kids Outdoors

5 Best Climbing Frames for Kids – Buyer’s Guide and Reviews

Last updated on October 8th, 2021

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A climbing frame offers a fantastic way of getting children outside to exercise, but with the advantage of being within your own garden where you can see them. Most climbing frames comprise different accessories to offer a variety of activities such as climbing, including walls, ladders and ropes, sliding and swinging. 

If you are considering buying a climbing frame, then there’s a lot to ponder. Wooden or metal? How much space is available for it? With or without a slide? You have to answer such questions before you set out to shop. The product itself must be solid to support the weight of users for years and weatherproof as well to withstand outdoor elements. Size, age of the children to use it and budget are other important considerations. 

So today we look at how to choose the best climbing frame for kids plus we have a rundown of the top 7 climbing frames on the market. Our aim is to help you buy the best climbing frame and it’s only reasonable to show you great examples of what to buy. 

Short on time? The FATMOOSE Climbing Frame ActionArena XXL with its Slide, Climbing Wall and Lots of Accessories is worth walking away with. This large climbing frame is intended to fulfil the desires of athletic kids, with a climbing rope, climbing net, wavy slide, basketball hoop and gym bar. Made from pressure-treated wood with a 10-year warranty, this climbing frame will beat the test of time and grow with your child.

BEST PICK

FATMOOSE Climbing Frame ActionArena
This large playground is ready for every activity you can think of, whether wall climbing, wavy sliding or ball games. It is a multi-functional climbing frame that has been built using a pressure-treated wooden frame. You are guaranteed that your child will have hours and hours of fun on this FATMOOSE Climbing Frame Action Arena

The best climbing frames we have found that guarantee to get your children outdoors and into the garden

  1. FATMOOSE ActionArena XXL Climbing Frame – BEST PICK
  2. TP Toys Explorer Frame with Platform and Den – BEST CUSTOMISABLE PICK
  3. WICKEY Climbing Frame Smart King – BEST PREMIUM PICK
  4. Lifetime 90136 Dome Climber (Earthtone)
  5. Gorilla Gym for Kids – BEST INDOOR PICK

Buyer’s Guide

Climbing frames are fantastic garden toys but arriving at one that suits your needs will require you to think about the following considerations:

Metal vs Wooden Climbing Frame

The first factor to decide upon is whether you want a climbing frame that is made from metal or wood. 

Metal climbing frames are cheaper and virtually maintenance-free. You may want to be specific about the metal used because steel (which tends to be strong and cheaper) may rust after about 5 years, whereas aluminium is more expensive but will last longer than steel. Many established manufacturers use powder coating techniques to increase the durability of steel and improve its resistance to damages such as rust. In so doing, the powder-coated steel needs little to no maintenance. 

Wooden types may need to be treated because wood naturally contracts and expands throughout the year, and eventually, the wood may lose shape and its natural appeal. To avoid such occurrences, make sure to look for pressure-treated wood as this gives many years of service. Ideally, the best wooden climbing frame should remain solid for more than 10 years. Some manufacturers even guarantee their frames for this length of time. 

Whereas it’s almost impossible to make a massive piece of equipment blend into your garden, wood tends to be sympathetic, however, it tones down with time. Wooden models are usually accompanied with natural coloured plastic accessories, helping the general appearance harmonise with the garden. Metal climbing frames, on the other hand, start off as neutral and their look does not enhance the garden as wood does. 

So which should you buy? Metal climbing frames are good starting points and make the best choice for toddlers. You can expect about 5 solid years of service after which your child will outgrow their metal climbing frame. Afterwards, they will yearn for a bigger challenge and this is when they can upgrade to a larger wooden climbing frame. If you want a piece of one-off play equipment that your little one can use throughout childhood, then just go for a wooden climbing frame. When it comes to moving houses, metal frames are easier to take down and rebuild, and that’s another thing you may wish to take into account when shopping as climbing frames can be expensive. 

How old are the children?

In most cases, climbing frames are suitable for kids 3+ years. If you want to introduce your toddler to a climbing frame, then go for a small, temporary option before upgrading to a full-size climbing frame. Purchasing a climbing frame that’s not age-appropriate will only cause frustration for your child and stress for you since you will have to constantly supervise them. Some models are intelligently constructed with adjustable features to suit even toddlers and there’s one on our list; TP Toys Explorer Frame with Platform and Den. With its extendable frame, the height can be set at a toddler-friendly level and then increased further as the child grows. 

BEST CUSTOMISABLE PICK

TP Toys Explorer Frame with Platform and Den
With an extendable height and slim profile, this climbing frame is for both toddlers and older children. A full-coverage den with windows and roll-up doors is the major selling point of this budget model. The steel frame is guaranteed for five years against rust failure, so the long-term value is practical but it does lack any extras like slides and swings.

What play accessories are included?

