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Ultimate Guide to The Best Tow Floats/Swim Buoys


Let’s dive into the world of tow floats, swim floats or swim buoys, a vital piece of equipment for open water swimmers. They have many names depending on where you live in the world, but they all do the same thing – keep you safe and seen when you swim.

Whether you’re training for a triathlon or simply enjoying a refreshing swim in the sea or lakes, these floats can be your trusted companion for safety and peace of mind.

A tow-float, swim float or swim buoy is a small, brightly-coloured inflatable that you attach to your body via a waist band and leash. It floats along behind you as you swim, making you more visible to other water users, particularly boats and jet skis

Quick List of the Best Tow Floats/Swim Buoys

Best Inflatable Tow Floats – ProCase Swim Buoy Float

Best Swim Buoy With Dry Bags – T6 20L Swim Buoy Waterproof Dry Bag

Best Inflatable Tow Floats – ProCase Swim Buoy Float

Best Tow Float with Hydration Holder – Swim Secure Hydration Float

Best Tow Float Backpack – SwimSecure Dry Bag Tow Float Backpack

Best Swim Buoy with Light – Blue Seventy Buddy Bag Plus With Light

Best Self-Inflating Personal Safety Buoy – Restube Swimming Safety Buoy

Best Inflatable Tow FloatsProCase Swim Buoy Float

$15.99 at Amazon.com
$28.50 at procase.com

My ProCase Swim Buoy – still looking good after 2 years.

These are the most common type of tow floats, usually made from durable yet lightweight materials like PVC or nylon. They are easy to inflate and deflate, making them convenient to carry and store when not in use.

Swim buoys need not be expensive to be an effective safety device. The ProCase Swim Buoy provides a safe way to float and rest during your swim by adding extra visibility and floatation. The brightly colored design increases your visibility in any open water environment. In case of need or urgency, you may use it as a float to rest on it. Light and durable for storage and easy carrying on a paddleboard or kayak trip. Great for open water swimming, triathlon and many other water sports trips.

One of my favorite aspects of this buoy is how compact it is. When you deflate it, it can easily fit in your swim bag and not take up too much room. The Pro Case swim buoy is also very durable. I’ve been using this one consistently for over two years and it still looks and functions the same as the day I bought it.

Best Swim Buoy With Dry Bags – T6 20L Swim Buoy Waterproof Dry Bag

$19.99 at Amazon.com

This innovative design combines the functionality of a tow float with that of a dry bag. It allows you to carry your belongings while swimming and provides buoyancy at the same time. Swim buoy dry bags are perfect for longer swims or adventures where you need to carry extra gear.

Best Safety Tow Floats with Waterproof Phone Holder – IPX7 Waterproof Touchscreen

Price not available at Amazon.com

Some tow floats come equipped with a built-in waterproof phone compartment so you can take your phone, car keys and more with you when you swim.

The perfect accessory for open water swimmers, with its lightweight and bright design, the Swim Buoy Float is easy to spot in open water. With its waterproof visible storage, you can store your cell phone, keys, and other valuables with confidence.

Best Tow Float with Hydration HolderSwim Secure Hydration Float

$26.39 at Swim Outlet

These are versatile tow floats that can be used for both swimming and towing gear behind you, such as a drinks container. They often feature multiple attachment points and adjustable straps for added convenience.

Best Tow Float BackpackSwimSecure Dry Bag Tow Float Backpack

$43.99 at Amazon.com

This type of tow float combines as swim buoy with a rucksack so you can swim and run if you need to. I use this one from SwimSecure for my swimming adventures as it can keep my kit dry when I’m swimming and after the swim I can use it as a rucksack.

Best Swim Buoy with Light – Blue Seventy Buddy Bag Plus With Light

$40.46 at SwimOutlet

Take your essentials with you in the Blue Seventy Buddy Bag Plus with Light.

Keep your keys, phone, and even a small amount of clothes safe and with you while you swim. The entire interior of the Buddy Bag is open for storing your gear, simply close the dry bag seal, then use the valve to fully inflate and go!

Note – if you use the main portion of the bag for storage you will not be able to fully inflate the bladder. 

Best Self-Inflating Personal Safety BuoyRestube Swimming Safety Buoy

$99.99 at Amazon.com

This is a relatively new category of swim buoy and has been popularised by a company called Restube.

Restube is a safety device designed for water activities, including open water swimming, paddleboarding, kayaking, and more. It’s a compact and lightweight inflatable buoyancy aid that can be worn around your waist or attached to your gear.

Restube works by deploying a CO2 cartridge to inflate a buoyant bladder when activated. This provides you with added buoyancy, helping you stay afloat in case of fatigue, cramps, or emergencies while in the water.

One of the key features of Restube is its reusability. After deployment, the device can be easily repacked and recharged with a new CO2 cartridge, making it ready for future use.

Restube is popular among water enthusiasts for its convenience, reliability, and peace of mind it offers during water activities. It’s particularly useful for swimmers and athletes who venture into open water where conditions can be unpredictable.

Overall, Restube serves as an additional safety measure to complement other safety equipment like tow floats or life jackets, providing users with an extra layer of protection and confidence while enjoying their time in the water.

Safety Benefits of Tow Floats

Before we look the many different types of tow float lets understand their benefits and why you should invest in one.


One of the key safety benefits of tow floats is their high visibility. They come in bright colors like orange, pink, or yellow, making you highly visible to other water users, boats, and lifeguards. This increased visibility reduces the risk of collisions, especially in crowded or busy waters. Even the dreaded jet skiers should be able to see you and avoid you!


Swim buoys provide additional buoyancy, helping you stay afloat more effortlessly. If you ever need to take a rest during your swim, you can simply hold onto the float to relax without worrying about sinking or getting fatigued. But check with the manufacturers specifications to ensure the can be used in this way.


Many tow floats come with a dry storage compartment where you can stash your essentials like keys, phone, snacks, or even a small first aid kit. This feature ensures that your valuables remain safe and dry while you’re in the water.

Rescue Aid

In case of emergency, a brightly colored tow float can act as a visual marker for rescuers to quickly locate you. It can also serve as a flotation device for someone in distress, providing them with something to hold onto until help arrives.

Other more unusual uses of a Tow Float

Ove the years my athletes and I have used our tow floats for many different things, here are a few:

Dry bag? More like versatile bag! Take it hiking, when deflated it will keep your clothes dry.

Travel pillow? Check. Car pillow? Check. Plane pillow? Checkmate! Tow floats: the ultimate travel companion.

Beach seat? Tow float to the rescue! Swim, then sit back and relax on the sand. Picnic time just got comfier.

Need a breather? Tow floats got your back. Stay afloat, catch your breath, and soak in the coaching wisdom during a coached swimming session.

Thirsty? No problem. Some floats come with built-in bottle holders to keep you hydrated while you swim.

Hangry? Snack time’s covered too. Stick your energy bar in your tow float’s dry sack for easy access.

Stay connected even in the water. Some floats have waterproof compartments for your phone or GPS device.

Coach-approved marker buoys. Tow floats double as handy markers for open water drills and swim areas.

Number belt emergency? No sweat. Detach the belt from your tow float, pin on your number, and you’re race-ready!


When choosing a tow float, make sure to select one that fits comfortably and securely around your waist or attaches easily to your swim gear. Additionally, always remember to practice proper swim safety techniques and never swim alone in unfamiliar waters. With the right equipment and precautions, you can enjoy your open water swims safely and confidently. Happy and safe swimming!

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