Towable Tubes Safety Guide

Tubing behind a boat is an activity the whole family can enjoy, but it's also one that comes with some risks. Like all watersports, most accidents involving tubes are preventable.

Knowing the basics of towable tube safety is key for everyone, including boat operators, tube riders, and passengers onboard the tow boat. Here's what you need to know to stay safe while towing or riding a towable tube:

Before You Launch Your Towable

Check Your Tube

Towable TubingTowables can really take a beating while they're on the water and over time the weight of the riders, UV rays, and the high stress loads on the entire tube can cause it to break down.

Before you head out on the water, take the time to carefully inspect the entire tube. Look for cracks or tears in the material, and be sure to double-check all the rider handles and tow rope connection points. You should also fully inflate your tube at least an hour before launching it to monitor for signs of leaks since a sudden loss of air while you're on the water could cause the tube to whip and throw riders off.

If you find that your tube has a puncture or is leaking air, checkout our inflatable repair kit or replacement parts.

Use The Right Tow Ropes

When you're tubing behind a boat use only high-quality tow ropes that are completely free of any fraying, rot, or dirt. Remember, if your tow rope breaks, you'll not only lose all control over the tube, but your riders could be launched violently from the tube.

Ensure the rope you tow your tube with is long enough to keep riders at least 100 feet away from the boat motor prop at all times. While it can be tempting to use a shorter rope, keep in mind that tube riders can travel a long way along the water surface when they're ejected from a tube.

If your tow rope is a few years old or may be on its way out, it’s safer to replace it with a new rope. Shop our selection of Tow Ropes and ensure a safe and enjoyable time.

Don't Forget About Life Jackets

Girl in Life Jacket Tow Tubing

Remember that all tube riders should always wear life jackets, regardless of what type of tube they're using, the speed of the boat, or the type of water you're on.

The best life jackets for use on a high-performance towable are the snug-fitting neoprene style PFD's, while traditional nylon life jackets are perfect for leisure riders using a tube that features upright seating. No matter what type of life jacket you use, just be sure it fits correctly and has the right weight capacity for each rider.


Towable Tube Safety - On the Water

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Head To Wide Open Water

Most tubing accidents involve one or more riders striking a dock, hitting a pier, or being struck by a boat or jetski. After all, it can be tough to spot a rider who has fallen off a tube, and other boaters usually aren't expecting swimmers away from the shore.

Reduce the risk to your riders by finding a wide open space that is free from heavy boat traffic, and never launch your tube in busy areas like channels, near marinas, or close to a beach. In some states, boat operators are required by law to display a skier-down flag - a bright red or orange flag that's at least 12" by 12" - to alert other boaters that there is a towable and/or riders in the water.

Tube With an On-Board Spotter

Operating a boat requires your full attention at all times - that's why there should always be at least one designated 'spotter' on-board while you're towing a tube.

Your spotter is there to keep a lookout for other boats, people, or hazards that are in the path of either your boat or the swath your tube riders could drift into. The spotter is also there to lend a hand if one of the riders falls off.

Have a Safe Recovery Plan

Group of people in life vests tubing in waterWhen you're tubing behind a boat the odds are good that you'll wind up in the water at some point. Before you launch your tube be sure everyone knows their role during a rider recovery maneuver.

Generally speaking, the boat operator will want to pick up the water-logged riders as quickly as possible, keeping the boat between the rider and any other boat traffic. It's a good idea to approach the rider from the starboard side to maximize the boat operators' visibility and be sure to go slow to reduce wake.

Always turn the engine completely off once you are close to the riders to prevent a catastrophic prop-strike accident, and double-check to make sure there are no riders or equipment near the prop before re-starting the engine.

Towing With A Jet Ski? Be Sure to Check the Law

Keep in mind that most states have laws that limit the number of tube riders you can tow behind a jet ski or personal watercraft, and a few states ban any type of towing entirely. In most cases, jet skis that do not have mirrors are restricted to towing only a single rider on a tube, while no more than two riders are allowed on a tube towed by a jet ski that's equipped with mirrors.

Go Slow and Steady

A critical part of towable tube safety that new boat operators often overlook is the fact that riders will enjoy a thrilling experience even at relatively slow speeds.

When towing a tube, start out at speeds no faster than 10 mph, especially if your riders are kids or older adults. Once both the boat operator and the riders feel comfortable you can consider increasing the speed up to a maximum of 25 mph depending on the water conditions and the maximum speed listed on your tube.

Keep in mind that serious back injuries can occur if the tube bounces too much from speed or when crossing boat wakes, even if the rider remains in the tube. Also be aware that riding in a seated position increases the risk of riders striking their face with their knees - another reason to keep speeds down when tubing behind a boat.

Keep in mind that tubing is designed to be fun, not frightening. Grab one of our towable tubes and see you out on the water!