Climbing frames differ from each other based on the number of accompanying accessories. Obviously, the more accessories, the larger the whole equipment and the more expensive it’s going to be. Nonetheless, your climbing frame should provide enough physical challenge for your little climbers now and in the future. Slides, swing sets and ladders are decent introductory features, whilst rock walls and monkey bars will offer a chance to advance as your child grows older. 

How much space do you have?

As you think of where the climbing frame will be built in your garden, remember to make allowance for enough room in front and behind swings and behind climbing walls. If your garden has an awkward shape, consider purchasing individual accessories such as slides and swings separately in order to allow for different layout options. 

What is your budget?

We totally understand that price tags are a significant part of investing in a garden climbing frame. In the long run, you want maximum value for your investment. The prices of climbing frames vary widely, as some models are as cheap as £200 whilst others cost up to £1,500. The cheaper models are relatively small and with a few essential accessories. Premium models have numerous accessories and they are extremely huge when built. Your budget should probably be your final consideration after you’ve figured out all the other factors above. 

BEST PREMIUM PICK

WICKEY Wooden Climbing frame Smart King
Nothing beats the number of accessories available for this climbing frame. If you have the space, multiple children and the money, then this is your perfect match. The wooden frame is pressure-treated and the product has been safety tested. Every activity you can imagine is possible with this garden climbing frame.

The 6 Best Climbing Frame Reviews

1. FATMOOSE ActionArena XXL Climbing Frame

BEST PICK

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FATMOOSE Wooden Climbing Frame ActionArena with Swing Set and Apple Green Slide, Garden Playhouse with Climbing Wall & Play-Accessories

The FATMOOSE ActionArena XXL Climbing Frame is an all-rounder climbing frame with lots of different configurations to suit the needs of sporty kids. Suitable for 3+ years, the frame is made of timber that has been pressure treated to prevent rot whilst providing strength and stability. Best of all, this wood is incredibly low-maintenance and doesn’t need oiling or painting. 

Now into the action, the climbing frame comes complete with a boulder climbing wall, wavy slide, hidey holes, climbing net, wobble plank, basketball hoop, climbing rope and a gym bar. Athletic children can look to conquer the wall and show off their moves on the climbing net. To enhance the climbing experience, attach more climbing stones of various sizes and let the kids advance their fine motor skills. The climbing rope additionally offers more action by using it to climb the platform. Once at the top, chill in your most relaxed pose before taking the wavy slide to descend to the bottom. 

Afterwards, try to find your balance on the sophisticated MagicSurf wobble board and you’ll look so cool, like the surfers in Hawaii. If you love ball games, create your own target goal with the FatTarp weatherproof tarp or alternatively, expand your climbing frame with the HangRing basketball hoop. No matter your sports interests, the FATMOOSE climbing frame offers countless play, fun and sporty opportunities. Furthermore, this climbing frame grows with children thanks to an adjustable bar. 

The product is made in Germany and it has been quality and safety tested for children’s use. It comes with detailed instructions for assembly, these are fairly straightforward and with all the accessories, including galvanised fasteners and safety caps. The manufacturer recommends purchasing 10 anchors from the Fix series plus 38 SoftSafe safety mats. The climbing frame has to be anchored into concrete for maximum durability in the garden so take this into account before purchasing. We especially like that the whole wooden structure is warranted for 10 years so you can rest assured this will last for many years, offering excellent value for money. 

Pros

  • Made of pressure-treated timber that is strong and virtually maintenance-free.  
  • Multi-functional climbing frame with slide, climbing wall and rope, balance board and many other accessories. 
  • Supplied with straightforward assembly instructions. 
  • Designed to grow with children because the bar can be fixed at a desired height. 
  • 10-year warranty on all wooden components. 

Cons

  • Assembly may be time-consuming.
  • Fairly expensive.

Our recommendation

This versatile back garden play centre offers endless play and fun activities to all kids aged 3+ years. There’s practically no end to the many ways they can use the climbing frame, with a climbing wall, rope, slide, basketball hoop, climbing net and gym bar. Parents who want to get their children moving and active for hours can count on this FATMOOSE Climbing Frame.

The entire thing is made of pressure-treated, low-maintenance wood for strength and durability (which is a must) and something we look for in a product like this before we can even consider whether we would even recommend it. The structure is very solid and can withstand up to three children at a time. Assembly instructions are pretty straightforward but the process may take longer due to the sheer size of this climbing frame, but this is to be expected and is worth the effort. The structure requires several anchors to keep in place but it’s unfortunate they have to be bought separately, but you may find alternate ways to secure it in place. 

If you have a sprawling garden and looking to add a serious play area for your children, this climbing frame certainly fits the bill, however, at a premium price. Even though this model is expensive, we felt it still deserved to be the winner of our ‘Best Pick’.

