Floats are a must for keeping your pool party interesting and lively. Depending on the size of your pool and your zeal for entertaining, you may choose an inflatable donut for one person or a raft to fit two or more swimmers. The number of people floats can hold are just the start: Whether you want your guests to enjoy some relaxing solitude or to have them enthralled in conversation, there’s a pool float for almost any situation.
The best pool floats for lounging in the water often do more than just float while holding various family members, including your pets. Read on to discover some other perks a pool float can provide.
- BEST OVERALL: Aqua Campania Ultimate 2 in 1 Recliner Pool Lounger
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Aqua 4-in-1 Monterey Hammock Inflatable Pool Float
- BEST LOUNGE FLOAT: Intex Rockin’ Inflatable Lounge
- BEST DOUBLE FLOAT: Aqua Premium Convertible Pool Lounger
- BEST FOOD FLOAT: Intex Pizza Slice Inflatable Mat
- BEST ANIMAL FLOAT: GoFloats Giant Inflatable Pool Floats
- BEST PARTY FLOAT: Bestway CoolerZ Rapid Rider Quad Inflatable Raft
- BEST BABY FLOAT: Free Swimming Baby Inflatable Float
- BEST DOG FLOAT: Milliard Dog Pool Float
Popular Types of Pool Floats
Pool floats come in plenty of styles to suit your pool party or tanning needs. Here are the most popular types of pool floats to help you on your journey to purchasing the best pool float for your water adventures:
Lounge pool floats are a favorite when you want to tan, relax, or spend the afternoon reading on the water. Some floats keep you high above the water while others leave some of your body floating just under the water’s surface. There are models that come with a backrest, armrests, drink holders, and some are even motorized. Some have backrests that are adjustable from upright to fully reclining. Many require inflation, while others are constructed like a patio chair with foam for flotation; still others are made from pliable foam. Float material quality varies, giving different levels of protection against sun damage, punctures, and mildew.
Hammock floats are similar to lounge floats but are more minimalistic and allow for increased water contact. The armrests and footrests are either inflatable or made of foam―both types give the float its buoyancy. Hammock floats have a mesh body for full water contact. The mesh surface cradles your body for increased comfort. Some designs cradle floaters from head to knees only and others give full-body support. Roll them up for easy storage when not in use. As a bonus, hammock floats don’t take up as much space in the pool as traditional lounge floats.
Double floats support two people. Both lounge floats and hammock floats have double-float designs―some have side-by-side headrests and other designs allow the floaters to face each other from opposite ends.
Whether you’re spending the day in the pool or on the lake, party floats can add to the fun. Most come in fun themes and are equipped with lounge seats or backrests, beverage coolers, and drink holders. Some even have table space for games. Party island floats can hold between six and 12 people. Both kids and adults can enjoy the fun. Party floats keep your guests mingling while soaking up the rays in the pool.
Themed Pool Floats
Fun for kids and adults, themed pool floats add liveliness and character to a pool party. Whether that includes animal, food, or other novelty floats, you can find plenty of fun themes to personalize a party. Rafts and tubes come in various shapes and sizes and can hold from one to 12 people. There are mini-floats for holding food and beverages or for playing a game of in-pool volleyball. Themed pool floats are inflatable, so you’ll need an air source such as a hair dryer or pump. Choosing floats made of raft-grade vinyl will ensure your rafts and tubes stay puncture-free when your guests get a little rowdy.
Baby floats come in an assortment of shapes and designs. The floats are typically designated by age and weight. Many come with a sunshade canopy, which is often adjustable or removable. It’s important to choose the size that’s right for your child and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use.
Not all baby floats are alike―some models are more prone to capsize, so make sure the float provides ample support to keep your child in the recommended position while keeping his or her face out of the water. Although baby floats let your little ones explore the water, babies should never be left unattended while in their float. Be sure to choose a float with UV protections, appropriate belts and fasteners, and safety valves―and always stay within arm’s reach of your child.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Pool Floats
The two most basic features of a pool float are its size and purpose. But when shopping for the best pool float for your water adventures, it’s a good idea to consider the following features:
Pool floats come in different shapes and sizes―from rectangular lounges to circular tubes to novelty designs. Size is an important factor when shopping for adult- and kid-sized floats. It’s also a good idea to consider a float’s size in light of your pool’s size, so as not to crowd guests who prefer swimming without a float.
