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4 Best Climbing Frames for Kids Who Love Being Outdoors! (2021 Review)

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In this guide we’ll take a look at the best climbing frames for the UK market.
I’ve compared design, build quality, activities included and cost
to give you my top recommendations.

What is the Best Climbing Frame?

In a rush? Here's my top choice...

Wooden Playhouse Outdoor Climbing Frame

A host of possible adventures to be discovered!

This Wooden Playhouse Outdoor Climbing Frame provides 7 different activities for kids. It measures 4.65 x 2.8 x 3.8 m and it suitable for children aged 3 - 14. The wood is pressure treated and the plastic components are thick and extremely durable - this is a high-quality climbing frame that will last for years

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Everything I Recommend

IMAGE RECOMMENDED PRODUCTSPRODUCT FEATURES
  • Amazing fun for kids
  • High-quality construction
  • 7 different activities
  • Lots of fun activities
  • Suitable for several children
  • Good value for money
  • Heavy-duty steel frame
  • Exciting and challenging den
  • Easily to move
  • Includes swing, slide, den and ladder
  • Perfect for fuelling kids' imagination
  • Fun climbing frame and den

More Detailed Climbing Frame Reviews

Wooden Playhouse Outdoor Climbing Frame

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Amazing fun for kids
  • High-quality construction
  • 7 different activities
OUR RATING
99
PRICE
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Wooden Playhouse Outdoor Climbing Frame Review

There’s nothing worse than spending a lot of money on stuff for the kids, only for them to grow out of it in a couple of years.

It always helps, therefore, to be on the look-out for toys and equipment that have a bit of a longer ‘expiry date’. For this reason, Dunston House’s Wooden Playhouse Outdoor Climbing Frame is one of the best climbing frames available – it’s suitable for children ranging from 3 – 14 years.

If you have younger kids, it’ll end up being a worthwhile investment because once it’s up, it can stay up. This also makes the assembly seem worthwhile, which is just as well as it can take over ten hours.

That said, it’s the largest climbing frame featured on this page, measuring 4.65 m wide, 2.8 m heigh and 3.8 m deep, so it makes sense that putting it together won’t be a quick job. At least it’s made from durable pressure-treated timber which means it won’t need to be treated for several years.

Now, onto the important stuff: what features are there for the kids?

There are loads of different sections and activities for children to explore; it includes a tower, slide, swings, monkey bars, hidden den, balcony and climbing area. The two swings are made from comfortable chunky plastic, and the slide is thick and durable. It has a fun wavy design to give a bit more interest.

The tower, with its platform, roof and hidden den provides plenty of room for imaginative adventures of all kinds. Plus, the natural wood construction means that even though it’s quite tall, this climbing frame still looks quite understated in the garden, unlike some plastic models which can be rather bright and garish.

Overall, due to its large size, this climbing frame provides a range of activities which will get your kids exercising (without them even realising!). The only downside to something this big is having a garden large enough to fit it (with sufficient ‘buffering room’ around the edges) and ensuring that you’ve got enough free time to put it together.

Pros

  • Very strong and sturdy timber construction
  • Great for families with children of different ages as it's suitable for 3-14 year olds
  • Natural wood finish looks more understated in the garden than brighter plastic frames
  • Wood is pressure treated so there's no need to treat it for several years

Cons

  • Assembly requires some DIY skills and can take at least 10 hours
  • It's a large frame so won't be suitable for smaller gardens
  • Needs to be positioned on level ground so not suitable for gardens with slopes

SquirrelFort Outdoor Climbing Frame

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Lots of fun activities
  • Suitable for several children
  • Good value for money
OUR RATING
95
PRICE
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SquirrelFort Outdoor Climbing Frame Review

Some climbing frames can be eye-wateringly expensive, but this SquirrelFort Outdoor Climbing Frame by Dunster House is one of the best climbing frames when it comes to value for money.

In terms of what you get, for the price you pay, it seems like you end up with a lot for your money. There’s a covered tower, a slide, swings, monkey bars, a rock wall and a ladder. In fact, it almost has all of the same features as the pricier Wooden Playhouse Outdoor Climbing Frame (also by Dunster House), although there are a few differences.

This frame is suitable for children ranging from 3 – 10 years old so it’s a good option if you have younger children. It’s still large, but doesn’t require quite as much space as some others on this list, measuring 4.1 m wide, 2.51 m high and 3.25 m deep.

Whilst there’s no hard cover over the tower section, it’s protected by a tarpaulin roof to keep the platform underneath dry, and the 1.8 m slide and two swings are all made from comfortable, chunky plastic.