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Read next: Top 5 Best swimming pool for kids


2. TP Toys Explorer Frame with Platform and Den

BEST CUSTOMISABLE PICK

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Explorer Frame with Platform and Den

The TP Toys Explorer Frame with Platform and Den is the ideal minimalist climbing frame. It has a slender, movable design that is perfect for smaller gardens, but its real value lies in its ability to grow with your kid. This climbing frame can be set at its lowest level (56cm) to suit 18-month old toddlers, whilst it accepts children aged 3 to 12 years when built at its full height (201cm). This flexibility owes to its extendable metal frame. 

The major highlight of this climbing frame is the play den. It slides over the frame to create an adorable little house in the air with two entry/exit points and a round viewing window. The doors have a roll-up design that encourages imaginative play, whilst playing a huge role in allowing airflow during the hot summer months. 

The galvanised steel frame is another commendable feature of this model and it’s even guaranteed for 5 years against rust. As the frame is lightweight, staking it to the ground using the supplied grounding hooks can provide more support and stability. 

If you’d like to take the excitement to the next level, you may wish to purchase TP’s Crazy Wavy Slide, and/or the TP Jungle Run with bridge and ramp and attach them to the frame. The Jungle Run, in particular, is compatible at both low and maximum height. 

Pros

  • Made from galvanised steel with a 5-year warranty backing against rust failure. 
  • Compatible with a range of TP extension items such as slide and Jungle Run.
  • The height is adjustable to suit children of all ages. 
  • Easy to set up, taking 2 adults approximately 2 hours. 

Cons

  • Purchasing extras can drastically increase the price.

Our recommendation

This affordable climbing frame is well-built and looks amazing with its den. Building the structure is easy and the platform can be set at a desirable height that suits your child. Your child can start using it from as early as 18 months and grow with it till he or she is 12. Still, it makes a great choice if you have children of different ages, but you have to be careful how to you set it up.

The galvanised steel frame is sure to withstand elements for years. Several extras can be bought separately to spice up the excitement and this is where this climbing frame stands out. Overall, the TP Toys Explorer Frame with Platform and Den is a fantastic addition to any garden and will make both toddlers and older children happy.

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3. Lifetime 90136 Dome Climber (Earthtone)

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Lifetime 90136 Dome Climber (Earthtone)

Dome climbing frames are as eye-catching as they are fun and the Lifetime 90136 Dome Climber is a popular one in this category. This one is suitable for children aged three to ten years, and it has a decent weight capacity of 272kg – that’s more than five kids on the climbing frame at the same time! The climbing frame derives its massive strength from heavy-duty steel construction and its powder coating provides extra protection from the elements. The frame is additionally weather and rust-resistant because of this. 

The dome-shaped design is easy for children to climb over and under thanks to its high-density PE climbing grips, encouraging children to be deft and heedful of their footing. This design is less of an eye-sore than most other frame structures, making it a great option to install in the centre of any garden. 

Speaking of assembly, this requires two people to build and an hour of time should be about right. Be sure to leave a 1.8m radius around the dome a safety zone. The assembled dimensions are 3.1m in diameter by 1.5m in height. This climbing frame is designed to help children to develop strong muscles, coordination and build motor skills as they find their way from point A to B. 

Pros

  • Helps children build fine motor skills and coordination. 
  • Made from tough galvanised steel, making it highly weather and rust-resistant. 
  • Extremely sturdy frame capable of supporting up to 272kgs of weight. 
  • Easier and a faster assembly time when compared to other frame designs.

Cons

  • May be too small for older kids.  

Our recommendation

Even with such a simple design, this dome-style climbing frame is as fun as it is effective. Not only can it hold up to 6 children at the same time, but it will help fine-tune their motor skills whilst they exercise. The steel frame is very solid and has been powder coated to remain stubborn to the elements. It looks pretty too and requires virtually no maintenance. This freestanding model is lightweight and movable plus its natural colours can blend in well with almost any garden. If you want your children to build physical strength, the Lifetime 90136 Dome Climber makes the right investment.

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4. WICKEY Smart King Climbing Frame

BEST PREMIUM PICK

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WICKEY Wooden Climbing Frame Smart King with Swing Set and Blue Slide, Knight's Playhouse for Children with Sandpit, Climbing Ladder & Play-Accessories

The WICKEY Smart King Wooden Climbing frame is overwhelmingly massive and comprises countless accessories, including two swing sets, a slide, two climbing walls, climbing stones and many more that we haven’t listed here.

This castle-themed climbing tower is designed to spark a child’s imagination whilst they indulge in active play. With two look-out towers on either side, kids can try being kings and queens watching over their surroundings with a supplied telescope and see their friends approaching.

Then they can stride across rope bridges to the large slide, and slide down to greet their friends. In the meantime, the royal children will be playing in the sandpit and building crucial practical skills. Others will be trying to beat each other’s height at the swing sets, whilst some will be looking to create records on the climbing wall.

