towable-tubes-kids

21 Best Towable Tubes for Kids

This is what boating is all about… flipping people around on tubes at break-neck speed until they can’t stand the fear any longer and are launched off into the cold lake ūüôā

Kids love few things more than getting flipped around the lake on a tube, but having the wrong tube can be a very negative experience for kids. ¬†I first started my kids out on a traditional donut-shaped tube that required them to lie down on their stomachs and hold on the ropes. ¬†That made the tube ride much scarier for them than it needed to be, and I’ve since learned that there are much better ways.

Older or more adventurous kids, however, prefer a towable that will give them a wild ride with more air, so they need a different tube.

I’ll share with you my favorite towable tubes, but first I want to share a few tips on choosing the right towable…

  • If your kids are nervous about tubing at all, choose a tube where they can sit down on their bums rather than lying down
  • Nervous kids will also do better on a tube that has two people on it so they can go with a sibling or friend
  • If you plan to go fast and whip the boat around for more adventurous kids, please consider the dangers of multi-rider tubes. ¬†The risk is always increased when there is the possibility of heads smacking into each other.
  • Get a tube with a good quick release. ¬†It’s no fun to have extra work when you’re trying to enjoy the day out on the boat.
  • You’ll end up spending¬†much more on your tubes over the years if you don’t have a high quality, high capacity pump! ¬†A regular air mattress pump will¬†not work! ¬†If the tube is under inflated at all, it will wear out much faster. ¬†This is the pump I recommend.
  • Even if your own kids are very confident in a tube, keep in mind that they will bring their friends and cousins who may be riding for the first time. ¬†Don’t get an adventurous tube and expect it to work for everyone.
  • Don’t think you’ll buy one towable to use for every situation. ¬†It’s nice to have 2 or 3 towables in the garage so you can change things up to make it more fun for the kids, or to use a different towable if you’ll be bringing newer riders out with you.
  • If your pontoon boat has issues getting up to speed¬†when full of people and towing a tube, then I highly recommend buying a booster ball. ¬†I was skeptical before I bought mine¬†if it would make much of a difference, but it was a HUGE improvement. ¬†The booster ball just gets the rope out of the water, and it was excellent for getting the rider outside the wake and going much quicker. ¬†So if you have a slower boat but want to use it for towing tubes as well, it’s a great buy. ¬†You can get one here.

I’ve broken down 15 of the most popular tubes available by my rating and which group of kids (little kids, intermediate, or more adventurous kids) they are best for…

5 Best Towable Tubes for Younger or More Timid Kids

Preview
Sportsstuff Chariot Warbird 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Sportsstuff Big Mable| 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Airhead Mach 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Airhead Hot Dog | 1-3 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
WOW World of Watersports Bingo Inflatable Towable Tube, Secure Cockpit Seating...
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Sportsstuff Chariot Warbird 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Sportsstuff Big Mable| 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Airhead Mach 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Airhead Hot Dog | 1-3 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
WOW World of Watersports Bingo Inflatable Towable Tube, Secure Cockpit Seating...
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Sportsstuff Chariot Warbird 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Sportsstuff Chariot Warbird 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Sportsstuff Big Mable| 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Sportsstuff Big Mable| 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Airhead Mach 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Airhead Mach 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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1-2
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Airhead Hot Dog | 1-3 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Airhead Hot Dog | 1-3 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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1-3
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WOW World of Watersports Bingo Inflatable Towable Tube, Secure Cockpit Seating...
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WOW World of Watersports Bingo Inflatable Towable Tube, Secure Cockpit Seating...
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# of Riders
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For the younger kids, I recommend the cockpit style tubes, or the sit-up tubes as they give the kids a feeling of being more secure.  It also means you can increase the boat speed a bit more to get them used to going faster with less danger of the kids falling off.  I would never recommend a one-person tube for the younger kids.  They always seem to prefer going with a sibling, cousin, or friend.

boating-tube#1 Sportsstuff Chariot Warbird 2-Person

This is my favorite towable for the younger kids because it’s extremely stable with the wide wings, it has a high back so the kids stand very little chance of flying off, there are good convenient grips, and it fits two kids which is essential for the newer riders. ¬†All of the tubes on this list are good quality tubes, but I think for this category, this is by far the best tube out there, and the reviews from other boaters back that up as well.

