Here at the Strategist UK, we like to think of ourselves as crazy (in the good way) about the stuff we buy, but as much as we’d like to, we can’t try everything. Which is why we have People’s Choice, in which we find the best-reviewed products and single out the most convincing ones. (You can learn more about our rating system and how we pick each item here.)
And whilst we’ve covered summer essentials before, including the best fans and the best home projectors, here we’ve rounded up the best paddling pools, as praised by the most enthusiastic reviewers on Amazon.
Best-rated overall paddling pool
This round pool by Intex was a clear standout as the best-rated overall pool. It had the highest number of reviews, and 63 percent of those were five stars. Eighty-two reviewers said it was a good size, with the consensus being that it could comfortably fit three adults. A total of 149 reviewers said it was really easy to set up, including a parent who was looking for a way to entertain his kids after COVID-19 scuppered their holiday plans. Customers’ claims on how long it took to fill varied — those who filled it all the way to the top said it took just over three hours, while some said as little as one hour. But the hardest part, according to one five-star review, was ensuring the pool was on a flat surface. Two reviewers recommended interlocking foam squares you can buy online, while a craftier customer leveled the pool using old cardboard boxes and bubble wrap.
Best-rated (less expensive) paddling pool
This simple pool was the perfect choice for one parent, who wanted an alternative to their extra-large pool that had a slide and seating (and took far too long to inflate). Nineteen reviewers said it was really easy to inflate, and never lost any air, either — in fact, one customer kept it inflated in their garage and reported it was still in perfect shape after six months. This pool was considered excellent value for money by 46 reviewers, and in general customers agreed that it could accommodate three under-5-year-olds. The price was also appealing to at least 12 customers who bought it for their dogs to keep cool in (even though one pooch refused to go in).
Best-rated rectangular paddling pool
Twenty-seven reviewers agreed that this rectangular pool was particularly easy to inflate. The rectangular pool measures 200cmx160cm, which 22 customers said was a decent size, accommodating four children. The vinyl finish on the pool makes it particularly sturdy, according to one reviewer, staying puncture-free even when it blew into a neighbour’s garden. Several people pointed out that it was hard to find a tarp or cover for this particular size, with one customer deciding to use an old fitted sheet to keep bugs and dead leaves from falling in the pool at night. Though there were lots of parents raving about it, it has adult fans, too — one 5’2 woman says she spent much of her summer holidays last year listening to podcasts in this pool.
Best-rated extra-large paddling pool
This large fold-out pool has 79 percent five-star reviews on Amazon, particularly from reviewers with large families. One mum said their family of four (plus their large dog) could fit in it, while another parent said their 9-year-old and 2-year-old twins could comfortably splash about in it on a hot day. Speaking of dogs, one customer said they were surprised their three dogs — a Labrador, husky, and Border collie — could all get in to cool off. Despite its popularity with pets, one reviewer said it was better as a paddling pool for kids, as her golden retriever managed to puncture the lining quite easily. In total, 30 reviewers spoke favourably of the sturdy structure, and another 15 said it was easy to put together — the whole thing folds down into a small cube shape, and comes with a storage bag to make it easy to transport. [Editor’s note: This pool is currently sold out, but is back in stock on July 10.]
Best-rated paddling pool for babies
This rainbow-coloured pool has 63 percent five-star reviews, and due to its size, has proven popular with parents of babies and infants. One customer said it was the perfect size for their 13-month-old, while kids from 7 months to 3 years reportedly loved playing in it. A family with no garden (but a decent-size balcony) said it was the perfect way for their daughter to enjoy the water without a trip to the beach — and one mum said it was such a good size she has taken to bringing it on holiday to use as a travel bath. Due to its neat size, reviewers agreed that it didn’t need a pump to inflate, and could instead be blown manually in just a few minutes. Six reviewers also said it can also be brought inside and turned into a makeshift ball pit during colder months.
Best-rated paddling pool with sun shade
Though the sides of this pool are not very high, the inflatable canopy has made it very popular with customers. One five-star review said that the canopy was the reason she bought this pool, as she wanted her 8-month-old son to be able to play in the shade. Several reviewers took it on holiday, including a mum who said it’s perfect placed next to a sun lounger as she can keep an eye on her child at all times. The pool is comprised of three sections; the roof, the pillars, and the floor panel, which makes this more time-consuming to blow up than simpler models, but five reviewers noted that the floor panel was extra cushioned, making it suitable to sit in even without being filled with water. Intex recommends this for children aged 1 year and up.
Best-rated paddling pool with slide
For large spaces, this inflatable play center features a small slide, a palm tree which sprays water, and a ball game. The inflation is not for the faint-hearted — according to one customer it has 12 different sections that need inflating, and most agreed that an electric pump (like those used on an air bed) was the only way to blow this up. Parents loved the variety, with smaller infants able to enjoy the spraying palm tree while older ones played on the slide. Ten five-star reviews said their kids absolutely loved it, but some customers weren’t happy. Despite the pool coming with a repair kit, one customer said it had three tears after just one use, while another said it began deflating after an hour or so of playtime.
Best-rated paddling pool with seating
Reviewers enthused about this “jacuzzi-style” pool, which comes with head rests and two seats. One in ten reviews called it a great pool, including a couple who bought it during lockdown as their holiday was cancelled. And seven reviewers mentioned how quick it was to inflate, despite its large size and separate components. Though it was popular with kids, several adults said it was perfect for cocktail hour thanks to the cup holders built into the sides. One five-star review said that though there is a valve near the base, it can take ages to drain — even after she emptied twelve buckets of water over her garden. In fact, due to its size, most reviewers suggested covering it at night rather than simply emptying it.
And a highly rated electric pump to help blow up your paddling pool
The Strategist UK is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Read about who we are and what we do here. Our editors update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.