It’s only sensible that this enormous play centre is bought for a large family, otherwise, it offers too much for a single child. Suitable for children over the ages of 3, this climbing frame is made of pressure-treated timber to ensure sturdiness and longevity. Supplied with it is a tarpaulin that comes pre-cut for you and your children to customise as you please. The tarpaulin is weatherproof and will provide decent coverage should the weather change whilst your little ones are sailing their ‘ship’. 

This gigantic climbing frame requires home assembly and it’s obviously going to be a tedious exercise. It does come with comprehensive assembly instructions to help you fix every piece where it belongs. Whilst some wooden parts come pre-drilled, Wickey wants you to customise your assembly by letting you drill other components at home in order to ensure an accuracy of fit. Note that you can order accessories such as slides, swing sets, hand grips and steering wheels in your favourite colours. 

It is worth mentioning that Amazon now offers a building service where they put you in touch with recommended professionals who will build it for you on your chosen day for an extra cost. This is all arranged online when you place your order but it is not available in every area so it’s best to check first.

Pros

  • Includes arguably the most number of accessories of any garden climbing frame, meaning kids have plenty to indulge in. 
  • Made of pressure-treated solid wood that is strong and extremely durable. 
  • Supplied with assembly instructions to guide in building this mammoth structure.
  • Comes with a weatherproof tarpaulin for protection from elements.
  • Accessories are delivered in mixed colours and users can choose their favourite.

Cons

  • Extremely expensive climbing frame.
  • Requires acres of space to build. 

Our recommendation

Swing sets, slides, climbing walls, climbing stones, ship’s wheel, sandpit, steering wheel race will all encourage your children to climb, jump, crawl and do much more, but this climbing frame comes at a premium. Furthermore, the WICKEY Climbing frame is only reasonable to buy if you have the space in your garden plus enough kids to make the most of it.

The use of pressure-treated wood makes the structure incredibly strong and capable of supporting as much weight for years. Overall, a spectacular climbing frame for large gardens but you will need to dig deep into your pockets. 

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5. Gorilla Gym for Kids

BEST INDOOR PICK

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Gym1 Deluxe Indoor Doorway Gym Playground Set for Kids - All in One Gym Set - Six Ways of Fun: Blue Indoor Swing, Plastic Rings, Trapeze Bar, Climbing Ladder, Swinging Rope, and Pull Up Bar (6 Piece Play Set)

Is the weather outside getting too bad for your children to endure? Do you want your kids to spend their time indoors and still be active and enjoy some outdoor fun? An indoor jungle gym may be the solution you are looking for. The best of them is the Gorilla Kids Gym with its Indoor Swing Plastic Rings, Trapeze Bar, Climbing Ladder and Swinging Rope. 

The Gorilla Gym core is made from strong yet lightweight steel that won’t bend or break, whilst being portable and able to hold 136kgs. The playground attachments are easily detachable and replaceable with other attachments and they utilise heavy gauge rope to minimise indoor noise. Safety being a major concern, the indoor swing has been safety tested and certified as per the ASTM International Standards for home playground toys. 

No drilling or hammering is required for you to attach the gym to your doorway. This gym set attaches to a door frame quickly like a home pull-up bar. Patented Vice Grips adjust accordingly to fit any door frame and provide enhanced security. The vice-grips additionally support the swinging motion, whilst the gym’s cantilevered design distributes weight around the walls of your doorway. 

Pros

  • Easy to install and remove with no drilling or hammering required.
  • Good weight handling – up to 136kgs.
  • Safety tested and certified to ASTM standards for home playground equipment.
  • Lightweight and portable construction, making it easy to shift when needed.
  • It is very affordable.

Cons

  • Limited to indoor use only as it needs to be fixed between a door frame.

Our recommendation

No more ‘go out and play’, the Gorilla Gym brings the action right on your doorway. It’s simply a pull-up metal frame that you install on your doorway and you can attach various play attachments including a swing, a rope ladder, a trapeze and plastic rings. Consider it a playground on steroids inside your home. The equipment arrives in a small box and installing it isn’t overly difficult. It has a decent weight limit of 136kgs (if only two kids could swing at the same time), meaning adults too can use this indoor gym. 

It may be a little different to your usual climbing frame but it’s certainly well designed although it may not be for everyone.

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Final Conclusion

Climbing frames may be simple or complex to buy depending on the model. Some are just too big and overwhelming. If you’re unsure of how to go, factor in the number of children who will be using it, their age, your garden’s size, metal or wooden model and how much it costs.

A thorough homework beforehand can lead to a happy ever after purchase. We hope this brief guide has been helpful in your search for the best climbing frame. 

BEST PICK

Let us know your stories in the comments section below. 


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Last update on 2021-10-16 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

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