I’ve not been tubing for long, but I’ve gained some helpful knowledge I’ll share with you over my tubing years.
My tubing experiences began some years back when I was facing an upcoming summer filled with friends and family visiting our get-away home in Key West, Florida.
Having fun in the water was obviously one of their top to-do lists. When they were not tanning and sunbathing on the sandy beaches, they wanted to be in the water.
But there was a problem.
I only had a combo ski, and some of the younger kids were too small or too young to strap on.
There were also a few adults who were just too chicken to try waterskiing.
Yet, everyone desperately wanted a piece of the action on my ski. Or at least to get involved in some sort of behind the ski activity.
So, not wanting to disappoint them, I ordered a fancy tube, hoping it would be the perfect solution for entertaining my guests. All they had to do was lay and it and hold tight.
Once it arrived, I quickly inflated it and took out some friends to enjoy the new toy.
Getting the towable water tube in the water and riding it was definitely easier than yanking a drowning rookie skier out of the water.
But towing the tube wasn’t the easiest thing since all I managed was to get the tube going straight. How boring!
But after a few attempts, I realized that moving my jet ski in a zig-zag fashion zipped the tube back and forth across the wake of my ski. Now that was fun. And everyone seemed to enjoy their time in the water.
The experience was so good that they even extended their vacation by at least several days.
It was a great experience for me, too. I had just “discovered” a new activity that I could now enjoy with my two boys, Jerry and Peter.
From there on, I never looked back, and today, I don’t have any problem entertaining my visitors on the water, regardless of how many they come.
I now own several towable tubes of different sizes and capacities that I always chuck from my basement every time I’ve visitors around.
Plus, I’ve learned a lot about riding these boating tubes, and today, I’ll share with you everything you need to know how to safely and effortlessly ride a towable tube.
Of course, getting to the thrilling part can be tough and frustrating if you’ve no experience with a tube, which is why I’ll start by reviewing some of my favorite towable tubes and why you should consider one.
Table of Contents
The Best Towable Tubes For The Money
#1 Sportsstuff Poparazzi - Most Versatile Tube
I’ve had the Poparazzi for a couple of months now, and all I can say is using it is awesome.
My boys love it too! This is not to mention it’s a real head-turner. I love how everyone points, smiles, and waves at the boys on the waterway.
For me, at least, I love the Poparazzi because of its versatility, offering tones of riding options.
But how good is this inflatable tube?
Let’s find out.
Features and Benefits
Design and Shape- Five Different Ride Positions
One of the notable improvements of the Poparazzi over other inflatables is the roof-style design.
The benefit of this design is it permits different riding styles.
It’s by far the coolest benefit with the Poparazzi because it’ll let you ride it while standing, sitting, lying flat, laying forward like a horse chariot, or laying backward like a traditional float… almost like twister-game-like choices.
It was the perfect fit for my boys when I introduced them to tubing because they were a bit scared, but they could kneel for support and stand up if they wanted to.
Indeed, I never hear my boys complaining of the Poparazzi being boring.
Poparazzi is a unique tube, boasting a unique curved bottom.
The convex bottom works well to create less drag on the float while allowing users to catch some air without taking flat. It was easy for me to drag my sons off the wake.
It also makes the float more steerable, so it was easy getting in and out of the wake effortlessly.
I’ve seen some users complain about Poparazzi diving into the water, but they should understand that you need to hit the gas more than you think at the start so that the tube planes up quickly.
Once it’s up, it’s a blast, but if you start too slowly, the nose will definitely drag into the water.
The other good thing with Poparazzi’s water performance is the top of the arch gives the riders a lot of leverage. They can lean and pull as much as they want and even steer it up and across the wake. This is something you can’t manage with a traditional tube.
My Poparazzi can accommodate my two sons, plus one more friend, so no one has to be left out.
With numerous deluxe nylon-wrapped handles, the boys can quickly arrange themselves in formation as they ride down the waterway.
It’s so nice that everyone can ride at the same time and not have to take turns.
Convenience: Multiple Grab Handles
Nearly everywhere you look on the Poparazzi, you’ll notice there’re nice, well-padded grab handles. You don’t get as many grab handles in other tubes as with the Poparazzi.
