Backyard Discovery is a company that produces many things including patio accents, pergolas, gazebos, playhouses, and of course our beloved swing set and playhouse category. They have roughly over forty different varieties of swing sets that they produce. The Skyfort series is actually on the larger end of what they normally produce. There is plenty for kids to stay busy with on this one! Read on to see our rating and if bigger really is better!
The Backyartisan's Verdict
To make it easier to compare different play and swing sets, we here at The Backyartisan have created a rating scale. We have picked five important categories and then created a way to weigh these so we can give you an overall score. Below are the Backyartisan ratings for each category on a 5-star scale. Next to each category, we have the weight we give each category, as well as an overall rating. For example, you can see that 30% of the weight is given to the playset before its use, 45% to the use of the playset, and 25% to the value of your purchase. Now that you know how we do it, here is our rating for the Backyard Discovery Skyfort.
Shipping & Receiving
You want to be sure you check out our article on what exactly you should expect when ordering a playset. You’ll get a good idea in that article of what to expect and how to proceed when receiving and taking inventory. Getting a playset isn’t exactly like ordering a package from Amazon!
Our Skyfort verdict: Backyard Discovery generally has a decent shipping experience, and this playset is no exception, even for a bigger playset. With recent worldwide shipping issues, we are impressed with what they offer!
Trucking Company Appointments
All trucking company appointments stink, but this is the most efficient way to ship these playsets. They can’t fit on your average mail or UPS truck, unfortunately! The swingset will come via a freight truck, so they will have to schedule with you a time to drop it off. You also need to make sure a big truck can get to you and have room to maneuver. Shipping companies can really be a pain, but it really is the best way to ship these based on their size.
Dealing with Pallets
Since these are over 7 ft long, you'll have to deal with a pallet. The pallets they ship on are usually around 8 ft, to make sure that they can hold it all! Sometimes the freight company will offer to keep it. Keeping the size of the pallet in mind is important when making sure you have a space cleared away for your extra-fun delivery! If you end up keeping the pallets, there are tons of things on Pinterest that you can upcycle the pallets into!
Unboxing and Taking Inventory
This is the nature of the beast, take detailed notes and pictures. Read more in our other article. IF anything is damaged or missing, you want to note it right away so you can contact the company and they can make it right. If you don’t contact them right away with photos, they won’t have proof it arrived damaged or missing something, and at that point, you’ll probably get stuck with a bill.
Box Weight and Dimensions
The largest box is 205 lbs, but they average around 174 pounds, you'll need a friend or neighbor to help you carry or move them! Most swing sets, including this one, won’t all fit in one box. The box will be 7-8 feet long, so unless you are Stretch Armstrong this is not a move-it-yourself type of box.
At three stars, this isn’t the best installation experience, but it is not the worst either. Installation is the nature of the beast. It can be frustrating and time-consuming your first time, but it is, unfortunately, a necessary evil. The good news is that Backyard Discovery is generally a lighter lift on installation, check out our in-depth article on how to install a playset.
Our Skyfort verdict: Backyard Discovery has the Bilt app, which could make things easier; but playsets just aren't easy. There are a lot of pieces and tons of hardware. Having organization is definitely key with these things! The app does come in handy though. We recommend looking through it before you start, and again as you go through it.
Since you have to assemble it, you will need your own tools. Unfortunately, they are not included like your average piece of boxed furniture these days. You will need to have these tools on hand to make your life easier. If you don’t have something, you’ll need to buy it or borrow it from a friend.
- Phillips Head Drill Attachment
- Open End Wrenches in sizes 1/2" & 9/16"
- Phillips Screwdriver
- 1/8", 3/16", 3/8" and 7/16" Drill Bits
- 3/8" Drive Ratchet, 1/2" and 9/16" STD Sockets, 1/2" and 9/16" Deep
- Claw Hammer
- Rubber Mallet - This is optional, but certainly can help!
- Tape Measure
- Electric drill
Most of these tools are ones that DIYers will already have on hand, but if not they are handy to have. Don’t skip the level and the square either, those are crucial tools for installing a stable playset!
Ease and Timeframe of Installation
Nothing in this industry is a quick and easy build. Interestingly though, Backyard Discovery does not include the estimated install time in the instructions for this set. Because of this, we recommend allotting 2 full days, and that is assuming you have at least one pair of extra hands to help. This is NOT an assemble Christmas Eve to be ready for Christmas morning type of build! Setting aside two days will also give you time to not rush, get organized and stay organized.
Quality of Directions
The directions for the Skyfort were actually well-written. A lot of times these days instructions have obviously been translated from another language and it didn’t work out too well. Sometimes you just get pictures. Not the case with Backyard Discovery! The only downfall is that they are pretty dense; so staying organized is definitely key. This is pretty typical for Backyard Discovery though. Personally, I’d rather have too much information and instruction for one of these things, instead of not enough!
This set has a 30’ x 33’ usage zone that is 12.5' tall and rounded. Make sure there is plenty of room around the set for kids to run around without finding other buildings, bushes, or trees. Also, make sure you trim and clear any overhead trees, and stay clear of low hanging powerlines. You need to leave room for swings to swing, so keep this in mind as well. Also, you never want to install on rocky ground, that is just asking for injuries! Steep hills are also a no-no because that could lead to disaster as well. Try to find a space that is as flat as possible. You can always add mulch or sand around the playset for a little softer flooring.
