My friend invited a handful of people to join her for a day of tubing on a nearby river for her birthday, which is a brilliant celebration idea. I had never gone tubing with a group of people, and didn’t own an inner tube. My friend recommended the Intex River Run Connect Float, and everyone bought it. I don’t have anything to compare it to in my experience, so take this review with a large grain of salt.
First, the inner tube itself has a lot of great points – spacious, really comfy backrest, handles and a cup holder, pretty sturdy. One of the men snagged his on a piece of metal as we headed to the water, but each inner tube comes with a patch, so we were able to keep going after applying it and refilling the air. These tubes are pretty big, so I definitely recommend bringing along an air pump. They can comfortably fit people 6′ or a bit taller and up to 300 pounds, per some of the other reviews I read. Everyone in our group fit without issue.
The best parts of the tubes, however, are the connecting straps on each of the four sides. Since we all purchased the same tube, we could all connect to one another. We connected in an odd circle (dubbed the “birthday amoeba”) and floated along the current. We split into pairs; we all connected to make a line; several folks were solo for the end. It was really fun to float along and mix and mingle. Intex also makes accessories like this floating cooler, which we connected to our tubes.
I did notice some downsides, though. The tubes – like most, honestly – can rupture if scraped along a downed limb or sharp rock. I recommend bringing additional patches; duct tape at the very least. One of my friends had the same one he used last year and this year the mesh net bottom tore completely out. I’m not sure how he had treated the inner tube in the past year, but that seemed a bit flimsy and poor quality. A few of the men also had the blue coloring of the float rub off onto their skin. It didn’t happen to me or any of the others, so I’m not sure if that’s a common problem. The cooler lid is only attached with two medium-sized velcro circles, and has a tendency to fall off if the water gets a bit rough. I also thought the cooler didn’t insulate very well; the ice melted rather quickly and the drinks were river-temperature within two hours.
My final thoughts on this inner tube: while I wouldn’t use it on rapids, this $20 float is ideal for pools and calmer rivers, and perfect for groups. I also think this would make a GREAT date idea (and cost less than a fancy dinner)!