What’s more relaxing than floating down a river with your friends and family? We can’t think of much that can compare to that feeling, but it’s a lot more satisfying when you own your own float tube instead of having to pay extortionate rates to rent them out. When you have your own float tube, you also don’t have to wait for large events so you can comfortably float down a river.
In today’s guide, we’re going to take a look at some of the best float tubes for rivers on the market. Aside from the product reviews, we’ll also include a section of buying advice in this article.
Let’s dive right in with the best float tube for rivers, the Intex River Run!
Best Float Tube for Rivers
Our Top Pick: Intex River Run River Float Tube 2-pack
Key Points at a Glance
- Made of resilient 18-gauge vinyl
- The strong mesh bottom provides ventilation and support
- Equipped with a backrest for superior comfort
- Dual air chambers for redundancy and enhanced stability
- Quick-release valve allows for deflation in just one minute
Our best float tube for rivers is the classic Intex River Run model. This is one of the most popular river float tubes on the market, and with good reason. The classic design of this model is coupled with a relatively reasonable price point that provides the buyer with excellent performance and good value for money.
To enhance the value of this product even further, it comes available in a pack of two , ensuring that you can enjoy your float down the river with friends and family. This float tube features a relatively simple design that may not be revolutionary, but it has certainly proven itself over time. After all, a river float tube isn’t that complex in the first place.
The Intex River Run is made out of 18-gauge vinyl to ensure that it won’t tear or shear due to things like underwater rocks and the rigors of transportation. It even features two air chambers that help keep it afloat in case one side of the float tube is breached. While this will drastically cut the River Run’s weight capacity, it may just be enough to keep you afloat.
Other things that impressed us about this float tube include the dual cupholders, ensuring that you can bring multiple beverages of your choice along with you on your float down the river. The inclusion of a mesh bottom ensures that the interior of the float tube doesn’t get uncomfortably hot while you’re using it.
There is even a backrest built into this float tube so that you can lean back against it without having to worry about falling out of the tube. While this may not be the most original design on the market, it’s a classic example of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
This is the Best Float Tube for Rivers.
- WATER FUN: The Intex Lounge Tube is designed for...
- SIMPLE INFLATION: Safety air valve and...
- DESIGN: This Intex tube is built with durable...
- CAPACITY: The tube weighs 5.44 pounds and has a...
- INCLUDES: This product includes an all-around grab...
Our Runner Up: Airhead River Otter River Float Tube
Key Points at a Glance
- Equipped with a pair of molded plastic carry handles
- Features a cup holder on the right side
- Made of durable heavy-gauge PVC with a polyester cover
- Rope anchors allow for tethering several float tubes together
- The speed safety valve improves the speed of inflation and deflation
Airhead’s River Otter is yet another classic design that is similar to the Intex River Run. Unlike the River Run, this one comes in a pack of just one, making it an excellent pick if you’re trying to save money and you don’t need the additional float tube that comes included in a pack with our winning pick.
Like Intex, Airhead makes several high quality inflatable craft. Their towable tubes are legendary.
Some of the main features of this float tube include the two durable molded handles that make it easier to get in and out of the water. Just next to the handle on the right side, you’ll find an insulated cupholder that can keep your drink cool for the duration of your time spent on the river.
To make this model as durable as possible, Airhead constructed it out of heavy-duty vinyl that can put up with the stresses of your typical float down the river. There is also a double-stitched polyester cover that is just as durable as the material that lies beneath it. If you intend to float down the river with friends and family, each River Otter has a pair of anchor points that you can use to connect additional float tubes.
Helping you get out on the water faster, the River Otter is also equipped with a quick-inflate/deflate valve that makes it easier to set up and tear down. In most ways, this is similar to the Intex River Run that we chose as our victor, but it unfortunately doesn’t offer quite the same level of value for money due to its higher price point per unit.
- Ultimate river float has 2 comfortable molded...
- Constructed of Heavy gauge PVC tube and double...
- Two rope anchors are welded to the sides so that...
- Speed Safety Valve for quick inflating and...
- 42 inch diameter (deflated)
Best Budget: Jasonwell Giant Inflatable Unicorn River Float Tube
Key Points at a Glance
- Features a 400-pound max weight capacity
- Large enough to hold at least two people at a time
- Made of raft-grade materials without phthalates
- Equipped with fast valves for quick inflation and deflation
- Compatible with Jasonwell’s 2-in-1 air pump (sold separately)
I mean come on, these unicorns are amazing! This model combines an excellent price point with a style that won’t soon be forgotten thanks to the bright rainbow tail and mane along with the distinguished golden horn on this equine masterpiece.
With a weight limit of 400 pounds and a large upper surface on which at least two people can sit comfortably, this river float tube is a great choice for friends, couples, and families. The handles on the unicorn’s neck give you a convenient point to hang on to while you’re on your way down the river, and they double as transportation handles.
This river float is made out of raft-grade synthetic materials that have been processed without phthalates so that this product is as safe as possible. This river float tube is also equipped with fast valves, that allow you to inflate and deflate it up to five times quicker than models with more traditional valves.
