Best Towable Tubes Reviewed & Rated for Quality

Have you ever ridden a tube during a snowy day, down a hill covered in white powder? Do you remember how exhilarating it felt? Do you, like all who experience such thrill, curse at the snow-less ground of summer? Do you wish you could recapture that which you must otherwise wait several more months (a lifetime to children) to experience? If you do, then boy do we have a pitch for you.

Featured Recommendations

SportsStuff Chariot Warbird 2
  • SportsStuff Chariot Warbird 2
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • PVC Bladders
  • Price: See Here
Airhead G-Force
  • Airhead G-Force
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Durability Tested
  • Price: See Here
Airhead Hot Dog
  • Airhead Hot Dog
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Multiple Riders
  • Price: See Here

Towable tubes are one of the most perfect summer sports toys out there right now. They bring the fun and excitement of sliding down a winter wonderland in a snow tube to the summer waters. There are few ways to really describe how it feels to ride on a towable tube, other than synonyms on “fun.” It simply is just pure, visceral fun. Which is why today, we’re going to be counting down the top ten best towable tubes of all time. Which are the most fun to ride on, and everything that implies. None of the entries here are bad, the top of this list is just the one we felt was the best of the best. So, get ready for some summer fun, because we’re counting down the:

 

10 Best Towable Tubes

 

1. SportsStuff Chariot Warbird 2

1. SportsStuff Chariot Warbird 2
Kicking off our list on the right foot, we have SportStuff with their Chariot WarBird 2. If you want high-quality towable tubes, then you need not look any further than SportStuff, who always turn out excellent towable tubes. And nowhere is that more evident than with the Warbird.
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PVC bladders

Think of bladders on a tube as a sort of extra insurance for buoyancy. They’re basically an extra pocket of air, keeping the tube afloat when the rest of the structure may be compromised. And to add just one more bit of protection to the bargain, the Chariot Warbird 2 constructs its bladders out of PVC, making sure that they’re all the more durable.

Comfy seats

What’s a tube ride if the seats aren’t comfy? Boring and tedious, that’s what. Which is why this tube makes sure to construct the portion of this tube you’re meant to sit in out of more comfortable material than that which comprises the rest of the tube.

Cost and Value

The big downside to a towable tube is the price, which generally speaking, tends to be incredibly pricey. And unfortunately, the Warbird is no exception to this, costs ranging well into the hundreds. However, we can say with all certainty that the warbird is more than worth the price.
Pros

PVC Bladders

Comfy seats

Quick connect tow system

Cons

Pricey

2. Airhead G-Force

2. Airhead G-Force
Coming in second place is, frankly, the only brand that can really stand up to SportStuff in terms of ability; Airhead. When it comes to towable tubes, Airhead are really the only ones who stand any real competition against the leading brand, SportStuff. And that’s because anything they can do, Airhead has often done better.
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Durability tested

It’s one thing to make your tube out of durable materials, it’s another thing entirely to make it out of those materials, and then check and make sure those materials work. We can safely say that these tubes are thoroughly tested to be as durable as they can be, before being sent out to market.

Neoprene knuckle guards

But it isn’t just the tube itself that’s tough, it’s also the knuckle guards that are pretty strong in their own right. Most of that has to do with the fact that they’re made from neoprene, an incredibly strong, flexible material that remains soft to the touch. Making it the perfect material to make a towable’s knuckle guard out of.

Cost and Value

While still expensive, this tube is nowhere near as expensive as the previous entry. So, while it’s not quite as good as the #1 entry, between the two, we think we both know which one you’re going to buy if you only had these two to choose from.
Pros

Durability tested

Neoprene knuckle guards

More affordable than towable tubes tend to be

Cons

Not as long of a lifespan as some might want

3. Airhead Hot Dog

3. Airhead Hot Dog
Rounding out our top 3 segment, we have the Airhead Hot Dog. Who doesn’t want to ride the waves on a giant inflatable hot dog? Well, put like that, we imagine most people, but hey, we aren’t most people. And you clearly aren’t if you’re still reading this. But anyway, the Airhead Hot Dog may not be the best thing Airhead has ever done, but it’s definitely their most fun.
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Multiple riders

Why keep all that fun all to yourself? The Airhead Hot Dog is capable of holding up to three different people at once during a ride, meaning that if you have siblings who can’t decide on who should get to ride first, you can take the question out of the equation and all ride at the same time.

