When the weather heats up, a swimming pool is a fine way to have fun, cool down, and relax. But not everyone has the space, budget, or time for a permanent above-ground pool.
However, with the right inflatable pool—one that is well made and meets your backyard needs—you can take a dip without breaking a sweat. When it’s time to set up your patio furniture and don your swimsuit, here are some shopping considerations to consider and a selection of the best inflatable pools that’ll help you kick back and keep cool.
- BEST OVERALL: Intex 15ft X 48in Easy Set Pool
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Intex Swimming Pool – Easy Set
- BEST WITH SEATS: Intex Swim Center Lounge Pool
- BEST KIDDIE POOL: Homech Inflatable Kiddie Pool
- BEST BABY POOL: Intex Sunset Glow Baby Pool
- BEST PLAY CENTER: Bestway Beachfront Bonanza Splash Park Kiddie Pool
- BEST BABY PLAY CENTER: Intex Rainbow Ring Inflatable Play Center
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Inflatable Pool
When shopping for the best inflatable pool, there are certain essential things to consider. The type of swimming pool, the size and shape, what it is made of, and how it is set up are just a few of the most important shopping considerations for inflatable pools.
Among the different kinds of inflatable pools, one of the most common is made with thick vinyl walls topped with an inflatable ring that helps the pool hold its shape. This is an excellent alternative to a permanent above-ground pool, as it tends to be quite large, usually measuring 8 to 10 feet wide and 3 to 4 feet tall, with the option of a filter pump, a pool ladder, and a cover.
Inflatable kiddie pools are generally much smaller, designed to fit two adults and a few kids. For families with very young children, baby pools are even smaller and are intended for safe splash play with parental guidance. Pool play centers are another inflatable option, featuring exciting blow-up toys over a wading pool.
Size and Shape
Determining the right size of a new inflatable pool is also important and depends entirely on the available space. Inflatable pools tend to be circular, oval-shaped, or rectangular. At their largest, they can be as wide as 10 to 13 feet (or more), with a depth of 4 feet. Kiddie pools are usually no bigger than a few feet in diameter. Be sure to measure the backyard space to ensure the pool will fit.
Inflatable pools are often made from a very thick, puncture-resistant vinyl to form an airtight seal. In inflatable above-ground pools, a more robust laminated PVC is used for the sidewalls to better hold in the immense amount of water. This material is common in safety rafts and prolongs the life of the pool.
Features and Accessories
One of the most popular features in inflatable swimming pools is a water-filtration pump that helps keep the water clean. There are also options with blow-up benches and seats built into the pool’s sidewall, an umbrella or canopy, a pool ladder, and a cover. Above-ground inflatable pools usually have a convenient drain plug to fill and empty as needed quickly. A smaller kiddie pool may not have this valve and instead can be turned over when drained.
Safety should always be top of mind even when having fun in an inflatable swimming pool. A parent should always accompany children and weak swimmers, and a phone should be nearby in case of emergencies. Avoid diving, jumping, and running to prevent accidents. Kiddie and baby pools should always be emptied and turned upside down after use. These precautions help prevent drowning or choking accidents.
One of the greatest advantages of an inflatable swimming pool is how easy it is to set up compared to a permanent pool. Before blowing up a new pool and filling it with water, it’s best to put a tarp on the ground beneath it. This protects the pool’s vinyl bottom lining from any sharp objects on the ground, like rocks and sticks. The ground should be flat and leveled.
Next, inflatable pools need to be filled with air. With their size, an air compressor may be a worthwhile purchase to speed up inflation. Once the pool has been blown up, it’s time to grab the garden hose. Depending on the size, it can take anywhere from one hour to two days to fill an inflatable pool. Always refer to the manufacturer’s manual and setup guide for explicit directions.
Once the pool is set up, proper maintenance will ensure that the water stays fresh, clean, and safe for swimming. First, a pool skimmer or net is essential to scoop out large debris. If the pool is large enough, a pool vacuum or water filter effectively cleans water. A pool cover is also an excellent way to keep the water clean because it shields the water from leaves, bugs, and dirt when not in use.
To keep the water sanitized, regularly monitor the pH and chlorine levels with test strips. Chlorine helps sanitize the water, and pH levels dictate how the water feels, as water that is too acidic can cause irritation. Pool experts recommend 1 to 3 ppm (parts per million) of chlorine, as the amount needed depends on how many gallons of water the pool holds. Because chlorine is a chemical, it’s always best to consult professionals before using it.