While this model can be inflated using the Jasonwell air pump, keep in mind that it doesn’t come included with one. Aside from this minor complaint, we didn’t have too much trouble with Jasonwell’s Giant Inflatable Unicorn. If you need a giant river unicorn, look no further!
- Giant. Big: 114in * 55in *47in( Fully inflated )
- Designed to hold 2 adults,more than 400 pounds.
- Thick,soft and durable premium raft-grade...
- New matt finish with Fast Valves, More than 5x...
- Allows inflation with hairdryer, toy air pump or...
Best for Multiple People: Bestway Rapid Rider X4 River Float Tube
Key Points at a Glance
- Comfortably supports up to four people at a time
- Equipped with dual air chambers for redundancy and balance
- Each seat is equipped with a backrest cushion
- Every passenger has their own cup holder
- Durable rope handles for easy transportation
Bestway’s Rapid Rider X4 is one of our favorite river float tubes for groups, as that’s what it’s specifically designed for. This four-seater float tube comes equipped with enough space to keep every passenger comfortable, and it has a few amenities that put it a step beyond many of its competing river float tubes for groups.
There is one cup holder for each of the four spots on this float tube, but that’s not the only way to keep your drinks cool. Between two of the passenger pairs, you’ll find a couple of built-in coolers with sealable lids, allowing you to keep your drinks cold for the duration of your trip as you work your way down the river.
Each passenger also has an inflatable backrest that allows them to lounge out without worry of falling out of the float tube. Every spot also has a mesh bottom that will help keep you cool and ventilated on even the hottest days. To get this float tube in and out of the water, just use the grab rope that extends around its circumference.
The center of this float tube is also conveniently open so that any of the passengers can dip their feet in the water if they feel the heat of the day getting to them. This is one of the best river float tubes for groups, and what makes it even better is its surprisingly affordable price point.
- Floating island for 4 people made using sturdy...
- 2 air chambers for additional safety
- Three comfortable backrest cushions
- Open bottom to dip feet into water
- Heavy-Duty Handles
Best Connectable: Intex River Run Connect Lounge River Float Tube 2-pack
Key Points at a Glance
- Made out of 18-gauge vinyl for resilience
- Equipped with multiple tether points for other float tubes
- Equipped with carry handles and a cupholder
- Ventilated mesh underside
- Comes in a pack of two
The second Intex product on our list is the River Run Connect Lounge, which is a more specialized variant of the River Run, featuring everything you love about our top choice but putting a new twist on it. As the name suggests, the River Run Connect Lounge is designed to connect to other float tubes.
With its secure clasp system, the Connect Lounge allows you to stay with your fellow floaters through even the most jarring of trips down the river. You’ll find many of the great features of the standard Intex River Run model in this one, including the dual air chambers that help make this model safer and more stable.
Much like the regular River Run, the Connect Lounge comes in packs of two, providing the buyer with superior value for money when compared to many of the other choices on this list. The PVC construction of this float tube also helps ensure that it doesn’t spring a leak because you scraped against the bottom of the river.
On the upper surface of the River Run Connect Lounge, you’ll find a pair of heavy-duty carry handles accompanied by a cup holder. You’ll also find the signature backrest of the River Run on this model, keeping you comfortable for your entire trip. If you’re looking for the top connectable river float tube, this is it.
- Built with durable 18 gauge vinyl
- Mesh bottom keeps you cool and comfortable
- Built in backrest for easy cruising
- 2 air chambers for stability and comfort
- 2 heavy duty handles make carrying a breeze
Float Tube for Rivers Buyer’s Guide
You should buy a river float tube if your town typically hosts river float events or if you just want to float down a smaller river with your friends and family. Having your own float tube can help you avoid the high markups that are associated with river float tube rentals.
When you have your own float tube, you can also ensure that it’s up to your expectations and that it’s equipped with all the features you require in it. For example, if you want a multi-person float tube, nothing’s stopping you from getting one.
Having your own river float tube will also allow you to use it in your home pool so you can sit back and relax during nicer summer days.
Even if you’re just tired of dealing with day-to-day stress and you want to spend some time floating around, you can benefit from a river float tube.
Important Features to Consider
Connectable or Not
One of the first things to consider is whether or not you want a float tube that can be tethered to others. For some large river float events, many people link together their float tubes and form a giant party that slowly makes its way down the river.
Even if you’re not trying to participate in a larger event, being able to link your float tube to others allows you to spend time with your family and friends and ensure that you don’t all get separated by the current. Depending on the strength of the current, the durability of the links between the tubes is something that you may want to prioritize.
Whether or not your float tube is durable is another thing to consider, as you don’t want to get your hands on one that will fail you by the second day you own it. To determine whether or not a float tube is durable, carefully consider the materials that are used in its construction and whether or not you can rely on them.
Most float tubes are made of reinforced vinyl, also known as PVC, and this is typically durable enough to put up with the rigors that you’ll put them through. Some of the most durable float tubes will even feature a cover that will improve their durability.
Floating down a river is generally pretty safe, but things can go wrong. You should look for river float tubes that also come equipped with some safety features. One of the most important features to look for in a safe float tube is the inclusion of dual air bladders.
