What Equipment Do You Need for River Tubing?

River tubing is a fun and exciting activity that allows you to enjoy the beauty of nature while floating down a river. To have a safe and enjoyable tubing experience, it is important to have the right equipment. In this article, we will discuss the essential gear you need for river tubing.

Safety Gear for River Tubing

Safety should always be a top priority when participating in water activities, and river tubing is no exception. Here are some essential safety gear items you should consider:

Life Jacket

A life jacket is a must-have item for river tubing. It helps keep you afloat in case you fall off your tube or get caught in stronger currents. Make sure to choose a life jacket that fits you properly and is approved by the appropriate safety regulations.

When selecting a life jacket, consider the type of river tubing you will be doing. If you plan on tackling more challenging rapids, opt for a life jacket with a higher buoyancy rating. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so choose a life jacket that provides adequate flotation for your body weight.

Additionally, make sure the life jacket has adjustable straps to ensure a snug fit. This will prevent it from riding up or slipping off while you are in the water. It’s also a good idea to practice putting on and taking off the life jacket before your tubing adventure, so you are familiar with its proper usage.


While not always necessary, wearing a helmet can provide an extra layer of protection, especially if you are tubing in areas with rocky terrain. It can help prevent head injuries in case of accidental collisions or falls.

When choosing a helmet, opt for one specifically designed for water sports. These helmets are made with materials that can withstand impact and are resistant to water damage. Look for a helmet that has adjustable straps to ensure a secure and comfortable fit.

Keep in mind that wearing a helmet may be mandatory in certain river tubing locations, so be sure to check the local regulations before embarking on your adventure. Even if it’s not required, wearing a helmet is always a smart choice to prioritize your safety.

Water Shoes

Wearing water shoes is crucial for river tubing. They provide the necessary traction to walk on slippery riverbeds and protect your feet from sharp rocks or debris. Choose shoes that are comfortable and have good grip.

When selecting water shoes, look for ones with sturdy soles that offer excellent traction. You want shoes that will keep your feet secure and prevent you from slipping on wet rocks or moss-covered surfaces. Additionally, opt for shoes with a closed-toe design to protect your toes from any potential injuries.

It’s also important to choose water shoes that are made from quick-drying materials. This will prevent your feet from staying wet and uncomfortable throughout your tubing adventure. Look for shoes that have drainage holes to allow water to flow out easily.

River Tube

The most essential piece of equipment for river tubing is, of course, the river tube itself. Choose a tube that is sturdy and durable, and ensure it is properly inflated before entering the water. Check for any leaks or damages before use to avoid any mishaps during your tubing adventure.

When selecting a river tube, consider the material it is made from. Look for tubes that are constructed with durable PVC or nylon materials, as they are more resistant to punctures and abrasions. Avoid tubes made from thin plastic, as they are more prone to tearing.

It’s also important to choose a tube that is the appropriate size for your body. If the tube is too small, you may feel cramped and uncomfortable. On the other hand, if the tube is too large, you may struggle to maneuver it effectively. Look for tubes that have a weight capacity that matches your body weight.

Before entering the water, ensure that your tube is properly inflated. Overinflated tubes can be uncomfortable and may burst under pressure, while underinflated tubes may not provide enough buoyancy. Use a pump or an air compressor to achieve the optimal level of inflation.


A paddle can come in handy, especially if you want a bit of control over your direction or need to navigate through calmer sections of the river. It can also be useful in case you need to push yourself away from any obstacles.

When choosing a paddle, opt for one that is lightweight and easy to handle. Look for paddles made from durable materials such as fiberglass or aluminum, as they can withstand the rigors of river tubing. Consider the length of the paddle as well, as a longer paddle will provide more leverage and power.

It’s important to practice using the paddle before your tubing adventure to familiarize yourself with its proper technique. This will help you navigate the river more effectively and ensure a smoother and more enjoyable experience.

Repair Kit

Carrying a small repair kit with you is always a good idea. It can include items such as patches, adhesive, and a pump, in case your tube gets punctured or deflated. This will allow you to fix any minor damages and continue enjoying your tubing experience.

When assembling your repair kit, make sure to include patches that are specifically designed for repairing inflatable tubes. These patches are typically made from durable materials that can withstand water and provide a long-lasting seal. Include adhesive that is compatible with the material of your tube, as different adhesives work better on different surfaces.

Having a pump in your repair kit is essential for reinflating your tube if it gets deflated. Look for a compact pump that is easy to carry and can be used without much effort. Consider a pump that can be operated manually or with a rechargeable battery for convenience.


Wearing appropriate swimwear is essential for comfort during river tubing. Choose swimwear that is comfortable and allows easy movement in the water. Avoid loose clothing that may get tangled or cause discomfort while tubing.

When selecting swimwear, opt for materials that dry quickly and provide good flexibility. Look for swimwear that is made from nylon or polyester blends, as they are lightweight and can withstand the rigors of water activities. Avoid cotton swimwear, as it tends to absorb water and can become heavy and uncomfortable.

