7 Best River Float Tubes and Rafting Tubes

With the weather finally warming up, we’re all ready for a little fun in the sun and on the water. One of the best ways to beat the heat in the summertime is to float down the river in an inflatable tube.  The best river float tubes are comfortable, durable, and versatile. They can be used on the river, lake, ocean, or in the pool. Some can even be used in the snow! Here are our top picks for a relaxing day on the water with friends and family.

Note: Keep in mind that river float tubes should not be used when tubing behind a boat. They are simply not made for that and injury can result. You’ll want to use a good quality towable tube when being pulled by a powerboat.

Our 7 Favorite Inner Tubes for River Floating

ProductDiameterHandlesCup Holders
durable-river-floatCoolerZ Rapid Rider53"22
heavy-duty-river-tubeTube In a Boxup to 68"00
high-quality-river-float-tubeNRS AIRE Rocktabomb44"20
two-person-float-tubeIntex River Rat48"00
inner-tube-river-floatingIntex Color Whirl48"20
flamingo-pool-tubeGoFloats Flamingo45"00
best-river-float-tubeIntex River Run53"22

River Float Tube Reviews

#1 – CoolerZ Rapid Rider Inflatable Tube

The Rapid Rider is another 53-inch inflatable raft that’s perfect for a lazy float on the river, lake, or pool. It is made of durable, high gauge PVC and features an all-around grab rope and two durable handles to make it easier to mount from the water.

The built-in backrest provides support and comfort as you float.

We like the mesh bottom that keeps you cooler as you float, and the cup holders are a nice feature. It’s perfect for each family member to take along for camping or when staying at hotels with swimming pools.

This inflatable tube comes in three color variations: yellow (as shown), blue, and pink. A two-person tube is also available in this same style. Those looking for a floating island will love the Rapid River 4-Person Island Tube.

See Also:  Best Inflatable Boats and Rafts

Owners of this tube found it to be an excellent value for the price, but there were a small number of issues reported with punctures and tears in the mesh during river trips.

This inner tube raft is large enough to accommodate almost any adult comfortably.

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River Run vs Rapid Rider

Since these tubes are so similar, we thought we’d compare various features and see which one has the advantage.

  • Tube Material – Both have similar medium durability and should last for many uses.
  • Cup Holders – Similar size but the Rapid Rider’s grip can better keep it from moving around.
  • Handles – The Rapid Rider handles just feel better and more comfortable.
  • Mesh Bottom – The River Run wins here as the mesh is more durable.
  • Grab Rope – The River Run has 2 rope ties on the tube.
  • Valves – The Rapid Rider valves are slightly larger so it’s a bit easier to inflate but they also stick out more.

#2 – Tube In a Box: Original Swim and River Tube

The aptly named “Tube in a Box” is available in four sizes: 36-inch, 40-inch, 45-inch, and huge 68-inch. This heavy-duty river tube is made of commercial-grade rubber making it tear-resistant and very durable.

It’s considered by many to be the best inner tube for river floating. It will not puncture easily when you hit a jagged rock or sharp log as some vinyl tubes do.

We love the versatility of this tube; it can be used on the water in the summer and on snow in the winter for tubing down a hill.

The safety valve stem and protective cover prevent the user from being poked or scraped. The manufacturer even uses a stop and flow airflow method that prevents the tube from bulging.

See Also:  Best Fishing Float Tubes

This is a no-frills tube made for durability and versatility, so it doesn’t come in bright colors or include handles, ropes, cup holders, or a backrest. If those features are important to you, check out our other recommendations.

Since this tube comes in a wide range of sizes, it can be purchased to accommodate users from 50 all the way up to 280 pounds. If you want a tough inflatable tube for both summer and winter that will outlast the competition, look no further.

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#3 – NRS AIRE Rocktabomb Inflatable River Tube

high-quality-river-float-tubeThe AIRE Rocktabomb Inflatable River Tube is the gold standard when it comes to river tubes. This high-quality tube has an ergonomic design that makes it perfect for all-day floating on the lake, river, pool, or at the beach.

This raft is constructed of high-quality PVC so it can handle even rough trips down the river. It also has two sturdy handles for easy mounting in the water. Other features of this tube include a mesh floor to keep you cool as you float and a built-in O ring for locking.

NRS is best known for its excellent kayak and rafting gear and they make one of our favorite life jackets for kayaking. That said, the same quality and attention to detail are evident on this inflatable tube.

The owner consensus is that this tube can handle a lot of abuse. Users found it easy to inflate, deflate, and store.

One person even used it in class 3+ rapids with no issues although we probably wouldn’t recommend that. The tube is large enough to accommodate a large adult.

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#4 – Intex River Rat Inflatable Inner Tube (2-Pack)

The Intex River Rat is a 48-inch inflatable tube that comes in this 2-pack which is great for the tuber on a budget. They’ll work in the pool and on the lake or river.

