Last Updated: July 24, 2020
What’s better than a hot tub? How about a hot tub that can be taken with you on the go? Inflatable hot tubs have all the comfort of a traditional spa (when they are done right), in a package that can fit in the back seat of your car.
That said, there is a lot that goes into making an inflatable hot tub a success, and many products are destined to fall short of what you expect. How can you avoid buying a dud? Well, articles like this one are a good place to start.
We’ve been lucky enough to test dozens of different inflatable tubs, always with the intention of helping you find something worthy of your backyard. All of our testing and experimentation has been distilled into the six reviews found below.
A Quick Glance at our Favorites:
The 6 Best Inflatable Hot Tubs:
1. Intex 77in PureSpa Portable Bubble Massage Spa Set – Best Overall
The Intex is 77 inches in diameter and designed to comfortably fit 4 people. The unit features an easy to maintain filter cartridge system that can be changed out pretty much effortlessly in a matter of minutes.
The filter is qualified to treat hard water buildup, which can be fatal to pool equipment.
The tub holds 210 gallons of water, and the water temperature can be adjusted pretty broadly at a range of between 64-104 degrees. The package comes with just about everything you could need, including a 3-way test strip, 2 filter cartridges, a floating pool chlorine dispenser, an inflation hose, and a carrying bag.
The massage experience is also quite robust, with 120 jets ensuring that you and your guests are well accommodated.
The unit inflates in 20 minutes but can take several hours to adequately heat up. Users also note that in cold weather, the heating system is virtually ineffective.
2. Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub Spa – Best Value
The Coleman is going to be a good option for buyers on a budget. Indeed, it has even earned the distinction of being our best inflatable hot tub for the money. It features a highly effective timer that can regulate the temperature of your spa over 72 hours, giving you lots and lots of automated control over your tub.
The siding material has been constructed of a durable PVC that is optimized for resisting leaks, scratches, and tears. It’s also relatively easy to move around. While some tubs can weigh nearly 100 pounds, this one comes in at a little over 80. Handles further increase your ability to transport it.
The water reservoir has a 250-gallon capacity and temperatures max out at 104 degrees. Unfortunately, it does tend to struggle in the cold. However, in ideal weather conditions, you shouldn’t have any trouble.
3. SaluSpa Hawaii Air Jet Hot Tub
The SaluSpa keeps things on the simpler side. Nevertheless, there is still plenty to appreciate: 114 air jets for a robust relaxation experience. A digital control panel that makes it easy to adjust your water temperature all the way up to 104 degrees. And, a timer that allows you to control the settings over a 72 hour period.
Siding is constructed of what the manufacturer calls three-ply Tritechnology. The material is durable enough to stand up to regular wear and tear and should ensure that you’re using your hot tub for many seasons to come.
Capacity is listed as seating four, but the reality is that you will be very cramped. It will be much more comfortable if you host 2-3 people. Some have also reported that the bottom is very uncomfortable to sit on.
4. Goplus 4-6 Person Portable Outdoor Spa
The Goplus features a removable filter cartridge system that is easy to maintain. The tub size is best suited to accommodate 4 people or less, but capacity can be stretched to 6 if needed. It also benefits from a rapid heating mode that reduces the amount of time it takes to heat your tub up.
Granted, it is difficult to give a direct estimate as to how long it will take to get the water hot—this factor depends on the temperature outside, the temperature you are trying to set your tub too, and the temperature of the water you are using. Still, the general consensus is that the Goplus is quicker than many competing units.
The siding is constructed of a durable PVC, and the water capacity is approximately 238-gallons. It also benefits from 130 different jets that do well to massage your skin, and an easy to use digital control panel that makes adjusting the settings quick and straightforward.
Some people have reported glitches with the filter. A few reports even indicated that the water turned a swampish brown. However, this seems to be rare and should not be a problem for most buyers.
