When talking about water sports, what are the first sports that come to mind? For most, it’s competitive sports such as swimming and diving, and for others it’s recreational and extreme sports like boating or parasailing. But have you looked into the wonders of River Tubing?
If you are a water sport fanatic, then you are very familiar with the sport. But if this is the first time you are hearing about it, then we’ve got you all covered. Here, we will be discussing everything that you need to know about River Tubing, such as the joys, dangers, and how to better enhance your river tubing experience.
River Tubing- What is it?
For starters, we have to answer the question of what river tubing is. River tubing- or otherwise just known as tubing or water tubing, is a recreational water sport where you go down a river in a rubber tube like structure. Of course, this activity is not just for natural rivers but can also be done wherever there are consistent and strong currents to push your tube down the path. You can do this just about anywhere, and there are different levels and intensities to follow that can be just right for you.
Different Levels of River Tubing- Rapids Classification
For the most part, river tubing is pretty general. The water sport can be classified by the type of river currents that you will be tubing in. There are six different types of classifications for whitewater in rivers- these are called rapids. Identifying the class of a rapid is the best way to determine whether or not you and your tube can keep up with the current. This can also help when it comes to choosing the type of tube best for you. The following are the different classifications of whitewater rapids in rivers:
Before we begin with identifying the different rapids classifications, there is what we call “Class A” which is still water. Of course, this is not applicable to rivers but can be used to describe calm lakes, open ocean, and even controlled environments such as swimming pools and water parks. This class is best for calming and relaxing activities such as tubing and canoeing. You can also take tubing to another level by attaching your tube to a boat and catch a thrill that way.
Class I rapids are the first classification of moving waters. These rapids are very light and gentle and feature a steady current that can lightly tug a boat or tube. Class I rapids are best for calm tubing activities where you just want to relax, or when there are children or beginners present. You might run into problems if the rapids lead you to structures but nonetheless, the calm nature of these rapids should give you space to manually maneuver your way out of any situation.
Class II rapids are a level up from Class I in that they can easily be seen, and are often present in wider passage ways. These rapids feature visible waves that can level up to 3 feet tall and flow between rocks and structures. These rapids are faster flowing and are best for intermediate tubing activities as they require the rider to maneuver through the rapids to stay on path.
Rapids categorizing above Class III are no longer considered appropriate for beginners and are often more suitable for other water activities such as canoeing. Nevertheless, with experience and visual inspection, these rapids are considered moderate and provide great excitement for thrill seekers. These rapids are fast moving and can reach up to 4 feet with irregular breaks in its waves. They require the ability to maneuver especially through narrow spaces.
Class IV rapids are very fast paced and ideal only for experts who can read the rapids visually and maneuver on instinct. At this class level, you will find fast moving waves through narrow passage ways. This type is not ideal for canoes unless they are specially crafted.
Class V rapids are extremely difficult to run and are not suitable for tubing or even canoeing. Those attempting to take on Class V rapids must be prepared for rescues and should not attempt this unequipped. These rapids feature everything from the lower classes as well as unexpected drops at a very fast pace.
These rapids are not safe for recreational water activities such as tubing and should not be attempted at all, especially by beginners. These rapids feature extremely fast-moving currents, unforeseeable drops, and require an intense amount of maneuvering in order to get out safely. At this level, experts say that this is a matter of risking your life and should not be attempted for fun. These rapids can resemble fast moving waters and even waterfalls from great heights.
River Tubing vs. Activities
As you can see from the different classifications of rapids, river tubing is not the only water activity that can be done in rivers. Aside from river tubing, adventurers can also take part in river rafting, boating, kayaking, and canoeing. Most will lead themselves to believe that all these sports are just the same. But we’re here to tell you they are not. Each of these activities require specialized equipment and appropriate preparations. Here are some comparisons for river tubing and other popular river activities:
River Tubing vs. River Rafting
As the names suggest, the most obvious difference between the two is the equipment used. River Tubing uses an innertube and River Rafting uses a specialized river raft. The difference in equipment also makes a difference in carrying capacity. An inner tube is only for one person whereas a river raft can fit an entire family as well a guide.
