If it’s fun on the water you want, then a towable tube is the most excitement you can get. It’s something everyone in the family can enjoy as long as they don’t mind being flipped around at high speeds!
My kids love being pulled on a tube, and in the past, I used a simple inner tube. It didn’t last long and soon deflated after a few hours.
Since then I’ve invested in around 3 towable tubes for boating which suit adults and children and have now settled on what I believe is the best towable tube on the market today. It’s called the SportStuff Super Mable. Go check the latest Amazon prices.
What’s the Best Boat Tube for You?
However, that’s not to say it will suit you and your own personal requirements.
I’ve spoken to deck and pontoon boat owners recently in order to get feedback from them on what they believe to be the best water tube. Having seen them in action on our local lakes I tend to agree and have been lucky enough to try many of them out – some of which you can see below with these mini reviews.
You honestly don’t need any athletic ability at all. As long as you can hang on tight and are wearing a safety vest, tube towing is something that all ages can enjoy.
The towable tube reviews below feature only the very best tubes for boating. All of them have strong nylon covers and come with hardy PVC bladders to they won’t degrade, deflate or become unsafe on the water.
There are also some fantastic selections for kids too, as in my experience it’s better to use different shaped tubes where they don’t have to lie down. You can explore all of the reviews below, so I hope it helps you in picking out the perfect water tube this year!
Best Towable Tubes for Adults & Bigger Kids
#1: SportsStuff Super Mable
MY TOP BEST RECOMMENDATION
When you look at the Super Mable it has a very sporty look and feel to it. It’s almost like the designer took a little bit of inspiration from sports cars with the colors and features. That’s what I think anyway!
It also comes with both rear and front tow hooks, so you have option to pull it facing towards you boat or away from your boat.
In my experience, younger kids like be pulled with their back to the boat as they don’t find it as scary or frightening.
My cousin has this exact same towable, and I’ve used it with him and our children countless times over the last couple of summers.
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
SportStuff Super Mable Reviews
I also have a few friends who own this, and here’s a brief selection of their comments back to me on Facebook when I mentioned I was putting this guide to the best boat towables together.
“The Super Mable is a beast and makes for one heck of a ride when you turn it around and ride it on your knees! It’s probably the best accessory I’ve ever bought for my pontoon boat so go buy one and see how much fun you have!”
“I recommend the Super Mable. It’s a 3-person tube and ours has lasted for several years and no problems so far. It’s plenty big enough for adults and kids and gives a good ride.”
“It’s a big tube, make no mistake, so make sure that you have the room. But having used other tubes, Super Mable is the best! My kids have never fallen off even when I’ve tried flipping it to make it more fun and challenging!”
“We own a Super Mable, but it is very big, but you get a lot of stability with that size and you won’t easily flip her. We call ours the Stable Mable!”
“My folks own a Super Mable and we can fit our three kids side by side. No head knocking has ever happened and it’s a smoother ride than you would expect. The grown-ups love it, and it’s also perfect for the younger ones.”
With multiple riding positions, i.e. you can sit on your butt, on your knees, or lie down, it’s extremely versatile and has heavy duty grab handles for added safety.
Be warned though, it is very BIG, and is the largest of the towables on my recommendations. If you want something smaller and less costly, continue on down to see further reviews and recommendations.
But to summarize, the Super Mable is the best towable tube for boating if you want speed, size, and fun. You can use it with adults and children.
For more options, carry on downwards, as the ones I will now recommend for kids below are also great for adults too.
I wanted to split my recommendations up here to make things easier for you as most of you will be looking for something for children of different ages and experience.
Best Towable Tubes for Kids
If your kids are like mine, they will love being pulled and flipped around on the lake. But the key here is their age.
I found that with my younger kids, they didn’t like the donut shaped models as this meant they had to lie down and hold on. That tended to scare them.
If you think your child might be scared of tubing, look for something that they can sit in rather than them having to lie down in a stretched-out position. You might also find that they prefer to ride in a two-person inner tube, so they will have some company on the ride.
But as my children have grown older, they have demanded more of a thrill ride, and so we’ve started to upgrade to towables that offer a bit more air.
However, in terms of safety, when pulling at high speeds you can have the risk of head clashes when bouncing on the water if it’s a two-person tube, so look for something that keeps all riders set apart from each other.
Best Boat Tubes for Younger or Scared Kids
The best tubes for boating with younger children will be ones that they can sit up in which will reduce the risk of them falling out. They will feel safer and be safer too.
If you buy one of these, you can secure them down into the seat and then increase the speed incrementally to the point your child is most comfortable at.
