An Affordable, Durable AND Portable Hot Tub? Believe it. Canadian Spa Company Swift Current Spa Review.

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By Ed

hard sided portable hot tub

Last year we bought a weekend getaway property in the country.  It is on a little river that is pretty to look at, catch fish in and enjoy a beverage on the dock, but it isn't great for swimming. We've been trying to come up with ways to add that 'swimming' element that every great vacation property should have. What we needed was a spa - a hard sided portable hot tub to be specific.

Hot tubs are a great addition to most properties. Vacation properties command higher rental rates and position your property near the top of the market. We don't plan on renting our property out right now, but we want to add value.

Is there anything more relaxing than soaking in a hot tub under the stars?

Oh yeah and HOT TUBS ARE SUPER FUN!  How did I almost miss that one?!

We had some very specific criteria for our hot tub search:

1.  Affordable.

We obviously wanted to not pay too much money, so all the $10,000 super-spas were instantly out of the running. 

2. Good reputation. 

There seem to be more hot tub manufacturers out there now than ever and lots of discount models. We wanted a company/tub that had been around and had positive feedback

3. Portable.  When our vacation property is closed for the winter, we wanted a hot tub at home to enjoy.  One that is too cumbersome and heavy to move wouldn't do that for us. And it would be cool if we didn't have to rent a trailer or a team of big dudes to move it for us.

4. Durable.

 We have a dog - and while he won't be using the Hot Tub, he may put his paws on it at some point. The idea of an inflatable hot tub (like many affordable/portable models out there) frightened us a bit a lot.

5.  Simple and Self Contained. 

We're clever enough (or at least, we tell ourselves that), but the more straightforward assembly and maintenance could be, the better.

6.  Energy Efficient.

It needs to be both affordable up front, but also on an ongoing basis.   Electricity is the way most Hot Tubs run. Electricity rates probably aren't getting cheaper anytime soon, and it would be foolish to buy a cheap hot tub that ends up costing us in the long run on utility bills.

After hours of research, we narrowed it down to one.  It looked like the hard sided portable hot tub from Canadian Spa Company's Swift Current Portable Spa could fit our needs perfectly.  But would it?  

hard sided portable hot tub review

Here's how the Swift Current Spa fits with our criteria:

  • Great reviews 

The Swift Current gets love everywhere, with many reviews saying things like, "great value for the price"

  • It comes in a box that we picked up in our car - can't get much more portable than that. Check out the photo!

hard sided portable hot tub fits in our vehicle
The hard top is in there too - but the copilot and kids had to stay home as it was pretty full by this point.

  •  The Swift Current has solid foam walls that install in sections, making it tougher than air.  

While similar in price to inflatables this suckers not going to pop - a blessing for dog owners. While we still won't let our dog in, we won't have to freak out if he jumps up on it.  We've been testing the hot tub for nearly two weeks now - dozens of times he's pounced on it with his way-too-long nails - not even a mark, let alone a puncture.

  • Simple to assemble.  

We put it together when it was still below zero and a bit of snow was in the air. Assembly still only took the promised 30 minutes. A good chunk of that time we spent warming our hands up. In the summer I think it could be done in 15 mins flat.  The how-to video and simple instructions made it easy.

  • Affordable. 

The Swift Current is fully half the price of the similarly sized/featured Softub model. And it costs thousands less than regular, hard-sided tubs. We spent a bit more upfront and added the hard top cover, this has better insulation and will trap in the heat.  This should cut our operating costs substantially and make the whole thing more 'world-proof'.

easy to set up hard sided portable hot tub

So those are the specs before we even tested it, but how did it perform in the real world?

The answer is: Very, very well.

Oh, you want specifics? Well, here goes.


  • The size is excellent. 

Our family of 4 have used it and there was room to spare. I'm a tall (6'3") guy, and my shoulders are below the waterline when seated.

  • Works great.  
There're 88 air jets that work very well to create a massage feeling and circulate the water.  They are spread out around the entire spa, which means no fighting over the best spot to sit.

  • Tough and well made. 

Putting it together made it feel heavy duty and the kids/dog have tested it since. The kids LOVE that it's round, which was an unexpected bonus.  Their favourite is making a "whirlpool" (running underwater  around the perimeter until the water pulls you along... who am I kidding - if you have kids, you know what I'm talking about).  What matters is, the tub holds up well to whirlpool based antics.

