Review: tow floats
Keep hydrated, protect your valuables and stay seen: a tow float is a trusty companion when you’re swimming in open water. Choose your perfect buoy with our expert guide.
Zone3 Hydration Swim Safety Buoy | £40
They say: Designed with the long-distance swimmer in mind, this buoy allows a swimmer to keep hydrated in open water while improving the visibility of the swimmer at the same time. This is the only style of buoy that allows access to regular drink breaks during long swims in open water.
We say: This tow float is super straightforward to set up and use. Simply fill the bladder pack with up to 1 litre of liquid and insert it into the tow float before inflation. The tube for the liquid, which attaches to the side of the float with a clip, is also very easy to access when swimming. This float is a solid option for longer swims when fuel and hydration is an important consideration.
Dippy Wild Tow Float | £32.99
They say: We understand the need for robust good quality gear but in all honesty, we were getting bored of the same styles. We wanted to be different, be fun, be remembered! So, we developed a fabulous and funky open water swimming buoy. We put ourselves and our open water tow floats into the toughest wild swimming locations and our swimming floats performed well in all four seasons as well as being a fabulous accessory at the beach.
We say: This is a tow float for swimmers that like to make a statement. The cameo design is unlike any other floats I’ve seen in the market, while staying bright enough to keep swimmers visible and safe in the water. The quality is great too! At 28 litres it’s big enough to take valuables and smaller items of kit with you on your swims.
Ulu Guardian II | £34.99 *BEST FOR SELFIES*
They say: The Guardian II is an inflatable dry bag for swimmers, kayakers, stand-up paddlers and sailors. The features were designed by consulting RNLI safety experts. Featuring US coast guard approved reflective SOLAS material, marine safety whistle and two inflatable chambers the bag can be used for buoyancy, to tow kit when open water swimming or to stow kit when on craft above the water.
We say: There’s clearly been a lot of thought that has gone into the design of this tow float. The reflec- tive SOLAS material maximises the ability to be seen in more extreme weather conditions and low visibility. The GoPro mount makes it easy to capture memories of your swims and surroundings. With considerable internal capacity too, this is a winner.
Swim Secure Tow Donut| £27.99
They say: The Swim Secure Tow Donut is a highly visible tow float swim buoy with waist strap and an integrated dry bag pouch. The small dry bag sits in the centre of the donut, out of the water, and is perfect for small items such as car keys and phones. The pouch can be opened on the water allowing you to access your drink, gels or phone so you can take that all important selfie!
We say: This is a great quality tow float. It’s small enough in size that it doesn’t cause any drag in the water but with enough room in the pouch to take valuables or hydration gels for longer swims, with easy access when in the water. As the pouch on top is transparent, placing a torch inside makes it an ideal accessory for night swims.
Restube Active | £69.95 (was £79.95)
They say: Just wear it stored in the compact pocket to have your focus even more in the moment. Pull the trigger and the yellow Restube buoy inflates within seconds. Restube active provides enough buoyancy (75N) for adults, just lean over it to lift your head out of the water. Wave with the buoy to catch attention or drag it behind you.
We say: A more expensive option on the list, but with credentials to match. The float itself doesn’t need to be inflated until necessary and it rests on the waist or back in an unobtrusive way. I was a bit dubious of how quickly and easily the float itself would inflate when in the water, but it really was as simple as one pull of the trigger. It then fills with Co2 in seconds, offering up to 75N of buoyancy instantly
Above Below RuckRaft | £164 *BEST FOR ADVENTURE*
They say: The RuckRaft is a fully inflatable raft that comes with a giant drybag into which you can pour everything: rucksack, robes, walking boots, picnic, tent and as many layers of clothes as you need for a big day out or weekend of cross country swimming. At home on lake, river or sea, the RuckRaft is a multiplier for any swim adventure.
We say: Less a tow float, more an adventure enabler. If you want to swim and hike across a landscape (and then even camp), the RuckRaft allows you to swim with as much kit as you need. Despite its size when inflated, the raft and extra-large dry bag are surprisingly easy to tow – there is minimal drag even when fully loaded with a 15kg rucksack. An innovative, robust and well-de- signed product that packs down to a lightweight 1kg.
Find all the gear you need for open water swimming, from adventure bags and swimming togs to tow floats and changing robes, at the Outdoor Swimming Shop. Read more gear reviews.