Best paddling pool 2022: Cool off in your garden with our guide to the finest inflatables

Christian Hopewell Rachel Erdos
22 Jul 2022

Dip your toes into our guide to the best paddling pools before splashing out

The best paddling pools can help keep the kids cool and entertained from the comfort of your own garden. Affordable and easy to set up, a paddling pool is a fun, practical investment for the summer season. From small inflatable pools for toddlers to splash around in, to plus-sized pools with space for the whole family, there are loads of options to choose from. But before splashing out, it's worth reading up on the different types on offer so you can be sure to find the ideal paddling pool for your needs and budget.

To help find the absolute best paddling pool for you, we’ve put together a handy buying guide below, followed by our rundown of the best paddling pools on the market today.

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How to choose the best paddling pool for you

What types of paddling pool are available?

Paddling pools range from small inflatable rings that you can pick up for a few quid to sizeable semi-permanent fixtures that cost upwards of £100. There are pros and cons with each type so it's best to weigh up what's most important on the size, cost and durability front for you and your family.

Plastic inflatables: Cheap and often colourful, plastic inflatable pools are affordable and easy to come by. For small families or small spaces, consider a traditional ring design that can be quickly and easily inflated by blowing air through a valve. It's worth investing in a hand or electric pump for larger inflatables. Look for drainage plugs in larger pools, which will make emptying easier. Smaller, cheaper inflatables aren't typically long-lasting, especially if your little ones are particularly active or if your lawn isn't completely smooth.

Pop-up pools: Lightweight and easy to whip out at a moment's notice, pop-up options are simple to assemble and store. They're not entirely sturdy, though, and you may see water slosh over the sides when leaning against the walls.

Paddling pools with filters: If you're looking for a large paddling pool to go the distance, consider a sturdy model with a frame, filter pump and cover. The filter will help keep your water clean and free of debris, preventing you from having to constantly drain and refill it. Basic pumps can usually process around 1,000 litres per hour and you may need to treat the water with chlorine tablets in order to keep things hygienic. It's worth keeping these extra maintenance steps in mind before purchasing a large pool.

Paddling pool top tips

Always empty the water from your pool when uncovered and not in use. Standing water can be a drowning risk no matter how shallow it is. In hot weather, it can also quickly become stagnant, encouraging bacterial growth.

Invest in a quality foot or electric pump to speed up the inflation process.

Place the paddling pool on a flat and smooth surface. If you're worried about uneven ground, consider putting a groundsheet underneath.

Buy a garden hose for speedy filling. You can probably get away with using a bucket for smaller pools but for anything larger and you'll save plenty of time and effort by investing in a hose

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The best paddling pools to buy in 2022

1. Chad Valley Family Swim Centre Pool: Best family-sized paddling pool

Price: £50 | Buy now from Argos

If you’re hoping for some family-sized fun, this jumbo pool is roomy enough for the whole gang to cool off in. And, given its sturdiness and rectangular shape, you can kid yourself into thinking you're in a spa pool while bathing next to your shed. The extra-wide sidewalls make it feel robust, and it's strong enough to hold up to 950 litres as well as around four paddlers. You'll definitely need a pump (not included) to get this one up and running but it should take less than 15 minutes to inflate with an electric model. There's also a drainage plug and quick deflation valves to make it easy to clear away. For the size and price, this pool offers excellent value for money.

Key specs— Size: 84 x 107 x 19cm; Capacity: 950L; Stated minimum age: 3

Buy now from Argos

2. Intex Lazy Snail Shade Baby Pool: Best paddling pool for babies and toddlers

Price: £24 | Buy now from Amazon

This fun and colourful pool is a great pick for babies and toddlers. Its shade offers protection from the sun and its inflatable floor provides some reassuring extra cushioning. Once it's up and running it can be used outdoors with water or indoors filled with plastic balls. Alternatively, you can pop a couple of blankets in it and use it as a safe and shaded play area for your little one to kick about in on the lawn. It can be a little tricky to stuff back into the bag after use, but once you've nailed it, it's easy to store.

Key specs— Size: 102 x 102 x 89cm; Capacity: 45L; Stated minimum age: 12 months

3. Summer Waves Inflatable Multi-coloured Pool: Best budget paddling pool

Price: £12 | Buy now from John Lewis

For little more than a tenner, this cheap and cheerful pool will provide little ones with a whole summer's worth of fun. Made up of three brightly-coloured rings with three separate air valves, it's small enough to blow up yourself without feeling faint and it features a ridged vinyl floor with air pockets, making it comfier to sit in than your average paddling pool. It also comes with a repair patch for any aquatic accidents.

Key specs— Size: 33 x 147 x 147cm; Capacity: 317L; Stated minimum age: 3 years

Buy now from John Lewis

4. Summer Waves White Pool: Best covered paddling pool

Price: £225 | Buy now from Argos

Make the neighbours jealous with this plus-sized pool from Argos. It's pricier than your average paddling pool, but also deep enough to properly splash around in and great for little ones looking to build confidence in the water (under supervision, of course).

There's a bit more to the setup process than blowing air through a valve, but once you've got the steel frame in place, it's pretty easy to assemble. There's a filter and cover included in the price, so you can make it a semi-permanent fixture in the garden for the summer season.

Note that, although it states it can be filled in 30 minutes, you'd be wise to allow yourself an hour or so before planning to take a dip. The filter cable cord is also quite short at 1.5m, so you might want to factor in the price of an extension lead to the total cost.

Key specs— Size: 76 x 305 x 305cm; Capacity: 4,792L; Stated minimum age: 6

Buy now from Argos

5. Intex Dinoland Play Centre: Best paddling pool with a slide

Price: £60 | Buy now from Amazon

Who needs Center Parcs when you can add this fun feature to your back garden? Most kids love anything dinosaur-related and this cool pool goes to town on the dino theme. It features a central slide and a removable arch with an optional water spray (powered by a garden hose). And it comes with dinosaur hoop and ball games that sit on the side of the pool. Oh, and there are a couple of inflatable palm trees thrown in for good measure.

The pool can easily accommodate up to four small children and can be filled with plastic balls to use inside on cloudy days (if your lounge is big enough). Because of its size and bulky shape, you'll struggle to blow air into this one so it's best to use a foot pump or, better still, an electric pump.

Key specs— Size: 112 x 229 x 333cm; Capacity: 280L; Stated minimum age; 3

6. Intex Inflatable Family Lounge Pool: Best paddling pool for chilling

Price: £50 | Buy now from Amazon

If you're a family of sitters rather than splashers, this inflatable lounge pool is just the ticket. Designed for groups of four, it features built-in seats with backrests in each corner of its curvy square design, as well as two drink holders. It's great if you want to cool off and chill out while keeping an eye on your little ones as they kick around in the middle of the pool. It comes with a drainage plug and a repair patch, but you'll need your own pump to inflate it.

Key specs— Size: 66 x 229 x 229cm; Capacity: 990L; Stated minimum age: 3

7. Easipet Foldable Dog Paddling Pool: Best paddling pool for dogs

Price: £30 | Buy now from Amazon

Treat parched pooches to a dip in a pool specifically designed for dogs. Made from PVC, this foldable model is easy to store and assemble and there's no inflating required; just fan it out on a flat surface and you're good to go. There are two different pools available depending on the size of your dog, and there's a handy drainage plug for efficient emptying. The material is designed to withstand scratches so it's a much better option than letting a hot dog loose in an inflatable pool.

Key specs— Size: 20 x 120 x 30cm; Capacity: Not stated; Stated minimum age: n/a

Buy now from Amazon

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