The Ultimate Wild Swimmer's Guide to Tow Floats: Part 1

The Ultimate Wild Swimmer's Guide to Tow Floats: Part 1

So you’ve been out at your favourite wild swimming spot and seen a sea of orange on the sea (or pink for that matter).  What exactly are these alien look contraptions that you see floating about in the water? Maybe you’ve had a peek at the selection we have here in the store, but wonder what exactly is the difference between a tow float and a dry bag?  And what the seaweed is a Tow donut?

Well keep on reading to find out the what tow floats are, what they are used for and which will suit your needs best.

What is a tow float?

A tow float, also sometimes called a swim buoy, is a brightly coloured floating device that you tow behind you when open water swimming.  The simplest tow floats are so that you can be seen easily when in the water.  They will often come in bright orange, bright pink and occasionally bright yellow. 

Whether you’re cold water swimming in the Lake District or enjoying a salty dip off the Cornish coast, there is a high likelihood you are sharing the water with other craft.  Whether they be boats, stand-up paddle boarders or the dreaded jet ski, staying visible in choppy waters is a key water safety tip.

Should anything go wrong on your wild swim, and here’s to hoping it never does, having a bright coloured companion will make you easier to spot for rescuers.

Can I use a tow float to help me float?

Tow floats shouldn’t be relied upon as a floatation aid.  You should always ensure that you stay within your capabilities when planning a swim.   In extreme emergencies of course they will prove some assistance, but they are designed for visibility, and as we will find out below, some can also carry items.

The different type of Tow Floats

Tow floats come in many shapes, sizes and functions.  The simplest will be like the Tow Float Classic that we stock here at the Wild Swim Store. It’s purely an inflatable, brightly coloured rugby shaped ball that attaches to a waist strap and gets pulled along behind you on your open water swim.


Classic Wild Swimming Tow Float


Next you have a variety of tow floats that come with various pockets or storage areas. 

The one that gets me licking my lips is the donut tow float.   Instead of a jam filled centre it has a small dry pouch perfect for keeping your keys, phone or even a couple of donuts. 

Open Water Swimming Tow Float

We then stock the Tow Float Elite, perfect for those going on longer sea swims. It is designed to be more Aqua dynamic, reducing the drag they create, and has a small pouch on the outside where you can stash some energy gels, bananas or a drink.

Cold Water Swimming Tow Float

We also stock the Swim Secure Hydration Tow Float, which can carry a sports bottle enabling you to keep, as the name would suggest, hydrated on longer swims.

Swim Secure Hydration Swim Buoy

What’s the difference between a tow float and a Dry bag?

It may be slightly confusing seeing the names tow floats and dry bags and wondering what the difference is. 

Dry Bags are larger than a regular tow float, and have a watertight compartment where you can carry more than just a sports drink, or donuts. 

They are perfect for those wanting to go on a point to point open water swim, allowing you to stash your dry clothes, towel, and yes ….donuts, so that you can get changed at the other end. 

Dry Bag for Cold Water Swimming

My favourite has got to be the backpack version, which is perfectly suited to when you are cycling to a wild swim spot.  Just pop it on your back, cycle down there, lock your bike and then switch your dry wear for whatever you dip in (or not).  You then don’t have to worry about leaving anything on the side, towing it all behind you as you enjoy your swim.

Wild Swimming Backpack

So that’s part one of our  guide to tow floats, keep your eye out for part two!


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