Tubes For Boats: What You Need To Know

Happy people riding on boat tube
man tubing on side of boat
tube rider inside cylindrical tube
boat tube tow ropes
tube inflator  air pump

Whether you're looking for a towable boat tube to use for a leisurely ride, are interested in boating tubes designed for thrill-seekers, or you're just starting to learn about tubes for boats, you've come to the right place.

Here at Wholesale Marine, we don't just sell towables—we take the time to answer all the questions you have about getting into tubing, including how to choose your first boat tube, what kind of accessories you'll need, and how to stay safe on the water.

You wouldn't go shopping for a trailer without knowing the towing capacity of your car, van, or truck, right? Just like with road vehicles, all boats have limits on how much weight they can safely tow, and knowing the limitations of your boat is key when you're looking at towables. 

Getting Started - Know What You Can Tow

It's important to realize that pulling a tube that's loaded down with a rider, or multiple riders, places a significant amount of drag on your boat and can really tax your motor. Towing with a boat that's too small, or with a motor that's not powerful enough will make it virtually impossible to get the boat tube on plane, and turning corners will be difficult. Also keep in mind that the style of your boat tube will also affect the drag it puts on your boat—round, tire-style tubes tend to be easier to tow than deck tubes. If you're concerned about having enough power to pull a tube and rider, look for tubes for boats that are round—you can always add a larger tube to your fleet down the road.

Before you pick out a boat tube, take the time to talk to your marine mechanic or boat dealer about the towing capacity of your particular boat and motor.

Think About Rider Capacity & Tube Style 

Boating tubes come in sizes ranging from single-rider tubes right up to those giant deck-style tubes that can fit four or more riders. When you're just getting into tubing, it's a good idea to start out with a tube that's designed to hold one or two riders so you can gain experience piloting a boat with a towable. When towing a tube you need to pay extra attention to wakes, waves, obstacles, and how you accelerate, because these are all things that can contribute to preventable tubing accidents and injuries.

There's a ton of different styles to choose from in 1-2 rider tubes, including the traditional round tube, the sled-style tube, and even bullet-shaped single-rider tubes that give riders a thrilling 360-degree spinning ride.

Use The Right Tow Ropes

While it might seem like a towrope that's designed for water skiing or wakeboarding would be perfectly fine for use with boating tubes, the fact is that different watersports require different tow ropes.

Typical water ski tow ropes measure 75 feet in length, while wakeboarding ropes tend to be between 65 and 75 feet long. For safety reasons, boat tube tow ropes should be somewhere between 50 and 60 feet long to keep riders at a safe distance from the boat prop while minimizing the risk of the tube whipping out of control and into the path of the boat.
You'll also need to buy a tow rope that either matches or exceeds, the weight capacity of your towable, and inspect your tow rope every time you go out tubing. If you spot any tears, frays, or oil stains, don't take chances on using it - replace it with a new tow rope.

Plan A Safe Tether Point

Another thing to think about is the tow point for your tube. Some beginning tubers make the mistake of attaching their tube tow line to a high pylon or tower, which is standard practice when towing a water-skier or wakeboarder.

With a towable tube, you need to keep the towline tied to a tow eye or low pylon close to the transom to reduce the risk of both flipping the tube and causing the tube to go airborne at speed. If you're in doubt about where to tie off your boat tube line check with your marine mechanic.

Pumping Up Your Tube

Boating tubes aren't just a blast on the water, they're easy to transport and store thanks to the fact that they're inflatable. The size and style of inflator pump that you'll need depends on your particular tube. Pumps come in both 12V and 110V styles, and some of the 12V models are even shipped with alligator clips that allow you to power the pump directly off of your boat, car, or truck battery. Look for a pump that includes adaptors for boating tube stems, and it's also a good idea to have a hand air pump on hand for topping up your tube while you're on the water.

Other Gear

Like with all watersports, every tube rider should wear a high-quality lifejacket—the type that are used for waterskiing are ideal for tubing. Also consider outfitting your riders with goggles, especially when tubing in buggy areas or with a boat tube that puts the rider in a face-forward position. Some tube riders even use fingerless, neoprene gloves to get a good grip on handholds while protecting against the risk of rope burn.

The Next Step—Choosing Your First Boat Tube!

As you can see, it's easy and affordable to get in on the fun of owning a towable for your boat. Now that you know the basics, take a look at our great lineup of durable boating tubes, tow lines, pumps, and accessories available right here at Wholesale Marine. And if you have any questions or need help, call us toll-free at 877-388-2628—we're happy to help!