Choosing and Using a Boat Towable Tube
Today's' boat towable tubes are more sophisticated, safer and more fun, than the old round tubes that we dragged around the lake in the past. There are a wide variety to choose from and not all towable tubes are created equal.
Younger riders like the enclosed feeling and safety of being in a sit-in style tube. With a wide body and hammock style seating, these tubes are virtually untippable, comfortable to use, safe and a lot of fun.
Teenagers and older riders like the deck style water towables, the bigger the better. The thrill level is higher, there is more jostling and fighting for position and you can create the wild ride that teens and other thrill seekers are looking for.
In general, the tube is full when it is very firm. Covered tubes should be wrinkle free. An adult should be able to stand on the tube and only sink a couple of inches. Under-inflation causes the tow tube to sit low in the water and is the usual cause of damage to the tube. Additional stress is applied to the tube, cover, rope and boat by being dragged through the water instead of pulled across it. This stress causes the air in tubes to be displaced and the tube may rupture. This same stress causes nylon covers to tear and ropes to stretch. The boat cannot plane out and extra gas is consumed.
Tubes do not require high pressure. Most towable tubes can be inflated using one good electric pump or a combination of an electric pump and hand pump. Some of the newer inflators have been designed specifically to inflate beds or tubes, but will still not fully inflate some of the bigger tubes now on the market. The inflator will do most of the hard work but a hand pump is needed to top off the tube and achieve a proper inflation level. Other 120 volt options are shop vacuums with a blower option and leaf blowers, which put out large volumes of air.
Do not scrimp on a tow rope. That old piece of frayed nylon rope you have been saving is not the right idea. There is a lot of force required to pull around a water towable and, if the rope breaks, because of the stretch in the rope, it will snap in both directions. Serious injury can occur. Choose a heavy tow rope specifically designed for water towables. It should be made of braided polypropylene and rated for the number of riders on your tube. Be sure it is free of knots and frays.
A good water towable is not cheap so you are best to ensure that it stays in good shape. If you leave a full tube sitting in the sun for any length of time, it will expand. Either store it in the shade, or let some air out. Don't let it sit on the beach, dock, or boat full of air. If it is stored out of the sun in a cool place, you may need to add air. Check and adjust inflation levels each time you use your tube.
Coil your rope up after use, let it dry out and store it in a dry place. Discard frayed or knotted ropes.
You'll have more fun, and your water toys will last longer if you take a little time after each trip around the lake.