Triple air chamber

The hot dog look isn’t just for show, as it does serve a surprisingly effective purpose. Essentially, all three segments of the hot dog are their own air pocket, cut off from the others. Meaning that if one breaks, it will have no effect on the others. And you don’t even have to worry about that, as all three segments of this tube are made of 840-denier Nylon.

Cost and Value

Once more, the cost of this tube is not nearly as much as our #1 choice, but it is more than our #2 choice, if only by a bit.
Pros

Multiple rider capacity

Triple air chamber

Knuckle guards, seats, and handles are all made from nylon neoprene mix

Cons

Needs more air after every ride

4. SportStuff Big Mable

4. SportStuff Big Mable
SportStuff’s most recent addition to their line is also one of their absolute best, as we showcase our #4 entry, the SportStuff Big Mable. The Big Mable, though technically a redesigned version of an earlier model, is nonetheless one of the absolute best things the company has ever done. Versatile, durable, and just plain fun, this tube will give you a summer vacation you’ll never forget.
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Ride in any position

Riding while sitting straight up not doing it for you? How about riding prone? Kneeling? Straight up riding backward? Well, with this towable tube, you can do all four of those on the same trip. When it comes to the way you have fun while riding it, this is one of the most versatile tubes out there.

Backrest and side walls

Never worry again about accidentally falling off the tube and breaking your skull on the water. This tube comes equipped with a backrest and a pair of side walls, made from the same inflatable material as the rest of the tube, making for a comfy, laid-back feel while you ride on it, that’s almost unmatched by any other tube on this list and elsewhere.

Cost and Value

A pattern you may have noticed by now is that Airhead make the cheaper products of the two, and that idea is reinforced by the Big Mable, which is much more expensive than the other two and even manages to eclipse the #1 pick for the price.
Pros

Versatile - ride in any position that suits you

Backrest and side walls for more relaxed ride

Dual tow points at front and back

Cons

Very pricey

5. Airhead Super Slice

5. Airhead Super Slice
In the #5 slot goes the Airhead Super Slice. Once again Airhead proves that it doesn’t need the higher price tag of SportStuff, or even half of the budget and resources, to make a truly great towable tube. So, what’s so awesome about this tube? Let’s find out.
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Tapered gusset design

When making a towable tube, the design of the tube is the most important thing to consider. It will decide how well it moves through the water, how much resistance the water will give it, and a whole load of other things. So, the design needs to be perfect essentially. Which is why this tube goes for the Tapered Gusset Design, which is perfect for a tube moving through water.

Speed safety valve

Easily the most tedious part of using a towable tube is, of course, the process of blowing it up. Unless you have a specialized pump, you’re going to be blowing it up yourself. However, a lot of tubes, including this one, use what’s known as a speed safety valve, which is designed to make sure as much air gets distributed as possible and blows up the tube a lot faster than it would otherwise.

Cost and Value

While not as cheap as the previous airhead entries, in keeping with the pattern so far, this Airhead tube is a lot cheaper than any of the SportStuff tubes we’ve showcased thus far.
Pros

Tapered gusset design

Speed safety valve

Kwik connect makes attaching to ropes a breeze

Cons

Unless the riders are under 10 years old, only one person can ride this tube safely

6. SportStuff Big Bertha

6. SportStuff Big Bertha
In the 6th place slot, we have the SportStuff Big Bertha Towable. And Big Bertha is definitely an apt name for this towable, as it is one of the biggest towables that SportStuff has on their list. And as we’ll soon see, that isn’t the only thing this towable has going for it, not by a long shot.
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Fun for the entire family

It can suck watching the rest of the family have fun individually. Meanwhile, you’re stuck waiting your turn. Or maybe you’re just flat out scared by the prospect of having to go on one of those things all by yourself. Whichever is the case, this tube will help you out, as it comes with the capacity to hold up to four riders at once, with no added danger for any involved.

