Looking to pick up a new above ground swimming pool? Here is your ultimate buyer’s guide to the best above ground swim pools.
One of the best ways to beat the heat and crank up the summer fun is with a backyard pool.
But for those of us who don’t want to spend the cash on putting in an in-ground swimming pool, an above ground swim pool provides an affordable option that doesn’t sacrifice on the fun.
Above ground swim pools are generally very easy to set-up and require significantly less maintenance (and associated costs!) than their in-ground cousins.
🥇 Want to skip right to our #1 pick? The Intex XTR Above Ground Pool is our champ, with sturdy construction, quick set-up, and included pool pump and pool cover. Click here to shop them at Amazon.
These types of pools come in a wide range of sizes and shapes, from smaller tot-friendly family pools to larger party-ready pools.
Choosing the right pool for your backyard and budget
When it comes to choosing the right above ground pool for you, there are plenty of things to consider:
🗝️ Shape. Pools come in a wide variety of shapes, lengths, and styles. The most popular are rectangular, oval and circle-shaped. Above ground pools can be as small as six-feet in length and as long as 30ft and longer.
🗝️ Construction. Pools need to be able to withstand the elements and heavy-duty use. And not just the elements–they need to be able to handle constant exposure to pool chemicals. Look for pools built with PVC and alloy steel, which resist corrosion.
🗝️ Water depth. When it comes to younger swimmers, pool depth is an important consideration. Most above ground pools are in the 2-3ft of depth ballpark.
🗝️ Maintenance and cleaning. Regular maintenance and cleaning of your above-ground pool keeps it clean and ready for fun all summer. Some above ground pools include a filter and cover to help you stay on top of regular maintenance, while others require you to invest in these items separately.
🗝️ Duration of installation. Is the pool going to be there for the long term, for the summer, or for the weekend? Above ground pools have never been easier to install and set-up, but installation differs by brand.
🗝️ Cost. Of course, the cost is another major consideration. While in-ground pools are expensive to buy and maintain, above ground swimming pools are actually extremely reasonable, ranging from $150 to $3,000 for the biggest ones on the market.
Okay, that’s a decent little list.
Now that we know what to look for, let’s take a deeper look at the best above ground swimming pools on the market.
Let’s dive right in!
Intex Ultra XTR Above Ground Pools
🏆 The Intex XTR is a top-of-the-line above ground pool that combines extensive size options, a reasonable price tag, and sturdy construction.
Intex is one of the leading makers of backyard pools and pool equipment.
The Intex Ultra XTR line of pools checks all of the boxes when it comes to an awesome above ground swimming pool.
Let’s start with how well built these things are.
The frame is built with galvanized and powder-coated steel that won’t rust and corrode when exposed to water and the elements. A patented locking system gives the frame a sturdiness that you don’t see often with pop-up pools.
Intex ships these bad boys with most of the accessories you will need to keep the water comfortable and clean, including a 120v sand filter pump, a pool ladder specifically designed for above ground pools, a cloth to lay on the grass under your pool, and a cover to keep the water warm overnight and keep debris from falling into the pool.
The number of size and shape options with the Intex XTR is almost as high as the amount of fun you will have in this thing.
The XTR comes in round and rectangular shapes (one of the rectangular models has a saltwater option, too) and in a variety of sizes, from 18 feet in diameter to a 32-foot long rectangular above ground pool.
Intex is the biggest name in the above ground pool biz, and the XTR is their best pool and my top recommendation for an easy-to-install and durable pool that you can set up in less than an hour.
Perhaps most importantly, these pools won’t break the bank, with a 16ft round pool retailing for less than $800 (check Amazon for current pricing and availability).
🔑 Key wins: Affordable, variety of size and shape options, comes with lots of accessories for maintaining the pool. Includes ladder and pool cover.
Summer Waves Elite Above Ground Swimming Pool
Ready to get your splash on with a sturdy and long-lasting pool that can withstand the elements? The Summer Waves Elite Above Ground Pool Set has a water capacity of 5,200 gallons and comes with a SkimmerPlus 110/120v filter pump to keep that water clean and sparkling all summer long.
The frame of the metal and can be assembled in around 45 minutes. The Summer Waves Elite comes with all the regular TLC accessories you will need to set-up and protect your new pool, including a cloth to put on the ground underneath your pool, a pool ladder, pool cover, and a maintenance kit to keep your pool running smoothly.
