10 Best Heavy-Duty River Float Tubes for Big Guys and Big Gals of 2021 (Buyers Guide!)

Summer can cause stress for some people. While you’re suffering under the blistering heat, it can be hard to find activities that your whole family or friend group can enjoy—which is a bummer! 

One of the best things about summer is spending the days outside, soaking up the sun! Plus, there are plenty of ways to stay cool while enjoying fresh air and sunshine—like going tubing down a river!

Sadly, not everyone believes they are able to join in on the fun! Are you the type of person who dreads the thought of climbing onto an inflatable river float tube?

Are you the type of person who skips out on summer trips with your friends to go river tubing for fear of being “too big” for the tubes to handle? Do you look at river tubes and worry about their weight limit and durability when you hear your squad planning a big trip? 

Well, fear no more because we’re here to put your mind at ease once and for all! Keep reading to find out about ten of the best heavy-duty river float tubes for big guys and big gals.

We will help you pick out the best one that fits all your needs with our heavy-duty river float tubes reviews! And be sure to stick around until the end for our buying guide, safety tips, maintenance suggestions, and how-to instructions.

(We also have top options of Best Single Person River Float Tubes)

The Best Heavy-Duty River Float Tube Reviews (Top Picks)

The numbered list may seem like the products are in any particular order, but they are not. Keep reading to find out our top picks of the 10 best river float tubes for big guys and big gals.

1. Intex River Run I Sports Lounge, Inflatable Water Float

These heavy-duty river float tubes are sturdy, tough, safe, and comfortable! Their material consists of 18-gauge PVC vinyl that can easily withstand those river rocks and bumps. 

These tubes also have a mesh center in the bottom that lets water flow in, keeping your body cool on those hot summer days! This inflatable is also easy to get into and out of with an all-around grab-rope.

This uniquely designed river tube also includes tethers that allow you to lock in and stay connected with other Intex tubes. Additionally, there are 2 heavy-duty handles that make carrying this river float tube that much easier! 

It’s also extra safe with 2 air chambers. Are you still not sure about this specially designed river tuber and still worried about its weight capacity? Well, just know that several customers weighing over 300 pounds said it worked great for them and without any leaking problems! 

Extra features of this inflatable also include 2 cup holders and a built-in backrest that’s perfect for lounging. With all these extra features, it’s no wonder this heavy-duty river tube has appeared on best lists for several years running.

Pros:

  • Easy to inflate
  • The coated mesh protects against tearing
  • High quality for a reasonable price
  • Recessed air hole doesn’t stick up like some other brands
  • Deflates quickly

Cons: 

  • Pump not included
  • Sometimes dye on tube comes off on skin after use
  • Cup holders are not super sturdy, and drinks may tilt when using

2. Intex 58837EP River Run II Sports Lounge, Inflatable Water Float

Similar to the Intex River Run I Sports Lounge, this heavy-duty river float tube is durable and easy to stretch out on! This inflatable also has an all-around grab rope and 2 heavy-duty handles, making it easy to get into and out of. 

It also includes connectors for easy fastening to other Intex tubes so your whole group can stay floating together. Between the built-in backrests, the cooling mesh bottom, and the 2 cup holders, this river tube is sure to guarantee you’ll have maximum relaxation. 

One other special thing about this heavy-duty river float tube is that it can sit two people instead of just one! It’s specially designed with 2 interconnected lounges and a built-in cooler so you can float with a pal while enjoying all your snacks and beverages. 

You also don’t have to worry about safety because this river float tube features 5 air chambers to ensure you’ll make it down the river in one piece. Plus, it’s got a 440-pound weight limit, so you surely don’t have to worry about the buoyancy of this bad boy. 

Just be sure to bring a paddle along just in case—you might need help steering!

Pros

  • Sturdy, even for couples of vastly different weights
  • Durable and easy to stretch out on
  • All-around grab line with tethers
  • Built-in backrests
  • Convenient cooler

Cons

  • Very large, hard to steer by hand (might need paddles)
  • You need a pump to fill up, can’t do it by mouth
  • Hard to locate leaks sometimes because it has 5 chambers

3. GoFloats Inflatable Penguin Pool Float Party Tube

Yes, this heavy-duty river float tube might be a little more charming and lifelike than some other brands, but don’t let the adorable design fool you into doubting its power. 

