Best Jungle Gyms

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

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

41 Models Considered
10 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
537 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

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

Why trust BestReviews?
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best jungle gyms

Last Updated September 2019

Let’s explore! Children are naturally curious, especially during their formative years. Play is an important part of a child’s life — it’s when they learn and develop skills through role playing, pretending, and exploring. In fact, they do a lot of it right in your home, and that’s why a jungle gym belongs in your backyard.

Days spent at the park create some of the fondest memories, but sometimes, it’s hard to find time for a trip there. It’s easy to make memories with a home jungle gym, especially since they often incorporate popular park and playground elements into their designs. Made with durable and commercial-grade materials, most jungle gyms are built to last at least a decade if properly maintained.

As you can imagine, a decade is a long time in a child’s life — and jungle gyms are built with this in mind. They have a variety of features to engage children as young as toddlers through their years at elementary school — and sometimes beyond. Jungle gyms are memorable fixtures of youth, so we invite you to choose one that you can welcome into your yard for years of fun.

Even though jungle gyms provide hours of play, it’s important to keep a watchful eye over your children. Adult supervision is often recommended by jungle gym manufacturers to promote the highest level of safety.

Key considerations

Taking measurements

First things first: get out your tape measure to figure out how much space you have and how much space the jungle gym you’re considering would need. Manufacturers often include the actual size of a set as well as the recommended amount of space around it. If your new equipment is large enough, it may require a municipal or city permit prior to installation.

Preparing the grounds

The ground around and beneath your new jungle gym may require some preparation. Some jungle gyms can be built on top of grass; others could benefit from having a layer of material beneath. Mulch, sand, dirt, pea gravel, and rubber are popular options that can provide a soft surface under a jungle gym. They can be purchased locally from home and garden centers or landscaping companies. Determine the square footage instead of guessing so you can buy the right amount.

Digging holes

Certain jungle gyms need to be anchored into the ground and require some hole digging. This is especially common for larger sets, as they are heavy enough to handle the weight of multiple children. The set must be secured so it doesn’t shake, topple, or collapse. Manufacturers often provide recommended installation instructions on this front. If you think you still need help, reach out to a professional with experience assembling jungle gyms.

Arranging assembly

If you feel out of your element or simply don’t have the time, it’s a good idea to hire an assembly professional. It can take anywhere between two and ten hours to fully assemble a jungle gym, so you’ll need to make an appointment and block time for installation.

The ultimate all-inclusive jungle gym

Equipped with rock climbing, lookout nooks, swings, and slides, children will spend plenty of time playing with this set. The extra-large wavy slide provides safe but speedy descent from the clubhouse. There’s even a park bench and table on the first story, so children can enjoy afternoon picnics or coloring in the shade with friends.

 

Features

Materials

Wood: Wood, particularly cedar, is a popular jungle gym material. It’s a solid, reputable material seen in homes, sheds, and doors. If your area is susceptible to termites or other woodland pests, however, you may wish to consider other materials.

Commercial-grade plastic: Commercial-grade plastic is preferred by parents who want a jungle gym with soft corners and smooth surfaces. These are especially popular for young children who are still getting their bearings on bodily movements and fine motor control. Plastic sets are also easy to clean; you simply need to hose them off every once in a while.

Metal: Metal may be used for an entire jungle gym, or it might make up the hanging elements, such as monkey bars and ladders. High-quality sets are built with stainless steel or treated with rust-proof paint. These jungle gyms may require a bit of maintenance and monitoring, but sets that are cared for properly can easily last a couple decades without looking worn or weathered.

Style

Swing set: Swing set styles have at least one swing and sometimes include a slide, trapeze bar, gymnastic rings, and monkey bars. They could also include spider swings or trampolines. As a popular, iconic style, it’s not unusual to see at least one swing set detail attached to a jungle gym.

Clubhouse: Jungle gyms built in clubhouse style include at least one platform or covered area reminiscent of a treehouse. Certain sets have multiple platforms and include steps and seating areas, like benches. Some even have ship accessories for lookout nooks, including wheels and telescopes.

Climber: Climber styles incorporate a series of bars, ladders, and/or rock-climbing grips. They are elevated, but they’re generally not too high in case of a fall. Some climber styles are modular and easily rearranged if your child wants to change the look or shape of the set.

Integrated: Integrated jungle gyms incorporate more than one style instead of focusing on a specific design. This maximizes play options to keep children challenged and engaged. These unique jungle gyms are often larger than smaller sets, so more children are able to play at the same time.

EXPERT TIP

Register your jungle gym with its manufacturer as soon as possible. Many warranties require thorough documentation, and this is an easy way to organize and pipeline information if you ever need parts or repairs.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Buying a jungle gym is a great way to open the conversation with your children about first aid and safety. Teach them what to do when someone needs help, so they’re vigilant and proactive if an emergency arises.


