SITTING BY THE RIVER drinking water beers is boring! I want to drink AND float AND maybe do a flip in my floatie! Mmm... which is how I almost drowned at 4 pm on a beautiful Sunday. However, maybe you aren't as recklessly stupid as I am, and you just want to sit back and enjoy a restful summer ride. Either way, here are a few tips for a float fancier or a first-time tuber:
Cars—The two-car system is the best way to river tube. Leave one car at your tubing endpoint—take a moment to look for easy landmarks to identify this part of the river later—then pack everyone super tight into the second car to get to your starting spot. Couples and close friends may lap-sit. A terse fight between driver and navigator is customary.
Bros—Hell is drunken sunburned bros. For reasons unknown, day-drinking turns people into monsters. Floating down the river increases the amount of people you pass, and the number of drunken jocks who will start fights or cruise your friends. True, that doesn't sound relaxing! So pull over, and take a break on the river's edge until the team of obnoxious drowners-to-be float past.
River Choice—The Sandy and the Clackamas are popular rivers to float if you're feeling social. Getting farther away from Portland (like the Umpqua) is better for bro control. People in the country already don't want to be around other people. That's why they live in the country!
On the Water—You need to be in that water (and floating) by noon. Tubing takes a WHILE (schedule for three to six hours depending on your route), and you need to do it during the hot part of the day. Floating in river water means you're in the icy runoff of majestic mountain snow. It is icy cold. If you're in the water when the sun goes down, say hello to hypothermia.
Your Garbage—If you bring it on your tube, it's going in the drink. That means your snacks. That means your glasses. If polluting our natural splendor bothers you, floating on the river almost certainly makes you a polluter. Cans get away. Tubes flip suddenly. Even with triple Ziploc, your phone might still end up at the bottom of the river. At some point, I started trying to bring biodegradable stuff like carrots and cherries in paper bags. I've lost a number of water bottles, much to my shame. Tie your car keys to your person.
Tubes—I often see people tubing in those big black truck tubes you buy at the auto part store. While it may seem classy and minimal, here's the reality: Black tubes in the sun on a hot summer day are insanely hot. When they hit the cold water, they may even pop! Then you're in the middle of the river run, and very far away from either car. Just get a regular, tricked-out float tube like everyone else. (Especially those with can holders and plastic grips. Those are also very useful for sweet flips.)