Best Pool Noodles

Updated July 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

18 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
235 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best pool noodles

Last Updated July 2019

What’s a pool without a noodle in it? It’s boring, that’s what.

Kids enjoy pool noodles for their versatility as both a toy and flotation aid, while adults love them for relaxing. Available in a wide range of lengths, widths, and colors, pool noodles have also become popular in the DIY world as one of the most versatile materials to have on hand. Need a bat for a backyard game of balloon baseball or want to use one as a stamp for a spontaneous art project? There’s a noodle for that.

Today’s manufacturers have found ways to stretch their uses by including sling chairs or a textured surface. Some models have improved durability with a vinyl coating. There are even models that inflate, which also means they deflate for easy compact storage.

To learn more about how to choose the best pool noodles, read on. If you’re ready to buy, take a look at our top picks.

Solid core pool noodles often work best for large adults. The foam core adds the extra buoyancy to keep a larger, heavier body out of the water.

Key considerations

Types

  • Foam: Ranging from three to six inches wide, classic foam noodles can be hollow or solid-centered. They float well, and most are inexpensive. The quality of the foam varies and usually correlates with the price. High-quality foams are less likely to peel or shed and often resist sun damage better than cheaper foams.
  • Vinyl covered: Vinyl-covered foam pool noodles are a step up from their plain foam cousins. The vinyl offers protection from punctures, scrapes, and scratches, and most coatings offer some UV protection so the foam will last longer. These models are more expensive and are typically found on thicker pool noodles with a width of around five inches.
  • Inflatable: Inflatable pool noodles are the most compact option available. Once you’re done using it, you can deflate and fold the noodle until you’re ready to use it again. Just be sure to completely dry it first. They come in fun transparent colors and character shapes. However, inflatables wear down at the seams fast, and they are prone to punctures. [If you’re interested in pool floats, take a look at our review.]

Length

Pool noodles vary in length from 46 to 60 inches, though you may find a few that fall outside of the normal parameters. The taller the person who will use the noodle, the longer it will need to be. Young children, those under five, may have a hard time handling a 52-inch pool noodle, in which case you’d want to look for something on the shorter end of the spectrum. However, anyone well over six feet tall will probably need a longer pool noodle to support the extra height and weight.

Thickness

The width of the noodle affects the buoyancy. Widths run from 2.5 to more than 5 inches. A thin, 2.5-inch pool noodle is enough to keep a child afloat, but a full-grown adult (especially anyone over 250 pounds) may have to double up if they’re going to use the pool noodle as an effective float. The larger the person, the thicker the noodle will need to be to hold them steady in the water.

FOR YOUR SAFETY

Pool noodles are not a safety device. They do not double as a life preserver. Children should be carefully supervised while using them.

Features

Color and pattern

Bright, happy colors belong to all things summer. Yellows, blues, reds, and greens in various shades make up most pool noodles. Inflatables may have two or three different colors arranged in patterns to make your summer brighter.

Texture

Vinyl pool noodles often have a textured surface to increase grip and spread out the pressure when using a noodle. Some people find the variation in pressure to be more comfortable, especially when spending a long time in the water.

Shape

A noodle is a noodle, right? Well, not always. The majority of pool noodles are straight-ish. However, there are a few variations. Some are curved, creating a ready-made seat. Inflatable pool noodles can take almost any shape, but to be classified as a noodle, they tend to be straight or curved. However, you can find some noodles that are animal-shaped, such as a seahorse or unicorn.

Hollow vs. solid core

Solid-core pool noodles are denser and more buoyant than hollow-core models. Hollow-core models tend to be less expensive and can double as a horn or waterspout during water play. However, a hollow core reduces buoyancy, making these noodles more appropriate for children than adults.

DID YOU KNOW?

Vinyl-covered pool noodles resist damaging UV rays better than regular foam, which breaks down in the sun. If you’ll be storing the pool noodle outside, vinyl can increase the longevity of the noodle and resist fading.

Pool noodle prices

Hollow-core foam and inflatable pool noodles are definitely not going to break the bank. They’re around $2 to $5 per noodle and often come in packs of four to eight.

Solid-core foam pool noodles generally cost about $6 each but are typically found in packs of three to six noodles.

Vinyl-covered pool noodles are the priciest at $20 to $50 per noodle. These pool noodles have a UV protective covering, solid core, and are typically five or more inches thick. Extra-long vinyl-covered noodles go up to around 60 inches.

Tips

  • Pool noodles are a crafter’s paradise. They can be used to make racetracks, bats, stamps, trampoline spring covers, and cord holders. Their uses are really only limited by your imagination, so once your pool noodle has started to break apart, you can repurpose it somewhere else in your home.
  • The craft room isn’t the only place you can repurpose a pool noodle. If you’ve got a fisherman in your home, a pool noodle could be exactly what he needs to pad a rod locker, add a float to his fishing net, or store stringer hooks.
  • The heavier the user, the larger and thicker the pool noodle will need to be. Children can get away with a relatively thin model and still stay afloat. Adults, on the other hand, should choose a thicker, solid noodle if they want to use it to completely relax.
  • If you have children who plan on using the pool noodle in a public pool, you may want to opt for one with a solid core; strangers won’t likely enjoy being sprayed when your kids decide to use the hollow-core noodle as a water cannon.
  • The foam of pool noodles can be punctured or torn. Keep your pool noodles out of reach of pets and small children who may be tempted to pick at the foam.
  • If you do any kind of yoga or stretching exercises, you can incorporate pool noodles into your routine. For instance, try resting on one with the noodle positioned in the middle of your back, then rock slowly from side to side for a gentle massage. You may also want to look up “pool yoga” to learn more about how to use a noodle for exercises in the water.
EXPERT TIP

Thick pool noodles (those with a diameter of five inches or more) often have a maximum weight limit of 250 pounds. That doesn’t mean you can’t use a pool noodle if you weigh more than that; it just means you’ll probably have to use two if you’re going to stay afloat.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other products we considered

The Oodles of Noodles Extra-Long Foam Noodles come in a pack of three and are an impressive five feet long with a solid core for better buoyancy. We love that they also provide a sling chair for relaxing. The CWB Connelly Premium Vinyl Dipped Pool Noodle resists sunlight, salt water, and pool chemicals. At 5.5 inches thick with a solid core, it can sustain a 250-pound adult in the water. If you want a little whimsy, the Swim Central Inflatable Seahorse Noodle is a simple curved noodle with fun seahorse head and tail. Your little ones will love floating with these colorful friends.

Some foams are harder than others. Hard foam doesn't compress as easily as soft and tends to be more durable. However, soft foam is more comfortable to use.

FAQ

Q. Can all pool noodles be used with a mesh sling chair?
A.
There are specially made mesh sling chairs that slide over the noodle to create a floating seat. Unfortunately, the slings have to be made for the specific brand and model of noodle. Variations in thickness and buoyancy (they’re usually made for solid-core pool noodles) may make it impossible to use the sling with certain models.

Q. Do inflatable noodles come with a pump?
A.
They do not come with a pump, but the good news is — you really don’t need one. Inflatable noodles don’t have a large air capacity, which means you can inflate them manually without too much trouble.

Q. Can inflatable noodles get damaged by the sun?
A.
Like all vinyl and plastics, inflatable noodles can be damaged by UV rays. For that reason, it’s best to store them deflated and under cover.

The team that worked on this review
  • Angela
    Angela
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Moriah
    Moriah
    Writer
  • Stacey
    Stacey
    Writer

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