Science

Best inflatable pools of 2022

In the past, inflatable pools have been perceived as inferior to their in-ground cousins. That’s no longer true. These inflatable wonders provide the benefits of an in-ground pool without the expense and year-round maintenance. Depending on the size and features, these pools can travel with you or remain a summer staple until you’re ready to pack them up for fall. The best inflatable pools have the size, features, and capacity for your family. Models that are easy to clean and store can make sure you spend your time relaxing instead of maintaining the pool. 

How we chose the best inflatable pools

To narrow down the field, I started with durability, then looked at setup, capacity, and accessories to find inflatable pools that would offer the best performance. 

Durability: Thick wall materials that resist punctures but are still repairable offer the best bang for your buck 

Setup: How long does it take to set up the pool? Complex setups may make you avoid setting it up at all. 

Capacity: The pool has to fit the number of people who want to use it. A pool that fits four adults will fit more kids than that because of their smaller bodies.

Accessories: Ground covers, insulated covers, filters, pool floats, and toys are all extras worth paying for upfront. Buying them separately can get pricey. 

What to consider when buying the best inflatable pool

Inflatable pools may be easy to set up compared to some of their above-ground counterparts, but that doesn’t mean any old pool will do. Here is what you should consider before purchasing the best inflatable pool.

Setup and location

The complexity of the pool setup varies from model to model. Some models take a few minutes with the help of an air pump. Others may require some construction and setup time before the water can flow. 

Inflatable pools require a flat, sturdy location like level ground, a patio, or a deck. However, if the pool is on a structure, that structure needs to be able to handle the weight. One gallon of water weighs about 8.3 pounds. These pools can get heavy very quickly and can collapse a porch or deck that’s not reinforced. If there’s no level ground available, an inflatable pool isn’t a great option. They need even support around the entire base to successfully hold water without breaking. 

Air pumps

Many inflatable pools come with an electric air pump. You may need to invest in an air pump or air compressor to blow up the pool if the model you choose doesn’t include this accessory. 

Capacity

How many people will use the pool at once? A couple of kids can play in a pretty small pool and be happy for hours. However, several kids and a few adults will need more square footage and water volume to comfortably relax. Make sure to measure the space where the pool will be placed. You don’t want to buy a pool that’s big enough for the family and learn after the fact that it’s too big for the yard. 

Drainage

Most inflatable pools have drainage plugs. However, you need to think about drainage when setting up the pool. Make sure it’s not in a place where all that water can cause damage. Even small pools can hold 100 gallons or more. That much water needs somewhere to safely drain.

Best inflatable pools: Reviews & Recommendations

The best inflatable pools have the size, features, and capacity for your family. Models that are easy to clean and store can make sure you spend your time relaxing instead of maintaining the pool. 

Best overall: Intex 28405E PureSpa 4 Person Inflatable Hot Tub Spa

Why it made the cut: Simple setup, portability, and a long list of comfort features make this inflatable pool a standout for adults. 

Specs

  • Dimensions: 28 x 58 x 28 inches
  • Capacity: 4
  • Gallons: 210

Pros

  • Fast, easy setup
  • A hard water filtration system
  • Comfortable seating that includes headrests

Cons 

  • Online directions are better than those included with the pool

This Intex inflatable pool includes everything you need to get it set up and bubbling from the minute it arrives. It includes everything from a cover with child locks to keep out leaves and hold in heat to a heating system to get the water warm before your first dip. Extra accessories include: 10W hard water system; two-filter filtration; floating chlorine dispenser; inflation hose; ground cloth; carrying bag; headrests.

The setup process usually takes less than an hour. Once you’ve got everything hooked up and ready to go, it can hold four adults. One thing to take note of is that the online directions are better than those that arrive with the pool. 

Best with slide: BOUNTECH Inflatable Double Slide Bounce House

Why it made the cut: The Bounctech’s climbing wall and two slides make it fun on the way up and down, propelling it to the top of the “pools with slides” list. 

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 178 x 144 x 92 inches
  • Capacity: 3 to 4
  • Gallons: NA

Pros:

  • Climbing wall instead of a ladder
  • 2 slides and a water cannon
  • Easy setup

Cons: 

  • Sometimes arrives with a defective blower

The Bounctech lets kids splash, shoot, climb, and slide. It’s all secured with eight ground stakes and a protective net to keep sliders on the slide. Despite its large size, this model is easy to assemble. With the included blower, one parent can get it set up on their own. At 750W, the blower can keep the slides inflated as long as the total bodies onboard don’t exceed the 350-pound weight limit. We also like that it comes with a repair kit and several patches. 