Non-slip

This is an important factor for any towable tube to get right because one thing that tends to get in the way of fun when riding a tube going several miles an hour over the water is for you to fall off and hit the water at those speeds (which is not a fun experience). Fortunately, the non-slip coating that covers the top of this tube will keep that from happening, so long as you follow directions and keep ahold of the handles.

Cost and Value

We finally have a breaking development, as this towable tube has broken the chain of SportStuff tubes being egregiously expensive. While certainly not cheap, the price of this tube is much more tempting and affordable than its peers.

Pros

Capacity to hold up to four people

Non-slip top

Very affordable, for a SportStuff tube

Cons

Has been reported to lose pressure a bit too fast for some’s taste

7. SportStuff Stunt Flyer

7. SportStuff Stunt Flyer
At #7, we once again have a streak breaker, as we have yet another towable tube following the previous one, with the SportStuff Stunt Flyer. In stark contrast to the previous entry, however, this one is an incredibly small tube, only able to hold two people, if even that. Now, let’s see how that works to its advantage.
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EVA foam body pads

This is a tube you’re meant to lay prone on top of, which means that the part you’re meant to lay on needs some kind of padding to help protect you from the impacts on the water. Fortunately, this tube has you covered, with the aid of EVA foam body pads that will absorb the majority of any shock the underside of the tube experiences.

Reinforced tow system

You can never have too much security when it comes to the tow cable and tow points of a towable tube. A towable tube needs to have its tow point be as secure and durable as it can possibly be, because if it loses the line, or worse, breaks, then you’re going to have a lot of problems. Which is why the tow point is made of high-grade aluminum, with a reinforced tow system to make things more secure.

Cost and Value

Astoundingly, we once again have a high quality, SportStuff towable tube that doesn’t break the bank in costs. If anything, this is one of the cheapest entries on this list so far, only costing a little over $100 in most retailers.

Pros

EVA foam body pads

Reinforced tow system

Very affordable

Cons

Seams are a bit rough

8. Airhead Turbo Blast

8. Airhead Turbo Blast
Kicking off our final 3 entries, we have the Airhead Turbo Blast Towable Tube. When it comes to Airhead, who already turn out some of the best tubes on the summer market, even among that lineup, the Turbo Blast is an excellent piece of hardware. But don’t just take our word for it, instead read on for the many benefits of purchasing this tube.
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V-shaped tube

This is likely the perfect tube for two people to ride on, as its V shape makes sure that both riders have just enough room for them to ride on, without getting in the way of the other person’s fun. The V shape also makes it brilliant for moving through the water, meaning this tube can get some serious speed.

Self-draining floor vents

This tube isn’t just fast to inflate, it’s also incredibly fast to deflate. Simply flipping a small switch on the tube will activate the floor vents underneath the tube. These vents will then immediately drain out pretty much all of the air that was kept inside.

Cost and Value

This is, without question, the cheapest entry on this list. At only a margin above $100, this is the perfect towable tube for the vacationer on a budget. Especially when you consider just how high quality the tube itself still is despite that.
Pros

V-shaped tube

Self-draining floor vents

Cheap for a towable tube

Cons

Seats run a bit small for older riders

9. Airhead Mach 2

9. Airhead Mach 2
In our second to final entry, we have the Airhead Mach 2 Tube. This is one of the highest rated towable tubes out there right now, and for a good reason, as it more than lives up to the hype. We may prefer other Airhead tubes over this one, but we cannot deny that it earned its popularity.
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Cockpit seats

Towable tube seats always look a tad bit precarious, don’t they? Even the best ones we’ve seen so far look unstable enough that you could see yourself falling off of it. ,However, the Mach 2 sets itself apart by not only having seats but having full on cockpits for its two passengers. True, this means that you absolutely can only have two people riding on this tube, but those two people won’t have to worry at all about falling off.

Great for all ages

You’ve likely seen the pattern by now that these tubes are generally better for kids than adults or even teenagers. However, due to the spacious design of the cockpit seats, as well as the overall size of the tube itself, the Mach 2 is usable by people of all ages.

