Towable tubes have come a long way from the simple inflatable tube towed behind a boat. There are tubes for one, two or even three or more riders at the same time. There are tubes geared towards smaller children, who would rather not get thrown off every few minutes. And there are the trick tubes: ones where the rider can determine the level of difficulty and how the tube performs in the water. Budget might be a concern, as many of these tubes can be more expensive depending on the features they offer.
What should you consider before buying the perfect tube for your day out on the water? It's easy to be swept away with how many choices there are for towable tubes, so we've narrowed it down and reviewed a few of the best towable tubes depending on the target audience and how they will be using it.
Best Towable Tubes for Kids
AirHead Hot Dog HD-3 Towable
The HD-3 Hot Dog Towable is just that: a giant 103 inch long towable hot dog that one to three riders can enjoy at a time. This would be the perfect beginner tube for children, as it is extremely stable (unless the driver is trying to throw the kids off the tube), and will be an enjoyable ride while building confidence in younger children. It is recommended to put the lighter children in front, so make sure and have at least one adult on the tube if the children are too small to ride without supervision.
The tube is built with three seat pads (made from neoprene) on the top (hot dog part), while your feet ride on top of the bun. It comes with a Kwik-connect, which makes connecting the tube to the tow rope a breeze. The tube is constructed of three 30 gauge vinyl air chambers which are completely encased by a double-sewn 840-denier nylon cover, for ultimate durability.
This tube would be an excellent choice for those wanting to pull multiple children while providing a more stable ride, but also for boats with lower powered engines, as it is easy to get the boat to speed even with 3 riders on the hot dog.
SportStuff 53-1339 Big Bertha
The 53-1329 Big Bertha Towable is a giant classic circular tube designed for 1 to 4 riders. It is constructed of a heavy gauge RVC bladder, with an air cushioned floor as well as 4 sets of nonslip cushioned handles with knuckle guards that are padded. It comes with a fast and easy Quick Connect tow system, making attaching the tow line quick and simple. Big Bertha can support up to 680 pounds, or 4 people, so letting multiple children enjoy the tube at the same time is a must! It is extremely well built: so it can be pulled slowly, or for the more enthusiastic kids, fast and over multiple boat wakes. This would be a great tube for a kid’s birthday party, so multiple children could enjoy the tube riding at the same time.
O'Brien Screamer Inflatable Tow Tube
On a smaller scale than the Big Bertha is the O'Brien Screamer Inflatable Tow Tube. This would be the perfect tube for pulling one child, as you can make the ride as tame or as exciting as the rider wishes.
It is a 60 inch diameter round tube with a full nylon cover over an inflatable PVC bladder. There are two large EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) pads on the top, which will lessen wear from the rider lying onto of the tube. There are also 4 handles with knuckle guards, to make hanging on a bit easier.
This would be a great tube for pulling any size kid (even adults), and depending on how adventurous you are, might even make you scream.
Gladiator Sonix 2
Another great tube for kids would be the Gladiator Sonix II 2-Person Towable Tube with Lightening Valve. This is more of a ride-in style of tube. There is seating for two passengers, almost in a type of cockpit configuration. An inflatable backrest keeps your back upright, while you sit in a seat facing forward. There are 4 soft foam handles with EVA knuckle guards, and the entire tube is made of heavy duty, fully covered PVC construction. There is a quick connect tow hook, and with the lightening valve, the entire tube deflates or inflates 57% faster than with a Boston valve.
The cockpit seating might be a little tight for two large adults, but is the perfect size to tow kids. With the inset seating, the ride might be a bit tame for those thrill seekers, but is the perfect complement for smaller children wanting a pleasant and more stable ride.
Best 2 Person Towable Tube
AquaGlide Metro Banana Boat
The AquaGlide Metro Banana Boat would be a great tube to tow that two people can enjoy at the same time. It can be pulled from either the front or the rear, and yet is designed with an extremely low deck for a secure seating. The large inflated back support can offer lounge comfort while being pulled slowly, or can offer a higher platform on which to rest while being towed.
The tube has 8 soft handles with EVA rash guard around various locations on the tube, providing protection for knuckles, knees and elbows. There is a quick-connect tow attachment, and overall this tube can handle up to 300 lbs. weight capacity. It would be a great tube for the lounger or the thrill rider alike!
AirHead AHGF-2 G-Force
Another great two person tube is the AirHead AHGF-2 G-Force. This tube is constructed with a heavy gauge virgin PVC bladder, completely secured with a durable and strong double-sewn nylon cover. It has 4 deluxe nylon-wrapped handles with neoprene knuckle guards, and is designed for two riders to lay flat on the tube and hang on! The tube has tough Kwik-Connect for a fast and secure tow line hook-up. It also comes with a speed safety valve built in, to provide convenience for a fast and quick tube inflation or deflation.
The tube has two topside stabilizer fins on the aft part of the tube, which help to keep the tube stable while being pulled at high speeds. This is a great tube for those wanting to be pulled at speed, but still enjoy sharing the moment with friends or family.
