How to Choose the Right Towable

As summer lurks around the corner, boating enthusiasts begin preparations for heading out to the nearest lake for the weekend. Irrespective of the kind of water sport you prefer – whether you are water ski enthusiast or enjoy barefoot, wakeboard or plain boating – towables are essential for making the most of your water sporting experience. Given their growing demand and usability in water sports, the markets are constantly being pumped with newer and more innovative models. It is, therefore, important to understand how a particular towable will fit your and your family’s requirements in order to pick the right model from the plethora of options.

Types of Towable Materials

PVC vinyl sheets of varying thickness, ranging from 24 to 30 gauge, remain the core material used for construction of towable. However, a variety of materials can be used to make the cover that goes on top of the PVC vinyl sheet. The choice of material largely determines the speed, performance, friction, price and longevity of your towable. Some of the most commonly used materials include:

  • · Neoprene: This material is also widely used for making wetsuits and is known for its ability to provide a great level of comfort and prevents the skin from chaffing, particularly around the elbows, head, ankles, hands and knees. It is considered as a soft, user-friendly material in comparison to polyester and nylon.
  • · Nylon: Nylon is the most common material used for making towables. A vast majority of models available in the markets today use nylon in different thicknesses and weight, and the quality and price of the towable largely depend on these.
  • · Polyester: Polyester is often given an external coating of PVC to enhance its durability and performance. Coating polyester sheets with PVC lends it greater weight without escalating the cost. One of the biggest advantages of polyester towables is its color retention ability, despite prolonged and continuous exposure to the sun.

Variety in Shape

A towable’s performance on water is largely dependent on its size and shape. Besides, towables in certain shapes are better suited for more high performance activities while others are designed to cater to leisurely family needs. The shape of a towable is an important factor to consider while making a purchase. Here is a low down on some key towable shapes:

  • · Round Donut: A round donut is your good old traditional tube, which is still very much in vogue owing to its tried and tested performance and low cost. Round donut towable come in a variety of sizes, some of which can hold multiple riders at one time. However, these can tip over easily and do not make a suitable choice for use by children.
  • · Rocker: A rocker shaped towable comes in two classic designs – three-stage and U-shaped. A u-shaped rocker towable is more basic in nature designed to flow evenly from side to side; a three-stage rocker, on the other hand, comes with side wings and a flat base for riders to sit on. These make for a turbulent riding experience and are not suitable for novices.
  • · Deck Tubes: A deck tube is similar to a round donut in its principle of operation and shape, except it comes without a hole in the middle. These have a large flat surface cut out in a round or D shape, and can carry up to four riders. However, these too are slightly challenging for inexperienced or young riders.
  • · Ride-In and Ride-On: Simply put, a ride-in is a deck tube with seat for its riders. Considered an improvement on the basic round donut and deck tube model, a ride-in is all about comfort and safety. These come in a variety of shapes and sizes and make for an ideal choice for family use. A ride-on too is towable with a comfortable seating and straddle option for safety of riders. However, these are considered 'tippy’ by some users owing to its narrow, torpedo-like shape.
  • · Concept: A concept towable is in every measure meant for the high performance rider. These come in unique designs meant to perform high-risk activities such as flying and rolling, and are one of the costliest varieties of towables available today.

The different segments and wide range in variety of towables – ranging from fast or slow to high or low, single, double or triple – ultimately fall into two broad categories. These can be classified as family friendly and high performance. For instance, concept and rocker towables fall in the high performance category, where as deck tubes and ride-ins can be classified as family friendly. A permutation of right choices in terms of materials, shape and size, in accordance with usability, can help you arrive at the perfect water towable.

© 2014 Juana Aman

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