Floating along a slow-moving river in an oversized inner tube helps tame the heat of summer days. Tubing isn't a complicated venture, as long as you choose a safe location, an appropriate tube and proper attire. Never float alone; rather, gather a party of two to four friends so you can easily stay together and enjoy the scenery.
Unless you plan to tube as a regular hobby, you're best off renting the inner tubes. Most rental companies provide high-quality tubes with dual air chambers, handles and mesh bottoms. These sturdy tubes stand up to tree branches and other debris you may encounter as you float along. A rental company can also provide you with guidance as to the safest and best tubing access points and routes. Some states have regulations about where you can and can't access rivers. These companies will also drop you off and pick you up, which saves a lot of time and effort.
Know the Regulations
Some areas require that personal flotation devices be worn while tubing. In certain states, such as Utah, floating on any body of water with a current requires the use of a life jacket. In other cases, the use of a life jacket may depend on the particular locality's regulations. For example, if you're on the Chattahoochee River near Atlanta, you are required to wear a life jacket near the Buford or Morgan Falls Dams but not necessarily in other areas. In most cases, children are required to wear a life jacket; specific age ranges depend on local regulations. The best strategy is to check in with tubing companies, or the local parks and recreations services where you plan to float, to learn the local regulations.
Tubing attire isn't complicated; don a well-fitting swim suit, a hat with a wide brim and sunglasses. Shoes made for water activities will protect your feet from sharp rocks and branches as you enter and exit the river, and if you should come in contact with the river bottom. Bring only minimal belongings with you and secure them tightly -- you'll have a lot of trouble fishing your car keys, identification or credit cards out of a deep body of water.
Refreshments and Supplies
Make your tubing adventure more relaxing and fun by outfitting an extra tube with a cooler full of supplies. Tie this tube with a bungee cord to one of the tubers in the party so it doesn't drift off with your adult beverages, snacks and sunscreen. Choose a plastic, rather than polystyrene foam, cooler and carry only aluminum or cardboard drink containers. Glass is prone to breaking and is prohibited in some areas. Designate a trash bag and keep it sealed on the supply tube so you carry trash out with you.
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