I also really like that this tube can be towed forwards or backwards. ¬†Sometimes the feeling of kids riding backwards can actually make them feel more comfortable by having the large “wall” of a back seat between them and the water in front of them.

This is the very best tube you can buy if you’ll have any newer or intermediate riders on the boat. ¬†It’s an excellent design and will likely last for many years. ¬†It isn’t cheap, but it’s the best out there. ¬†You can check the current price of this tube on its Amazon.com listing.

#2 Sportsstuff Big Mable 2-Person Towable

This towable is very similar to my #1 recommendation but it takes off the wide wings so it’s very slightly less stable if you’ll be taking tight corners. ¬†But it brings down the price by $100 and is still a very well-made, durable tube that will last for years.

#3 Airhead Mach 2 Towable

I like this towable if you’re a bit more budget-conscious and want a good, basic tube for beginner or even intermediate riders. ¬†Airhead has done a lot of good in the industry by offering lower cost, but still quite well made products. ¬†I’ve had good luck with them and have owned a couple of their tubes.

While I really do prefer the Sportsstuff tube ranked at #1, it’s a lot more expensive than this tube, so¬†this is definitely the most popular choice.

hot-dog-tube-for-kids

Another benefit of this tube? YOU RIDE ON A HOT DOG! A HOT DOG! Sooooo much better than a hamburger ūüôā

#4 The Old Reliable Hot Dog

The hot dog has been a very popular towable for a lot of years because it allows a lot of riders to enjoy the tow.  They are also good for pontoon boats with lower powered engines because their streamlined design makes it easy to get up to speed even with 4 riders on the tube.

The only issue with this style of towable is that you have to exercise extra caution not to go too wild as you drive. ¬†Remember that there is nothing keeping the riders in place and they are tightly packed, so even if the kids don’t mind getting flipped off the tube and into the water, heads can easily hit one another and cause very serious injuries.

The other good thing about the hot dog style tube is that it is quite inexpensive compared to some of the other tubes on the list for kids.  The tubes for younger kids are often more expensive because they are much larger and wider to give more stability and to allow for multiple riders.

#5 World of Watersports Bingo 1-2 Person Tube

This is an interesting tube design, but I haven’t yet tested this myself. ¬†I think it has promise for kids because it can be ridden backwards, which may make the kids feel more at ease.

 

5 Best Towable Tubes for Intermediate Kids

Preview
Sportsstuff Chariot Warbird 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Sportsstuff Big Mable| 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Airhead Mach 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Airhead Hot Dog | 1-3 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
WOW World of Watersports Bingo Inflatable Towable Tube, Secure Cockpit Seating...
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Sportsstuff Chariot Warbird 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Sportsstuff Big Mable| 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Airhead Mach 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Airhead Hot Dog | 1-3 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
WOW World of Watersports Bingo Inflatable Towable Tube, Secure Cockpit Seating...
Prime
Front Tow
Rear Tow
# of Riders
1-2
1-2
1-2
1-3
1-2
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Sportsstuff Chariot Warbird 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Sportsstuff Chariot Warbird 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Front Tow
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# of Riders
1-2
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Sportsstuff Big Mable| 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Sportsstuff Big Mable| 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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# of Riders
1-2
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Airhead Mach 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Airhead Mach 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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# of Riders
1-2
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Airhead Hot Dog | 1-3 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Airhead Hot Dog | 1-3 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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# of Riders
1-3
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Preview
WOW World of Watersports Bingo Inflatable Towable Tube, Secure Cockpit Seating...
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WOW World of Watersports Bingo Inflatable Towable Tube, Secure Cockpit Seating...
Prime
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# of Riders
1-2
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mach2

Airhead Mach 2 Towable Tube for Boating

#1 Airhead Mach 2 Towable

This is probably the most common tube out there right now. ¬†It fits two riders and will go quickly behind a pontoon boat because of its small/medium footprint, but it’s not an adventure tube either. ¬†The cockpit style makes kids steady in the tube and allows them to sit up to give them more confidence. ¬†This tube is on both the beginner and intermediate section for a reason–it’s a very good all-around tube.

