While using a boat is always preferable, it isn’t uncommon for jet ski owners to want to tow tubes and inflatables with their jet skis. But, is this possible? If it is possible, what size jet ski do you need? Let’s take a look.
When it comes to the size jet ski to pull a tube, you are looking at a minimum of 110 horsepower. The jet ski, in most states, will also be required to have three seats. This means that your smaller jet skis likely won’t be able to cut it, even if they meet the power requirements.
Let’s go into a lot more depth on this, shall we? This is because we really need to tell you the reasons behind why you need to choose a jet ski of the right size, and what could possibly happen if the jet ski that you use is underpowered or too small.
There Is a Minimum Size For Jet Ski For Pulling a Tube Or Inflatables
Before we go any further, we want to point out that using a jet ski to tow an inflatable is not legal in some states. In the states where it is legal, the jet ski needs to be of a certain size and, in some cases, kitted out with extra equipment. We will give a bit more information on the legal side of things shortly.
The thing that we want to point out here is that in the vast majority of states where using a jet ski to pull a tube or inflatable is legal, you are going to need to have a three-seater jet ski.
The first seat is going to be the driver. We are sure this part is going to be somewhat obvious to you. Somebody needs to be controlling that jet ski, after all.
The second seat is for the assistant, sometimes called the spotter. The job of the spotter is to keep an eye on the inflatable being pulled at all times. They need to ensure that the tow rope is not being pulled into the rear of the jet ski, which is going to be incredibly dangerous.
The third seat is for the person being towed. Now, chances are that the person being towed is never going to be occupying that seat. They are going to head out onto the water already in the inflatable. However, it needs to be there. The seat is just in case something happens with the inflatable and the user needs to be towed back to the shore or, perhaps, that person just doesn’t want to be pulled anymore.
Of course, in some places, you may be able to tow an additional person on the inflatable. You will also need a seat for them. So, if you are planning on pulling two people on an inflatable at the same time, then you will need to have a jet ski with 4 seats. We wouldn’t really recommend getting anything larger than this. Two is about the maximum that a jet ski is going to be able to comfortably pull without causing issues for the people riding in the inflatable (e.g. too slow).
This means that, right off the bat, unless you have a minimum of three seats on your jet ski, you can forget about it pulling a tube or inflatables. While it may technically have enough power to tug those inflatables and tubes through the water, it is not a jet ski that will meet the legal requirements.
Do bear in mind that these rules are only going to apply to the United States. If you live outside of the United States or are perhaps taking your jet ski there, then you may find that the rules may even be stricter. It is important that you learn the local laws where you are. Ignorance of the law is not a defense here. Plus, you are risking people’s lives if you do things incorrectly.
Minimum Horse Power For Jet Skin Pulling a Tube or Inflatables
This part is actually fairly easy.
If you have a three-seater jet ski, then chances are that it already has enough power to pull along an inflatable. This means a minimum of 100HP, although the more power you have, the better.
Remember, the motor on a three-seater jet ski has been designed to deal with the weight of three people already, so somebody being towed around the back instead of sitting on the jet ski should be more than fine. Inflatables are not going to add all that much in the way of weight to the jet ski, so that shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.
That being said, you are going to want to pay attention to the weight limit of the jet ski. Most jet skis assume that each rider will be roughly 200lbs in weight, so a combined total of 600lbs. If the combined weight is likely to be more than this on the jet ski, then you will want to choose something a bit more powerful.
However, there is no real need to go above 150-170HP for a jet ski designed for pulling a tube and inflatables. As you are able to see shortly, this is going to be wasted power.
You should never be pulling more than one person on an inflatable at a time. We don’t think there are any states that allow for this, at least with a jet ski. This means that you don’t need huge amounts of power to tow somebody. It really is going to be exactly the same as if you were towing somebody while they were seated on the jet ski. The only difference is that they are behind it instead.
As one final note here, we do want to point out that people have been able to successfully pull tubes and inflatables with jet skis as low as 65HP. However, we can’t imagine that it is the most ideal experience. Not when you are looking to move three people around. It is likely going to be great for those that are fine going slower (around 10mph while being towed) but since 100HP jet skis are not going to cost that much more, you may as well just spend a little bit of extra cash and get something with a bit more power. It is much more fun!
How Much Speed Do You Need Your Jet Ski To Hit?
Another consideration that you may need to make is the speed that the jet ski needs to reach. Although, again, this is not going to be a huge issue.
You aren’t going to ever be pulling a rider at 70mph+, so you don’t need a jet ski that is capable of hitting those speeds. Most riders are going to cap out at about 30mph, and even that may be pushing it.
This means that you do not need a massive, bulky machine that is kitted out with an engine that is well over 200 horsepower because that is just wasted power. As we mentioned before, around 100HP should be more than enough for most situations. You can bump the power up a little bit, but you don’t need to go much over.
Your Issue Likely Isn’t Going To Be The Size Of Your Jet Ski
Honestly, most jet skis should have no issues pulling a tube or inflatable, at least if you are only towing one or two people.
The problem is that it is illegal to do something like this in many states. In the states where it is legal, it is a legal requirement to have a certain size of jet ski. This is something that we discussed earlier.
This is all for safety purposes. There have been many horror stories of tubes and inflatables being sucked into the jet ski, which is more than possible due to the sheer amount of power being kicked out of the rear end. Without a spotter, there is a chance somebody could end up seriously injured, or perhaps worse.
So, bear this in mind before you go out and purchase a jet ski. You may not be able to use it in your state, and you may need to be bringing a couple of other people along for the ride.
If you are looking for the right size jet ski to pull a tube, then you will need to ensure that you get yourself a jet ski with a minimum of 3-seats. This is not to say that something smaller wouldn’t be able to tow a tube or inflatable. it is more than most states require 3 seats on the jet ski for safety purposes. In addition to this, you will need to ensure that you have a minimum of 100HP of power. You can go up to around 170HP, but anything more than that is just overkill if your main plan is to pull a tube or inflatable.