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Can a Jet Ski Pull a Tube or Banana Boat? [Video Guide]
Last Updated on
Can a jet ski pull a tube or a banana boat? — This is a typical question asked by many jet ski owners.
Wakeboarding behind a jet ski is very popular nowadays, and people want to know if it’s possible to tow a tube or even a water ski behind a jet ski.
We at JetDrift, have compiled the answers for what kind of tubes you can tow with your jet ski, as well as which are the best jet skis for tow sports, and a step-by-step guide for a hassle-free start!
Can a Jet Ski Pull a Tube or Banana Boat?
First, let’s see what kind of tubes you can tow with a jet ski, safely and legally!
Can a jet ski pull a tube?
The majority of sit-down jet skis can pull a tube safely and legally if you meet the legal requirements. It’s good to know that pulling a tube with a stand-up jet ski is not recommended, nor legal in the U.S.!
Can a jet ski pull a banana boat?
Although a jet ski can a pull banana boat – which you can see in some holiday resorts worldwide – it’s not necessarily good for the jet ski’s engine due to the high weight. Additionally, you can typically tow up to 1-2 people behind a jet ski legally, which means pulling a large banana boat with several riders is not legal in the U.S.!
Is kite tubing illegal?
Kite tubing is an illegal as well as an extremely dangerous activity! A kite tube is a special device that will start flying in the air at higher speeds. After several accidents which ended in deaths and serious injuries, kite tubes were eventually banned in many states and are not manufactured anymore.
As you can see, you can pull a tube with a jet ski. But are you wondering which jet skis are best for tubing, and how much power you’ll need?
The Best Jet Skis for Tubing
When it comes to jet-ski tubing, selecting the right model is essential, as a poorly chosen jet ski will be a hassle in the long run. So let’s check the major requirements one by one, like performance, seat capacity and hull sizes!
How Much Horsepower Does a Jet Ski Need to Pull a Tube?
If you’re looking for the best jet skis for tubing, it’s recommended you stick to the models which have at least 120 HP. Although the lower performance jet skis can pull a tube, 120 HP will give you a much better riding experience and tubing won’t overload these stronger engines.
What are the Best Hulls?
The additional benefit of these larger engines is that they come with bigger hulls. The smaller jet skis, like the Rec-Lite models or the vintage 2 strokes are not the best for tow sports. This is due to their low performance, lack of seat and deck capacity, and too-agile hulls.
The rule of thumb is that the bigger and heavier jet ski hull is always better for tow sports!
How Much Weight Can a Jet Ski Pull?
An average jet ski can easily pull two adults on one tube, or on two separate tubes. But for the exact towing capacity, always check your owner’s manual or ask your dealership!
How Much Seat Capacity Will You Need for Jet Ski Tubing?
This question is quite complex as it depends on your state laws, the equipment on your jet ski, and how many tubers you’d like to pull. In general, the most recommended models are the 3-seater jet skis, as you’ll need an operator, a spotter and a free seat on the jet ski for the tuber.
The “spotter” is a rear-facing passenger sitting on the jet ski to watch the tuber(s) during rides for safety concerns. If something goes wrong, i.e., if a tuber falls or wants to stop, the spotter can alert the operator.
It always depends on the state whether you need the spotter on a jet ski or not. Also, keep in mind that even if your state doesn’t require a spotter, it’s always wise to have one onboard, especially if you pull children on a tube.
Let’s face it; if you operate the jet ski, you can’t keep your eyes on the mirror every single second. Children can be irresponsible and clumsy, so you’ll never know when bad things are happening behind you!
What are the Best Jet Skis for Tubing?
Based on the above, the best jet skis for tubing are the 3-seater models with 120-180 HP performance, which have bigger hulls for more capacity and stability.
It’s best if you stick to this medium performance range. Engines under 120 HP may not give you the tubing experience you expect, but alternatively, the performance jet skis with 250-300 HP are too powerful.
It makes no sense to buy a supercharged jet ski just for tubing and general recreational purposes.
How to Stay Legal While Jet Ski Tubing
In order to pull a tube with a jet ski legally, you have to know and follow the laws in every state and region! For your convenience, we’ve compiled the most common regulations into this post, but please note that the applicable laws may vary from state to state. Becasue of this, it’s highly recommended you check local laws and regulations in your area to stay safe and legal!
Do You Need a Spotter on a Jet Ski?
The majority of states require a rear-facing spotter on a jet ski if it pulls a tuber or wakeboarder, while some other states require only mirrors. This means a spotter isn’t needed onboard if a jet ski is equipped with appropriate mirrors!
So finally, in most states, you’ll need a 3-seater jet ski for towing a tube legally. But if your state requires only mirrors on your jet ski, it means you can pull with a 2-seater jet ski legally!
Furthermore, if you have a 4-seater jet ski, you can even pull 2 or 3 tubers legally. Does this sound a little confusing? Don’t worry!
We’ve organized this information clearly into one chart:
|Jet Ski Seats||Spotter Required||Tubers Allowed|
Are you wondering where you can still find 4-seater jet skis? Unfortunately, these large models are not manufactured currently, so your only chance to purchase one of these older skis is on the second-hand market!
If you’re looking for a new sit-down jet ski off the shelf, you can only choose from 2- or 3-seater models. As we’ve mentioned, even if it’s possible to tow a tube with a stand-up jet ski, it’s not just a complicated stunt, but it’s illegal as well!