A word of caution: The blower works well most of the time. However, a few units have underperformed and have not kept the slide fully inflated.

Best with seats: Intex Swim Center Family Lounge Inflatable Pool

Why it made the cut: Ample seating, lots of splash room, and a simple setup make this inflatable pool one of the best for those who like a built-in lounge seat.

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 88 x 85 x 30 inches
  • Capacity: 4 adults
  • Gallons: 261.5 

Pros:

  • Simple set up
  • 2 drink holders
  • Comes with a repair patch

Cons: 

  • Does not come with an air pump

Intex knows inflatable pools. This model offers a simple inflation setup and enough seats for four. It doesn’t come with an air pump, so you’ll have to buy one separately. However, with an electric pump, the pool can fully inflate within 15 minutes. Two built-in drink holders let kids sip without getting drinks in the pool. We like that it comes with a repair patch just in case there’s a puncture. 

Best with filter: Summer Waves Quick Set Inflatable Above Ground Pool

Why it made the cut: The Summer Waves pool mimics an in-ground model, including a cartridge filter pump for safer, cleaner swimming making it our top pick for an inflatable pool with a filter. 

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 144 x 144 x 36 inches
  • Capacity: Approximately 5 people
  • Gallons: 1,815

Pros:

  • Easy-to-replace filter cartridge
  • Simple setup
  • Provides a lot of swimming/floating space

Cons: 

  • Takes a long time to fill with water
  • Doesn’t include a patch kit

The Summer Waves pool provides size and volume that’s above the norm. At 12 feet across and 36 inches tall, it holds a sizable amount of water even if it’s only filled to 80-percent capacity. It’s made of triple-layer PVC that resists punctures fairly well. However, it’s still a good idea to have a patch kit handy with a pool this size. 

Setup takes less than 15 minutes, and the filter easily connects to the pool. A smart design makes filter replacement a simple process. The only downside, besides the lack of a patch kit, is that it’s so large that it takes a long time to fill with water.

Best budget: Airso Inflatable Swimming Pool

Why it made the cut: Three air chambers create a simple pool that holds a surprising amount of water for the price. 

Specs: 

  • Dimensions: 118 x 72 x 22 inches
  • Capacity: 6
  • Gallons: NA

Pros:

  • Fast inflation with an electric air pump (sold separately)
  • Strong walls hold lots of water
  • Easy to access drain plug

Cons: 

  • In some cases, develops holes fairly quickly

This pool by AIRSO keeps things simple but provides a lot of square footage for backyard splashing. It features three separately inflatable rings that fill within 10 to 15 minutes with an electric air pump (not included). A strong, UV-resistant material resists punctures even with rambunctious play. For the price, you get a good-sized inflatable pool that’s simple to fill and easy to empty with the drain plug. 

However, a small number of units have punctures upon arrival. It doesn’t come with a repair kit, but it’s worth having one on hand.  

FAQs

Q: How long can you leave water in an inflatable pool?

For sanitary reasons, it’s best to replace the water after each use. If you do leave the water in the pool for a couple of days, cover the pool to prevent debris and animals from wandering in. Some pools come with a filter or chlorine tablets. However, make sure the pool’s material can withstand any chemicals you decide to use.

Q: How do you inflate an inflatable pool?

Some inflatable pools come with an electric pump, and electric pumps are definitely the easiest way to inflate them. You may have to buy a pump separately if one isn’t included with the pool. Your other options are a manual pump, like a bike bump, or good old-fashioned blowing, which we don’t recommend.

Q: How do you find a leak in an inflatable pool?

Create a soap (dish soap) and water mixture, and spray it onto the area where you suspect a leak. If there’s a leak, you’ll see bubbles start to form over the puncture.

Final thoughts on the best inflatable pools

For adults who like to soak, the Intex 28405E PureSpa 4 Person Inflatable Hot Tub Spa is easy to set up, relaxing to use, and offers filters and water treatment. It doesn’t hurt that it includes headrests, too. However, for families with kids, it’s hard to beat the slides and climbing wall of the BOUNTECH Inflatable Double Slide Bounce House. Get the best inflatable pool for your yard, today!



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