Obrien Screamer ($145)
Though it’s generations removed, you can feel the simplicity of that inner tube at the heart of Obrien’s best-selling Screamer. Its shape is the familiar circle, measuring 60 inches in diameter for the solo version. But unlike that inner tube, there’s no hole in the middle. A full nylon cover protects the inflatable PVC bladder within. Two large EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate) pads lessen wear at contact points, as well as provide a softer layer against bare elbows and knees. Four padded grab handles offer a choice of handholds to keep the rider securely in position.
Like most tubes, the Screamer arrives already zipped into its removable cover. Inflation is quick and simple; a single Boston-style valve is used to inflate the entire tube. The Screamer’s tow point is a quick-disconnect tow hook. We gave it extra points for additional webbed grab-straps that ease carrying.
The Screamer may be simple, but our testers gave it enthusiastic thumbs up. The size lets the rider manipulate it easily, using body English to maneuver in and out of the wake. Its ample thickness cushions impact with the waves, increasing the fun factor for those riding up top. Simple? Absolutely. Still one heck of a lot of fun? Without a doubt.
Best for: All-purpose fun; great bang for the buck.
More info: Obrien Screamer