Safety is the most important aspect of any sport. When you’re swimming in open water, staying safe and being prepared is even more essential, because if something goes wrong you are further from help.
Swim buoys and swimmers’ floats are designed to serve multiple purposes. They offer extra safety by making you extremely visible while you’re in the water, and give you the security of having something to hold onto in deep water.
You can also store items in most of them, so swimmers can have nutrition, extra gear, or even electronic devices with them when they’re out in open water.
We chose the Zone3 Swim Safety Buoy & Dry Bag as best overall, as it’s a generous size, has dual airbags for better flotation, and is easy to see from near and far.
Let’s have a look at the other swim buoys we recommend.
Top 3 Best and Favorite
Zone3 Swim Safety Buoy & Dry Bag 28l
Clispeed Swim Buoy Dry Bag 18L
ProCase Swim Buoy Float
1. Zone3 Swim Safety Buoy & Dry Bag 28l
This bright orange buoy is heavy-duty and strong and has been designed for use outdoors, although you can use it in an indoor pool too if you need to.
You can store your valuables easily as the two airbags are separate from the 28-liter storage chamber. This doesn’t reduce the amount of space you have for storage, but it does increase the buoyancy of the bag.
The bag is designed to be packed while flat. It’s 50cm x 35cm—19.6 x 13.7 inches—in size, which gives you a generous amount of space to pack items such as towels, snacks, or a dry set of clothing.
It is made from heavy-duty nylon, which is coated with a layer of PVC to make it waterproof so it protects your items inside. You can buy this buoy in bright orange or neon pink so you can be visible in open water and the buoyancy gives you peace of mind as you have something to help you float if there’s an emergency.
An adjustable strap and waist belt make it easy for you to take this along with you as you swim. It’s easy to slip over your swimsuit with little effort and take off just as easily when you’re finished.
The leash also means that the buoy will float a little distance away from you, so it won’t interfere with your swimming.
- Dual airbags
- 28-liter storage bag
- Adjustable waist belt
- Brightly colored for high visibility
- Weaker swimmers may struggle to pull the buoy if it is full of items
2. Synergy Buy Open Water Swim Buoy
This buoy comes in two sizes—24 x 11 inches and 28.5 x 14 inches. They are both made from PVC material which is resistant to tearing so you can take it with you anywhere and not worry about it breaking.
The large one comes in bright orange and includes a waterproof storage compartment that can carry a phone or electronic device safely, which is beneficial if you don’t have a swimming watch and you want to track your stats using your phone. It has a 28-liter capacity, and the storage area is waterproof so you can store items safely.
The smaller one is yellow in color and doesn’t contain a separate waterproof phone compartment. It has a waterproof storage compartment that is 15 liters in size, so it’s best for individuals who don’t need to carry too much with them.
Both color buoys are high visibility and have reflective logos on them so you’ll be seen even in lower-light conditions. Some individuals may feel like the buoy is too close to them while they swim and may get in their way.
- Reflective logo
- Clear cell phone pocket
- Storage compartment
- Easy to inflate
- Some swimmers may feel that the buoy is too close to them while they swim and it gets in their way
3. Clispeed Swim Buoy Dry Bag 18L
This is an 18-liter dry bag that has a large internal storage space for valuables. It’s made from durable 0.5mm PVC material that is fully waterproof, so you should be able to store even electronics valuables in it.
This buoy is attached to your waist by a tether so it floats a short distance away from you. The waistband is adjustable to a variety of waist sizes. You can remove the waist belt to dry it easily.
At 17.7 x 10.6 inches in size, this floating storage bag can easily double as a flotation device if you need a quick break from swimming. It’s also highly visible for extra safety. It can also be used for a variety of other purposes, including teaching your kids to swim.
- Internal storage space
- Made from eco-friendly PVC material
- Adjustable waist belt
- One size fits all
- Double-check when you receive the item as some buyers have reported manufacturing defects that cause holes
Best For Races
4. New Wave Swim Buoy Open Water Swim Buoy
When racing in open water, visibility is important. This swim buoy is useful in long point-to-point swims where you may need to take some items with you, such as an energy bar, extra goggles, or even a first aid kit.
You can also take electronics with you, for example, if you want to track your swim using the GPS on your cell phone. But the storage compartment is water-resistant not waterproof, so it’s wise to store valuables in Ziploc bags just in case water does get in.
The inflatable airbag is separate from the 15-liter storage space. The whole unit weighs just 10 ounces by itself, so even when it’s packed it won’t weigh you down very much while you’re swimming.
If you need to rest or you find yourself cramping during your race, you can use it as a flotation device to keep you floating while you rest for a few seconds or minutes. It is not designed to replace a life vest or be used instead of a life jacket on a boat.