We’ve the double webbing foam handles at the front, back, arch and even lined down the middle where riders lay down.
The padded handles and the neoprene knuckle guards are necessary for promoting endless ride positions.
And the good thing is they’re layered with a protective material, so my sons won’t get scuffles and chaffing on their knuckles as they do with other tubes.
The nylon-wrapped handles are comfortable too and will keep your tube durable for long.
The Poparazzi comes with a host of other features, though not unique to this product.
High on the list is the EVA padding.
It’s comfortable to lay on this material because it not only offers a comfortable tubing experience but reduces chafing on the body.
I don’t have to worry about my kids getting rashes on their bodies, even when laying flat on their bellies or kneeling.
A durable construction is another lovable feature in this towable tube.
The tube, with heavy-duty zippers, heavy-gauge PVC bladder, neoprene padded handles, and tough 840 deniers double-stitched nylon cover, seems sturdy and will hold up to rough usage and abuse.
Of course, like everything in life, you need to take care of your float. One thing to avoid is leaving it outside in the sun if it’s not in use. Heat stretches the heavy gauge PVC bladder and will mess with the shape of the tube.
Ease of Use
Another feature that improves the overall user experience is the Kwik-Connect tow points.
It allows easy hook-up and disconnection, meaning you won’t struggle to get this tube in the water.
Plus, you get a one-way patented speed safety valve that keeps the air from escaping and allows quick inflating and deflating.
Overall, the Poparazzi is a nice towable inflatable, perfect for families who want to have a good time in the water.
The only problem with this bad boy is that it’s heavy and awkward to move out of the water.
I’m a strong guy and managed to carry it from the dock, but I wouldn’t attempt it if I have help.
#2 SportsStuff Super Mable - Best All-around Tube
After owning two of the SportsStuff Super Mable Tubes, I don’t think I would contemplate choosing another brand or other tube soon.
The SportsStuff Super Mable Tubes are reminiscent of a hovercraft and are an all-around ride that delivers on both style and substance.
It also promises a lot of fun without carrying a hefty price tag.
But how good is it, and how does it rack up against the competition.
Features and Benefits
You can tell SportsStuff Super Mable’s ingenuity from the first time you lay your eyes on it.
It’s was designed to be a multi-purpose water tube, allowing riders to a wild ride, laying on their stomach or in a seated position.
And the good thing is there’s a quick change adapter that will make it easy to transition from one position to the other in a beat.
SportsStuff Super Mable has a generous weight capacity of 510 pounds.
It means it can accommodate up to three riders comfortably. I can bring my two sons, their best buddy, and leave space for more.
Four kids are also okay, but three adults would be a hard call unless they’re light- otherwise, you’ll rip the stitching and get only one season.
But for skilled drivers like me, I can confidently push the limits—no sudden jerks from the ropes and no dramatic zigzagging.
That said, I would be careful putting two big adults on the edges and a little guy on the middle to avoid squashing or elbowing the small guy. But two people on the ends are fine for stability.
As with everything in life, if you treat the SportsStuff Super Mable Tubes nicely, it’ll serve you longer and better.
Don’t store it in the sun. Shorts periods are okay, but it’ll start to deteriorate and rot if you leave it on the dock all summer.
SportsStuff Super Three-person towable tube performs well on the water.
It’s super fun and hard to flip, so you get lots of air without wipeouts.
I found it stable to pull my kids. The back hardly seems to flex or sink in the water. In fact, my kids enjoy riding this tube as a couch, seated, and less standing upright or laying flat.
Dual Tow Points
SportsStuff Super Tube’s signature feature is the dual tow pints, at least according to me.
The front and back towing points, known as “both cockpit seating,” allow for a customized ride.
For example, the backrest makes for a comfortable ride in a seated position when towing from the front. On the other hand, the back tow allows you to knee and ride the tube like a chariot.
Personally, I love to spend hours lying in the back drinking cocktail while my kids enjoy the chariot-style towing options.
SportsStuff Super Mable comes with comfy EVA foam seat pads and air-cushioned sidewalls.
It’s a considerable improvement over the classic model and other inflatable tubes. It offers unmatched comfort and tranquility for the ultimate relaxation.
