19 River Tubing Tips Everyone Must Know – Thrillist
choose your river. the most important thing that determines the capacity of a river to channel itself is the level of the water and the flow. too high, and the current will move too fast for the pipe to be safe. if the flow rate is too low, you may end up walking instead of drifting (and stepping on exposed rocks, ouch). flow guidelines vary by specific river, so do an online search for your destination beforehand (see our more detailed advice below). You’ll also need access to the river, either through a tour company or a public access point to launch your tube if you’re on your own.
check conditions. and we’re not just talking about clouds versus sun. water conditions are key. rivers that are good for tubing one day may be too dangerous the next. Even if it’s a beautiful sunny day, a recent heavy rain might mean the river is too deep to tube (or a drought might mean it’s too shallow), and this isn’t information you want to find out after your crew gets to the river. launch. place. Most tubing provider websites update river conditions daily, often with a color-coded key that tells you whether tubing that day is open to all, strong swimmers only, or closed entirely. Or, you can always call a provider to confirm terms (you can do this even if you don’t plan to rent from that particular company).
full service or do it yourself? going with a tube supplier means everything is taken care of for you, including tube rental and transport to the launch point. sometimes they even offer extra rentals like coolers and sunglasses. Of course, this convenience comes at a cost: Expect to pay around $25 per person, and more if you need a cooler or extra tube. going the byot route (bring your own tube) means you can choose your own adventure; you’re not limited to sections of the river where tour companies operate (again, just make sure it’s safe to do so). Plus, if you plan on making the tubes a yearly or semi-annual summer tradition (and really, why wouldn’t you?), invest in the kit up front (you can buy a solid tube for about $20) to use it over and over again. again it could be a more profitable option in the long run.
know the rules. Are life jackets required on the river? (sometimes this answer may depend on river conditions). is drinking allowed? (glass and styrofoam are often prohibited). check the rules before embarking on your trip to be aware. Nothing derails a fun afternoon of tubing faster than a run-in with the local police.
Eat a full meal. This is not the time to listen to that old wives’ tale about not eating before you jump in the water. a floating trip of several hours requires a lot of fuel. if you’ll be on the water for more than three hours, consider packing some snacks in a dry bag or cooler, or choose a tubing spot with a concession stand. This is doubly important if you plan on consuming adult beverages on your float. Open water means you need to keep your wits about you and the perch at bay.
Have a launch plan. If you’re renting from a tube outfitter, the price usually includes a shuttle upriver to the launch point and back to where you parked your car. if you’re going the DIY route, you’ll need to figure out how to get from the point where it leaves the river to your car. One option is to drive to the end point first, leave one car there, and then pile into the other cars to get to the starting point. when it leaves, the drivers take that car back to pick up the other cars and then go back for the passengers. If it’s easier to park all the cars at the starting point, calling an Uber or Lyft can also help get drivers back to the starting point. of course, those consuming adult beverages should opt for the latter option or assign a designated driver.