A floating water mat is this summer’s must-have water accessory. It may look like an oversized yoga mat but once unfurled on the water, you have a floating walkway that can handle the antics of a whole family or group of friends.
There are plenty of these floating islands on the market but which is right for you?
I’ve spent hours researching the most popular floating mats and water pads to find out which are worth your money. My top pick is the iRocker Swim Mat. It’s big enough for most families and is the only mat I’ve found with a 3-year warranty.
Not convinced? Read on to find out how I rate other popular floating water mats.
Floating Water Mats Compared
High-Capacity Mat with Multiple Tie-Down Points
This 12-foot mat has enough space and weight capacity for most families. It has 4 tie-down points, comes in 2 colors, and its durability is backed by a 3-year warranty.
For Big Families
18-Foot Mat with Scratch-Resistant Coating
Rubber Dockie’s mat has a Tuff-Hide coating and tear-resistant foam for durability. It’s big enough for large families and groups and the bright orange color is great for visibility.
Affordable Inflatable Mat That’s Compact to Store
The WOW inflatable mat floats on the water, making it easier to stay dry. Connect multiple mats to create an inflatable walkway! This mat is affordable and packs down small once deflated.
Cheap Inflatable Mat for Small Families
This is the smallest mat I’ve reviewed and the cheapest—by a long way! It can take three adults and is great value for money, just don’t bank on the customer service.
Huge Capacity Mat in a Variety of Colors
The SOWKT is an 18-foot map with a 1,350-pound capacity. It’s surprisingly lightweight and comes in a range of bright colors.
Durable Mat with UV Protection
A great choice If you want a mat that’ll stand up to several years of regular use in sunny climates. The Lily Pad is expensive, though, and you don’t get a choice of colors.
Affordable Mat with a Rolled Headrest
The Max4out is my favorite 9-foot mat. It’s reasonably priced and you can roll the edge over and secure it to create a headrest. Perfect for lounging in the sun!
Brightly-Colored Mat with Tie-Down Points
The Goplus mat comes in two sizes: 11.5 feet and 18 feet. Both are brightly colored, but I prefer the 11.5-foot model as it has an anchor point in each corner.
15-Foot Swim Pad with Funky Designs
The Floating Oasis is a great mid-sized pad that’s large enough for family use but not too unwieldy. The pretty designs mean your mat will stand out from the crowd!
Best Floating Water Mats Reviewed
1) iRocker Floating Swim Mat – Best Floating Water Mat
The iRocker Floating Swim Mat is the best water mat I’ve found. It’s not the biggest, but it has a fantastic size-to-capacity ratio, with a maximum capacity of 1,102 pounds. That makes it a great option for heavier folk.
At 12-feet, the mat is plenty big enough for most families. Remember, bigger isn’t always better, especially when it comes to storing and transporting your mat.
Two other things set this floating foam mat apart from the rest. Most foam water mats come with a single tether point, but the iRocker has four loops—one on each corner—that you can use to tie the mat down.
This means you can anchor it firmly in place without it drifting, and you don’t have to worry about the wind flipping over the edges of the mat. The loops also make it easy to move the mat around.
The foam seems denser than other mats, and I reckon it’ll stand up to rocks, punctures, and other abuse better than most. Its durability is backed by a 2-year warranty—the longest of any mat on this list. I’ve been a fan of iRocker’s SUPs for years and I really rate them as a company.
2) Rubber Dockie Floating Mat – Best Floating Water Mat
The Rubber Dockie comes in two lengths: the 9-foot version weighs 16 pounds and the 18-foot version weighs 30 pounds.
Despite its name, the Rubber Dockie is not made of rubber. Like many floating water mats, it’s constructed from two layers of closed-cell foam. It also has a nylon inner rebar matrix. That sounds pretty fancy! Put simply, it means that if you puncture or rip your mat, the tear shouldn’t propagate through the mat. This makes it more durable than other water mats.
The mat has a reversible design. I love the bright orange color—it means you’ll stand out on the water. That’s important for safety if there are boats or other water users and it means you can easily keep an eye on your kids from dry land.
It’s a good firm mat that doesn’t crumple when you jump onto it. I recommend the 18-foot version for large families who want something bigger.
3) Wow World of Watersports Inflatable Walkway – Best Inflatable Floating Water Mat
If you want an inflatable floating water mat, the WOW Water Walkway is my top pick. The basic mat measures 10 x 6 feet (there’s also a smaller 6 x 6 feet version), but the unique thing about these mats is that they have a zipper connection, so you can join them together.
That means your floating island can be 10 feet long or 100 feet—it’s up to you!