Double Webbing Foam Handles- Different Riding Positions
As with our top pick, SportsStuff Super Mable also accommodates different riding styles.
Not as much, but you’ll appreciate the variety of double stitched double webbed foam handles with a neoprene knuckle guard that allows you to ride in a variety of positions.
You can ride this three-person towable tube backward or forward. Also, if you can ride it while kneeling or lying down if you need to.
Again, this water tube utilizes padded handles, so you get more comfortable on the water and less irritation.
The grab handles also come in handy at keeping you secure at high speeds.
Convenience and Ease of Use
SportsStuff Super Mable is built with saving time and effort in mind.
It achieves this thanks to the drop speed safety valve and Kwik-connect tow point.
Attaching this tube to your boat is fast and easy, while inflation and deflation are a breeze.
Overall, the SportsStuff Super Mable is a nice tube, guaranteeing endless hours of the thrilling experience, whether as a group or family.
You’ll also enjoy the variety of riding positions and comes with pretty much everything you need for a boating tube. I feel it’s the best all-rounder towable tube.
#3 Airhead Mach Towable Tube for Boating - Best Towable Tube for Kids and Timid Riders
Our family is a bunch of river rats during summer, floating as often as we can.
I and my better half have a big chair-looking tube that has lasted us for long and has held up pretty well over the rocks and sun.
But we hadn’t dedicated something yet for our two young boys.
We decide to choose the Airhead Tube for Boating because it has a spot for both of them to sit side by side, and they don’t have to fight over a tube or one being too big or too small.
I also feel this water tube for Boating may also appeal to the anxious and less confident riders, thanks to the security of the cockpit seats.
Features and Benefits
My biggest allure to the Airhead Tube for Boating was the cockpit seat.
It’s high up on the list of features I love on this water tube.
The reason is it’s comfortable and deep enough to ensure my kids stay on the tube itself. I don’t have to worry about having to look for my kids after they’re tossed in the air.
Though a lot safer on itself, the cockpit also comes with comfortable non-slip padded handles kids can hold for a safe, secure grip.
To maximize comfort, the Airhead Towable Tube has a built-in backrest with an air-cushioned bottom.
Your kids will get less punishing from the bouncing of the tube on the waves than with other tubes.
Seniors and those suffering back pain will also benefit from the backrest as they can relax in comfort, especially during long hours of towing.
If you need a tube that is easy to flip over and throw the riders off, then the Mach Towable Tube ISN’T for you.
I mean, it’s the most stable Tube for Boating I’ve come across and remains upright even on the wakes from other boats.
Of course, it’s not flip-proof; if the rider is silly and tries to stand up or drag off the back of it, it’ll definitely flip over.
Keep in mind the Airhead is partially covered- the full nylon cover doesn’t fully enclose the tube.
While there remains the possibility the cover could come off in the choppy water or at high speed, you can count on it to remain steady and durable for long.
It’s a heavy-duty, double-stitched nylon tube’s cover plus heavy-gauge PVC to ensure years of service.
Easy to Use
As with our previously reviewed tow tubes for boating, Airhead Tube comes with a Kwik-connect tow point for fast and secure towing.
Even better, it sports a patented speed safety valve, allowing for super-fast inflating and deflating.
Overall, the Airhead Mach Towable Tube has a broad appeal.
It’s cool, coming ins a simple and modern design. More importantly, we love the security it offers the kids and timid riders.
#4 Kwik-Tek HD-3 Airhead Hot Dog - Best Towable Tube for Pontoon Riding
My teenage son helped me choose the Airhead Hot Dog.
I know we were looking for a tube that would be challenging to ride and make frequent falls, but I suspect it’s the fun that comes with riding a water tube-like looks like a hot dog, or a weenie (:
Anyways, the Airhead Dog is a great pick, especially for pontoon riding.
It’s not the most stable offering out there, but it should allow you to tube effortlessly given the slow pontoon speed.
Features and Benefits
The Airhead Hot Dog is shaped liked a kayak, coming in at 103 inches long and 44 inches wide.
It’s fun to ride, but for me, I feel the elongated design limits its performance.
One, its tow points are too low and far back under the center.
Why does this matter?
The tow rope is dragged in the water, making it hard for the ski or pontoon to move the tube sideways.
