Frequently Asked Questions about Towable Tubes

Have you thought about getting a towable tube to enjoy this summer?  If you’ve been looking for one you’ve probably found that you’re not familiar with some of the terminology that’s being used to describe this product and its features.  This list of frequently asked questions and answers should be of some help when shopping for towable tubes and other inflatables:

  1. What material is used to make these tubes?

They are made from 600-1000 Denier Polyester plus 26-28 oz. UV treated PVC. This is the same material that many ocean-going inflatables and inflatable military boats have.  Every seam has been heat-welded to provide maximum strength.  At key stress points, the welds have been doubled.

  1. What is neoprene and why is it used?

Neoprene was developed as a synthetic rubber.  It is used to cover the handles and knuckle guards to provide the rider with a protected and more comfortable grip.  The more riders an inflatable tube can accommodate, the more handles will be required.  Neoprene is also used on knee pads to protect the knees from chaffing while riding a towable tube.

  1. What is the advantage of an “E-Z Connect”?

An E-Z Connect towing harness is the hardware used to allow for an easier and more secure hook-up.  It also provides a better pull.

  1. What do I need to know about a 30 vs. 60 gauge bladder?

A 30 or 60 gauge bladder refers to the thickness of the inner tube of the inflatable towable, which is called the “bladder”.

  1. What is PVC and what is it used for?

PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride and this is a form of plastic which is used in inflatable tubes.  The advantage of using this on the “shell” or outside of the tube is that it is soft and flexible, while at the same time being strong and durable.  It’s fairly inexpensive and very easy to work with.

  1. What are boarding straps and are they necessary?

Boarding straps, also called handles, are necessary because they help tube riders pull themselves back on the tube from the water.

  1. Will I have to pump up my tube with air very often?

It depends on several factors such as whether there are varying temperatures; if so, it may be necessary to add or let some air out to keep your tube at the ideal firmness.  If you’re using your tube all the time, it will be necessary to add air more often than if you’re using it less frequently.

  1. What’s a Boston Valve and is this necessary?

This type of valve is a one-way valve with two separate caps.  These are commonly used on inflatable tubes, blow-up beds, boats, floats and other toys used in the water.  The advantage of this type of valve is that it lets air in, but won’t let air out unless someone is intentionally deflating the tube.  This makes it much easier to fill up the boating tube.  It inflates and deflates much more quickly as well.

  1. What can I do to make sure that the Boston Valve is working properly and not leaking?

There is an O-ring which needs to be placed properly in the valve body.  Make sure it is in place.  Also check to make sure that the valve isn’t scratched or nicked.  Make sure there is no sand in the threads that would prevent it from being screwed down as tight as it needs to be.  The valve body needs to be threaded straight into its base so be careful not to bend it.

If the plastic retainer ring that keeps the valve body from separating from the base gets pulled out of its groove, it can sometimes get trapped between the O-ring and the base.  This can happen when the valve body is being screwed into the base and is usually the case when the valve is found to be leaking air.  To fix this you must reinsert the plastic retainer ring into the groove in the base.  Otherwise you can clip off the ring to make sure it won’t interfere with the O-ring seating the way it needs to on the base.

  1. What is a “self-bailing drain vent”?

This is also called a “self-draining floor vent” and it is used for releasing excess water that tends to collect in the depressions of a deck tube.

  1. Can I use my inflatable tube in salt water?

Inflatable products are made to be used in fresh and salt water.  But it only makes sense that if you are using your tube in salt water for extended periods of time you need to rinse it thoroughly with fresh water and dry it completely before storing it.

  1. What is the best way to care for and store my inflatable product?

When not in use it is best to store in a cool, dry place where it will have little or no exposure to the sun.  This product has been made with UV inhibitors to withstand exposure to the sun but extended exposure can affect the appearance of your product.  All sand should be hosed off as well as any other dirt or debris.  It should be cleaned with mild soap and fresh water.  Before storing it should be dried fully so that no mold or mildew takes hold.  The storage area should not be subject to extreme variations in temperatures.

  1. What are the dos and don’ts for towing an inflatable tube?

The towing harness and ropes should be the proper kind and be higher than the water.  The tube needs to be inflated properly.  It is recommended that it not be towed at speeds over 18 mph.  Never have more than the recommended number of passengers for the size of your inflatable tube.  Riders should sit towards the back of the hull when towing.  Also, never tow without the cover on.

  1. Sometimes the cover doesn’t fit right over the valve/cup holders, why and what can be done?

Sometimes the inner bladder moves inside the cover when deflated.  This causes poor alignment of the bladder and cover.  You can partially deflate the bladder and adjust before re-inflating it.

  1. If my tube gets cut or nicked can I fix it myself?

Most inflatables come with a small kit that has everything you need for putting a patch on a damaged cover or bladder.  There is a zipper access in the cover that can be used to remove your bladder.  The damaged area needs to be clean and dry before using the PVC patch to make the repair.  Follow the directions in your PVC patch repair kit but if the cut is too large for you to repair, you may need to buy another bladder or cover.

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