The other thing to like about this tube is the price. ¬†It’s much less expensive than a lot of the other tubes on this list and is still a high quality tube that will last. ¬†Get the Mach 2 Towable on Amazon.

#2 Sportsstuff Frequent Flyer Towable

It’s a tough call between #2 and #3 on this list if you’re looking for a traditional tube style that can handle 2-3 riders and will last a long time, but the Sportsstuff brand always gets very very high reviews from actual users, so I’m bumping it up just slightly above the Airhead.

Also, I like the aluminum quick connect on this rather than the heavy duty plastic on the Airhead. ¬†I’ve personally never had any issues on my Airhead tube with the plastic showing even the slightest sign of bending or breaking, but having the aluminum is an added benefit.

#3 Airhead G-Force 2-3 Person Tube

If you are looking for a more traditional tube style for flinging your kids and their friends around the lake, look no further than the G-Force. ¬†It’s almost a perfectly predictable round tube, but has a slightly longer shape on the edges to give it a bit more stability for holding multiple riders without dipping down in the front.

airhead-slash-2

Airhead Slash II

#4 Airhead Slash 2 Towable

This is a really well made tube with neoprene knuckle guards (nice to have for intermediate and adventurous tubes where you’ll be going faster), and really well-constructed outer layer.

The innovative design is excellent for pontoon boaters who are in boats that are generally slower to maneuver and get up to speed.  This longer footprint is much more hydrodynamic than traditional donut-shaped tubes.  Excellent choice.

#5 The Old Reliable Hot Dog

The hot dog has been a very popular towable for a lot of years because it allows a lot of riders to enjoy the tow.  They are also good for pontoon boats with lower powered engines because their streamlined design makes it easy to get up to speed even with 4 riders on the tube.

The only issue with this style of towable is that you have to exercise extra caution not to go too wild as you drive. ¬†Remember that there is nothing keeping the riders in place and they are tightly packed, so even if the kids don’t mind getting flipped off the tube and into the water, heads can easily hit one another and cause very serious injuries.

The other good thing about the hot dog style tube is that it is quite inexpensive compared to some of the other tubes on the list for kids.  The tubes for younger kids are often more expensive because they are much larger and wider to give more stability and to allow for multiple riders.

 

5 Towables for Older, Adventurous Kids

Preview
Sportsstuff Chariot Warbird 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Sportsstuff Big Mable| 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Airhead Mach 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Airhead Hot Dog | 1-3 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
WOW World of Watersports Bingo Inflatable Towable Tube, Secure Cockpit Seating...
Title
Sportsstuff Chariot Warbird 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Sportsstuff Big Mable| 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Airhead Mach 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Airhead Hot Dog | 1-3 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
WOW World of Watersports Bingo Inflatable Towable Tube, Secure Cockpit Seating...
Prime
Front Tow
Rear Tow
# of Riders
1-2
1-2
1-2
1-3
1-2
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Sportsstuff Chariot Warbird 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Sportsstuff Chariot Warbird 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Front Tow
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# of Riders
1-2
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Preview
Sportsstuff Big Mable| 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Sportsstuff Big Mable| 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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# of Riders
1-2
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Preview
Airhead Mach 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Airhead Mach 2 | 1-2 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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# of Riders
1-2
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Preview
Airhead Hot Dog | 1-3 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
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Airhead Hot Dog | 1-3 Rider Towable Tube for Boating
Prime
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Rear Tow
# of Riders
1-3
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Preview
WOW World of Watersports Bingo Inflatable Towable Tube, Secure Cockpit Seating...
Title
WOW World of Watersports Bingo Inflatable Towable Tube, Secure Cockpit Seating...
Prime
Front Tow
Rear Tow
# of Riders
1-2
Check Price

For older and more adventurous riders, I only recommend one or maybe two person tubes. ¬†Why? ¬†Because pontoon boats aren’t known for speed and agility, so using a tube that is small will give it more fling in the turns and more speed by reducing drag. ¬†If you want something adventurous but which handles at least three riders, look toward the intermediate tube list above.

obrien-super-screamer

Obrien Super Screamer Tube

#1 Obrien Super Screamer

This tube is really really well built. ¬†The first thing you’ll notice is the large patches of neoprene on the top to keep riders from getting rubbed on their forearms after a long day of riding.