It’s impossible to get to the wake where the real action and challenge are packed.
Secondly, seniors, especially males found it uncomfortable to ride. Their hips aren’t just flexible for this position.
All in all, the Airhead Hot Dog is a blast for small kids, teens, and those looking for slow, easy, and secure rides without adventure or challenges-much like a pontoon boat.
Airhead Dog isn’t as dynamic as a regular floating tube as it won’t skate across the water.
But it’s super fun for the kids, and once we inflated it, my kids didn’t want to come off this darn thing.
The kids also just liked playing on it without being pulled like the King of Hill-type games.
Airhead Hot Dog’s inner utilizes 30-gauge heavy gauge PVC joined using Radio Frequency welding.
The tube itself is reinforced using double stitching and 840-denier.
It’ll withstand the wear and tear, including the towing pressure.
Plus, it lasts for a long.
But as with any inflatable, it’s a good idea to keep it from direct sunlight, sharp objects, or anything that may compromise its integrity.
Comfort and Capacity
Using the Hot Dog tube is a joy, thanks to the padded neoprene knuckle guards provide protection to your knees and elbows.
The tube is also strong enough to hold up to 500 pounds of rider weight.
It’s a good idea to consider the weight distribution as too much weight on the ends can destabilize the tube.
Plus, keep the speed in check, and it’s not recommended to exceed 15 mph with all adults using the tube or ten mph with kids riding the tube.
Easy to Use
Inflating the Hot Dog Tube is super easy and fast.
The Boston speed safety valve makes the entire process effortless and won’t keep you waiting for long.
#5 WOW Watersports Thriller Deck Tube - Best Carbon Tripod
Our final review product is yet another carbon-fiber creation.
Like the Sirui, the Newer Carbon Fiber Tripod is a lightweight option, featuring an innovative, durable design, making the tripod versatile and compatible with a range of camcorders, spotting scopes, Go Pro Gera, and DSLR.
Features and Benefits
The carbon fiber construction delivers a lightweight yet sturdy tripod.
Specifically, this option weighs a measly 3.4 pounds, yet, it has a generous weight capacity of over 26 pounds.
More importantly, the carbon build is quite sturdy, shrugging off any abuse melted by the rugged outdoors.
The overall design also helps with minimizing the vibrations.
For instance, the tripod offers a stable base, keeping the spotting scope still for the picture-perfect shot.
Additionally, the legs are extendable, and once you achieve your desired height, you can easily twist and lock them into place.
Overall, the Neweer Tripod feels solid and without much flex.
Another features birders will enjoy is the maximum height adjustment of 66 inches,
The extra height is perfect for the taller guys who don’t want to hunch over their spotting scope for several hours.
However, we’ve an issue with the extra inches; when folded, the tripod is around 18 inches long, meaning it’s challenging to haul as it sticks out of your travel pack.
Did I mention Neweer tripod converts to a monopod?
Although a monopod sacrifices stability for ease of use, it’s still an awesome gadget, as it increases the overall versatility and functionality of this tripod.
A monopod might also come in handy if you plan to take your sightseeing in an environment thick with brush.
Additionally, the monopod is lightweight; weighing just a pound, transporting and hauling it should be a breeze.
Best Towable Tubes Buying Guide - Guide to Choosing the Best Towable Water Tubes
With so many towable water tubes in the market, choosing the right one can be challenging.
But it doesn’t need to be so.
In the text below, I’ll share everything you need to know about selecting the best towable tubes for boating.
Factors to Consider When Selecting the Best Towable Tube
All tubes are inflatables, so durability is a concern to most users.
Durability is generally determined by choice of material.
And in the section below, we’ll go over some of the common materials used in towable tubes, plus their benefits.
Double Stitched Nylon Cover
Heavy-duty Nylon cover is the most common material used for towable inflatables.
The most popular form is full nylon cover Denier, and it comes in different weights and thicknesses.
The higher the number, the thicker and solid the full nylon cover are. Higher Denier full nylon cover numbers are usually more expensive but can hold more riders.
Denier full nylon cover is popular because it’s lighter, making it easier to carry over and more durable.
Neoprene is common in wetsuits.
It’s soft to the touch and usually used as a layer on Polyester or Nylon material for adding extra comfort and prevent chaffing of the legs, elbows, and hands.
