What Size Inner Tube For River Floating?

Video what size inner tube is best for floating

With summer on the horizon, it’s time to start thinking about what you plan to do with all that sunshine.

Whether it’s a road trip or a journey up to the cabin or cottage, bringing a river floating inner tube with you is always a good idea. You may think they’re just for crazy teens tubing out on the lake, but tubes can be enjoyed by all, with sizing always playing an important factor. What size is ideal for your river-floating inner tube?

We’ll answer that in due time, but in terms of feeling relaxed, it truly is hard to match the chill factor experienced when you’re floating down a calm river on a tube. If you’ve ever taken part in the lazy river at a hotel or resort and have access to a river, you know the feeling.

While it is lovely to mosey down the river in an uber-relaxed state, inner tubes can also be a great tool to help get your adrenaline pumping if you want to take it into the rapids. Though if it is your choice to go the daredevil route, we suggest you go with an experienced guide if you aren’t experienced yourself.

Here, we’re all about the relaxed river floating, however. Whether you have your own place with river access, have an annual trip to the river with some old pals, or you frequent a nearby spot a few times a year, an inner tube for river floating is a great choice to help make your trip as relaxing as it can be.

What is An Inner Tube?

What is a River Tube?

While there are several types of inner tubes out there used for recreation, such as those used for thrills on snowy hills, the ones in question here are for use in the water only. These river-floating tubes are produced from durable, hypoallergenic materials and feature welded seams and even handles and cup holders if you shell out a few extra dollars.

They usually feature either single or dual tow points if you ever want to tow it behind your boat or jet ski. You can opt for an open tube, which means the tube is made like a donut with a hole in the middle and is excellent for people who don’t mind getting wet and like to dangle their toes in the water. Otherwise, you can go for the closed tube design, which keeps you a little drier.

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You can even go the luxury route and find yourself a tube in lounge-style that features back and armrests as well as a matching cooler that you can tow-along with all of your favorite beverages. Depending on the size of your tube, you can sometimes accommodate up to four people, though most river-floating tubes are only big enough to fit one, maybe two people comfortably. And size is precisely what we’re here to discuss.

What Size Should My River-Floating Inner Tube Be?

There are a lot of factors to consider when buying an inner tube for river floating. The material is always relevant, but the size of your ride is also something you should never overlook. For some water toys, the stature may not be significant, but when it comes to river-floating tubes, size matters.

Generally, inner tubes are not measured in length, width, and height, but instead by the length of the diameter of the circular tube. Out on the market, river-floating tubes can range in size anywhere from 30 inches in diameter to 70+ inches for the bigger, more luxurious river floaters. On average, tubes for river floating are between 40 inches and 60 inches, though.

Consider Your Own Size

River Tube Size

While several factors affect how you decide on which size river floating tube you purchase, your own dimensions are some of the most important to consider. The bigger you are, the wider the tube’s diameter will need to be for you to have a comfy and relaxing float down the river.

Some river-floating tubes come with a variety of size options, usually ranging from a small 36-inch tube to the jumbo 68-inch tube. Tubes with options that vary this widely mean they can accommodate a wide range of body types from 50 pounds up to 280.

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Many tube companies manufacture kid sizes for their river-floating tubes, which are usually about 30 to 36 inches in diameter. Inner tubes of that size should have no problem taking care of little rascals from the ages of 6 to 12, weighing up to 100 pounds.

For smaller children weighing 50 to 90 pounds, the ideal tube size for river floating would be 32 inches in diameter. Meanwhile, a 36-inch tube should be able to handle larger kids and petite adults weighing under 120 pounds.

While the small kids-sized tubes can usually be counted on to handle the proportions of youngsters, the size of adult river-floating tubes varies as widely as the human body. That is to say; there are endless size options out there.

For slighter individuals coming in between 120 and 175 pounds, a tube in the 40-inch range should be perfect for providing a lazy float down the river. People with some more meat on their bones that weigh more than 280 pounds would do well to seek out a tube with at least a 45-inch diameter.

Depending on your own proportions, you might be safe just going with a 48- or 52-inch option, though. We are talking about a relaxing float down a river, so you want to make sure you’re comfortable, not struggling to stay afloat on a tube that’s too small.

The large tubes that have diameters of 60 inches or more are usually the more luxurious tubes with headrests, cup holders, and the like. But sometimes you see an individual who may need all that diameter; basketball players like a lazy river-float too, you know.


Next to the tuber’s body size, the maneuverability is the next most crucial factor when considering what size inner tube you need for your river-floating needs. Usually, the bigger something is, the harder it is to maneuver, and river-floating inner tubes are no exception.

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It works out well that the kids’ sizes are the smallest because they’re also the easiest to maneuver. This way, your energetic kids can expend some of that energy maneuvering more quickly and having fun in the river while you lay back and relax.

Adults may also want increased maneuverability on their tube, and they usually want it for two reasons. The first is that they still have a bit of childish whimsy in them, and they like to move around quickly on the lazy river, checking in with different friends along the way. The other reason is that you want to be in control, even if it’s just for a calming float down the river.

If either of these describes you, you’ll want to look at the smaller end of the tube size spectrum that your body type will allow. The smaller the tube is in size, the easier it will be to maneuver and move around. If you simply want to lay back in your tube and let the river do the maneuvering, however, all you need to think about when considering tube size are your own proportions.


Whether you’re planning to go out for a fun day on the water or ready up for a weekend of cabin relaxation by the river, bringing an inner tube for river floating is a fantastic idea. However, you’ll have to make sure that you’re bringing the right type of inner tube, as they’re all purpose-made for certain activities with various factors that influence which one is going to be the best fit for you.

If you’ve followed along up until now, you now know everything you need to about picking out the best size of inner tube for river floating. We’ve talked about all the various details to keep in mind and even how the size of your inner tube will influence your experience on the water. So now, it’s time to go out and dive into some aqueous fun. Have a blast!

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>