The super adventurous can’t-go-fast-enough kids may want to look at #2 for just how fast and slim it is, but this Obrien is a little bit better constructed and is thicker so it will easily handle 1-2 adults or kids, which makes it more versatile. ¬†Obviously you don’t want to have to bring 2 or 3 tubes to the lake each time, and this one will prevent that problem.

#2 Airhead Super Slice (1-2 Person)

This tube is built for pure, unadulterated SPEED! ¬†It’s very low profile and is shaped from very thin in the front to fatter in the back. ¬†The slim¬†design makes you feel every bump in the water.

This is not a great tube for beginner riders because leaning too far forward will absolutely sink the front down.  This tube forces the rider to slide back a bit for the ultimate ride.

#2 Sportsstuff Frequent Flyer Towable

This is a much larger tube than #1 and #2 but I can still say this is a good adventure tube if you’re sure you’d like the ability to hold 3 riders sometimes.

Also, I like the aluminum quick connect on this rather than the heavy duty plastic on the Airhead. ¬†I’ve personally never had any issues on my Airhead tube with the plastic showing even the slightest sign of bending or breaking, but having the aluminum is an added benefit.

#4 Airhead Slash 2 Towable

This is a really well made tube with neoprene knuckle guards (nice to have for intermediate and adventurous tubes where you’ll be going faster), and really well-constructed outer layer.

The innovative design is excellent for pontoon boaters who are in boats that are generally slower to maneuver and get up to speed.  This longer footprint is much more hydrodynamic than traditional donut-shaped tubes.  But this is a bit larger of a tube than some of the others on the adventurous list, so be aware that it will have a slight reduction in top-end speed.

#5  Airhead Blast Tube

For the very budget-conscious boater (wait, does that actually exist? ¬†Have you seen the price of boats these days!??!), either way, I recommend the Airhead Blast. ¬†It’s a very traditional donut style tube with durable coverings on it.

This tube has sold very well for a few years because of its aggressive price and decent quality.

 

Comments

  1. We got the Airhead Blast towable for our outings on the lake this summer. So far it has been a real blast, been hot on lake of the ozarks and our two boys just love the water!

  2. Thanks for the info. We bought the Sportsstuff chariot warbird based on your recommendation. We have 4 young children, and needed something super stable. We are going to try it out this weekend. We also bought the air pump you recommended. Works great!
    Thanks Again:)

  3. Hello,

    Thanks for the great review. We don’t have a pontoon but we have a 16 foot runabout boat and we just purchased a new 30HP Evinrude ETEC engine. We have two small daughters aged 5 and 8 who are dedinitely in the beginner category. After reading this I think the Sportstuff Chadiot Warbird 2 would be ideal. Do you think the 30HP will pull such a large tube (we don’t need to go too fast)? Do you think that the Airhead Slash 2 might be a better choice because it’s more hydrodynamic?

    Thanks again

  4. Hi Jim, thank you so much for this great information. We have one little girl and we are having the worst time getting the towables to stay afloat! The two different ones we have bought submarine when we pull her. Are we going to slow? Are we not inflating the floats correctly? Is a 39 lb six year old just too small too weigh the back down and keep the nose up? We are absolutely baffled. Any advice would be much appreciated! Thank you!

  5. You may not be blowing it up enough. Put someone with her.

  6. Make sure the inflatable is full. Start out fast then slow down some when tube planes. Don’t kill it or you’re back under. You can’t start out slow on a tube. If you have a reasonably sized female (Max 130 lbs) or bigger kid start out towing him/her until you get the hang of start up speed and easing down.

  7. You’re fine with the Warbird. Just make sure not to be too timid on the start.

  8. My tube used to sink also, finally figured out the tube line is too long. Tie it closer to the boat so the tube gets more lift. Never went back under since then.

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