Best Pull Buoys
For those of you who are not entirely sure of what pull buoys actually are, they are very simple devices that can be used for endurance training in the water. Essentially, they are pieces of foam that you can slide in-between either your thighs or your ankles for provided support. From there, you can use your arms to push you forward (without the use of your legs). Sound pretty sweet, right? Well, in theory, these types of devices work terrifically but here is the thing, not all models on the market will work for you. With this guide, it is our goal to further educate you on what you should be looking for when you go to buy one for yourself. So, let’s get started, shall we?
In a Hurry? The test winner after 2.5 hrs of research
The foam has an ideal amount of cushion to it
Different color options are available
It is ideal for intermediate and advanced swimmers
- SPEEDO TEAM
- NIKE SWIM
- TYR PULL FLOAT
- FINIS FOAM
- AQUA SPHERE
- FINIS AXIS
- ARENA PULL KICK
- ARENA FREEFLOW
- SWIM RESEARCH
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Frequently Asked Questions
OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST PULL BUOYS
1. SPEEDO TEAM
The foam has an ideal amount of cushion to it
Different color options are available
It is ideal for intermediate and advanced swimmers
It can be somewhat difficult to hold
It only seems fitting that the top model on this list be suitable for expert users. Indeed, this is that and given the fact that it has been engineered by Speedo, this is not much of a surprise.Read more
As with most of the top-end models on the market, Speedo engineered their model with EVA foam.
The main reason this is suitable for experts is due to the size. You see, it is actually on the smaller side and this means that you will need to expend more effort while using it. So, if you are a beginner, you may not be too fond of this one.
One nice factor about this EVA foam is that it has just the right amount of cushioning to it (and is not very hard). As for the buoyancy, it could be a little better but gets the job done pretty well.
The texture itself is not too hard to grip but a potential problem for some of you is the lack of a contoured design. Due to this, it can be harder to keep this stable in-between your thighs.
In addition to the black color selection, you can also go with a blue or a lime option.
As you can see, all signs point to this delivering a challenging experience. So, if you are looking for a cakewalk, then you will be very disappointed with this model.
2. NIKE SWIM
It will not chafe your skin
The material is not going to break down very easily
Manufactured and designed by Nike
There is a surprising lack of feedback available
Look, with some brands, you just know you can expect a high-quality product. Due to their rich and infamous history, it is safe to say that Nike is one of them. And, their model has all the goods you want.Read more
Nike engineered their pull buoy with EVA foam and it is not going to break down very easily, let’s just say that.
No matter your stature or physical size, this should work well for you. This is thanks to the wide design that Nike put forth.
In addition to being wider, the body of this is also well-designed as a whole. You see, it will remain stable and allow you to maintain your kicking motion effectively.
A few buyers commented on the soft texture of this device. This is a nice feature as it is not going to chafe your skin when you use it.
It is hard to deny that the appeal of this option is fantastic. Not only is the foam gray but Nike’s signature logo is also present (and is lime green).
It has not been alluded to yet but for a Nike product, it is a bit surprising that there is a lack of consumer feedback available. But, this is Nike, so it is easy to put your faith in them.
3. TYR PULL FLOAT
It is the same size on both sides
A few buyers have raved about the durability
Performs its designed purpose very well
Other users have claimed theirs have broken apart over time
In the world of swimming products, TYR is a brand name that comes up time and time again. This design right here is a great example of why that is; so, keep reading to learn a little more.Read more
Though this is another model made out of EVA foam, there have been a few previous buyers who have documented that the foam can break apart over time on this.
There are actually a few different size options available for this float. An interesting point to note is that on both of the sides, the lengths are the same.
Based on some consumer feedback, it seems as if this provides an optimal amount of buoyancy for you while you are in the water.
Thankfully, EVA foam itself is not too slick and that is evident here. For the most part, this is going to stay securely in place in-between your legs.
The few color and style options that are available are quite nice and very unique. Each one offers a different appeal that is for sure.
Now, even though some users have experienced durability issues, others have raved the build quality. So, the one potential issue may not even end up being an issue for you. Not bad, huh?
4. FINIS FOAM
The material will not chafe your skin
More stiff and buoyant than other models
The texture enhances the stabilization
It is not intended for larger legs
There have been some previous users who have complained about the smaller nature of this model but it is emphasized in the product description that this is intended for smaller legs. So, if this is what you are looking for, you will find this extremely compelling.Read more
Well, would you look at that? FINIS is another designer who decided to build their model with EVA foam.
Indeed, this was made specifically for youth and smaller legs and this is blatantly claimed in the product description. It is still for adults, however, so do not get confused there.
As compared to other models, this is a bit stiffer and more buoyant. However, it can ride up a little high and this can become problematic for male users (if you catch the drift).
