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Best Inner Tubes For River Floating: Reviews Of Our Top 5 Picks

family on inflatable tube

When a hot day comes along, a fun way to beat the heat of the afternoon is a long river float. The best inner tubes for river floating can help you make this activity become a reality, no matter where you happen to be. Instead of relying on an outfitter to provide you with a high quality rental, you can find a great inner tube or river float today for a price that is surprisingly nice.

Let’s get you the inner tube for river floating that you need right now.

The Best Chart for Inner Tubes

You could float down the river on a traditional ring. Those are still some of the best inner tubes for river floating. There are also some innovative designs springing up in this category, allowing you to sit and float in a much more comfortable way. Which one of these top-rated models is right for you?

PictureNameOur RatingPrice
Intex River Run I Inflatable Water Floating Tubes 2 Pack 4.3
River Rat Tube Pool Float 4.5
Kelsyus Floating Lounger 4.4
Tube In a Box Original Swim and Snow Tube 4.2
Water Sports Original ItzaTube Inflatable 4.1
Tricam BT-45 Inflatable Swim and Snow Tube 45 Inches 4.3
Airstant Inflatable Air Lounger 4.5
Intex River Rat Inflatable Tubes 6 Pack 5.0
Bestway Lake Runner X2 4.0
Firestone GR13/14/15 Inner Tube 4.9
PictureNameOur RatingPrice

What Are the Advantages of the Best Inner Tubes for River Floating?

Rivers offer a lot of floating fun. Instead of being stuck in a chlorinated pool or using a tube to run down a water slide, you get to explore some of the best that Mother Nature has to offer.

In order to take advantage of this opportunity, you need the best inner tubes for river floating. The tubes that work best for rivers can withstand some of the challenges that a river can provide. You need to have a strong vinyl surface that is puncture-resistant because there will be rapids, chutes, and obstacles that you may need to navigate while you float down the river.

This is why many of the inner tubes in this category are made with 30 gauge PVC, put together with welded vinyl seams. This gives you a rugged tube that can withstand most river conditions and withstand UV light exposure.

You’ll also find these additional advantages are available on many makes and models within this category.

  • A Good Grip. You’ll find many inner tubes for river floating have been created with rider-support handles. This gives you a heavy duty grip while you ride through a challenging portion of a river.
  • Comfort Features. There are several inner tubes that have been given a back rest, a cup holder, and other comfortable additions that make a lazy afternoon even better. If you’re on a 6-hour river float, you will get thirsty, right?
  • Canvas Bottoms. One of the more recent advantages you will find on some river floating inner tubes is a canvas-covered poly bottom. This added strength allows you to pack a cooler along for the ride, a picnic lunch, or a 6-pack of your favorite beverages. Remember to follow all laws regarding glass and Styrofoam and pack out what you pack in to protect the river.

What Are the Prices of the Best Inner Tubes for River Floating?

Most inner tubes for river floating are quite affordable. You’ll find several options that are under $20. If you purchase multiple tubes at the same time, you can lower that cost even more.

If you’re looking for an inner tube with comfort features, then you will find most models begin at the $40 range. Some may go up to $100, but that tends to be the price ceiling in this category.

What Do Our Reviews Have to Say?

Intex River Inflatable

This is the river tube that you’re going to find many outfitters are going to rent to you if you want to float lazily down a river. Why spend all the money to rent those tubes when they are so affordable right here? Made from 18-gauge vinyl, there is a mesh bottom included so you won’t have to worry about falling through the tube. It’s also a great place to put a bottle of water so you can stay hydrated while you’re floating. A small backrest or headrest, depending on how you sit, gives you a little extra support as well. It’s a solid purchase if you want to give floating a try.

Click here to compare prices on Amazon and buy now.

Swimways Floating Lounger

If you prefer more of a lounging experience while floating down a river, then consider giving this float a try. Although it’s not suitable for rivers that have rapids or chutes, it is a nice way to spend a lazy day on a gentle river. The integrated back rest is more comfortable than most other floats and you’ve got an integrated cup holder for your favorite beverage. It also works well if you want to float in a swimming pool and tethers are also included with the purchasing price.

Click here to compare prices on Amazon and buy now.

Water Sports ItzaTube

It’s a big, black tube that supports you in the river while you’re floating. Now the inner ring is a little large, so this tube is recommended only for children 8 years or older. If it works for you, then you’ll enjoy the butyl rubber which gives you a very durable experience while floating. Most boulders, driftwood, and other common river debris isn’t going to instantly puncture or tear this tube. The TR15 diameter also makes sitting in this tube for a long period of time a fairly comfortable experience.

Click here to compare prices on Amazon and buy now.

