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9 Best Above-Ground Swimming Pools for Cooling Off This Summer

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above ground pool

Staff, Courtesy of Bestway

While we may have a few more weeks or months of cold weather to look forward to, that doesn’t mean it’s too soon to start thinking about how to make the most of your backyard this summer. Along with an attractive new outdoor sectional for the patio, a cantilever umbrella to add shade, and a fire pit for warmth, one of the best upgrades to make is adding an above-ground pool. It keeps the kids occupied for hours and can be a great way for adults to get some exercise, too.

Whether you want an inflatable pool that sets up in minutes or are ready to make a commitment to something more permanent with a steel frame, here are our top recommendations for the best above-ground swimming pools to buy now.



  • Best Overall

    Steel Pro Max Above-Ground Pool
    Bestway

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  • Great for Families With Older Kids

    Mid-Size Easy Set Pool (15 x 4 Feet)
    Intex

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  • Best for Swimming Laps

    Ultra-Frame Rectangular Pool
    Intex

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  • Best Large Round

    Ultra XTR Pool Set with Sand Filter Pump
    Intex

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What to Consider

After deciding how many square feet you have to accommodate a pool, it’s crucial to be honest with yourself and assess the amount of time you’re willing to put into maintaining it. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that all above-ground pools are a cinch to take care of in comparison to an in-ground pool. Sure, even large inflatable pools may take under an hour to set up, and filling them is often no more complicated than attaching a garden hose. But other types of above-ground pools, including those with steel walls and frames, require more pre-planning and upkeep.

Regardless, all need to be installed on level ground, which can mean extra time and money put into readying your property. That may be worth it for those in the market for a metal-frame pool, though perhaps less so for inflatable pool buyers. Also, note that a pool’s capacity (in gallons) is typically at 80 to 90 percent full.

How We Selected

We looked at inflatable and semi-permanent above-ground pools of every type and size. Quality of materials, ease of setup, and added features were top considerations, and our selection covers a range of options that work with a variety of outdoor setups. Some pools come with filter pumps, covers, ground cloths, ladders, and even cup holders to attach to the rim, but others don’t throw in any extras. We took those features (or lack thereof) into account and weighed them against price to highlight pools that offer the best value, narrowing our list further by only considering models with an average customer rating of four stars or more.

Best Overall

Steel Pro Max Above-Ground Pool

Key Specs

  • Diameter: 14-foot diameter
  • Wall Height: 2.75 feet
  • Capacity: 2,700 gallons
  • Pump: Yes; comes with filter cartridge

It’s tough to beat a high-quality 14-foot-wide above-ground pool for this price. Bestway’s Steel Pro Max is large enough to accommodate at least six adults and comes with everything you need for a fast setup. It has a corrosion-resistant steel frame and a reinforced three-ply liner to prevent punctures.

The set comes with a filter pump and cartridge, plus filling and draining it is a snap, thanks to a built-in valve that connects to a garden hose.

Great for Families With Older Kids

Mid-Size Easy Set Pool (15 x 4 Feet)

Key Specs

  • Size: 15-foot diameter
  • Wall Height: 4 feet
  • Capacity: 3,736 gallons
  • Pump: Yes; comes with filter cartridge

It takes a mere 15 minutes to set up this medium-size, 4-foot-deep swimming pool. Simply spread it out on a level patch of grass, inflate it via the top ring, and attach a garden hose to the drain plug to fill it up. The sidewalls are made from laminated PVC, and the pool set includes a cartridge filter pump, ground cloth, ladder, and pool cover.

This pool is also designed with safety in mind, thanks to its removable ladder and its automatic pump shutoff, which activates if the water comes in contact with the electrical current.

Best for Swimming Laps

Ultra-Frame Rectangular Pool

Key Specs

  • Size (L x W x H): 32 x 16 x 4.3 feet
  • Wall Height: 4.3 feet
  • Capacity: 14,364 gallons

  • Pump: Yes; comes with sand filter pump and saltwater system

Anyone who enjoys swimming laps or playing a few rounds of water volleyball is sure to love this expansive pool, which gets high marks from customers. It’s a whopping 32 feet long and has a galvanized steel frame, is powder-coated inside and out to prevent rust, plus it comes with a sand pump and saltwater system.

