Two riders becomes airborne after jumping the boat's wake.Tubing on water generally consists of two forms: towed and free-floating (a.k.a. river tubing).
Towed tubing usually takes place on a large body of water such as a lake or river. One or more tube riders (often called "tubers") tether their tubes to a powered watercraft such as a motor boat or a personal watercraft. The riders are then towed through the water by the watercraft. The speed and manner in which this occurs is usually dictated by the riders. Children are generally given a slow, tame ride while thrill-seeking teenagers will usually opt to be towed faster, even seeking to be pulled through choppy water or across wakes.
In free-floating tubing, the tube riders are untethered and often conveyed by the current of a waterway. Because of this, free-floating tubing often takes place on rivers and streams (natural or artificial). This form of tubing is rarely, if ever, attempted in fast moving currents, and as a result is a very casual and laid back activity. Tubers often socialize and even consume beer or other beverages while tubing down a river.
Major water parks often have specially designed courses for tubing. These may consist of a circular, artificial river on which riders are conveyed or a linear course such as a water slide.
Popular river tubing locations
- The Jordan River in Israel
- Doe River flowing into Elizabethton, Tennessee (Northeast Tennessee)
- Penticton River Channel, between Okanagan Lake and Skaha Lake, in Penticton, B.C., Canada.
- Bear River in Placer County, California between Colfax and the Dog Bar Bridge
- Salt River in Mesa, Arizona
Tubing can require varying pieces and kinds of equipment depending on the variety of tubing one wishes to engage in.
The one common piece of equipment across all forms of tubing is the tube itself. While tubes vary in construction, all share the general characteristics of being:
- Made of a thin, flexible, synthetic material such as rubber or PVC plastic
- Donut or disk shaped
Tubes for use as towables on water are generally not true inner tubes but rather specially designed tubes for the purpose of recreation. These tubes are often fairly durable and come in either donut or disk shapes. A sleeve of synthetic fabric often covers the tube to prevent it from becoming elongated during towing. Such sleeves commonly have handles for the rider to grasp and an anchoring point for the tow line to be attached at.
Towing a tube or tubes also requires a powered watercraft such a motorboat or personal watercraft as well as rope to tether the tubes to such craft.
Tubes used for free-floating tubing have traditionally been true inner tubes, but commercially-sold tubes for the same purpose are becoming common place. These tubes are almost always donut-shaped to allow the rider to sit comfortably on his or her back across the top of the tube with his or her buttocks in the center. This kind of tube rarely has handles or a sleeve and would perform very poorly as a towable.