It’s usually an expensive material but ultra-comfortable.
Heavy-gauge PVC is often used as a coating material on the towable bladder or inner tunes.
It’s available in different thicknesses, measured in gauge.
Tubes utilizing polyester are usually coated with PVC to reinforce the material.
Treated polyester is durable, fade-resistant, and doesn’t discolor, even when exposed to the sun.
Towable Tubes Shape
The tube is available in different shapes and sizes.
Shape affects comfort, body position, capacity, and so much more.
The deck tubes have large and flat surfaces for a fast ride.
It’s easier to ride the deck tubes lying on your stomach.
However, because of their size, they tend to flip over more easily, but the good thing is they allow you to climb back more easily.
Another good thing with these tubes is that they keep the riders’ faces proximate to the water and easily get over the wakes.
These are among the oldest and cheaper tubes on the market.
Originally, the round donuts were designed to hold a single rider, but today, they can carry multiple riders.
They’ve a high center of gravity, so they tend to flip easily.
Also, since they’ve a hole in the center, small children find these uncomfortable to lay on or sit in.
The ride-on is big and can accommodate up to six riders simultaneously and come in different shapes.
They’re long and shallow, requiring riders to sit on top of the towable or in a recumbent style.
Because of their high center of gravity and long shape, they tend to be more unstable than traditional tubes.
Generally, the ride-on tubes come in a D-shape design that gives you a similar sensation as the deck tubes.
They’re a favorite tube shape to many riders because they allow you to have fun on the water while resting your back and head on the back support.
Simply put, they’re ideal for anyone seeking fast riding while comfortably sitting in an upright position.
The ride-in tubes are available in different shapes and sizes and can accommodate one to four riders.
As their name suggests, riders sit comfortably low inside the towable.
Most of these shapes have a padded floor for extra comfort.
Tow Rope/ Tow Length
A tow rope is critical in determining the performance of a towable tube.
First, you need to consider the overall tow length,
Water Sports Industry Association (WSIA) states that the ideal length for a rope should be 50 feet in length and shouldn’t exceed 65 feet.
If less than 50 feet, it tows the tube actively in the wake and will result in water rope spray on your face.
A custom tow rope also needs to suit the size of the tube. Otherwise, it’ll result in damage.
For example, you can’t use a rope for a tow rider’s tube with a four rider’s tube. Chances it’ll break.
Finally, use a tow rope designed for tubing only. Never make the mistake of using ropes for wakeboarding, water skiing, or kneeboarding.
Patented Speed Safety Valve
A speed safety valve is necessary as it saves or wastes your time depending on what you’re using.
Some of the common valves for inflating the towable tubes are:
1) Boston Valve
2) Speed safety foam valve
3) Stem valve
Best Towable Tubes Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: How fast should I pull a towable tube?
A: If you’ve younger kids, keep the speed between 8 to 12 mph. This rate can change and increased to 15 to 20 mph for teens.
Q: Can I pull a tube with a pontoon?
A: Yes, you can pull a towable tube with a pontoon.
But remember, the boat’s capacity, size, and weight will affect how well a pontoon pulls the tube.
Q: What size boat motor do I need to pull a tube?
A: You can use any bot motor, but on the safe side, consider a motor with a power rating of at least 90 hp.
Of course, how much power you need will depend on the tube’s weight, size, and capacity.
Q: How big of a jet ski do I need to pull a tube?
A: As with all other pulling water sports equipment, the power for pulling your tube will depend on its horsepower.
But generally, a 110hp jet ski can easily pull 200 pounds.
If you need it to pull more pounds, ensure it has greater strength and horsepower.
Wrap Up: Our Choice
While all our options are exciting in their own right, some are better than others.
If you’re still undecided on what option to pick, I would recommend the Poparazzi.
It’s the most versatile option.
One, it accommodates multiple riders- three in specific. Not the highest capacity, but it will fit most of the family’s needs.
Secondly, it has numerous riding positions, so you can never get bored using this tube.
Finally, this 3-person towable tube is reliable, doesn’t break, and has awesome performance. It offers tons of hours of endless fun in the water.
I would highly recommend it.
What do you think? Tell us more in the comment section below.