10 Best River Float Tubes of 2021 (Reviewed!)

Ah, summer! The time of year when we devote our days to soaking up as much sun as possible while also trying to stay as cool and comfortable as we can. Thankfully there’s plenty of fun water activities you can do to pass the time, like going river tubing! 

Of course, when you’re busy making plans for the warmest season of the year, you want to make sure you get high-quality gear that will last for at least the season, if not longer. There’s nothing worse than buying river float tubes that start losing air as soon as you inflate them or that pop on the first trip you take them on. 

It’s a waste of your money and can be exhausting trying to find a replacement, especially in the middle of the season when all the “good ones” are gone. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 10 of the best river float tubes out there right now! We’ll help you narrow down the options before the season even starts and find the best one for you with our river float tubes reviews

Plus, we’ve included a buyer’s guide that discusses the advantages of using the best river float tubes and safety tips for your river tubing trips. No more worrying for you! Keep reading to find out about 10 of the best river float tubes of 2021 and what makes them so fantastic!

The Best River Float Tubes Reviews (Top Picks)

The following product reviews are not ranked in a particular order, but they are 10 of the best river float tubes available. Read on to find out more about 10 of the best river float tubes! We’ll go through what makes these floats great, as well as some areas you need to consider if you’re thinking about purchasing one.

1. Intex River Run I Sport Lounge

This river float tube is specially designed for adults and high-performance fun! Its 18 gauge, light-colored vinyl keeps you cool without worrying about air leakage. The mesh bottom lets water in to keep you cool while also keeping you secure while you float down the river. 

Two air chambers make this float tube extra safe, so you don’t have to worry about losing air and sinking. You can even adjust the firmness of the tube and backrest to your liking with the separate air chambers and deflate it in less than sixty seconds with the quick-release valve. 

This river float tube is easy to get in and out of with two durable grab handles and the all-around grab rope. It’s also extra comfortable with added features like the built-in backrest and the two cup holders for maximum relaxation on your days spent floating down the river. 

You can even connect to other Intex floats with the attached Connect ’n Float system. Not to mention, this river float tube is one of few that includes so many added features for such an affordable price!

Pros

  • The all-around grab rope makes it easy to get onto this river float.
  • It’s got a built-in backrest that keeps you comfortable.
  • You stay seated and secure with 2 sturdy grab handles.
  • It features 2 cup holders.
  • It’s affordably priced.

Cons

  • You have to add a carabiner to connect to non-Intex floats.
  • The shallow plastic cup holders don’t always hold drinks very well. 
  • The blue color might come off and stain your skin.

2. Airhead River Otter Deluxe

This river float tube is made with heavy gauge PVC and comes with a polyester cover that’s double-stitched to protect against scrapes, tears, and air leakage, which means you can float trouble-free, even in rough waters! 

It’s specially designed with a speed safety valve that enables you to inflate and deflate quickly, as well as two rope anchors that let you easily connect with other River Otter Deluxe floats. 

The cup holder is molded to keep your drink in place, even if you hit some bumps while floating down the river, and the built-in backrest means you can lean back and enjoy lounging in the sun without straining your neck. The sturdy handles are molded to be comfortable to grip and help keep you in place while you float around. 

Although it’s on the smaller side, most adults find that they can relax comfortably without issue on this river float tube. Though it may be lacking in size, it makes up for it with a powerful punch. This float is able to withstand even the roughest mountain waters. Plus, this river float tube is highly valuable for any weekend trip at such an affordable price.

Pros

  • It’s made with a polyester double-stitched cover.
  • You stay comfortable with a built-in backrest.
  • You can hold on with 2 molded handles. 
  • It features a molded drink holder.
  • It’s affordably priced.

Cons

  • It doesn’t have an all-around grab rope.
  • It’s on the smaller side and might not fit all adults.
  • There’s only one cup holder.

3. Intex River Rat Swim Tube

This river float tube is inexpensive yet durable! It’s designed with double valves and two air chambers to keep you safe from losing air and sinking. Should the worst happen, though, it does come with a repair patch. It may not have grab handles, but the all-around grab line makes it easy to handle and hold on to while you get situated. 