Cost and Value

Once more, we find at the bottom of this list the cheapest towable tubes on the market, that still remain in good quality. And indeed, this towable tube is both reasonably priced, as well as retaining the excellence that has come to be expected from Airhead.
Pros

Cockpit seats

Great for all ages

Cheap

Cons

Seams could be stronger

10. O’Brian Super Screamer

10. O’Brian Super Screamer
FOr our final entry, we finally break away from SportStuff and Airhead to bring you a third contender, O’Brian, showcasing their super Screamer towable tube. We didn’t mean for this list to 99.9% consist of SportStuff and Airhead, it just kind of happened that way. But we’re pleased to announce that O’Brian’s entry more than measures up.
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Solid and sturdy

This tube may not have the fancy quirks and features that the other entries on this list may have, but that’s okay, as they’ve instead diverted that completely into sheer strength of the tube itself. Made from 26-gauge PVC, which is then covered in 420 denier nylon, this tube can tangle with the best of them, even on the roughest waters out there.

6 handles

Why is the fact that this tube has 6 handles so important? Well, at most, this tube can hold about 2 people. Thus, it makes sense to have more than just 2 handles. But on top of that, if you’re riding solo, this means you can be sitting or lying down anywhere on the tube because there are plenty of handles for you to grab onto.

Cost and Value

It makes sense to end this list with another cheap one, and sure enough, while it isn’t the cheapest on this list, this tube is still far more affordable than the ones we started out on.
Pros

Solid and sturdy

6 handles

Very affordable

Cons

Not as many features as other entries

There are few joys as indescribably great as riding on a towable tube. There’s just such an utter thrill about it, knowing you’re going so fast on the water, yet riding on such a soft flotation device as a tube. It’s not something that easily lends itself to the careful description, it can only be experienced. Are there more fun activities to do on the water? Depending on your personal preference, the answer may vary. But none are quite like a towable tube ride, and that has to count for something.

Towable tubes are one of the most simplistic activities you can do when at the beach. Simply strap one of these bad boys to a jet ski or boat and let loose. However, that just means that anyone can experience it. It doesn’t require the finesse and training that sports like surfing or water skiing do, so quite literally anyone, from kids to adults, can have fun with a towable tube. And we can safely say that every single one of the entries on this list will suit your needs nicely. Whether you want to play it financially safe, or if you have the money to let loose with only the best, we guarantee that there is a towable tube just for you.

Criteria Used in Choosing the Best Towable Tubes

While you can attach just any old tube to a cable, then attach that cable to a boat and call it a towable tube, why would you want to? When you’re going out on the water, wouldn’t you only want the best? We sure would, which is why we assembled a killer list of criteria pertaining to what it took to get on this list and then deciding how far up the list that entry would go. With that said, in no particular order, here is that list now.

Ride smoothness

Though the design of the tube is going to get its own segment, later on, this is one of the goals that said the design is trying to reach: a smooth, clean ride across the water. A lot of things play into this, not the least of which is the tube’s ability to move the water in front of it out of its way. This is why the V shape of the Airhead Turbo Blast was such a stroke of genius since it not only afforded the two passengers enough room for both of them, but it also helped clear the water in front of it out of the way, so it had less resistance. The smoothness of the ride is one of the most vital cornerstones of an enjoyable towable ride since it determines how smoothly you feel the ride itself as it bounds across the water.

Tube size

We set a hard rule for ourselves when evaluating by this criterion: each one of these tubes needs to be at least comfortable for one person, and semi-comfortable for two, in order to even be considered. Fortunately, this wasn’t much of a problem, since most of the entries that we screened passed with flying colors. Or at least they did for the first portion of this test, the second half was a bit trickier. Most tubes are meant for one, maybe two people, if the riders are children. Very rarely will you get a tube that will be big enough to hold three or four people, though as we have shown, they do exist.

Grip strength

We’re not talking about your grip, we’re talking about the grip of the handles that are mounted on the tube. Both their grip on your hand and the traction they have, as well as the grip the seams have on the tube they’re attached to. The handle grip is one of the most vital parts of any towable tube, since most of the time, it’s the only thing standing between you and an unplanned swim. They keep you stationed firmly onto the tube, no matter how bumpy the ride may get. So it’s important that the grips be made of material that’s just as, if not sturdier than that which the tube itself is made out of.