Consider wearing a rash guard or a wetsuit if you are tubing in colder water or during cooler seasons. These garments provide additional insulation and protection against the elements, keeping you warm and comfortable throughout your tubing adventure.


Protecting your skin from the sun’s harmful rays is crucial when spending extended periods in the water. Apply a waterproof sunscreen with a high SPF to all exposed areas of your body before getting in the river. Reapply as needed throughout the day.

When choosing a sunscreen, opt for a broad-spectrum formula that protects against both UVA and UVB rays. Look for a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher, as this will provide adequate protection for most outdoor activities. Consider using a sunscreen that is specifically designed for water activities, as they are more resistant to water and sweat.

Apply sunscreen generously to all exposed areas of your body, paying extra attention to areas that are more prone to sunburn, such as your face, neck, shoulders, and legs. Don’t forget to protect your lips with a lip balm that contains SPF as well.


Wearing sunglasses not only adds a cool factor to your tubing adventure but also protects your eyes from the sun’s glare reflecting off the water. Choose sunglasses with UV protection to shield your eyes from harmful rays.

When selecting sunglasses, opt for ones that provide 100% UVA and UVB protection. Look for sunglasses that have polarized lenses, as they reduce glare and provide better visibility in bright conditions. Consider sunglasses with a wrap-around design to provide additional coverage and prevent sunlight from entering from the sides.

Make sure the sunglasses fit properly and are comfortable to wear for extended periods. Look for sunglasses with adjustable nose pads and temple tips to ensure a secure and snug fit. Consider using a sunglasses strap to prevent them from falling off and getting lost in the water.


A hat can provide additional protection from the sun, especially for your face and neck. Opt for a wide-brimmed hat that provides shade and keeps you cool during your tubing trip.

When choosing a hat, look for one made from lightweight and breathable materials such as straw, cotton, or nylon. These materials allow air to circulate and prevent your head from overheating. Consider a hat with a UPF (Ultraviolet Protection Factor) rating, as this indicates the level of sun protection the hat provides.

Ensure that the hat has a wide brim that provides ample shade for your face, neck, and ears. This will help protect these sensitive areas from sunburn and reduce the risk of heat-related illnesses. Opt for a hat with an adjustable chin strap to keep it securely in place, especially when tubing in windy conditions.

Dry Bag

A dry bag is a useful item to carry with you on your tubing journey. You can store your valuables, such as your phone, wallet, and keys, in the dry bag to keep them safe from water damage. Make sure the dry bag is properly sealed to prevent any leaks.

When choosing a dry bag, opt for one that is made from durable and waterproof materials such as PVC or nylon. Look for bags that have welded seams or a roll-top closure system, as these provide better protection against water infiltration. Consider the size of the dry bag, ensuring it is large enough to accommodate all your valuables.

It’s important to properly seal the dry bag to prevent any water from entering. Roll the top of the bag at least three times and secure it with the buckle or fastener provided. Test the seal by submerging the bag in water for a few seconds before your tubing adventure to ensure it is watertight.

Waterproof Phone Case

If you prefer to have your phone with you while tubing to capture memorable moments or for safety reasons, invest in a waterproof phone case. It will keep your phone protected from water splashes or accidental drops into the river.

When choosing a waterproof phone case, look for one that is specifically designed for your phone model. Ensure that the case is made from high-quality materials that provide a secure and watertight seal. Consider cases that have additional features such as lanyards or straps, so you can easily keep your phone accessible while tubing.

Before using the waterproof phone case,

Consider the River Conditions

Before embarking on your tubing adventure, it is essential to consider the current river conditions. Check the water level, flow rate, and any potential hazards that may make tubing unsafe. If the river conditions are not suitable, it is best to postpone your trip for another day.

Check Local Regulations

It is important to check and adhere to any local regulations or guidelines regarding river tubing in your area. These may include rules about alcohol consumption, group size, or designated launch and exit points. By following these regulations, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable tubing experience for everyone.

Renting vs. Buying Equipment

Deciding whether to rent or buy the necessary equipment for river tubing depends on several factors. If you are new to tubing or do not plan on tubing frequently, renting equipment might be a more cost-effective option. However, if you are a frequent tuber, investing in your own gear can save you money in the long run and allow you to customize your equipment to fit your needs.

Packing Checklist

Creating a packing checklist will help ensure you have all the necessary gear for your tubing trip. Cross-check your list before heading out to avoid any last-minute surprises. Don’t forget to include items such as towels, extra clothes, and any personal medication you may need.

Checking the Weather

Always check the weather forecast before heading out for your tubing adventure. Thunderstorms, high winds, or extreme temperatures can significantly impact your safety and enjoyment. It is best to plan your trip for a day with favorable weather conditions.

Informing Someone of Your Plans

Lastly, before you start your tubing trip, inform someone you trust about your plans. Share the details of your itinerary, including your starting and ending points, expected duration, and any specific routes or stops along the way. This way, someone will be aware of your whereabouts and can take necessary action in case of an emergency.

By being well-prepared with the right equipment and following safety guidelines, you can embark on a thrilling river tubing adventure. Remember to respect the environment and adhere to any local regulations to ensure a fun and memorable experience for yourself and others.