This tube is cozy without any extra fuss. It may not have a backrest or cup holder, but it’s easy to relax in this river float tube, especially at such a low price. The most notable thing about this float, though, is the unique design! Bold green, white, and black stripes swirl around the cartoon image of the one and only “River Rat.” 

This river float tube is lightweight and easy to carry, which means less stress for you on long hauls to the river. It’s durable and sturdy and able to withstand even rocky, shallow water. It’s also comfortable and easy to use without worrying about losing air, even for adults over 200 pounds. Overall, this tube is strong and won’t disappoint.

Pros

  • It features an all-around grab rope for easy accessibility. 
  • It’s designed to be sturdy and durable.
  • It’s constructed with double valves for extra safety.
  • It comes with a repair patch if needed.
  • Its fun and bright design give it a unique touch of style.

Cons

  • It doesn’t have grab handles.
  • It doesn’t have a built-in backrest.
  • It doesn’t have a cup holder.

4. Tube Pro Red 44”

This river float tube is known for being the “Cadillac” of river float tubes! It’s manufactured by Tube Pro Inc, which is known for making the highest quality river tubes, snow tubes, towable boat tubes, and water park tubes for amusement parks, resorts, and recreational boaters around the world. 

This river float tube is made with high-quality, 30 gauge PVC vinyl that can withstand the bumpiest of waters without air leakage. It also features a fully covered tube floor that keeps riders secure without having to worry about scraping the bottom of shallow waters. 

Separate air chambers between the tube and built-in backrest lets riders adjust the inflated firmness to their comfort level. Two large handles give you the grip you need to hop on while also keeping you supported while you float. It’s also easy to connect with other floats’ handles with a bungee cord or a rope with a few knots! 

This float tube is easy to inflate with a mattress air pump or even a bike pump without needing any special attachments. Although this river float tube is slightly more expensive than the average tube, it’s worth it for the extra-strength durability!

Pros

  • It’s made with 30 gauge PVC vinyl.
  • Its built-in backrest keeps you comfortable.
  • It features 2 large grab handles.
  • The separate air chamber lets you adjust the firmness.
  • It’s big and cozy with an inflated diameter of 44.”

Cons

  • It doesn’t have an all-around grab rope.
  • It doesn’t have a cup holder.
  • It’s on the pricier side.

5. Bestway CoolerZ Single Person Rapid Rider Inflatable

This river float tube is extra roomy and comfy! It inflates to 53” in diameter and is made from sturdy, high-gauge PVC vinyl. The mesh bottom keeps you secure and cool by letting water into the bottom of the tube. 

The built-in backrest is extra-wide for added comfort so you can lean back while you’re spending a day on the river without worrying about shoulder, neck, or back pain. One unique feature about this river float tube is that the air valve is placed on the bottom rather than the side. 

This placement means there’s a chance that the valve could get hit by a rock or get caught on the bottom of more shallow waters. However, this design feature is meant to keep your arms from getting rubbed against the air valve. The all-around grab rope and heavy-duty handles make it easy to get onto, and hold onto, this river tube. 

Plus, you can use the cup holders to keep yourself hydrated after long hours spent on the river. This river float tube is great because it has a lot of added features while still being completely affordable!

Pros

  • It features built-in grommets and an all-around grab rope.
  • It’s made with an extra-wide built-in backrest.
  • It’s made with two heavy-duty handles.
  • It features two cup holders.
  • It’s moderately priced.

Cons

  • The inflation valve is on the bottom, so it might snag on a rock and come loose.
  • The cup holders are oval-shaped, so you have to squeeze some drinks in.
  • It doesn’t come with a rope system to attach to other floats.

6. Bestway CoolerZ Rapid Rider Inflatable 2 Person Blow Up

This river float tube is similar to the previous one as Bestway also makes it! This river float tube is unique, though, in that it is designed to be used by pairs of riders instead of for single-person use. It’s made with pre-tested vinyl that’s designed to last, even with frequent use, and built-in backrests that let you and a friend relax to the max! 

