Hot tubs have been a staple of luxury for decades. However, with improvements in material quality, inflatable models started circulating the market substantially lowering the price of this experience. Nowadays, these models tend to bring an almost identical experience compared to fixed hot tubs and are arguably far more practical and convenient. In this guide, we will help you find the best inflatable hot tub that will fit all of your needs and create comfort and relaxation for you and your friends.
Below, we will go through some of the most notable models for this year, review their features, and then talk a little bit more about hot tubs in general. The goal here is to give you a better understanding of the matter so that you can make an educated decision on your own even if you choose a model outside of my recommended ones. Now, let’s jump into this!
Intex PureSpa 28403E Portable Bubble Massage Spa Set
The Intex PureSpa portable hot tubs have always been on top of the market due to their excellent quality. This particular model comes with all the bells and whistles you need from an inflatable hot tub for your yard. First off, it comes with a water softener system that will prevent staining and clogging up of your filters. The softening process also makes the water more gentle to your skin. Furthering the premium theme is the insulated ground cloth which not only makes the hot tub really comfortable for your feet but also provides a great amount of insulation from the colder ground. That adds to efficiency and increases heat-up times. Speaking of heat, this tub goes up to 104 degrees and can fully warm up in less than 12 hours if the ambient temperature is above 50 degrees. The control panel which lets you adjust the temperature and timers is right next to the rub allowing you to easily control all the features at all times.
In terms of water capacity, this tub can fit up to 210 gallons when it is around 80% full. It being round doesn’t really help with the people capacity but it can still easily fit 4 adults. There is also a rectangular version that offers a bit more space than the round one but is still rated best for 4 adults.
This particular package doesn’t come with the Intex hot tub cover which is useful for tree and bird-heavy areas. Still, it comes with a 3-way test strip, 2 filter cartridges, a chlorine dispenser, and a carry bag along with all the other inflation accessories. All that makes a complete package but bumps up the price significantly, making this one of the more expensive models on the market.
- Easily fits 4 adults
- Comes with all the needed accessories
- Has a thick, padded floor
- Easy-to-use control panel
- Comes with a water softener
- 120 water bubble jets
- Very expensive
- Takes quite a lot to fully heat up
- Hardly fits more than 4 people
Bestway Helsinki AirJet Hot Tub
The Bestway Helsinki AirJet Hot Tub is a strong competitor to some hard-wall tubs thanks to its large volume and aesthetic looks. From afar, this tub really seems made out of wood even though it remains an inflatable model. It also has a near 300 gallon water capacity which can fit up to 7 adults.
In terms of the massaging feature, this hot tub uses 83 bubble jets that work with the air pump which is used to inflate the tub itself. They all come from the vertical columns of the tub making a bubble circle at the bottom. The control panel for the air jets and the temperature is located right above the pump. It allows you to control practically everything about the hot tub even its temperature 3 days prior to using it. Another thing the pump does is regulate the filtration system, making the water fresh and allowing for less water drainings and cleanups.
The downside here, logically, is the price. This is one of the most expensive models on this list but it also includes quite a lot of features to make up for it such as the cover, chemconnect dispenser, and the 2 filter cartridges.
- Powerful pump
- Detailed control panel
- Can be set to heat up 3 days prior to using it
- Comes with a cover
- Easy to maintain
- Can fit up to 7 people
- Very expensive
- Takes a lot of time to fill up
Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub Spa
The third brand that dominates this market is Coleman. Their SaluSpa series is one of the best inflatable models you can get for your money. They are very similar in terms of functionality to the other brands since many of them share similar design and parts. Still, the affordability and quality of Coleman makes them them the go-to choice for anyone on a tighter budget.
This particular hot tub can fit up to 6 kids or 5 adults in its 57-inch inner perimeter. It also fits 242 gallons of water to be filled up to 80% which slows things down when it comes to emptying it and filling it back up. That water can be heated up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit in around 12-16 hours and thanks to the detailed control panel you can set that up more than 2 days before using the tub.
The unique thing with Coleman tubs is that they use I-beam construction for their vertical tub sections. That adds to the rigidity without sacrificing too much of the comfort. This model, like all others from this brand, comes with a cover, pump, water softener, chlorine dispenser, and more than 110 bubble jets that work thanks to the air pump.
- 114 Bubble jets around the circumference
- Can fit up to 6 people
- 104 degrees max temperature
- Very rigid and comfortable
- Comes with a cover
- Excellent price-to-value ratio
- Takes a lot of time to fill up
- Can take almost a day to fully heat up, especially on colder days
Bestway Miami 4-Person Hot Tub
The Bestway Miami 4-Person Hot Tub is the budget version of their Helsinki tub. It is very similar in terms of features, size, design, and functionality to some Coleman and Intex models but comes with a slightly cheaper price tag.
