Best Above-Ground Pools - Backyard Boss
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Best Above-Ground Pools

There are few ways to cool off at home during the hot summer months that are more enjoyable than jumping in the pool. Unfortunately, not everyone has space or the budget to install an inground pool in their backyard. Above-ground pools are a budget-friendly alternative that can be set up and put away as needed, without digging up your yard or committing to a permanent solution.

Whether you’re looking for a large pool to accommodate you and your friends for a weekly pool party, or a smaller option to cool off the kids and keep them entertained, there are a wide variety of above-ground pools to choose from. In this guide, we’re going to explain to you how to choose the best above-ground pool for your home, as well as highlight our top five choices.

The Backyard Boss Top Above-Ground Pools for Summer 2021

Coleman Power Steel Swim Vista Series II - Best Above-Ground PoolsColeman Power Steel Swim Vista Series II
  • 18’ x 48”
  • Steel Frame and Tritech Material
  • Includes Pool, Filter Pump, Ladder and Pool Cover
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Intex Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool Set with Saltwater System - Best Above-Ground PoolsIntex Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool Set with Saltwater System
  • 32’ x 16’ x 52”
  • Steel Frame and PVC
  • Includes Pool, Sand Filter Pump, Ladder, Ground Cloth and Pool Cover
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Summer Waves Quick Set Inflatable Pool - Best Above-Ground PoolsSummer Waves Quick Set Inflatable Pool
  • 10’ x 30”
  • Inflatable
  • Includes Pool and Cartridge Filter Pump
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Intex Rainbow Ring Inflatable Play Center - Best Above-Ground PoolsIntex Rainbow Ring Inflatable Play Center
  • 117” x 76” x 53”
  • Inflatable
  • Includes Pool, 4 Inflatable Rings and 6 Plastic Play Balls
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Lunaoo Portable Pet Pool - Best Above-Ground PoolsLunaoo Portable Pet Pool
  • 63” x 12”
  • Industrial Strength PVC Material
  • Includes Foldable Pool with Water Pipe Connector
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Why You Can Trust Us

Growing up, we were lucky to have an in-ground pool in the backyard. I remember days spent outside playing with my siblings and making the most of our summer break. It’s a luxury that I have missed since moving out on my own.

Today, I live in a warm climate. Adding the humidity that sets in during the summer months, and we’re always on the search for a way to cool down. It inspired my husband and me to start researching our options. We didn’t have the budget, or space for an in-ground pool in any of the places where we’ve lived. However, we were able to leverage the above-ground pool options.

Now, we have a traditional above-ground pool that we use to cool off, relax, and soak up the sun. In addition to that, we picked up a puppy pool for our two dogs so that they can also cool off when the temperature starts to climb. These options have allowed us to learn more about the pool market, discovering what is available and the tools required to run and maintain a pool.

Best Above-Ground Pool with A Steel Frame

Coleman Power Steel Swim Vista Series II
    With a natural-looking rattan wicker print appearance and reinforced portholes around the exterior, this easy-to-setup pool is a beautiful addition to any yard.



Why We Like It: Supported by a sturdy, corrosion-resistant steel frame, this above-ground pool provides a long-lasting option for any family backyard. 

It’s lined with a durable and puncture-resistant 3-ply Tritech liner, while the exterior displays a beautiful natural-looking rattan wicker print. Built into the exterior of the pool are reinforced, fortified portholes that offer parents a view into the pool to keep an eye on their children.

In addition, the pool kit includes a filter pump, ladder, and pool cover. The Seal & Lock System allows you to set up and take down the pool easily with no tools required. Fully assembled, it measures 18’ x 48” and holds over 6000 gallons of water. It’s large enough for the full family to enjoy.

Who Should Buy It: The Coleman Power Steel Swim Vista Series II is a great choice for any parent that is looking for a durable and reliable pool for the whole family.

Best Saltwater Above-Ground Pool

Intex Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool Set with Saltwater System
    A large pool kit with all the accessories needed for use, this rectangular pool offers plenty of room for swimming and splashing about and is supported by a saltwater-compatible system.



Why We Like It: Fully assembled in 90 minutes with its easy-lock design, the Intex Ultra XTR Rectangular Pool Set with Saltwater System will provide you with all the space that you need to swim and splash around with friends and family. 

Fully assembled, the rectangular pool measures 32’ x 16’ x 52” and holds over 14,000 gallons of water. Once set up, it requires minimal maintenance. The included sand filter pup will need routine backwashing during use as well as replacing every five years.

