How Fast Is Too Fast for Towable Tubing?

If you have never gone tubing before, you are missing out on one of the best boating activities there is. It is fun for the whole family, provided you don’t have an uncle whose mission is to make you fall off the tube. It’s also fun for everyone else on the boat, and it is a great way to spend time with family and friends. Before you head out to the lake, let’s look at the best boats for water sports and understand what speeds are too fast for tubing.

Water tubing basics

A woman on a tube being pulled across a lake by a speedboat
Water Tubing | GHI/Education Images/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Water tubing, also called inner tubing, is being pulled behind a boat on a tube. It is mostly done on lakes or rivers, or other large bodies of water, though you probably won’t see people tubing in the ocean. There are a few different kinds of tubes you can use. Some are better for beginners, and some are great if you are trying to do fancy tricks. Different options meet different needs.

A single-person tube is one of the best choices if you want to try some tricks, and as the name implies, only one rider fits. A double-rider or multi-rider tube fits more people, which is great for younger or first-time riders, but they are not as fast or agile as other options. A banana tube, which, yep, looks like a banana, fits multiple riders, and you straddle it as opposed to sitting or lying down. It is definitely not the one you want if you are trying to go fast. If you are looking for a high-speed option, your best bet is a deck tube, which is flat and skips across the water much more easily. 

Super fast may seem fun, but it isn’t safe

Speed is relative. Einstein taught us that. Speeds considered safe on the freeway are indeed very different from speeds that are safe on the water. According to Blain’s Farm and Fleet, the recommended speed for tubing is between 20 and 25 mph. In addition to safety reasons, pulling a rider too fast and constantly knocking them into the water often makes them not want to do it again. Furthermore, higher speeds can cause more injuries, particularly when combined with sharp turns and whipping across the boat’s wake. 

If you are going too fast and your rider falls off, they can be injured. Injuries can come from the impact of falling off and being vulnerable in the water while waiting for you to come back around. Like cars, boats don’t stop on a dime, and if you are in a crowded lake, there is always a risk that another boat will not see them. That is also why it is super important to have a spotter who watches the rider and throws up an orange safety flag if they fall off. You can’t safely drive a boat and watch the tube at the same time.

Best boats for tubing

Some boats are better than others for tubing. For example, a sailboat is not the boat you want. A ski boat is usually the go-to choice for water sports such as tubing, but it is not the only choice. Even though originally designed for fishing and laid-back cruising, Pontoon boats are now being designed to go faster, and with the right pick, they can be just as fast and fun as a ski boat. Bowriders and deck boats are also good choices for tubing and other water sports.

Heading out in a boat with family and friends and going tubing can be a ton of fun. However, you want to be safe when you do it. Superfast does not equal super fun on the water, and always remember to wear a life jacket. 

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