In my experience, younger children prefer to ride with a partner, so rather than pulling them along in a one-person tube, look for at least a two-person model. Kids love to ride with their friends or siblings and won’t panic as much – and are sure to have much more fun that way!
#2: SportsStuff Chariot Warbird 2 Person Towable Tube
BEST FOR QUALITY & SAFETY
For stability and safety, this is the number one choice for kids. It’s the exact same towable I pull from my Bennington pontoon boat every summer, and so far, it’s lasted me 3 years with zero issues.
Another key aspect to this towable tube is the front and rear tow points. That means you can pull it either backwards or forwards. With younger kids who haven’t been towed before, this is key as I find they aren’t as scared if getting pulled backwards instead of front-facing into the waves.
And when not being pulled, my kids love to jump off the boat onto it and play on it whilst we swim too. It’s heavy duty and built to last.
Ours has taken a pounding over the years and held up great. My tip is to pump it with lots of air. Even when you think it’s full give it some more.
Overall, it’s the best tube for kids that money can buy. It’s not the cheapest, but if safety is paramount (which of course it should be) then look no further.
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
#3: Airhead Mach 2 Towable
BEST FOR ON A BUDGET
If budget is a concern, then you can save money by choosing the Airhead Mach 2. One of my closest boating friends has this very same model, so I can give you some decent feedback on it based on seeing it in action.
As a brand Airhead has a great reputation in this industry for offering lower priced products, and I already own some of their other water sport accessories. In terms of quality, the SportsStuff product is better but costs more.
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
And here’s what my buddy who owns the Airhead Mach 2 towable had to say to me:
“I have had this about five years. The model I have was a different color before they changed to it. It is very stable for kids and if you do want to sling them off it is still possible for a wild ride. It has a back seat that the kids can prop up against and sunken seats with grab handles. I give it 4 from 5 stars.”
Best Boat Tubes for Intermediate Kids
If your kids want a little bit more speed and are used to be towed, one of the selections below could be ideal.
#4: SportsStuff Frequent Flyer Towable
BEST FOR VERSATILITY
This is a traditional design and lets your kids either sit at slower speeds, or lie down front facing once they want to take things to the next level.
This particular tube can take two to three riders at once, and like all the SportsStuff tubes, it’s going to last you a long time due to the excellent construction.
Design features include a quick connect aluminum tow point, which will be less prone to breaking than a plastic molded one.
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
Best Boat Tubes for Older or Adventurous Kids
I’ve found that older kids of around 8 years old and over don’t tend to like a seat with a back. They want speed and thrills, and as long as you stick between 18 and 23 miles per hour they should be safe enough providing you don’t rag the boat around the lake.
#5: O’Brien Super Screamer
BEST FOR QUALITY
The Super Screamer from O’Brien offers an insane amount of fun. Admittedly I have never used one but going off some comments from my pontoon boat friends, it’s a really solid choice.
In terms of construction, it’s very well designed and can be used by adults and kids alike. In all honesty, I think any group or experience can use this tube, as it all depends on how fast you want to take things.
But with this, you can take things fast if you like!
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
Here are is a comment I received on social media about this particular model.
“I have had a Super Screamer for 10 or 11 years now and my kids and now grandkids love it. It’s been a great purchase and no trouble. You get what you pay for in water toys so invest a little more and get one of these.”
And in terms of the quality, here’s another comment I received:
“We had a Super Screamer for five 5 years and never had a problem with the tube part, but the last summer the outer cover ripped due to so many life jacket belts rubbing it over the years. We decided to buy one again as these last longer than any other brand we have had.”
#6: AirHead Mega Slice
BEST FOR OUT AND OUT SPEED
According to Airhead, this is one of the top 4 best-selling towable tubes of all time. It’s easy to see why too as it’s totally engineered to provide speed over the water… slicing through the waves.
You will feel all the bumps and waves as you ride, but if the passengers want adventure and thrills, then look no further than this inner tube for your boat.
Last summer I managed to have a couple of rides on one of these when visiting the Lake of Ozarks on vacation. It was a brilliant white knuckle experience!
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
I also know a person in Michigan who owns this, and here’s what they had to say:
“We’d gone through another couple of tubes before we bought this one. They were not too bad, but this beats them all hands down. There’s room for 3 adults or 4 kids, and you get a lot of bounce in the ride. But it’s not that bouncy to cause neck pain. It’s a lot of fun and great value for money.”
As with all Airhead models, it’s very well constructed and should last the test of time providing you take proper care of it, and keep it inflated during use.
