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 In 1986, an American company introduced a revolutionary product to the world of hot tub enthusiasts. Their memory foam tub body design was elegantly lightweight at under 65 pounds, and thereby impressively portable, yet its structure was so fortified, that a famous video, still viewable on YouTube, shows an elephant standing on the tub. Thus, Softub came out of the gate charging with an immediate and tangible consumer appeal because it offered structural integrity with complete portability at a much more accessible price point than it’s old-fashioned hard hot tub predecessors. With it’s patent-engineered heater-less pumping technology coupled with an ultra-durable tub structure housing powerful, vigorous massage jets, Softub had a whale by the tail that, as with all good things, eventually produced it’s share of imitations, one of the most notorious of which is the disposable, blow up hot tub.

The inflatable spa first made its appearance in places like the pages of airline shopping catalogs as a novelty item for travelers to whimsically consider having a hot tub in a hotel room. Now…we will, for a moment, ignore the logistic impossibilities for most people of somehow getting a substantial amount of water into and out of a veritable inner-tube in a rented room whose policies most likely would frown on such practices. Not to mention that the practicality of going through all the time-expenditure of inflating, filling and draining for a most likely overnight stay just isn’t realistic for even the most gadget-grabbing jet setter. Nevertheless, the idea of the blow-up hot tub did not fade after its “Sky Mall” start-up; inflatable tubs popped (pardon the pun) up on discount websites and big-box store shelves to lure a customer who primarily could not afford the luxury of a “real” and efficient spa. Not by chance mind you, these blow-up bubblers make a conspicuous effort to look similar to their industry predecessor, the original Softub. But this, decidedly, save perhaps portability, is where the similarities end. To put a pin in it (there I go again), these products are wholly disposable. They are not intended to be a long-lasting relaxing spa, but rather a novelty for a season (if they last that long). They do not offer actual spa jets—only bubbles that pop up from tarp-like bottoms. They have no insulation, as they are…filled with air, and thus they are rated to only be used in mild, Summer weather—hence, more of a kiddie-pool than a spa. Their minuscule heaters simply cannot keep up with the constant environmental infiltration of external cold through their empty walls, so if you make an attempt to keep them hot continually, you will most certainly see the unsavory effect on your electric bill. But all this aside—most companies producing these built-to-spill soakers will only warranty them for 90-120 days on manufacturer defect only, and if a problem occurs, well, good luck as these products are mass-produced in far-flung corners of the globe in places where customer service is a bygone bullet-point.

         Needless to say, do not be fooled by cheap knock-offs; there is no substitute for the real Softub. If you want a truly premium spa with actual, tension-eliminating jets, closed-cell superior insulation, temperature control in all climates regardless of season and a industry-leading warranty that is serviced right here in locations across the U.S., don’t make the mistake of bursting your bubble with an aired-up look-alike. There is no replacement for the authentic, time-tested, and long-lasting Softub—it’s money well spent. Anything else is just blowing hot air…I’ve run out of puns!