The pool uses hydro aeration technology to improve the circulation and filtration of the pool water. It improves the water’s clarity while also increasing the water’s negative ions for a clean and fresh swimming experience. In addition to the pool itself, this pool kit also includes the pool filter pump, pool cover, ladder, and ground cloth. Additionally, it includes a saltwater system for those who may want to avoid chlorine and other pool-related chemicals. It’s backed by a 2-year warranty from Intex.

Who Should Buy It: Pool lovers that are sensitive to chlorine or searching for an option that reduces the chemicals required will benefit from the saltwater system included with this pool.

Best Inflatable Above-Ground Pool

Summer Waves Quick Set Inflatable Pool
    This easy to set up inflatable pool will provide your family with all the enjoyment of a backyard above-ground pool at a fraction of the cost.



Why We Like It: Made from durable triple-layer PolyLaminate PVS with polyester inner mesh sidewalls, the Summer Waves Quick Set Inflatable Pool is highly durable. 

To set it up, inflate the top ring and fill the pool with water. As the water level rises, the pool will rise as it fills, making the process quick and easy. When the season is over, drain the water, deflate the top ring, and it’s ready to be stored.

Fully assembled, the round pool offers an 8’ diameter swimming space, 2.5’ deep. It also includes an RX330 pool filter pump with a built-in chlorinator. While this pool is too shallow for an adult to actively swim around the pool, it’s deep enough to cool off, splash around and enjoy your summer with family and friends.

Who Should Buy It: If you’re searching for a low-cost, inflatable pool that can be set up and enjoyed through the summer and easily stored away in the winter months, this is a great option.

Best Above-Ground Pool for Kids

Intex Rainbow Ring Inflatable Play Center
    A kid-friendly pool with a sprinkler, slide and fun water games to help keep your children entertained while cooling down during the summer months.



Why We Like It: This inflatable above-ground pool was designed specifically with children in mind. 

A 46-gallon wading pool features a rainbow with a water sprayer, a ring toss game with four inflatable rings, and a ball toss game. It’s connected to a 54-gallon main pool surrounded by a ball roller game on two sides. The company also includes 6 Fun Ballz for use with the ball toss and ball roller games.

The pool is constructed from 12ga vinyl with a landing mat for extra padding. Fully assembled, it measures 117” x 76” x 53”. The bold blue, yellow, and red colors give this pool a bright and happy appearance. If you want to continue using the pool during the colder winter months, swap out the water for balls, and you have an indoor ball pit.

Who Should Buy It: Parents that are looking for a fun, child-friendly pool option will enjoy the Intex Rainbow Ring Inflatable Play Center.

Best Above-Ground Pool for Pets

Lunaoo Portable Pet Pool
    This durable PVC pet pool is easy to set up and tear down, making it a great choice for dogs, children or as a bathing tub.



Why We Like It: Family members aren’t the only ones that can benefit from this pool to cool off during the heat of summer. 

The Lunaoo Portable Pet Pool is a pet pool that is designed with ease of set-up and tear-down in mind. The pool doesn’t have any inflatable portions. Instead, the perimeter of the pool is made from high-grade, industrial-strength PVS material surrounding durable fibreboard. On the bottom, a non-slip surface prevents your pets, or children from slipping or falling.

The pool is available in three different sizes, including small (32” x 8”), large (47” x 12”), and extra-large (63” x 12”), meaning that there is an option for dogs of all sizes. In addition to offering a cooling pool for pets, it can also be used as a kiddie pool, bathing tub, or outdoor water pond. When you’re finished, a built-in drain makes it easy to remove the water, leaving it ready to fold up and be stored away.

Who Should Buy It: If you have a dog in the family and don’t necessarily want to give them access to your pool, the Lunaoo Portable Pet Pool is an excellent way to give them their own space.

How to Choose the Right Above-Ground Pool for Your Home

two children wearing sunglasses and bathing suits in the pool with ring floats
Image credits: Juan Salamanca on Pexels

There are a wide variety of different above-ground pools available on the market today, designed to suit any yard or space. To choose the best above-ground pool for your home, there are a few different factors that you have to consider.

Available Space

The first important factor is the available space that you have. Keep in mind that most people don’t want their pool to occupy every corner of their backyard. To properly set up your pool, you need to account both for the footprint of the pool itself as well as the space around it. This includes accounting for the space used by a ladder, space for the pool pump, and more.

Measure out the square footage in your yard, considering the location that you have chosen for your pool. Keep in mind that your pool should be visible from your home or back deck for safety reasons. You also need to consider the availability of an electrical outlet to power your pump and filter system. Most pool experts recommend that a dedicated 100V electrical line is run specifically for your pool equipment.

Ground Type/Location

While we would like to think that a pool could easily be installed anywhere in your yard, there are some additional location-related factors to consider. First, investigate any bylaws in your area that determine where you can place a pool, such as how close it can be to a property line.