The timber is pressure treated so there’s no need to give it any additional attention before assembly; however, putting this frame together still won’t be a speedy affair. Regardless of your DIY skills, an extra pair of hands will be invaluable, and it may take several days before the frame is up and ready for use.

That said, at least it’s suitable for children of up to 10 years, so it can be a permanent structure in the garden for many years once assembled.

Pros

  • Comes with ground anchors included for helping secure the frame to the ground
  • Wood is pressure treated so there's no need to treat it before assembly
  • Good for families with younger children as they can use it up until they are 10 years old
  • Plastic slide and swings are easy to clean

Cons

  • 4.10 m width is unlikely to be suitable for small gardens
  • Although the instructions are relatively clear, assembly will likely take at least a day, if not several days

Lifetime Dome Climbing Frame

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Heavy-duty steel frame
  • Exciting and challenging den
  • Easily to move
OUR RATING
92
PRICE
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Lifetime Dome Climbing Frame Review

If you’ve got a troop of little monkeys who are often off creating mischief climbing trees, this Lifetime Dome Climbing Frame offers a fun challenge for kids to scale whilst keeping them safely within your sights.

It’s not dissimilar to equipment that you find at public parks, with a decent height of 1.57 meters, offering enough excitement for children aged 3 – 10. It’s made from powder-coated steel, with polyethylene climbing grips, making for a high-quality piece of apparatus.

The frame doesn’t require any ground anchors, and weighs 47 kg. Therefore, it’s sturdy but can also be moved around (with the help of two or three people) when necessary, meaning it’s still possible to mow the grass underneath/give the area a rest when needed.

When it comes to assembly, it takes a couple of people around three hours to put together, so it’s one of the quickest climbing frames to assemble out of the options featured on this page. Of course, this is because it doesn’t have such variation of play features, but it’s probably one of the best climbing frames for kids who simply love climbing and gymnastics, as it offers more scope for them than other models.

It still requires a relatively large garden, measuring 3.5 m in diameter, with the manufacturers recommending a further 2 m safety zone between the equipment and any obstacles. Seeing as it doesn’t need to be secured down, it can be placed on either grass or a rubber safety surface, without the need to concrete it into place.

All in all, it’s a great frame, you just need to make sure that your kids will be kept sufficiently entertained by it to make the purchase worthwhile. There’s always the option of using it imaginatively as well, and it can double up as a den if some tarpaulin is thrown over the top.

Pros

  • Relatively easy to assemble in around 2 - 3 hours
  • Sturdy and stable even in strong winds
  • High 272 kg weight capacity so can be used by multiple kids (or adults!) at once
  • Children are unlikely to grow out of it quickly due to its 1.57 m height and it appeals to a wide age range

Cons

  • Weighs almost 50 kg so requires 2-3 people to move it
  • You'll need extra tools for assembly to make the process easier like a wrench and an adjustable wrench
  • Assembly is best done with the help of two people

MultiFlyer Outdoor Climbing Frame

FEATURES RATING PRICE
FEATURES
  • Includes swing, slide, den and ladder
  • Perfect for fuelling kids' imagination
  • Fun climbing frame and den
OUR RATING
89
PRICE
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MultiFlyer Outdoor Climbing Frame Review

If you’re after a climbing frame with as much variation possible to keep active kids entertained, this MultiFlyer Outdoor Climbing Frame doesn’t just have your basic features – there’s a lot going on to keep children busy.

Starting with the standard options, there’s a swing, slide, climbing wall and tower. But, additionally, there’s a rope ladder, steering wheel, telescope and sand pit making it a pretty comprehensive activity zone.

The tower’s roof is made from all-weather tarpaulin which should stop the wood from getting too slippery, and the sandpit is reasonably protected by the tower above; however, there is no cover included for the sandpit.

Unlike the other climbing frames featured here, there are also handrails dotted around to help give kids a bit more stability whilst clambering about – they’re painted red, so are nice and visible if needed. The manufacturer states it’s suitable for children 3+, and because of its size it will likely be suitable for children up to 10 years old.

It’s the widest climbing frame on this list, measuring 4.8 meters across, but it doesn’t have the largest footprint, measuring 2.6 m tall and 2.6 meters deep. Therefore, depending on its orientation, this frame may fit in gardens that would be too small for the larger units featured here.

Assembly is fairly straight forwards, and will likely take 4 – 6 hours with a methodical approach. The timber is pressure treated so there’s no need to spend extra time treating the wood before setting up the frame.

Overall, it’s one of the best climbing frames in terms of variation and offering different activities, and it might just fit better into some gardens than some of the larger options.

