Growing Older But Not Up

By Michael Vatalaro

Sometimes the best part of being a grown-up is picking out the toys.

Growing up, tubes — at least the ones we dragged behind our little Starcraft — were just that, nylon-covered doughnuts with some clunky straps for hanging on. Nowadays the shapes and complexity of inflatable towables are limited only by the designer's imagination.

Post A "W"

Sportsstuff created a winner with their W-shaped Wacky Whopper. Almost 8-feet across with handholds for three riders, plus strategically placed knee and elbow pads, the Wacky Whopper can be ridden sitting or lying down. And riding in different locations on the Whopper, like the higher-up center of the W, makes for distinctive riding experiences, so your riders will have a hard time getting bored. 94" x 70" deflated. $499.99 |

Crowd Pleaser

Riding with a friend is fun, and two can be even better, if you've got space and handholds for everyone. But five riders? That's where the O'Brien Wild Cat comes in. Nearly 10 feet across, this enormous inflatable features 20 handles, five EVA pads for your backside, and a catamaran-shaped "hull" so it can get up and run. Tows forward or backward and comes with a one-year warranty. $720 |

Who Says A Tube Has To Be Round?

How 'bout a hexagon? Airhead built the Hexsanity to give you a wild ride, but with the option of taking it easy. With two different towing attachment points (front and back), you can sit and ride in comfort, supported by wraparound backrests, or kneel down while being towed from the rear-attachment point for thrills. When the rides are over, the wraparound backrests make it a great place to lounge; there are even two molded-in drink holders. 85" x 77". $449.99 |

The One They Won't Outgrow

While some riders love the white-knuckled excitement of clinging to the top of a fast tube as it rips across the wake, others prefer the more secure feeling of sitting down inside the "hole." Airhead knows towables aren't one-size-fits-all so they designed the aptly named Transformer 3 to be flexible. With room for up to three riders, the Transformer features two removable, inflatable inserts to either side of the center of the tube. Pop these out if your riders want the security of sitting down in a tube. Put them back in for more of an adrenaline rush. Or leave just the one out, so one rider can feel the rush, and the other the joy of watching his companion. $429.99 | 

This article was published in the Summer 2012 issue of Trailering Magazine.

Tow-Rope Primer

By Ted Sensenbrenner

One of the keys to enjoying watersports is selecting the right tow rope for the job.

Photo of a tow rope

Tow ropes come in a variety of diameters (1/4", 5/16", 3/8") and lengths. Most are made from polypropylene because it floats, and it has some (low) stretch. More expensive ropes have a high-modulus polyethylene core often referred to as spectra or the patented name, Dyneema, the same material used in braided fishing lines. These ropes are designed as non-stretch and used for competition skiing. For waterskiing and wakeboarding, the tensile strength required for a single skier is relatively low and they're usually rated around 1,500 pounds.

For tubing, and towing other inflatables, some stretch is good. You don't want a tube to dig in and cause a huge shock load on the line. For tubing and towing larger loads or inflatable toys, you need a larger-diameter line to handle the extra force.

Check this chart to make sure you use the correctly rated line:

  • For 1 person: 1/4" diameter, rated 1,500 lbs.
  • For 2 people: 3/8" diameter, rated 2,375 lbs.
  • For 3 people: 5/8" diameter, rated 3,350 lbs.
  • For 4 people: 1" diameter, rated 4,100 lbs.

"Shine On You Crazy Diamond"

Photo of the Bling tow rope

Why settle for an ordinary, brightly colored tow rope when you can have one that shines? The Bling line of tow ropes and wakeboard ropes features a reflective fiber braided into the polypropylene rope, giving it a unique bit of flash. Price varies by line strength, but they start at $21.99 for the two person capacity version.



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