Best Tubes for Pontoon Boats
I’m a pontoon boat owner and when first starting out with tubing found that it was hard to get up to higher speeds. I soon rectified that by getting all passengers off my boat (apart from the spotter), which pulled the weight of the boat way down.
I also invested in something called a booster ball which attaches on the tube and helps get the tow rope out of the water when you first start pulling. You can read more about booster balls in the accessories section lower down this page.
Below are just a couple of suggestions I recommend as the best tubes for pontoon boats, but any of the tubes already listed in the kid’s section will also work just as well.
#7: Airhead Hot Dog Tube
BEST FOR FUN
This is very similar to those inflatable bananas that you get pulled around on vacation, but a little smaller, and ideal for being pulled by a pontoon boat.
The Hot Dog lets you seat up to 3 riders but do exercise some caution as it has no way in which to keep the passengers securely seated. If you take things too fast and quick turns you’re going to throw the passengers into the water.
The design also means that if you hit a wave the riders can get thrown around a lot, with the potential for clashing of heads always being a risk.
But putting that aside, it’s a great choice for pontoon boats because it’s very streamlined. That means even pontoons with low horse power engines should be able to pull this through the water with ease, even with 4 riders sitting on it.
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
#8: Airhead Slash 2 Towable
BEST FOR HIGHER PONTOON SPEEDS
This is great quality tube and is very aerodynamic, meaning you can get some good speeds going with this – which is not always possible on pontoon boats.
I’d always recommend that pontooners opt for aerodynamic tubes versus donut-shaped ones, as you can get up to speed quicker and will be pulling a lot easier without as much resistance.
Where to Buy: Amazon.com
Best Tubes for Deck Boats
Deck boats are very similar to pontoon boats, and as such my recommendations here would be exactly the same as the ones I’ve outlined above for pontoons.
If you are looking for the best kid-friendly towable tubes, scroll back up the page where I have 5 selections depending on how adventurous and old your children are.
Must Have Accessories for Towing Tubes
As well as the tube itself, there is also a range of accessories and extras you will need. These include but are not limited to:
Life Jackets and Life Vests
Don’t even think about taking people for a ride unless they are kitted out with life vests.
At the very least make sure any kid being pulled has a properly fitted jacket which has been measured up for them.
Fast Inflating Hand Pump
Many of the tube reviews and recommendations on this page will come as a bundle package with a pump included, but some won’t.
If you buy one without a pump, don’t just try and make do with an inflatable air bed mattress pump as they won’t inflate the tubes as well.
For best results and to keep your tube from getting damaged it needs to be fully inflated to capacity and the best way to do that is by using something like the Airhead pump on Amazon.
When towing tubes you should have the right flags to help indicate to other boaters that you are pulling inflatables.
I recommend using a skier down flag which your spotter can raise up should anyone come off the tube to help alert other boat owners.
It’s just a rectangular orange flag that you can put up on your boat to act as a warning.
Proper Tow Ropes
Not all tow ropes are made equal and you’re going to need something a little more robust than usual when pulling some of these inflatable boat tubes.
World of Watersports make a great tow rope that is designed to pull up to 4 riders, is 60 feet in length, and can handle up to 4,100 pounds of break strength.
If you own a pontoon boat which might not have a lot of power, a booster ball can really help with towing tubes. The one I own for my pontoon is this one on Amazon.
It makes a great difference and also makes the rope more noticeable for other boaters not paying attention on the lakes (we’ve all seen those captains).
Booster balls also help to reduce the stress on the line, tube and boat. It’s like a giant shock absorber but will also help get the rope out of the water so you can start pulling from the off.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Type of Pump Will You Need?
If you don’t inflate your towable tube properly it will be more susceptible to damage. It needs to be inflated as hard as it can go, and so cheap air mattress pumps simply won’t cut it.
I advise buying a high capacity specialist pump like the one recommended in the accessories listed above. This will mean your tubes last longer, and the kids and adults will get a far more enjoyable and buoyant ride.
Should You Invest in More Inflatable Tubes?
The best tubes for boating will come with a high price tag, but I recommend you don’t just buy one.
If you have kids, chances are they will want to invite their friends along for a ride one day, and those children might not have done inner tube pulling before.
Because of that I find it makes sense to have a faster, more thrill-ride type tube, and also something a bit more basic for the beginners.
How Can You Pull Faster?
I own a pontoon boat, and in the past, I had trouble getting up to high speeds when towing a tube with 2 to 4 passengers in it.
