Best Inner Tubes for River Floating: Battle Tested Tubes Revealed

If you are in a Hurry the Best Inflatable River Tubes Value Pack is the Intex River Run 4 Pack


The Best Tube for Inner Tubing is the Intex River Run 1


It’s a beautiful Sunny Day as you walk by a river or beach and you desperately want to feel the refreshing water against your skin, but you are not dressed for it nor do you feel like committing to getting your whole body wet. This is where Inner Tubes come in handy! Inflatable Floating Islands are pretty great too actually!

Floating tubes or tubes for floating down the river, (not to be confused with pool floats) is one of my favourite activities to do during the summer! It is a great way to get outside relax and simply enjoy the water and the great outdoors. Rivers and Floating go hand in hand and were meant to be enjoyed together! Here in B.C. there are several rivers that people including myself flock to to go river floating such as Shuswap river, Okanagan Lake and the Capilano River Near North Vancouver. 

Some places will want to charge you to use their floats but there are plenty out there that are cheap enough to use for multiple uses! Here I will show you what I believe are the best river float tubes. I personally tried a few of these and have looked for inner tubes with consistently high customer satisfaction ratings.

Reasons to get a Good Quality Inner Tube

  • Puncture Resistant Material
  • Lasts for Multiple Uses
  • Easy to Inflate and Deflate as well as transport
  • The Sun is out and all of your friends are hitting the lake or river with their Floatation Tubes
  • They are pretty cheap, especially when bought in bulk
  • It is one of the best ways to to relax in the sun
  • Some can hold beverages
  • The gentle rocking of the waves is meditative and soothing

Click The Sections Below to Jump to Compare Prices.

What to Look for in best Inner Tubes for River Floating

When looking for the best tubes for floating down the river it is always good to remember a few key things. (These are not to be confused with towable tubes that are pulled behind a boat. )

Is it Durable?

Make sure to look for strong material when looking at durable river tubes. The river often likes to spring tiny sharp surprises at you even when coming to shore! Canvas covered poly bottoms are usually the way to go but there are other strong materials out there that work. These canvases also help shade your float tube from the sun deteriorating the inner tube.If you do happen to buy a floatable tube that is made of thinner quality materials then it is best that you stay in the deeper end of the lake and mind where you are going.

In my experience inner tubes like the River Run I typically can last 2- 3 summers depending on how often you use them. Some more, some less.  


This is the part that many of us often forget about. Only to be reminded just before your about to go into the water that you have to inflate the darn thing! I highly recommend using a pump when inflating these floaty tubes. This is because it takes a lot longer when you are trying to huff and puff all of your breaths into the tube floats. Believe me, for the extra $15 to $30 it is definitely a worthwhile expense. Not only does it take way longer but it also requires a lot more effort which I would rather use for  floating. I often use a leaf blower vac with the proper housing to inflate my inner tube.

What are you Planning on Bringing?

I weigh a good amount of importance to this because I personally like bringing stuff such as water bottles or erhmm beer! If you don’t plan on bringing anything or one hand held item than a simple floaty tube is great! However if you are more like me and you want to bring stuff with you on your floating journey then I would look for a tube with cup holders, a storage area or netting on the bottom. It becomes quite uncomfortable juggling a bunch of things when floating down the river in nothing but a tube.

Inner Tube Manoeuvrability

Inner Tubes or inflatable river floats, are the more desirable to float down a river with than actual pool floats because A) They are more durable and B) It is way easier to steer and maneuver these river inner tubes than if you were on a big honking Unicorn floatie! When picking the best inner tubes for river floating try to keep this in mind.

Things to Remember when River Tubing

Ones does not just bring or rent a river tube and go floating ! There are several things you have to remember before hand Below I have created a don’t forget checklist on what to bring before your river adventure.

