When the weather heats up, a backyard swimming pool allows you 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—a model that’s well made and meets your needs—you can take a dip without breaking a sweat. When it’s time to set up your patio furniture and don your swimsuit, we have you covered. We’ve thoroughly tested the best inflatable pools to report the pros and cons of each so you’ll know what to consider before making your purchase.
- BEST OVERALL: Intex Easy Set 8′ by 30″ Inflatable Pool
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Intex Swim Center Shootin’ Hoops Inflatable Pool
- BEST WITH SEATS: Intex Swim Center Round Inflatable Lounge Pool
- BEST KIDDIE POOL: Homech Family Inflatable Swimming Pool
- BEST BABY POOL: Intex Sunset Glow Inflatable Kiddie Pool
- BEST PLAY CENTER: Bestway H20GO! Beachfront Bonanza Mega Water Park
- BEST BABY PLAY CENTER: Intex Rainbow Ring Inflatable Play Center
- BEST-LOOKING POOL: Minnidip Tufted Pool – Water Color Swirl
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Inflatable Pool
When shopping for the best inflatable pool, consider certain essential factors. The type of swimming pool, its size and shape, the material, and its ease of setup are just a few of the important considerations when shopping for an inflatable pool.
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. An excellent alternative to a permanent above-ground pool, it’s usually large, measuring around 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, which are designed to fit two adults and a few kids, are generally much smaller and are intended for safe splash play with parental guidance. Pool play centers are another inflatable option, incorporating blow-up toys with a wading pool.
Size and Shape
Determining the right size for a new inflatable pool depends on the available space. Inflatable pools typically are circular, oval, or rectangular. The largest models can measure as wide as 10 to 13 feet (or more) with a depth of 4 feet. Kiddie pools are usually no larger than a few feet in diameter. Measure the backyard space to ensure the pool will fit.
Inflatable pools usually are constructed with a very thick, puncture-resistant vinyl, while a more robust laminated PVC is used for the sidewalls to better hold in the large amount of water. Commonly used to construct safety rafts, this material helps prolong the life of the pool.
Features and Accessories
One of the most popular features in inflatable swimming pools, a water-filtration pump helps keep the water clean. Options include pools with blow-up benches and seats built into the sidewall, an umbrella or canopy, a pool ladder, and a cover. Above-ground inflatable pools usually have a drain plug to fill and empty as needed. A smaller kiddie pool may not have this valve; instead, users simply turn the pool over to drain it.
Safety should always be top of mind when considering any inflatable swimming pool. A parent should always accompany children and weak swimmers and keep a phone nearby in case of emergencies. Avoid diving, jumping, and running around the pool area. Always empty and drain kiddie and baby pools and turn them upside down after each use to help prevent drowning or choking accidents.
One of the greatest advantages of an inflatable swimming pool is its ease of setup, especially when compared to a permanent pool. Before blowing up a new pool and filling it with water, place a tarp on the ground beneath it to help protect the pool’s vinyl bottom lining from sharp objects on the ground, like rocks and sticks. The ground should be flat and level.
Next, fill the inflatable pool with air. Considering these pools’ size, an air compressor may be a worthwhile purchase to speed inflation. Once the pool is blown up, grab the garden hose. Depending on the pool’s size, it can take from 1 hour to 2 days to fill an inflatable pool. Always refer to the manufacturer’s manual and setup guide for specific directions.
Proper maintenance helps ensure that the water stays fresh, clean, and safe for swimming. A pool skimmer or net helps scoop out large debris. If the pool is large enough, a pool vacuum or water filter effectively cleans water. A pool cover also helps keep the water clean because it shields the water from leaves, bugs, and dirt when the pool is not in use.
To keep the water sanitized, use test strips to regularly monitor the pH and chlorine levels. Chlorine helps sanitize the water, and pH levels affect the feel of the water: Water that’s too acidic can cause irritation. Pool experts recommend 1 to 3 ppm (parts per million) of chlorine to water, which means the exact amount needed depends on the number of gallons of water that the pool holds. Because chlorine is a chemical, it’s best to consult a professional before using it.
Rain, chlorine, and heavy use can alter the pool’s pH level, which is measured on a scale of 0 to 14, with 0 considered the most acidic and 14 the most alkaline. Keep water levels around 7.2 to 7.8 pH (a neutral range) to avoid skin and eye irritation. To control pH levels, add acids or alkalis as needed.
Our Top Picks
Now that the shopping criteria are covered, it’s time to make a selection. Read on for a detailed review of each top pick for the best inflatable pools to make sunny summer days memorable and fun.
This Intex model is a solid choice for those who want the benefits of a more permanent option, like sturdy construction and a filtration system, without the cost and hassle of a large above-ground pool. The 30-gauge sidewalls are made with three-ply material that resists punctures, and a filter pump is included to keep the water clean.