After you have a thorough understanding of the regulations that you must follow, there are a few other considerations when picking the perfect spot.

Ideally, you need to find a flat area of the yard that is large enough to accommodate your pool. Uneven ground can add unnecessary stress and pressure to different areas of your pool’s structure, weakening it and causing early wear and tear damage. Take note of other structures and landscape features. Avoid placing your pool too close to a tree or power line to avoid unnecessary complications.

Type of Pool

There are different types of above-ground pools available. This includes a traditional pool with fixed steel, aluminum, or metal walls or rods, an inflatable pool, a saltwater pool, or a semi-buried pool.

A traditional above-ground pool is a most popular and commonly seen choice. These pools are designed to be strong and sturdy, standing up to the test of time. Some traditional pools are built to remain set up year-round, eliminating the need to set up and tear down your pool with the changing seasons. Others are surprisingly easy to set up and run for the summer, allowing you to tear them down and store them away during the winter months. Traditional pools often come at a higher price point, but they are designed to last 15-20 years in most cases.

A lower-cost and temporary solution regardless of where you live, inflatable pools have been gaining in popularity in recent years. They are quick and easy to install. Simply inflate the top ring of the pool and then slowly fill your pool with water. As the pool fills up, the inflatable ring will float, slowly lifting the walls of the pool. These pools aren’t as sturdy as traditional pools and often don’t last as long.

Saltwater pools are designed and outfitted with a saltwater system. They aren’t as common as chlorine pools, but they’re a great alternative to those concerned about the chemicals used in pools or those with overly sensitive skin.

Semi-buried pools are traditional pools that are installed partially buried underground. They bridge the gap between above-ground pools and in-ground pools and require additional insulation and strength due to the ground around them. They’re often installed with elaborate pool decks around them to look more like an in-ground pool and provide easier access. These pools require more secure pool fencing since they’re easier for younger children to climb or fall into. Check your local bylaws to find out what is required before installation.


Another important factor that significantly impacts your choice is the budget. There are many different above-ground pools available, with a wide spectrum of pricing. Keep in mind that there are more costs associated with the installation and operation of a pool than just the pool itself.

You need to make sure that you have a pool pump and filter that can support your pool, a ladder or steps for access, cleaning tools, and the chemicals needed to maintain it.

Shape and Depth

Above-ground pools come in 4 standard sizes, except for some smaller kiddie pools. These shapes are square, rectangular, circular, and oval. Choosing the right size for you and your yard begins by looking at the space available and deciding which shape will make the most of it. There is some consideration here for personal preference. Some people prefer the look of a round pool versus a rectangular pool.

When determining the pool depth, consider the people that will be using the pool most often. What ages are they? Are you looking for a pool that will suit everyone? A deeper pool is ideal for adults and older children. However, it can be dangerous for younger swimmers. If you’re shopping for a pool for young children, you may want to choose a pool that caters to their size, such as a kiddie pool.

Finally, your pool’s depth will have an impact on the maintenance required. A deeper pool will demand more filter changes and debris clean-up than a shallow pool of the same diameter. This is going to have an impact on your experience moving forward. Be sure to consider how much time and effort you plan on putting into the upkeep of your pool.

Additional Features

Some pools offer additional features which help them to stand out from the other options on the market. If there is a specific option that you feel strongly about, this can influence your decision.

Examples include the type of pool pump, the inclusion of a ground cloth or debris cover, slip-resistant ladders and lockable ladders, built-in chemical dispensers, and other design alternatives.

a woman wearing a black bathing suit floating in a pool on a swan inflatable
Image credits: Arturo Rivera on Unsplash

How We Picked

Narrowing down our list of above-ground pools wasn’t an easy task. There are many great options on the market, each designed for a different space or use. From large traditional above-ground pools to brightly colored kiddie pools. To begin with, we compared the quality, ease of setup, ongoing maintenance requirements, size, and value of each pool.

We then looked closer at the pools that stood out the most, reading customer reviews comparing the more detailed features they offered. The five pools highlighted in this guide are very different. They were selected as the best option for five different situations, allowing us to highlight an option that will suit nearly any home.

The Best Above-Ground Pool for Summer 2021 Is…

It’s challenging to choose just one pool that will stand out above the rest due to the vast differences in size, budget, and use. We’re confident that any of these five pools are worth your investment, creating fun times and great memories for your family. However, the Coleman Power Steel Swim Vista Series II stood out the most.

This traditional above-ground pool is durable and reliable, while still allowing the flexibility that comes with a quick setup and tear-down system. The portholes on the side add safety features for parents, while also adding to the fun and imagination for children. It truly is a pool designed with the whole family in mind.


Feature Image Credit: Toni Cuenca on StockSnap