Its interior space isn’t great at 52 inches, meaning it can fit up to 4 adults but to be truly comfortable you will have to settle with no more than 3 people. The water capacity here is nearly 180 gallons at 80% of the volume, meaning you will be able to fill it up quicker than other 200+ gallon hot tubs. It also heats up to 104 degrees much faster than others. As a whole, that is the greatest advantage of these smaller hot tubs. They are still great for a few people but are far more economical and practical when it comes to all other features apart from capacity.
As with all other models sharing the same platform, it comes with a detailed control panel, a Beam-construction, a cover, and a few other accessories which will make owning this tub easier. Apart from the faster heat-up times and lower water volume, the main selling point here is that this hot tub comes at almost half the price of other similar models with slightly larger capacity.
- Best price in its class
- Heats and fills up faster than its competitors
- Easier to maintain
- Easy to move around
- Structurally stable
- 60 bubble jets
- Can’t fit 4 people comfortable
- Floor padding isn’t great
Intex PureSpa 28409E 6-person Round Hot Tub
The Intex PureSpa 28409E is almost the same hot tub as the 28403E with a few important differences. First off, this one is far more spacious with a capacity large enough for 6 people. Unfortunately, it uses the same heater which means that there will be a slightly longer waiting time for the water to get up to the desired 104 degrees. The temperature rise of this heater is around 3 degrees per hour, meaning it can take up to a full day to heat up your hot tub depending on the initial water temperature.
In terms of materials and construction, this Intex shares the same puncture-resistant Laminate PVC platform all other models from the brand use. It also has Intex’s patented Fiber-tech beams which add to the overall rigidity without removing too much of the comfort of the sidewall.
The standout feature is the headrests which don’t come with the other cheaper Intex models. You get two here but you can order more individually. This model also comes with LED floor lights which can change their colors to add to the ambiance. As you might’ve guessed by now, the price here will be higher than all other models from the brand.
- Fits up to 6 people
- Premium material quality
- Very durable and comfortable
- Inflates fast
- Easy-to-use control panel
- Comes with multi-colored LED lights
- 170 bubble jets
- Very expensive
- Takes a lot of time to fully heat up
- If you want more than 2 headrests you will have to order them individually
Coleman SaluSpa 4-Person Outdoor Inflatable Hot Tub
Last and maybe least on this list is yet another Coleman SalySpa model which has a few differences from the more expensive models from the SalySpa line of hot tubs.
The first main difference here is the slightly different design and construction with a colored interior and an inwardly curved wall. The Tri-Tech 3-ply walls are not only puncture-resistant but are also fairly comfortable. The flooring is also well-padded. Unfortunately, that is where the good things end for this model. It hardly lives up to the expectations to fit 4 people comfortably. It also takes a lot of time to fill up and heat up. It also has a relatively low number of bubble jets (60).
To make things worse, the price here is far bigger than that of other competitors which can fit more people and take less time to heat up.
- Very durable construction
- Inflates fast
- Easy to maintain
- Comes with all the needed accessories
- Excellent for kids
- Takes a ton of time to heat up even for its smaller size
- Very expensive compared to other bigger models
- Takes a while to fill up
Inflatable Hot Tubs Buyer’s Guide
Nowadays, you don’t necessarily have to be rich to be able to afford to buy and maintain a hot tub. The main reason for that is the ever-increasing number of inflatable models out there which bring a similar amount of comfort and relaxation at a far lower price. There are, however, certain pros and cons to owning an inflatable hot tub. Let’s dive into the different types of hot tubs now and see the different features that you need to look for when buying a new inflatable model…
Types Of Hot Tubs
In general, there are two main types of hot tubs – portable and custom-built ones which are fixed. The main difference is often the size of each type with portable models being able to accommodate up to 8 people, while custom-built models have a much higher capacity based on their design and size.
Portable models can be further divided based on their materials. The cheapest ones are typically made out of vinyl or latex. As you go up the price range, you will find acrylic, fiberglass, and polyethylene ones that are solid and a bit harder to move around but still not permanently fixed to just one spot. The custom-built hot tubs are most commonly found in
Features To Look For
With products like these, it is always best to trust the brands that have been around for quite some time and that have paved the way for commercial spa equipment. Still, if you’re not quite sold on the idea of buying a premium well-known model, there should be a list of things that you look for in a model to ensure that it fits your needs and standards. I’ve come up with this checklist which will allow you to quickly go through a model’s features and easily compare it to its competitors.
- Size & Shape
- Material quality
- Types of Jets
- Additional Features
Let’s go through all of these points now and learn more about the various aspect of an inflatable hot tub…
Size & Shape
The size of the hot tub will be primarily determined by how much space you’ve spared for it. Furthermore, the size will also dictate how many people will be able to fit in safely. If you’re planning on using the hot tub by yourself, you can get a 2-4 person model that will leave you with enough room to move around without feeling too tight. If you have a 4-person family, my advice is to get a 6-person hot tub in order to not feel cramped.
