The 10 Best Floating Tubes
This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in July of 2015. River runs, lake lounging, and pool parties are all so much more fun with the right floats for letting your children (and your own inner kid) run wild without worrying about sinking into the water. Whether summer's right around the corner or you're just daydreaming about braving rapids in the sun, it's never the wrong time to invest in a floating tube. You'll find styles to suit every taste here. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 29, 2019:
Floating tubes can make any day just a little more fun. Before making your purchase though, you should consider your intended activities. Certain models are better suited for river runs, while others are ideal for simply floating around the pool or in calm ocean waters. If you are a traditionalist and have a solo river run planned, we recommend the Intex River Run 1, Bestway Coolerz Rapid Rider, or Bestway Realtree Max-5. All three feature supportive backrests, a mesh bottom in the seating area, and integrated cupholders. Now, if you like things with a little more flair, you'll want to look at the BigMouth Inc BMRR and Coconut Float Jumbo Pink Flamingo. These quirky designs will definitely make a statement at your next pool party or holiday weekend river run. Since we feel nobody should truly raft solo, the two-person Intex 58837EP River Run II made our number one spot. In addition to having space for two riders, it features a built-in cooler, so you'll stay refreshed all day long. Speaking of floating with friends, if you prefer to create more of a party atmosphere, then we recommend the World of Watersports 13-2060, which has room for eight people to lounge comfortably. While you could certainly use almost any model on this list in the pool (except for perhaps the aforementioned World of Watersports 13-2060), the Sit 'n Lounge is ideally suited for such a purpose. It keeps you sitting comfortably in a reclined position, is easy to inflate quickly by mouth, and is affordably priced. It also keeps you nice and low in the water, which is generally where most people want to be when in the pool. We included the nontraditional Classic Accessories Cumberland for the fisherman who can't yet afford a more traditional boat, and the Tube in a Box since, despite not having a bunch features, it can also be used as a snow tube when winter rolls around.
How Do I Choose the Correct Floating Tube For Me?
Read each tube's description to ensure the liner won't tear in the event that a plastic handle is jerked suddenly by a boat.
The first thing any person needs to consider before purchasing an inflatable tube is what exactly they plan on using that tube for. If you plan on using a floating tube in your swimming pool, for example, then you'll want that tube to accommodate the weight of at least one person, perhaps more. In addition, you'll want a tube that'll fit accordingly given the approximate dimensions of your pool.
If you plan on tubing from a speedboat, or sledding down a hill, then you'll want a tube that's aerodynamic and lightweight (no more than 10 lbs). The greater the chance that a tube could come into contact with any sharp or abrasive objects, especially at a high speed, the more you'll want that tube to feature a durable, reinforced polyvinyl liner. Boating tubes should also feature some type of plastic handle for attaching to a line. Read each tube's description to ensure the liner won't tear in the event that a plastic handle is jerked suddenly by a boat.
If you need to transport a floating tube via a car or a boat, make sure that tube can be inflated - and deflated - fairly easily. If you plan on drinking while in a tube, make sure that tube comes with cup holders. If you plan on keeping your phone with you in a tube, make sure that the tube has waterproof compartments. If you plan on taking a floating tube to the beach, it may be worth considering a tube that you can recline on in the sand.
How to Protect Your Floating Tube From Punctures (& Other Damage)
If there's one thing you want to protect a floating tube against, it's a puncture. Yes, there are repair kits that might allow you to patch a minor hole in a pinch, but by and large, any puncture could mean the demise of your tube. So how do you defend against that? For starters, be sure not to over-inflate any floating tube. Fill the tube until there aren't any wrinkles or dead spots. Otherwise, use an air pump's pressure to gauge when the floating tube is full.
If there's one thing you want to protect a floating tube against, it's a puncture.
If you're buying a floating tube to use in a pool, be sure to place foam bumpers around that pool at any jagged edges. By its nature, a floating tube is prone to drift or bang from side to side. Any above-ground pool with a metal railing, a metal ladder, or exposed nails could cause a problem. In addition, be sure to store any floating tube in a shaded area. Prolonged exposure to the sun causes polyvinyl to expand, and this could break an inner tube's seams or bladder over time.
If you plan on sledding with a floating tube, it's better to sit inside the tube than lie on top of it. Winter jackets are designed with several hooks and zippers, any one of which could stab right through a floating tube, assuming a person is jumping onto it. In addition, do your best to avoid sledding hills that might be lined with sticks or protruding stones. If you're tubing on a river, avoid sitting on a tube until the water level reaches your waist. Otherwise, that tube might scrape against the bottom.
Be sure to hose or wipe a floating tube down after using it. Sometimes shards of glass or sharp debris can wedge themselves into the vinyl. The deeper those shards wedge, the greater the possibility that a minor leak will eventually occur.
A Brief History of The Floating Tube
At its core, a floating tube is really nothing more than a reinforced air mattress. Air mattresses have been in existence since the 1890s, at which point they were introduced as an alternative to hair- and fur-filled mattresses on steamships. Air mattresses were inflatable, which provided these ships with a lot more storage space. These mattresses could also be used as life rafts in the event that a ship was going down.
What's more, increased competition led to entire inflatable islands equipped with waterproof compartments and the capacity to seat three or more.
Inflatables were largely born as an outgrowth of the rubber balloon, which had been invented by a British chemist named Michael Farraday in 1824. The popularity of balloons almost immediately led to further experimentation, along with the idea that a large-scale inflatable could be manufactured out of reinforced latex, or some equally dense polymer of rubber.
The proliferation of the automobile eventually led to Americans re-purposing a tire's inner-tubes for use on rivers, in pools, and during sledding. After World War II, manufacturers began to sell brightly colored inflatables that were made out of dual layers of plastic. Generally speaking, manufacturers referred to these inflatables as lifesavers, or simply "floating tubes."
As of the 1980s, almost all floating tubes were being designed out of some combination of reinforced plastic, specifically polyvinyl chloride. What's more, increased competition led to entire inflatable islands equipped with waterproof compartments and the capacity to seat three or more. Today, floating tubes continue to be tremendously popular, perhaps because they are inexpensive, and can be used year-round, regardless of an intense heatwave or a winter storm.