Always check the product insert from the float’s manufacturer for weight information. Each float has a weight limit and it’s recommended to stay under the weight limit for safety. It’s also good to know how much a float weighs when deflated for transport considerations if you plan to use your float at different locations.
Most pool floats are made with foam, mesh, or inflatable vinyl. Inflatable floats are the most common and are made from basic or raft-grade vinyl―higher quality vinyl offers resistance to tears, as well as damage from regular wear and tear. Some inflatable floats have a fabric covering for those with an aversion to vinyl. Other floats have sections of mesh so you can float partially submerged in the water to keep cool. Foam and mesh floats do not require inflation.
When the sun is too hot for hanging out on your deck’s lounge chairs, pool floats offer a refreshing solution. Choose buoyancy while partially submerged in the water or lounge on the water’s surface and enjoy a variety of activities. There are floats for reading, exercising, holding food and beverages while entertaining, tanning, kid activities, or to help smaller children enjoy the water.
Pool floats are available with plenty of included or optional features: coolers, cup holders, armrests, backrests, and mesh areas for allowing water in. Some have motors and even sails. Others come with handles for carrying or tethering, if you’ll be using your float on the lake. A double-valve design is a nice feature to have so that air doesn’t escape the float before replacing the valve’s plug. Certain valve types also facilitate quick inflation and deflation.
Repair and Maintenance
There’s not much worse than getting ready for a little rest and relaxation in the pool, only to discover that your new pool float has gone flat. With the right maintenance, you can protect and extend the life of your rafts and rings. Periodically clean your floats with soap or vinegar solutions. Also, when you’re not using your floats, it’s best to deflate, rinse, and store them in a dry area.
However, if your float does spring a leak, you have options. Many vinyl inflatable floats come with repair kits that include patches for those unexpected tears, but there are also some temporary DIY methods for patching holes as well, such as covering the hole with duct tape.
Many floats come with a pump, but if not, you’ll need an air pump or hair dryer to reinflate as the air seeps out from use.
Our Top Picks
With the float types, features, and uses in mind, consider these options when looking for the best pool floats to complement your favorite water activities.
The Aqua Camapania Ultimate 2 in 1 Recliner Pool Lounger is packed with features for a fun day at the pool. With a fully adjustable backrest, floaters can lift the back to a 60-degree incline to enjoy a book or lower it to a horizontal position to lie comfortably on their stomach while tanning. The cool weave fabric keeps tanners cool and the fabric’s added thickness gives increased buoyancy, so no worries about flipping out of the float when maneuvering around. The removable canopy provides shade when you aren’t ready to call it a day, but need a break from the sun.
The Aqua Campania comes with a detachable caddy, handy for keeping beverages, snacks, and your smartphone within reach. The duolock 2-valve locking system makes it easier to inflate and deflate the float―simply use the small valve to inflate and the large valve to deflate. The inflated size of the float is 56 inches by 36 inches and it can hold 250 pounds.
The Aqua 4-in-1 Monterey Hammock Inflatable Pool Float in burgundy and white stripes offers four different positions to keep cool and comfortable in the water: lounge, sit, drift on your stomach, or sit saddled while exercising. And there is no need to climb or jump into the float―the hammock design makes it easy to submerge the float below the water’s surface to slide in and then adjust to the preferred position. Because of its minimal design, the Monterey Hammock is also a great option for floating in the ocean. And the pack-and-go design makes it easy to take the hammock float along to the beach, the lake, or to friends’ pools. This affordable choice for pool fun measures 44 inches by 28 inches and holds up to 250 pounds.
A relaxing lounging experience begins with a lounger like the Intex Rockin’ Inflatable Lounge float. The float’s recline angle makes it easy to read a book or just chat with a friend without straining your neck. The aesthetic aqua color helps the float blend nicely with your pool’s decor. And the float has a built-in cup holder, so no need to disrupt pool lounging time by reaching for a drink on the deck. The float measures 74 inches by 39 inches when inflated and can hold 220 pounds. And, as a bonus, it includes a repair kit.