Staff  | BestReviews

Jungle gym prices

Jungle gyms are a pretty big investment for your backyard, especially since many of them last for well over a decade of play. They range in price between $180 and $3,000, so even with a small budget, there are some sets that could work for your family.

The low end of the range falls between $180 and $1,000 and includes climbers and easily assembled compact models. Instead of including a variety of play features, sets in this range tend to focus on one or two main features.

Mid-range sets are priced between $1,000 to $2,000. This is where jungle gyms begin to distinguish themselves from one another in construction and design. These sets often integrate styles to offer a collection of swings, slides, climbers, and clubhouses. Assembly is highly involved and could require a professional installation service.

Top-of-the-line jungle gyms are $2,000 to $3,000 and up. These sets are constructed and designed to be close to the level of public park equipment. They often utilize commercial-grade materials to weather many seasons and maximize years of use and play. While expensive, these sets last the longest, especially if they’re maintained well.

If your children have surpassed the age of using their jungle gym but you want to keep it in your yard, turn it into a gardening spot. There are surfaces for an assortment of potted plants as well as ladders to grow vine plants, like tomatoes and squash.

Tips

  • Encourage proper footwear. Since jungle gyms are made with hard materials and could have rough edges, it’s important for children to wear proper footwear that protects their feet. Sneakers and closed-toe shoes are preferable, as they stay put thanks to laces and Velcro. Going barefoot or wearing flip-flops could result in injury.
  • Set safety rules. Safety is paramount, especially with jungle gyms. Before children play on yours for the first time, establish rules to promote safety, such as no jumping off platforms and no hanging from unsecured parts.
  • Teach proper falling techniques. It’s not unusual for children to fall while they play, so teach your child proper falling techniques. These can be learned in gymnastics or martial arts classes, where they show children how to break a fall and come to the ground in ways that minimize injury.
  • Check if you need a permit. You may need a permit to build your jungle gym, so check with your town or city before finalizing your purchase. Some municipalities don’t have any regulations regarding jungle gyms, but others put them in the same category as sheds, in which case they could be subject to zoning laws.
  • Think about home value. While a jungle gym might not add to your home’s resale value, it could be an attractive feature to entice buyers with young children.

The possibilities are endless

You can change the shape and size of this jungle gym whenever you please. The bars are easy to climb and hold with tiny hands, so children have the opportunity to practice their core and grip strength. The blue and yellow color scheme is bright and fun, and it will stay vibrant for years with special rust-resistant powder coating over steel.

Other products we considered

We also like the Step2 Skyward Summit — especially its fun take on rock climbing. Children between ages four and eight can get acquainted with climbing and scaling on kid-friendly upward terrain. It has specially designed grips for little hands as well as a cargo net and climber platform. There’s a recommended four-child limit, so kids can play together instead of taking turns. It’s an ideal pick for families that enjoy hiking and rock climbing, as it can foster an early interest in what could become a hobby for everyone.

If you want a jungle gym that looks fresh out of the park, the Lifetime Adventure Tower is perfect. A two-story clubhouse provides hours of fun in the shade thanks to its all-weather, UV-resistant construction that won’t crack or warp. It borrows the most popular elements of other jungle gyms and swing sets, including rock-climbing grips, double swings, a trapeze bar, and a slide. Perhaps the best feature of this jungle gym is its easy maintenance; to clean it, you can simply hose down the walls and slide.

Check your jungle gym for signs of hives or other insect infestations. There are plenty of nooks and crannies, so make sure they’re free and clear before your children begin playing.

FAQ

Q. Should I get a jungle gym if I only have one child?
A.
Of course! Jungle gyms are meant for both individual and group play. Invite schoolmates, neighbors, and cousins to enjoy it alongside your child. What’s more, if you have a jungle gym with a covered area or clubhouse, your only child could enjoy it as a special quiet place for reading and coloring.

Q. I’m not comfortable building the jungle gym myself. What are my options?
A.
You could opt for an assembly service through the store or website where you purchased it. Another option is to hire a moving company, as these seasoned professionals have a wealth of experience in assembly as well. Not only will they have the tools, chances are they’ve built a jungle gym before, so it will be put together in no time.

Q. Should I do anything to winterize my jungle gym?
A.
Jungle gyms are prepared to weather the seasons and all kinds of inclement weather. However, you could choose to cover yours with a tarp wintertime. There are also companies that shrink-wrap patio furniture and boats; you could hire them to wrap yours before the first snowfall.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Erica
    Erica
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Sian
    Sian
    Writer

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