Unlike other river inflatables, this dapper gentleman consists of premium UV treated raft grade vinyl that’s 25% thicker than the average tube. No more worrying about the black material getting too hot in the sun! 

Also, don’t forget that when you use a river float tube like this one that is designed with maximum safety in mind, you get to enjoy having maximum fun too. 

This is also one of the few heavy-duty river float tubes that have actually tested their products up to a 500-pound weight limit, and this inflatable has had consistent buoyancy. No more worrying about whether you can comfortably join your friends because now you can! 

This river tube is also unique in that it boasts a rapid valve inflation system, allowing you to inflate and deflate 5x faster than most other brands. This heavy-duty river float tube also boasts added durability of taped seams, so you won’t worry about springing a leak or deflating quickly.

Pros

  • 500-pound weight limit
  • Easier to steer when hand-paddling
  • Rapid valve inflation
  • Taped seams for added durability
  • UV treated vinyl

Cons

  • It does not have an all-around grab line
  • The middle is not covered, so there’s nothing to protect you if you scrape the bottom of the river
  • Slick material (not textured design) and might get slippery

4. Tube In A Box The Original Swim and Snow Tube

You know how the saying goes: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. This tube may be old-fashioned, but that doesn’t mean it’s outdated. This heavy-duty tube has a 280-pound limit and is unique from most other river float tubes because it’s latex and vinyl free. 

This tube consists of 100% commercial grade rubber! It’s durable and tear-resistant and certainly not prone to popping like a lot of vinyl tubes are. 

This heavy-duty tube is also unique because you can inflate it with stop and start airflow, adjusting the rubber to prevent bulging as you go. Rubber does not move air around the way that nylon does, so as long as you’re patient during inflation, you shouldn’t expect a lot of leaking or deflating from use.

Additionally, this tube’s unique design features a rubber-coated safety valve system that protects against scrapes and pokes. This inflatable is cherished as the original heavy-duty river float tube and is appropriate for water sports as well as snowy activities. 

It’s high quality and lasts longer due to the UV protection on the exterior.

Pros

  • Good for all seasons
  • UV protected so it won’t deflate prematurely or be damaged by the sun.
  • High quality, long-lasting
  • Tried and true
  • Moderately priced

Cons

  • Have to be careful when inflating to prevent bulging (have to start and stop and adjust until filled) 
  • It’s rubber, so it, unfortunately, smells like rubber.
  • The center hole is considered “big”—also, it’s open, so there’s nothing to “catch you.”

5. Solstice Super Chill River Raft

Another heavy-duty river float tube made to be enjoyed by two people! This inflatable has durable vinyl as their material that can withstand several trips down the river. 

Similar to the Intex tubes, the addition of supportive nylon mesh insert seats keep you cool and comfortable while you lounge in the sun. This tube is able to inflate and deflate quickly with a Boston valve feature. 

As we’ve already mentioned, being able to get onto and off of a river float tube is vital and can be tricky territory when you’re big. However, with the all-around grab rope on this particular tube, you won’t have to worry about that for a second! 

There are also 2 sturdy side handles that make this river tube easier to carry and hold on to as well. Plus, with a 330-pound weight limit and an included patch kit, you won’t have to worry about being “too big” for a second with this one! 

Extra features of this heavy-duty river tube include 2 cup holders and 2 roomy, deep onboard ice chests, perfect for keeping your food and drinks cool on extended tubing trips! Plus, don’t forget the cushiony backrests for easy reclining.

Pros

  • The cooler is conveniently placed and easy to reach
  • It can fit 2 people at once
  • Sturdy
  • All around grab-line lets you connect with other tubes
  • Light colors so it won’t get too hot too quickly

Cons

  • It doesn’t have tethers attached to connect with other tubes
  • Heavy to carry (weighs 8 pounds)
  • Several valves, meaning it takes time to inflate through them all

6. NRS Big River Float Tube

This heavy-duty river float tube has a super tough PVC inside with a durable, urethane-coated polyester bottom that protects against shallow water. It also comes with a removable cover that you can replace if it’s torn or worn! 

The upper part of this tube’s cover is made of 840 denier nylon that’s comfortable on the skin and won’t rub the way plastic tubes sometimes do. You also won’t have to worry about accidentally deflating with this tube because it has a single C7 air valve protected by a flap and secured with a hook-and-loop closure! 

