is a recreational activity where an individual rides on top of an inner tube, either on water, snow
Snow is a form of precipitation within the Earth's atmosphere in the form of crystalline water ice, consisting of a multitude of snowflakes that fall from clouds. Since snow is composed of small ice particles, it is a granular material. It has an open and therefore soft structure, unless packed by...
, or through the air. The tubes themselves are also known as "donuts" or "biscuits" due to their shape.
Tubing on water generally consists of two forms: towed and free-floating, also known as river tubing. According to Time Magazine
, tubing was purportedly invented in Thailand by Princess Chumbhot of Nagar Svarga sometime in the middle of the 20th century.
Towed tubing usually takes place on a large body of water such as a lake
A lake is a body of relatively still fresh or salt water of considerable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land. Lakes are inland and not part of the ocean and therefore are distinct from lagoons, and are larger and deeper than ponds. Lakes can be contrasted with rivers or streams,...
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...
. One or more tube riders (often called "tubers") tether their tubes to a powered watercraft such as a motor boat or a personal watercraft. The riders are then towed through the water by the watercraft.
In free-floating tubing, the tube riders are untethered and often conveyed by the current of a waterway. Texas and much of the southern U.S. have adopted the spelling of 'toobing' and 'toobers'. Tubers paddle with their hands and often used webbed gloves to steer. Tubes can be outfitted with tube covers or 'skins'. These covers are canvas, and cover the bottom of the tube, the sides, and have a skirt that covers the inner diameter, while leaving room for the tuber to sit. Covers can be altered with pockets, can holders and have handles for the tuber to hold on to. It is strongly discouraged to tie anything to the tube or use ropes of anykind as a tuber can get bound or wrapped in them and potentially drown. As in all watersports tubers should wear appropriate safety gear such as life vests, protective water shoes and helmets. Whitewater tubing can be fun and exhilarating, the size of the tube allows a tuber to ride the river in an unencumbered manner not found in rafting or kayaking. Tubers can employ the use of such items as dry boxes and mesh bags to carry small personal items and pack out trash, cans and bottles from their trip.
Popular riverside tube rentals normally warn against glass due to riverside dangers. Some law enforcement offices have prohibited kegs which were popularly chilled in metal tubs harnessed within larger tubes.
Major water parks often have specially designed courses for tubing. These may consist of a circular, artificial river on which riders are conveyed or a linear course such as a water slide
A water slide is a type of slide designed for warm-weather or indoor recreational use at water parks. Water slides differ in their riding method and therefore size...
Snow tubing is rumored to have begun as far back as the 1820s in the Alpine Mountains. Tubing on snow is a wintertime activity that is similar to sledding
Sledding , sledging , sleding or tobogganing is a common activity in wintry areas, similar to sliding, but in a prone or seated position requiring a device or vehicle generically known in the US as a sled or in other countries as a sledge or toboggan...
. This kind of tubing is almost always performed on a hill or slope, using gravity to propel the rider to the bottom of the grade. The rider often returns to the top of the slope with the tube to repeat the process. The low amount of friction between most tubes and snow allows tubers to reach considerable speeds while riding, especially on steep slopes. Because of the circular shape of snow tubes, controlling the course and speed of a tube while riding on snow is extremely difficult. While a sled rider can drag their arms on the snow to brake or steer to a degree, attempting this on a tube will often cause the tube to spin. This lack of control has led to injuries, some serious, when riders have struck obstacles such as trees while tubing on snow.
Some ski resorts offer courses devoted solely to tubing. Such courses often have slopes or barriers on the periphery to guide the tubes along a safe course. Motorized pulley towlines are often used to tow riders and their tube back to the top of the course after riding to the bottom.
It is also possible to tow a tube through the snow behind a snowmobile
A snowmobile, also known in some places as a snowmachine, or sled,is a land vehicle for winter travel on snow. Designed to be operated on snow and ice, they require no road or trail. Design variations enable some machines to operate in deep snow or forests; most are used on open terrain, including...
. This is similar to towed tubing on water, only the watercraft is replaced by a snowmobile and the water with snow-covered ground.
A variant of towed tubing dubbed "kite tubing" has begun to emerge.
When tubes being towed on water reach high speeds, they may take flight. This is because the body of the tube acts as an airfoil
An airfoil or aerofoil is the shape of a wing or blade or sail as seen in cross-section....
and creates lift
A fluid flowing past the surface of a body exerts a surface force on it. Lift is the component of this force that is perpendicular to the oncoming flow direction. It contrasts with the drag force, which is the component of the surface force parallel to the flow direction...
. In this way, the tube becomes a kite. A tube's ability to achieve and maintain flight depends on a number of factors including the speed at which the tube is traveling, the shape and size of the tube, the weight of the rider, and how the tube itself is oriented. As most tubes are not designed for flight, the rider often has little or no control over a tube after it takes to the air. This can lead to a violent crash as the rider, with or without the tube, falls back to the surface of the water.
To address the poor flight characteristics of most tubes and to target thrill seekers, tubes specially designed for kite tubing have been introduced. These tubes may feature channels to allow air to flow through the tube's body, a transparent "window" for the rider to signal the boat operator, as well as more streamlined, aerodynamic designs.
As of July 2006, 39 injuries and two deaths from kite tubing have been reported. Injuries have included a broken neck, punctured lung, cracked ribs, a concussion and injuries to the chest, back and face. Some accidents have been linked to gusts of wind that unexpectedly altered the flight characteristics and ejected the riders.
