Arctic Spas vs Hydropool: A complete swim spa comparison
Comparing Canadian-made swim spas? Then it’s a matter of time before you land at Arctic Spas versus Hydropool Hot Tubs and Swim Spas. They are two of the long-standing swim spa brands in Canada in both the hot tub and swim spa business and each know how to make sure their products stand up for the world's harshest climates.
We understand that people want to comparison shop. We have been in business for more than 40 years and know people often look at competitors before they buy, checking out other spas on the market. That’s why we wrote this article, because we wanted you to know in advance how we see the two brands, in the most unbiased way we can.
We know it’s unusual for companies to write about brands other than their own, but since we know it’s how people often shop, we wanted to do what we could to help explain the differences between the two companies. So in this article we will compare:
- Model lineups
- The looks of each brand
- Swim capabilities
- The construction of each
- Ease of maintenance
Hopefully, by the end you’ll have a sense on what is the right swim spa for you.
Arctic vs Hydropool: Model lineups
Arctic is relatively unique among swim spa builders in that it makes one size of swim spa, and then has various levels of swimming available in that size, going up to its highest quality range. It refers to swim spas on its website as “all weather pools.”
- Each Artic Spas swim spa is 14 feet long.
- Where they differ is on swim technology and the acrylic shell in the swim spa.
- Arctic has six shells: Ocean, Okanagan, Hudson, Wolverine, Kingfisher and Athabascan. They range from offering maximum massage to basic swim tanks with few other features.
- It has three swim systems: Tether, Monsoon and Niagara. All come with the Tether option as standard. The Athabascan has just the Tether, while others offer either Niagara or Monsoon.
A tether system is literally that – a strap is mounted to the swim spa that holds you in place and allows you to swim in the water. Hydropool features it as an option, but most of its swim spas are designed for you to be able to swim in place without strapping one on.
- Three collections of swim spas, in a quality range of spas: AquaPlay, Aquatic and Executive.
- The AquaPlay is a 13-foot model. The Aquatic has a 14-foot model in both its Sport and Trainer lines. These two collections would be most comparable to Artic Spas swim spas.
- Hydropool also has a 17-foot Aquatic model, as well as a 19-foot one with a separate hot tub and swim spa. The elite Executive series has a 16 and a 19-foot edition, again with the 19-foot having a separate hot tub and swim spa. These models are for people looking for serious aquatic fitness, larger pool zone, elite swimming experiences or all three factors in one. Artic doesn’t feature comparable models.
Arctic vs Hydropool: Looks
Artic puts a premium on a look that was quite popular in the 1970s: The classic cedar-trimmed hot tub. If you like the look of real, natural wood, then Artic is one of the few remaining companies providing it. This look remains popular in Europe and parts of Quebec in Canada.
Hydropool got out of cedar cabinets about six years ago. We found that the cabinets didn’t hold up as well as synthetic models and that they aged poorly (Arctic owners may have a different experience, that’s just what happened with our own!). Our new cabinets feature woodgrain in neutral colors, while retaining a classic look. They are designed to blend into most modern backyards and to last so you don’t have to worry about upkeep.
Arctic vs Hydropool: Swim Capabilities
The two companies take their own approaches here. For example, the Athabascan model for Arctic features no jets to swim against. You put on the tether and remain suspended in the water, swimming place. You can swim in the Hydropool 13-foot AquaPlay that way, or use the jets it comes with.
The Arctic Monsoon swim system adds round jets, placed in a V. On the comparable model for Hydropool, the AquaSport, oval jets with a grill behind them help flatten the water out. That helps ensure the current is strong but not splashing in your face.
The Niagara swim system is Arctic’s elite system, with plenty of power. Some people prefer the more agitated water style, while others like a stable swimming experience. You can see what we mean by comparing the two videos:
- Here’s a video the Niagara swim system: Click here.
- Here’s a video of the AquaSport in use: Click here.
Both companies offer a strong flow rate, but take different approaches to engineering:
- This is likely caused because both companies place the jets as close as possible to the pumps, so the current will be strong enough to swim in.
- Hydropool adds an element to the shell, including hips on the Aquatic line. These “hips” encourage the water to curl in the basin, allowing it to be efficiently recirculated in the swim spa without creating turbulence while swimming.
