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. With the right inflatable pool—one that is well made and meets household needs—you can take a dip without breaking a sweat.
When the weather’s fine and it’s time to don your suit, consider one of these picks for the best inflatable pool on the market for different ages and budgets.
- BEST OVERALL: Intex Easy Set Inflatable Above Ground Swimming Pool
- BUDGET PICK FOR ADULTS: Intex Easy Set Up 8 Foot x 30 Inch Pool
- BEST KIDDIE POOL: HiMax Homech Family Inflatable Swimming Pool
- BEST FOR BABIES: Intex Sunset Glow Baby Pool
- HONORABLE MENTION: Bestway H2OGO! Inflatable Water Slide Splash Park
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Inflatable Pool
When shopping for an inflatable swimming 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.
Type and Material
Inflatable swimming pools are designed to accommodate different age groups, with the following types available:
- Adult inflatable pools are an excellent alternative to a permanent above-ground pool for both children and adults to enjoy. These family-sized models are the largest options, and some models include additional accessories for maintaining the pool.
- Inflatable kiddie pools are often designed to fit two adults and a few kids, or three to five children. These shallower inflatable pools tend to be for children ages 2 or 3 and up.
- Inflatable baby pools are suitable for families with very young children. These kids’ pools are small and shallow, intended for safe splash play with parental guidance. These pools usually accommodate one or two little ones.
- Inflatable play centers are interactive pools for children, featuring exciting blow-up pool toys, water sprayers, slides, wading areas, and the like, depending on age group. If you want to go all-out for your kids, and this purchase is mostly for them, one of these pools could be a nice treat.
Inflatable pools typically feature layers of thick vinyl to form an airtight seal. The more layers it contains, the more durable the structure will be. Materials labeled as “TriTech” or “FiberTech” are triple-ply and puncture-resistant. The best inflatable pools for adults have reinforced sidewalls made of more robust laminated PVC, a material common in safety rafts that prolongs the life of the pool.
Pools designed for both kids and adults can be as wide as 10 feet or more, with a depth of 3 to 4 feet, though most options are in the width range of 8 to 10 feet. Kiddie pools are usually no bigger than a few feet in diameter with a depth of 1 or 2 feet, while baby pools tend to be between 7 and 10 inches wide and as shallow as a few inches. Play centers vary widely in size, from personal-sized baby pools to large, tall structures comparable to a backyard play structure.
Along with pool dimensions, manufacturers usually specify capacity, measured in gallons. Sizes range from 20 to 50 gallons for a baby pool, 30 to 300 gallons for a kiddie pool, and typically between 500 and 3,000 gallons or more for family-sized models.
In your search for the right swimming pool, one or more of the following features may stand out to you as worthwhile:
- Adult inflatable pools sometimes come with accessories like a filter pump, pool ladder, cover, and electric pump for easy setup.
- Some play centers and large inflatable pools have blow-up benches, seats, and cupholders built into the sidewalls.
- To protect young kids from the sun’s UV rays, kiddie and baby pools may feature an umbrella or canopy. Some include a cushioned floor, since hard ground may hurt their feet or knees.
- Larger inflatable pools and play centers usually have a convenient drain plug to fill and empty quickly, but a small kiddie or baby pool may simply be turned over to be drained.
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 1 hour to 2 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 cover is one of the simplest means of keeping the pool clean by shielding 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, presents this roomy family-sized pool with a capacity of over 3700 gallons. 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. With a thick vinyl build and reinforced liner, this inflatable pool can last years if cared for properly.
The Intex inflatable pool includes 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.
For sticking to a budget without compromising on size, this 639-gallon model is a smart option. This modestly sized adult pool fits in most backyards and can be filled in a span of just 2 to 3 hours. It’s built from durable vinyl, and since no filter pump or ladder are included, this pool is quite easy to install. With this pick, all that’s needed is a fun set of pool toys and a lounge chair for a memorable day in the water.
Homech’s inflatable kiddie pool is a treat for the entire family, especially children ages 3 and up. Its thick and durable PVC vinyl is BPA-free and designed with three individual air chambers to better lock in air and withstand bouncing kids. With a water capacity of 312 gallons, this model can accommodate two adults and up to four children comfortably.
This kiddie pool can be easily inflated in 3 to 4 minutes with an electric air pump. Once blown up, use the 90-degree drain valve and a garden hose to fill the pool. It shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to fill with water. The pool comes with a spare repair patch in the case of a hole or a leak, but no air pump.
This small inflatable pool is a cute and fun option for children under age 3. It features three colorful inflatable rings in vibrant pink, yellow, and green. The vinyl pool has a soft and squishy inflatable lining on the bottom to cushion against the ground. This compact model holds 22 gallons of water and comes with a repair patch for any leakages.
Bestway’s inflatable is an all-in-one, ocean-themed water play center that can keep kids ages 5 and up entertained for hours. The interactive play center boasts a water slide, climbing wall, sprayer, and a shallow splash zone. It’s constructed with durable, double-stitched PVC-coated polyester material and inflates in under 2 minutes.
Measuring 15 feet long and 10 feet wide, this kiddie pool requires a sizeable outdoor space. The Beachfront Bonanza comes with a storage bag, an air blower, nine bouncer stakes, and a repair kit that includes an assortment of patches. This model has a maximum weight limit of 120 pounds per person and 600 pounds total.
FAQs About Inflatable Pools
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.