Texas Living

The Ultimate Tubing Checklist

By Nicole Crites 6.7.17

Floating one of the Lone Star State’s beautiful rivers is a quintessential outdoor leisure activity in Texas; just hop into a tube and the river’s current will take you on an adventure. Enjoy the company of friends, listen to music, and soak in the summertime sun — could life get any better? This summer, be prepared for the ultimate Texas summer activity with these packing tips for tubing the river. 

What to pack: 

  • First aid kit. First and foremost, add a small first aid kit to the mix. Just be sure to bring supplies suitable for the water (waterproof bandages, liquid Band-Aids, etc.) and store them in a sealable bag so that they don’t get ruined in the water. 
  • Don’t bring anything you’re not willing to lose. The river’s powerful current can very easily sweep away your wedding ring, favorite pair of sunglasses, hats, speakers, and even smartphones and wallets. Instead of bringing these expensive essentials, consider swapping out your favorite sunnies for the dollar variety (include an eyewear retainer to keep them on your neck), substituting cell phones for waterproof walkie-talkies, and if you must bring a house key, attach it to a floating or boating key chain
  • Tennis shoes or water shoes — not flip-flops. Make sure to wear shoes that will stay on your feet, instead of flip-flops or slip-on sandals that might become loose in the water. Sharp rocks and broken glass along the river’s edge also require a more substantial shoe to protect your feet from injury. 
  • A lot of sunscreen. As you bask in the glow of the Texas sun, don’t forget to apply (and frequently reapply) sunscreen. Don’t forget areas such as the tops of your ears, the back of your neck, the part in your hair, and even your feet to prevent a burn while enjoying the river. Also, be sure to plan ahead and pack sunscreen in an easily accessible place for your party, so you don’t have to stop the fun just to reapply. 
  • Snacks and drinks. A tubing trip can turn into a full-day event, so prepare beforehand with easy snacks, such as fruit, prepackaged treats, sandwiches, and plenty of trash bags. Also, remember to stay hydrated with plenty of water — just make sure you don’t bring glass of any kind or Styrofoam, as it’s against the rules on most rivers.
  • Not just your average cooler. You could bring your ice-filled Coleman and put it in its own tube to float the river, but there are plenty of other ways to keep your drinks cold and your cooler secure. 
    • PVC pipe ice packs and milk jug ice packs are nice substitutes for ice, which can melt and be messy. Bonus: They’re made using common items.
    • Plastic storage tubs make for a less-expensive substitute for coolers. Just fill one with ice or ice packs and snacks and drinks. 
    • Float your cooler. Grab a pool noodle, cut it into four piece that are the same length as the four sides of your cooler, and then string the pieces together with boating rope or a bungee cord to make your cooler float.
    • Add a lasso. How do you make sure you don’t lose your cooler? Take some advice from our Wild West ancestors and hitch it to your saddle, err, tube by using some rope or twine to tie it to your float. 

Life doesn’t get much better than floating the river during a gorgeous summer day in Texas. Use this checklist to keep your party safe and sunburn-free, and the ride enjoyable from bank to bank.

For even more wet and wild experiences this summer, check out these unexpected water adventures across the Lone Star State.