  • Dog claw proof.  

The dog has put his paws up on the wall and vinyl and foam were unmarked.  Because no self-respecting dog can hear kids squeal and laugh in there and not jump up and try and get in the action.

  • Well insulated - so easy on the electricity bill. 

We have time-based electricity usage costs, so we've been turning the whole unit off between 7AM and 7PM while the rates are high. With the addition of the foam hard-top Spa Cover, the spa has only ever dipped from 38C (100.4F) to 35C (95F). That is a loss of 3 degrees Celcius and the outside temperature was below freezing for the test. In warmer climates or summer, you can imagine very little heat loss at all.

  • Replaceable/Repairable if needed.  

I like to know long term costs to fix stuff if bad things happen. The vinyl liner comes with a repair kit and seems like something that most people who have patched anything can handle. The heating unit was my real concern, but I contacted the company and learned they can be repaired or replaced with a new/refurbished unit without you having to buy a whole new spa and that is what I like to hear.

unboxing our hardsided portable hot tub


  • None really. 

The hard top Spa Cover was a great add to the package and we highly suggest it if you're buying the Swift Current. The combined package will still be under $2000 and you can then leave the heating unit off for longer stretches of time.
  • The kids also said they would have liked a light inside, so I added this one for less than $20.  Bang. Everyone's happy.

Update: Check out this post where we show how portable the Swift Current Spa actually is - plus how we made a deck for it for less than $250 and in less than 2 hours!

Any questions?

DISCLAIMER: After deciding that the Swift Current Spa would meet all our needs, we approached the company to see if they'd like to sponsor a review of the product.  They agreed!  (A nice bonus to being a blogger.)  As always, all the opinions written are ours and we are totally honest and upfront.  We respect you, our awesome readers, too much to do anything else.


  1. Oooh, my husband would LOVE this one! We're really hopeful that we'll get to install one when we buy a new place next year - bookmarking this for our future research!!

    1. We are really happy with it, Jenn! It's so portable - you don't need to wait ;)

  2. How do you empty it? Is it easy to empty without flooding the garden? Hahaha

    1. I was sure we'd drown our garden, Duane! But, we got wise and had good luck using a garden hose and siphoning the water down our driveway.

    2. Karcher Dirty Water Pump - SDP7000

      With the hose kit you can stick it down the drain or in your roof gutter, will drain the entire tub in about 30 mins tops - it's VERY impressive and no chance of flooding the garden!

    3. Thanks for the idea - it would be nice to have other options beyond gravity to drain this fall.

  3. Read this review. Purchased one from Costco UK 2 weeks ago. Absolutely fantastic.

    1. Thanks for letting us know! We still love ours too!

  4. OMG! It looks amazing! All members in the family can have a great time together. I love this

  5. It's look great! seems easy to use. I will try one. Nothing better than a hot tub, right? Thanks for sharing! Useful as always, my friend!

  6. The Vacations time when you are with family or friends everyone needs personnel space and good amenities. And these ideas are perfect if you are affordable and needs good valuable time with your family.
    Accommodation in Daylesford

    1. You said, it has 88 jets spread out all around so no fighting over the perfect spot. How is that possible when there is no plumbing and the liner has only three ports to allow plumbing in. How do you get jets across? Confused.

  7. I also have one of these tubs and have been delighted with it. Didn't want to go cheap and inflatable, but couldn't justify the expense of a hard tub, this is the perfect compromise...

    With regards to the 'jets', it has a skirt about 3/4 of the way down the tub which allows the bubble s out - they are not water jets in the sense of a conventional hard tub but do a pretty decent job to be honest. The 3 ports are for water filtration (in/out) and air injection for the bubbles.

    1. I also made my own lighting system - https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9fVdqBj4aeeUzR4NHVWckhWZWs

      Sadly the ropelight connector kept corroding, so I've gone with one of these instead (it's not as good, but it should last!):

      GAME 4308 pool speaker/light


    2. Thanks commenters for clarifying the jets question - yes they are air bubbles rather than water, but we were in today working out some muscle knots from a wallpapering session yesterday and found them to be pretty good.
      And thanks for sharing the DIY Lighting Mark! Our GAME unit is OK, but if you find a corrosion-resistant rope light, post and let us know. Very cool.

  8. Considering leaving mine up for the winter in Ontario. When you had your tub set up in the winter did you have it under any kind of roofing or have the pump/power unit covered at all?