Best 3 Person Towable Tubes
Sportsstuff 53-1750 Poparazzi Towable
The Sportsstuff 53-1750 Poparazzi Towable is an advanced towable for up to 3 riders. The Poparazzi has an integrated arch with a curved bottom. This is perfect for riders who like to glide on the surface of the water with the least amount of drag as possible, but with the maximum amount of fun. It has a 72 inch by 68 in base, allowing space for riders to stand, sit, and lie down, whichever way they prefer to enjoy the tube. It comes with neoprene pads to provide protection for both passengers and the tube surface, and with numerous soft double webbed “sure grip” handles.
There is a patented “Quick-Connect” towing, as well as a safety valve for fast inflating and deflating. The wide wing span design makes it great for tight/difficult turns and maneuvering, as well as riders to be able to stand or lay down, depending on their level of skill and confidence. This is a multi-use towable, allowing for the maximum amount of versatility and fun to be had!
Rave Sports Warrior 3 Recumbent Ski-Tube
The Rave Sports Warrior 3 Recumbent Towable Ski-Tube is another excellent multi-rider tube on the market. It allows for 3 passengers (up to 510 lbs. total capacity) to be able to ride the Warrior and relax in an upright position. Depending on whether you want a relaxed or thrilling ride will depend on the speed at which you are towed. It is designed with a skim-fast bottom allowing for smooth planing at high speeds. The tube is constructed of heavy-duty PVC with a polyester cover, while the Stay-Brite red fabric will repel both dirt and water.
It comes with a quick-connect tow point, for easy connection. It also has 6 soft grip handles, to provide the best access to hang out while travelling at any speed. This is an excellent tube for up to three passengers to relax in comfort while enjoying the thrills of tubing.
Best Towable Tubes for Tricks
The Coleman Wakeslider Towable is an affordable tube for the rider who wants to control their tubing experience. The tube is designed for one passenger, and with its low profile and directional strakes it allows you to control your movement and direction and even gives you the option to perform tricks. There are two padded handles at the front of the tube to hang onto, while a large anti-abrasion pad on the upper surface of the tube provides maximum comfort and protection for the rider.
Constructed of a rugged 23-guage PVC cover over 420-denier nylon, the Wakeslider can take any abuse the rider can give it while attempting tricks. This is a great tube for the kid or young adult to enjoy riding while jumping the boat wake and controlling where he or she goes.
AirHead Sportsstuff Bat X-Ray
The AirHead Sportsstuff Bat X-Ray with 12V Portable Air Pump is another tube that isn’t for the faint of heart. It has a Veer towing framework, which allows the rider to guide the tube basically by inclining to the left side or right. It has deliberately placed Tiger Tooth Steering fins, as well as 4 delicate grasp handles that allow the rider to move the X-ray through the wake.
Depending on the ability of the rider, the X-ray can be moved in such a way to hop, slalom, or just ride the watercraft's wake. It has a quick connect tow point, which will spare time out on the lake. It also comes with a portable and compact high volume air pump with the tube, ensuring you have everything you need to get started and get riding.
Choosing the Right Tube
With so many towable tubes out there, it is difficult to narrow down the search to that one tube that fits your needs. Here are a few things you should consider before you purchase your perfect tube.
Think about your target audience: will you be pulling kids, or simply adults around the lake or the river? Will you need to pull more than one person at a time, or will a tube for one do just fine? Do you plan on having your passengers sit down in the tube, lay down, or will they want to stand up? There are a multitude of different options when it comes to how the rider can enjoy their experience. Will you want the tube to be more stable, or will your riders enjoy being tossed around? The weight of the tube can affect the rider’s stability: lighter tubes tend to get airborne easier. These are all factors to consider before purchasing your next towable tube.
Don't Forget Safety
You will also need to think about accessories and safety items. Makes sure you have the correct tow rope for the number of passengers being towed. The Water Sports Industry Association (W.S.I.A) has a recommended scale for tensile strength on tow ropes.
- For towing 3 people or less, a 3500 lb. break strength tow rope is needed
- For towing 4 people or less, a 4100 lb. break strength tow rope is need
- For towing 6 people or less, a 6000 lb. break strength tow rope is necessary
Be further prepared out on the water by providing life jackets for all riders, as well as discussing hand signals (stop, faster, slower), and have a flag ready in case the rider does fall off the tube and you need to turn around to pick them up. These are important things to have thought about before heading out onto the water.
Here is a great video that highlights some safety tips for towable tubes:
There are numerous towable tubes out on the market, but to narrow it down to find the best towable tube for you, make sure and think who will be using the tube. Whether you are a family heading out on the lake on a pontoon, or simply a bunch of young adults looking forward to a thrilling ride will determine which style of tube will work for you. Budget might come into account, as some of the tubes are more of a luxury item than an inexpensive accessory. Read up on the different models, and make sure and look at the towable tube reviews to ensure that other users were as satisfied with the tube as you hope to be. Whichever tube you do end up purchasing, make you sure have all the proper safety accessories and then head out and enjoy a day out on the water!