Doing river tubing and chilling out with your homies while sipping canned suds on a sunny day is nothing less than pure bliss. Being out on the water, drifting and wandering around soaking up the sun, get you the best out of the Friday afternoon.
What do you think would be a better expedition during the hot months of summer than floating down a river in a giant rubber tube?
But you know what? It is crucial to realize that picking up the wrong river float tube as your companion for basking in the sun would immediately make your desire short-lived.
Moreover, with a wide array of products self-proclaiming to be the best in the market, the task of getting your hands on the right product becomes more intimidating and overwhelming.
But the good news is, now we have got your back, as you have landed on this web page, maybe after lurking around here and there. We have gone the extra mile for you in researching and reviewing the best river floats that will fit the requirements of one and all.
Here in this article, we have got everything covered that will, for sure, enhance your knowledge on the subject and make you familiar with the essential buying criteria.
How to Choose the Best River Float Tube?
If you are making a purchase for a river float tube for the first time, below are the essential factors you should have a look at. However, it’s possible that you may not get all these features bundled in a floating tube, but at least you will have some ideas in your mind to distinguish between the best and worst.
The point that gets often overlooked and can fairly influence the buying decision is studying the water conditions if the river has protruding rocks in it, and of course, the swift rapids. So with the help of this checklist, you’ll be all set to procure the perfect river float tube.
Safety Rubber Valve Stem and Cap
Modern river floating tubes emphasize the safety aspects in comparison to the earlier models. It goes without saying, the foremost criterion should be to ensure the tubes have little chances of deflating.
Safety valve stems will ensure this never happens. Furthermore, the caps will safeguard the tube from the potential damages and minimize the chances of air leaks.
In our opinion, you should try opting for a river float having the inner tube built with a commercial rubber as it ensures the best safety and protection when you are floating on the river.
Assess the comfort factor
Once you have inflated the tube to its full capacity, expectedly, you may spend hours inside these floating tubes. Therefore if you aren’t feeling comfortable within it, your enjoyment will come to an undesirable halt.
The most important information you must verify whether the floats have provisions like cup holders, backrest, and inflatable coolers.
Then you can also find some inflatables that come with backpacks, carry bags, and so on, all aimed to make your ride comfortable.
Mesh and Canvas bottoms
Tubes with mesh bottoms are ideal for making you feel comfortable. The mesh designs are exceptional in handling weights and help to facilitate constant water flow, so your beverages will stay cold for longer hours.
Likewise, you can also opt for tubes with canvas bottoms; they are almost identically robust like the mesh counterparts. But, those who cannot go without a chilled beer will need to make additional arrangements to keep it fresh.
For example, the inclusion of inflatable coolers can take care of keeping the beer cool. The point to remember, unlike the mesh bottoms, canvas bottoms do not facilitate water flow.
Handles provide you with much-needed support and proper grip when you float on rough waters. Particularly, if the river has swift rapids, you need these handles to grab on.
In the later section, you will notice that some of the products are devoid of this utility. But there is no need to worry since there is a provision of purchasing covers that come with inbuilt handles.
The scorching summer sun will be relentless. Accordingly, you must make proper preparations not to get dehydrated. For this reason, some manufacturers have come up with floating tubes with cup holders that can help you in placing the insulated bottles to it.
If you plan going out in the river with a group of friends, pick up the tubes that come with connectors. As the very name suggests, these connectors can interconnect with all the tubes in the river to make sure the entire group remains in one place.
Another good reason to go for tubes that include this feature is for the sake of kids. It guarantees they are always under your watchful eyes and do not drift away out of your sight, which otherwise can increase your blood pressure.
11 Best River Floating Tubes
In the review that follows, we have covered the best products in the category by evaluating customer reviews and several aspects prevalent to the top river floats.
However, the buying decision could be highly subjective depending on an individual’s budget, requirement, and places they are going to make use of the floating tube. So are you ready to take the plunge?
#1 Intex River Run 1 Sport Lounge
This inflatable river float comes comprised of almost everything for making your river expedition memorable. Intex River Run 1 boasts of 53-inch diameter, and the out of the box design guarantees the best comfort, safety, and functionality.
With dual cupholders now, you can carry your drinks without having to worry about them falling in the river. Those who are overweight can also rely on this tube, as it can support up to 250lbs easily. If you plan to go for long river rides, the comfortable backrest sets it an ideal option to aid preventing the strain on the muscles.
The mesh seat ensures you stay cool inside the tube, as it’s designed to drain the accumulated water. And the sturdy handles will help you to tow the floater if you intend to do so. Furthermore, these handles can be beneficial when you encounter rapids.