5. GYMAX Outdoor Spa, 6 Person Portable Inflatable Hot Tub
The Gymax Outdoor Spa has been rated to seat 6 people. It benefits from a stylish, textured design, and utilizes a hard water treatment approach that prevents clogs and other issues from occurring within the jets and filters of the spa.
The Gymax also features a relatively light weight of just 55 pounds, making it quite easy to transport, and it can heat the water of your tub at a rate of roughly 3 degrees an hour. While this sounds slow, it may mean that you meet the maximum 104-degree threshold in a matter of hours on a very hot day.
Unfortunately, many users do report leaks within the tub. The unit features a plug on the bottom that is designed to make it drain quickly. While it does accomplish this, the plug is also a point of vulnerability, from which a good deal of water may escape.
The heating mechanism also really struggles on cold days, which may be something to think about depending on the climate of your region.
6. ALEKO HTIO2BKW Oval Inflatable Hot Tub Spa
The Aleko is designed specifically with portability in mind. Sized to fit just 2 people, this unit features a 145-gallon capacity, making it the smallest option on our list. And, with a bodyweight of 60 pounds, it is quite light. The heating mechanism benefits from 1,500-watts of power and maxes out at 108 degrees—slightly higher than the typical 104-degree threshold most spas feature.
Unfortunately, though, there are some cons to be wary of as well. For one thing, this unit is roughly the size of a bathtub, which means it may be very hard to share with another person. The support walls also tend to sag, spilling water everywhere.
Finally, the integrity of the walling materials is a little lacking. Many buyers report leaks and tears.
And now, let’s take a look at some handy buying considerations that will make it a little bit easier to choose between the six awesome tubs on this list.
The vast majority of inflatable spas do not feature seats. While you will occasionally find units that have built-in benches, padded bottom material is a much more common occurrence.
You can find benches if you really want to, but your time may be better served looking for a more standard padded unit that is comfortable to use. In doing so, you open yourself up to a much wider range of high-quality products.
Pretty much every inflatable hot tub uses a cartridge style filtration system. These are great for a number of reasons. For one thing, they are relatively affordable. For another, they can be changed out in a number of minutes.
That said, you may want to factor for the price of replacement cartridges as you budget for this purchase. It’s a little like buying a printer: the startup cost isn’t always so bad, but replacement parts can wind up costing you a lot down the road.
Calcium deposits are what make water “hard.” While not a big deal in small doses, hard water can, over time, damage the filter and jet systems of your spa. With enough exposure, your hot tub may wind up clogged or even broken.
Consequently, some units feature hard water filtration methods that collect deposits and keep everything copacetic.
Some people like to use saltwater on their aquatic recreational equipment. It’s actually not a bad idea. Saltwater is resistant to bacteria, and it also tends to be safer on your skin than chlorine and other heavy pool chemicals.
However, some spas seem to really struggle to accommodate saltwater. It can even damage filters and cause leaks in certain situations. Make sure that the unit you consider is compatible with the type of materials you intend to work with.
Some spas will state that they can’t really work in certain weather. For example, you might find that a hot tub is virtually useless if the thermometer dips below 70 degrees. While this won’t be a huge deal everywhere, people living in a mild climate will want to account for this before they make a buying decision.
The control interface can also have a big impact on your overall user experience. Digital systems tend to be very easy and responsive. However, you may find that older or more budget-minded options still use an analog dial.
Both options are fine in the long run, but digital does tend to be a little bit easier to use.
You will need to move your spa around from time to time. When these situations do come up, you will benefit immensely from handles. Not every spa has them, but they are a simple feature that can save you a big headache in the long run.
The weight doesn’t always have to play into your buying decision. However, if you intend to take your hot tub on the road with you (some even like to use them for camping), you will want to invest in something with a modest body weight.
The average tub tends to weigh somewhere in the 100-pound range before being filled with water (afterward, it may weigh several thousand pounds). However, if you are in a situation where you need your pool to be lightweight, you can find options available that are 50 pounds or less.
A reduced weight will go a long way towards ensuring that you have an easier time moving it.
