Beginners Guide to Tow Floats

These are the most frequently asked questions when thinking about using a Tow Float when open water swimming: 

  • What does a tow float do?

The main reason is to increase your VISIBILITY from the shore and to other users of the open water. The other reasons are to give you something to support your weight if you are tired/have cramp and to provide waterproof storage.

  • Do I need a tow float? 
In short, yes! A tow float not only keeps you visible to other water users but it also comes in handy if you need to take a rest during your swim. Some versions like the Tow Donut have an integrated dry bag that allows you to take a small water bottle, snacks or inhalers with you on a swim. 
  • How does a tow float work?

The tow float/dry bag is pulled behind you while swimming, attached via a waist belt and short leash. It floats out of range of arms and kick zone.

Here is a go to guide for how to inflate and deflate a tow float/dry bag:

  • Does a tow float slow you down? 

It may seem counter-intuitive, but swimming with a tow float does not actually cause enough drag to be noticed. It is said the bow wave that is created by your shoulders and upper body creates an eddy behind you, which actually pushes the buoy forward, so it virtually eliminates any possibility of drag.  Also, because the short leash attachment allows the tow float to float over the bend of your knees/thighs it is out of the way of the finish of your arm stroke; and since it does not reach past the upper calves, your kick is also unaffected.


  • How do I choose a tow float? 
Which product is best for you will depend on what your intended use is when you are open water swimming.  Do you need storage? A small amount of storage or a lot of storage ie for clothes? Click on our Product Comparison page to find your your ideal tow float.  If you know what type of swimmer you are take a look at our Dry Bag and Tow Float Guide for Every Type of Swimmer

  • How to attach the Waist Belt & Leash to a tow float? 
Here is a video for you to view on how to do this. 

  • Can you use a tow float as a buoyancy aid? 

A Tow Float/Dry Bag is not a buoyancy aid.   As a tow float/dry bag is buoyant it can be a great support when you're tired, get cramp or just want a breather.  You can then simply hug it and float along while having a chat with other members of the group or attract attention if you require help.

Buy tow float

  • Will a tow float keep you afloat? 
As mentioned above the main reason to swim with a tow float is to increase your visibility in the water. They are not designed to be a lifesaving aid but they will support your weight if you need to stop for a rest on your swim.

  • Can you use a Dry Bag as a tow float? 

Yes! All our dry bags come with a waist belt and leash that allow you to tow them behind you when you swim. The water takes the weight of the bag so there is very little drag - they won't slow you down! Plus you'll be able to keep your kit safe and dry while you swim. 

buy dry bags

Receive a 10% discount on your first purchase when you sign up to Swim Secure's newsletter.  Subscribe below. 

If you have any further queries contact us on 


  • We always recommend using a glue like Storm Sure to repair punctured tow floats and dry bags. Anything that creates a flexible waterproof seal should do the job and extend the life of your Tow Float for a few more years.

    Jon - Swim Secure
  • Has anyone had to repair a puncture on a tow float? I have a decathlon item and am loathe to throw it away because it can’t be mended. Super glue, bicycle repair kit and gorilla glue haven’t worked, it appears to have two layers to the fabric. Can anyone help please? I swim in the Solway in Cumbria.

    Annette gibbons

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published