Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

18 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
251 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best backyard ninja obstacle courses

Last Updated December 2019

If your kids have been watching American Ninja Warrior with you and want to start practicing for it themselves, it’s time to get a backyard ninja obstacle course. It needs to be safe and secure while still presenting a formidable challenge. Of course, it also needs to have different obstacles for them to conquer, like rings, knots, and bars. From their point of view, the more the merrier.

From your point of view, though, safety needs to come first. Most backyard ninja obstacle courses are made from sturdy nylon and stainless steel components that will last for years.

Ease of set-up is also a concern. Ninjas need to adapt to changing obstacle courses, so you need to be able to take it down and swap things around to create a new course and then put it back up without it becoming an all-day project.

Continue reading our buying guide, which will walk you through all the things you need to consider before buying your own backyard ninja obstacle course.

Building a backyard ninja course for your kids piece-by-piece would cost about $200, so buying a pre-made one is always a cheaper route.

What is a backyard ninja obstacle course?

It’s a bit different from your average playground, that’s for sure. A backyard ninja obstacle course involved a line with several obstacles attached, including things like bars, ladders, and rings that users will use to swing from one point to the other. The line needs two sturdy points to use as anchors — usually trees.

Backyard ninja obstacles courses vary mostly in their length and included obstacles.

Key considerations

Length of the line

Backyard ninja obstacle courses need to fit in the backyard. They have to be strung between two trees or two sturdy posts that are sunk securely in the ground. Kids always want more, longer, bigger, higher — but a shorter line may be better for them, especially if they’re just starting out. These kits come in different lengths, and they’re inexpensive enough that you can afford to start with a shorter kit and then get a longer one if the need arises.

Carrying bag

As a general rule, these kits can be set up in less than half an hour from start to finish. That means you can take them with you when you go camping and set them up for kids to play on while you fish or tell tales around the campfire. If you’re planning on that, make sure they come with a carrying bag for easy transportation.

Slacklining

Slacklining started in Yosemite National Park back in the 1980s. A bunch of mountain climbers began horsing around trying to walk on rails, ropes, and chains when they were bored. The practice, which is different from tightrope walking, became known as slackline because the line has a lot of give and sway to it. It requires a great deal of skill and balance to walk a slackline.

Most of these ninja kits have a line that is two inches wide or so, making them ideal for using as a slackline. Remove all the obstacles and lower the line until it’s about one-and-a-half to two feet off the ground so the kids can practice walking on it. It’s a real challenge, but because it’s low to the ground, it isn’t very intimidating or likely to cause injury.

Quick and easy setup

The Slackers NinjaLine 36' Intro Kit is exactly that — an introduction to ninja training and slacklining. There is only one line in this kit but it can be rigged as a slackline if your kids are up to the challenge. It can be hung between two trees or between some posts to provide hours of fun for your kids. Because it’s so easy to set up and take down, you can change the order of the rings, knots, and monkey bars as often as you like.

Features

Materials

The materials in a backyard ninja obstacle course vary depending on the particular component and the overall quality of the set.

  • Nylon: Most of the lines are made from nylon. Its strength and durability make it the perfect material for these obstacle course kits. Unfortunately, nylon does tend to break down when it’s subjected to continuous UV exposure from the sun.

  • Wood: The handles of most monkey bars and the rungs on rope ladders are made from wood, mainly because it’s lightweight and inexpensive. If the wood hasn’t been lacquered or stained, you should do that before putting the set up. The softwood used in most of these obstacle courses tends to weather pretty quickly.

  • Steel: The attachments to the line are generally steel carabiners. Some of the rings, covered with a layer of rubber for comfort, are also made from steel.

  • Rubber: Plastic or hard rubber rings are also common in these kits. Some of the spinning wheels are plastic or rubber, and many of the attachments to the climbing ropes are either rubber or wood.

Colors

These obstacle kits are made for kids — as a result, they come in a wide variety of colors. Almost every kit available has multiple colors on all the obstacles and lines. Even the ratchets come in different colors.

Obstacles

Most kits only have three or four of these obstacles included in the package. You’re not limited to what you get, however. You can add more if you don’t mind spending a little extra. Common obstacles include:

  • Gymnastic rings: A steel clip that connects to the line has a short rope with a steel ring on the end of it. The bottom half of the ring is normally coated with heavy rubber to provide a comfortable grip.

  • Traverse rings: These are solid rings that slip over the line and can turn back and forth. They’re not fixed in position the way most of the obstacles are.

  • Nylon knots: These have a steel clip on one end and a nylon rope tied into a big knot on the other end. Attach the clip to the line and let the kids swing on the knot.

  • Monkey bars: These wooden bars have a rope with a steel clip attached to each end. That means the bar hangs parallel to the line.