Not only is the texture not going to chafe your skin but it is also not slick which helps to keep the buoy in place in the water.
The base of this is bright yellow and multiple black stripes are accented across it. Quite frankly, this is a fantastic style option.
Some buyers have been shocked and disappointed to receive such a small pull buoy but FINIS does not hide the fact that they optimized it for smaller legs. Just understand that going in and if this works for you, get it.
5. AQUA SPHERE
Designed with a unique shape
Offers more buoyancy than other models
The texture is not rough at all
It can develop nicks and scratches too easily
Just by glancing at the photos, you will see that this sports a unique shape (when compared to other models). The manner in which this is shaped amplifies the buoyancy and this can be a benefit for some of you.Read more
Okay, so the closed cell foam is mostly durable. However, it has been alluded to by a few previous users that this can develop scratches and small holes very easily.
It seems this is another model that is better served for users with smaller and thinner legs.
Indeed, the shape is unique and it almost resembles a polygon-type structure. Due to this, the provided buoyancy is fantastic and has been raved by previous users.
Some models have very rough surfaces that make for uncomfortable experiences. Well, you do not need to worry about that here thanks to the soft feel.
Not too many of you will have issues with the straight blue appeal. Yet, it does not appear that additional color options are available.
At the end of the day, as a consumer, unique designs are always compelling and this is indeed that. A drawback to this option is it dings and scratches too easily, so do keep that in mind, however.
6. FINIS AXIS
Sports a contoured design and ergonomic keyholes
It is lightly textured for enhanced grip
Will fit comfortably in-between your legs
The ankle openings are a little small
May not be conventional enough for some of you
This is yet another offering from FINIS but this one is much, much different. As with the last model, this is evident merely by looking at some photos. Most unique about this option is the ankle cuffs.Read more
Really, should you expect anything else here? Indeed, FINIS utilizes the durable and fantastic properties of EVA foam for their model.
The ankle openings themselves could be larger but that is a minor complaint. As for the actual sizing, there are small and medium options available for purchase.
Due to the ergonomic keyholes, you are able to use this as an ankle float. However, for use strictly as a pull buoy, these keyholes can take away some of your ability to rotate.
In addition to the fact that the EVA foam is not going to chafe or irritate your skin, it has also been lightly textured and this will enhance its stability.
The bright yellow color is highly visible and if one thing is for sure, you will not easily lose this because of it.
Many of you will appreciate this model because of its versatility. Due to the ankle openings, it takes the pull buoy design and amplifies it. Of course, some of you may also not be a fan of this and that is fair.
7. ARENA PULL KICK
It is a combination pull float and kickboard
Sports curvature grooves for grip
Can easily be transported
The material does feel as if it could break easily
Speaking of unconventional, this probably feels like it came straight out of left field. But, in addition to working very well as a kickboard, it also doubles as an excellent pull buoy.Read more
Yes, this is different and is not made of EVA foam. However, one user mentioned that they felt the material could break very easily.
This is a one-size model and it is not too large or too small. Not only will this work effectively for most everyone but it can also easily be transported.
In addition to the molded hand grips that are integrated, this is also equipped with leg channels. All in all, it really is a kickboard but it can work just as efficiently as a pull buoy.
Though this is not going to be as soft and comfortable as foam, the texture provides an ample amount of grip which is nice.
Arena offers its kickboard combination device in a multitude of different colors. Among them, you can select from yellow, acid lime, black, and pink.
One drawback is you do need to be careful with this design as the build quality is not the best. But, the sheer versatility of a design like this is what is truly compelling.
It is virtually indestructible under normal use
Different color options are available
The ergonomic design enhances the comfort
One buyer was not that impressed with the provided buoyancy
This is one of those options that can be tough to gauge due to the minimal consumer feedback. Strictly looking at the specifications of this model, however, prove that it is worthy of recognition.Read more
Under normal use, the closed cell EVA foam that is utilized (which is free of PVC) is going to be virtually indestructible. If you tried hard enough, though, you could probably cause some damage.
The size of this is suitable for both men and women alike. For specifics, it measures 12.3 by 22.8 by 10.1 centimeters.
Thanks to the ergonomic design, this will fit more naturally between your legs. As for the buoyancy, one user noted that it is average (better than others but also not as good as some).
For the most part, you should have little issues keeping this stable while in use (due to the aforementioned ergonomic design and the texture).
It is actually noted in the product description that there are a few different colors available (yellow, pink, orange, blue and green).
This is a bit of an “under-the-radar” purchase. It really is a great design but it also has not exactly developed a cult following. So, some of you may feel it is a risky purchase.