When the air in a float tube is spread between two bladders instead of just one, one of them getting pierced will be less likely to result in the float tube quickly deflating and sinking under you. Along with making your float tube less likely to sink, the air being spread between two bladders can improve a model’s stability.
Finally, also consider the inflation valve that’s used on your float tube. For ease of transportation, you’ll typically want to bring your float tube to the river while it’s deflated and blow it up once you get there. The valve’s design will determine how quickly you can do this and get out on the water.
The valve will also influence how quickly and easily you can deflate your river float tube so that you can store it and transport it back home.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can you stay safe during a river float event?
There are a few things to do to ensure that you’re as safe as possible while you float down your river of choice. First and foremost, make sure that you have a personal flotation device to ensure that you can stay above water if you ever fall off your float tube.
Next, make sure that you don’t bring along any glass bottles. Limit yourself to plastic bottles or cans to ensure that you don’t end up cutting yourself on pieces of shattered glass if you hit a rock too hard.
Finally, have a plan for how you’re going to get back home after you reach the end point. You should typically have a friend or family member waiting for you in a vehicle so you can easily make your way back home when you’re done.
What are some common hazards I’ll encounter while floating down a river?
Some of the most common hazards include sharp rocks that can cut through your float tube and potentially even injure you. Keep an eye out for any jagged rocks that are peeking out of the water and try to do what you can to avoid them.
Another common hazard is traffic on the waterway, especially if you’re not taking part in an organized river float event. Keep a close eye out for boats and other people on the water who can potentially injure you if they collide with your float tube.
Other Products We Looked At:
Jasonwell’s Giant Inflatable Pegasus is essentially a reskinned version of their Unicorn with added wings. These wings give people in the water a convenient point to hold on to, meaning that the Pegasus technically supports more passengers than the Unicorn. However, this model is still limited to the Unicorn’s 400-pound weight limit.
The Pegasus still has all of the features that you can expect to find on our top budget model, including the fast valve that allows you to inflate and deflate it in under a minute. The durable raft-grade vinyl on the Pegasus is durable enough to be used during more treacherous river runs, even though it’s technically designed for pool use.
Much like the Unicorn, there are two convenient handles on each side of the Pegasus’s neck, ensuring that you can stay aboard while going over more turbulent currents. One of the only weaknesses of this model compared to the Unicorn (and the reason why it didn’t make it to the top five) is its higher price point.
Key Points at a Glance
- Fully inflated dimensions: 98.4 x 98.4 x 54.2 inches
- Can be inflated with a hand pump, electric pump, and a hairdryer on cool
- Made of matte raft-grade material without phthalates
Up next, we have the Giant Inflatable Flamingo from Jasonwell, which has many of the same features as the Unicorn and Pegasus, but this time in the shape of a bird. One of the main advantages of the Flamingo over the other two models is the eye-catching pink that it comes in, ensuring that nobody will miss you floating down the river.
Another similarity between this and the equine variants of Jasonwell’s river floats is its large size, supporting up to two adults. The wing-floats on the sides of the Pelican are also convenient points from which you can climb aboard, and other people in the water can cling to them, much like the Pegasus’s wings.
Like the other Jasonwell float tubes, this model doesn’t come included with an air pump, but it can be inflated with a piece of paper rolled into a cone and a hair dryer on the “cool” setting. Much like the Pegasus, this model didn’t make it into our top five because it’s a bit more expensive than the Unicorn.
Key Points at a Glance
- Double-bed type fast valves improve speed of inflation and deflation
- Convenient carry handles on both sides of the neck
- Can hold up to 400 pounds
Jasonwell’s most affordable offering is their Inflatable Dinosaur River Float Tube, though this relatively low price is due to this model being far smaller than the Pegasus, Flamingo, and Unicorn. This model is about the same size as your typical single-person river float tube, as it’s only 42 inches in diameter.
The fun dinosaur design makes this float tube more suitable for children, but it can support riders of all ages relatively comfortably. Much like the rest of Jasonwell’s float tubes, this model is made of phthalate-free PVC that is designed to couple durability and softness, making it more comfortable than many of its competitors.
It also features the quick-inflate and quick-deflate valve that you’ll find on all of Jasonwell’s other products, and it has been lab-tested for safety and non-toxicity. Unfortunately, this model doesn’t feature extras like a cup holder or carry handles, making it a little more challenging to handle when compared to other float tubes.
Key Points at a Glance
- 42 inches in diameter
- Made of soft, phthalate-free material
- Safety tested in a lab and certified
To sum things up, let’s take a look at the products that made the top three spots in our float tube review guide.
The winner, by a rather slim margin, was the classic Intex River Run, which features everything you’d need in a river float tube combined with a reliable and proven design. With its durable PVC construction and twin air bladders, this model can put up with abuse that would otherwise hole and sink its competitors, and it comes in a pack of two.
If you’d rather get a top-quality float tube and don’t want to pay for an extra one, you can opt for our runner up, the Airhead River Otter. This high-quality float tube may not be quite as affordable as the River Run, but it makes up for this with its extras, including a pair of rope anchors for connecting to other tubes and its impressive build quality.