Inflatable hot tubs are often a good deal shallower than buyers anticipate. This is born mostly of necessity. These units are designed with portability and storage in mind, which puts a big premium on maintaining compact dimensions.
However, this isn’t to say that you can’t fund deeper units if that is a priority of yours. Otherwise, get used to the idea that, though awesome, the inflatable hot tubs you come across won’t be identical to the one at your favorite resort.
Number of Bathers
Also, pay close attention to the number of bathers a spa can hold. For this consideration, it is important to keep in mind how the manufacturers view things. Most companies like to buff up the maximum bather numbers to make their product a little bit more appealing. Consequently, they will list how many people can fit, but not necessarily how many can fit comfortably.
In other words, if you see a bathing capacity of six, the real number may be closer to four. Looking at the dimensions may give you a better idea of how many people can fit in the spa.
How long does your spa take to inflate? This consideration may matter to some more than it does others. For example, if the spa is destined to stay in your backyard, it doesn’t really matter how long it takes to inflate. With foresight, you will typically be able to have it ready when you need it.
However, if you’re hoping to take this product out camping, you will probably want something that can be up and running quickly. Some can be ready in as little as 20 minutes, while others are much slower.
How many gallons an inflatable tub can hold is often advertised front and center on the packaging. Higher gallon capacities are often thought to be better, and while there is a little bit of truth to this, it ultimately is not the biggest buying consideration.
The dimensions of the tub are a much better indicator of how spacious it is. The gallon capacity might better indicate the depth of the tub—also important, but not paramount in determining how many people can use it at once.
Also, factor for how long the hot tub takes to heat up. The inflation rate doesn’t matter so much if you are sitting in a lukewarm tub of stagnant water, so make sure the product you go with can heat up quickly. Some manufactures may actually make a point of writing out how quickly their units heat up.
For example, some you may see that a spa has a heat-up time of three degrees per hour. This may not sound like much, but on a 90-degree day, it means your tub will be ready to go in no time.
Consequently, cold weather can also have a big impact on how quickly your tub heats. Some struggle to heat up at all in the cold.
Most units allow you to select from a wide range of temperatures. They usually top out at around 104, but some units can go higher. Meanwhile, lows are often approximately 60 degrees. The bigger the range, the better suited your spa will be for accommodating your entire family.
You really need a good warranty for your inflatable hot tub. Between the filter, the heating element, and the tub itself, there are way too many things that could go wrong. A good warranty will keep you covered in the event that one of these sensitive parts goes bad. Great warranties may last for three years, or even longer.
Most hot tubs feature PVC siding—a durable material that should do well to stand up against the wear and tear of typical use. However, you should always take a look at the type of siding material you are dealing with before finalizing your buying decision.
Inferior parts can lead to the premature retirement of your backyard oasis, so buy for quality.
Inflatable hot tubs are typically fairly pricey. While they are often a fourth the price of a traditional tub, a decent unit will set you back several hundred dollars at the very least. To ensure that you are getting a high-quality product that will go the distance, try budgeting for around $500.
For this amount of money, you will be able to buy many of the best options on the market. Granted, you can still find a good tub while spending less, but this figure pretty much guarantees that you will be dealing only with reliable tubs.
Did our inflatable hot tub reviews help you pick a winner? Selecting between six really good products can be pretty tricky, but there are a couple of quick pick options available that may help make your decision easier.
Do you tend to look for quality, even if it winds up costing you a little bit of money to get it? If that describes your approach to shopping, you’ll probably want to go with our top choice, the Intex 77-inch PureSpa Portable Bubble Massage Spa Set.
However, if you need to get something that is a little bit more affordable, you may still find plenty to like in our runner up choice, the Coleman SaluSpa Inflatable Hot Tub Spa.
At the end of the day, all six of the hot tubs are pretty great at what they do, so buy confidently, knowing that you’ll wind up with something you love.
Table of Contents
- A Quick Glance at our Favorites:
- The 6 Best Inflatable Hot Tubs:
- Buyer’s Guide