If you're still looking to cool down this Labor Day but can't make the trek to the beach with the rest of the city, then look no further than your local river. Tubing the Hooch is an affordable, carefree way to spend an afternoon.
Right tubes, right supplies, right pump.
Make sure you have the right gear for the trip. Swimming is fun if it's on purpose. Trust me.
Give yourself enough time to pull everything together. You aren't the first ones to take this journey and gear sells out fast. Opinions vary about what the best raft is but our go-to is, the River Run Tube. They're durable, with mesh bottoms, backrests, handles, and cup holders (and trust me, you'll want the cup holder). They are easy to inflate and deflate… this is important. I recommend stashing a pump in the car. You don't want to be the one person huffing and puffing your afternoon away. Air mattress pumps work fine, manual or electric, doesn’t really matter. You'll also need life jackets. They're a requirement and you will get a ticket without one. Fortunately, they serve double duty in stringing rafts together and saving lives. Grab yourself one of the orange ones; they're cheaper, the strap is longer and easier to adjust in tying the rafts together. That's 99% of what you'll use it for (hopefully).
Depending on how many are going you may want an extra tube or two. These will serve as a cooler float and gear storage. As far as coolers go anything with a lid that secures (zip, screw on, etc.) is fine. I can't even count the number of time we've had to chase down a cooler of dumped beers.
This is the pre-party you won't want to miss.
The reason we tube is simply to have a good time with friends, get some sun, and enjoy the best brews. Keep in mind, that parking lots fill up quickly. Plan to arrive early and enjoy some lunch before you launch. It is a good time to apply sunscreen, lighten the beer load (there will probably be more than will fit in the coolers), and eat something. Think of it as a tailgate. See our blog on tailgate tacos.
Be sure to stash some snacks and a couple bottles of water in the car for your return.
*Remember that you are going to be getting out at a different location from where you started. Have everyone meet there then pile into as few cars as possible to head to the launch point. The only things that go with you are tubes, gear, and beer. Leave towels, dry clothes, things that can’t get wet, etc. at the exit spot.
Cross check and all-call:
Did we leave anyone (or dogs!) behind? Count off.
Does everyone have everything? Big hat, sunscreen, keys for the cars at the exit? You are going to be out there for a while, make sure the extra sunscreen (and beer) are all packed.
Don’t be dumb.
There is a paradox about river beer. It doesn't matter how much you bring, you will run out.
I'm sure there's an upper limit to this, but after extensive testing, we haven't been able to reach it. Word of caution from a pro, be realistic about how much beer or drink of choice you bring. More thank likely, it will be consumed. The river can be fun, but being unsafe isn't.
Have a plan to get everyone home safely. That means a DD for each vehicle, don’t try to ride on top of the tubes in the back of the truck, and throw away any open containers. In short, drink responsibly.