11 best climbing frames to inspire your children's sense of adventure
Keep the kids entertained with one of these adventure playsets
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Children just love to climb. Sometimes it seems you only have to turn your head for a second before they’re scrambling up a tree or even scaling a public bin.
So why not channel their skills with a climbing frame in your garden where they can exercise and explore to their heart’s content.
After all, climbing skills have benefits beyond pure fun – they also help develop strength, balance and motor skills.
And by offering kids opportunities to climb in a safe environment, they learn how to assess and navigate risk too.
But, installing one in your garden doesn’t come cheap.
Although, they’re more affordable than they once were and with some climbing frames, you can add parts over time which means you don’t have to fork out the dosh all in one go.
Always check your product conforms to the latest quality and safety tests and create a “safety zone” of space around the structure.
Most playsets are self-assembly, so give yourself a lot of time to put them together and be warned you may need the help of a second adult.
Plum climbing cube wooden play centre: £649.99, Plum Play
"Awesome" was the unanimous verdict from our testers on this sizeable climbing frame. Featuring a wooden climbing platform with steps, rock wall with coloured grips, cargo scramble net, wooden ladder, double length monkey bars and trapeze gymnastic bars, there’s not much it doesn’t have by way of climbing. And as if that’s not enough, there’s a camouflage fabric den with a door and 8ft wave slide with an attachment for hose pipe to add to the fun with sprinkling water on hot days. Hours of fun for three-year-olds and over.
Selwood holt climbing frame: £449, Selwood
Based in Nuneaton, Selwood makes a broad range of climbing frames in cedar wood. Holt is a good choice for smaller gardens, with a footprint of 183cm by 279cm. A slide, tower, chalkboard wall and climbing ladder are all included, and will keep 3-10 year olds busy. The wood comes pre-drilled, and the instruction manual is easy to follow.
TP explorer metal climbing frame with slide and jungle run: £346.96, Uber Kids
You can get cheaper versions of this set – without the slide and/or without the jungle run, but we fell in love with this all-singing-all-dancing version that can be built at a low height for children from 18 months old, or full height for kids aged 3-12 years. The den at the top is the shining star – complete with porthole window – and you can count on it seeing you through years of plan thanks to the galvanised steel. Top marks for affordability too, with the basic version starting at just £179.99.
Fatmoose fitframe fresh XXL: £689.95, Amazon
Great for sporty kids, this climbing frame includes a slide, rope, basketball hoop, climbing wall, and a balancing board to practise surfing. It’s a really good all-rounder that doesn’t take up too much space, and offers tons of features to keep interest over time. It comes with a 10-year guarantee (on wooden parts), and is tested for safety and quality.
Little Tikes jungle climber: £259.99, Little Tikes
This is a dream-come-true for young scramblers. Compete with climbing ropes, slide, crawl-through tunnels and hideaways, it comes in bright colours that will appeal to younger folk and has a jungle theme that got our testers pretending to be little monkeys for hours on end. Aimed at children aged three and up, the rounded plastic means there are no sharp corners for children to hurt themselves on and it’s all nice and low, which also helps keep accidents to a minimum. It’s easy to put together too, but don’t be fooled into thinking you can do it alone on account of its smaller size - we found you still need two people.
Maxifort frontier climbing frame: £859.99, Amazon
For the very adventurous, this playset includes wave slide, two swings, monkey bars and a mini climbing wall. You can upgrade or switch out a number of optional extras to change with as the family grows. Maxifort says the Frontier frame has been independently tested for safety, and it comes with a 10-year guarantee. Simpler versions are available from around £200.
Plum my first wooden play centre: £249.99, Plum Play
Another one aimed at toddlers, this one is also on the low side, but with a vibrant climbing wall, cargo net, secret den with fabric door and 4ft slide with raised platform, littluns won’t have any trouble letting their imaginations run wild as they climb, stand, slide and more. There’s no way this thing is going to wobble or topple – it’s as sturdy as they come and stays that way for summer after summer. The instructions make it easy to put together and it will fit easily into smaller gardens.
Quadro: From £108, Quadro Play
If you started school or nursery in the 1980s, Quadro will probably look familiar. The large-scale German construction kit can be used to make climbing frames, but also playhouses, paddling pools, furniture and cars. The beauty of the system is that you can keep adding to it. The system is made of thermoplastic tubes that are strong, colourful and weather-resistant.
Step2 alpine ridge climber and slide: £379.99, Step2
This award-winning, American-made climbing set for pre-schoolers is well thought out, with opportunities to climb, crawl and slide, using the five differing climbing walls with grips, steps and holes, as well as the tunnels, platform with steering wheel and viewer and nice long slide. Our testers couldn’t even be persuaded to get off it to have their lunch, but that posed no problem as there are plenty of places for tinytots to sit and rest before getting stuck back into their imaginary play.
Lifetime geometric dome climber: £214.60, Amazon
This dome climbing frame is aimed at older kids, and includes plastic grips at the intersections to help with more challenging climbs. It’s made in powder coated steel with a UV-resistant finish to help colours stay vibrant over time. This type of frame is freestanding and easy to maintain.
Wickey starflyer: £479.95, Wickey
StarFlyer is at the pricier end of Wickey’s Flyer series (which has a range of options to suit budget, size and desired features). It packs in a good amount of play features: a swing, rope ladder, climbing net, climbing wall, sandpit, slide, and even a telescope. The tower has an all-weather tarpaulin roof that comes in customisable colours.
The Verdict: Climbing frames
The Plum Climbing Cube Wooden Play Centre ticked all our boxes and more and will last you years. But if you don’t have enough room in your garden, our vote goes to the Holt climbing frame from Selwood, which is compact, but still packs in a lot of features, as well as being able to keep kids up to 10 entertained. For tinytots, the Little Tikes Jungle Climber is a worthy buy, with inviting colours and plenty to keep them amused.
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