Best Dome Climbers

Updated December 2019
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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 
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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.

37 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
462 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 dome climbers

Last Updated December 2019

It’s a fact of life: kids love to climb. They climb on chairs, staircase banisters, doors, trees, ladders, fences, and anything else they can get their hands — and feet — on. Since they’re going to climb anyway, why not give them something to climb on that is safe, secure, and meant for climbing?

Children’s bodies need climbing activities to stimulate muscle tone, strengthen their bones, build confidence, and let them explore the world from a vantage point higher than they normally are. The feeling of success from struggling to climb up a dome or jungle gym is one that will prepare them for future success as they grow and mature. Since kids are going to climb anyway, and since it’s a primary way for them to develop, go ahead and get them something to climb on.

We’ve already done the heavy lifting to research the information you need to buy the best dome climber for your family. Keep reading, and we’ll spill the beans for you.

Make sure your children are dressed appropriately when they’re climbing. Even in the summer, it is best for them to wear long pants to avoid skinned knees.

Key considerations

Age and weight capacity

How old are your children? This is the first and most obvious thing you need to consider. The older they are, the more they weigh. Playground equipment, including dome climbers, are rated by how much weight they can safely hold. If the weight capacity of the set is too small for their weight, or if too many kids jump on it at the same time, it could collapse and cause numerous injuries.

To gauge what you’ll need, figure out how many kids will be playing on it at the same time. Estimate how much each child would weigh, and double that figure. For example, five kids at 60 pounds each weigh 300 pounds. Double that figure and buy a dome climber with a capacity of 600 pounds. That will provide you with a good safety margin, especially if the kids are still playing on it several years from now.

Size

How much room do you have for a dome climber? Some take up quite a bit of space. Before you decide which one you’re going to get, take a tape measure outside and make sure the set you’re getting won’t dominate the yard. If it’s too big, there won’t be room left for the kids to run around or for you to relax.

Angle to the ground

This is one issue many people don’t think about until it’s too late. Any angle or slant to the ground will be magnified the higher off the ground you get. If there is a slant to the ground that is angled too steeply, the dome climber set will be more likely to tip over when your children climb to the top. You may have to get in there with a shovel and dig out part of the ground to level it. If you’ve never done any digging, take it from us, it’s a lot of work. You definitely want to think about this before you buy.

EXPERT TIP

Never let your children play on dome climbers that are wet from rain, dew, or washing. Dry them off or let them air dry before your children climb on them.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Material

The material the tubes are made of will be reflected in the shipping weight, ease or difficulty of assembly, and weight capacity of the dome climber. Stronger materials are heavier and harder to work with, so keep that in mind when you’re making your choice.

The tubes of your dome climber could be made from any of the following:

  • Powder-coated steel
  • Galvanized steel
  • Plastic

Other accessories on the climber, such as platforms, tent tops, and cargo nets, will be made from other materials, such as nylon, mesh, and heavy-duty plastic.

Color

Because they’re made for children, dome climbers often come in bright, eye-catching colors. Galvanized steel tubes won’t be very colorful, but the nets and tent tops will be. Some manufacturers offer their dome climbers in a variety of color choices, while others only offer one set of colors.

Height

How much time do you have to supervise your kids while they’re climbing? Dome climbers come in heights from just over three feet to a towering seven feet. The taller the climber set, the more supervision your children will need.

Conversely, as your children grow and mature, they’ll need less supervision even on the taller sets. It’s a delicate balancing act, but height is an important factor to think about before you purchase a dome climber.

Assembly

Most dome climber sets require two people to assemble them. Set aside an entire day to complete the assembly, no matter what the instructions say. The time estimates in the instructions were created by people who have put them together several times or who are following a computerized model for predicted setup times. In the real world, when done by people who have never set one up before, it always takes longer than the instructions say it will.

EXPERT TIP

Never let your children push or shove each other when they’re climbing. This could lead to a dangerous fall.


Staff  | BestReviews

Accessories

Anchor kit:  XDP Recreation Ground Anchor Kit
To help hold your children’s dome climber playground set firmly in place, especially if the ground is sloped or slanted too much, we like the XDP Recreation Ground Anchor Kit. It comes with four 10-inch, auger-style anchors with chains and bolts to securely fasten any playground set so it won’t tip over or move.

Ground padding: IncStores Jamboree Playground Surface Outdoor Tile Flooring.
For padding on the ground under your dome climber, add this tile flooring from IncStores. You can order just one tile, a set of four tiles (popular), or a pallet of tiles. Each tile is 24 x 24 inches and 2.5 inches thick, made of recycled rubber to break your child’s momentum if they fall, keep them out of the mud, and give them more traction during play. It’ll give you some peace of mind, too.

Dome climber prices

At the low end of the price range, dome climbers start around $100 to $150. These climbers tend to be made out of plastic tubes. They are generally meant for toddlers and pre-K children. Most can be used inside or outside, and many have a weight limit close to 200 pounds.

The middle price range of $180 to $400 is where you’ll find most climber sets. These typically have powder-coated steel or galvanized steel frames. The weight capacity on these sets can range as high as 1,000 pounds.

Anything over $400 is in the uppermost price range for dome climbers. This is where you’ll find mountain climbing sets with faux rock walls and/or cargo nets. You’ll also find taller sets that require adult supervision when your children are on them. The weight capacity will be limited to around 300 pounds because the outer surfaces are made of plastic.

EXPERT TIP

Kids love to jump, but they have poor depth perception and judgment. Never let them jump off the dome. Their feet could get caught on one of the bars, leading to a serious injury.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Kids are naturally competitive and will want to race each other to the top of the dome climber. Keep them on opposite sides so they don’t push and pull at each other as they climb.
  • Don’t let kids climb so high that their feet are higher than their own height without adult supervision.
  • Wash the dome once a month with soap and water to clean off all the “gunk” kids get on their hands.
  • Tell your children to always use both hands when they’re climbing. This is one of the most basic safety rules for playground equipment.

Other products we considered

We're fond of the Slidewhizzer Kids Dome Climber Play Structures that comes with an included slide. Kids love to climb, play "fort", then slide down, and this is a great combination playground set for them to indulge themselves. It has a heavy-duty fabric platform for them to sit and play, too. Easy assembly and hours of fun make it a worthwhile investment.

We also like the Step2 Skyward Summit Brights. It is a four-color version of the all-gray Step2 Skyward Summit. It has the same features, climbing knobs, rope cargo nets, and surfaces as the original, but in bright colors to fire your kids’ imaginations. You'll pay a little extra for the colors, but that's to be expected.

Broken equipment is dangerous. Teach your children to inspect the dome climber before they get on it.

FAQ

Q. If my child gets stuck on the dome, what should I do?
A.
Don’t panic. Children can often get themselves unstuck on their own and will enjoy the feeling of accomplishment from doing so. Walk over to the equipment, and encourage them to figure it out. Your presence will give them a feeling of safety and the confidence to work it out.
 

Q. Should my children wear scarves or necklaces while playing on dome climbers?
A.
Never! They could get caught on something and choke your children. This is very dangerous.

The team that worked on this review
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Michael
    Michael
    Writer

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