Moreover, if you are planning to stay in the water for a long duration, you can carry a sealed lunch by using the interlocking link. Likewise, the same interlocking link can be convenient if you wish to connect with other inflatable tubes and have a gala time with your friend group.
The inclusion of two air chambers takes care of the safety aspects. The critical point, if one of these chambers suffers or gets abused with the river condition, the other chamber will let you reach the shore unharmed.
We recommend inflating the tube with a pump the night before you set out for the trip as it will ensure the tube is free from leaks.
The color of this floating tube is also a welcome relief. Unlike most of the tubes that sport a black color, it is available in blue, red, and pink.
- After inflating the tube, it will get bulky, and managing it could be a challenge.
- The maneuverability of the River Run 1 against windy conditions is not so easy.
- You must be careful when wading through the rocks, as these rocks can puncture the tube.
The Intex River Run 1 is inarguably the most comfortable river floating tubes you will find. It is loaded with tons of convenient features that make it the best choice for an individual or a group of floaters who can stay connected with the help of the interlocking link.
#2 CoolerZ Rapid Rider Inflatable Tube
CoolerZ Rapid Rider is an eye-catching yellow-colored tube that weighs around 5.1 pounds and has a 53-inch diameter. It’s full-fledged of all the essential features you would expect for a comfy river ride, while most of the features are drastically similar to the Intex River tube with marginal differences.
The CoolerZ Rapid Rider is made from a robust vinyl that makes the float resistant to moisture and abrasion. It also features a backrest along with dual cup holders and sturdy handles on either side. The inclusion of all-around grab rope alongside inbuilt perforations makes it very safe and secure.
The thing you would appreciate the most is the mesh bottom that ensures you never feel the heat, letting you wade merrily. And even if you have a giant body, the tube can conveniently hold you.
Apart from the much welcomed yellow color, this tube is also available in two other color variants, blue and pink. If you wish, you can also choose a tube that accommodates two people in one.
Now, to tell you the marginal differences of CoolerZ with River Run as promised earlier. The cup holders and handles of CoolerZ appear to be better than the River Run. However, the mesh bottom of the River Run is more durable than that of the CoolerZ.
Overall, the buying decision boils down to personal preferences since both of these tubes for floating in the river will offer you excellent stability and comfort.
- The CoolerZ is not an ideal option for high-velocity Rivers. So, you have your options cut out.
- The price of this tube is a bit on the higher side. Mainly, if you compare the price with products of a similar genre, the price difference is evident.
It is a sheer delight floating in this tube with your friends. The inbuilt features rightfully demand all the bells and whistles for a memorable time spent in the calm river waters.
#3 Tube in a box: Original Swim and Snow Tube
If you are looking for a heavy-duty river float tube, Tube in a box will suit your requirements. The fabrication of the tube is from a hundred percent commercial grade rubber, which makes it a great option to use in any type of rivers.
If safety and durability is a priority for you over drop-dead looks, you will feel mighty content with this product. Want to use the tube for winters too? Not an issue, because this product is also usable on snow during the winters and that perfectly exemplifies its robustness.
The tube is available in four size variants, 36-inch, 40-inch, 45-inch, and a humungous 68-inch. This no-nonsense river float tube sports a safety valve system and a protective cover which safeguards the device from potential pokes and scrapes.
The manufacturers have spared no effort in trying to make the safest river float tubes among the others. Thus, the tube also incorporates a specific method that does not allow it to bulge.
As you can understand, the most significant size of this tube can accommodate two children conveniently. Nevertheless, it can support the weight of burdensome individuals with the utmost precision.
For the best results, you should fill the tube with air to the full capacity. However, this tube does not include handles, backrest, cup holders, or ropes.
Tube in a box is incredibly lightweight; it weighs six pounds. Thus, it is very convenient to transport the tube to the intended places.
- The tube is not available in vibrant colors that sadly makes it less appealing in appearance.
- In the effort to make it the most versatile and durable product, the manufacturers did not consider adding the elements that add to the comfort quotient of the rider.
It is fair enough to say; this tube is ideal for people who consider water recreation activity seriously. As we mentioned, the tube can withstand the toughest of expeditions that include using it in the snow; the hardcore thrill lovers will appreciate the product.
#4 NRS AIRE Rocktabomb Inflatable River Tube
Somehow the functionalities of this river tube justify the name of the product. Those of you, who do not want to compromise on looks for the sake of security, try this floating river tube.
The design itself ensures the rider can use the float for as long as they want. You can use it on rivers along with lakes, pools, or beaches because with Rocktabomb inflating, deflating, and storing the tube is a breeze.