    1. Hi Kristina - nope - we didn't have it covered any more than the lid and the pump/power unit was in the elements. We understand that it is designed for that - worked fine for us!

  9. Okay, if you are out there Frugal Guy . . . I selected the Swift Current spa based a great deal on this review. It's filling as I type! I have searched but found nothing about the actual operation of the spa - since it's your fault I own one (I'll thank you later) would you please advise: Does the heater run without the filter pump running? How long daily do you run the filter? Thank you! Thank you, Gail

    1. Hi Gail - I'll see if I can help. First off, Canadian Spa Co's Customer service is:1-877-347-7727 and the Swift Current Manual is here: https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0709/9855/files/Swift_Current_NEW_Artwork_NA_2016.pdf?10129863873832865066.
      If there is no water movement or lights on the heat unit at all - the breaker on the plug may have kicked off. Check the box on the end of power cable and make sure the breaker is reset.
      If you have juice to the unit, there are two operating modes. Heat and Filter mode and Bubble jet mode. If water is coming out of the output closest to the unit, then you are both filtering and heating. If you turn the bubbles on, then it bypasses the heater/filter and just pumps air out.
      As for how long I run mine - this summer we would run it at our vacation place/mobile home makeover and sometimes leave it unplugged all week. We could arrive and turn it on Friday and it would be hot enough to use by late Friday night. Last spring, I only ran the heat/Filter in the evening/night to take advantage of lower electricity prices, so filter ran a max of 12 hours a day.
      Basically if you have it hot enough to use, the filter has been running while the heater is going so it likely is going to be OK. Hope this helps!

  10. Hi i have just purchased the swift current and this is my first ever spa I really don't get if I should leave it on all the time or turn the whole thing off and just heat and filter when I want to use it. Please help I hope this makes sense.

  11. Hi i have just purchased the swift current and this is my first ever spa I really don't get if I should leave it on all the time or turn the whole thing off and just heat and filter when I want to use it. Please help I hope this makes sense.

    1. Hi Joanne - thanks for the question.
      How much your run/heat it would depend on your usage patterns and the outside temperature.
      Last winter/spring when we first tested the Swift Current, we ran it every evening when electricity was cheaper to keep the temperature up. The kids (or us) were also using it practically every day too, so it needed the heat and filtration.
      This past summer, it was more of a weekend thing. The outdoor temperature was also warmer, so freezing up wasn't an issue. We would run it Friday night to heat up and by Saturday, it was good to use. We would then usually switch off Sunday night after running all weekend and it was fine the following Friday to heat up again.
      If anyone else has a usage pattern that works for them, post and let us know too - always interested to hear ideas.

  12. One of the main advantages of buying anything that is portable is that as the name suggests it can be moved from place to place. Unfortunately something that is portable is generally not as robust as it's static counterpart and a portable hot tub is no different.

  13. Hi again. I left you a post a few weeks ago but I must have missed a link because I don't see it here. But I'm posting again because the purpose was to thank you - I love the spa! I use it nearly every day. While I'm here . . . Do you have any info on replacement filters? I'm hoping to find replacement filters from a different manufacturer but I don't have a model number . . . Thanks for ant help you can offer. P.S. Great website.

  14. Awesome purchase! I have an inflatable hot tub as well and I'm telling you, it's one of the best things I ever purchased online. It's so easy to setup and very affordable too. In fact, even the most high end model is a fraction of a cost of having a Jacuzzi installed. Who says all good things must be expensive?

  15. Hi Robin,

    Really cool in-depth review. I personally have inflatable hot tub myself... I enjoy it a lot while using it. Does this hot tub is available in US?

  16. Just bought this unit on Ebay Canada site. Was $1649 and came with bench seating around tub. Great value, cant wait.

  17. We used to have a cheap (>$500) inflatable hot tub by Coleman, but it was banned on Buckley Air force base,where we lived at the time, so we sold it. The only downside was that it was "two season" and the heater wouldn't run at the same time as the bubbles, so the temp would drop. Does this keep heating even when the jets are running?
    Also would LOVE a protective gazebo we could build around it so it would be more fun to use in the Colorado winters, to cut the wind, and shelter from the rain, and to have patio lights on <3 We're on a shoestring budget though, has to be simple and strong. You seem to have a genius for those qualities though, so...

  18. Portable hot tubs have come a long way in design and cost. This one looks awesome!


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