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.
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.