Custom ultra light float tube

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Rory McMahon, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. Big day today!

    "Production" tube #1 completed!

    Final weight?


    25.4 ounces!!

    I've updated the spread strap design to be cleaner and more integrated, and I've added a couple of grab handles to carry the thing.



    And to celebrate I built my own "Ferrari" of tubes:


    Unfortunately it is actually 1.4 ounces HEAVIER that the blue one! Oh well, what price cool unmistakable one-of-a-kind uniqueness? :) Maybe I'll start drilling "lightening holes"?

    I was going to try to maybe take it out on its maiden voyage tomorrow, but with the smoke from the fires blowing up the range, I think I'll stay home and work on finishing up the rest of the run I have going and maybe get some work done on some fins as well.

    I'll probably try to get out again on Labor Day, perhaps...

  2. This past weekend I carried in a 15 lb tube and another 4 lbs of waders on an 8 mile, 4000 foot elevation trail. Dumb idea. Lets just say, I would have given anything to have one of these outfits you have made instead of what I was carrying. I can't wait for these to be available!! What you have created is amazing for these types of adventures.

    Your posts remind me of home. I grew up in Truckee, went to Sierra College in Rocklin. I've been to a lot of great areas around there. A lot of my family is still in that area. I've really enjoyed your posts. Keep up the good work.
  3. That's just plain silly! Heh... I didn't even try packing in any sort of float tube until I had acquired my 4.5 lb Del Canty system.

    My ex-wife actually is an instructor at Sierra College! Small world.

    BTW, shoot me an email at SHigSpeed at geemail dot com if you're ready to commit - you don't have to wait any longer. ;)

    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  4. Funny how things come full circle sometimes. Literally.

    A few days ago someone posted a link to a search engine that allowed you to do a wide search of all classified sites including Craigslist and ebay.

    Well, on a whim, I typed in "float tube" and guess what popped up!?


    WHAT!? New with tags Del Canty Lunker Hunter - and for a RIDICULOUS price. After contacting the seller, and finding out they still had it, we worked out shipping and...


    WOOOHOOOO!!! Full circle indeed, like the iconic donut float tube.


    I still can't believe my luck. Sure, I may be specially appreciative of this particular boat, but to find one manufactured in 1986 that had never been in the water is simply unbelievable. No, it didn't come with his hand-stitched, polyvinyl hat (oh wait, that's for the Woody doll) - er, inflator bag, but still...


    Though I was hoping for it to be an "old" one, this one turns out to be made only 43 after my original DCLH - and serialized on the same day, March 6 of 1986. Crazy...

    So, I had to know...


    A full 20 ounces heavier than the tubes in the first customer run of my tubes, but still damn light relative to anything else out there. Considering it uses a much heavier fabric and some pretty burly gluing and stitching in it's manufacture, it's not too bad really.

    Here are some photos of the "manual" in case anyone wanted to know:


    I'm sure I'll NEVER get this puppy wet, so though I feel a little silly buying it, I feel happy knowing that I own it. It's a piece of history, and a big inspiration to what I've managed to create myself.

    Funny, I JUST finished my latest personal tube the other day and had it out on the lake on rainy Labor Day. Yes, it's that color as an homage to the original! :)


    Now to find some clear wall real estate and some way to hang it...

    Skyler Evans likes this.
  5. Oh, BTW, the HiLakers will have their very own SHigSpeed CDC tube and fins to play with very soon - perhaps it may even already be there!

    Hope to see it visit a lot of cool places that I could only dream of from down here... :)

    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  6. Sick photos! The SIerra is the only thing I miss about my time in California. What are your tubes going to cost? Would be perfect for most of the fly fishing I do.
  7. I am curious as well. I have been watching this thread since the beginning and im amazed at your product. Congrats on the awsome build! Looking forward to hearing the cost of these.
  8. PMd you both...

  9. So, here's the next chapter in the UL backcountry float tubing adventure...


    Yes, I'm a pansy - I know that sitting out of the water, and especially later in the season, one doesn't HAVE to have waders, but I'd rather have them if at all possible.

    My Frogg Togg Canyon basic waders weigh 29 ounces and roll up somewhat small due to the no-frills nature of the pair. This is the weight without the belt. Simple mesh inside pocket, no reinforcements at the knee, no extra zippers or fancy suspenders. Still, they weigh more than my tube - unacceptable!

    I have been packing them until now, and I had a back burner project to make some nylon waders using the same materials and techniques as used in the tube, but I remembered that I had some Cabelas pants waders in the garage.


    So, out of the box, these weighed 28.2 ounces - without belt! That said, it did have double layer knees with neoprene knee pads. The neoprene booties do come up pretty high as well. Did have?

    So in the pursuit of adding max "lightness", I cut off the gravel gaiters and the top layer of fabric and padding at the knees:


    This shaved off 5.5 ounces! Down to 22.7 ounces now. Not bad!

    That said, I finally got off my ass and welded up a pair of high pants and sock out of the tube material and lo and behold - 11.3 ounces for the pants/socks. They are pretty roomy up top so there's an opportunity to shave some weight there. Also, they are full chest high, so I could probably lose an 8" swath across the top. The cut off neoprene stocking feet that I will wear over these to protect the feet weigh another 8.6 ounces, however they're full "hi-top" for now and cuffed down so if I can cut off 4" of ankle, I'm guessing I could lose at least a couple ounces there. Looks like a pound even is doable.