Check List

best inner tubes for river floating

  • Sunscreen: Even on a cloudy day sunscreen is very important to bring with you so that you reduce a sunburn or possibly worse. I can count on more than one occasion where my friends have looked like lobsters
  • Sunglasses: Remember how your parents told you to never look at the sun for an extended period of time? Well this hold true even if you are not looking directly at it  
  • Bug repellent: A lot of people forget this one but it is quite Important! Riverc can be breeding grounds for mosquitos and other insects such as duck mites. I Shuswap River there are Duck Mites and often time if you are floating for an extended period of time you will get a lot of red dots on your back!
  • Cash or Credit Card: If you are going to an actual floating centre where they charge you this is important. Keep a waterproof bag handy for you wallet or just simply bring a credit card.
  • Key floats: The last thing you want is to be enjoying your time down the river only to find out that you lost your house or car keys down the river! There are a wide variety of inexpensive key floats you can get likethis one.
  • WaterProof Phone Pouch: If you are bringing your phone with you it is important to put it in a waterproof pouch so that it does not get water damaged.
  • Life Jacket/Vest: This one may not sound important but if your floatie pops it is better to be safe than sorry!
  • Water: Right up there with Sunscreen it is vital to stay hydrated while floating in the hot sun. Getting heat stroke is no laughing matter.


Other Things to Remember

Make sure you are in touch with the local laws and watch for warnings by signs along the river. I would recommend going to popular river destinations around your area. Do not go to uncharted rivers because you will never know what will lay ahead. Always keep of a sound mind!

If you want your group of friends to stay together I recommend getting a cord. Especially if the floaties are different weights and sizes. Some floaties like the River Run series already have them attached to the inner tube.

Best Value Pack Inner Tubes

Below I will review some inner tubes that come in Multiples or value packs so that you can have backups for yourself or spares for friends if you decide to be so generous. These Multi Pack inner Tubes well end up giving you the best bang for your buck as bulk will always be cheaper.

Buying in bulk is best for getting a whole big group of friends together for the day or weekend and enjoying the sun. Here are some of the best inner tubes for river floating value packs

Value Pack Inner Tubes Full Reviews

Tap (or Click) below to see Full Reviews)

These are one of my favorite river rafting tubes because it is designed so simply but allows for a lot of flexibility. The River Run brings the perfect combination of my 3 criteria of blending good durability with plenty of room to bring things like water and beer onboard. It also is very maneuverable allowing you to navigate your way through the river and all of its obstacles.

I have owned several of these floaties and they hold up relatively well. I have had one experience where one of them has had a slow puncture but that was because I had it tied up in the water just off of the shallow water where there were pointy rocks. As of this year I’ve had one of these floaties last 3 years. When It’s finished I may even consider hanging it up on my wall!

Another great thing about getting a 4 pack of these inner tubes is that you can interlink them thanks to their interlinking cords. This is an ideal feature to have if you want to stay anchored to one place.

>>See What Customers Say<<

What We Liked

  • Double Cup Holders
  • Lots of room to put sealed drinks in netting
  • Netting insures nothing gets lost
  • Comfortable enough to spend hours in
  • Lasts a decent amount of time
  • Great for a group of friends on the lake or cabin
  • Very Maneuverable

What We Didn’t Like

  • Can Puncture if you are not careful
  • harder to paddle against the wind

Very Similar to the Intex River Run tubes both in design and philosophy so what’s the difference? The main difference you may notice off the bat is that the Best Way Rapid Rider 4 pack is actually cheaper then the River Run 4 pack. Does this mean the quality is not as good? In one word yes, I felt that these floaties were a bit more flimsy then the River Runs but they still did the job they were supposed to.

 Still Bestway is no slouch and neither are these floaties. It is still made with 18 gauge vinyl and customers seem to be pretty happy with it’s performance in rivers. This is the Ideal inner tube to use for a few times in the summer. Just watch out for sharp objects!