It also features a screw valve that helps protect against air leakage that’s placed on the bottom of the tube so that it doesn’t get in your way or rub your arms when you’re trying to stretch out and relax. Though it doesn’t have a grab rope, this tube does have sturdy handles on either side, so you can hold on tight while you’re out on the river. 

Just be sure to hang on tight! Since there isn’t anything to grab onto in the middle of the tube. This river float tube is on the slightly pricier side, but that’s because you’re getting two floats for the price of one!

(Looking for multi-person river float tubes, check our article on Best Multiperson River Float Tubes)

Pros

  • It’s specially designed to fit two riders.
  • It’s made with durable 18-gauge PVC vinyl.
  • It has built-in backrests and cup holders to make your experience more enjoyable.
  • You keep cool with a mesh bottom.
  • It’s easy to inflate and comes with a repair patch.

Cons

  • It only has one handle on either side, so it might be harder to hold on to.
  • It doesn’t have an all-around grab rope.
  • The air valve is placed on the bottom, so it might get hit or pulled out accidentally.

7. Inflatable Water Sofa Lounge Chair

This river float tube is specially designed to be like an inflatable water hammock! The unique design lets you sit up more than a river tube with a smaller backrest while still feeling like you’re reclining in a hammock. It’s made out of premium PVC vinyl that’s durable and long-lasting, even against rivers. 

This river float tube is also unique because it’s got a brightly-colored, trendy design that’s sure to draw all the attention and praise from your friends! Although this tube is smaller in diameter than most other river tubes, it’s still just as comfortable and sturdy against the elements. 

It’s even comfortable for people over six feet tall! It’s lightweight and easy to carry and even folds flat for easy storage. It’s easy to inflate and deflate with a basic air valve. It also features a mesh bottom that lets water in to keep you cool while you’re relaxing in the sun. 

The cup holder keeps your drink sturdy without issue, unlike some floats. Plus, this river float tube is moderately priced!

Pros

  • It’s specially designed to be like a floating chair on the water.
  • It’s made with soft and thick, high-quality PVC that stands up to river water.
  • It inflates and deflates quickly.
  • It features two sturdy handles to hold onto.
  • The bright and colorful design will have all eyes on you.

Cons

  • It doesn’t have an all-around grab rope.
  • It’s smaller in diameter than the average river tube.
  • It only has one cup holder.

8. AirMyFun Tropical Plants Swim Ring

This river float tube does not have quite as many features as some other tubes, but it is just as durable and strong as the others! It’s uniquely designed with a bright pink and blue leaf pattern and made with non-toxic, ultra-safe, and durable PVC. It’s also designed with first-class seaming technology to ensure safety while preventing air leakage and deflation. 

The streamlined design also features an inflation port that allows this river float tube to be inflated in as little as three minutes. This tube includes a deflation valve that prevents air leakage while also enabling quick deflation when needed. Although this river tube doesn’t include cup holders, a backrest, or grab handles, it’s still easy to get onto and relax in while floating down a river. 

It’s lightweight and easy to carry, especially when you’re hiking to a river. All in all, this river float tube is simply designed and perfect for summer days on the river while also being one of the most inexpensive options on the market.

Pros

  • It’s made with odorless, eco-friendly, ultra-strong PVC material.
  • It’s lightweight and easy to travel with.
  • The colorful, unique pattern lets you float in style.
  • It’s smaller in diameter but great for kids and adults alike.
  • It’s got a super low price and comes with a repair patch.

Cons

  • It doesn’t have grab handles to hold onto.
  • It doesn’t have a backrest to lean on.
  • It doesn’t have cup holders to carry drinks.

9. Solstice Super Chill 1 Person River Tube

This river float tube is so big and comfy, even riders over six feet tall can enjoy it! It features a Boston double valve (one one-way and one full open-face) inflation system so you can add air, even if you’re out on the water. Although it can not automatically inflate on its own, this tube is easy to inflate and can quickly be inflated with the use of an air pump. 

You can even adjust the firmness of the built-in backrest to your comfort level! The hole in the tube is covered by mesh netting to keep you cool and secured while you’re floating down the river. This tube is made for heavy wear and tear and is made from high-quality, durable vinyl that can hold over 250 pounds. 

