Anatomy of an Inflatable
The actual “inflatable” portion of the tube, the PVC bladder is designed to hold in the air, cushioning the ride and, when properly inflated, improving the performance of the tube on the water. For two or more riders, a 30-gauge bladder is recommended. Avoid anything thinner, which will not offer the strength and puncture resistance necessary.
Typically an 840-denier nylon, the cover protects the more vulnerable PVC bladder from punctures and damage, improves the performance by offering a smooth surface against the water, and is a canvas for colors and graphics. Covers should fit tightly, with minimal slack or puckering. Additional EVA or neoprene pads are often featured in high-wear areas. Seams should be double-stitched. Avoid polyester, which does not have the required tear strength.
Look for multiple grab handles sewn into the cover to keep your passengers aboard. Rather than simple webbed straps, modern handles are typically rounded and padded to ease strain on bare, wet hands. Neoprene knuckle uards, positioned below each handle, avoid scuffs against the rougher nylon wrap.
Valves allow for rapid inflation and deflation of the inflatable bladder, and are typically accessed through padded flaps in the nylon cover. Boston-style valves are most common. They feature a one-way valve with two caps. Unscrew the smaller cap for inflation; unscrew the entire valve assembly from the tube to rapidly deflate. Tip: If you ever want to get the tube as tightly packed as it comes from the manufacturer, don’t simply unscrew the valve. Instead, reverse the direction of your inflator and suck as much air as possible out of the tube.
Quick-Connect Tow Hook
The attachment points that connects tube to tow rope, most tow hooks are made of a durable nylon and allow for quick attachment and detachment to and from the tow line without binding. Tow hooks are commonly anchored to a webbed strap, which is sewn directly into the nylon cover with reinforced stitching.