When we tested the pool, the multiple parts made the setup a bit intimidating, but it ended up taking only about 30 minutes to assemble. We spent the most time connecting the filter tubes. Two intakes connect to the pump, and one exhaust jet filters the water. We kept the pool up for 2 weeks and maintained it with light skimming. A cover (sold separately) would help keep out debris. We floated a chlorine tablet for additional cleanliness. Since it doesn’t include an air pump, we used ours to inflate the top rim. Its dark-blue walls and tile-patterned bottom are attractive, and the pool felt sturdy once assembled.
We filled it up with the garden hose to approximately 80 percent full, or about 639 gallons. However, the pool requires at least that much water to hold up the walls, so parents with smaller kids couldn’t opt to fill it halfway. With the pool being 8 feet in diameter, four adults can take a dip comfortably. Around six kids under 9 were in the pool at the same time, and everyone enjoyed it. It disassembles easily, and a drain plug that accepts a garden hose makes it easy to drain water from the pool area.
- Dimensions: 96-inch diameter, 30 inches high (other sizes available)
- Water capacity: 639 gallons
- Seating capacity: 4 adults or 6 children
- Filtration system
- Easy setup
- Multiple sizes available
- Must be full for walls to extend fully
Get the Intex Easy Set inflatable pool on Amazon.
Sports lovers young and old enjoy shooting some hoops while cooling off, a feature we loved about this pool. For the price, it’s also spacious. The hoop is 51 inches high, and the sidewalls are 12.6 inches tall. Three air chambers keep the walls sturdy enough to lean on. During testing, the adults enjoyed lounging while the little ones were playing. However, after excited kids took some slam dunks, the hoop did droop forward slightly.
This pool doesn’t come with an air blower, but our electric pump inflated it in fewer than 5 minutes. Draining it was a cinch with the included drain plug. It comes with a repair patch in the event of holes or tears.
- Dimensions: 101 inches long by 74 inches wide by 12.6 inches tall (sidewalls); the hoop is 51 inches tall
- Water capacity: 180 gallons
- Seating capacity: 2 adults and 2 children
- Basketball hoop and ball
- Drain plug
- Includes repair patch
- Air pump not included
- Hoop leans forward with use
Get the Intex Shootin’ Hoops inflatable pool on Amazon or Intex.
Suitable for adults and kids, the Intex Swim Center Lounge Pool, which can fit three or four swimmers, holds 156 gallons of water. Blowing up the dual individual air chambers with our electric air pump was easy: It quickly inflated to a sizable blow-up pool. Best of all, this pool comes with a built-in bench and backrest for lounging, perfect for parents who want to cool off while watching the kids play or admiring the landscaping. We tried it with two adults and a couple of 4-year-olds splashing around, and it was comfortable. The bench sank in a bit with our weight, but it remained firm enough. We liked the drink holders on both sides; however, they don’t hold every size cup or water bottle.
After use, this pool empties easily through the drain plug. It also includes a repair patch. However, this pool isn’t suitable for kids under 3 years old, and it does not come with an air pump.
- Size: 90 inches long by 86 inches wide by 31 inches tall
- Water capacity: 156 gallons
- Seating capacity: 2 adults and 2 children
- Built-in bench with backrest
- Dual individual air chambers with combo valves
- Drain plug
- Repair patch included
- Not suitable for children under 3
- No included air pump
Get the Intex round inflatable pool on Amazon.
The Homech Family Inflatable Swimming Pool is a treat for the entire family in the summer, especially for children 3 and older. Its thick, durable PVC vinyl is BPA-free and designed with three separate air chambers to better lock in air and withstand bouncing kids. It took us fewer than 5 minutes to fill the individual air chambers with our electric air pump. We appreciated the fill line on the outside, which helped us add the perfect amount of water. The pool felt sturdy and withstood five active kids over the course of 4 days.
We like the look of this pool with its marine design. The pool comes with a spare repair patch in case of a hole or leak, and a drain valve makes it easy to empty.
- Size: 92 inches long by 56 inches wide by 22 inches tall
- Water capacity: 162 gallons
- Seating capacity: 2 adults and 4 children
- BPA-free construction
- 3 individual air chambers
- Repair patch
- 90-degree drain valve
- Fast inflation
- No air pump
- No special features
Get the Homech inflatable pool on Overstock or Walmart.
The Intex Sunset Glow pool is a cute swimming pool best suited for children under age 3. It features three colorful inflatable rings in vibrant pink, yellow, and green that were simple to blow up with our portable air-mattress pump. Designed with an inflatable lining on the bottom, the surface feels soft and squishy, making it perfect for a baby’s first pool.
We loved this option for taking to the park or beach. The older kids loved using it as a water table, and the adults cooled off with an ocean foot bath. We used it numerous times and only had to add a little air to keep it inflated. This model holds 15 gallons of water and comes with a repair patch for any leakages. Parental supervision is required.
- Size: 34-inch diameter, 10 inches high
- Water capacity: 15 gallons
- Seating capacity: Unlisted
- 3 individual air chambers
- Includes a repair patch
- Too small for bigger kids
- No drain hole
Get the Intex Sunset Glow inflatable pool on Amazon.