>>See What Customers Say<<

What We Liked

  • Double Cup Holders
  • Lots of room to put stuff in the floatie
  • Netting insures nothing gets lost in the water
  • Good Comfort level
  • Soft Material
  • Great for a group of friends on the lake or cabin
  • Very Maneuverable

What We Didn’t Like

  • Less Durable than River Run
  • Softer Material is more susceptible to punctures
  • smooth material can get really hot in the summer (especially the black parts)

The River Rat tubes give ample durability and comfort of a simple tube. Although it does not have a lot of features it does have a cool design and is made of heavy duty vinyl construction (12 gauge on the top and 16 on the bottom). These uncomplicated tubes give the floater a good price as you can use them once or twice and then be done with them.

These floaties comes in 2, 4, 6 and 12 packs. These tubes are built tough and can take all kinds of abuse including having people jump on to them and having pointy sticks and rocks bumped into it. Similar to the River Run it also comes with a repair patch kit. Apparently the colours can rub off when its hot outside so keep that in mind.

>>See What Customers Say<<

What We Didn’t Like

  • Durable
  • Cheap Price Point
  • Fantastic Maneuverability
  • Great for younger kids
  • Lots of different packages available with this type of inner tube

What We Didn’t Like

  • No room for Accessories
  • Color could potentially fade off in hot weather
  • Pretty Basic
  • Black Material gets pretty hot so you could potentially burn



Best Individual Inner Tubes

If you are just looking to get an inner tube just for yourself these are the best selection of individual inner tubes available. This is usually the route that I take myself as many of my other friends have their own preferences of floaties and what to float on during a hot summers day. These inner tubes are judged on a more practical level of usefulness as opposed to our best pool floats for adults page.

Take a look at some of our best pool floats for adults for more ideas if you are looking for floats of a more silly nature such as duck, swans and floating unicorns.

Individual Inner Tubes Full Reviews

Tap (or Click) below to see Full Reviews)

This is the floaty tube that I always come back to and so far anything I have tried has not come close.  I really dig the mesh seat as it insures that you can stow a good amount of stuff such as ahem.. Drinks! You can also paddle a good amount of distance on these inner tubes if you use your arms in a back stroke type of movement. My friends and I have managed to paddle half a kilometer in these!

If that is not enough there are also two cup holders that can hold whatever beverage you choose.  Out of all the inner tubes that everyone brings to our cabin these ones usually last the longest.  We have had a lot of floaties collected over the years and I can safely say this is the best river tube to buy for practicality.

>>See What Customers Say<<

What We Liked

  • Double Cup Holders for convenience (hey sometimes you need a water with your beer!)
  • Lots of room to put sealed drinks in netting as well as other valuables
  • Netting insures nothing gets lost
  • Comfortable enough to spend hours upon hours in
  • Lasts a decent amount of time if taken care of
  • Great for a group of friends on the lake or cabin
  • Very Maneuverable

What We Didn’t Like

  • Can Puncture if you are not careful
  • harder to paddle against the wind
  • When riding down the river be mindful of sharp twigs

Ok so this is not so much an inner tube but it still deserves to be mentioned. The Kelsyus Chaise Lounger features a mesh backing on the seat as well as on the bottom of the floatie similar to the river runs. It also has one cup holders and backrest, handle as well as a carry bag included.

So what’s the main differences between the Kelsyus Chaise Lounger and the Intex River Run you may ask? The main difference is the size. The Chaise Lounger is much smaller and more compact compared to the river run. It also takes for less time to blow up which may be a selling point if you do not use a vacuum or pump to blow up your inner tubes.

This is a good pick for rivers because it has fabric covering the inflatable tubes. This gives it better durability than the river run but it is far harder to find punctures as you would have to remove the fabric.

If you are going on a hike for a float this may be the ideal product for you because it is less than 5 Lbs and it really does not take up much room when inflated. It can also hold 250 lbs or even more according to some customer reviews. Overall this floatie gets the nod because it is durable, compact and easy to store.

