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Pool Floats: A Guide

Updated on July 4, 2012
We use our pool floats almost every day in the summer.
We use our pool floats almost every day in the summer. | Source

Pool Rafts and Floats

A couple of months ago, I took out my pool rafts and floats. I also bought some new pool floats. I cleaned up the old ones, inflated them, and checked them for leaks, in preparation for the annual opening of my swimming pool. Sometimes I swim for exercise, but for the most part, I just enjoy soaking up the sun on my pool float. I haven’t found anything that’s more relaxing. It also helps with the pain I experience from a couple of health problems because it takes much of the pressure off my bones and joints. Being on a pool float is the most pain free I can be, and it’s a lot safer than taking narcotics. When you’re trying to decide on pool rafts and floats, use the following guide, along with the pics of different pool floats.

For me, the best pool floats are the waffle-type rafts.
For me, the best pool floats are the waffle-type rafts. | Source
A waffle pool raft rolls up for easy transporting.
A waffle pool raft rolls up for easy transporting. | Source

Best Pool Floats

What are the best pool floats? There’s no simple answer to this question. It depends on your individual needs and desires, along with the amount of money you want to spend on a pool float. Pool floats range in price from a dollar to over a hundred dollars, depending on the size, the design, and the construction materials used. Not surprisingly, the most durable floats are often the most expensive, but they might last for years. On the other hand, very cheap pool floats can be tossed at the end of summer and replaced the next year.

When deciding on the best pool floats for you and your family, think about where you’ll be using the float. If your watery venue is a small swimming pool, you might not want a huge float. Also, think about how often you’ll be using the pool float. If you’re going to be using them just a couple of times a year, cheap pool floats might be your best bet. If you decide o more expensive, more durable pool floats, make sure you have room to store them through the winter, since many don’t deflate.

For me, the best pool floats depends on the season and the weather, too. I use a different type float in spring than I use in the hottest days of summer. It all depends on the outdoor temperature and on the temperature of the pool water. I elaborate on this point later.

You’ll also need to decide what you want to do in your float. Do you want to sit up, lie on your back, or have the option of lying in any position? Do you want to float solo, or do you want to float with a buddy? Are you looking for really cool pool floats for a group of adults, or do you need pool floats for kids? By answering these questions, you can decide on the best pool floats for your situation.

Sling floats can be twisted into a circle, and they don't require much air.
Sling floats can be twisted into a circle, and they don't require much air. | Source

Swimming Pool Floats – Different Types

When you’re shopping for swimming pool floats, you’ll find several different types. Basically, however, there are two main categories of swimming pool floats – foam and inflatable. From there, the list is practically endless! You’ll find a world of shapes, sizes, and colors. Nowadays, you can even get swimming pool floats that are like giant rocking chairs. Whether you want to sit up, fully recline, or partially recline, you’ll find a float to fulfill your needs.

If you like to be on the water, but you don’t want to get wet, there’s a float for it. Such a float is made by a couple of different companies, but they have basically the same construction. These inflatable pool floats are sort of like a rectangular boat, with soft sides and tubes of air on the bottom for comfort and floatation. The floats I had like this were called "Suntan Tubs,” and I liked using them when the water was still too cold for comfort. I also liked using these floats in lakes, where I was a little concerned about snakes and alligators.

I like thick inflatable pool floats when the water is still a little too cold for comfort.
I like thick inflatable pool floats when the water is still a little too cold for comfort. | Source

Foam Pool Floats

Foam pool floats are usually made of a soft foam material that has been covered in vinyl. Most come with a pillow section, and they’re available in different widths. Typically, these floats are unsinkable. Even if they’re pierced, they’ll still float. They’re thin, too, so you’ll be floating just atop the water, which makes them more stable. If properly stored, these floats will last for years, and they’re easy to clean.

Foam pool floats also have their negatives. For one thing, they’re expensive when compared to most inflatable pool floats. They’re also heavier, and they’re not as portable because they can’t be deflated. If you have your own pool and room for storing the floats in the off season, this type of float can be a good investment.

Inflatable Pool Floats

Inflatable pool floats are the types that have to be blown up with air, obviously. A few are pretty quick and easy to inflate because they don’t require much air. Large pool floats, on the other hand, require a lot of air. If you don’t have some good lungs, you can almost pass out trying to get these suckers inflated. We take the easy route – with an air compressor.

Like other types of pool floats and rafts, inflatable pool floats have good points and bad. On the plus side, inflatables are usually relatively inexpensive. Also, they don’t take up much room when they’re deflated. This is an important aspect when you’re taking your gear with you in a car.

On the down side, inflatable pool floats are notorious for getting punctures. It’s practically inevitable that if you have the float long enough, it will eventually spring a leak. Fortunately, most inflatable pool floats come with a patch kit for just such occurrences. Even so, I’ve found that some patch kits work better than others.

Pool lounge floats are great for sitting up or patially reclining.
Pool lounge floats are great for sitting up or patially reclining. | Source

Pool Lounge Floats

Pool lounge floats allow you to rest in a sitting position, generally speaking. They might even include armrests for extra comfort. Some also have a place to sit your drink, and if the drink holder is embedded into the float, the surrounding air will act as insulation and help keep your beverage cold.

Some pool lounge floats are inflatable, while others are constructed of foam, along with rigid materials like metal or PVC. Also, some of these floats leave your legs dangling in the water, while others allow you to “stretch out.” If tanning is your main objective, you’ll probably want a longer float. If, however, you just want to float around and relax while you can view what’s going on around you, you’ll probably prefer sitting up.