The shape of the hot tub is also important mainly for design and aesthetic reasons. While most hot tubs are round, some are rectangular and elongated. The benefit of rectangular hot tubs is that they offer more legroom but they are typically much larger in terms of water volume and will take less time to heat up.
Hot tub capacity is determined by how much water it can take. Most hot tubs can pack around 170-270 gallons of water. There is a fine line between practicality and room in the hot tub that you have to walk on. If you get too big of a tub, it will take a ton of time to fill up and even more time to heat up properly. If it is too small it will be very economical to run but also not big enough for you to enjoy it. A decent-sized hot tub has a capacity of around 180-220 gallons.
There are not that many material choices when it comes to hot tub constructions. Most inflatable models are made out of a layered vinyl/PVC composite material which is quite durable and, in some cases, puncture-resistant. These can be used in all types of surfaces outdoors. Others, less durable inflatable models are recommended to be used only on smooth surfaces such as wooden/concrete foundations. The more durable inflatable models also have reinforced walls that have added nylon, vinyl, or polyester fibers. They can also have a segmented wall that is made out of smaller inflatable vertical sections. Those will add rigidity and hardness to the walls allowing you to lay on them without changing their shape too much. Some premium models are built with wood and hard composite materials.
Heaters might seem like a hard topic at first but are relatively simple if you look at a few key features only. The most important thing for a heater is to be efficient. It is important to know that there is no heater that can heat up your hot tub in less than an hour. They all take hours, with most models ranging from 10 to 24 hours to fully heat up a hot tub to around 110 degrees. The more time it takes to heat up the more energy-efficient they will be but will also mean that you will have to plan from the previous day for a good well-heated-up hot tub. Some heaters are also equipped with on/off timers and automatic shut-off features.
In terms of the installation, inflatable models are the easiest. They usually don’t require more work than connecting the water jets, heater, and water softener (if present in the package). They also require some time to fully inflate but once you’re done with that, all you will have to do is fill them up and get them to the right temperature. Hard-wall hot tubs require a much longer installation and typically need the company to build them for you in order for the warranty to be valid. Still, if you want something that you can easily set up with your family in a matter of a few hours, look for inflatable models that come with all the needed accessories in the package.
Types of jets
There are two main types of jets – air jets and water jets. In most inflatable models, air jets are much more common. They are cheaper to make and are quite nice to have if you want to take your relaxation to the next level. Air jets use the blower which is used to inflate the hot tub and keep it inflated. That air blower will get pressurized air through a circle at the bottom of your hot tub making small bubbles. While this is great to have, it might be a bit too loud if the blower is loud itself.
Some hard-built hot tubs have water jets, on the other hand. These water jets require solid piping and require on water pressure to be made. That is why you probably will never find them in inflatable models. Whether they are better than air jets is subjective but they are certainly far more expensive to build and maintain. Still, hot tubs that have waterjets also have air jets so they are the inherently superior option.
In terms of additional features, look for things such as water softener systems, LED floor lights, saltwater systems, and even things like kids compartments.
We will talk about the water softening system further down but I wanted to say a few words about the saltwater system here. If you don’t want to add chlorine to your hot tub and have that old pool smell all the time, a saltwater treatment is a great option to have.
One more additional feature that gets severely overlooked is the padded floor. Inflatable models tend to have thin floors and are meant to be placed primarily on smooth surfaces but if you want a hot tub that can go literally anywhere look for a model with a thick, padded floor which will be soft to your feet and won’t allow you to feel the terrain underneath the tub.
Last but definitely not least is the price of the hot tub. If you’re on a fixed budget, always pay attention to the price tag since bigger models can easily go way above your initial budget. If you’re shopping for something affordable, choose one of the premium inflatable models which has a decent heater, can pack up to 6 people, and is covered by a good warranty for the materials, pumps, and other electronics.
Advantages Of Inflatable Hot Tubs
Some of the most notable advantages that these types of hot tubs will bring you and your family are:
- These hot tubs are extremely easy to transport and usually don’t take too much space when they’re deflated
- They bring you all the health benefits of traditional hot tubs
- Most models are equipped with air or water jets just like the models in different spa centers
- They are very affordable
- You can select models which can fit up to 6 or 8 people
- Installation isn’t hard and inflation doesn’t take a lot of time in general
- Can be used for cold-water submersion if you don’t have a pool
If you’re wondering whether to take a hot or a cold shower before the hot tub, check out my article where I’ve gone in-depth into that topic. Now, let’s go through some of my tips that will ensure your safety while you’re in the hot tub.
