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Buying guide for best inflatable water slides

Cooling off in a pool on a hot summer day is fun, especially for kids. But the costs involved with buying, installing, operating, and maintaining a pool can be overwhelming. That’s why some smart homeowners are forgoing the whole swimming pool experience in favor of an inflatable water slide adventure.

But how do you choose the right one for your yard?

You’ve come to the right place. We at BestReviews have prepared this shopping guide to give you the facts you need to make an informed buying decision. It introduces you to the different types of inflatable water slides, points out some cool features you might like to have, and lets you know how much you can expect to pay. Also included are some tips on how to get the most out of your new inflatable water slide.

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One of the benefits of an inflatable water slide over a swimming pool is kids don’t need to know how to swim to use it. Set it up, turn on the hose, and let the fun begin.

Types of inflatable water slides

When you hear the words "water slide," you probably think of those long, curvy fiberglass chutes at theme parks that start out high in the air and eventually dump the rider into a pool. But home water slides are slightly different. Inflatable water slides are made of flexible material such as vinyl and are not permanent structures. For the purpose of this guide, we've separated inflatable water slides into four categories: ground-level water slide, kiddie pool, water slide, and playground.

  • Ground-level water slide: Charge across the grass and dive onto a flat, wet, extremely slippery plastic track. The person creates the momentum on these slides. Some have inflatable sides to keep the person in the channel, while others have pools at the end. Occasionally, you'll find one with an obstacle or two as well.

    • Price: You can expect to pay between $15 and $150 for a ground-level water slide. The most basic (usually not inflatable) falls at the lower end of the range, with a multi-lane racecourse costing up to $75. However, you could spend as much as $150 if you're looking for something a little more durable than a toy.

  • Kiddie pool: These tiny inflatable pools are meant for children between the ages of two and five. These shallow water play areas offer several different developmental activities. Many also feature a tiny slide, which is why we've included them in this guide.

    • Price: If you're looking for a slide that’s suitable for a two-year-old, this type can run from $40 to $100, depending on the size of the pool and the number of activities included.

  • Water slide: Sometimes simple is best – climb up and slide down. The most basic model in this category is a poolside unit that you inflate, set on your deck, and splash to get it wet. A higher-end model is a stand-alone slide that you set up in your yard, inflate with a blower, and connect to your hose for hours and hours of fun. Adult vigilance is a must with these slides, especially the poolside models, because they can be dangerous in unsupervised situations.

    • Price: Inflatable water slides range in price from $70 to $350. For poolside models, you can expect to pay anywhere from $70 to $150. Once you move into slides with blowers, you'll spend at least $170, but more likely you'll be in the $250 to $350 range.

  • Playground: With these inflatables, you get an entire playground filled with activities. You can race down dual slides, climb walls, fire water blasters, play basketball, jump in a bouncy house, splash around in a shallow pool, and more.

    • Price: Depending on features, you can expect to pay from $400 to thousands. Your adventure can start for as little as $400, but it can easily run to $900. If you want it all, there are models that cost thousands of dollars. The price is determined by size, durability, weight limit, and the number and variety of extras available.

Inflatable water slide features to consider

With inflatable waters slides, you can get anything from just the slide to an entire themed playground. The features are many and they greatly vary from slide to slide. Here are some of the more common ones, which you may or may not find on your model.

Raft: Most inflatable water slides are body slides, you climb up and slide down with no equipment. Some come with a raft that you can use to travel down the slide at a higher speed.

Sprinklers: Besides just keeping the chute wet, some water slides are configured so a portion of your ride passes through a sprinkler for added fun.

Water blasters: These water guns are usually mounted on the perimeter of the play area, allowing kids to spray their friends as they climb and slide.

Wading pool: This shallow pool at the bottom of the slide can be either a tiny landing area or a larger lagoon that encompasses the entire play area.

Blower: Smaller inflatable water slides are designed like a pool toy: fill them up with air, plug the hole, and use them. The large models use an electric blower that supplies a nonstop stream of air to keep your slide inflated.

Curved chute: Instead of just climbing up and sliding down in a straight line, some inflatable water slides add a little adventure with a curved chute.

Multiple chutes: Do you want to race head-to-head with your best friend? Then you'll want to pick an inflatable water slide that has two or more chutes.

Activities: These run the gamut from ring toss to basketball to ball crawl pit, and more. If your child has a favorite activity, there's a good chance you can find an inflatable water slide that features it.

Obstacles and mazes: Whether it's crawling around in a pit of balls, navigating through tunnels, or climbing over inflatable obstacles, the larger playgrounds offer fun physical challenges that can help keep your child active.

Climbing wall: Sure, you can run up a set of inflatable steps to get to the top of a slide, but isn't it more fun to pretend you're a mountain climber making your way to the top of Mount Everest? Some inflatables give you that option.

Bouncy house: Kids can jump up and down until they’re hot and sweaty and then take a refreshing ride down the water slide!

Themed inflatables: It doesn't matter if your kids like castles with princesses or jungles with wild animals, there's a themed inflatable water slide that is perfect for them. All you have to do is decide on a favorite!

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Inflatable water slides have a weight limit. If several children will be playing on it or adults would like to join the fun, make sure the slide is rated to handle the additional weight.


Q. Do I really need to put my inflatable water slide on a tarp?

A. It depends on how long you'd like your inflatable to last. Placing your water slide on a large, heavy-duty tarp not only helps keep it clean but it also helps lessen the wear and tear that happens if your inflatable is used on a hard or rough surface like concrete. Not using a tarp will shorten the lifespan of your inflatable.

Q. How do I clean my inflatable water slide?

A. Your inflatable water slide should be cleaned while on a large tarp to keep you from doing extra work. It should also be cleaned while inflated. Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Wash as much dirt and grass off your slide as you can with a garden hose.

  2. Wipe down the entire inflatable using a soft sponge, mild detergent (or a cleaner recommended by the manufacturer), and water.

  3. Rinse with a garden hose.

  4. Air-dry the slide completely.

  5. Wipe the folds and seams with a soft, dry towel.

  6. Mist the dry inflatable with a disinfectant to kill any mold, germs, or bacteria.

Q. How do I repair my Inflatable water slide?

A. For a slide with an electric blower, a puncture or small hole won't be enough to deflate it, but you want to repair the damage to keep it from getting worse. Most of the time you just need a vinyl repair kit, but always check your owner's manual to be sure you’re using the recommended repair materials. Here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Make sure the inflatable is completely dry.

  2. Place the area needing repair on a clean, firm, flat, dry surface.

  3. Cut a patch that’s larger than the damaged area. Be sure to round all corners.

  4. Apply the recommended glue to both the patch and the inflatable.

  5. Allow about a minute for the glue to become tacky.

  6. Apply the patch using steady pressure for two to three minutes.

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