A swim buoy is an excellent tool that allows swimmers a way to ensure they stay safer while swimming in open waters. Sometimes they are referred to as tow floats, swim bags, safety floats, or dry bags. They help with everything from providing a safety mechanism for floating when tired of carrying important things like water, snacks, or your wallet.
Swimmers of every level from triathletes to those new to open water swimming can benefit from the use of a swim buoy. However, with so many models available with a wide variety of features, it can be difficult to know which one to try. They can also be somewhat costly, so the early anticipation of which features you need will save you time, frustration, and money. To help you out, we have reviewed five popular tow floats and created a handy buyer’s guide to assist you in finding the perfect option.
The Best Swim Buoy 2018
|Speed Hound Swim Buoy|
|New Wave Swim Bubble||16L/28L||No|
|Zone 3 Swim Buoy and Dry Bag||28L||Yes|
|Kiefer ISHOF Safe Swimmer Buoy||16L/24L||Yes|
|Xterra High-Vis Swim Buoy||15L||Yes|
1. Speed Hound Swim Buoy – Best All-Around Option for Triathletes, Swimmers, and Snorkelers
The Speed Hound Swim Buoy was created by a triathlete who found other versions lacking the essential needs that many athletes look for. It’s available in three highly visible color options including orange, yellow, and pink. This buoy will ensure you are safe and easily seen by boats and other swimmers. This bag is comprised of lightweight materials that will not needlessly tire you out during your swim.
2. New Wave Swim Bubble for Open Water Swimmers and Triathletes – Best Budget Swim Bubble
The new wave is a perfect choice for athletes after an affordable yet durable safe swim bag option. It comes in several colors. Each color is highly visible to other swimmers and boats as well. You can also choose to include a cell phone case that keeps your electronics dry. Our swim testers really liked the cell phone case and found that it did a great job of keeping their phones perfectly dry and safe.
3. Zone 3 Swim Buoy and Dry Bag – Best for Serious Swimmers and Competitors
The Zone 3 is another wonderful option for swimmers. Our triathlon testers loved that it is available in bright orange or a neon pink hue. It’s easy to inflate and use. While swimming, you can barely tell that the Zone 3 is attached to it, making it great for serious competitors.
4. Kiefer ISHOF Safe Swimmer Buoy – Best for Swimmers That Need to Tote a Lot of Gear With Them
The Kiefer ISHOF Safe Swimmer Buoy offers visibility through its brightly designed orange exterior. It’s extremely lightweight and comfortable for novice or seasoned pro swimmers. Featuring an adjustable waist belt, its fast to put on and will not bother you during your swim.
5. Xterra High-Vis Swim Buoy – Good Option for Experienced Swimmers That Don’t Need a Flotation Device
The Xterra is the first swim buoy featuring dual colors. The top is orange, while the bottom is a bright yellow shade. This adds to your visibility and increases your safety. It also comes with an adjustable one size fits all strap.
Tow floats can be a terrific way for open water swimmers, snorkelers, or triathletes improve their visibility to boats and other individuals. A swim buoy also provides a way to carry personal belongings rather than leave them on the beach, in the car, or at home. This essential item also provides a way to take a break and rest during triathlons or while swimming or training by allowing its user to float and relax simply.
There are a vast array of swim buy products available on the market. With so many features and accessories, finding the perfect option can be overwhelming. This guide will explain the ins and outs of tow floats so that you can make an informed decision.
What does a swim buoy do?
Whether you know them as swim buoys, tow floats, safe swim bags, or dry bags, these items have several important functions.
Carrying important items
Tow floats are perfect for containing and protecting your personal belongings. They are an excellent option for point to point swimming, keeping valuables safe and with you as opposed to leaving them ashore, and keeping items dry while swimming. Most options consist of a roll top dry bag that is attached to a surf leash. This creates a lightweight way to keep your necessities close at hand.
Making triathletes more visible
Another terrific feature of a dry bag is the fact that it increases your visibility. This is the primary safety benefit of using a swim buoy since it is much larger than your head. The buoy is brightly colored and much easier to spot at a difference than a swim cap or an arm. By using one, you are creating a situation where another swimmer or a boat will be able to spot you from a greater distance, lowering the likelihood that you will be run over and injured or killed.