With that being said, both activities can be done with the family, but tubing requires that all members are able to manage themselves. The equipment is also used in different ways. With innertubes for river tubing, the rider will need to kick their feet and maneuver using their hands. With river rafts, on the other hand, requires all hands-on deck in order to paddle accordingly.
Aside from the equipment being used, the two activities are very different in terms of their intensity. River tubing is a more calming recreational sport that is suitable for Class A to Class II rapids, not really ideal for white waters since higher class rapids require high maneuvering.
River rafting, on the other hand, can be done on both calm rapids and white water so long that the rafters are experienced and ready for the rush. It is also important to note that river tubes are better for narrow rivers and rafts are better for wide rivers so that there is room for the raft to move.
River Tubing vs. Kayaking
Again, the most notable difference between the two activities is the equipment being used. Unlike innertubes and rafts, kayaks are generally more durable since they are not inflatable. While there are models with inflatable parts, the main body maintains a solid core that is built for more rapid white-water classes.
Kayaks are small and compact and can only fit up to two people unlike rafts. Aside from their build and capacity, kayaks are meant to be paddled for quick maneuvering in rapidly moving currents. This type of water sport is meant for the adrenaline rush and requires practice and experience in order to stay safe on the faster rapids. Children and beginners are not advised to take on kayaking on their own, especially in white water.
River Tubing vs. Canoeing
While River Tubing and River Rafting are similar, and Tubing and Kayaking are opposite, canoeing is a similar neutral among the three in terms of how it compares to river tubing. Canoeing is very similar to kayaking in terms of the equipment: a paddle and a solid body. The difference is that unlike kayaking, the paddle is meant to be pushed with one hand, and similar to rafting, canoes can hold more people. Where canoes intersect the most with tubing, is that canoeing and river rafting are two activities best done in calm waters, for relaxing and recreational purposes.
River Tubing vs. Motorized Water Tubing
Water tubing is a popular water sport that is not just exclusive to rivers. Another common application of water tubing is motorized water tubing where the innertube is attached to a motorized boat and the tube is dragged along the water from behind. This is a great controlled tubing activity for when there are no rivers around and you are enjoying a day on the lake.
Wild Water Activities vs. Remote Tubing
While most water activities are best done in the wild, some prefer the security in contained environments. When it comes to river tubing, since the activity happens in calm waters anyways, there isn’t too much of a difference.
Many resorts and water parks along the world feature man made rivers and beaches as part of their main attractions. Some even produce artificial waves to mimic the motion, sound, and feel of natural rivers.
However, nothing quite beats the great outdoors. With wild water activities such as river tubing and river rafting, you can enjoy nature without limits. For a compromise between the two, there are many great contained water parks around the world which are located in wild bodies of water but are still regulated for your safety.
River Tubing: The Ultimate Guide
Now that we have discussed the basics of river tubing and other water activities alike, we can go more in depth about the activity itself. While water tubing is a simple, relaxing recreational activity, there are a lot of factors that go into making sure that everything goes smoothly. This starts by knowing the type of water you are in, to choosing the right tube for you, to watching out for all the potential dangers associated with the activity.
The Dangers of Water Tubing
In the more recent years, studies have shown a gradual increase in water tubing related injuries, some even leading to death. This applies to both river tubing and motorized water tubing. Regardless of where you are, all water sports have their fair share of dangers especially because your body moves differently underwater. Here are some things to keep in mind when taking on water tubing of any kind.
Some of the most common injuries related to water tubing are head, leg, and knee injuries. In a wild river tubing scenario, it is not uncommon for the current to speed up out of nowhere. You can easily hurt yourself trying to maneuver through rocks, tree branches, and even structures. In a motorized tubing scenario, you want to keep in mind the speed at which the boat is going.