The product is crafted from the best quality PVC, which makes it suitable for handling even the toughest of rivers with elan. The dual handles on either side make it very convenient for you to mount in it.
Above all, the mesh bottom of the tube will make sure you always remain cold. For added security, you get the option of using the inbuilt O Ring to lock the tube when in use. In this case, the specialty of the mesh bottom is, it comes with thermal welded seams.
No matter, even if you are in the swift rapids, water can never go inside the tube. The manufacturers have not taken any chances by including a raft lace on the bottom for making it fully waterproof.
The 44-inch diameter tube is expectedly very comfortable to ride on, but on the downside, it lacks features such as backrest, that we think it should be incorporated as well.
And here comes an exclusive feature; the tube uses unique technology for locking the air inside that prevents air leakages and gives it an edge over the others.
For heavy persons, the rugged NRS AIRE river float tube is also considered as the go-to choice. Just to let you know, NRS is a reputed name in the world of kayak and rafting; hence, you can expect the same durability and robustness from their river float tubes.
- There are no visible drawbacks to this device. Maybe, those who seek the ultimate comfort while floating in the river would prefer a backrest.
- It is a tad expensive.
The NRS AIRE Rocktabomb, although expensive, is worthy investments for those who prefer a river float tube that can endure severe abuse. You can expect it to last for years without requiring any maintenance or repair.
#5 Intex River Rat Inflatable Inner Tube
Why should children miss out on the opportunity of being out on the water? The Intex River Rat promises to be the best companion of children over twelve years of age, along with the adults. Interestingly, this tube is available in 2 and 3 packs and that too at a reasonable price.
The 48-inch diameter donut-shaped river float tube is quite appealing and simultaneously sturdy. The product weighing around 9 pounds is made from 12 gauge vinyl, making it a reliable option for using in harsh conditions.
Furthermore, for enhancing the security features, it has an inner seam. And take note of the dual air chambers with double valves that make inflating and deflating the tube laughably easy.
The green and black combo design and a picture of a rat are unique, but alas, the color does not remain for long, which might disappoint you. The price of this tube took us by surprise, and you will feel the same.
Anyone who has a constrained budget and yet does not want to let go of the opportunity of river floating, the Intex River Rat, can be the ideal solution. According to some riders, the tube works exceptionally well in any river conditions, including the ones having shallow water and protruding rocks.
Assuming young peoples will be riding this tube, it is better to try them out on rivers with low water currents alongside the pools and lakes.
- The color of the tube gradually rubs off. Additionally, it tends to get very hot after when exposed to the sun for a prolonged period.
- The product lacks the support of handles and support for ropes.
You will be availing two or three tubes at a throwaway price; thus, the affordability and decent safety measures of the product makes it an apt choice for the beginners. However, it would be not a good idea to compare this product with some of the other brands we discussed earlier.
#6 Trans American Swim and Snow Adventure Tube
The black-colored rubber tube may seem unappealing amidst the crowd of colorful tubes but is proven to be an excellent choice for adventure lovers.
The tube is available in 36-inch and 45-inch versions made from 100% commercial grade rubber. Also, it is latex-free, and that makes the float tube the best option for individuals who are allergic to rubber.
The safety valve, like most of the premium floating tubes, is identical to the ones you find on a car. Make sure you have an adequate compressor for inflating the tube because it’s not feasible to inflate these tubes orally. Once it is inflated to its full capacity, you need not worry about doing it again while wading on the river.
The inner tube lining of this tube offers protection from the harmful UV rays. No matter how hard the sun beats down, the tube will not deflate. You also have the option of customizing the not so good looking tube with plastic paint.
However, do not forget to apply the paint without inflating the tubes. Likewise, the tube works exceptionally well in snow, too, since the durable rubber makes it tear-resistant. Take it wherever you want, as it can withstand any types of river conditions without letting you feel the jolts.
- We had a difficult time identifying flaws in this tube. After inquiring from peoples who have used it, few of them mentioned a slight chance of the tube to get a pinhole in it.
The exceptionally sturdy and secure Trans American Swim can handle overweight people conveniently. The adventure lovers and water warriors will have a gala time riding this tube. And manufacturers have made this product latex-free, is undoubtedly a bonus.
#7 Big Mouth Inc Animal River Tubes
The animal-themed river tubes are like a breath of fresh air amidst the regular looking donut-shaped river tubes. The affordable price might lead you to think; these are best suited for toddlers.
But, you will be surprised to know; they are robust and pack quite a punch as far as reliability is concerned. You have the option of choosing from a horse, butterfly, duck, and beaver-shaped river tubes.