Factors like rain, chlorine, and heavy use can alter pH levels, which are measured using a scale of 0 to 14, with 0 being the most acidic and 14 being the most alkaline. It’s critical to keep water levels around 7.2 to 7.8 (a neutral range) to avoid skin and eye irritation. To control the pH levels, add acids or alkalis as needed.
Our Top Picks
Now that the shopping essentials are covered, it’s time to go swimming. Here are the top picks for the best inflatable pools to make sunny summer days memorable and fun.
Intex, a leading name in the world of reliable inflatables, produces this 15-foot-by-48-inch Easy Set Pool for the entire family, and it’s a strong choice for any backyard in need of a large above-ground pool. This bundle comes with all of the pool-maintenance essentials, like a filter pump that improves circulation and filtration and a pool cover to protect the water from the elements. It also comes with a comprehensive instruction manual to make installation easy, a ground tarp, and a pool ladder for safe entry and exit.
The included ground cloth is essential to guard the pool against sticks and rocks on the ground. Installation takes as little as 15 minutes and is as simple as laying the tarp, spreading out the pool, inflating the top ring, and filling it with the garden hose.
- Size: 15 feet by 48 inches
- Water Capacity: 3,736 gallons
- Seating Capacity: 8 people
- 1,000 gallons per hour filter pump
- Includes pool cover
- Comes with ground tarp and pool ladder
- 15-minute installation
- Comprehensive instruction manual
- Requires ample water consumption; takes some time to fill
- May not be suitable for small backyards
Get the Intex Easy Set pool at Amazon, Target, and Walmart.
To stick to a budget without compromising on size, Intex’s Easy Set 8-foot-by-30-inch model is a smart option. While this particular pool does not come with a filter pump or a pool ladder, it is made with durable vinyl and is easy to install.
This Intex inflatable pool fits in most backyards and requires only 639 gallons of water, which means it can be filled in a span of just two to three hours. With this pick, all that’s needed is a fun set of pool toys and a lounge chair for a memorable day by the water.
- Size: 8 feet by 30 inches
- Water Capacity: 639 gallons
- Seating Capacity: Unlisted
- Compact enough for most backyards
- 10-minute installation
- Pool pump and ladder sold separately
- Only suitable for people 6 years of age or older
- No seating capacity listed
Get the Intex Swimming pool on Amazon and at Walmart.
Suitable for adults and kids, the Intex Swim Center Lounge Pool can fit 3 to 5 children and adults and holds over 156 gallons of water. Dual individual air chambers make inflating quick and easy with a combo valve causing this option to inflate to 88 inches by 85 inches by 30 inches to fit into backyards of any size.
Best of all, this pool comes with a built-in bench and backrest for lounging around in the summer sun. After use, this pool has a drain plug and repair patch for easy maintenance. The only downsides of this pool is that it is not suitable for kids under the age of 3 years old and it does not come with an air pump.
- Size: 88 by 85 by 30 inches
- Water Capacity: 156 gallons
- Seating Capacity: 3 to 4 people
- Built-in bench with backrest
- Dual individual air chambers
- Combo valve
- Drain plug
- Comes with repair patch
- Parental supervision required for small children
- Not suitable for children under 3 years of age
- No air pump included
Get the Intex Swim Center pool at Amazon, Walmart, and The Home Depot.
Homech’s Inflatable Swimming Kiddie pool is a treat for the entire family in the summer, especially children ages 3 and up. Its thick and durable PVC vinyl is BPA-free and designed with three separate air chambers to better lock in air and withstand bouncing kids. The pool comes with a spare repair patch in the case of a hole or a leak, but it does not come with an air pump.
This kiddie pool can be easily inflated in three to four minutes with an electric air pump. Once blown up, use the 90-degree drain valve and a garden hose to fill the 162-gallon pool. It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to fill with water.
- Size: 92 by 56 by 20 inches
- Water Capacity: 162 gallons
- Seating Capacity: 2 adults and 4 children
- BPA-free construction
- 3 individual air chambers
- Square repair patch
- 90-degree drain valve
- 3 to 4 minute installation
- Only suitable for users aged 3 and up
- No air pump included
Get the Homech Kiddie pool at Walmart.
The Intex Sunset Glow Baby Pool is a cute and fun inflatable swimming pool for children under age 3. It features three colorful inflatable rings in vibrant pink, yellow, and green. The pool is designed to have an inflatable lining on the bottom that is soft and squishy for comfort. This model has the capacity to hold 18 gallons of water and comes with a repair patch for any leakages. Parental supervision is required.