You can stay hydrated with two onboard cup holders and rest easy knowing that you can grab onto two heavy-duty grip handles or the all-around grab rope if you find yourself slipping. Overall, this river float tube maintains a high value for an affordable price!

Pros

  • It features an all-around grab rope for easy accessibility. 
  • You stay comfortable with the built-in backrest.
  • It’s made with durable, high-endurance vinyl.
  • It comes with nylon mesh seat inserts for added comfort and support.
  • It features 2 grab handles and 2 cupholders.

Cons

  • The air valve is near your arm, so you may rub it while sitting back.
  • It doesn’t come with a rope system to attach to other tubes.
  • You can’t self-inflate with the valve system.

10. Airhead Ragin’ River

This river float tube is considered one of the more luxurious models on the market. The oversized backrest keeps you supported while you’re lounging, and the mesh seating panels keep you cool as you relax under the sun. 

Although this tube doesn’t have an all-around grab rope that you can hold onto or use to attach yourself to other tubes, it does have two rope anchors welded to the sides that you can use to connect your tube with others. When in doubt, you can also hold onto the two molded handles to stay secure! 

One of this river tube’s unique features is the extra-large speed safety valve, which allows you to quickly deflate and easily inflate it. Not to mention the added bonus of two cup holders right next to the grip handles so you can stay hydrated while spending the day on the river. 

Although the seat is smaller than some other river tubes, it comfortably fits even the tallest riders. It’s no wonder this river float tube is considered a luxurious commodity for a slightly higher than average price and the extra features.

Pros

  • You can easily tether to other river float tubes with 2 side rope anchors.
  • It features an oversized backrest and two cup holders.
  • It includes two molded handles for easy gripping.
  • You can inflate and deflate quickly with the extra-large speed valve.
  • It’s made with a mesh seating panel to keep you cool.

Cons

  • It doesn’t have an all-around grab rope.
  • It’s got a smaller seat than the average river tube.
  • It’s on the pricier side.

Types of Best River Float Tubes

River float tubes may look the same on the surface, but there’s a big difference between them. There are even different categories for types of river float tubes. Tractor tubes were tires that people would use to go tubing in, but that tradition went out of style a long time ago. Instead, you should be focused on finding the perfect specialized river float tube – here’s why.

Why Specialized Tubes Are Better Than Tractor Tubes

For a long time, people used tractor tubes when they went river-tubing. Sure, tractor tubes are readily available and get the job done, so to speak, but tractor tubes weren’t designed to be used for river floating the way specialized tubes were. 

Specialized tubes were actually designed with safety features and are made to protect riders in more ways than one. Specialized river float tubes are not only made to be safe and durable, but they’re also made to hold more weight and be more comfortable than tractor tubes. 

So rather than worrying about whether your tractor tube will be enough to keep you safe, why not just get a specialty river float tube and enjoy your time on the river! The less time you spend worrying, the more fun you have in the sun and in the river.

Benefits of Using Best River Float Tubes

As we’ve already discussed, it’s a shame to invest in a river float tube and have it bust on you after one or two uses. You want to know what you’re getting yourself into before you make your final purchase, and you want to make sure it’s worth as much as it costs.

You also deserve the best river float tube that makes you the most comfortable. After all, the whole point of spending your day floating down the river is to relax, so you might as well be able to enjoy a drink or lean back on a backrest while you soak up some sun! 

Everyone is different and has different needs. Maybe you’re a smaller-sized person and need a smaller-sized river float tube so you can comfortably paddle yourself around with your hands, or maybe you’re tall and need a big river float tube you can stretch out on. There’s a chance you could both use the same river float tube, or maybe you need very different style tubes. 

Either way, you have to make that call for yourself and figure out the best river float tube for you.

Best River Float Tube Features

Valve stems are a huge determining factor in the safety of your river float tubes. Tractor tubes have metal valve stems that can cut you or cause your float to deflate easily. On the other hand, specialized tubes are designed with rubber safety valve stems and caps that prevent leaks, reinforce inflation, and protect you from getting hurt or injured in an accident.