These rafts are sturdy and big enough to be comfortable for a large adult. The design features two air chambers for added protection and reliability.

Users were surprised at how sturdy these inner tubes are at such a low price. Many reported these tubes being such a great value that they bought multiples for use by friends and guests.

They also said that the tubes held up on the river, even when going over rocks in shallow water.

Although most users really enjoyed these tubes, some were disappointed that they don’t have any handles. They also said the tubes tend to get hot in the sun because of the dark color. These cheap inflatable tubes are an excellent size for teens and adults.

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#5 – Intex Color Whirl Floating Tube Raft (2-Pack)

inner-tube-river-floatingThis set of two Intex Color Whirl inflatable tubes comes in bright, eye-catching colors. These 48-inch tubes are designed to accommodate an adult but will also work for kids ages 12 and up.

Unlike the River Rat above, these come with two sturdy handles for easy mounting in the water.

The tubes are made from 12-gauge vinyl and have two separate air chambers to provide stability in the water and added safety. Users reported that these tubes are very stable in the water. They don’t tip over or wobble excessively.

Most purchasers had no issues with these tubes. There were a few users who were disappointed to see so many warning labels printed on the side of the tube and there were also a few issues with the ink running and transferring onto clothing.

The manufacturer provides a limited 30-day warranty on this product against defects, but it does not cover rips, tears, or holes from usage.

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#6 – GoFloats Flamingo Pool Float Party Tube

GoFloats Flamingo pool floats are the perfect inflatable rafts for both kids and adults. You won’t find a more eye-grabbing float than this giant pink flamingo.

It will add a touch of tropical fun when you want to float in the pool. Many other designs are available including a unicorn and dragon.

This fun, affordable tube is 45 inches wide and three feet tall and can accommodate swimmers of all sizes up to 500 pounds.

Since these pool floats are made of UV-treated raft-grade vinyl that’s 25% thicker than many other floats, they’re also safe to use for floating the river or on a lake.

This float is also available in a 30-inch “junior” size that’s perfect for kids ages 6 to 12 and up to 100 pounds. If you want to be the coolest parents on the block, simply throw a backyard kids’ pool party with a few different pool float designs.

We love the rapid fill valve on these tubes because it allows for 10x faster inflation and deflation compared to most other valves.

GoFloats is based in California and probably the biggest manufacturer of designer pool floats so by purchasing, you’ll be supporting a brand that’s made in the USA.

The majority of reviewers love these tubes, but a few had issues with chlorinated water and sun fading the color pretty quickly. Fortunately, these floats are so inexpensive that after a couple of summers of use, you can just buy a new one. With so many fun designs available, you’ll probably want to try a new one anyway.

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#7 – Intex River Run I Inflatable Water Float


The Intex River Run I Sport Lounge is a large 53-inch inflatable inner tube raft. Its comfy built-in backrest (with its own air chamber) makes it the perfect tube for floating the river or lake on hot summer days. The mesh bottom keeps you nice and cool while you float.

There’s a good reason why this tube has been such a popular seller for so long. It’s durable enough where you won’t have to worry about sinking and inexpensive enough that every member of the family can have their own.

river float tube reviewsThe all-around grab rope and sturdy built-in handles make it easy to hold on to as you float. It even has two cup holders for your favorite drinks.

This tube is available in three colors: blue (as shown), red, and pink.

There’s also a two-person version for those who want to bring a friend, child, or significant other along. The 2-person float even has a built-in cooler with a lid so you always have a cold beverage on hand.

Have a large group? See 9 Best Inflatable Floating Islands

Most users loved this tube for the pool, lake, and river. However, a few users found that the tube was delivered with a small tear or puncture and would not hold air.

It’s recommended that you inflate the tube when you first receive it to make sure you’re not in for a bad surprise once you’re at the river.

This tube is large enough for almost all adults and is fine for kids about age 7 and up. It comes with a limited 30-day warranty from the manufacturer against product defects.

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Recommended Float Tube Accessories

You can really amp up your tubing fun by adding these accessories:

Intex Mega Chill 2 Inflatable Floating Cooler

With the Intex Mega Chill Floating Cooler, you don’t even have to leave the river or pool when you need an ice-cold beverage. This versatile accessory can also be used as a floating base for any cooler up to 48 quarts.

The Mega Chill 2 was designed with three air chambers and features six built-in cup holders and four durable handles.

Don’t want to spend money on a floating cooler? You can make your own do-it-yourself cooler out of pool noodles.

Heavy-Duty River Tube Cover

This heavy duty float tube cover comes in a variety of colors and fits most 53-inch inflatable tubes such as the River Run and Rapid Rider models above. This tube cover further protects your tube from rips, tears, and punctures and also features a rope clip system so you can link your tubes together.

It has a durable mesh bottom to let water pass through and provide protection from rocks and other debris in the water.

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