This river float tube is also unique in that it features a reinforced, stainless D-ring that makes it easy to attach gear or other river float tubes. The two padded handles make hauling easy, and the 400-pound weight limit will put your mind at ease—no need to worry about losing buoyancy! 

Unlike other river tubes with removable canvas bottoms or removable mesh bottoms, this river float tube features a non-removable mesh floor that adds extra support and security. After all, as comfortable as this heavy-duty river float tube is, safety is the priority.

Pros

  • Comfortable and easy to recline in
  • Roomier and more buoyant than the average river tube
  • Removable cover that you can replace
  • Non-removable mesh floor
  • Reinforced air valve

Cons

  • Single valve 
  • Valve adapter not included
  • No cup holders
  • Pricier than average

7. Tube Pro Orange 48” Premium River Tube with Handles

Another classic river tube design that you should have! This particular heavy-duty tube is manufactured by Tube Pro Inc, which is known for manufacturing high-quality tubes for amusement parks and resorts all over the world! 

The Tube Pro Orange consists of heavy-duty 30 gauge PVC vinyl. It has 2 large support handles for easy carrying and holding onto. This inflatable is unique in that it has 2 air chambers—the main chamber with a Boston valve and also a safety chamber. 

This tube commonly goes by the name “the Cadillac of river tubes.” However, this tube design does not include a grab rope, so it can be harder to get in and out of. Not to mention, it will also be harder to stay close to or connected with others when tubing. 

On the upside, since there is no bottom covering on this tube, it makes it easier for paddling with your hands! However, if you’re looking to recline while floating down a river, you might have a hard time using this one since there isn’t a headrest. 

If you’re looking for a short trip down the river, though, this tube might be just what you’re looking for!

Pros

  • Surprisingly comfortable for bigger bodies
  • Easy to paddle with hands
  • 2 air chambers
  • Great for shorter trips
  • Classic design

Cons

  • No headrest
  • No cup holder
  • No grab rope

8. REALTREE MAX-5 Lake Runner X Inflatable Tube

Several customers weighing around 400 pounds praised how comfortably they rode in this particular heavy-duty river float tube. It’s durable and yet lightweight, smooth yet puncture-resistant. 

This river tube adopts Fortech as its material, a heavy-duty PVC fused with dense polyester mesh, so you won’t have to worry about some weathering from any rivers or to have to lug a super heavy tube around. 

This tube does have a wraparound grab line for extra support and unique, built-in grommets that make it easy to connect with other tubes as you float down rivers. Another unique feature of this tube is how quickly it inflates and deflates because of the interlocking quick-release valves. 

This tube also features a pliable mesh bottom to keep you cool and a cushioned backrest to help you recline and relax! 

Heavy-duty handles make this river tube easy to carry around, and the 2 built-in cup holders are more secure than a lot of other river tubes, so you won’t have to worry about any drinks tipping on you. 

Overall, as long as you don’t mind the camouflage design, this heavy-duty river float tube might be just perfect for you!

Pros

  • Drinks don’t tip in the cup holder
  • Wrap around grab-line with grommets
  • Interlocking quick-release valves
  • Made from Fortech material
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Camo might not be your vibe
  • The bottom gets wet from the mesh
  • It doesn’t have tethers

9. CoolerZ Rapid Rider Inflatable Tube

This river float tube is super durable and made with high gauge PVC material with a 350-pound weight limit! This heavy-duty tube is also easy to mount with 2 heavy-duty handles and is easy to connect to other river tubes with an all-around grab line. 

Similar to other designs, this tube does not have tethers attached that you can use to connect with other tubes, so you’ll have to invest in carabiners or something similar. 

One other slight downside is that the air valves are near where one’s arms rest while in the tube, so you’ll have to watch out for those while paddling. One cool, unique thing about this particular river tube, though, is that the built-in backrest is extra-wide and gives you additional support! 

Like some of the other tubes on this list, this inflatable does have a woven mesh bottom that can keep you cool on hot summer days! Although the mesh is not coated and may tear, compared to some other brands with mesh bottoms. 

Another unique factor of this tube is that the cup holders are molded and coated to keep drinks from slipping and tipping!

