The kid’s jungle gym. Which is the best? What should you consider when purchasing one? Where can you find them? We’ve done the work for you to answer these and many more questions so that all you have to do is click “buy.”
- 1. Lifetime Geometric Dome Climber Play Center
- 2. Skywalker Sports Modular Jungle Gym
- 3. Step2 Skyward Summit
- Where did the jungle gym come from?
- What does a jungle gym consist of?
- Will a jungle gym fit in my small backyard?
- What should I put under my kid’s jungle gym?
- What ages are appropriate for a jungle gym?
- Wrap up
Let’s dive right in with the list of our top 3 jungle gyms.
1. Lifetime Geometric Dome Climber Play Center
This dome climber is the best on the market. It’s kid-friendly for a wide range of ages, sturdy, and modestly priced. All of these features make it a great option for any backyard!
It is great for kids aged 3-10 because it allows for little ones to build up their confidence while bigger kids can swing, climb, and play to their heart’s delight! The climber is conveniently made with climbing grips, so if your kiddos need an extra hand as they climb, they’ve got it.
The dome climber is also sturdy, a must for safety in children’s play equipment. It is made of powder-coated steel that can easily hold 600lbs, giving the option for multiple kids to play at the same time. It’s geometric shape measures 10 feet in diameter, comparable to the size of a trampoline, with a height of 5 feet. This makes it a blast to climb but not so high that kids could be seriously injured if they fall.
The question some of you may be asking, after seeing the pictures is “how hard is this thing to put together?” Well, the answer: not bad at all. It can easily be done by two people in two hours. The directions are straightforward and all the parts come numbered or lettered. Plus, they’re sorted neatly in the box for extra ease of assembly.
Overall, we think this is a great option if you’ve got a little more backyard space or kiddos who love to climb. It will age well with your kids and withstand wind, rain, and sunshine to last for years to come.
2. Skywalker Sports Modular Jungle Gym
This jungle gym is a bit different than the dome climber, as it’s shaped like a grid. If you’ve got less backyard space, it’ll be a great option for you! Skywalker makes a modular system that can easily be added to if you have more space, or your kiddos can have plenty of fun with just the basic climbing option.
It’s sturdy and, for those of you who like the nitty gritty details, it’s made of powder-coated, 16-gauge steel and measures nearly 7 feet in height and width with a diameter closer to 6.5 feet. For comparison, about the length of your dining room table. The set comes with plastic corners to protect your little climbers from sharp edges. It’s recommended for ages 3-8, but we think it could easily be a fun toy for kids as old as 12.
There are plenty of elements that can be added like swings, a slide, or monkey bars. It’s up to you (and your backyard space) to create your ideal jungle gym, and this is one of the reasons we really like this set.
3. Step2 Skyward Summit
Step2 makes great products! You can find an article where we review their kid’s slide here. This jungle gym is a personal favorite and a best seller, as it has all the appeal of a rock climbing wall that’s often included on swing sets.
It stands 6.5 feet tall with 2 climbing nets, a floor net, and 9 grips spread throughout each side to let kids scale the rocky parts of the summit. There’s a hole for peeking out the top to survey the terrain or a lower level platform near the ground for kids to rest. Assembly is required, but it’s manageable. If you have any issues or questions, the website provides great customer care and all the assembly instructions in PDF format.
The recommended age for play is 4-8, which makes it ideal for kiddos learning to find their coordination, balance, and strength. A great feature, like most Step2 products is that you can make it a combo! Add a slide or a swing easily and take it to the next level of fun.
And now for those of you who are curious, we’ve got some history and tips on how best to set up your new jungle gym.
Where did the jungle gym come from?
Let’s start with the question many of you may be asking: Where did the term jungle gym come from? Well, it was first presented nearly 100 years ago as the brand name for a product that Sebastian Hinton created. He envisioned kids getting great exercise by climbing, so he recreated something his dad had made for them as children. This time he used metal rather than bamboo and marketed it as the Junglegym. Now, nearly a century later, we still know his invention by the same name.
His dad’s original intent was that his kids would understand three-dimensional space, so he built a climbing gym for them out of bamboo where they could practice finding the junction for numbers on the x, y, and z axes. Those of you who are engineers or mathematicians are probably skipping to the part where you can buy a jungle gym right now! Education and play combined – the kids jungle gym is a perfect backyard accessory!
What does a jungle gym consist of?
Jungle gyms consist of many things, but what really sets them apart from swing sets or play forts is that they are made up of mostly climbing elements. Monkey bars or rope bridges are a great example of what you’d see in a jungle gym.
They have geometric shapes that allow kids to climb over and under different bars. This is great for developing strength, balance, and agility. Your littles can maneuver under and over the climbing bars, practice swinging like a monkey, or find the perfect perch to see what’s happening in the backyard and beyond. Plus, they make great forts if you just throw a few old sheets over different sections of the gym.
Will a jungle gym fit in my small backyard?
Yes, it will! That’s the great thing about kid’s jungle gyms. They are usually smaller than swing sets, so they don’t need as much space. If you’ve got ten feet, or the space for a large area rug, then you can fit a jungle gym in your backyard. The modular designs are especially helpful for smaller spaces because they allow you to choose which parts work best for you, so if you’ve got a shortage of square feet, that’ll be your best option.
What should I put under my kid’s jungle gym?
There are lots of great options when considering what you should put under your jungle gym. Grass is certainly the most common, as people often just like to plop their new toy right on the lawn. If you’re looking for something different to really help define the play area, then here are the top five grass alternatives:
- Rubber mulch – If you’re looking for an eco-friendly option, this is a good one. Rubber mulch is usually made from recycled tires, so it’s a great way to support the idea of reusing! Though, you’ll want to find a reputable distributor to be sure that the rubber doesn’t contain any unwanted contaminants. It provides great cushion for falls and stays in place well requiring little maintenance. It can stick to little feet and be tracked into the house, so you’ll want to have a spot where the kiddos can wipe off before coming inside.
- Rubber tile – Rubber tile provides great coverage, drains well, and can be found in lots of different design options. It’s low-maintenance, slip resistant, and helpful to have underneath your little ones in case they fall. This option can have a hefty price tag, but we think the perks will easily give you the value you’re paying for.
- Artificial turf/grass – It looks like grass, but it has all the benefits of rubber tile. Artificial turf drains well, is low-maintenance, and provides some cushion for a fall. It won’t track in mud or grass to the house, and if you’d like to clean it off, then just rinse it with a hose. Like rubber tile, the upfront cost is higher, but the longevity and simple maintenance will make up for that in the long-term.
- Sand – Sand is a less expensive option, provides great cushion for those accidental landings, and can double as an extra play area for kiddos that aren’t using the jungle gym. Some things to consider though are that you’ll want to have it at least a foot deep to really provide cushion, and it can, unfortunately, be a really appealing place for pets to use as their restroom.
- Wood chips – These are very common at most playgrounds, and they provide a softer landing spot for falls. They are pretty easy to maintain, but you’ll want to keep an eye on how they hold up if you’re in an area that gets frequent rain.
What ages are appropriate for a jungle gym?
They can easily accommodate children 3 -12, as they allow for lots of imaginative ways to play. The older kids won’t get bored, and the younger ones can be supervised and “spotted” with ease since most gyms have plenty of room to move in and around them.
Kid’s jungle gyms are a great alternative to the swing set. They add hours of fun to the backyard for your kids as young as three and as old as 12. We’ve answered your questions about what a jungle gym is and what to consider when setting one up. Now that you’re armed with all this information, why not add some fun to your backyard!