2015 Water Sports Gear Guide: Towables

The top towables for enjoying time in the wake of a boat.

Tow Point
Never use a tow tower or center-mount ski tow to tow a tube! Should the tube dive, the stress would be enormous. You can use a transom ski tow, or better yet, affix a bridle between transom rings. Inflate
Make sure you inflate your towable to its maximum pressure. A soft tube means a saggy cover, which catches the water rather than skim over it. Electric inflators are available in portable and built-in models, and allow for easy deflation and stowage as well. Safety
While it's always important to be aware of buoys, anchored boats and flotsam (like logs), this is especially true when towing tubers. Though some towables can be steered, they are in no way as maneuverable as skis or boards. And passive tube riders might be less aware than an athlete. Be extra careful. Connect
Select a rope rated at 1,500 pounds for single-rider tubes. Double-rider tubes require a rope rated for 2,300 pounds. For four riders, select a rope with a 4,150-pound rating. Six-rider ropes are rated at 6,000 pounds. Better towables feature a quick-disconnect tow point that makes hooking up easy.
Airhead Livewire 3
Things We Like: A multitude of riding positions means your crew will always have excitement riding the Livewire. + Dual tow points change the ride completely. + Multiple foam-filled handles with neoprene knuckle guards ensure rider comfort and confidence. Size: Three-rider capacity MSRP: $430
airhead.com
HO Glide 2
Things We Like: The HO Convex Construction's large riding surface combined with small water contact area makes for a thrilling ride. + It comes with an HO Quick Connect tow point for easy use. + Boston valves make inflation and deflation easy as pie. Size: Two-rider capacity, 70-inch diameter MSRP: $340
hosports.com
HO Mavericks
Things We Like: Softshell Tech top sheet keeps your ride comfortable. + The wings on the side make this tube very stable. + Boston valves make inflation and deflation super easy. Size: Two-, three- or four-rider capacity models MSRP: $195, $285, $360
hosports.com
Liquid Force Party Machine
Things We Like: Inflatable headrests for the casual relaxing cruise. + Knuckle guards save your hands when you're hanging on for dear life. + Leakproof Boston valves allow easy inflating and deflating. Size: Three-rider capacity MSRP: $320
liquidforce.com
O'Brien Flip Out
Things We Like: It has the capacity for two riders up to 340 pounds total in easy-chair comfort. + Stowage is built in aboard this tube. Yee-haw! + Quick-connect tow point plus Boston and ECO valves mark this as a top-quality towable tube. Size: Two-rider capacity, 74'x 54" MSRP: $280
obrien.com
Radar Renegade 3
Things We Like: Hexagon shape gives you tons of surface area for stability. + Padded elbow/knee area has extra comfort. + Thirty-gauge PVC bladder keeps this tube extra durable for many years. Size: Three-rider capacity MSRP: $180
radarskis.com
Sportstuff Highroller 2
Things We Like: The unique multisphere design hardly touches the water while being towed, providing exciting motion. + Strategically placed armrests and footrests afford riders the security required, even in whippy turns. + Patented Speed Safety Valve makes inflation and deflation easy. Size: Two-rider capacity MSRP: $360
sportsstuff.com
West Marine Vortex One-Rider Tube
Things We Like: It's made with a heavy-duty virgin PVC bladder for durability. + Its welded seams and double-stitched nylon cover are also great durability features. + A quartet of nylon handles with knuckle guards provides for secure riding. Size: One-rider capacity, 48-inch diameter MSRP: $70
westmarine.com