Creating an atmosphere for safer events
Open water swimming, snorkeling, and triathlons can be dangerous and even deadly sports. Many organizers of open water swimming competitions and activities require all swimmers to use a swim buoy as a safety precaution. The reasoning behind this involves the belief that if a swimmer begins sinking, their chances of drowning become increased.
The use of a tow float allows the individual a safe way to stay on top of the water instead of sinking. This is useful in situations where a swimmer has become exhausted or when conditions for swimming change such as during a storm. A swim buy can keep you afloat until help arrives.
Increasing swimmer confidence
The use of a swim buoy can add to your confidence when you are swimming in open water areas. In cold or choppy waters, this device allows you to have peace of mind. If there is any reason for you to become tired or need a break, you’ll have a flotation device right there to keep you safer. This may lead to increased confidence when navigating new areas or when competing in events or triathlons.
What Features Are Most Important When Selecting a Swim Buoy?
Several key features can aid you in deciding which tow float is your perfect match and which you should throw back out to sea.
With this particular product, color comes in to play in a much more crucial manner than just your personal style preferences. Select a swim buoy that is brightly colored. They come in a large selection of technicolor rainbow hues. Aim for a model that is a neon or fluorescent shade for maximum visibility.
Dry storage capabilities
Depending on your gear, you may need a larger chambered choice. Triathletes need to tote water, nutrients, running shoes, and other essentials when they hot the open water. If you fit this bill, you’ll need to go with a large or multi dry chambered choice.
Others who won’t be lugging around as much gear can select an item with a dry pouch or just one chamber. Additionally, if you will be toting your smartphone along, you should find an option with a waterproof phone case included.
Even the highest quality swim buoys can sprout a leak, so keeping electronics like phones or battery-operated keys safe is extremely imperative.
Staying as comfortable as possible is also a huge consideration. Many buoys are lighter than ever before and feature a waist strap to fasten it around your midsection. Find an item that has a comfortable strap that won’t burn or chafe your skin.
Tips for Open Water Swimming Safely
In addition to purchasing and using a swim buoy anytime you tackle this type of swimming, there are other ways to keep yourself safe.
Before you attempt to swim in a lake, pond, river, ocean, bay, or any open water, it’s important that you are comfortable and experienced. Spend some extra time in a pool to work on your skills. The first time you try swimming with a tow float, take it to a pool first.
Some users may feel a bit claustrophobic when first using these devices. It’s better to work the kinks and bugs out beforehand in a pool, rather than having a panic attack over it in the ocean or on the day of your competitive event.
Master the shallow
Stick to the shallower waters at first. Slowly acclimate yourself to the water conditions in the less deep parts of the water. Focus on your bilateral breathing in case there are waves crashing on one side or the sun is too bright on the other.
Swim parallel to the shore, sticking to a depth where you could still easily stand. That way, you can rest and take a break. If your swim buoy works as a flotation device, this is an opportune time to practice with it. It’s better to acclimate here, than in very deep water with lots of crashing waves.
Sighting involves peeking your head out of the water. This process allows you to visualize where you are going and any objects or potential hazards in your way. From boats to docks to other swimmers, there are many dangers in the open water swimming. Pick a focal point to swim toward to keep yourself on course.
If you are using a wetsuit, ensure that it’s properly fitted. Follow manufacturer sizing guides closely if you aren’t close enough for a fitting inside of a store. Your wetsuit should fit very snuggly, as the fit will loosen up when you are actually in the water. Ease into the water by walking in up to knee level, then acclimate. Next walk in up to the level of your shoulders once again pausing to acclimate. Make sure that your adjustable strap is still comfortable so that your swim buoy doesn’t become a hindrance.
The use of a swim buoy can be a game changer for many snorkelers, swimmers, and triathletes. They offer a lovely storage space for items like smartphones, keys, or running shoes. They offer a brilliant color shade that’s is sure to catch the eye of any boaters. This can be a lifesaving detail, since every year, swimmers are injured and killed by boats that never saw them coming.
Swim buoys are also a perfect way to be able to keep water and nutrients on board when competing in a triathlon or open water swimming event or practice session. Possibly the best feature lies in their ability to also work as a personal flotation device. Countless swimmers are placed in danger when they become too exhausted to await rescue. Your tow float could easily be the difference between safely resting and waiting for help, and sinking or drowning. We hope you enjoyed our review and buyer’s guide to finding the best swim buoy. Don’t forget to leave us a comment below with your thought’s on swim buoys.