Close
Towables Buyer's guide at Cabela's

Towables Buyer's guide

Author: By Jon F. Sica

Reach the peak of high-energy fun and adventure with towables guaranteed to make unforgettable summertime memories.

Make Summer An Adventure

Fun, safety and speed are combined in today’s next-generation towables, thanks to high-tech computer-aided design and cutting-edge synthetic materials. Nowadays, the old-fashioned inner tube is a relic of a bygone era. Modern towables make skill an option, not a requirement. In some cases, all you have to do is lie back and enjoy the ride. But be prepared, there are always new thrills to be found skimming the water at high speeds.


Moreover, depending on what you’re looking for in a towable, it’s possible to buy a single towable the whole family can enjoy, from youngsters to grandparents. This generation of towables is not limited to single riders; multiple riders can join the fun — indeed, some are big enough for the whole family.

Little Price, Big Thrills


Value and towables go hand-in-hand. You can get everything you need to convert your boat into a primo towable watersport platform for less than $100 with one of Cabela’s X-treme Performance Gear packages — nearly half of what an average wakeboard costs. Moreover, depending on what you’re looking for in a towable, it’s possible to buy a single towable the whole family can enjoy, from youngsters to grandparents. This generation of towables is not limited to single riders; multiple riders can join the fun — indeed, some are big enough for the whole family.

Towables are not just for thrill-seeking, extreme-sport gurus; they’re for all ages — and once you hook up your first tow rope, you’ll be hooked on towable watersports for life.

Towables For Everyone

All the fantastic shapes and different sizes of towables on the market boil down to two main types:

Family-friendly
towables are designed for children and families to enjoy together.
  • High-excitement rides with relatively low risk
  • Easy to mount and remain seated or holding on for a long ride
  • Stable platforms reduce the chance of random wipeouts

High-performance
towables take skill to ride gracefully, but reward fearless riders with speed and maneuverability and all the excitement of grabbing an angry bull by the horns.
  • Choose how you ride: standing, kneeling, sitting or lying
  • Carve wicked turns weaving in and out of wake
  • Hit waves head-on and catch some air

Bring The Kids
Top-of-the-line family-friendly towables are most often identifiable by deep seats, headrests and a wide, robust design for a stable ride. Air-filled floors and deluxe handles with neoprene-wrapped knuckle-guards enhance comfort and safety for thrill-seeking youngsters. Specialty models even combine the wave-jumping fun and look of a jet ski with the value of a multiperson towable, spraying an eye-catching rooster tail as it skims on top of the water.

Some family-friendly towables resemble what most of our generation grew up tempting fate with — the ubiquitous inner tube. Suffice it to say, the round towables on the market today aren’t your daddy’s inner tubes. While the trademark hole in the center often remains, the bottoms are sealed with low-friction fabric that covers the entire bottom, increasing speed and acceleration — and eliminating the possibility of falling through. Some round towables are flat across the top as well, creating a stable deck for multiple riders. A further refinement to the classic circular design comes in the form of low-profile engineering. This is where a high, rounded bow tapers to the waterline astern for more stability, and makes it easier to mount.


Take A Ride On The Wild Side
If you think you’re ready to go pro, there are dozens of high-performance towables to choose from depending on what you crave — speed, uncontrolled thrills, maneuverability or the ability to jump waves and sling your own wake.

The most common performance towables come in a wedge- or delta-shaped design. There are many variations on this theme, but wedge- and delta-shaped towables are easily identified by their sleek, fast lines and raw potential for radical moves. Lying down on the deck, one or more riders can shift their weight to roll the wedge-shaped towables on edge to cut across wake or jump over waves with ease.

More advanced horseshoe-shaped, U-shaped, flying-wing and boomerang-shaped models build upon the benefits of the wedge. These styles allow teens and adults to ride in multiple positions — kneeling, sitting, standing — for more challenging rides. You can even execute split-second turns and take rough surf head on if you dare.

Five simple things
You need five things to get started with your towable.

  1. First, you’ll need a tow rope. Ropes are rated by breaking-strength tolerances, but it’s easy to choose what you need. For a single-person towable, get a 2,000-lb. rope. Experts recommend a 4,000-lb. rope for a two-person towable. Large multiperson craft carrying three or more people need a 6,000-lb. rope. Click here to view: Tube Tow Ropes , or Kwik Tek Bungee Tube Tow Ropes.

    Virtually all modern towables feature an integrated tow line system. This makes a safe, secure tow rope connection at a scientifically chosen point at the bow of each towable, which takes the greatest advantage of its hydrodynamic properties for consistent, predictable performance at high speeds. Cabela’s product specialists tout quick-connect devices that can reduce the time it takes to rig your towable to mere minutes. Most quick-connect devices look like a stand-alone cleat hooked to a pre-made loop. The simple cleat-and-loop system quickly joins towable and tow rope, without hard-to-tie knots, and makes disassembly a snap.


  2. Tow rope harnesses greatly enhance your watersport experience by automatically centering the tow rope as it’s pulled behind your boat. This keeps it clear of your motor, preventing tangles, and allowing your boat and towable to work in concert for more overall performance. Click here to view: Kwik Tek Self-Centering Tow Harness.

  3. Safety flags are required in most states for boats underway with a towable. Most are easy to use and stick to your deck or window with a suction cup. Click here to view: Cabela’s Water Ski Flag.

  4. Air pumps are a great investment. They more than pay for themselves by saving you hours of time and effort that could be spent out on the water. Traditional manual pumps are still available, but handheld electric pumps have become extremely popular because of their cordless mobility, long run times and high-tech efficiency.

  5. Lifejackets are essential to all watersports. Absolutely no one — regardless of swimming ability — should take a ride on a towable without a lifejacket.

Safety First
Every watersport vest Cabela’s offers is a U.S.-Coast Guard-approved Type III personal flotation device. According to the USCG, Type III lifejackets are inherently buoyant and tested to meet the flotation needs of youth and adults engaged in watersport activities.

You will often see watersport vests or lifejackets referred to in official reports as "Personal Flotation Devices" or PFDs for short. But don’t get confused by the government lingo; there are five categories of PFDs, each with distinct tolerances and uses. Type I, II, III and V are all wearable, whereas Type IV PFDs are throwable, like a floating seat cushion or a traditional ring buoy. Read more about PFDs here: Cabela’s Buyer’s Guide to PFDs

Most modern lifejackets are made with buoyant foam core sheathed in abrasion-resistant nylon or stretchable neoprene.
  • Nonbulky neoprene lifejackets are built for high-octane, competitive riders who need freedom of movement and a snug, custom fit.
  • Tried-and-true nylon offers toughness and value, and a relaxed fit that can be shared by adults and youth of many sizes, thanks largely in part to adjustable quick-release buckles.

Remember, the USCG requires all recreational boats to carry a lifejacket for everyone on board, and lifejackets must be stored in a readily accessible place — not in bags or locked compartments. The USCG reported: "The best PFD is the one you will wear." Shopping for watersport vests is no different than shopping for outerwear, whether your priority is comfort, performance or value — or all three — you’ll find the perfect fit here: Watersports Vests

Storage and Maintenance
Watersport experts recommend a few easy tips for extending the life of your towable:
  • Deflate at the end of the weekend, thoroughly dry, then store in a bag or closet away from sunlight to prevent extended UV damage.
  • Towables used in saltwater should be rinsed with freshwater afterwards to prevent corrosion.
  • Vinyl protectants, like 303, preserve the quality and durability of a towable’s shell.