A foam mat supports your weight at or just below the water level. The WOW inflatable mat lifts you up slightly, so you lounge on top of the water. This makes it a better choice if you want to stay (mostly) dry, for example, if you’re creating a walkway between two docks or boats. If you want to stay cool, then push the edge of the mat down to let some water on.
The pad is constructed from heavy-duty PVC and many users have taken their dogs on it without any issues (not having a furry friend to hand, I haven’t personally tested this). That said, like any inflatable, there’s a risk of puncturing the plastic or seams leaking.
The WOW mat packs down small and is less than half the price of most foam mats.
4) Intex Giant Inflatable Floating Mat
The Intex is the mat I’d take on vacation. It packs down smaller than a foam mat and it’s cheap enough that you won’t be too distraught if it doesn’t make it home.
It’s so cheap that you might overlook it when shopping thinking that it’s too good to be true. While it’s not perfect, you do get a lot for your money.
The Intex floating mat is 9.5 feet long and 7 feet wide (deflated). Inflated, it’s slightly shorter, but there’s still plenty of room for three adults. It has a capacity of up to 600 pounds and you can use the connectors at each corner of the mat to join mats together. The connectors also double as anchor points.
The downsides are you don’t get a real warranty (just Amazon’s 30-day return window) and by all accounts, the customer service is pretty poor. Still, you can buy a lot of these mats for the price of a foam mat, so you may decide the risk is worth it!
5) SOWKT Premium Floating Mat for Lakes and Pools
The SOWKT is a big mat with a huge 1,320-pound capacity. It can easily handle 7-8 adults lying down, though you do need to make sure you distribute the weight evenly. Given its size (18 feet) and capacity, it’s surprisingly light, weighing just 28 pounds.
The mat is constructed from three layers of XPE foam with an inner “net” that, along with the heat sealing, helps prevent tears. That said, I don’t think it’s as durable as the Rubber Dockie mats.
You get a choice of 4 designs, all with bright colors. The mat comes with a bungee tether leash and a heavy-duty carabiner for securing it to a dock or boat.
6) Aqua Lily Pad for Lakes
The Aqua Lily Pad comes in four sizes, from 12 feet up to 20 feet. The weight and capacity vary accordingly, but for comparison, the 18-foot version weighs 36 pounds and has a capacity of up to 1,500 pounds.
Overall, the Lily Pads are a bit heavier than other models, but they have a high weight capacity.
The mats are constructed from cross-linked polyethylene foam. The FlexCore technology adds strength and is supposed to help the foam flatten out when you unroll it. It’s a durable mat, but the ends do curl up a little when you unroll it. You can’t do much about this as there’s only one tether point.
The Lily Pad has a UV stabilized film that protects the foam from sun damage and fading. This means the colors won’t fade as fast and it’ll last longer in hot, sunny climates.
It’s not the cheapest mat, but if you spend a lot of time on the water and want a floating water pad that’ll last more than a summer or two, I’d recommend the Aqua Lily Pad.
7) Max4out Water Floating Mat for Lakes
If you’re put off by the prices of most foam water mats, then Max4out’s range of pads may catch your eye. They’re a lot more affordable than mats such as the Aqua Lily Pad. You get a choice of three sizes (9, 12, or 18 feet) and they’re very lightweight.
The mats are constructed from three layers of XPE foam. This stands up reasonably well to light use, but it’s not as durable as other mats. If you start jumping around it, you may find your foot goes straight through the foam.
On the 9-foot version of the mat, you can roll the end over to create a pillow for your head. I love this feature as it makes it more comfortable to lie flat on your back. If I was buying a floating foam mat just for me, this is the one I’d go for!
Overall, the Max4out mat is an affordable mat for couples or small families who won’t give it too much abuse. If you want a larger mat that can handle kids (and adults!) bouncing around, or you want to take your dog out on the water, I’d choose a more expensive, durable mat.
8) Goplus Floating Water Pad
At first glance, the Goplus floating water mat looks very similar to the Max4out pad. They’re both lightweight and made from 3 layers of XPE foam, however, the GoPlus is more expensive.
Is it worth the extra money? I do think the Goplus is a better mat. I particularly like the 11.5-foot version, as it’s a bright orange color (good for visibility) and comes with 4 tie-down points. As long as you have something to tie it to, this keeps the ends of the mat from curling up.
Of course, you may prefer to let the mat float freely, in which case this feature may not be worth the extra money!
In terms of durability, the Goplus fares a little better than the Max4out pads, though I would still recommend treating the mats more gently than a Lily Pad or Rubber Dockie mat. However, the Goplus mats do come with a warranty, so it may be easier to resolve any issues you have with the mat.
9) Floating Oasis Lake Pad
The Floating Oasis Lake Pad measures 15 x 6 feet, so it falls between the 12-foot and 18-foot mats offered by other companies. I really like this size of pad. It gives plenty of room for a family or larger group of kids, but it’s less unwieldy than an 18-foot mat.