Pros

  • Coated cup holders keep drinks from tipping
  • Easy to inflate with a large pillow valve
  • The extra-wide backrest!
  • Moderately priced
  • All-around grab line

Cons

  • Air valves tend to rub arms when paddling
  • The mesh bottom isn’t coated, so it might tear more easily
  • It doesn’t have tethers to attach to other tubes

10. Intex Inflatable Color Whirl Floating Tube Raft With Handles (Set of 2)

Intex is quite a popular brand and is usually regarded as being worthy of their price. Unlike some of the other tubes available from this brand, this specific tube is more colorful and whimsical looking. 

For the most part, at least—there are several warning labels on one side that some people say to cover up some of the bright colors, but this river tube is still full of charm. This river float tube is heavy-duty because it has a 220-pound weight limit and consists of 12 gauge vinyl. 

This river float tube also is very stable, as it has 2 separate air chambers. Like most other tubes, this one does have 2 heavy-duty handles, so it’s fairly easy to carry. 

One downside to this particular river tube is that it does not have a grab-line, and some people have complained of the dye coming off of the tube and staining their skin. 

However, one unique aspect of this kind of river float tube is that it comes in a two-pack, so it’s like getting two river tubes for the price of one, and the price is so low in the first place!

Pros

  • Low price
  • Two for the price of one
  • Easy to carry
  • 2 air chambers
  • Made of 12 gauge vinyl

Cons

  • Several warning labels on the side cover the bright colors of tubes.
  • It doesn’t have a grab-line
  • The color from the tube might rub off

(You might also be interested in reading our article on Best Multiperson River Float Tubes)

Best Heavy-Duty River Float Tubes for Big Guys and Big Gals Buyers Guide

Though we compiled a fantastic list of river float tubes for each and everybody, there are still some key things to keep in mind when it comes to selecting a river tube float. For that information, you’ll want to check out our buyer’s guide!

Why Specialized Tubes Are Better Than Tractor Tubes

Tractor tubes weren’t designed with safety in mind, but specialized tubes were! Maybe you think you can get away with using a tractor tube or wrapping some material around a truck tire. However, safety isn’t a feature that comes with either of these things!

Specialty river float tubes are made to be safe, made to be durable, comfortable, and capable of holding a lot of weight. And ultimately, if you’re not having to worry about being unsafe or uncomfortable, you’re sure to have more fun, right?

What to look for when buying: 

  • You want something durable; you want to get your money’s worth, of course! 
  • Canvas bottom: ensures safety because there’s no sliding out and triple stitch design ensures heavyweight support and safety.
  • Mesh bottom: provides comfort, keeps you cool
  • Rubber safety valve stem and cap is better than metal. Rubber valves protect you against injuries, accidents, cuts, and scratches. Rubber caps reinforce the inflation level and prevent leaks.
  • Handles are comfortable and also an important safety feature.
  • Back support keeps you from hurting!

Advantages of Using Heavy-Duty River Float Tubes

You have to choose the right kind of river tubes because you want to enjoy your time on the water safely, and you want to get the best bang for your buck! 

Why would you invest in a product that you’re only going to use once when you could invest in a river tube that you could use for several trips, probably even for several years! Why would you not want to be comfortable when you’re enjoying nature?

Spending time outside is great, but getting to do it while being able to break out snacks or while connected with your friends or family? That’s even better! 

Some tubes are dedicated for boating; some are for sledding; some are for rough rivers; some for more mild water. Needs may vary, especially if you’re shopping for yourself, so why wouldn’t you want what’s best for yourself?

Renting from a place that does tours can be okay, but is it really worth being uncomfortable when you’re trying to enjoy yourself?  

You deserve to enjoy yourself fully! Spend a little extra to make yourself feel as best as you can—there’s no reason to spend a day in the sun not having as much fun just because you’re not using the best tube for yourself.

Safety Tips

Safety should be your priority, especially when using your river float tube on the river itself. Bodies of water can be unpredictable, so it’s best to err on the side of caution. We’ll have a ton of tips and things to keep in mind, so you’re as safe as possible on the river.

Spending a day at the river can be extremely relaxing (or exciting, depending on how you like to use your river float!), but you need to be sure you’re safe! Drinking alcohol is fine when it’s done safely, so being sure you know your tolerance and don’t drink out of glass is a good start.