Backrests make your experience more comfortable and protect you against pain in your neck, shoulders, and back. Handles are a necessary safety feature that helps you hold on in rough water and add comfort to your river floating experience. If you don’t have something to hold onto, you could fall out and lose your river float tube. 

The kind of material the bottom of your tube is made of also makes a difference. As we’ve mentioned, mesh bottoms can let in water and keep you cool while protecting you from getting scratched by rocks in shallow water. 

Bottoms made out of vinyl or any other kind of material can protect you by giving you even more coverage and support, even if they don’t let water in to keep you cooled off. 

Added comfort features like cup holders may not seem like something that could make or break your decision on which tube to purchase, but just think – you could be spending several hours out on open water. Why wouldn’t you want a convenient place to hold your drink while you’re lounging and trying to relax?

Safety Tips

Being outdoors, especially for a long time, will always require some safety diligence to make sure no one gets hurt. Some of our favorite, most notable safety tips when it comes to river float tubing include:

  • Stay hydrated! Your body gets dehydrated quicker when you’re out in the sun, so make sure you put your cupholders to use and keep a water bottle on you at all times.
  • Avoid tubing in areas with big surface-level rocks or low-lying trees. You could end up disturbing turtles or snakes and get hurt in the process.
  • Dry off your tube and yourself when you’re done for the day! Wet clothes can cause rash or discomfort, and a wet tube can rot if not dried off properly before being deflated and put away in storage. 
  • Keep an air pump with you! Some river float tubes can take a while to inflate, even with fancy valve systems, so it’s a good idea to keep a pump on you for easy inflation.

Additionally, you may be asking yourself if this summertime activity is dangerous. There’s always a little risk with most things in life when going outdoors for long periods of time, especially in water, but we’ll answer the question a little more definitively.

Is River Tubing Dangerous?

As with all things in life, you get out what you put in! So long as you take proper precautions, you should have a worry-free trip to the river. Make sure you protect yourself from the sun’s rays! Wear waterproof sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses and drink lots of water to prevent dehydration. 

You should also protect your skin by wearing waterproof shoes and loose, light-colored, water-safe clothing. You don’t want to get cuts on your feet or wear baggy clothing that could take forever to dry or drag you down in the case of getting knocked into the water. That being said, be careful where you go river tubing! 

Don’t go tubing in shallow water, near waterfalls, or in big areas that take you too far from shore. Always stay with the group you came with by tying yourself to each other and staying aware of your surroundings to prevent accidents or injuries.

Best River Float Tubes Comparison Chart

Product NamePriceSize/DiameterRecommended Age (years)Unique Features
Intex River Run I Sport Lounge$53"9-15Secure with 2 sturdy grab handles and have 2 cup holders
Airhead River Otter Deluxe$48"10-14Made with a polyester double-stitched cover having molded drink holder
Intex River Rat Swim Tube$48"12-15Constructed with double valves for extra safety
Tube Pro Red 44”$44"12+Made with 30 gauge PVC vinyl having 2 large grab handlers
Bestway CoolerZ Single Person Rapid Rider Inflatable$53"1-8Made with two heavy-duty handles with two cup holders.
Bestway CoolerZ Rapid Rider Inflatable 2 Person Blow Up$53"10+Having 1 comfy backrest, 2 cup holders, and 2 handles to hold on tight
Inflatable Water Sofa Lounge Chair$47"3+Made out of premium PVC vinyl with 2 sturdy handles
AirMyFun Tropical Plants Swim Ring$42"8+Made with odorless, eco-friendly, ultra-strong PVC material
Solstice Super Chill 1 Person River Tube$44"10+Boston double valve inflation system to add air
Airhead Ragin’ River$48"8+Made with a mesh seating panel to keep you cool

Wrap Up

The last thing you want to do when you’re getting ready for the summer is worry about getting a river float tube that will be comfortable and last throughout the season. However, with our reviews of 10 of the best river float tubes and our buyer’s guide full of helpful tips, you’re sure to find the best river float tube for you!

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