Even while wearing a life jacket, falling off your tube can leave injuries due to the high impact of your body against the water. This is especially dangerous if you land head first. Knee and leg injuries can also happen- resembling a rug burn, but in the water, or due to the friction against the tube itself.
Aside from the possibility of falling off your tube, another dangerous possibility surrounding tubing is deflation. Since these tubes are inflatable, it is not uncommon to question the possibility of your tube popping or deflating. While these tubes are meant to be more durable than standard pool inflatables, high impact, friction, and puncture points in the wild all serve as threats to your tube.
While we are on the topic of the dangers of tubing, it is important to also look at the dangers we can prevent such as our own actions. Lake vacations and weekend getaways are often a time where people like to unwind, for some this involves the presence of alcohol. While we do not encourage alcoholism, we also do not encourage the endangerment of yourself and others on a weekend binge.
A great number of lake celebrations and kickbacks report the presence of alcohol, both onshore and off. Regardless, it is important that if you are under the influence, to never get behind the wheel of any type of motorized vehicle or take part in activities that require a high level of control. When it comes to tubing, even if you are relaxed down the lazy river, you need to be prepared to take charge and maneuver at any given time.
Preparation and Precaution
By being aware of the possible dangers one may face when water tubing, we can better equip and prepare ourselves in order to have the best experience possible. While there are some things out of our control, there are still many things we can do in order to be better prepared. Here are some precautions to take and things you may need when taking on tubing adventures:
When taking on any water sport, it is always important to have a life vest on – especially in deep and rapidly moving water. Life jackets come in five different classifications- type I to type II. Each life jacket is made for a different purpose and different level of intensity. For tubing, we recommend Type I and Type II life jackets as they do a great job of keeping the wearer in an upright position which is ideal in case you ever fall off your tube.
Self Rescue Skills
Even with a life vest, it is important to know how to swim, especially when away from shallow, calm waters. You don’t need to be good at it- but basic self-rescue skills will always come in handy and provide an extra level of assurance when it comes to water safety. This can be applicable at any age, and there are even infant self-rescue swimming courses for the little ones.
In recent times, sunglasses have become trendier in the fashion industry, but it is important to use them where they count. Taking on water sports such as tubing means being out in the sun for the duration of the activity. Now whether you are river tubing, water tubing, or maneuvering the boat for motorized water tubing, your eyes need to be protected. For starters, exposure to UV rays can lead to cataracts in the long run. But you also want to consider where you are in the moment. Accidents are more prone to happen when you cannot see what’s in front or ahead of you, and this is likely to happen when the sun gets in your eyes.
On the topic of sun protection, you will also want to consistently apply SPF regularly. Again, UV rays from the sun can cause damage to the skin, leading up to skin cancer in the later years. Most people shy away from SPF because they are under the false belief that SPF prevents you from getting a tan, this is not true. When taking on water activities such as tubing, you also want to be cautious and reapply your SPF in order to stay protected. If you are in an area where there is marine life like in the ocean, then you should also consider looking into reef-safe sunscreen.
A water accessory that many forget about are water shoes. Regardless of whether you are wild river tubing, or taking on a day at the lake, water shoes offer great protection for your feet from the sun, friction, and any sharp rocks that could be at the bottom of a lake or river. They are also convenient in that you can use them in and out of the water, so it lessens your carrying load.
Choosing the Right Tube
Aside from the preparations and precautions, there is also the matter of choosing the right tube for your tubing adventure. There are a variety of different tubes on the market and the choice is ultimately up to you, but there are some factors to consider when choosing your tube such as:
Different tubes come in different materials. Some are innertubes which are more durable and are better for heavy duty tubing such as down rivers where there are many tree branches or rocks down the path. There are also standard pool tubes which can be used for calm waters and relaxing, and then there are inner tubes that are not completely rubber so that they are comfortable for motorized tubing.