Pros

  • Good quality wooden construction, pressure treated for low maintenance
  • Can be assembled in multiple configurations to suit the layout of your garden
  • Straight forward assembly that will take around 4-6 hours

Cons

  • Ground anchors and sandpit tarp not included so a separate purchase is needed
  • The assembly instructions are mixed in with instructions for different models so it takes a while to work out which ones are relevant

Things to Know Before Buying a Climbing Frame

Getting your kids outside and enjoying the fresh air can feel like a full-time job in the age of smartphones and video games.

Having a climbing frame in the back garden can offer all the fun of going to the park, with the convenience of staying at home.

You’ll find your kids are outside way more often with a climbing frame in such easy reach. 

Naturally, you’ll want to make sure you’re getting the best climbing frame, and there are quire a lot to choose from, so the following information should help you make an informed decision:

Not only are climbing frames a lot of fun, they are great for positively enhancing children’s physical and mental health. This is as a result of children being outside, gaining confidence in their abilities, and the endorphins that are released through physical activity.

Climbing frames help children develop spatial and directional awareness, as well as help your child to build muscles in their legs and arms.

They can also help children hones skills such as balance, coordination and agility. Not only are all of these useful benefits for life in general, they’re all skills and developments that can help children grow in confidence as they become more aware of their own independence and capabilities.

Of course, these benefits can all be obtained using climbing frames in local parks; however, public playgrounds can be very busy. This can often result in one of two scenarios: your children have to spend a lot of time waiting for a turn, or smaller children are more reluctant to try things as they lose their confidence in front of older kids.

For this reason, it can really help to have a climbing frame at home. It will also encourage children to spend a lot more time outside in the garden. When you go to the park, there will naturally be a limit on how much time you can stay there, but kids can be out in the garden all day.

Home climbing frames can be enjoyed by siblings, and you can keep an eye on your children from the comfort of the kitchen.

Naturally, climbing frames vary dramatically in their design. Capacity, apparatus, construction and size will all play a part in how suitable a particular climbing frame will be for your kids and your garden.

Climbing Frame Capacity

Whilst some climbing frames are suitable for just one child, others can be used by multiple kids at the same time.

Most climbing frames indicate how many children can use the equipment at one time, and the age range that the equipment is suitable for. Age range is not only relevant for the size and height of the equipment, but also is based on the average weight of children at certain ages.

Climbing frames also state how much weight different parts of the frame can hold. For example, a swing might have a weight capacity of 50 kg, whilst a raised platform may have a capacity of 100 kg,

As a general rule, wooden and steel climbing frames have a higher weight capacity than plastic frames and/or plastic frames tend to be suitable for a smaller age range.

Available Apparatus and Features

Apparatus varies a lot between climbing frames.

Having a good rang of apparatus is ideal. To find a climbing frame that will keep kids entertained for a good while, you’ll at least want the basics of a slide, swings, and maybe a little playhouse as a starter for ten.

If you’re looking for something a bit more comprehensive, that will stay relevant as children grow up, a frame with the above features plus monkey bars would be a great choice. Monkey bars tend to be a bit too challenging for younger kids, but from the age of 5 they may start using them (with plenty of supervision!).

Other common features of climbing frames include a climbing wall, rope ladder, sandpit and fireman’s pole.

A good bit of advice is to take note of what your child is most interested in playing on at the playground in the park, and try to find a climbing frame at home with these features. Fortunately, a lot of children are often most interested in the swings, which are easy to deliver on.

If you have several children, or your kids often have friends round, it goes without saying that the best climbing frames for several children will feature many different play areas and activities. This way the kids won’t all be clamouring into the same space at once (especially useful to avoid bickering amongst siblings!).

With all the above in mind, there’s still no need to completely discount the simpler climbing frames. Even those that only consist of a metal frame can help develop skills, strength and confidence. It will just depend on the personality of your child and whether a simpler model will feed their interest.

When choosing the best climbing frame for yours kids, you should of course be guided by what your children love to do. It’s also a good idea to buy a frame with some features that will  encourage them to expand their horizons and take on new challenges.

Construction Materials

The most hardwearing materials when it comes to climbing frames are either pressure-treated wood or steel.

These are both low-maintenance, long-lasting materials. Steel will fare well for several years when left outside, and pressure-treated wood won’t rot or be invaded by insects. You’ll need to treat pressure-treated wood after a few years, just to make sure it stays weather tight and protected.

Pressure-treated wood can still benefit from a water-repellent sealer because the way the wood has been treated does not stop moisture entering the wood. If water seeps in, it can cause the wood to swell, and then it shrinks as it dries. Over time this can be damaging for the wood.

Some climbing frames are made from plastic which has its advantages and disadvantages. Plastic climbing frames shouldn’t suffer any ill effects from being left out in the rain, and most of them will be made from UV-resistant plastic which won’t fade in the sun.