The Beachfront Bonanza Mega Water Park is an all-in-one, ocean-themed water play center that can keep children entertained for hours. Our kids were most excited to try this inflatable model. They especially loved the slide, overhead splash bucket, and water cannon, the latter of which allowed them to spray friends on the slide and even disgruntled parents on the sidelines. But don’t worry—the spray can be disconnected.
This pool is designed for children ages 5 and up. It’s simple to set up, but make sure the stakes are tightly secured to avoid tipping. During our test, too many kids at the top caused it to lean slightly to one side. 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 everything necessary, including a storage bag, an air blower, nine bouncer stakes, one water-spray hose, a repair kit with an assortment of patches, and the inflatable slide. It’s constructed with a double-stitched PVC-coated polyester material that felt durable and strong during the quick setup. Moreover, unlike some others, this inflatable folded and fit easily into the included storage bag after use.
- Size: 171 inches long by 113 inches wide by 105 inches tall
- Water capacity: 386 gallons
- Seating capacity: 5 to 8 children
- Multiple water play features
- Included air blower
- Easy inflation and storage
- Includes repair kit
- Stores easily
- Not suitable for children under 5
- Not suitable for small backyards
Get the Bestway Beachfront Bonanza inflatable pool on Amazon and at Lowe’s.
For a play center that’s more appropriate for the toddler crowd, the Intex Rainbow Ring Inflatable Play Center is a great option. Our toddlers had a blast with all its fun features, including the small inflatable water slide, a ring-toss game with four inflatable rings, and a rainbow water sprayer that arches over the pool. Little ones 3 and under seemed to enjoy it most, but our 4-year-old had fun with the various features as well, especially the ball-toss game (six plastic balls are included). The littlest users didn’t love the spray in their face when using the slide, but it was easily lowered by decreasing the water flow from the connected water hose. Three to four children can have fun in the play center at one time.
This Intex inflatable pool was simple to set up; however, filling the numerous individual air chambers took a bit of time. The unit doesn’t come with an air pump, so we used our own small pump.
- Size: 117 inches long by 76 inches wide by 53 inches tall
- Water capacity: 46 gallons in the wading pool; 54 gallons in the main pool
- Seating capacity: 3 or 4 toddlers
- Water slide and sprayer
- Ball- and ring-toss games
- Easy connection to a garden hose
- Includes a repair patch
- Too small for older kids
- Pump not included
- Lots of parts to inflate
Get the Intex Rainbow Ring inflatable pool on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
Branded the “adult kiddie pool,” this inflatable dipping pool appeals to adults and kids alike. At just 5½ feet in diameter, it’s the perfect option for those looking to cool off but who lack the space for a large blowup. Upon arrival, it was easily inflated with a small air pump (not included).
We love the look of the tufted sides and the pool’s marbleized swirl pattern design featuring aqua, cobalt, orange, and yellow. We also liked its sturdy walls, which easily held our weight while leaning back for lounging. Two adults fit comfortably during testing. The walls are also high enough to keep very little ones out. It is recommended for ages 6 and over, and most older kids shouldn’t have a problem entering the pool.
- Size: 66-inch diameter, 21 inches tall
- Water capacity: 125 gallons
- Seating capacity: 2 or 3 adults
- Unusual design
- Supportive sides
- Optimal for small yards
- High walls to climb over
- Air pump not included
Get the Minnidip inflatable pool at Target.
If you’re looking for an adult-friendly backyard pool with a filtration system, we recommend the Intex Easy Set 8′ x 30″ inflatable pool for its easy setup, ample size, and 639-gallon capacity. Alternatively, for an affordable pool that keeps the kids entertained, try the Intex Shootin’ Hoops inflatable pool, which comes equipped with its own basketball hoop and ball. Or, take the fun up a notch with the Bestway H20GO! Beachfront Bonanza inflatable pool, which includes a low-entry splash pool, climbing wall, slide, dump bucket, and water sprayer.
How We Tested the Best Inflatable Pools
For our testing, we researched and purchased the most sought-after inflatable pools in their respective categories. To begin, we set up each pool on a flat surface according to the manufacturer’s directions. We noted the time it took to inflate it and any hassles along the way, observing the pool’s overall durability and appearance. We recorded whether the pool came with an air pump or other accessories.
A combination of four adults and six kids of various ages tested each option. We considered whether each pool was appropriate for the intended users and whether it had any special features. If the pool had games, slides, or other extras, the adults and kids tried all the activities. We noted how many people could fit comfortably in each and whether the model was better for lounging or playing.
We left the “Best Overall” category pool set up for 2 weeks to test the filtration system. We floated chlorine tablets and skimmed the top to maintain cleanliness. We left the options without filtration up for a minimum of 4 days, draining and refilling them when necessary. When deflating each, we noted whether the pool had a drain plug and how easily it emptied.
Keep reading to find answers to the most common inquiries about inflatable swimming pools.
Q. How do I maintain an inflatable pool?
To maintain an inflatable pool, use test strips to test the chlorine and pH levels 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, change the water about every 2 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 last anywhere from 2 to 5 years, depending on how well they’re maintained and how they’re used. The pool’s type, material, and size also affect its longevity.