9. ARENA FREEFLOW
The grip is not going to be an issue at all
Designed for optimal comfort and buoyancy
It is quite durable
It is smaller and thinner than some of you will want
The smaller nature of this next option has taken some users by surprise. It is both thinner and shorter than various others on the market but at its core, it is made of durable foam and is a very effective training tool.Read more
Arena designed this specific model out of lightweight foam. Worth noting, also, is the fact that it is free of any PVC.
Yep, it was alluded to earlier and indeed, this is smaller than you may initially think. Some users have even mistaken it for a kid’s size model but note that this is intended for adults (it is just smaller).
This eight-shaped float is designed to provide an optimal amount of buoyancy and comfort. Among other things, it does both of those very well.
While keeping this between your thighs will naturally require some effort, the texture of this foam does make the process a bit easier.
A light gray stripe goes right down the middle of the black exterior. Truth be told, it is tough to go wrong with this color combination.
Even if you have larger thighs and legs, you can still make this model work for you. However, the effort that is needed to do so may not be worth it, in your eyes. If so, then pursue other options.
10. SWIM RESEARCH
There are two sizes available
It is made of durable EVA foam
Provides pretty good buoyancy when swimming
It can be rough on your skin
Some users have had sizing issues
Though at times the feedback has been mixed for this last model, it is made of tough-grade material and provides great buoyancy when you are in the water.Read more
Very few buyers out there have criticized the closed cell EVA foam that is utilized here. In fact, one reviewer raved about the “tough-grade” material.
The sizing seems to be inconsistent as user feedback has been mixed. However, there are two sizes available (for both adults and juniors) for you to choose from.
Most of you will be able to obtain an ideal amount of buoyancy in the water with this so there is no need to worry too much about that.
Initially, as pointed out by one reviewer, the texture of this foam can be rough on sensitive skin. With that said, it is nothing too drastic or unbearable.
The simple sky blue and yellow combination gives off summer vibes for sure. Also, it will be difficult to lose as it should stick out like a sore thumb.
With both adult and junior size options available, this can really be a nice option for just about everyone. Though not perfect, this still was able to secure a spot on this list.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
All you need to know here is EVA foam is the way to go (and really the only way).
While some products on the market will be engineered with a plethora of different materials, that is not really the case here. As you were witnessed too, most of the models on the market are made of foam. Of course, they are not made of any type of foam and, instead, EVA foam. But, what is EVA foam anyway and why is it such a big deal? First off, it is an acronym for ethylene-vinyl acetate and it is copolymer foam. It is extremely popular for a plethora of reasons.
First off, it is an extremely resilient material. It is able to retain its flexibility all the time and is able to recover from compressions very quickly. This is why when you fold or squish it, it is able to retain its shape so well. Oh, and it is also incredibly durable. To elaborate on this, it is resistant to UV radiation (via UV rays from the sun), remains strong at low temperatures, is resistant to stress-cracking, and possess waterproof properties. Can you begin to understand what the entire hubbub is about EVA foam now?
Much like with a new pair of shoes, the size is going to mean everything here.
In all reality, this is the section where you will see the most disparity between different models on the market. And, in a way, you could consider this the most important section of all. Indeed, when you go to buy a pull buoy, you need to get a size that is going to work for you. But, what size is that going to be? Thankfully, the answer to this question is not all that complex and it really comes down to if you need a smaller or a larger model. If you are someone who has larger legs (whether that be via muscle or fat), then you need to look for larger models that will provide more buoyancy for you. The reason this is vital is that the entire reason to buy them, in the first place, is for them to allow your legs and hips to float in the water.
Now, here is where things can turn for you if you are the exact opposite of what was just described. If you are a petite individual, then you should opt for smaller models. Sometimes, sellers will even include multiple sizes and this can be ideal if you do need something smaller. Most specifically, you may see some manufacturers offer their models in junior sizes.
Even though most models are the same, there will be some unique ones on the market.
This is where it becomes obvious that there really is not a ton of diversity in the world of pull buoys. They are all intended to provide buoyancy and that was documented in the previous section. What this next section is really about, however, is discussing the few models out there that will actually offer something unique. Right from the get-go, let’s talk about pull kicks. In addition to serving their purposes as buoys, they also function as kickboards. These are devices that are also great for swimmers as they allow you to isolate your leg muscles. Really, pull kicks are tools that offer a ton of versatility.
Of course, as also seen on this list, there are even models out there that can act as ankle floats with their integrated keyhole openings. And, also understand that not all EVA foam is created equally and it can come in different forms. So, some models out there may be a bit firmer than others.
Ensuring the texture will not chafe your skin but also not be too slick is important.