Tow Quality

Out of all of the criteria, this is definitely one of the most important. This refers both to the tow point attached to the tube itself and to the tow cable being used. If the grip is what’s stopping you from taking an unplanned swim, then the tow cable and tow point are what stands between you and an unplanned flight, because you’d best believe that a tow cable or tow point snapping will have enough of a backlash to send you hurtling into the air. And that’s not even getting into if the cable breaks instead of the tow point, because a cable like that can do some serious damage flailing around at its speeds. So yeah, the quality of the tow cable and tow point is a very important factor to consider when ranking the best of the best towable tubes.

Tube durability/design

The design and durability of a towable tube is probably the most important factor to consider about one. For one, the design of a towable tube decides the difference between the tube breaking against the water or not, and the durability ensures that breaking is as hard as it can possibly make it. Most of the time, a tube will stay afloat because of two things: what it’s made of, and what safety net it has in place in case what it’s made of isn’t good enough.

This is where the idea of a bladder comes in. The bladder of a towable tube is an extra, interior pocket of air, whose purpose is to keep the tube somewhat afloat even after bursting. It isn’t a perfect system, which is why most tubes worth any money usually have more than one bladder. But it works fine enough for what it’s trying to do.

Price

You wouldn’t think these things would be particularly expensive, but you would definitely be wrong on that one. As we’ve shown throughout the list, towable tubes are some of the most expensive water toys you can buy, aside from buying a professional grade surfboard, and even then, at least one of these entries is more expensive than a few surfboards we’ve found out there. The thing about that is that towable tubes need to be made of the highest quality materials that their manufacturers can get their hands on. Because of anything less, at the speeds that a towable tube is going? That thing is going to break, sending you tumbling into the water at high speeds. So they need to fork over the extra cash needed for stronger PVC and nylon, which of course, ratchets up the retail value.

With that in mind, the best evaluation we could think of was what these tubes were doing to counter the price. What clever implementation did they think of to make their product worth the money they were asking for? This question made things a lot easier to cull what ultimately didn’t end up on this list.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

In our final segment for this article, we will go over the various commonly asked questions and sounded concerns about towable tubes. There aren’t that many, granted, but those that are there are important. With that said, let’s get into them.

Q: What is the point behind giving knuckle guards to the handles?

A: Here’s the thing, and this is especially true if you’re new at towable tubing. You’re going to be gripping very tightly onto the handle, purely by instinct. You’re going to be moving very fast, and it’s going to feel sometimes like the tube is about to flip over any second. However, on their own, tube handles can be tiring, and can even start to hurt to hold onto after a long enough time (it won’t be anywhere close to immediate, but it will happen). Knuckle guards prevent that from happening by keeping your hands guarded from all around them that could otherwise wear them down.

Q: Why do tubes need that extra padding for my body? Isn’t that the job of the air inside the tube?

A: The air inside the tube just needs to make sure that the tube is rideable at all, but the air is a tricky substance. It’s about as far away from solid as it gets, so any kind of resistance, and it’s going to run the other way and escape to where it can if it can. So, even when it’s pressurized and trapped inside a PVC and nylon tube, any kind of physical force strong enough to dent that tube is going to chase away any air. Like, for instance, impacting the water at incredibly high speeds. When that happens, especially if you’re lying prone on top of the tube, you may just feel like you belly-flopped the water after jumping out of a car. That extra padding absorbs any impacts that make it through the initial layer of air and PVC. They then absorb most of that impact, keeping it from hurting you, or at least from throwing you off of the tube from the impact. It isn’t so much padding as it is shock absorption.

Q: Are towable tubes really all that worth it? What can they offer that surfboards can’t?

A: Simple, accessibility. Do you see just any old schmuck on a surfboard? No, because any old schmuck hasn’t undergone the years of training, honing their body and craft that it takes to be able to effectively ride a surfboard. Sure, it can be self-taught with enough determination, but it will still take you a very long time to figure it out. Meanwhile, a towable tube can pretty much be used by anyone and enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age. So, while it doesn’t offer quite the same thrill that surfboards do, they offer their own kind of thrill to everyone.

Sources

  1. Wikipedia, Tubing
  2. GloboSurfer, 10 Best Towable Tubes
  3. HighGround Sports, Best Towable Tubes
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