One of the most important things you can do is make sure you have a portable air pump! There are even pumps available that plug into your car that ease the stress and hassle of trying to inflate your river tubes by mouth.

How Dangerous is River Tubing?

Use your best judgment! Avoid big rivers where you’ll be floating too far from shore. Avoid rivers with waterfalls. Avoid rivers with low water levels. Be aware of your surroundings, follow the buddy system, and keep an eye on any kids in the area.

Whether you’re a beginner river tuber or a seasoned pro, as long as you use your best judgment when at the river, you’ll be safer rather than sorry. We also have a few key tips and tricks to keep in mind to make sure you’re as safe as possible with yourself and your river tube.

  • Waterproof sunscreen is a must. Sun exposure is no joke; you can easily burn after mere minutes on the water, depending on your sensitivity level. Even on overcast days, pack sunscreen and reapply often.
  • Wear sunglasses and hats to keep the sun off your face and out of your eyes.
  • Wear clothing that’s safe when wet! Nothing baggy, nothing that takes forever to dry, nothing dark (light colors keep you cool), wear a swimsuit with a t-shirt or shorts over it.
  • Wear waterproof shoes. Sandals with straps or water shoes are the best option for tubing. It’s so easy to get cut and to get an infection if you choose to go barefoot, especially in public areas.
  • No glass. When you’re out on the water, drinking out of glass is just asking for trouble. You could cut yourself or someone else or even your river tube. Only drink out of plastic bottles or aluminum cans. 
  • Hydrate! Sun exposure dehydrates quickly—make sure to mix up your sodas and beers with plenty of water. You don’t want a fun-filled day ruined by that dry mouth and skin feeling. Also be aware of rules regarding your beverages; some parks restrict alcohol consumption, and becoming inebriated while floating on a river isn’t a safe idea.
  • Watch out for fishers! The last thing you want is to get stuck on someone’s line.
  • Watch out for wildlife! Avoid tubing under low-lying trees where snakes may be or knocking into any rocks where turtles may lie. Crashing into an animal can be dangerous for the both of you.

Make sure you dry off really well when you’re done tubing for the day. Let your river tubes air dry, change your clothes, or sit out in the sun to air dry. 

The last thing you want is to leave with damp shoes or tubes—that’s just asking for rot damage. And sitting in wet clothes is never comfy, especially on a long car ride home while you’re tired from a full day.

Best Heavy-Duty River Float Tubes Comparison Chart

ProductPriceDiameter (Inches)Item weightUnique Features
Intex River Run I Sports Lounge, Inflatable Water Float$53"350 lbsInclude two heavy duty handle which makes easier to float
Intex 58837EP River Run II Sports Lounge, Inflatable Water Float$62"440 lbsDurable, convenient coolers, have holders for cups
GoFloats Inflatable Penguin Pool Float Party Tube$45"500 lbsFaster, easier to steer
Tube In A Box The Original Swim and Snow Tube$46"280 lbsHigh quality, UV protected, moderate price
Solstice Super Chill River Raft$53"330 lbsCan fit two persons at once
NRS Big River Float Tube$$48"400 lbsComfortable, cover can easily remove and replace with another
Tube Pro Orange 48” Premium River Tube with Handles$48"350 lbsEasy to paddle with hands, have 2 air chambers, easy for short trips
REALTREE MAX-5 Lake Runner X Inflatable Tube$48"400 lbsLight weight
CoolerZ Rapid Rider Inflatable Tube$53"350 lbsHaving high gauge PVC material with extra wide backrests supports
Intex Inflatable Color Whirl Floating Tube Raft With Handles (Set of 2)$48"220 lbsEasy to carry, 2 air chambers, low price

Wrap Up

There are so many options to pick from when selecting the best heavy-duty river float tube, but it can be a lot less overwhelming if you just consider our buyer’s guide and review 10 of the best tubes out there! 

Even if you’ve got a bigger body type than others, you deserve to have fun on the river too. We’ve simplified the process of choosing the perfect river float for you and your body so you can play all day, just like all your friends. Just be sure to be safe on and off the river.

We’ve taken away the guesswork of choosing a river float tube so you can choose one with confidence. When all is said and done, you have to pick what is most comfortable for your body, and anything other than that is just an added bonus.

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