When it comes to tanning, there’s an inherent disadvantage to loungers. They don’t make it easy to lie on your tummy. In fact, doing so is pretty near impossible on some. I have an inflatable lounge float, and I’ve found that if I let out some of the air, I can lie on y tummy fairly comfortably. Still, a pool raft is better for this.

Pool Raft

A pool raft lies flat, and most have a pillow section. Oftentimes, the pillow is a separate compartment, so it can be adjusted for comfort. For sunbathing, a pool raft is the best choice, in my opinion. You can lie on your back, on your tummy, or even on your side.

Such swimming pool floats might be made of vinyl or of foam. Another type is a “sling float.” These are handy! Only the pillow and the periphery have to be inflated. The main body of the pool float is made of a mesh fabric. The float folds into a circle, and most come with a zippered carrying bag with a handle for easy transporting.

When it comes to raft-type pool floats, consider the temperature of the water. When I first start using my pool, usually in April, the sun is warm, but the water is still chilly. At this time, I like to use a thick pool float that keeps me on the water – not in the water. After such an afternoon, when hubby asks me if I’ve been in the pool, I answer, “No, I’ve been on the pool.”

As the weather and the pool water both heat up, I switch to a thinner float. I really like the waffle floats for this. They don’t require much air, and they can roll up for carrying, even when inflated. My waffle pool float keeps me partially submerged in the water, which I love. Believe me – in the extreme heat and humidity of a South Georgia summer, you want the refreshing pool water to keep you cool and comfy!

Pool floats for kids come in all sorts of shapes.
Pool floats for kids come in all sorts of shapes. | Source
Lexi in a big ring.
Lexi in a big ring. | Source

Pool Floats for Kids

There’s a huge range of pool floats for kids! I can’t tell you how many of these things we’ve been through with the eight grandchildren. These floats range from small, stable, sit-in floats for babies and toddlers, to larger floats for older kids. Some of the floats for older kids are in “critter” shapes, like ducks, sharks, alligators, turtles, killer whales, dolphins, octopuses, and seahorses. Some of these are really big, too.

You can also find pool floats for kids in the shapes of boats, jet skis, inner tubes, and racecars. With some of these, the kids sit in the float, which is good for non-swimmers. With others, the kids ride on the floats. You might also want to consider a float that has a covering or canopy that provides shade from the harsh rays of the sun.

Large Pool Floats

Large pool floats are sometimes the best option. They’re great for when you want to share the space with another person, or when you just want to really stretch out. Most of the ones I’ve found are thick, so they’ll keep you largely on the surface of the water. You might choose a raft type, a lounger, or a ring.

Some large pool floats are big enough for several adults, and some even have a space in the center for storing ice and/or drinks. Others might have a circle in the middle that can be used as a table. Remember though, to keep the size of your pool in mind. You probably don’t want a float that takes up the entire pool. My pool, for example, isn’t really big enough for especially large pool floats, although we’ve used these “floating islands” in the Gulf of Mexico and at a local reservoir. Some of these are really cool pool floats!

Pool Noodles

Have you ever tried pool noodles? They’re made of foam, so they float. My grandkids love these things! They swim with them, ride them like stick horses, and have “sword fights” with them. The noodles are also good for kids who can swim but who might tire easily. Hanging onto a noodle will give them a chance for a quick break without getting out of the water. You can find pool noodles at dollar stores for just a buck each, or you can pay a little more at toy stores, Walmart, and Kmart.

Examine the pool noodles closely before you buy. Some have a tighter construction than others, and these are better. The noodles with a “looser” texture often fall apart easily, and the small particles of foam can clog up your pool filter. If you notice your noodles falling apart, replace them with new ones.

The grandkids have a blast with pool noodles.
The grandkids have a blast with pool noodles. | Source
Audrie and a noodle.
Audrie and a noodle. | Source
Cheap pool floats are pretty easy to find.
Cheap pool floats are pretty easy to find. | Source

Cheap Pool Floats – Discount Pool Floats

There are plenty of cheap pool floats on the market. As I already mentioned, our local dollar store offers them for sale for $1. Keep in mind, however, that these cheap pool floats are usually made of very thin vinyl, so they don’t usually last long. Also, such raft-type floats at this price are often very narrow, so unless you’re pretty thin, you won’t have much room.

You might also be interested I discount pool floats. These might be higher quality floats that are on sale, or they might be found at a discount store or in online sites. To find some great discount pool floats, check stores and online sites at or near the end of summer, when the floats are marked down. Even if you don’t get to use them this year, you can always leave them in their original packaging and store them. Then, next summer, you’ll be all set for pool floats!

Take the poll. Thanks!

Which type of pool floats are your favorite?

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    • profile image

      Home and outdoor 

      5 years ago

      Nice article, as a distributor of pool toys it is always interesting to see what toys people love the most

    • Austinstar profile image


      8 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

      Nice deck on your pool! Since I mostly swim for exercise I find that floats really get in the way. I mostly buy cheap floats for parties and throw them away after the season.

      Nice hub and great photos!

    • fpherj48 profile image


      8 years ago from Carson City

      habee...very informative and also timely. My son and DIL just put a beautiful pool in and have 3 small Gram will be donning them with floating devices galore!!.......Thanks. Me? Bring me the "lounge & an iced tea!!


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