What is Tubing and What do I Need for My Tubing Adventure?

Enjoy the water in a safe and easy way by going water tubing

As devoted as I am to different water sports, I am also always on the lookout to bring you new experiences and interesting water activities and gear you can try out. Because although it’s good to perfect one thing, you know what they say:

“Adventure may be dangerous, but monotony will kill you.”

So, today I am not bringing you anything super dangerous but a new way to break the monotony of just surfing or paddling or kayaking. I bring you Tubing and everything you need to know about it.

From basics to gear and river tubing near me, whatever you wanted to know, you can find all about it here.


The Ultimate Guide to Tubing

We don’t know who invented tubing, but I bet it was something done accidentally, and since then, it’s most people’s favorite summer pastime.

With water tubing, you get a true relaxation on the water, and you’re able to kick back with a cool drink and enjoy the warming sun rays. If you have been wondering about water tubing near me, with this being such a wide-spread activity, you surely have a place to float not too far from your home.

But even though it may sound like a complete relaxation activity where you just come and float on the water, you still need to prepare and equip yourself for your own summer tubing adventure. For this, I have made a thorough list and broke down everything you need to know about tubing.

In this article, you will read about the desired water conditions, needed gear, how to prepare yourself, what to expect, and, most importantly, how to stay safe at all times.

So, ready to start your river tubing adventure? I got your covered!


The ways to Tube

Tubing has two different ways in which can be done:

  • Towed Tubing
    This is when your tube is connected to motorized watercraft, sometimes also referred to as boating. You hold yourself firmly as you are being pulled behind a boat or any other personal watercraft. This adds some additional excitement to the regular tubing, so if you are in for some adventure, look for towed tubing instead. Wondering about tow tubing near me? This will most likely be found in larger waters where motorized watercraft are permitted.
  • Free-float Tubing
    On the other hand, if you want to spend the weekend relaxing with a glass of cold beverage looking at the clouds all day, you will probably want to go for the free-floating type of tubing. For this, you basically have the same gear, but your tube is not connected to anything, and it uses the river current to float.
    You will need to use your hands and feet for steering, and you can stop and take a break anywhere in the water to swim or sunbathe on the riverbank.

Speaking of adventures, here’s another thing I bet you haven’t tried that is easily the most exciting variation of surfing: Kneeboarding! Try out a kneeboard here now!

The basics to tubing

River tubing has some details and nuances to know before you go, and I have listed all important here so that you have the most enjoyable time possible.

Renting or Buying Tubes

If you are new to river tubing or any tubing for that matter, and this will be your first time trying, surely you aren’t ready to purchase anything yet. Always try before you buy, right?

This is why among the many experienced water sports fans, there will always be some that are willing to rent tubes and safety equipment to rookies looking to immerse their toes into the tubing.

The things you will need to rent are life jackets and helmets as well as the tube.

On the other hand, if you are bringing your own tube, make sure you have something light and easy to inflate the tube with, like a bike pump or air mattress pump, so that you avoid the hassle and save time. Also, don’t forget to bring your own life jacket.

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Point-To-Point Tubing Trips

When tow tubing, it is easy. You will most likely begin and end your trip near the same boat dock.

However, when you go on a free-floating adventure, whether with a rented tube or your own, you will need to know how to get back to the rental place or to your car once you have had all the tubing you wanted for the day.

Speaking from personal experience, I know how annoying and even tiring it can be to tube all day down the river and then to have to go up the stream or walk near the riverbank back to your car. To fix this, you can round up a group of friends and use multiple cars to shuttle your party back to the launching-off point after the trip.

If you are renting a tube, ask the rental outfitter if they offer shuttle services once you are done with the tubing.


Leave Nothing Behind

As a sportsperson and admirer of nature, you know it‘s imperative to leave no trace behind while you are on your tubing trip, right?

You should pack every item that you carry into the river and throw nothing away. No food scraps, plastic glasses, cans, or anything else. Pack everything and take it with you until you can recycle it right.

And, just a word of advice, avoid using glass for any packaging as it can break and injure you or someone that comes after you.

Also, all things you carry with you should be secured to you so that you don’t lose them to the water. This doesn’t only go to waste but for things like shoes too. For instance, flip-flops can be very inconvenient, and you can easily lose them to the water. So, you should go with river shoes or hiking sandals instead.


Check Water Quality

The water quality of the river you will be tubing in is as essential as the water temperature. So, make sure you check how good the water is because heavy summer rains can lower water quality and raise the presence of bacteria like E. coli, which can cause flu-like symptoms in people.

Check On Current Water Conditions

Similar to the quality of the water, it is important to know the conditions and type of water you will be in. So, before you go tubing, find out about the type of environment you will be in.

Does the river have major rapids downstream? Or maybe a recent rainstorm had increased the flow of the river. Even a slow-moving river can pose a threat to the unprepared, no matter how good of a swimmer you are.

This information can be obtained through the nearest ranger station or tubing outfitter.

Fancy a camping trip?

Here’s how to turn your tubing into a fun camping trip. I mean, if one day of tubing is super fun, indeed the whole weekend of it is much better, right?

Here are some things to take into consideration when tubing on your camping trip.THE PACKING
Firstly we will start with the basics of camping and then go into the things needed for tubing:

  • A tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Food
  • Insulated water bottle

Hydration is key when floating for hours on a sunny day. And we all know there’s nothing hydrating or refreshing about water that’s been boiling in a plastic bottle for hours. So, choose an insulated stainless steel bottle that will keep your water cold for hours.

Many usually come with handles so that you can attach it to your tube by a carabiner instead of carrying it with you close by.

