Rope Challenge

Choosing the right rope for tubing can be a challenge.

May 28, 2008
Choosing a Tow Rope

Ropes seem to be an afterthought when it comes to towed water sports. But think about it: Without the rope, there would be no sport. It is, aside from a proper-fitting life vest, the most crucial safety feature when towing anyone behind the boat. For tubing, maybe you, like so many others, have asked the following questions:

Why do I need a special rope for tubing?
Convenience is one reason. There is no handle to remove and most tube ropes have floats to keep it from sinking, so you won’t have to worry about running over your line. You also need greater overall rope strength when towing tubes, and most are designed with that in mind. The breaking strength should be a minimum of 2,000 pounds (and as high as 6,000 pounds for six-person tubes), whereas a good slalom rope is typically 1,800 pounds (cheap ones are less than that) and is not intended to pull a tube.

Is there a difference in quality among tube ropes?
A big difference. You’ll want to use a higher strand count, especially if you’re pulling multiple riders on a larger tube. A lower strand count and smaller diameter means the rope will stretch more, putting additional stress on the tow point of your boat and giving tubers an uncomfortable ride.


What should I look for on the label?
The label should tell you breaking strength, length, diameter and most important how many tube riders it’s rated to pull at one time. Never tow more riders than your rope is rated for.

How long should a rope last?
That depends on a lot of factors, but remember when a rope sits in a pool of water, is exposed to direct sun or gets knotted, the strength is compromised.

How can I avoid knots when coiling my tube rope?
Each time a tube turns over the rope gets twisted, making it harder to coil. Remove the tube from the rope. Attach the float end of the rope to the boat’s tow point and allow the line to drag freely behind the boat to get all the twists out. Stop the boat and simply pull the rope into the boat, coiling as you go. If you don’t know how to turn the rope when coiling, just make loops as you drop the rope to the floor of the boat. Otherwise, you could create kinks.


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