The 50-inch diameter of the tube makes it clear; it will have enough room to accommodate an adult. And we are not finished yet. Honestly, we did not expect a river tube such reasonably priced to include features like a cup holder and a backrest.
The only exception being the butterfly-themed tube, as its design does not offer the necessary space for a backrest. Additionally, you also get a rope to facilitate towing and connecting other tubes to it.
The tube also offers you the convenience of a mesh bottom, and that should make your experience rather comfortable. That the product is made out of 18-gauge vinyl means you can vow for its stable performance.
The Bigmouth animal-shaped river tubes are your best companion when you plan to float in a deeper and slow-moving river. Besides, the product comes with a patch kit. If due to an emergency, repairing the tube becomes mandatory, you can use this kit to combat the situation.
- This river float tube could have made it in the topmost position of the best tube list. But, it is not durable like the premium tubes.
- It is incapable of handling rivers that have a wide array of obstacles. For instance, they will fail to digest the blows from protruding rocks and swift rapids.
The affordable and astounding looking river tube promises to keep you in the limelight when you are floating in the river along with others. At the price you are getting this product, it certainly offers you a plethora of features. Pick up a river location that isn’t rough, and you can afford to spend a memorable time with your friends.
#8 GoFloats Flamingo Pool Float Party Tube
The river tube is a perfect blend of style and durability. In the crowded arena of river float tubes, you will not find a better-looking product that is for sure.
You also have the option of choosing from a unicorn and dragon-shaped designs. Seemingly appealing to the kids, the product can be a good alternative for adults as well.
It is not about the looks that make it in the list of the best ones but the built quality. Flamingo pool float is made of UV treated raft grade vinyl; as a result, the material is 25% thicker compared to the other river floats available.
Thus, it makes an ideal companion to spend a leisurely day on the river. With the tubes measuring 45-inches wide and around three feet of height, it is capable of bearing the weight of up to 500 pounds.
The manufacturer also has a 30-inch variant for the sake of the kids, which has a carrying capacity of 100 pounds. Like some of the premium river floats, this product also includes a kit for repairing it during an emergency.
The tube has a rapid fill valve, that aid in inflating the tube a lot quicker compared to the other floats. Lastly, despite its great looks and quality, the product will not pinch a hole in your pocket.
- The GoFloats Flamingo is not an ideal contender in windy conditions.
- It does not come with handles or backrest, and sometimes you will find it hard to control the drift.
- The product also does not include any cup holders. You are most likely to miss out on your favorite beverages when spending time on the river unless you plan to grab the drink.
- You cannot use it in rough waters. Chances are, it can get a puncture.
- After using it for some time, the color tends to fade.
It makes a magnificent sight for the onlookers when you float in this pink flamingo or the other available designs. As you can see, it does come with a fair share of flaws but, considering the product is available at a low price, it’s not a bad deal.
#9 Intex Inflatable Color Whirl Floating Tube (Pack of 2)
This inflatable from Intex will let you accompany someone from your family when you decide to hit the waters. It comes in a set of two, and the vibrant colors undoubtedly make them a delight.
Forget the hassles of carrying a heavy tube as each of them weigh around 2.55 pounds. Furthermore, the inclusion of dual sturdy handles makes it an excellent choice for using in the river waters.
The float is built from gauge vinyl that makes it robust, and each of them sports a diameter of 48-inches. You will find it incredibly helpful for children aged above 12, along with adults.
Like most of the renowned river floats from Intex, this one also includes dual air chambers that make it very stable and safe for drifting in the rivers. Regardless of the type of river, you can be sure these inflatable will never wobble, causing you discomfort.
However, we do not recommend overweight people to be inside these floats. The construction may appear sturdy enough; it still lacks the robustness of some of the premium brands. On the positive side, it is available at a budget-friendly price and offers the convenience of inflating and deflating them quickly.
Without doubts, this product can be an excellent option to explore the river waters along with your friends. Overall, you must have got the hint; this product is best for the use of children. You can keep them under your supervision, and need not worry about their safety, considering it accommodates them perfectly.
- The diameter of this inflatable is smaller than the other floats.
- Unfortunately, the eye-catching color for which people tend to get attracted would gradually rub off.
Like most of the Intex products, this product can be an excellent addition in your repertoire. That the product comes in a set of two, lets you have a good time in the rivers with your friend. The color fading is a disappointment, but you would not mind it, as the price of this product is very affordable. Whenever you wish, you can buy a new set and be ready for the next summer.
#10 SportsStuff 52-1501 Trek N Tube with Travel Backpack
The Trek N Tube can be your ultimate companion for river floating for the fact that it let you bring whatever stuff you prefer while drifting in the water. It has sufficient storage space to keep you occupied with your favorite accessories.