Firestone GR13

You know what? Sometimes you need to get creative when it comes to an inner tube that you use in a river. This tube isn’t actually marketed as one that can be used for river floating, but it does get the job done. You also can’t beat the price of this tube; it’s cheaper than almost any other inner tube in this particular category. Inflating it at your entry site is easy enough to do as well and only takes a few minutes, even if you’re using lung power. Now it might not be capable of handling rough rapids or long chutes (we didn’t try), but it could be that solution you need for a country river.

Click here to compare prices on Amazon and buy now.


Most dual-person river tubes for floating are generally dreadful. They don’t float well, aren’t balanced well, and you’re almost guaranteed to find yourself in the drink at some point. This model is one of the exceptions to the rule. You’ll be comfortable with the back rests, have drinks available with the central cooler opening, and there are even cup holders for you both to enjoy. It’s perfect for families, best friends or if you just want to stretch out to take a nap while you’re floating along.

Click here to compare prices on Amazon and buy now.

A Quick Guide to River Tubing

River tubing can be a whole lot of fun. This is especially true if you live in a climate that has frequent hot summers. To make sure you are having fun, it is important that you take some time before your floating trip to be fully prepared. After all – you never know when the weather might change or you might run into a bit of bad luck.

These are the four steps that you’ll want to take before you actually make it to the river to begin your afternoon of floating your cares away

  1. Get packed the night before you plan to go. There are plenty of things that you’re going to want to take along with your inner tube. That includes sunglasses, sunscreen, drinks, snacks, and shoes to protect your feet while in the water. Instead of rushing through your house trying to find these things as you’re heading out the door, spend about an hour the night before getting packed so you can just grab and go.
  2. Have a plan for your personal items. If you’re using an outfitter to guide your river floating experience, then you’ll need to bring cash. Most outfitters do not accept credit cards. A waterproof box for your cash can be a good thing, as can a secure box for your valuables that bolts to your vehicle, so your valuables can be protected. Ziploc bags are not waterproof containers, even though you’ll see them in use quite often.
  3. Make sure your inner tube can handle your river. If you have a gentle, lazy river that just meanders through farm land, then a basic inner tube can meet your needs. One of the best pool floats could even potentially work. If you have rapids or chutes in your river, however, then you’ll need something that can bang into boulders while still keeping you safe.
  4. Plan on having extra time beyond what you expect your trip to take. Floating on a river means you are dependent on the flow of the water for the amount of time you actually spend in the water. Most rivers run at a rate of 1 mile per hour, so a 3-mile tubing trip would require a minimum 3-hour commitment. Leave your evening open so you don’t feel rushed while on the river. That’s when accidents tend to happen.

If you’re looking for some of the products that are commonly available to make your river floating experience better, here are our recommendations.

  1. Sunglass Bobbers
  2. Vehicle Safe
  3. Waterproof Cash Box

Things to Remember When Using an Inner Tube on a River

Keep your phone at home whenever possible. A river selfie might be an awesome thing to post to your social networks, but losing your iPhone to the river is less than awesome. Sometimes there are memories to make which don’t need to be shared with everyone.

Maritime laws might not be in effect on the river, but it’s still a good idea to lend a helping hand should the need arise. Inner tubes will pop on rivers sometimes. Not everyone is prepared for the tube chute and might face-plant on a boulder. Help people out and the good deed will eventually come back around to you.

Always remember to bring the sunscreen. The sunshine on a river can be brutal. You’ll often find first-time river floaters coming home with sunburns that are extra bubbly. Even if it is a cloudy day, bring the sunscreen. You never know when the clouds might clear.

If you’re floating a river with a group, then consider bringing float ties with you so that you can all stay together. This is especially important for families who are floating with their kids in rivers where there may be rapids and chutes. You can purchase them onsite if you wish. Instead of using twine or light rope, we recommend this paracord.

Don’t underestimate your river. Small rapids can still cause big problems. A lazy river might have debris that can pop your inner tube or worse – give you a foot puncture. If you plan for the worst case scenario, then you’ll be fully prepared for whatever may come your way.

Wearing a hat backwards while floating is almost guaranteed to put a tan line across your forehead. Don’t do it.

If you do approach a chute, rapids, or a spillway, then remember to approach it with your feet pointing down river. If your approach is sideways, then you’re almost certain to tip over. If you approach it head-first, then you’ll be lucky to avoid a potentially serious head injury.

What Can the Best Inner Tubes for River Floating Provide You?

The hot summer sun makes us all beg for relief. Instead of hibernating in front of an air conditioner, why not try using Mother Nature’s natural air conditioner this year instead? The best inner tubes for river floating can provide you a lot of fun and action even if you aren’t really that active as you sit and float down a river.

Whether you prefer the traditional inner tube or you want something that resembles a chair so that you can have your back and neck fully supported, there are options available for everyone to have some fun. So use the river inner tube reviews to find the right make and model with the features you want so you can have the lazy summer afternoon you may need.

The river is calling you. Make this be the year that you finally listen to what it has to say.

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