With the material in mind, you also want to consider color. Vibrantly colored tubes are great for two reasons: first, they can be easily identified and spotted so that others can steer clear of you. And second, black rubber tends to absorb heat so this would be uncomfortable and hot on the skin.
You will also want to consider how many people you plan on tubing with. There are tubes good for two people, for light tubing activities. However, if you plan to take on an entire family, you can also consider similar alternatives such as rafting or canoeing.
Now that we have covered all basics on water tubing such as the different types of tubing, and ways to be safe, we can take it a step further and talk about all the ways you can have fun such as the best spots to go tubing, and what you can do to further enhance your tubing experience.
Water tubing has been a common water sport for a long time but has become increasingly more popular in the recent years. Why? Aside from it being a lot of fun, tubing is a very simple activity that can be done to get just the right amount of adrenaline. Unlike other water sports, tubing requires the least amount of effort and is very versatile. No need for extra paddles, or safety courses, just you and your tube and a few extra accessories depending on where you decide to take it. Pool side tubing? Boat side tanning? Wild river tubing? Motorized water tubing? All up to you.
Choosing the Best Tubing Spots
You can tube just about anywhere, in a pool, in a lake, down a river, but choosing the right spot is going to be the deal breaker to your tubing experience. You want to consider factors such as weather, currents, and location.
This is obvious. You will want to check beforehand what the weather conditions will be like when you go to your chosen spot. This is not just if its sunny or cloudy, but you also want to consider things like if it had just rained or how strong the breeze will be. These factors can make a difference in the quality of the water and your experience overall.
As we have mentioned above, you will want to look at the rapids if you are river tubing, but if you will be in a lake, gulf, or the ocean, you will also want to keep in mind the different currents. Just because a body of water is still and calm, it is still subject to a current at any time. Rip, vertical, long, and structural currents are always something to look out for so if you are tubing in a lake, or a river leading into a lake, you will want to be aware of the types of currents common in that area.
The two factors above will also tie into choosing the right spot in terms of location. You can go tubing at your nearest lake, river, or take on some tourist adventures and consider some of the best islands around the world for river tubing.
Touring around the Caribbean? While there are many islands to go island hopping in, you might want to take a stop and give some of their river tubing adventures a try. The Falmouth Rainforest River Rapids is a great place to go tubing for some family fun.
Boracay is an island in the central Philippines that is a great tourist spot for all watersports alike. There are activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and great options for water tubing whether it be river tubing or motorized water tubing between islands
Alaminos Hundred Islands
Alaminos Hundred Islands is another popular tourist spot in the Philippines that features literally- a cluster of islands. These islands are nearby and allow for great island hopping. With a tube and motor boat you can enjoy your tubing between islands or even check out one of our inflatable islands nearby to get the most of your water tubing experience.
Ways to Make Tubing More Fun
Tubing is already great fun on its own, but as part of the inflatable community, there are a lot of additional tools and accessories that can help enhance your overall experience. Here are some ideas:
Bring Out the Beach Ball
Inflatable river rafts and river tubes also bring in the fun with all sorts of inflatables. Taking out an inflatable beach ball with your tubing adventures is a great way to make the most out of your experience and even add more fun to tubing in still waters.
Taking the tubes out for a relaxing day on calm waters? Bring out your inflatable coolers and other inflatable devices! From inflatable tables, to coolers, to cupholders, the possibilities are endless and a great way to relax.
While we have discussed all the applications of tubing in natural bodies of water, you can also take on inflatable islands. Inflatable water parks with inflatable water slides that lead out into the water are a great way to have fun with the tubes. Whether you visit a branch near you or make your own version of a water slide at home, the possibilities are endless.
All in all, river tubing and related tubing activities are a popular water sport that has gained much attention over the year. Whether you are taking your tubes to the rivers, lakes, or even the pool, we hope that our guide has found you well in that you are equipped with knowledge on the types of tubes, things you will need, best places to tube, and ways to have great fun while taking on tubing adventures.