There’s also a pool cover with rope ties to secure it, a ground cloth, and a removable ladder. It’s said to be ready for water in 90 minutes, though several reviews say setup takes quite a bit longer.

Best Value

Metal Frame Pool

Key Specs

  • Size: 10-foot diameter
  • Wall Height: 2.5 feet
  • Capacity: 1,185 gallons
  • Pump: No

This Intex metal-frame pool is large enough for several swimmers to wade around. It’s 10 feet wide, constructed of aluminum and steel, and relatively easy to assemble. It’s also easy to maintain and comes with a 10-inch overhang and nylon rope ties to prevent any debris from falling in. Because of its sturdy build, this pool should last longer than inflatable options.

Best Large Round

Ultra XTR Pool Set with Sand Filter Pump

Key Specs

  • Size: 24 x 4.3 feet
  • Wall Height: 4.3 feet
  • Capacity: 12,481 gallons
  • Pump: Yes; comes with filter cartridge

This sharp-looking, expansive pool from Intex is large enough for several swimmers to stretch out on rafts. It’s constructed of galvanized steel and powder-coated inside and out to prevent rust, there’s a three-ply liner, plus it comes with a sand filter pump. Also included is a durable ground cloth, a pool cover with rope ties to secure it, and a removable pool ladder.

Setup is said to take about an hour (though some reviewers say it’s much longer), and it’s easy to maintain, with routine backwashing needed only every five years.

Most Traditional

Meadows Reprieve Above-Ground Pool

Key Specs

  • Size: 27-foot diameter
  • Wall Height: 4.3 feet
  • Capacity: 10,000 to 12,000 gallons
  • Pump: No

This solidly constructed pool has galvanized steel walls that are coated with resin to prevent rust and provide extra durability. The pool’s liner, with a bedrock pattern on the bottom and brilliant blue wave print running up the side walls, is hand-cut to keep it from wrinkling.

Before installing, set the liner in the sun for an hour so the vinyl will stretch to cover the pool’s floor and walls. Interlocking rails and strips will keep it from shifting. The dove gray outer walls are neutral enough to blend into your backyard.

However, there’s no filter pump included, which is a drawback for a pool at this price point.

Best for Small Backyards

Plastic Frame Set Pool

Key Specs

  • Size: 12-foot diameter
  • Wall Height: 2.75 feet
  • Capacity: 1,600 gallons
  • Pump: Yes

If you have a tiny backyard and are looking for something more substantial than an inflatable model, this above-ground pool is an excellent choice. It doesn’t come with a lot of bells and whistles, but that’s reflected in the price. It’s perfect for a dip with a few friends on a scorching day and it’s a cinch to set up.

The pool is made of plastic and has a galvanized metal frame to keep it sturdy. It includes a filter pump and can be filled with up to 1,600 gallons of water. The pool can accommodate several adults and requires just 144 square feet of space.

Great for Families With Little Kids

Small Easy Set Pool (12 x 2.5 Feet)

Key Specs

  • Size: 12-foot diameter
  • Wall Height: 2.5 feet
  • Capacity: 1,485 gallons
  • Pump: No

Parents with young children will appreciate having a kiddie pool that’s also comfortable for adults. This Intex pool is a superb value for what you get—especially if you’re planning to use it often this summer.

It’s made from PVC, with walls built to withstand little feet kicking the sides. Like other top-ring pools, you have to spread it out to inflate it and attach a garden hose to fill it up.

The only drawback is that it doesn’t come with a filter pump, but its price is low enough that even buying one separately won’t break the bank.

Best Portable

Foldable Portable Kiddie Pool

Key Specs

  • Size: 5.2-foot diameter
  • Wall Height: 1 foot
  • Capacity: Not listed
  • Pump: No

This collapsible pool folds up into a rectangle no bigger than a lunch bag cooler for ultimate portability and easy storage. It doesn’t inflate, but the walls are reinforced with fiberboard to keep it sturdy and prevent tipping.

Plus, there’s a no-slip bottom so kids can enjoy splashing around safely. It’s made from PVC, and there’s a built-in drain plug to attach to a garden hose, allowing you to fill it up within minutes.

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