Summer is here, the weather is warm, the days are sunny, and now it’s time to get out the towable tubes, or maybe purchase a new one. For all those that own a boat having a towable tube is a necessity. Riding a tube does not require as much skill as something like water skiing and it can be fun for kids as well as adults. When you think of inflating a tube you’d think it would be as simple as filling up and going right? Well, it is to a degree. But, if the tube is not correctly inflated and maintained it can affect the life of the tube and the enjoyment that the tube can bring on the water.
Under inflating a tube can cause the tube to sit low in the water and additional stress is applied to the tube, cover, rope, and boat. The stress is caused by the tube being dragged through the water instead of being pulled across it. The air within the tube can be displaced and can cause the tube to rupture. Also, the stress of this can stretch the rope and nylon covers, causing them to tear. So the question would be what is the right amount of air? A tube has the right amount of air when it is very firm and covered tubes are wrinkle free. An adult should be able to stand on the tube and it only sink a few inches.
In order to properly inflate and maintain tubes, you must have the proper equipment. First, it is important to know that tubes do not require high pressure; they are low pressure / high volume products. If you could measure the pressure in a fully inflated tube, it would be around 2 PSI. Most towable tubes can be inflated using one good electric pump or a combination of 12 volt and hand pumps. Some of the newer 12-volt pumps have been designed specifically to inflate beds or tubes, but will still not fully inflate some of the bigger tubes now on the market. (Most 12-volt compressors, while doing an excellent job of filling a bicycle or car tire, do not have the volume capacity to inflate many towables.) If you are filling your toys at the lake, some of the bigger tubes on the market require a hand pump in addition to the 12-volt pump that plugs into your boat’s cigarette lighter. The pump will do most of the hard work, and the hand pump can be used to top off the tube and maintain proper inflation levels.
Now that we all know how to correctly inflate a towable tube, we need to know how to maintain the tube If you leave a full tube sitting in the sun for any length of time, it will expand. Either store it in the shade, or let some air out. Don’t let it sit on the beach, dock, or boat full of air! At the same time, if it is stored out of the sun in a cool place, or put in to cool water, you may need to add air. Heat expands and cold air will contract. Check and adjust inflation levels each time you use your tube. You’ll have more fun, and your items will last longer.