On the brighter side, the product is made out of heavy-duty nylon cover, and heavy-gauge PVC bladder that makes it a robust choice. Furthermore, it includes exclusive features like a high backrest, dual cup holders, two handles, dual gear pockets, and comfortable mesh bottoms.
What more? It also consists of a couple of built-in six-pack zippered coolers.
The backpack helps you with storing and transporting the float conveniently. And with the speed safety valves, you can inflate and deflate the float in no time at all.
Nevertheless, the river float tube is worth a try for individuals who do not wish to sacrifice their favorite items when they are out enjoying the ride. Try this out on a calm river, and it might prove to be a good option for relaxing in solitude.
- Water warriors may give this river float a thumb down for a reason it’s unusable in the rough waters and has no control over the drift.
- It does not come with a repair kit, and you will find it hard to fix things if you encounter a problem.
- Unlike the conventional donut-shaped tubes, this one is flat, and that does disturb the buoyancy in the waters.
- The backrest is too big and bulky, and riders were utterly disappointed with it.
- You can get better river floats at this price range.
With the host of features, it seems worthwhile to try the product for once. Surprisingly, the float does not mention the weight it can hold, so overweight people stay clear of this product.
#11 Kelsyus Chasie Floating Chair Lounger
The last product on our list is not quite the conventional floating tubes we have been talking about, but we included it owing to its features.
This floating chair lounge, as the name suggests, will provide you with a comfortable seating position. It has fabric-covered insulation that guarantees your head and shoulders will never become wet.
The other key points include a mesh bottom, cup holders, backrest, handles, footrest, and even a carry bag. You can inflate the chair lounger within seconds owing to its smaller size, so no more worries if you do not have pumps.
We especially liked the cooling mesh seat. Thus, it conveniently suspends the lower part of the body inside the water, helping you to beat the heat. And the side clips will let you design a flotilla of your choice too.
Fabric covers the inflatable tubes offers gave more excellent stability and durability in the river. The chair lounger weighs 5 pounds, making it convenient to transport to any of your favorite river locations. Despite its small size, it can efficiently carry weights up to 250 pounds and more.
- Since the inflatable tubes are covered by fabric, it is challenging to locate punctures.
- The fabric can tear if you do not store it properly after use.
- The cup holder is too small, according to some riders.
You should consider it is ideal for the calm waters. The best part, you will love the mesh bottom that works exceedingly well to keep you fresh when the sun is beating down. After using it, if you store it properly, it can last you for many years.
Points to Remember before taking the plunge
Never take the river for granted. As you know, most rivers have rapids, and even if you are sure, it is not free of obstacles, things like debris, protruding rocks, and overgrown trees can be a tough challenge to combat. Next, you should never venture into the river without wading shoes. Inflatable coolers are also a welcome addition for your river expedition as it helps to keep your beverages fresh for a more extended period.
Dump the idea of experimenting with a pool float when your destination is the river. It goes without saying the river floating tubes are many times better and durable than the pool floats.
We advise using a pump to inflate these tubes as opposed to the idea of blowing them with your mouth; a pump will save you from the exhaustion of consistent blowing. Most importantly, the pumps will inflate the tubes to adequate capacity.
Have a hearty meal before initiating the fun-filled experience. Whether you are a foodie or not, you will do better if you pack some foods. Most of the present-day floating tubes come with ample spaces to store them safely.
As you know, rivers are highly unpredictable, avoid bringing your cell phone, and increasing the risk of it falling in the water. If the idea of clicking pictures seems tempting, take the assistance of someone else to do so. Preferably, bring a disposable waterproof camera if you must.
Sort out your exit plan in advance. While floating in the river, you are bound to move away to a distant location. Unless you know the way to return at the starting point, you will start feeling tense. For making things convenient, you can opt for using two vehicles, one parked at the starting point and another at the endpoint.
While you enjoy a relaxing time wading in a floating tube, the last thing you want is to get a sunburn. So, make sure you apply sunscreen lotion and have the additional gears like sunglasses and hats to save yourself from the heat.
Lastly, a word of caution, alcoholic drinks are not allowed in some rivers. Also, it’s mandatory for specific river locations to wear a life jacket, so don’t forget to look up the rules beforehand if you do not want to end up messing with the laws and finding yourself in an awkward situation.
So its time to wrap up this comprehensive, informative guide in the hope that it helped you simplifying your buying decision for a river float tube. Now all you have to do is finalize your budget, and buy the one that appeals the most to you and enjoy the next summer, like never before.