- Size: 34 inches by 10 inches
- Water Capacity: 18 gallons
- Seating Capacity: Unlisted
- Multicolored design
- 3 individual air chambers
- Includes a repair patch
- Parental supervision is strongly advised
- No seating capacity listed
Get the Intex Sunset Glow pool at Walmart and The Home Depot.
Bestway’s Beachfront Bonanza Splash Park is an all-in-one, ocean-themed water play center that can keep kids entertained for hours. It measures 15 feet long by 10 feet wide by 9 feet tall and is meant for children ages 5 and up. Bestway also states that this model is intended for a maximum weight limit of 120 pounds per person and 600 pounds total.
This summer play center comes with a storage bag, an air blower, nine bouncer stakes, one water-spray hose, a repair kit that includes an assortment of patches, and the inflatable slide. It’s constructed with a double-stitched PVC-coated polyester material that is durable and strong and can inflate in under two minutes.
- Size: 15 by 10 by 9 feet
- Water Capacity: 386 gallons
- Seating Capacity: 5 to 8 children
- 600-pound weight capacity
- Air blower and water spray hose
- Storage bag and 9 bouncer stakes
- Includes a repair kit
- 2-minute inflation
- Not suitable for children under 5 years of age
- Not suitable for small backyards
Get the Bestway Beachfront Bonanza pool at Amazon, Walmart, and Lowe’s.
For a play center that’s a little easier on the wallet, the Intex Rainbow Ring Inflatable Play Center is a great option for kids age 2 and up. It measures 117 inches long by 7 inches wide by 53 inches tall and fills with 77 gallons of water.
This play center has an inflatable water slide, a ring-toss game with four inflatable rings, and a rainbow water sprayer that arches over the pool. It connects to a garden hose and also features a ball-toss game (six plastic balls included). A pump does not come with purchase, but a repair patch does. Three to four children can have fun in the play center at one time, and adults should always accompany them.
- Size: 117 by 7 by 53 inches
- Water Capacity: 77 gallons
- Seating Capacity: 3 to 4 infants
- Water slide
- Ball- and ring-toss games
- Rainbow water sprayer
- Easy connection to a garden hose
- Includes a repair patch
- Should not be used by children under 2 years of age
- Pump not included
Get the Intex Rainbow Ring pool at Amazon, Walmart, and The Home Depot.
If you are interested in an adult-friendly backyard pool, we recommend the Intex 15ft X 48in pool with its large construction, 3,736-gallon capacity, and many accessories for backyard fun and soaking. Alternatively, if you need a pool for small children, the BPA-free Homech Kiddie pool can hold a modest 162 gallons and comes with a square repair patch in case of abrasions and cuts.
How We Chose the Best Inflatable Pools
We researched the most sought-after inflatable pools in their respective categories and discovered that the best models are determined by their size, water and seating capacity, materials, accessories, and other special features included by top brands.
To accommodate those that have large or small backyards, our list of top picks includes models that can fit on your backyard deck or take up a large section of lawn space. These pools have water capacities of 18 to 3,736 gallons and can hold either 1-2 babies or up to 8 adults. Each is also made with durable, vinyl material with select picks being offered with BPA-free plastic.
For added convenience and safety, some of our top blow-up pools include pool covers and ground covers, filter pumps, individual air chambers, drain plugs, children’s pool toys, and even repair patches and kits for quick and easy repairs. Finally, each of these pools takes minutes to inflate with electrical or air pumps (sold separately).
Here are answers to the most common inquiries about inflatable swimming pools.
Q: How do I maintain an inflatable pool?
To maintain an inflatable pool, test the chlorine and pH levels with test strips regularly, periodically monitor the amount of water, and check for any air or water leaks once a week or after a period of heavy use.
Q: How do I clean an inflatable pool?
Use cleaning supplies such as a pool net, a vacuum, a pool cover, and a filter coupled with sanitizing chemicals and pH test strips to keep the pool water clean and safe.
Q: How often should I change the water in an inflatable pool?
When using chemical cleaning agents, the water should be changed about every two weeks. For baby and kiddie pools that aren’t maintained with chemicals, the water should be changed every other day.
Q: How long do inflatable pools last?
Typically, inflatable swimming pools can last anywhere from two to five years, depending on how well they’re maintained and how they’re used. The pool’s type, material, and size also affect its longevity.