- The suction for the pumps at Hydropool is placed at the back of the swim spa, again to minimize turbulence. Arctic takes a more open approach to its swim spas, which creates more space, and places the suction at the front of the swim spa.
- Lastly, on the AquaTrainer, you’re able to dial up the speed of your swim a control panel, as opposed to adjusting the jets themselves.
Arctic and Hydropool both put considerable emphasis on quality massage as well as swimming. The Ocean, in particular, by Arctic, emphasizes “maximum luxury” while some models feature what’s called an SDS massage chair. Hydropool’s 19-foot models feature separate, independent hot tubs attached to the swim spa. Hydropool’s swim spas also feature Zone Therapy, designed to massage your entire body, broken down into a system of zones.
If swim is important to you as a factor, we strongly urge you to try before you buy! Do a test swim in each model.
Arctic vs Hydropool: Build and Construction
Here’s a quick look at building and construction differences:
- Unique among major swim spa companies we know of, the Artic swim spa has no frame but is built with a self-supporting composite hull. Hydropool uses a metal frame underneath its cabinet.
- Arctic uses perimeter foam insulation. The swim spas are insulated around the floor and cabinet. From what we could tell, it’s about three inches thick and we think it is the only one out there that has foam on the floor and walls of the cabinet. It’s a system designed to trap heat effectively and we are convinced that it does. It would also be easy to repair and get access to over time.
- Hydropool’s approach to energy efficiency is to trap heat at the ends with a foil blanket. But we also use full foam, which provides maximum insulation, while providing support for the hoses within the swim spa. We have adopted this method because it’s an effective way to reduce leaks over time in your swim spa, and saves you from further repair, while still offering maximum energy efficiency.
- We add a vent to the sides of our swim spas, to open them in the spring and close them in the winter. This is to help regulate your swim spa so it doesn’t get too hot in the summer and so that it traps residual heat in the winter.
Arctic vs Hydropool: Ease of Maintenance
- Arctic uses a five-stage filtration system on most of its swim spas for its cleaning filtration system. The water moves through filters that are finer and finer each step of the way. It also features a clever capability in that their system can be adjusted for your specific water – it can capture iron or minerals, for example, if your water is hard, for example.
- Hydropool doesn’t have that, but it does come with a unique floor vacuum, built on the idea that particles either float or sink in water. The top skimmer removes everything floating, while the floor vacuum sucks up anything on the bottom. It’s a unique feature to Hydropool and part of the companies patented self-cleaning system.
- Arctic comes with three sanitization options: ozone, an AOP system and a salt water system – again a rarity in the category.
- Hydropool has an AOP system as standard on most of its swim spas. It’s a sanitization system often used in our drinking water.
Arctic vs Hydropool Pricing
This is tricky. Hydropool publishes its prices on its website (just click on each model). We looked at Arctic and couldn’t find pricing. But we believe as a comparison, the Tether/Niagara version of the Arctic swim spa is about $2500 less than an equivalent Hydropool, and that approximate gap spans across the Arctic vs Hydropool lineup. Hydropool has a different swim system and a steel frame as well as its self-cleaning system and a newer-style cabinet. Clearly, the two companies have taken very different approaches to the same product.
Arctic or Hydropool: Which is right for me?
That entirely depends on what you’re looking for. Hydropool is obsessed with engineering high-quality swim experiences. It’s three-tiered lineup features:
- a Play model, designed for fun and families
- an Aquatic range meant to offer a multi-sport playground
- an Executive series, which is engineered for elite swimming
These come in a range of sizes, from 13 up to 19 feet.
Arctic’s approach is to create 14-foot swim spas that can be used for playing, fun and offer swimming as well. Its classic cedar design is a magnet for some.
Which is best for you in the battle of Hydropool vs Artic swim spas? If you’d like to discuss this further with a Hydropool dealer or visit your local store, click here to find the one closest to.
Jon Filson is the senior content manager at Hydropool Swim Spas and Hot Tubs.
Disclaimer: In this article, we’ve used brand names not affiliated with Hydropool or our parent company Jacuzzi Brands LLC. All information, including pricing and product details, was accurate at the time of writing and may change without notice.