TOWABLE TUBE BUYER'S GUIDE
Riding on a towable tube behind a boat is a great way to spend a summer afternoon. Just about everyone can ride a tube and have either that wild ride that seems like an extreme sport or just the lazy ride to cool off and enjoy the day. Today there are a huge number of choices for your tubing pleasure. Hopefully we can give you some of the finer points on these to ease in making your selection.
DONUT STYLE TUBES
These tubes are the standard of the industry. Donut style tubes have been around for years and are perfect for single riders. The tubes are designed so that you can sit down into the whole or lay on top of them to give you 2 different riding styles. If they have an inflated floor you can even place smaller children directly inside the tube so that they feel safer. However if they just have a canvas floor this is not recommended, since they will feel every pump on the water and it will be uncomfortable. Remember when you lay on one of these tubes there is a hole underneath your abdomen giving you no support. This can cause your back to compress in the opposite way it was intended. Donut style tubes are still a great way to go for single riders since they tend to be a less expensive towalbe option.
DECK STYLE TOWABLES
Introduced approximately 20 years ago these are the most versatile of all the tubes. While they are available in 1-6 rider models these tubes can be ridden with any number of riders up to the maximum number. The fact that they have a solid deck where you are laying helps to support your entire body and not cause unwanted discomfort. Look for neoprene tops or softshell designs on the tops of these tubes to help minimize rash burns. Most of these tubes are made of a canvas material and without the neoprene or softshell the canvas can cause irritation. Rocker or thinner profile designs of these towables allow them to "whip" outside of the wake easier. Again you can make this a wild or a tame ride depending upon the boat driver. Great for just using as a platfrom to lay out on the lake also. Deck style towables are our most popular selling tubes due to their versatility.
LOUNGE OR SIT DOWN IN TUBES
Lounge tubes have increased in popularity over the last couple of years due to their more advanced designs. These towables can be extremely comfortable to ride in and many people use them just for floating around the lake when they are not being towed. Younger children and less experienced riders usually feel more secure in the style that they sit down in. Make sure the size of the opening will be appropriate for all sizes of riders that you intend to tow. Keep in mind that if the towable you choose has individual compartments that the weight of the riders needs to be similar. If you put a large adult on one side of a 2 person tube and a small child on the other side the tube will tend to drag more and tip towards the heavier side. With most of the 3-person tube you can ride with just 1 person in the center, 2-people on the outsides, or pile 3 people in for bunch of fun. These tubes can come in styles with up to 6 riders. Keep in mind the horsepower of your boat when selecting larger tubes, in general the larger the tube the more horsepower needed to tow it. New spoon shaped bottoms also help the towables gliding ability and keep them from getting sucked down on the water so they are easier to tow. Lounge tubes are definitely increasing in popularity due to their comfort.
TOWABLE TUBE BUYING TIPS
1. Check the construction of the tube. The thicker the canvas and the pvc tube, the better the quality.
2. Check the Warranty of the towable. Every towable tube that RIDE THE WAVE sells comes with a 1-Year manufacturers warranty. Tubes should last and the indication that the tube has a 1-year warranty versus a 30 or 90 day warranty helps to determine the quality of the tube.
3. Look for padded handles with knuckle guards. These help to cut down on abrasion when riding.
4. Look for neoprene pads or "SoftShell" technology. These are placed on the tube to aid in your comfort of riding. Tubes which do not have these and have a plain canvas top can be abrasive.
5. Nylon tow hooks make it much easier to hook up ropes and get right tow towing the tube
6. Check the inflation point. Boston Valves (or screw in valves) make the towable much easier and faster to inflate and deflate. We typically use a Shop Vac placed on exhaust to inflate and on the vacumn side to deflate this style of tubes.
7. Look for "Spoon" or Rocker shaped designs on the bottoms of towables. These help to keep the tube from "sucking down" on the water. Any bottom design that is not flat will be easier to pull since it helps the tube to cut through the water.
GENERAL TOWING TIPS
1. Towables which are firmly (fully) inflated will glide across the water better, sit more on top of the water when being pulled and generally perform better.
2. Any tube can dive (submarine) on take off if too much weight is on the front part of the towable. Make sure your riders lean back when you are starting out until the tube gets up on plane. The higher the tow point on your boat will help to lift the front part of the tube out of the water, however make sure that towers or pylons are designed to withstand the force of towing a fully loaded tube. Many of these are not recommended for towing tubes. Also check for tubes that have the tow connection pulling from the underneath side of the tube this aids in pulling the front of the tube out of the water.
3. Always use the recommended rope strength of the size of the towable you are using. Never use a rope that has an inferior break strength or appears to be damaged. Broken ropes can cause serious injuries. Never use a rope that is longer than 60 feet. This is the recommended length for towing tubes it becomes more difficult to control where the tube is travelling with longer lengths.
All prices are in USD.