Do you Need Mirrors on a Jet Ski?
As we discussed earlier, some states allow pulling a tube with a jet ski without a spotter onboard. In these cases, the jet ski has to be equipped with mirrors.
The good news is that many new jet skis come with mirrors which are perfectly fit into their design, just like car mirrors. The bad news is that surprisingly, these mirrors don’t meet legal requirements in some states!
How is this possible?
Most jet skis are manufactured with a pair of “average” mirrors, which work well in the states which require only “mirrors” on the jet ski, without further stipulations.
But keep in mind that some states have specific requirements for mirrors; the most common requirement is to use a big wide-angle mirror. Let’s face it, the factory-installed jet ski mirrors are not designed to comply with safety laws in these states!
Do You Need Life Jackets for Jet Ski Tubing?
Yes, the operator, the spotter and the tuber(s) have to wear United States Coast Guard (USCG) approved life jackets each time you’re on the water! Make sure that the sizes are right, especially if you pull children, as they need smaller life jackets instead of the adult sizes!
Some states also require you to use an orange flag called a “skier down flag” as well, which is a signal for the other vessels around that a person is in the water near your jet ski. The best practice is if the spotter holds this flag.
If this flag is required by your state, don’t neglect to keep one onboard!
7 Tips for Tubing Behind a Jet Ski
It’s always wise to be prepared before you hit the water, so let’s check some quick tips for jet ski tubing!
How to Attach a Tow Rope on a Jet Ski
When it comes to attaching a tow rope on a jet ski, it’s very important to attach it on the tow hook (or U-bolt). You can find this unit directly behind the saddle on the rear end of the jet ski.
Even if your jet ski is equipped with a towing pylon, never attach the tow rope to it if you pull a tube!
These pylons are good for wakeboarding, but if you pull a tube, you have to attach the tow rope to the tow hook every time!
How Fast Should You go When Tubing?
When it comes to safe tubing speeds, most tube manufacturers recommend pulling the tube at speeds around 15 mph, and no faster than 20 mph! The safe tubing speed always depends on several factors like the tuber’s weight, age, abilities and the weather conditions.
Always pay close attention to your speed, especially if you tow kids! The younger the kids on the tube, the lower the speed you have to choose.
Once you attach a tube, start the jet ski slowly and increase your speed carefully. If you start too hard you can damage the tube or you can cause injury to the tuber.
Also be aware that the tube (and the jet ski itself) need a minimum speed to “plane”, which means they have to elevate above the water and glide on the surface. Specific speeds may differ from tube to tube.
If your speed is under this limit, you’ll notice that the tube digs itself into the water which makes the ride much more difficult. Increase your speed carefully until the tube starts to plane!
Is Tubing Safe for Toddlers?
Since there are several tubes manufactured for children, parents want to know what the minimum age is for tow sports. While most countries and states don’t have regulations about this, many parents don’t consider tubing safe for toddlers! Every watersport has its own dangers, tubing as well. If something bad happens, your toddler may fear any watersport forever, or even much worse things can happen!
It’s simply not worth the risk. Be patient! Life is long and you’ll have many memorable days on the water once your kid gets older!
Be Careful During Turns
You have to be careful during your turns, as the tube will go much faster than the jet ski itself!
This is because the tow rope moves the tube on a bigger arc where the jet ski runs. If you do a sharp turn, it may mean a double distance for the tuber -which means double speed as well! Always keep this in mind, operate the jet ski carefully and listen to your spotter at all times.
Keep a Safe Distance
The number one rule you have to keep in mind while pulling a tube is that you always have to keep a safe distance from the shore and objects like piers, docks, or buoys. Also, double check the other vessels in your area as they mean high risk for you and your tuber.
How Long is the Tow Rope for Tubing?
When it comes to selecting the tow rope length for tubing, the Water Sports Industry Association (WSIA) recommendation is 50 feet at minimum, because a shorter rope may spray much more water into the tuber’s face. Additionally, they recommend the maximum length for the tubing tow rope is 65 feet.
If you do your research, you’ll find that most of the tow ropes on the market are between 50-60 feet.
What do You Wear to go Tubing?
Be prepared! On a tube you’ll be wet from the water spray, or in the worst (best?) case, you may end up in the water. Because of this, it’s best if you wear something that you don’t mind getting wet. The majority of tubers simply wear a bathing suit which, of course, does the job well.
Beyond the general clothes, don’t forget that you’ll have to wear a life jacket, and you can also consider a wet suit. It not only keeps you warm on the colder days, but can protect you from smaller injuries.
Keep in mind that falling into the water at higher speeds can incur many different injuries!
Pulling a tube with a jet ski is tons of fun, but you have to pay attention to many factors to stay safe and legal.
In most states, a spotter is required, while in other states, you have to mount appropriate mirrors on your jet ski. Beyond that, every jet ski rider and tuber has to wear USCG-approved life jackets, and you also have to keep general safety accessories onboard.
These are the most important rules, but laws may vary from state to state so always check the local rules and regulations in your area before your first jet ski – tube ride!
When it comes to selecting a jet ski for tubing, it’s best if you stick to the 3-seater models with 120–180 HP. This power is plenty for any tow sports, and these jet ski models offer great seat and storage capacity as well.
Additionally, it’s wise to consider the cons of using a jet ski for tow sports before you choose this kind of vessel!
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