Bestway Steel Pro MAX Above Ground Swimming Pool
The Bestway Steel Pro MAX is a feature-rich pool that is easy on the wallet.
Framed with heavy-duty PVC piping, the pool frame is painted with a rust and corrosion-resistant layer for maximum durability. The liner of the pool is a tough 3-layer fabric, and a supportive band wraps all the way around the pool and the frame for added stiffness and durability.
Bestway pool liners are made of DuraPlus, which is a combination of heavy-duty PVC blended with a polyester inner mesh that provides an ideal balance of flex and rigidity. In other words, the Bestway pool isn’t going to fold like wet cardboard at the end of a long day splashing around.
The Bestway Steel Pro above ground swim pool is easy to assemble (no tools required), and comes with a flow-controlled valve that helps regulate water levels. Note: pool filter not included. Even though these pools are called “Pro MAX,” they aren’t exorbitant in price, with the 12-foot model retailing for about $150 (check Amazon for up-to-date pricing and stock).
Intex Small Family Above Ground Swim Pool
Another choice selection from the Intex line of pools is their rectangular swim pool that is primarily designed for small families. This line of pools features a range of sizes, from 8.6′ to 14.9′ long, making it perfect for splashing around with small children.
[If you are looking specifically for an above ground pool that is rectangular, check out this detailed guide that covers the best rectangular above ground pools.]
The frame is steel but painted with a rust-resistant layer to reduce corrosion from the sun and general use. The pool can be quickly filled and drained via a garden hose and a drain plug, which is handy when you need to drain the pool water away from the house or sensitive yard space. Assembly is also a breeze, with unpacking to full assembly taking about thirty minutes.
One of the main concerns that come with these kinds of pools is protecting against punctures, whether it’s the puppy jumping up on the side of the pool or making big waves in a small pool. The Intex Small Family Frame Pools are made with a three-layer polyvinyl that is specifically designed to ward off punctures and splits.
These pools are extremely affordable, costing less than $200, making them a perfect addition to the backyard for those hot days to cool off (check Amazon for current pricing and availability).
Gladle Freedom Series Inflatable Backyard Pool
For those of you looking for a more temporary above ground pool, the Gladle Freedom Series Inflatable Backyard Pool gives you the best of both worlds–you get the splash and cooling off of a pool without the long or even miedium-term fixture in your backyard.
- See also: 7 Best Inflatable Pools for Adults
Large enough that it can fit up to 4 adults and a couple of kids, the Gladle Inflatable Pool is 118″ long, 73″ wide, and 20″ high. Made with non-toxic PVC, the highly durable material is long-lasting and thick.
The pool’s “frame” is made of three separate air chambers that help you quickly find any future leaks. The way the PVC surface of the pool is cut also reduces rags along the seams. The pool comes with two repair patches.
Homech Inflatable Swimming Pool
Another awesome choice for a killer inflatable backyard pool is the Homech Inflatable Swim Pool. It is slightly larger than the Gladle Freedom Series pool, and is built with soft and durable napthalene and BPA-free materials.
The pool can take on a couple of adults and three to five children, it is inflated in a couple of minutes (pump not included, unfortunately), and the three separate air chambers with double intake valves keep the pool rigid and inflated during all of your summertime activities.
The Homech Pool is also extremely well rated on Amazon, with a 4.5/5 average rating from well over 5,000 reviewers.
How to Care for Your Above Ground Swimming Pool
We have put together a few guides and buyer’s recommendations for products and tips to maximize the life of your above ground pool.
Here are a few more resources for you.
6 Best Winter Pool Covers for Protecting Your Pool. Winterize your pool and protect your investment, whether you have an in-ground pool or an above-ground pool, with our selection of the best winter pool covers.
5 Best Heaters for Your Above Ground Swim Pool. Being comfortable in the water means properly heating it. Here are some of the best-reviewed and rated heaters for keeping your above ground swim pool ready to go.
7 Best Accessories for Above-Ground Swimming Pools. Outfit your backyard swimming pool with some of our favorite toys, games, floaties, and entertainment options made specifically for aquatic fun.
6 Best Variable Speed Pumps for Swim Pools. Tired of big electricity bills for your swim pool? Replace your standard pool pump with one of our favorite cost-saving variable speed pumps.
6 Best Pool Skimmers for Above Ground Swimming Pools. Keep your above ground pool crystal-clean and sparkling with our hand-picked selection of the best automatic and manual pool skimmers.