Use it in numerous positions, including lounging, straddling, and sitting. Durable materials cradle your body right below the water's surface. Comes in several sizes.
Some users find the hammock section rough. Not recommended for kids under 13.
Spacious for most kids and adults (63 by 33 inches). Convenient cup holder. Comfortable for lounging. Comes with repair kit in case of air leaks.
The arm rests and pillow tend to leak air. Not durable. Some issues with defective floats.
The rubber duck design is charming, and the large size of this float makes it easy to relax without fear of falling off. Acts as a centerpiece for your pool.
Giant size may be a negative for owners of smaller pools. Prone to leaks.
Sports a fun design with removable and adjustable sun shade, play center, and comfortable fit. Ideal for ages 9 to 24 months.
Difficult to inflate, and awkward to carry around once inflated. The sun shade is flimsy, but nice once you get it in place.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Nothing says summer more than a pool, and nothing makes swimming more fun than a colorful pool float. As you’ve probably already realized, though, there are pool floats of every shape, size, and color. How do you pick just one (or two)?
We're here to guide you through the different types of pool floats, from those constructed of foam to fabric-covered models filled with beans. Many inflatables are perfect for one person while party floats can fit a number of friends. You’ll have to decide the form and function that appeals to you and base your decision on not only what will be the most fun but also what you have room to store.
But rest assured, whether it’s an inflatable dragon or foam plank for lounging, there’s a pool float out there for you.
Foam floats: Foam floats come in a range of sizes and designs and often grace the poolsides of public pools, hotels, and resorts due to their durability. These are the most common types you’ll see:
Inflatables: This is the pool float category with which you’re most likely familiar. How many of us spent our summers in an inflatable tube? Today’s inflatables go well beyond that. The shapes and sizes of these floats offer more variety than you might imagine. Flamingos, unicorns, crocodiles, riding bulls—the options go on and on.
While you’ve got your pick of novelty inflatables, there are also the standards:
Remember, the larger the inflatable, the more chambers there will be to inflate. Large inflatables may come with their own pump. For those that don’t, you can get away with a manual bike pump but an electric pump is more efficient.
Bean-filled floats: These pool floats are made of thick water-resistant canvas filled with beans. They’re a good choice if you want to be able to use the float outside of the water as an outdoor cushion. They’re commonly found as a pillow, chair, or bed float. On the downside, they take longer to dry out, and they require a good amount of storage space in the offseason.
Baby pool floats: These specialty floats keep your littlest swimmers safe in the pool. They often have a seat that keeps the baby upright and may also include pool toys and a canopy for sun protection.
Party pool floats: Ready to entertain a crowd? Party floats seat far more than two people. Some are modular so you can fit them into different configurations. Others have a mesh floor in the center with inflatable seats around the outside, each with its own cup holder. You need a pretty big pool for most of these floats so be sure to check the dimensions before buying.
You’ll have to take into account how willing you are to take care of the float. One-person inflatables are easy to inflate, deflate, and store, while party floats may take a day to dry out before folding for storage (and once they’re folded, they’re not small). Foam and fabric floats will also need to be dried out before heading to storage. Any water left behind can cause mildew or mold to grow. Your pool floats will also have to withstand sun damage. While they’ll be fine in the sun when in use, when you’re done floating be sure to store them away from the sun’s harmful rays.
Do you want to float alone or with a partner? Would you rather float with your whole family? Some floats can be pulled behind a boat, while others aren’t designed to leave the safety of a pool. Pool noodles and inflatable tubes are the best space savers. But an inflatable mattress provides the most relaxation space in relation to the ease of storage.
Sometimes it’s the little extras that take the float from okay to fantastic. Here are a few of our favorites:
Inflatable floats may have a single valve design from where air escapes as soon as the air pressure is released. This type is most often found on simple tubes and small inflatables. A double valve design has a valve that’s used when inflating the float under your own power and one that’s used when inflating with a pump or compressor. The second valve keeps the air contained if pressure is released.
Floats with handles are easier to carry outside of the water and give children an anchor when they’re in the water, too. Some floats have ropes which can be tethered to another float or the side of the pool. Tethers are also a good feature if you’ll be floating on a lake. They can be tied to a dock, so you don’t find yourself in the middle of the lake after a nap.
Children or babies who won’t necessarily be entering the water might like to have some entertainment while they float. Built-in activity centers are pretty basic with a toy or two and a canopy, but if you want to have your little one on the water with you, they’re a great option.
Repair kits are typically included with large vinyl inflatables. The contents are similar to those found in a bike tire repair kit. These are great to have on hand because you never know when punctures are going to happen.
This is where it gets fun. Green mermaid tails, avocados, emojis, dolphins — you name it and there’s a pool float out there to match. You can color coordinate for your family or outdoor décor or simply pick a shape that goes with your hobbies. For instance, you can search for pool floats by themes, like fantasy or sci-fi, or patterns, like polka dots or stripes.
Pool floats start in the $10 to $20 range. Foam noodles, planks, and a wide range of inflatables fall into this entry-level category, though these inflatables are not very big.
In the $20 to $50 range, the pool floats get more sophisticated — floating recliners, chairs, and mattresses — and, of course, larger.
Foam floats, large novelty inflatables, and filled fabric floats range from $50 to $100. Convenience features, such as armrests, cup holders, and canopies, set these apart as luxury floats. Large inflatables and party floats can be found for well over $100 with some over $300. At this point, the larger the float, the more expensive it is.
A. Pool floats do have maximum-weight capacities, and they vary from model to model. Weight capacities are usually only listed on models where too much weight can compromise the structure of the float. For example, some models have a canopy that connects above the float. Too much weight can cause canopy supports to break.
A. Most inflatable floats do not come with their own air pump. Hand or bike bumps may work for small inflatables, but you’re generally going to want an air mattress pump or compressor, so you don’t break a sweat while getting ready to relax.
A. The number of chambers depends on the size and shape of the float. Models with a pillow may only have two — one for the bed and one for the pillow. Others may have four or more. For example, a dragon-shaped inflatable may have a chamber for the head, body, and each wing.