It comes in four bright colors so you can stay visible no matter how far out in the open water you are. If you have loved ones watching you race, they will also be able to spot you out in the water at a quick glance!
- Separate storage compartment
- Available in four bright colors
- Adjustable waist belt
- Lightweight at 10 ounces
- This bag isn’t waterproof and you’d need to put valuable items into waterproof bags
5. ProCase Swim Buoy Float
Visibility is an important part of safety and this buoy is highly visible. Not only does it provide you with a safe resting place to keep you afloat when you need to take a short break in the water, but it comes in an array of bright neon colors—yellow, red, orange, pink, and white—that are easily seen from a great distance.
The brightness of this buoy will also make you easily seen by jet skiers, boaters, surfers, race officials, supporters, and other swimmers.
It’s lightweight—8 ounces—and made from high-strength eco-friendly PVC which is water-resistant and has a built-in nozzle for easy inflation. When it’s not in use, it folds into a small size so you can take it almost anywhere with you easily. You can use it for a variety of watersports and activities as an extra visibility beacon.
The waist belt is adjustable and will fit waists of 26 inches to 50 inches. Some swimmers may find that the leash is too short and they can’t swim freely, especially in events where they may want to use a different stroke.
- Made from eco-friendly PVC material
- Choose from five different colors
- Easy to inflate and deflate
- Adjustable waist belt up to 50 inches
- Some may find that the leash is too short
Best For Swim Adventures
6. HUT Swim Buoy Dry Bag
If you enjoy open water-related adventures other than just swimming, this buoy could be the right choice for you. It is manufactured from durable, tear-resistant nylon coated with waterproof PVC, making it a safe option to place your valuables in while you’re enjoying watersports.
As well as a waist strap, it has three handles—one on the top, and one on each side. These are handy for carrying it before you get in the water, and if you need to hang onto it while in the water for a quick break. The bottom is where the leash attaches with a carabiner so you can swim with it floating comfortably behind you. It fits comfortably on waists of up to 48 inches.
It’s easy to blow up using the one-way valve system. When you need it to deflate, just open the valve and wait for it to deflate before folding it up and storing it away at home or in your vehicle so you have it with you at all times.
When this buoy is deflated it measures 57 x 30 cm—22.4 x 11.8 inches. It’s one of the larger ones on the market, so you can fit more into it than most while still maintaining a good level of inflation.
It is available in three bright colors, so whatever adventure you’re on you will be seen from far away. Others can give you the space you need which will reduce the chance of anything going wrong during your activity.
- Three carry straps
- Waterproof storage
- Tether is attached with a Carabiner
- Rapid inflation
- This buoy is more expensive than others
What is a swim buoy?
A swim buoy is a highly visible, inflatable device that is designed to provide swimmers with visibility in open water, as well as safety if one needs to spend a few minutes floating in order to rest or recover from a cramp.
You can buy buoys that serve only those purposes, but most of them also offer internal storage space to carry items such as towels, energy bars or energy gels, dry clothing, or extra gear like goggles and a swimming cap.
Benefits of the swim buoy
A swim buoy is a handy safety device that allows swimmers to be seen from afar in open waters. This means that other individuals who may be boating, jet skiing, or also swimming in the same body of water can see you quickly and easily and keep their distance.
If you get into trouble while swimming—such as getting a cramp or hurting yourself by bumping into a rock, for example—the buoy also provides something to hold onto when you are unable to swim properly.
Not only does it become a useful flotation device but it also makes you more visible to lifeguards or rescue personnel if you need help, especially if you are wearing a dark-colored wetsuit or swimming costume.
Swim buoys can even be used by new swimmers who need something secure to keep them floating while they learn how to swim properly in open water, or even in a swimming pool.
Storage is another extra benefit. It’s a bonus that you can use the buoy for flotation even if you don’t pack anything inside of it. But if you do need to take something with you into the water, you can do so safely.
Do I need a swim buoy?
Even experienced swimmers who have plenty of open water training would benefit from having a swim buoy. No matter your level of experience, there’s always a moment where you could benefit from having something to hold onto in the water or having an energy bar to eat while on a long training swim.
Even advanced swimmers can get into trouble if something unexpected happens, and having a swim buoy with you could be the difference between safety and danger.
Beginners—especially triathletes—will find that having a swim buoy with them when they’re faced with open water instead of a swimming pool offers an extra sense of security.
If one begins to feel fatigued during swimming, the swim buoy is a safe place to rest and it’s less tiring than treading water. Beginners who may be inclined to panic if they can’t touch or see the bottom of the water may feel more confident knowing that they have a safety device with them.