To get around that particular problem I purchased something called a booster ball which helps to get the rope up quicker and get the tubes outside the wake for a quicker and faster ride.
Another way you can get faster speeds is to get all of the passengers off your boat to reduce the weight down, leaving them at the side of the water.
However, you must have a safety spotter at the rear of your boat to keep an eye on the riders to make sure they are safe from danger, alerting the captain if necessary.
Is a Booster Ball Better for Pulling if You Don’t Have a Tow Bar?
Most definitely yes, otherwise the tube riders get spray in the face from the rope and it can be trickier to get the rope out of the water in the first place.
You will also find that by using a booster ball you will burst fewer tubes if you have opted to buy something very cheap from CostCo or Sams – those cheap tubes simply don’t last as long.
How Can You Stay Safe When Pulling Boat Tubes?
In terms of safety tips, I would recommend the following steps:
- Choose a tube that has good reviews
- Use a proper tow rope built for purpose
- Understand the power of your deck boat, pontoon, or boat
- Always ensure the tube is inflated properly
- Learn essential safety hand signals
- Have a spotter on the back of your boat
- Avoid lakes and waterways during peak traffic hours
- Have riders wearing properly fitted safety vests
- Be aware of waves and wakes
- Get riders out of the water with the engine off
For a more in-depth safety advice on pulling boat tubes, read this safety guide I wrote a few months ago based on my own pontoon boat experience.
How Can You Prolong the Life of a Towable Boat Tube?
These things don’t come cheap, so you should do you best to make sure that they last long, and don’t get damaged.
It can also be very dangerous to pull a tube that is damaged or worn. Here are some tips to taking care of yours.
- Don’t expose them to the sun when not being used, as this will expand the air inside which will then stretch the plastic seams.
- Make sure to fix any small holes or tears in the seams with a repair kit before they get too big or lead to a pop when on the water.
- Clean the tube with warm water and dish soap after use and then dry it out to avoid mildew and mold developing.
How Can You Pull Tubes Properly?
There are tons of tutorial videos on YouTube and manufacturer websites which show you how to pull and tow properly, and I’ve featured one of the best below.
This is where the tube dives under the water and you find it hard to pull it back up to get a smooth and fast ride.
Pulling isn’t that hard with a little practice, and here are my tips on how to get the best results:
- Check the inner tube is fully pumped up before you pull.
- Use a tow rope that is 40 feet in length at least.
- Hook the tow rope as high up as you can from the boat’s tow bar.
- Ask riders to lean back as this will get the tube on the plane quicker.
Is Your Tow Bar Safe for Tube Pulling?
This very much depends on the brand of the tow bar.
If you buy a new pontoon with the tow bar included, you might see in the instructions or safety labels where it specifically states it’s not for towing tubes.
That’s not always the case though, so it certainly pays to check first.
I’ve seen several different brands of tow bar, and many of the manufactures do not recommend pulling a tube with any of them.
The ones that tend to be ok are those which are bolted to the transom. You won’t have a problem with those as the amount of resistance a tube exhorts compared to a skier is very different.
Is it Safe to Tow a Tube Attached to the Eyelets on the Pontoons Themselves?
I’m just going to give you some personal experience here, which I know will differ from other opinions which tend to be split on this question.
With my Bennington I can tow with both eyes by using a rope with a small hook and float to keep it out of the prop or noodle on the rope.
I did this for a number of months successfully and the way I see it, they are used to lift the boat out the water so pulling a tube shouldn’t hurt.
Obviously, it is way better if you can raise up the point where you are towing from, as it can be hard to get the tube to make it on the plane when using this method.
Other boat owners disagree though and one guy said this to me a couple of months back:
“I am not sure this is a good idea. The chances are good that it will be fine, but if the pontoon tube hits the right wave or any resistance, then it will rip that aluminum tube open like a tin can.”
But then I did find someone who did agree with me who said this:
“I have used my pontoon tube hooks for years with no problems. I also got a booster ball and there is no more of the front of the tube digging in and eliminates the rope being sucked into the wake. It also eliminates water spray in the rider faces caused by the rope.”
Towing is fun.
But towing can also be dangerous, and most of the time that danger is due to how the boat’s captain behaves.
It’s so important to take things slowly at first, and not to turn into waves which could cause the riders to collide into each other – that’s a real quick way for head injuries to occur.
I’d also recommend that you think carefully about the type of tube you buy depending on how you think it will be used.
For younger kids, it’s important to choose one that keeps them well apart from each other if riding in tandem. By doing so you can reduce the chances of a head clash.