>>See What Customers Say<<

What We Liked

  • Foot Recliner
  • Fabric over Inner Tube Protects better
  • Can hold a lot of weight
  • Compact
  • Can be a good candidate for pools, rivers and lakes alike
  • One Cup Holder

What We Didn’t Like

  • Some reports of sloppy stitching which leads to punctures
  • Not a lot of room to store things other than yourself
  • Harder to repair

These double river tubes are for two people and features more room to bring the accessories that you want on the journey. If you are bringing a lot of liquids with you this is an ideal floatie because it is a river tube with a built in cooler that holds 24 cans.It also has space in the middle for a Six pack or more! It’s safe to say this floatie is a favorite for the it’s 5′ o clock somewhere crowd.

Maneuverability of this floatie is compromised because of its bulky size. To move you will have to paddle in unison otherwise you will be paddling in circles! It is recommended to get “half paddles with it so that you can move easier. Overall Customers seem very happy with this model and recommend it for river cruises. I highly recommend tying a sand bag or an anchor to it if you want to remain stationary otherwise you will have a tough time getting back.

>>See What Customers Say<<

What We Liked

  • Has a Cooler!
  • Can Hold 24 Cans
  • Can hold a lot of weight
  • Room for Valuables in the Middle
  • Two Cup Holders
  • Very Durable

What We Didn’t Like

  • Bulky
  • Clumsy to maneuver
  • Best leave it for slower moving bodies of water
  • Difficult to steer

Intex wanted a more comfortable version of their river run series so the brought in the Intex River Run Connect Lounge.  So what are the differences between this and the river run? This float actually features two air chambers for safety so that you are not compromised should one of them break.

Unfortunately one of the problems with this floatie is that because of it’s oddly shaped design it is not ideal for rivers because sometimes the crevices snag onto rocks instead of rolling off of them. The Buckles also are not made of the highest quality as some customers have pointed out. This would be the ideal float for calmer lakes as rivers could easily snag this float.

>>See What Customers Say<<

What We Liked

  • More room then the river run
  • Comfortable
  • Can hold a good amount of weight
  • One Cup Holder
  • Can easily buckle onto other Intex Floats
  • Two Air Bladders

What We Didn’t Like

  • Bulky
  • Can snag easily on rocks due to shape
  • There have been past problems with the buckles
  • Not particularly practical in shape or design

The ideal vessel for the floating napper,  The Swimways Spring Float Recliner has a canopy attached so that you can stay cool in the shade while enjoying your time out in the water. This is a big plus when you are in the beaming sun and want a bit of shade without having to leave the water. It also comes in a carry tote for easy transport and features a leg rest and a cup holder for the true floating napper in the group.

I would use this in calmer water ways as the canopy has been reported as a bit flimsy. Perhaps not the most ideal thing for rivers that are a bit faster moving. there is a solution to this though, the canopy can be fixed with pull ties however.

>>What Customers Think<<

What We Didn’t Like

  • Covered with Fabric which greatly helps durability
  • offers shade for your face
  • Great relaxing float
  • Good for on water naps
  • Easy to Inflate
  • Great Customer Rating

What We Didn’t Like

  • Canopy is Flimsy
  • No repair kit
  • Hard to find a leak should one sprout
  • Not great for moving water

If you are planning a massive river journey and want to bring lots of accessories look no further than the Trek N Tube durable river tubes. It features a heavy duty nylon cover to ensure durability along with a high backrest for different seating positions and mesh seating.

Perhaps the best feature about these heavy duty river floating tubes is the fact that it has two built in six pack gear coolers(I wonder who they are targeting with that feature?!)on the sides. As well as two gear pockets on the headrest as well as your two standard cup holders. This float also comes with a back pack to store and transport the Sportstuff floatie. This Trek’n Tube seems to good to be true until you read some customer reviews that lay into its quality. Some common complaints include the tube submerging too much and that it is hard to repair this float.