    Best part? The pants roll up small enough to fit into the foot pocket of one of the booties! And I could probably even slide this into the second bootie. Holy compression Batman! [​IMG]

    Now the downside of these is that they don't breathe. I've looked in the retail market for a heat sealable waterproof breathable material but haven't yet found one. Not sure if the Sonic Seam Orvis/Redington waders use this sort of fabric or not. I'm guessing that it's probably a bit heavier than the stuff I'm using for the boats, but I'd trade off a few ounces for breathability. I think, though, with long pants and socks it won't get too bad, especially since I won't be working up a sweat or anything in them.

    I don't have plans to make these as I'm busy enough with the boats and there are decent alternatives out there, but I thought I'd share to show y'all what's possible.

    Oh, BTW, new "boat package" weight:

    Tube 26 oz
    Fins 10 oz
    Waders 16 oz
    52 ounces / 3 lbs, 4 oz

    I think 3 lbs would be tough to hit, but not entirely impossible.

  10. More work on the boat package today, mostly optimizing the waders and booties.

    Bootlegs before:


    Cut off cuffs:


    Booties now down to 6.1 ounces.

    Now waders. They were 11.3 ounces before, then I cut off the top 8" or so, rolled the hem, and added a clip/cinch/belt:


    New total weight waders and booties? (note the waders are rolled up and inside the nested booties)


    16.4 ounces - damn. I really wanted to get down to a pound. Oh well.

    At any rate, full boat kit as it sits?


    50.6 ounces. Three pounds, 2.6 ounces. Not much left to trim. There may be another ounce or so in the waders if I trim the waist down further and maybe slim down the cut, another ounce maybe in the booties. Finally, I can make a "Smart Tube" compact version of the boat to shave another 2-3 ounces. Three pounds is achievable, but it's really just a number at this point. The whole kit is lighter than my tent now. I guess this means I need a new tent. ;)

    I have a trip planned in a couple of weeks to 10,500', can't wait. ;)

  11. So insane, love the ingenuity, thanks for keeping us updated. Would love to see the tube with a backrest of some sort integrated, I'm a tall guy and could use it ;)
  12. Great work Shig! Your end result is amazing and the development has been inspiring!

    A couple of ideas: You could get to under 16oz by using a lighter weight neo sock instead of those thick (3.5mm?) cut off waders booties. The ones I use for summer are only 2mm and I've seen some that are 1.5mm. Here's an example:

    For lightweight, breathable waders, I have been wanting to try a pair of the chemical/water resistant breathable Tyvek suits (the good ones, not the cheap ones). I know they will probably not stay totally dry with all day immersion but it could be worth a try. I also asked Frog Toggs about making waders out of their Tyvek raingear and the answer was they tried but it isn't waterproof enough for long submersion. Still, it might be worth trying the Dupont Tyvek suits and seeing just how long one can stay reasonably dry. I'd try but some health issues are keeping me off the water right now.
    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  13. I'm looking forward to trying it out. We may have missed this year's window though as the weather has taken a decidedly autumn turn the past few days. In any case, I'll see if I can round up some pics of its adventures to share.

  14. I'd love to check out these Tyvek options but I too would be afraid that they wouldn't be very waterproof. They may keep you dry in a downpour, but immersed I'd worry about water sweating in like you mentioned. That Frogg Toggs has tried it is good to know.

    The thinner neoprene booties/socks would definitely shave weight, but since these are all that protect the bottoms of your feet from rocks and such, you'd have to be more careful where you step in the lighter options. Maybe thin socks with a "thorn guard" insole between the feet and the sock? :) At that point I'm guessing the weight savings would evaporate though...

  15. Great work SHig. I haven't followed all of this thread but I am impressed with your focus and attention to detail. But if you keep shaving ounces, you'll up and blow away.:)
    Kent Lufkin likes this.
  16. Blow away indeed. In fact, with this tube, you will have to be very careful on shore or it will certainly "escape" to the far side of the lake (or over the ridge) if you're not careful!

    Too bad leashes have weight or I'd add one... ;)

  17. Hey All,

    It's been a while since I've updated the thread. Really not much new with regards to the tube. I've been out a few times and still loving the boat.

    I have been selling a few here and there as well and I'm well into the second half of the roll of fabric I have. Once this roll is gone I'll have to reconsider if I'll be doing more on not.

    In the meantime, I had an afternoon free this weekend so I decided to put together a video of the "birth" of a tube. I usually batch processes to streamline the production but in this case I made one from start to finish save for some pre-cutting of some of the fiddly-bits.

    Hope you enjoy!


  18. Love the tube and fins SHig, but as Kent said, the weather has pretty much ended high lake fishing for the season here. I have a small pond with stocked triploids near by tho. For waders I have an old set of Red Ball Super Tough that weigh 16 oz. I pair those up with some 2 mm neoprene socks, but I haven't weighed them yet to see what the total is. Not as light as yours obviously, but still way lighter than any other float tubing alternative I know of.

  19. I am exhausted.....Very cool Shig.
  20. My _SHig float tube arrived sometime yesterday. I just saw the box on the front porch a little while ago. I couldn't be more pleased. My Outcast Trinity that I've been lugging around for the past 7+ years weighed 8lbs 10.3oz including the sea to summit stuff sacks I put it in and including my backpacking fins. _SHig's complete set as it arrived from him including his fins, repair kit, inflator & carry bag only weighs 2lbs 6.7oz per my scale. That's a savings of 6lb 3.6oz. For a guy who likes to hike to remote lakes, that is a huge weight savings. Awesome. Thanks _SHig

Share This Page