The disadvantages of a plastic frame are how they look in the garden – the bright colours can be a little loud against the otherwise natural tones – and their durability. Most plastic frames won’t have swings attached as they can’t bear the weight, and they don’t tend to withstand use for as many years as wooden or steel frames.

Climbing frames can take up a lot of space, so measuring out the room you have available in your garden is a priority.

The area will need to be flat, as climbing frames should not be placed on a slope.

It can help to physically mark out the suitable available space in your garden before making a purchase. This way you can visualise exactly where the frame will go.

Some frames (although not all) can be constructed differently depending on what layout would best suit your garden. This is occasionally the case with wooden climbing frames – they can be assembled in a ‘mirror image’, changing the position of certain features, which is worth bearing in mind if this is something that could work better with your garden.

As well as having enough space for the frame itself, you’ll also need to leave a ‘clearance’ area of at least a 2 metres on all sides on the climbing frame. This area should be free of obstacles and will help protect your children if they were to fall from the frame.

Given that each climbing frame is different, with varying maximum height, weight and age limitations, you should check the specification for each individual frame. This will let you know if it’s the right size for the number of children you want to be able to use it, or the age group that you need it to be suitable for.

There are several things to consider to make sure that children are kept as safe as possible when using the climbing frame. General safety considerations include:

  • Supervising children at all times whilst they are using the frame.
  • Not exceeding the advised total number of children on the frame, or the advised total weight capacity.
  • Ensuring that children are dressed appropriately with no loose garments or clothing that could get caught or trapped on any parts of the frame.
  • Placing the climbing frame at least 2 m away from any obstacles on all sides.
  • Telling children not to twist any of the chains or ropes, or loop them over the bar (particularly relevant with swings) as this can cause damage to the chain or rope.
  • Using ground stakes to secure the frame into the ground.
  • Using impact surfacing where required, as outlined below.

Using Impact Surfacing

Manufacturers will likely recommend the use of some kind of impact surfacing under their climbing frames. Check with the specific manufacturer’s instructions of your climbing frame and be advised that the following is only general information.

Natural Grass

Many people choose to rest their climbing frame on natural grass. The ground needs to be flat and not on a slope. If there is a slope, it’s not an appropriate place for a climbing frame.

Bark

Bark blends in with the natural colours of the garden. It is generally considered appropriate to use if the potential maximum fall height from the climbing apparatus does not exceed 244 cm. In this case, a bed of bark 23 cm deep might be appropriate. However, you should go by the manufacturer’s recommendations for your specific climbing frame.

Sand

Some people may choose to use fine sand as impact surfacing. This should only be considered if the maximum fall height from the apparatus is under 122 cm and therefore is unlikely to be appropriate for the majority of climbing frames.

Shredded Rubber

Shredded rubber absorbs impact well and does not compress in the same way as the other loose-fill materials mentioned here. It is considered one most impact-absorbent materials. Using a bed of 15 cm deep shredded rubber may be appropriate for most climbing frames with a maximum potential fall height of 305 cm. However, as always, follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer.

 

Climbing Frame FAQs

Climbing frames can be safely positioned on a lawn. Alternatively, they can be placed on an area with play bark or shredded rubber. Always check with the manufacturer to see what they recommend for their specific climbing frame.

Regardless of the material you choose, it needs to be positioned a level surface, not a slope.

For safety reasons, a climbing frame should always be positioned on a reasonably level surface. This doesn’t mean it has to be a perfect bowling green – a few lumps and bumps are fine; however, a steep slope will not be suitable.

If you have a large slope in your garden, you may have to consider a smaller climbing frame (that will fit onto any level areas you may have) or a different piece of apparatus. For example, you can get slides that can be built into the slope of a garden.

Climbing frames offer a range of benefits for kids, both physical and mental.

They can help children to:

  • Develop physical strength, coordination, and spatial awareness.
  • Improve balance.
  • Develop problem-solving skills.
  • Boost their confidence and independence.
  • Improve their social skills, especially if your child has friends or siblings to play with!

There are several steps you can take to make having a climbing frame in your garden safer. Always check with the manufacturer’s guidance for your specific frame.

  • Supervise children at all times whilst they are using the frame.
  • Position the climbing frame on level ground.
  • Don’t exceed the advised total number of children on the frame, or the advised total weight capacity.
  • Ensure that children are dressed appropriately with no loose garments or clothing that could get caught or trapped on any parts of the frame.
  • Place the climbing frame at least 2 m away from any obstacles on all sides.
  • Tell children not to twist any of the chains or ropes, or loop them over the bar (particularly relevant with swings) as this can cause damage to the chain or rope.
  • Use ground stakes to secure the frame into the ground.
  • Use impact surfacing where required.
Sources
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