  • Climbing ropes: There are different configurations for climbing ropes. Some are even referred to as rope ladders, but there is only a single rope on them. They normally have a knot or stop of some kind on them for the kids to brace their feet on as they climb the rope.

  • Rope ladders with rungs: This is the kind of ladder you see on TV when they unroll a rope ladder from a helicopter for people to climb. The kids will have a blast with this one.

  • Cargo net: Any World War II movie about Marines will show them climbing up (or down) the side of a ship on cargo nets. If you’ve never done it, take our word for it — it’s harder than it looks.

  • T-Bar: This like a monkey bar but with one rope in the middle of the bar. Some of them turn on the rope and others don’t. Either way, it adds an extra degree of difficulty to the obstacle course.

  • Ball: Instead of a knot at the end of the rope, some obstacles have a smooth, round ball. It’s harder to grip and hang on to than a knot.

  • Cone: These obstacles feature a simple cone with the narrow end facing up. Some people say it’s even harder to hold on to a cone than a ball.

Weight limit

The weight limit generally refers to the obstacles rather than the nylon line. Nylon web line normally has a weight limit measured in thousands of pounds. The obstacles are usually limited to 250 to 300 pounds.

EXPERT TIP

If your children are very different heights, a backyard ninja obstacle course may not work for them since it will be too high for one and too short for the other. These courses work best when your children are all roughly the same height.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

If you don’t have trees in your backyard, you can use nine-foot poles instead. At least three feet of the pole should be in the ground to anchor it in place.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Most kits only work on trees that are two feet in diameter or less. If your trees are larger than that, the ratchet loop won’t reach around the trunk.


Staff  | BestReviews

Backyard ninja obstacle course prices

The lower-priced end of backyard ninja obstacle courses ranges from $70 to $90. These sets have six or seven obstacles, and they usually include monkey bars, rope knots, and gymnastic rings. They will be around 30 to 35 feet in length.

The majority of courses are priced in the mid-range of around $90 to $120 and will be about 40 feet long. They include monkey bars, rope knots, gymnastic rings, and perhaps one or two other types of obstacles.

Expensive backyard ninja obstacle courses cost $120 and above. These are generally longer courses, reaching as long as 65 feet. They typically offer a plethora of different obstacles.

Great quality for the price

If you are looking for a set for older kids, this is a great option. The obstacles are larger, so they’re easy to grab and solid enough to hold up to 250 pounds. The quality of the components and materials ensures that your budding young ninjas will get years of fun and exercise out of it. It has ten loops to attach obstacles, along with plenty of room between them to add more obstacles if you like. Or, remove the obstacles and lower the line for some slackline practice.

Tips

  • Keep the line low enough to the ground that your children’s feet are about one foot off the ground when they’re hanging from one of the obstacles. Show them how short the distance is so they won’t be scared.

  • Cargo nets work best when there is a rope holding down the bottom of the net and stretching it taut.

  • Put a second line under the first one so your kids will have something to stand on while they grab the obstacles. This is especially helpful if they don’t have the upper body strength to hang from the obstacles.

Other products we considered

We like the Slacker brand of obstacle courses, and the Slackers 56’ Ninjaline Intro Kit doesn't disappoint if you are looking for something bigger than their 36-foot model. It has two different kinds of rings, along with rope knots and monkey bars. The 56-foot line doubles as slackline, and the kit is easy enough to set up that you can take it camping with you and put it up for the kids wherever you go. We also like the American Ninja Warrior Deluxe Ninjaline Kit. It has 11 different obstacles, including a cargo net and a climbing rope. It's a great kit with lots of options but the price may be a little steep compared to others and the cargo net requires a lower line (not included) to keep it stretched out.

All backyard ninja obstacle courses double as a slackline, though you will need to lower the line significantly and remove the obstacles.

FAQ

Q. How old should kids be to use one of these courses?

A. A good starting age is around two to three years old. By then, they’ve learned to walk, run, jump, and climb. Giving them a backyard course to play on is an excellent way to burn off some of their excess energy.

Q. What are the best obstacles for 5- to 7-year-olds?

A. Slacklines, monkey bars, and rope knots offer a good challenge. Kids at this age may not have the upper body strength to swing from one obstacle to the next, so put the line low enough the ground that they can jump and grab the bars and knots.

Q. What are the best obstacles for 8- to 13-year olds?

A. This is where you can add the cool stuff: rope swings, climbing ropes, cargo nets, and t-bars. Older kids are generally stronger and can successfully swing from one obstacle to the next, so you can also set your line a bit higher off the ground.

The team that worked on this review
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer
  • Peter
    Peter
    Writer

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey