Can You Pull an Inner Tube Behind a Pontoon Boat?

There’s a load of reasons why the pontoon boat has often been crowned the ultimate family watercraft. For starters, they’re spacious, offering tons of room for passengers of all ages. And then of course they’re not that fast which is a major safety win for guys and girls who want to maintain an easy pace when kids and elders are on board.

And then there’s versatility. These boats can let you do pretty much anything from fishing to water sports. But because they’re pretty slow, they do have limitations. Which begs the question -- can you pull an inner tube behind a pontoon boat? Here are some of the facts.

Can a Pontoon Boat Pull an Inner Tube?

The short answer is yes, they can. But before you pump up that towable tube and hop on your boat, there are actually a number of important factors you have to consider before you get to tubing.

airhead towable tube

Not all boats are the same, and not all water conditions are the same, and not all passengers are the same! So while water tubing might be a possibility on some boats, (and just like skiing behind a pontoon boat) not everyone can enjoy this exhilarating water sport with just any pontoon boat

Here are some things to take into account:

Horsepower

This essentially pertains to the sheer pull of your pontoon boat’s motor. Sure, an inner tube might weigh no more than three or four kilograms and the person riding it might weigh less than a hundred kilograms, which isn’t a lot when you consider the power of a pontoon boat’s motor.

But remember that that’s not all the pontoon boat is taking along with it. On average, the slowest pontoon boats tend to come with 60hp motors which should be enough to pull along an inner tube at a speed of about 18 to 20 mph depending on the weight on board.

If you’ve got a 90 or 115hp motor, then the fun really starts. These motors can pull your passenger at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour, with room on board for a few more passengers to watch.

*See our tips on how to speed up a slow pontoon boat.

Weight

The weight on board will significantly impact the strength of your motor’s pull. The more people there are on board, the harder it will be for your pontoon boat to achieve the ideal speeds for a tubing sesh.

In general, a weaker motor (around 60hp or so) might be able to pull an inner tube at speeds of 18 to 20 mph given that there are no other people on board. The strongest motors (around 115hp) can pull at 25 mph with just about five other guests on the boat.

You also have to consider the weight of any stuff you bring with you. Heavy picnic packages and other equipment and accessories can seriously weigh down your boat and keep you from a truly thrilling water tubing experience.

Keep in mind though that you might still be able to pull along a tube at slower speeds if there are a bunch of people on board. The only trade-off would be that a loaded boat might not be able to achieve fast enough speeds to provide a truly exciting experience.

Inner Tube Passenger Weight

Yup, this matters. A boat can only do so much. And while a single person might not weigh enough to cause your motor to stutter, their weight will be compounded by the resistance against the waves.

As your boat pulls on that inner tube, it’s also going to be fighting against the waves and the water that’s working against it. Add this to the resistance of the passenger’s weight, and it’s easy to see how that could affect the speed of the boat.

Environmental Conditions

Strong waves and wind that works against your boat can push it back and prevent it from achieve top speed. That’s why it’s important to check weather forecasts before you head out for a day of water tubing on the lake.

Interestingly, smaller boats tend to do better against strong currents and wind probably because they don’t have a lot of surface area. Then again, bigger boats with powerful motors might be able to cut through the waves more efficiently than a small boat with minimal power.

Laws Concerning Water Tubing

In general, water tubing with a pontoon boat isn’t typically controlled or regulated anywhere. That means you should be able to enjoy some splashing good fun without having the local authorities trying to water down your fun.

But then again, some states have a few regulations in place to make sure that individuals who participate in water tubing are safe from any accidents and injuries. In fact, some jurisdictions require boats to have at least one more person on board (aside from the driver) to function as a watcher when pulling along an inner tube with a passenger.

The reason for this is because the driver might not be able to respond or even notice if an accident has taken place. It’s important to remember however that some boat sizes and motor strengths may limit the amount of people you can take on board if you want to achieve top speed.

hot dog tube

All things considered, it might be a good idea to take bigger, more powerful boats out for water tubing so you can accommodate a few other people on board to watch out for potential accidents. Then again, if you don’t mind trailing along at 15mph for the sake of safety, then smaller boats might be able to accommodate two or three other people to stand watch.

Fun in the Sun

Water tubing can be immensely fun, and while pontoon boats weren’t exactly designed for it, they can provide the basic functions for the activity nonetheless. So it’s really not so much about whether you can pull an inner tube behind a pontoon boat, as it is about whether you’d be okay riding a tube at modest speeds. But hey, if you’ve got a big boat with lots of power, then you should be able to enjoy a thrilling ride without risking your safety.