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River Floats

Updated on February 6, 2016

Why Should I Care About What Float I Choose?

Not all floats are created equal! There are so many out there with many different levels of quality and if you're going to be using them outside of a pool setting, it's especially important to pay attention to what you're getting and make sure it works for your goals.

Float Examples

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You Should Ask Yourself...

  • Do you want to be able to get in and out of the water easily?
  • Do you want to be in a seated position for the float? Or would you rather have the option to lay down completely?
  • Do you want to be able to enjoy the water without having to actually get in it?
  • Are you going to have a lot of friends going with you to float often? Will they need room on the float?
  • How important are drink holders to you ON your float?
  • How much stuff do you think you'll be taking out with you on the float that you would like to keep dry? Do you have a place for these items?
  • How do you plan to inflate your floats?
  • Where do you plan to store your floats?

The Basics!

Short story, you're going to need a pump, a cooler for your food and drink, and of course, the floats. If you can swing it, make sure you have two pumps because it just makes filling up go SO much faster!

Be very clear on your cooler needs as well. Consider what you'll actually need on the river and find the smallest cooler that will fill that need. It's not uncommon for there to be declines going down to the river and inclines getting out of it. The less weight you have to muscle around, the more you'll enjoy your time!

Coghlan's Electric Air Pump, 12-Volt DC
Coghlan's Electric Air Pump, 12-Volt DC

An efficient, cost effective pump that plugs into your DC outlets in your vehicle! These things fill up floats fast!


Keeping It Simple!

Polar Bear Coolers Holds 12 Pack Soft Cooler
Polar Bear Coolers Holds 12 Pack Soft Cooler

The Polar Bear Cooler is a GREAT cooler! It's soft-sided, but sturdy and it does what it says it will do - keeps things cold for HOURS! On especially hot days, it's not uncommon to leave the river with only water in the cooler. With this, you WILL have ice left. It's a bit pricey in comparison to others out there, but it's worth the investment.

Intex Explorer 200, 2-Person Inflatable Boat Set with French Oars and Mini Air Pump
Intex Explorer 200, 2-Person Inflatable Boat Set with French Oars and Mini Air Pump

This should be a decent sized boat to carry your cooler and your stuff :) AND this comes with paddles too that are a big help to have on other floats to help steer.



The better quality the float, the longer it's going to last you! Pool specific floats generally can't withstand the possible abuse the river may dish out by way of logs and sticks. Keep the gauge of the material in mind when selecting a river float!

Do you have a small army?

If you're making this a family affair, or are the type that maintains close friendships with quite a few people, you may be more inclined to get a larger float to accommodate more people. These keep everyone together and really can make for a good time with hours of fun and conversation!

One small note on the larger floats, they can be a bit unwieldy to manage as far as keeping away from the sides of the river or when you're at the end and trying to make it to the landing. Also, make sure that the float you select will fit through any possible narrow sections in the river. That's a lot of people to have stranded if the float suffers a puncture!

Intex Recreation Pacific Paradise Lounge
Intex Recreation Pacific Paradise Lounge

This float has it going on! It has a mesh center for cooling those feet off in but looks like it could double as a spot to put a round cooler in to keep nearby. You also have that nifty ladder to assist in getting you back in the float after a quick dip in the river


Double-lock or Boston style valves makes inflating and deflating floats a breeze! Look for those!

Sevylor Inflatable Pool Party Platform
Sevylor Inflatable Pool Party Platform

I personally own this float and it's a really great addition to river floats. It's best with 2 people but can fit 3 as well. It just makes it a little tougher to stretch out for some sun time if you want. There are drink holders in one of the "pillows" and the dipping hole in the center makes getting in and out of the float easier :)


Floating Challenges

You'll want to read my other articles if you're going to be floating the Edisto River, here in the Charleston area. But! Just in case you aren't, there are some things you'll want to consider before heading out to the water of your choice.

1. It's your responsibility to understand flood stages and at what point the river becomes dangerous. With the Edisto, our preferred river depth is no more than around 5ft. Anything more than that and the current becomes swift and makes managing the floats more difficult. It also drastically reduces the time out on the water. It's just not worth the time and effort to risk a fast moving river in these floats. Your location may be different. Get to know your river.
2. Floats are not safety devices. Exercise caution with any in your group that are young or not good swimmers. If they need a personal flotation device - get one! Don't skimp on this.
3. If you don't want it getting wet, don't bring it. There are things you can get to mitigate important items from getting wet, but if it would be an enormous loss to water damage, it's not worth it. These things include cameras and cell phones. There are dry boxes, dry bags, and other waterproof options out there that may be worth a try, but remember that there is always a possibility of loss. The river is a hungry creature.
4. There are logs, sticks, rocks, sand, bottles, cans, and even wild critters out in the river that could be a risk to your floats and you. Have patch kits for the floats, and bring some first aid equipment with you.

These things may seem like common sense, but it's better to go ahead and advise you of them, so you consider all angles and try to plan your trip accordingly. After you've got your safety covered, get out there and have fun!

Speak Up! - I'd love to hear from you :)

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    • lpyrbby profile imageAUTHOR

      Alicia Lawson 

      6 years ago from Holly Hill, SC

      @julieannbrady: I just can't WAIT to get back out on the river! <3

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Holy smokes, but these are awesome river floats ... so colorful and so full of personality!

    • lpyrbby profile imageAUTHOR

      Alicia Lawson 

      7 years ago from Holly Hill, SC

      @JoshK47: We still pick up trash every time we head out. And gators...well...they're there! But, most of the time they're further down stream and they don't bother the floaters if the floaters don't bother them ;) Maybe you can make it part of your vacation plans once or twice!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens! Wish I was somewhere near a clean river... but the ones around here are either polluted or gator infested... not sure which is worse!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Great lens! Wish I was somewhere near a clean river... but the ones around here are either polluted or gator infested... not sure which is worse!

    • lpyrbby profile imageAUTHOR

      Alicia Lawson 

      7 years ago from Holly Hill, SC

      @Kandy O: That's the idea! I hope to post some more float photos tonight to the lens to offer some ideas on what my friends and I use. If you go, please share! I love float pictures :)

    • Kandy O profile image

      Kandy O 

      7 years ago

      This really makes me want to get out on the water now. Fun lens!


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