This is another area in which EVA foam is so beneficial. Here is the reality of the situation; pull buoys need to stay in place while they are in the water. Yes, your legs and thighs will be keeping them in place but if the texture is slippery then this is going to be much more difficult. For the most part, you will not find this to be an issue with EVA foam as its texture should be adequately stable. At the same time, however, it is not as if the texture needs to glue to your body. So, even if all that is added is light texturing on the surface of the foam it should be fine. Oh, and along the same line, you most certainly do not want the texture to chafe your skin and cause discomfort.
Yet, what happens if you are wearing swim trunks? This is only going to be an issue for men and, to be honest, swim trunks can complicate things due to their slippery nature. On the flipside, though, the material will not be rubbing against your skin so that is a plus.
No, the color will not affect the performance but it can be fun to get a style that you like.
Possibly what you are thinking right now is at the end of the day, is the color going to matter in the slightest? You know, in your eyes, it may not and that is simply okay. But, again, as there really is not much that separates pull buoys, every little unique feature can help. So, if that happens to be the color then so be it. Plus, if you ever had the fear of accidentally misplacing or losing your model in the pool, a brightly colored version would be easier to find as it would stick out more. Truth be told, though, you do not need to put too much thought into this section. This is more for fun and as a consumer, is there really anything wrong with that?
Expert Interviews & Opinions
If you are not a fan of EVA foam then you are probably going to be disappointed when you begin to look at the current market of pull buoys that are available. The reality is almost all of them will be made of this exact material. But, there really is no reason why you should not be fond of it as it is durable, long-lasting, and has incredible properties.
Yep, this is the game changer. It does not reign true all the time but for these tools, size matters and really means everything. And, it all comes down to your current physique (in specific, the physique of your legs). It is quite simple, actually; if you have larger thighs and legs then you will want a larger model. Conversely, go with a smaller option if you skinnier and more petite legs.
In all reality, you could link any model’s effectiveness to its size and your legs. However, this was already documented in the previous section. What you want to focus on here are the different design types available. Yes, it has been claimed multiple times that most pull buoys are the same but there are exceptions to the rule. And, these types of designs can offer versatility to your experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Is it easier to swim with them?
While this is somewhat of a complicated question to address and answer, it can be said that these can actually make swimming easier. Now, they do isolate your arms and allow you to work out your upper body. So, in theory, it would seem that they would actually make swimming harder. Yet, here is the thing; due to the buoyancy that they provide, they can make it easier to float and subsequently swim. For the most part, however, not too many users out there buy these training tools for this reason.
q: Which way are they supposed to go?
This seems like a stupid question, does it not? Even though it may seem to be something that is completely irrelevant, facing your buoy the right away can actually affect the performance. With that being said, though, it is utterly dependent on the design. You see, many models on the market are actually designed with one end larger than the other. This is for a reason and if you place the larger end under your body (facing the bottom of the pool), it can actually provide more buoyancy. Then again, if you buy a model that is the same length and girth on both ends then this is not going to play a role.
q: Why do swimmers use them?
You are already fully aware that these tools can isolate your arms and allow you to swim without the use of your legs. For the record, this is known as pulling and it is the main reason why swimmers use buoys, in the first place. But, is it the only reason? In a way, this is the only reason but there are also sub-reasons if that makes any sense. To elaborate, simply performing “pulling” can help you focus on enhanced technique on top of increasing your arm strength. Oh, and it is also a bit less taxing than swimming and some people even prefer to exercise in this manner.
q: Are there any drawbacks to using them?
Nope, these are perfect in every single sense of the word. Of course, this is sarcasm and the reality is that pull buoys do have their drawbacks. And, this is not even alluding to individual models as is alluding to them collectively. You see, when you start to rely on the use of tools such as these, you begin to deprive yourself of the critical aspects of swimming. For example, you will find that if you rely on them too much, you will be unable to achieve proper hip positioning. You see, with them, this is achieved for you automatically but when you remove them, you will need to do it yourself.
Along the same line, as these isolate your arms, you are breaking up the kinetic chain when you use them too much. With regular swimming, your entire body is being worked. Subsequently, using pull buoys will not allow you to work on your core as effectively as without them.
q: Will you still be able to rotate your body?
When you swim, you usually move your body around in many different ways. After all, pools are usually compact in size and eventually, you will have to turn a corner or turn around. The good news is you will still be able to rotate your body effectively with one of these between your thighs. There is no promise that it will not slip and come to the surface but it shouldn’t.
q: Is EVA foam toxic?
For the most part, EVA foam is considered to be a safe material and a safe alternative to PVC. The reason this is “for the most part” is because it was found that it does contain formamide. And, this has been linked to cancer and is technically considered a developmental toxin. The good news is not all EVA foam will have formamide. And, even if the seller does not specify if their model contains it or not, you can always contact them directly. Generally speaking, this is probably the only potential concern that you will have with this type of material. Because, other than that, EVA foam is not toxic.