More basics of camping:

  • Utensils
  • Cook Stove
  • Proper Clothes
    Don’t forget about sun-protective clothing with long sleeves that are both protecting and cooling you from the heat. Even though you will apply sunscreen, direct sunlight is still stronger than any SPF.
  • Toiletries
  • Lantern Or Headlamp

Additionally, when tubing, you will need:

  • The floating tubes
    Unless you are renting, you will need your own. And the best types of tubes are those with a mesh bottom (not those donut-like pool floats). This will make sitting inside them for hours more comfortable and will provide a catch-all for things you might have with you (like a water bottle or dry bag). Look for a tube with handles or other hardware for tying ropes onto, as well as tubes outfitted with a headrest for peak relaxation during lazy floats.
  • Lightweight pump to inflate the tubes
    Get one that plugs into a car to speed up the process of inflating your tubes without anyone passing out from blowing them up manually.
  • Ropes
  • Bathing suits
  • Beach towels
  • Sunscreen
    Reapply every 2 hours if you are under direct sunlight for a longer period.
  • Sunglasses
    If you are worried that you will lose your designer glasses on the bottom of the river, consider getting these floating sunglasses that are equally protective but won’t sink, and you can always get them if they fall out.
  • Water shoes
  • Clothesline to dry wet items
  • Dry bags to keep important items free of water while out on the river
  • Mesh bags to keep items secure in the tube
  • Water bottle
  • Small cooler to hold cold drinks and a bungee cord to keep it closed

Some people decide to take a step further and tube their way to the campsite, which is a way more fun alternative than riding in your car. But this option brings a new set of issues that might make it harder for you to float to the camping site.

Namely, evaluate all the things you’ll be carrying with you and ask yourself if it’s going to be really possible to bring all your camping gear like the cooler, tent, camp chairs, clothing, and sleeping bag onto your tube. Would you still enjoy your float?

If you are packing minimal, sure, but if you are carrying a lot of stuff, maybe it’s going to be better to arrive at your campsite on foot or by car instead. Then set your things there and then finally go tubing when everything is taken care of.

An additional tip before your tubing trip

While the things I listed above are all the important stuff really, there are other things too that might help a newbie when first starting out. Take notes because you never know when these might come handy.


Picking the right river

If you have never been out on a certain river before, what you have to inform yourself of first is the water level and flow rate. This determines whether you will be able to tube on that river or not.

For instance, if the flow rate is too low, you will probably end up walking instead of drifting and stepping on many rocks which will be super uncomfortable and painful even. But then again, if the flow rate is too high, the current will be flowing too fast. And you know that safety is my main concern, so that might not be safe for tubing.

Do an online research on the river you are planning to go to and search for flow rate guidelines.

Also you will need river access. You can obtain one via a tour company or public access point to launch your tube if going on your own.

Additional Rules That May Apply

Rivers and nature parks may have strict rules applied for your own safety and for nature conservation, so make sure you are aware of any on the place where you’ll be tubing.

Depending on the river conditions, life jackets may be required on the river.

Also, drinking may or may not be allowed or glass and Styrofoam cups may be prohibited.

All in all, it’s worth informing yourself for the most enjoyable trip.


Eat Well

The rule of not eating before taking a swim does not apply here, because guess what, you aren’t really swimming when tubing. Plus, all those hours on the sun requires lots of fuel because water tires you up.

Also, if you plan on staying the entire day, pack some snacks in a dry bag or cooler to have something on hand at all times. When it comes to drinks, this may not be as important, except for water.

So, remember: Open waters require you to have your full attention and wits with you, and your hunger at bay.

Leave Your Tech Behind

Dry bags and fanny packs make it super easy for you to store your valuable belongings away from water, but you know what’s even easier? Leaving your tech behind!

Sure, if you want to take photos, take it, but it is just not worth the risk. After all, you are in nature, and you should be enjoying yourself with your friends instead of posting Instagram stories every 18 minutes.

On the other hand, a waterproof camera may just be the thing, because let’s face it if it didn’t get posted on social media, it didn’t happen, right?

Also, if you are going for a day of tubing, surely you are taking all your car keys and everything with you, then just designate one person in your group to seal everything in a waterproof pack, and you are good to go.


Ropes can come in super handy if you want to stay tied together with your tubing crew. This can be for safety reasons of just out of fun if you are talking and sticking together, and you don’t want anyone drifting away faster than the rest.

With it, don’t forget scissors and carabiners in case you want to attach things to your tube – water bottles, hats, dry bags, and so on.

However, you also have to remember that by tying all floaters to one, you are stuck with the crew for the entirety of the trip. So, if someone decides to jump off for a swim, all tubes are stopping.

Extra Accessories

Other things to take with you to make the tubing a lot more exciting can be a water-resistant speaker that floats so that you don’t lose it or break it into the water. Make sure it is fully charged and that there are songs everyone there enjoys.

Also, take some water-friendly toys like foam footballs and flying discs to toss around while all floating leisurely close to each other. The little boy in me says to take some squirt guns to add some playful competition and to cool you off when the sun starts to really bake your skin.

All in all, these are some of the most important things to take when going tubing. Now that you know all the basics, how to start, and to find river tubing near me, just pick a weekend and gather your closest people.

Surely, you will be in on some real fun and relaxation.

Also, if you have any other questions regarding tubing or anything else water sports-related, I’m happy to help!

In the meantime, I’d love to connect with you on my Facebook, and Instagram accounts for more cool tips and recommendations on paddle boards and kayaks.

Other interesting water sports to check out

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Review written by: Tom

Hi! My name is Tom. During the year I try to be on a paddle board as much as possible. By reading this blog you'll stay updated on everything I test on the water :)