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Types of Boat Tubes Compared

Types of Boat Tubes Compared

Towing your friends and family on a boat tube is one of the best activities you can enjoy on the water. The right tube towing setup is key, though -- and so is having the correct boat tube. Not all tubes are created equal. Using the wrong tube can make riding the lake boring, even dangerous, in some circumstances.

Types of Boat Tubes

Some are made for leisurely paces, others are made for sitting back, and some are made for high-speed thrills. Let's compare and figure which tube's best for different riding styles and tow speeds.

Donut Boat Tubes


    Pictured: Radar Vortex 1-Person Towable Tube

    • Best for beginner's and children
    • Can be ridden head- or feet-first
    • Can flip easily if towed too fast

     The classic "donut" is arguably the most popular type of towed boat tube. It's simple and versatile, allowing riders to enjoy slow and fast tow speeds. New and youth riders can sit in the center, feet forward, and enjoy a slower pace. Riders who want a little more action can ride face-forward on their stomach, gripping the sides of the tube and enjoying a white-knuckle pace.

    But it's important to keep a close eye on the stability of the donut tube at speed. Round towed tubes are inherently less stable than other types of tubes. They can "waffle," flopping side to side in the wake of your boat, or when ridden atop choppy water. In the worst case, donut tubes can even catch air and flip.

    Couch Boat Tubes

    couch-style towed boat tube

      Pictured: HO 2G Towable Tube

      • Great for casual riders
      • Provides comfortable, leisurely ride
      • Designed for slower towing speeds

      "Couch"-style boat tubes provide a calm, smooth ride with plenty of comfort. They're great for families and kids, and are typically towed at slower speeds. Their raised back supports and handles provide extra stability while their long, rectangular shape help reduce the odds of flipping.

      Some seated boat tubes can be towed backward, allowing riders to sit atop them and grasp the back support, similar to a chariot. Tow speed will be somewhat limited, though -- this orientation increases drag.

      Deck Boat Tubes

      deck-style towed boat tube

        Pictured: HO Mavericks 3-Rider Towable Tube

        • Great for high-speed towing
        • Aerodynamic profile reduces drag
        • Best for riders who want to grab air

        Deck tubes are made for one purpose: Going fast and wiping out. These thin, sleek tubes allow for fast tow speeds, and they can easily leave the surface of the air to catch air -- something more extreme riders may actually want to experience.

        Deck tubes are typically circular or shaped somewhat like an arrowhead. They're ridden almost exclusively face-first, with the rider lying down on their chest. These tubes can still be towed slowly for beginner riders, though the seating position doesn't provide as much comfort as a couch or donut tube.

        Ready to hit the water? See our collection of towable boat tubes!