large, flat-surfaced towable tubes, allow you to lie on your stomach and hold on. Because of the flat surface, these provide easy entry in the case that you fall off. You most likely will the first few times, as hitting a wake can flip you like crazy. Some deck tubes incorporate added stability with their bottom designs or built in fins, so you always have to look at the features to get a better idea of what the specific tube is good for.
If you are looking for a more relaxed ride, or want a tube that is safe for your kids, we highly recommend getting a cockpit-style tube. These are built with ride-in designs that allow you to sit lower inside facing the backs of the tubes. These have a much smoother take off feel and are far more stable in the water, leaving less of a chance for wiping out.
Dual Tow Point Tubes
Dual Tow Point Tubes are perfect for various styles of riding thanks to the fact that you can tow from multiple points on the tube. When you hook your line up to the front, you are able to lean against the backrest for a far more stable ride. If you hook your line up to the back (aka “chariot style”), you ride on your knees for a serious thrill ride. These are also typically bigger, making them great for families and large parties.
Banana or Toboggan Style Tubes
Banana or Toboggan Style Towable Tubes provide you with a sled-like experience as you straddle for dear life. While many hold anywhere from 1-4 people, some are large enough to accommodate parties of 10. They are the perfect towable tubes for small boats, or for pairing with pontoon boats, because of their slim designs and are incredibly aerodynamic. Compared to other types of tubes, you really don’t need a crazy amount of speed to get it popping.
Rocker Tubes are unique because they have curved surfaces on the bottom. This helps to give riders far more maneuverability than traditional tubes. You can either get a rocker tube in a three-stage or U-shaped design. The three-stage tubes have winged tips on separate sides for riding in a prone or sat up position. This means you can either ride high or low on different sides by shifting your weight on the tube.
If you ride a U-shaped tube, you get the continuous rocker for rocking side to side with minimal effort. Overall, these spinning towable tubes are great for extreme riders who want to get in nice whips, twists, or airs.
Most commonly, you’ll find that nylon covers are used on towable covers. This nylon is made to be thicker or thinner. This measurement is referred to as denier. The higher the denier number, the thicker and stronger your tube will be. If you want to get the strongest tube, we recommend looking 840-denier. That being said, if you do find a 420-denier model and it’s a single rider, that should be fine, as single riders won’t need as much durability.
While Nylon is the most common, you can also find polyester on some towables. It is typically coated with PVC and is measured the same way as nylon, in denier. The great thing about polyester is that it is far more resistant to fading after being used in the sun a lot. If you are serious about keeping the color of your tube in tact, we would highly recommend going with a polyester design rather than a nylon one.
How To Use an Inflatable Towing Tube
Once you get a hold of your inflatable towing tube, it is very important that you know how to use it correctly. Though all inflatable towing tubes are different here are a few very important tips that are great for general use.
Inflate Your Tube
Some tube will require that they are connected to the boat before you inflate them, so make sure to read your manual for the right order. Most tubes have multiple valves that can be filled with a manual or electric air pump. You always want to make sure that your tube is filled to the perfect amount of pressure. If there isn’t enough pressure, you risk your tube dragging or deflating in the water. Too much pressure and it could pop!
Get The Right Tube Line
It’s usually good practice to keep at least 100 feet between the boat and the tube. Make sure that the tube line you get provides enough length, as well as enough strength. Different tube lines are built with different strengths, and a tube line that will work for a tube with a 1-person capacity may or may not work for one with a 4-person capacity. Always make sure that your rope is properly secured, not frayed or torn in any way, that it doesn’t have any knots, and that it is made specifically for towing and tubing.
Keep an Eye Out For Wakes
While riding wakes and flying through the air can be tons of fun, they also increase the risk of injury by a lot. You always want to make sure that you slow it down and take it easy when you begin to approach large wakes, especially if you have inexperienced riders onboard.
Be Aware of Other Tubers and Boaters
Always make sure that you are aware of your surroundings, both as a boater and a tuber. The biggest dangers to tubers are other tubers and other boaters. You should always have a spotter onboard the boat besides the driver to keep watch for other boats, or to see if the tubers are still atop the tube. Some states will require that your boat put up an orange flag if you have people in the water around your boat. This helps to signal to other boats that people are in the water.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Best Speed for Inflatable Tubing?
You honestly won’t really feel anything until you’ve picked it up past 10mph. Though it really depends on the person you’re pulling, as one person may want to go slower or faster than the next, we’ve found that somewhere between 15-20mph is the best bet. Never go too fast, as flying off a tube and into the water at high speeds is like hitting a slab of concrete.
Can I Ride on a Multiple-Person Tube as a Single Rider?
Absolutely! It’s not a huge deal to have less people. Going over capacity is more of an issue. That being said, if you plan on going out for a solo ride, we would highly recommend getting a single person tube instead. You’ll feel much more stable.
Are Towable Tubes Hard To Transport?
Some towable tubes can get pretty big! Some are reminiscent of king-sized mattresses. That being said, you’ll typically find that they aren’t nearly as heavy. It’s strangely easier to carry around an inflated tube compared to a deflated tube, as you can have more people there to help you out. They are much easier to store when deflated though. You shouldn’t have trouble being able to store any tube in a standard car if necessary.
Do Towable Tubes Have Age Restrictions?
You’ll have to check up on your local or state laws for the answer to this question. That being said, we’ve seen people of all different ages on the backs of towable tubes. You will want to use your common sense though and make sure that if you are towing little ones, you take it really easy. Also refer to the manual on your specific tube to see any age recommendations. Adults, you’re good to go. Never think that you are too old to ride an inflatable tube!
What Kind of Horsepower Do You Need For Towing?
We’ve seen 70 horsepower pontoons pulling around tubes in the water. If you ever think that you need anything over 130 horsepower to pull, you’re hugely mistaken. At that point, you’re entering dangerous, overkill territory.
How Do You Know When Your Rider Is Ready to Go?
You always want to make sure that your rider is ready before you pull out, as you can leave tons of room for injuries if you don’t! Firstly, make sure that they are nice and centered on the tube for balance purposes. Make sure that they are holding on to the towline or handles tightly. Make sure that there are no tangles or loops in the towline. Lastly, make sure to ask your rider if they are ready and never pull out until you are sure!
What Conditions are Best for Tubing?
You always want to check your local forecast before going tubing. This is something any experienced boater will tell you. Keep an eye out for any high winds or storms that might roll through. Not only will this make it difficult to tube, it can also present a dangerous situation for you and your party. Typically, you’ll want to go out tubing when the waters are calm, as you’ll want to be the one creating the wake for your riders, not Mother Nature.
Verdict – Which to Buy
We hope that our article has helped you to find the perfect match for all of your tubing dreams. Don’t ever, under any circumstances, by a cheap inflatable towing tube just to save some money. They won’t last and will leave more room and risk for injury.
Our overall opinion is that the SportsStuff Super Mable is the best towable tube for boating around. The front and rear towing options make it incredibly versatile, giving riders multiple options for all riding possibilities. You also have the built in EVA foam pads for comfort and double-stitched nylon material for strength.
Remember to check your local boating and tubing laws and have fun out there this summer!