Wednesday, August 05, 2009


River Tubing Skills, Techniques and Safety for your Float Tube River Trips.

Float tubes (innertubes) are the ultimate in economy and simplicity among personal watercraft!!

River tubing provides the first river trip experiences for many people. This generally works out OK as long as beginning river tubers stick to gentle sections of river. Even on a gentle section of river there are still things to know to help promote fun and safety in river tubing.

Equipment for River Tubing.

The float tube can be a truck innertube from a tire store or a float tube from a sporting goods store. PFDs (life jackets) are always recommended and sometimes required depending upon the speed of the river and local regulations. This equipment can often be rented from outfitters located near rivers that are popular for river tubing. (Equipment for Float Tubing - BRT Insights.)

Hats & sunglasses should be tied on securely. Short ropes can be used to tie gear on your person or on your float tube. Never tie things together with a long length of rope in between. Avoid long dangling ropes that can get snagged on various obstructions in the riverbed and cause a safety hazard. An old pair of gym shoes or securely attached sandals are important for walking in and around the river. Be sure to bring lots to drink to stay well hydrated. Sunscreen is highly recommended and should be reapplied frequently.

Skills Training and/or Experience for River Tubing.

Beginners should go with more experienced river tubers who are familiar with the river, or start with gentle rivers that are recommended for self-guided trips. Everybody who goes river tubing should have good swimming skills because there is a risk of getting tipped over and separated from your float tube.

Choosing a River for your Float Tube Trip.

Rivers are rated from class I (flat moving water) to class V (extreme whitewater) on the International Scale of River Difficulty. Beginning river tubers should stick to class I & II rivers. Rivers that flow near to a road are best for beginning tubers so they can walk out easily in case of trouble.

River Tubing in California.

River difficulty ratings for many California rivers are available from websites (California River Boating Online Guide) and books (Paddling Northern California & Ann Dwyer's Easy Waters of California North). There are also websites that provide recent flow data (Dreamflows - Western USA) to help ensure that when you plan a river tubing trip there will be sufficient flow in the river when you get there. In northern California river tubing is popular on American River Parkway class I+, Cache Creek Rumsey Run class II+, Russian River class I, Sacramento River class I-II and Truckee River due to their reliable summer flows and relatively warm water.

Floating down the River in your Float Tube - Watch out for Safety.

Typically we leave one vehicle parked near the river take-out location and one vehicle at the river put-in location. When floating the river keep your group close together and make sure everybody is watching out for the safety of everybody else at all times. Even on the mildest of rivers the power of flowing water is incredible. Be sure to avoid logs and bushes in the current that can snag a boat or a boater. Don't let the currrent push you into a channel that is too narrow to pass through safely. Whenever you cannot see a safe route down the river get out on the shore to find a good route or to walk around a difficult section of the river. Don't let the current push you underneath an overhanging rock, tree or shoreline because you could get trapped underwater. Keep your feet up and swim if you get tipped out of your float tube in an area of strong current. Don't walk in the riverbed in places where the current is strong because if your foot gets wedged in a crevice then the current could push you under. Avoid the upstream side of rocks, bridge pilings or other obstructions in the riverbed. Man-made structures in the riverbed are typically very hazardous, so be sure to float far away from them or walk past them on the shore if necessary.

River Tubing Photos & Videos.

YouTube - River Tubing Tour, Ocho Rios Jamaica.
river tubing - Google Images.
river tubing pictures and videos on Webshots.
Picasa Web Albums - river tubing Search results.
YouTube - river tubing search.
Axel Tubing on the American River -
Mokelumne River Trip 2006 - Tubing the River
Saskia Tubing on the American River -
river tubing - Google Videos

Good luck, watch out for safety and have fun out there!!

More about:
Tube Information and Safety - TubeNation - Ride the Tube!
Use the Buddy System for Safety Teamwork on Whitewater River Trips.
Skills & Techniques for Whitewater River Float Trips.

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