In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission is an independent agency of the United States government created in 1972 through the Consumer Product Safety Act to protect "against unreasonable risks of injuries associated with consumer products." The CPSC is an independent agency that does...
, Sportsstuff Inc. voluntarily withdrew the Wego Kite Tube from the market on , 2006.
Related to kite tubing is the kited inflated wing, a stiffened, flexible wing or gas-inflated bladder wing, where a control bar is affixed for the kited person to direct the inflated wing so the dangerous lock-out does not occur. The kited person can have a quick disconnect to release from a towing boat or car if a dangerous angle of tow begin.
Tubing can require varying pieces and kinds of equipment depending on the variety of tubing one wishes to engage in.
The one common piece of equipment across all forms of tubing is the tube itself. While tubes vary in construction, all share the general characteristics of being:
An inflatable is an object that can be inflated with a gas, usually with air, but hydrogen, helium and nitrogen are also used. One of several advantages of an inflatable is that it can be stored in a small space when not inflated, since inflatables depend on the presence of a gas to maintain their...
- Made of a thin, flexible, synthetic material such as rubber
Natural rubber, also called India rubber or caoutchouc, is an elastomer that was originally derived from latex, a milky colloid produced by some plants. The plants would be ‘tapped’, that is, an incision made into the bark of the tree and the sticky, milk colored latex sap collected and refined...
or PVC plastic
Polyvinyl chloride, commonly abbreviated PVC, is a thermoplastic polymer. It is a vinyl polymer constructed of repeating vinyl groups having one hydrogen replaced by chloride. Polyvinyl chloride is the third most widely produced plastic, after polyethylene and polypropylene. PVC is widely used in...
DONUT was an experiment at Fermilab dedicated to the search for tau neutrino interactions. Even though the detector operated only during a few months in the summer of 1997, it was largely successful. By detecting the tau neutrino, it confirmed the existence of the last lepton predicted by the...
, disk, or hot dog shaped
Tubes for use as towables on water are generally not true inner tubes but rather specially designed tubes for the purpose of recreation. These tubes are often fairly durable and come in either donut or disk shapes. A sleeve of synthetic fabric often covers the tube to prevent it from becoming elongated during towing. Such sleeves commonly have handles for the rider to grasp and an anchoring point for the tow line to be attached at.
Towing a tube or tubes also requires a powered watercraft such a motorboat or personal watercraft as well as rope to tether the tubes to such craft.
Tubes used for free-floating tubing have traditionally been true inner tubes, but commercially sold tubes for the same purpose are becoming common place. These tubes are almost always donut-shaped to allow the rider to sit comfortably on their back across the top of the tube with buttocks in the center. This kind of tube rarely has handles or a sleeve and would perform poorly as a towable.
Tubing using traditional inner tubes is a popular past time on the Nam river in Vang Vieng, Laos. Backpackers flock to this town to experience this.
Tubes used for riding on snow are sometimes specially designed tubes with dimpled centers rather than a "donut" hole. This prevents the rider and the tube itself from dragging on the snow. Snow tubes may be designed to have handles.
- Beer Raft – Is a raft or a specially designed inflatable cooler the purpose of which is to hold ice, drinks, food and most importantly adult beverages. Also commonly called “Beertanic”
- Biscuit – A nickname used to describe the shape of a tube that resembles a disc.
- Donut – A nickname used to describe the shape of a tube with a hole in the middle.
- Drop In Point – Is the location at which a float begins and tubers transition from land into water.
- Float – Is an event in which a group gathers for the sole purpose of making their way down a river on tubes for enjoyment.
- Flotilla – Refers to a group of two or more tubes floating down a river while sharing supplies and company. Often the tubes will be joined together with rope.
- Exit Point – Is the location at the end of the float where tubers exit the river.
- Island – Is larger than a tube, but is not a raft. An island can fit four or more people, but still maintains a circular shape and has poor maneuverability.
- Point of Interest – A location that is interesting or useful. It can be a place to rendezvous on the river, a naturally occurring attraction, or a dangerous point that one should be aware of.
- Portage – Is a point along the float in which tubers have to exit with their tubes and walk because of low water or dangerous water obstacles.
- Pump – Is either a manual or an electric device used to inflate a tube or raft.
- Raft – Is a boat shaped inflatable that can hold 1 or more tubers plus supplies. Rafts often come with oars, but the oars are not necessary for tubing.
- Tube – Is the vehicle used to stay afloat while tubing, often inflatable.
- Tubers – People who takes part in tubing.
- Tubing – The act of floating down a river for fun.
- Water Shoes – Shoes used to protect the feet when walking in water and over rocks. Often Tevas, Keens or Crocs are used.
Toobin' is an Atari video game originally released as an arcade game in 1988. It was later ported to systems such as NES, Commodore Amiga, Commodore 64, MSX, and Game Boy Color. In the game, you play as the main characters Bif or Jet, guiding them through many winding rivers on an innertube...
, an arcade
An arcade game is a coin-operated entertainment machine, usually installed in public businesses such as restaurants, bars, and amusement arcades. Most arcade games are video games, pinball machines, electro-mechanical games, redemption games, and merchandisers...
version and video game of the sport
Zorbing is the recreation of rolling downhill in an orb, generally made of transparent plastic. Zorbing is generally performed on a gentle slope, but can also be done on a level surface, permitting more rider control. In the absence of hills some operators have constructed inflatable, wooden or...