It also has a huge capacity of over 1,500 pounds—that’s more than a lot of 18-foot mats!
Perhaps the best thing about the Floating Oasis pad is the designs. In addition to plain colors, you can choose from a multi-colored wave (my favorite!), botanical leaf, or football touchdown line design!
The downsides are that it’s expensive and the quality isn’t amazing. It’s easily scratched, so I wouldn’t advise taking dogs out on it, and lots of people have had problems with the tether carabiner breaking. This is a pretty easy fix though, so it may not be a deal-breaker for you.
What to Consider When Buying a Floating Water Mat
As you can see from this comprehensive list of floating water mats and pads – the products available are more diverse than one might assume. There are a number of considerations to keep in mind when making a decision about what to purchase.
If you want to do your own research, here’s what you need to look at when buying a floating mat.
Foam vs. Inflatable Water Mat
The first decision you need to make is whether you want a foam or inflatable mat.
Closed-cell foam mats don’t need to be inflated. They’re quick and easy to get out—simply unroll your mat and you’re good to go. They also can’t be punctured, which may be an important safety consideration if you have kids or dogs around.
However, foam mats are pretty big and heavy once they’re rolled up. Imagine lugging a roll of carpet from your car to the beach—that gives you an idea of what you’re tackling!
Inflatable mats typically pack down smaller. This makes them easier to transport and store. The downside is that you’ll need a pump to inflate your mat. Once you’re done for the day, you’ll need to deflate your mat and make sure it’s dry before you pack it away.
When it comes to cost, foam mats are more expensive. However, they’re also a lot more durable, so if you calculate the cost per year of use, it may not seem such a bad deal!
Which would I choose?
I’d go for a foam mat unless I wanted something light and compact to take on vacation.
What Size Floating Water Mat Do You Need?
This depends on how many people want to pile on board. Larger mats have a bigger weight capacity but they’re more expensive and more cumbersome to transport.
There are two things you need to know about the weight capacity of floating water mats.
Firstly, the maximum capacity is based on the weight being distributed evenly across the surface. That means most adults will need to lie down. Unlike inflatable floating docks, water mats are flexible. If you weigh 200 pounds and you jump on the center of the mat, it’ll dip under the water.
Secondly, most mats aren’t designed to keep you dry. They will keep you afloat, but depending on the weight distribution and capacity, you’ll either get a bit wet or very wet. That’s why they’re perfect for hot summer days!
If you’re really reluctant to get wet, then the WOW inflatable mat does sit higher in the water, so you have a better chance of staying dry.
What Features Do You Need?
At a minimum, you need an attachment point for a leash to tether your mat to a boat, dock, or anchor. Some mats have tie-down points at each end or all four corners. These can help prevent the mat from floating around and are useful if it’s windy, as they keep the edges from blowing up in the wind.
You want to make sure the attachment points are secure and won’t rip the foam if tugged. A bungee leash gives you more flexibility and helps absorb any sudden tugs, which can protect the foam.
UV protection should be a priority for foam mats if you live in a hot, sunny climate and want your mast to last. A non-slip coating on the surface of the mat can make it easier for kids to run around without slipping, but it may make the mat less comfortable to lie on.
If you’re buying an inflatable mat, I’d recommend investing in an electric pump so you can quickly inflate it with minimal effort.
Cleaning and Storing Your Water Mat
Floating water mats don’t require much maintenance. The main thing you need to watch out for is mildew and mold. To protect your mat, don’t leave it out in the water for extended periods (such as overnight) and make sure it’s completely dry before you roll it up and store it.
If your mat gets dirty, just wash the dirt off. I wouldn’t recommend using any harsh chemicals on your mat, but you can use a light soap if needed.
Why are floating mats so expensive?
This depends on what you might define as ‘expensive’ – but for what they are, floating mats can seem pricey, because of what they are designed for. Closed-cell mats tend to be more expensive than inflatable mats. Although the design is simple, mats use a lot of material and they have significant transport costs.
How do you secure a floating water mat?
Floating mats come with one or more tether points. You can secure your water mat by tying one end of a rope or bungee lanyard to the tether point and the other end to a dock, boat, or anchor.
Where can I use my floating water mat?
You can use floating water mats in large pools, lakes, or on calm seas. It’s not recommended that you use a floating water mat or pad in water with a current or waves. They are designed for leisure, so calm water is a must.
I hope you found this round-up and buyer’s guide useful! I think the biggest risk you take when buying a floating water mat is longevity—many mats only last a couple of months. That’s why I recommend the iRocker Swim Mat. It’s reasonably priced, has all the features you need, and is more durable than other floating mats.
Now, get out and enjoy the water!