>>What Customers Think<<

What We Liked

  • Lots of room for storage
  • comes with backpack
  • Can fit two six packs
  • covered with heavy duty nylon
  • High Back

What We Didn’t Like

  • Heavy when Filled with Water
  • Not the greatest customer ratings
  • Poor Quality Control
  • Sits too low in the water
  • Difficult to repair

Accessories You Need

Intex Mega Chill II Float Cooler

Bring this cooler around with you if you have limited room for beverages or use it as a floating storage center.

This cooler can hold up to 72 cans, be tied up with any other Intex product and has two heavy duty handles and six cup holders. The Perfect river companion!

>>What Customers Say<<

Intex Mega Chill Cooler

If you are not looking to overdo it on the beverages there is this handy little cooler that is 35” in diameter.

This cooler tube for river  floating can store up to 30 Cans in the cooler compartment and 15 extra in cup holders and storage area. .

>>What Customers Say<<

CreekKooler floating insulated cooler

This insolated cooler keeps your beverages ice cold thanks to its dual wall blow molded construction with 1.75 inch foamed insulation. This is a particularly good cooler to have if you are in a kayak because it has  a hull designed for tracking similar to a kayak!. In a way its like a mini kayak for your beer!

>>What Customers Say<<

Outdoors Master Dry Bag Floating Water Proof Bag

You can have it sitting in your lap or in a cooler this waterproof dry bag does not leak! It can fit up to 20 L worth of stuff in it!

MPOW Waterproof Case Universal dry bag water proof phone bag pouch

If you do not have a lot of room for stuff and just need your cell phone you can simply put this around your neck to insure your cell does not get wet!

Water Shoes

You may be scratching your head about this one but trust me, getting out of the water onto rocks can be treacherous, especially for your feet! Truthfully if you are at a beach or sandy setting you won’t need them and they would probably be a hinderance if anything. Rivers are a different matter as there are lots of sharp rocks around that can give you cuts like they did to me!

Additional Information

The Plan

best inner tube for river floating

If the river is long and you are floating for a long time It can be discouraging to make the walk all the way back to the car so I will show you a little plan I use with my friends that saves time and energy!. First I go down in two or more cars depending on how many friends I have with me.

We both meet at point B (The end of our intended journey on the river) We leave one of the cars there and that friend goes into the other car and we start from point A. We have our fun floating down the river meeting other folks maybe having a beer along the way. As we arrive to shore at Point B we get into our friends car and drive back to point A where the other car is. Sorry I got a bit off topic here but I think it saves you a lot of time in the end. Here is an illustration above.

Inner Tube Safety

This is a bit of an overlooked topic but a very important one to insure everyone is safe.

Main Tips from the video

  • Stay Highdrated

If you are planning on drinking some brews out on the water it is important to stay highdrated as it is easy to start getting dehydrated from the combination of alcohol and the sun beaming on you for multiple hours. Make sure to bring bottled water to accompany those brews.

  • Bring a PFD or floatation device

Even if all of the above mentioned inner tubes are durable does not mean that accidents can occasionally happen.  Top be safe I would recommend bringing a Belt PFD as it takes up much less room and can be equally effective. 

  • Don’t Over Do it

While I can be the first one to tell you that having a drink on the water is about as fun as anything during the summer it is important to not over do it. In my younger years I used to have various cuts on my feet and toes from stepping on sharp rocks that would ultimately give me cuts and bruises. You don’t feel it when you have one too many bevery’s but you will after!


Finding the best Inner tube for river floating ultimately depends on your preferences of what you are looking for in a floaties so try to keep the above criteria in mind when selecting what will be right for you and your friends. The ones listed here are ones that I have personally tested and liked or inner tubes that have high customer satisfaction. For More customer reviews click the links and read what they have had to say.

Ideally take an hour or two to pack everything you need and write a checklist so that you don`t forget anything on your maiden journey.  Other than that have fun be safe and get out there!

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3 thoughts on “Best Inner Tubes for River Floating: Battle Tested Tubes Revealed”

  1. I am interested in a tube that is durable in a river that has rocks above and below water.
    Thank you.

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