Inflatable Hot Tubs Review
Why Buy an Inflatable Hot Tub?
There’s nothing like the comfort of soaking in a hot tub, and inflatable hot tubs put that experience into a versatile, portable package that can go in your backyard or basement, and even come along on vacation. Whether it’s a cozy two-person spa just for you and that special someone, or a six-person hot tub for an epic tailgate party, the best inflatable hot tub is the one that fits your budget, meets your needs, and holds up through repeated use.
Three top models are the Intex PureSpa 77 Jet Massage Spa, the Coleman Lay-Z-Spa and the MSpa Super Camaro. All three are popular thanks to a blend of affordable pricing and high-quality construction, but there are several brands and styles of portable hot tubs available, so you can easily find the best inflatable spa for you.
Inflatable Hot Tubs: What to Look For
The design of an inflatable hot tub is simple. It consists of an inflatable tub made of PVC or vinyl, as well as an external combination pump and heater unit that controls both water temperature and jets. Inflatable hot tubs can generally be set up in 15 or 20 minutes and filled from a garden hose. Most of them can heat water up to comfortably hot temperatures overnight. Even though the basics are the same across the several models listed here, there are some key factors to consider in your buying decision.
Layered vinyl or PVC is standard for inflatable hot tubs, but many models reinforce the walls of the tub with fabrics like polyester or nylon. This is usually indicated with a proprietary name; Intex calls its unique blend of materials Fiber-Tech, while Coleman uses the name Tri Tech 3 Layer Material for its mix of polyester mesh and layered PVC.
The design and structure of the tub is just as important as the materials used to make it. Many manufacturers use a segmented inflatable design, reinforced with a vertical I-beam structure inside. These internal vinyl panels make for a sturdier tub, one that can support users leaning against it or even sitting directly on the outer wall of the spa. More premium portable hot tubs add another level of stability and protection with interlocking panels that surround the inflatable tub. Made of waterproof composite materials, these panels provide a rigid wall that protects and insulates the hot tub.
All inflatable spas include a locking top cover for safety reasons. Some, however, also use the cover to insulate the tub when it's not in use and speed the heating process. Some models include inflatable covers that fit into the top of the tub like a stopper in a bottle, while others use insulating materials like foam or foil lining to keep the heat inside. Regardless of insulation style, you’ll want a cover that’s more than a fitted piece of fabric.
There are all sorts of accessories available for maintaining your portable spa and enhancing the experience, from chemical dispensers to inflatable seat cushions. Any hot tub you consider should include the basic filter cartridges necessary for use, if not an extra filter or two. If you plan to leave the tub filled for days or weeks at a time, you’ll also want one that includes chemicals like chlorine or bromine, along with the necessary dispenser and test strips to monitor the pH levels of the water. Other accessories manufacturers offer with inflatable hot tubs include a ground mat to protect the bottom of the tub, built-in water softening, and built-in or attachable seat cushions and cup holders.
Inflatable hot tubs are built to be portable and inexpensive, not necessarily to be durable. As such, many manufacturers cover the pump and heater with a 12-month warranty, but only cover the tub pool with a 30- to 90-day warranty. Look for a tub that has a longer warranty period on the tub pool and has clear means of reaching customer service representatives.
With proper care and maintenance, an inflatable hot tub can last for months or even years. An inflatable spa is also much more affordable than a traditional in-ground hot tub or aboveground spa. Inflatable models cost thousands of dollars less while still giving you all the bubbles, jets and warmth you want.