Tips for a safe hot tub dip
There are a number of things you can do to ensure the safest and smoothest hot tub experience for you and your friends. The very first thing that you should do is plan ahead. Despite progress in recent years, some models can still take up to 24 hours to become fully operational. It is almost impossible for new models to heat up the water up to the desired temperature quickly.
Another important thing you should keep in mind is dehydration. When we’re submerged in hot water, despite being very wet, we lose a lot of water. It doesn’t always feel like it and because of that people often don’t understand why they’re dehydrated after a hot shower, sauna, or hot tub session. Drinking a glass or two of water before entering the hot tub is a good way to keep things in check.
Hot tubs can reach temperatures that won’t be safe for pregnant women. This is why you shouldn’t heat up your water more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit (or more than 37 degrees Celcius). A prolonged stay in water hotter than that can lead to heat strokes. On that note, make sure you also keep hot tub access restricted to small children and/or infants.
Hot tubs and hot conditions, in general, are also prohibited for people with circulatory and blood-pressure conditions. People with heart conditions and diabetes should also avoid continuous usage.
Lastly, avoid taking any medication that might make you sleepy or drowsy. That includes sleep medication, anti-histamines, and most importantly – alcohol. While a glass of wine in the hot tub makes for a cool movie scene, it is never a good idea in real life.
First-time hot tub owners tips
When you get a hot tub, there are a few things that you should know straight from the get-go. These things range from maintenance tips to things that will make your stay in the tub way more enjoyable. They are:
- Consider getting a water softener. While most premium models will come with a pre-built water softener, some won’t. Soft water will make it easier for your filters, as they won’t get clogged up with calcium so easily. Soft water is also easier on the hot tub materials as it won’t leave marks and degrade the quality over time. If you get a bigger water softener for your house, in general, you can use it for other tasks such as cleaning your car, since it will prevent water spots on it as well.
- Never leave your tub full of water. Water quality easily worsens over time, especially when left out in the open. If you go into the hot tub on a regular basis, you can leave the same water a few times, but consider changing it at least once per week if you’re using it every day. If you’re using it once a week, changing it every month is good enough. Another aspect you should consider when it comes to changing the water is the environmental one. A regular hot tub holds a lot of water and changing it more frequently that its needed is a huge waste of freshwater.
- Always clean it after draining it. The best time to clean the hot tub is right after you drain it. The remaining water will act as a foaming agent for the detergent/soap you clean it with. There are a lot of special products for that purpose but I suggest a regular pH soap which does an okay job too. Make sure you rise the hot tub well after you’ve done cleaning it to prevent slippery surfaces.
- Filter maintenance is a must. One more thing that you should put on your regular-maintenance checklist is the filter change and/or cleaning. Filters need different maintenance depending on their type and more importantly depending on their manufacturer specifications.
- Know when to cover your hot tub. Depending on the season, you might want to keep your hot tub covered all the time. Fall is the season that pretty much dictates a 24/7 hot tub cover since there will be plenty of leaves wanting to dip in. If you have a lot of birds in your region you can keep the cover on at all times to avoid bird droppings.
- Take a shower before going in. If you want to change your water less frequently, one of the best things that you can be doing is taking a short shower before going in. Make sure you wash any shampoo or soap you use so you don’t get that into the tub.
If you want to read more on the various benefits hot tubs give to you, head over to my fully detailed article on that topic!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can inflatable hot tubs be used in the winter?
Even though most models have the lowest possible temperature rating of around 40 degrees (Fahrenheit), there are still some inflatable models that can easily be used in much colder temperatures assuming you set them up properly and ensure that there are no piping elements which can freeze and burst.
What should I put under my inflatable hot tub?
There are a few good alternatives for hot tub pads. The best one, of course, is solid concrete. Concrete is thermally stable and won’t be bothered too much by the wight nor by the temperature of the hot tub. Grass is also fine assuming you’re going to remove the inflatable tub after you’re done using it. Some people have crushed gravel and/or stones in their backyard which are also a suitable option for a hot tub but make sure you still put something below the tub as you might feel the rocks through the floor. Lastly, there are synthetic hot tub pads made for this specific purpose.
Are inflatable hot tubs noisy?
Depending on your air pumping device, heater, and water filtration system, inflatable hot tubs can vary in their noise ratings. Typically, noise levels range from 40 to 75 decibels which is easily manageable.
How often should you change the water in your hot tub?
As a rule of thumb, you should try to change the hot tub’s water ever 5 weeks but that period can be greatly shortened if you use the tub regularly (more than twice a week, for example).
Finding the best inflatable hot tub for you and your family might be a challenging task due to the fact that you will have to take a lot of things into consideration. Everything from the size, the capacity, heater type, and water jets matters to the overall hot tub experience and the hot tub’s performance as a whole. Sticking to well-known brands will always be a safe bet but they typically cost quite a lot more than some other models which are a good compromise if you’re on a tight budget.