How do I choose tube or inflatable towables for my family?
Ask yourself whether the people you’re pulling want to lay on the tube or sit in or on the tube. If your answer is lay on, then a deck style or flat tube would be your best choice. They come in a variety of shapes and normally hold 1–4 riders. These designs are simple, they have fewer chambers to fill with air and are generally the most reliable. They are easier to get on to from the water, because their profile is lower. They’re also easy to tow and balance, because of their simple design and multiple handles.
If your riders like to sit in or on the tube, then a couch or cockpit style tube would suit you well. These designs will give the riders a more comfortable, relaxed ride. It will take the riders less effort to hold on. Several couch style tubes give you the option to tow in both directions, either sitting like on a couch or kneeling holding onto the back rest. Most of these are made for 2–4 riders.
Cockpit style tubes give the rider the ability to sit down in the tube. These work great for younger kids, especially if they’re new to the water or to the concept of being towed behind a boat. Parents can comfortably accompany their kids in the multiple rider versions of these.
Remember that tubing is all about the boat driver. The ride can be as aggressive or as tame as the driver wants it to be. The driver needs to be aware of the riders and other boats in the area at all times. Pay close attention to manufacturer’s operating instructions.
Should I buy a tube rope with the purchase of a tube or can I just use my old ski rope?
Tube ropes have two big benefits over ski ropes. The first is length. Almost all tube ropes are 60 feet in length versus 75 feet for a ski rope. The manufacturers of all the tubes that we carry recommend using a 60 foot tube rope to tow their products. They are all in agreement that 60 feet gives the driver more control over the tube behind the boat. The second advantage is strength. This is especially important when towing tubes that can carry multiple riders. Tube ropes are usually rated 2K,4K, or 6K, meaning 2000, 4000, or 6000 pound stress tested. 2K ropes are rated for tubes that can carry up to 2 people. 4K ropes are rated for tubes that can carry up to four people and 6K ropes are rated for 4 to 6 riders.
Take away this – get a rope that is rated for the tube that you have. Most people dedicate a specific rope to a tube. That way you don’t have to mess with the ski handle from your ski rope. Make it easier on yourself and keep it safe. A tube rope is cheaper than a hospital bill.