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We tried this bean bag-style pool float, and it was weird

Buoy, or bust?

On left, navy-aqua "Captain's Pool Float" from Big Joe in pool water. On right, woman smiling while reclining outdoors in pool on the navy-aqua "Captain's Pool Float." Credit: Reviewed / Cheryl Fenton / Big Joe

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We enthusiastically opened our pool for the 2021 summer season in May, before we started having the record-breaking precipitation worthy of Noah’s Ark—I live in Massachusetts and it’s been a wet summer so far.

I did my annual unveiling of our adorable pool floats and made good with the pump, blasting air into them in anticipation of at least half of them failing the float test because of off-season acquired holes.

Since most of our inflated floats typically hold their breath for just a single season, I am always looking for new ones. I don’t get too emotionally attached to the trendy unicorns, flamingos, or donuts, because I know that next summer, they’ll be flat pancakes.

I also decided to try a different kind of pool float this year, in the form of the Big Joe Captain’s Pool Float.

The Big Joe brand is big on dorm room bean bag chairs. When I noticed Big Joe also has a pool float lounger made like a bean bag chair, I was intrigued. I suppose it’s not surprising then that my dog made herself comfy in it as soon as it arrived.

In photos online, it looked comfy and certainly gave off a more substantial footprint than the dime-a-dozen floating pool chairs that get used and get tossed with frightening speed.

Is it possible to imagine a pool float that lasts? Obviously, I ordered this Big Joe pool float and tried it out.

What we like

On left, tan colored dog reclining on navy-aqua
Credit: Reviewed / Cheryl Fenton

We can't deny the level of comfort that comes with the Captain's Pool Float from Big Joe–even our family dog enjoyed resting in it.

When I received the Big Joe pool float, I was still in the process of opening our pool for the season, so the pool float lounger was relegated to the garage until such a time that temps (and chlorine levels) were right.

One evening, I caught my daughter lounging in it during a movie. And, as mentioned, my dog loves it, too. At first, it was unexpected to see this usage outside of its raison d'etre. The cup holder also makes for a great detail, as she had plopped her La Croix in there. Bonus points for now securely year-round status in our house.

When pool time finally rolled around, the pool float lounger’s convenient carrying handle made it easy to drag it out to the water, and I say “drag” since it’s heavier than inflated ones, being filled with tiny floatable beads similar to a bean bag chair; these are what also makes it super buoyant.

And, because this Big Joe pool float doesn’t require a pump, you don’t need to plan ahead in terms of refilling before use.

The color combo I chose (there are five options, from Blurred Stripe Americana to Lime-Capri has a cheerful vibe that matches our pool décor—I went with Navy-Aqua. Although for some reason, the Tiente Cabana Stripe doesn’t include a cup holder and is sized slightly smaller.

What we didn’t like

On left, girl struggling to recline in the
Credit: Reviewed / Cheryl Fenton

Reclining in a bean-bag-style pool float shouldn't be this difficult.

Once in the pool, my daughter scrambled to get onto what’s now her favorite movie chair. By scrambled, I don’t mean jumping at it while trying to contain excitement. I mean the Big Joe pool float was difficult to sit on when placed in the water. I also tried and kept flipping the thing, proving that sadly parents aren’t better at all the things.

When my teenager finally got her tiny butt in the pool float lounger, she sported a devilish smile. “I feel like I’m doing something wrong,” she whispered, noting that because it is a bean bag, it was throwing off her sensibilities as far as pool floats go. Is feeling like you’re doing something wrong fun? Sure is.

Big Joe’s claim that this pool float is built like a chair is true. But this is where the list of positive things ends. It claims to have “ultimate back support,” but to be honest it was completely uncomfortable because of the support. I had three people of various weights and heights try it, including myself, and each of us agreed that it pitches you forward as you sit. While I love a good ab workout, I don’t think a relaxing float in your pool is where you want to have one.

Should you buy the Big Joe’s Captain’s Pool Float?

On left, man smiling while reclining on the
Credit: Big Joe

With all these fun colors and patterns, it'd be a shame not to purchase one for just lounging around the house.

Maybe. If you want a comfy floor chair for watching movies, then grab a Big Joe Captain’s pool float, pop some popcorn, and plop down for the show. If you want a comfortable pool float lounger, this isn’t the one for you.

Get the Big Joe Captain’s Pool Float at Walmart for $79.04

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