The Aqua Premium Convertible Pool Lounger’s stylish colors and removable 4-position backrest add up to a float that promotes relaxing weekends at the pool. The lounger comes with a removable canopy for blocking glaring rays while reading a book or checking email on your smartphone. When inflated, the float measures 74 by 38 inches; using the removable footrest extends the length to 90 inches. The float is made with a cool weave poly-knit fabric for extra comfort and increased buoyancy. It is easy to inflate and deflate the float with an air pump using its duo-lock valve system.
Nothing says pool party quite like pizza, so float around on your own slice of pizza solo or use the attached tethers to join slices with the Intex Pizza Slice Inflatable Mat. When tethered together, the slices can make up an entire pizza pie. The float measures 69 inches by 57 inches and the maximum weight is 220 pounds per slice. This novelty pool float is made with 12-gauge vinyl and comes with a repair patch kit.
This oversized pink flamingo GoFloats Giant Inflatable Pool Float can be the life (or wildlife) of pool parties. Made from premium raft-grade vinyl, it should hold up to play and bumps against rough surfaces. The float has a rapid valve system for quick inflation and deflation; you can air up the float with a hair dryer, air pump, or air compressor. Its extra-large surface can hold 400 pounds and measures 114 inches by 55 inches by 47 inches when fully inflated. The float also comes with a handy storage bag for easy transport. GoFloats offers other floating animal choices, including a dragon, a bull, or a swan.
The Bestway CoolerZ Rapid Rider Quad Inflatable Raft comfortably fits up to four adults or a mix of adults and kids in the pool, on the lake, or in the river. Two coolers and four drink holders add convenience for floaters, and backrests add comfort. Each seat has a mesh bottom to keep you cool in the water and you can dip your toes in via the open center section. The float is constructed with puncture-resistant Fortech vinyl and the built-in grommets with rope make it easy to tether to other rafts or a dock. It’s also equipped with its own repair patch.
The Free Swimming Baby Inflatable Baby Swim Float keeps a baby in the ideal swimming posture, allowing little ones to learn to kick from a horizontal swim position (versus vertical). The raised front prevents capsizing and the soft bottom support has a safety belt to keep your little one secured in place. A removable canopy provides shade from the sun. The float is easily inflated and deflated, so use it on the go. Plus, its PVA material is nontoxic. The float comes in blue or yellow and is available in three different sizes: small (11 to 24 pounds), large (13 to 38 pounds), and extra large (28 to 48 pounds).
No need to let your pet miss out on your pool parties and barbecues with the Milliard Dog Pool Float. The ride-on puppy float, designed to look like a paw, is crafted from heavy-duty UV- and puncture-resistant vinyl. The vinyl won’t stain, fade, or mildew and the float is sturdy enough to hold up to 110 pounds of furriness. If your four-legged friend prefers to nap under a tree, just flip the float over and take advantage of its five extra-large cup holders.
Tips for Using Pool Floats
Leisurely water activities with pool floats can be fun for the entire family. Here are a few tips to keep your family safe and your floats in tip-top shape.
- Strict adherence to safety guidelines can help avoid accidents. Never jump onto or off of pool floats to avoid impacts on hard surfaces that could cause head and other bodily injuries. A pool float is not a substitute for a life vest or another safety flotation device.
- Store your floats properly during the winter season: deflate, clean, and dry completely prior to storage in a dry area.
- Always keep an air pump and repair kit handy for any unexpected tears or leaks.
FAQs About Your New Pool Floats
Caring for your pool floats can help maximize the floats’ longevity and your enjoyment. Here are a few answers to some of the most common questions about float maintenance.
Q. Is it okay to leave floats in the pool and sun?
It’s best to not leave your pool float in the sun when not in use. The sun’s UV rays can fade your float’s color and cause the float’s materials to break down, increasing the likelihood of tears and punctures.
Q. What is the best way to store pool floats?
It’s recommended to deflate, rinse, and then store the floats in a dry area to prevent mildewing. If you’ll be storing your floats for the winter season, follow the same steps, plus scrub the floats with a cleaning solution prior to rinsing.
Q. How do you clean pool floats?
Clean your pool floats naturally with either a soap or vinegar solution. However, if they appear to have mold or mildew, you should use a bleach mixture.
Q. How do you fix a ripped pool float?
The first step in repairing a ripped float is to identify the location of the tear. If it’s not easily identifiable, you might need to submerge the float under water and look for bubbles coming from the tear. Then you can use a repair kit to apply a patch, or if you’re looking for a temporary solution, duct tape will work.