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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

45 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
350 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best inflatable snow tubes

Last Updated July 2020

Snow tubing is wild and wooly winter entertainment. It hasn’t been around as long as sledding, but most accounts seem to agree it has existed at least since World War I. Early snow tubes were little more than black rubber tubes from ordinary tires. As the sport grew in popularity, manufacturers responded by creating tubes that were designed just for recreational riding.

Although a snow tube can be used as a flotation device, a normal floater tube can’t be used for snow tubing due to temperature and friction considerations. Snow tubing is inherently rougher on the material than floating in a swimming pool or lake, so you need to get a tube that’s winter tough.

The size and weight capacity of your snow tube also matter and can make all the difference between a fun afternoon and a soggy, miserable time. If you’re wondering how to select the right inflatable snow tube for your needs, you’ve come to the right place. Keep reading, and we’ll guide you through the process of picking the right one.

Snow tubing is a daytime sport. Tubing at night is too dangerous, as visibility is limited and obstacles are easy to overlook in low-light conditions.

Key considerations

Size

The size of the snow tube you select involves a bit of a trade-off. The bigger the tube, the easier it is to stay on it and the larger the person who can safely ride it. The flip side is: the bigger the tube, the more surface area it has, which can slow down the ride due to friction.

Friction is the reason a large snow tube will always be slower than a small one. A larger tube will start slower and take longer to accelerate. If you want a safe snow tube for the kids, get the biggest one you can find. If kids aren’t riding it and you want a snow tube that takes off like a rocket, go small.

Weight capacity

Closely related to the size of the snow tube is how much weight it can hold. A larger tube is normally able to support more weight. Weight capacity also depends somewhat on the materials used in the snow tube’s construction.

Where you’re tubing

Where you’re going to go snow tubing is a big consideration. If you’re heading to a ski resort that has plowed snow tube runs with high banks to keep you on course, you can choose any snow tube you like.

If you’re going snow tubing “in the wild,” so to speak, along wide-open slopes or on dirt roads, you might want to get the biggest snow tube you can find. The reason is simple. Snow tubes seem to have a magnetic affinity for trees. If you’ve ever ridden one, you know there’s no such thing as steering them. So, it’s only a matter of time before one goes off track, resulting in you getting up close and personal with a tree trunk. All it will take is one close encounter of the tree kind to make you a true believer in safety.

Bigger tubes provide more cushioning in case of an impact. Additionally, since larger tubes generally move slower, you won’t crash into a tree like a runaway freight train. That slower speed will also give you the option to roll off the tube to safety before you get a face full of bark.

EXPERT TIP

A good snow tube with a slick bottom and handles to hold on to will give you years of fun if you take care of it.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Material

Typical materials for snow tubes are tear-resistant rubber and cold-resistant PVC. The thicker the material, the less likely it is to be punctured. It will last longer, too. The covers are often made of polyester canvas that breathes and resists mildew.

Color

Snow tube makers are all in for color and design. Blue and black are common colors, but so are red, orange, gray, silver, white, pink, violet, and green. Many inflatable snow tubes are two-tone or are decorated with intricate designs and patterns.

Handles

Handles are required for safety on snow tubes. If you see a snow tube without handles, get something else. It’s fun to feel wild and free but think safety first.

Tow lines

Two lines aren’t required for snow tubes, but it makes it easier to drag them back uphill after you ride them to the bottom. Snow tubes can be rather heavy, or at least they may start to seem that way when you’re walking uphill, so a tow line is a nice option to have.

EXPERT TIP

Prolonged exposure to the sun will eventually result in your snow tube sustaining damage from the sun’s UV rays. If you must leave your snow tube in the sun, flip it upside down to even out the damage.


Staff  | BestReviews

Accessories

Air pump: K KUMEED Electric Air Pump
You can huff and puff to blow up your snow tube, or you can do it the easy way with an air pump from K KUMEED. For such a low price, we vote for the easy way.

Lubricant: DuPont Teflon Snow and Ice Repellant
This 10-ounce can of spray-on lubricant from DuPont will help speed your snow tube on its way down the slopes. If you want speed, this spray will keep snow and ice from sticking to your tube to create a nearly frictionless ride.

Face protection: LONGLONG Balaclava-Ski Mask
Everyone knows to dress in layers to stay warm and wear gloves, but when winter air goes rushing over your face, you can get chapped, chilled, or frozen in no time. A face mask like this one from LONGLONG protects your face against the elements.

Inflatable snow tube prices

Inexpensive: Under $20 is the bargain bracket for snow tubes. You definitely get what you pay for. Cheaper tubes are made from thinner, weaker material with less quality control.

Mid-range: From $20 to $80 is the medium price range for snow tubes. Here, you’ll find decent tubes in a variety of colors that you can ride for quite a while.

Expensive: Above $80 is the high end for inflatable snow tubes. These tubes will be rugged, durable models that will give you years of fun on the slopes.

EXPERT TIP

Nothing is more, well, deflating, than ripping a hole in your snow tube in the middle of your vacation. Be prepared to patch that hole pronto by keeping a repair kit handy. You’ll be back on the slopes in no time.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Ride it right. Sit on your snow tube instead of lying down on it face-first. This orientation will keep your coat zippers and hooks from puncturing it and will also make it easier to bail out if you’re hurtling toward a tree or other unavoidable hazard.
  • Keep it clean. Wipe off the bottom of your tube at the end of the day. Keeping your snow tube free of debris will lessen the chances of a puncture.
  • Deflate at the gate. Let some air out of the tube before taking it inside. Warm air expands, which could overinflate your tube and possibly pop it.

Other products we considered

We like the shark-style XFlated Snow Tube, tricked out with fins, tail, and a shark face on the front. It's sure to be a hit with the kids, but it’s also big enough for adults to hop on for a ride. With two large safety handles on either side, it’s made of heavy-duty PVC so it’s fast as well as durable.

We also like the Franklin Sports Arctic Trails Inflatable Snow Tube. Made from freeze-resistant PVC, it’s a decent model that inflates quickly and glides downhill swiftly. It is also economically priced, though some customers experienced leaks and tears, so it’s a mixed bag.

The sensation of tubing in a high-banked run is the closest thing to floating you can find on dry land.

FAQ

Q. What is the best way to store a snow tube during the summer?
A.
Completely deflate it, dry it off, and store it flat if possible

Q. What do I do if my snow tube is heading for a tree or rock?
A.
Roll off the tube to one side or the other. Steering isn’t an option with inflatable snow tubes, but snow is softer than the alternatives.

Q. Should I snow tube on a slope where people are using sleds?
A.
No. Sleds and snow tubes don’t mix. The chances of a crash are just too high.

The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Rich
    Rich
    Writer

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