Stability & Durability
Backyard Discovery just isn't your standard heavy-duty option brand on the market, we find that they generally come in around average, though. This particular model does pack a little more stability than other models they have, mainly due to the size. This is why we give it a rating of four stars in this category.
Our Skyfort verdict: This four-star pick brings you one of the larger models Backyard Discovery offers, and they beefed up the stability and durability because of it! Because of this, we are pretty excited about this long-lasting playset.
Joints & Hardware
In general, the Skyfort series has your average run-of-the-mill hardware and joints.
When you first look at your hardware, you will find a bunch of generic nuts/bolts, with a ton of screws of course. Finding a way to organize all these tiny parts is the key to a successful installation. Losing screws, bolts or washers is a pain. The good news is, since they are so generic, you can find replacements at your local hardware store if needed.
The thickness of the joint plates is average as well, nothing special to mention. We feel it is just enough to make the product safe but certainly doesn’t go above and beyond. Backyard Discovery is known for engineering value to cut costs in its products.
The plate for the swing beam is sufficient, but don't expect any of the hardware to feel heavy duty at all. It gets the job done, but is not above par by any means.
The swing beam is not quite a standard 4’ x 4’ beam, it is actually more of a 3.5’ x 5.25’, so not as beefy as we'd generally like. The rest of the wood is fine, but nothing to write home about. We’d say the wood thickness is about average.
The plastic is fine and should easily support your children. The downside is the wave slide. We think it may not last very long due to it being 3 separate pieces. Multiple pieces can also be hard to align, and won’t provide the smoothest way down all the time. Definitely expect to replace the slide down the road, preferably with a slide that comes in one piece.
Wood Stain & Finish
The wood finish and stain are actually pretty good looking but they will need attention over time. The stain appears to be smoothly spread, giving it a professional look. Down the road when the stain starts to fade, check out our article on How to Restore a Playset.
The maximum weight limit on this model is 150 lbs per child for individual activities, 120 lbs per child for joint activities, and 9 children total. You probably don't want to go over much on this for safety reasons. If you want to read more about weight limits on swing sets, we have an excellent article here.
Read up on our maintenance recommendations in our Playground Maintenance Checklist. With this set, you are saving money on the front end, but you end up needing to give it some love and stain over time to keep it in decent shape. Unmaintained swing sets can lead to unwanted splinters and a weathered look.
Let’s be honest. You are buying this for your kids, not yourself. In theory. If it isn’t fun, it will get ignored real fast. To come up with our four-star verdict, we looked at play elements like swings, ability to socialize, ups and downs, solo play, roof, and other options. It is super important to put yourself in a kid’s frame of mind when choosing a playset. You can even determine if YOU would have fun playing with it if it came with a time travel machine to blast you back to the past!
Our Skyfort verdict: We gave this four stars because we fell in love with both the tube slide and the orbit swing. The crow’s nest was a pretty cool perk as well! The Skyfort is definitely one of the playsets that have a great selection of play elements!
Ups, Downs & Acrosses
There are a lot of really fun things with this set. Your child will burn tons of energy with all of the ups, downs, and acrosses that this has!
The rock wall will build muscle and coordination and is definitely considered an up. It has good sizes and handholds for all sizes of hands to maneuver.
The “downs” are definitely a pro on this, there are not one but two slides!
The Skyfort has a tube slide and a wave slide, double the slides mean double the fun! If you don’t know the difference between the two, the tube slide is like a toilet paper roll, but in slide form. The wave slide isn’t a straight slide, which provides more entertainment with the ups and downs it brings.
What we really loved in the swing category for the Skyforts is the web swing. It has 3 positions which is a really nice touch that not all playsets bring! Swings are always a favorite of kids, this is one category you don’t want to skip!
Social Play Accessories
There is a decent clubhouse on this set! The clubhouse can be boys only, girls only, or whatever the day may bring. It is perfect for gathering to look at a treasure map, or even having an impromptu tea party. Clubhouses are a great way for kids to get together, socialize and use their imagination. Playing together with other children is a great way to build social skills that a lot of today’s technology-driven kids are missing.
Solo Play Accessories
There is a cheesy periscope on the Skyfort, but not much more. This is definitely a playset for a family or a single-child home with tons of neighborly friends! The entire set can be used for the solo play of course but with playsets, the rule of thumb is the more the merrier (at least until you reach the weight limit or recommended capacity of course)!
Roof & Kit Options
The wood roof is standard, which will last you! Having a roof is a great way for kids to take a shade break during a hot summer day, or take shelter under the inevitable short impromptu April shower! The only thing you will want to remember is to keep the wooden roof treated with a stain designed for outdoor use. This will prevent wood rot and moss from growing over the years of play!
Price & Value
Okay, now you've got the down and dirty on this playset, but what does it mean for your wallet in the $2,000 to $2,500 price range? Let’s break it down.
Our Skyfort verdict: We actually gave the Skyfort five stars on price and value. Backyard Discovery definitely performs above average on their playsets, so you can be certain you are getting your money’s worth. This is great news for parents everywhere!
We don't think that Backyard Discovery has a great warranty, and all playsets are pretty time-intensive to put together (so you'll pay 25-40% of the price for assembly if you go that route). The awesome thing about the Skyfort Series is that it comes with free shipping. Since this has to be transported and gas prices are rising, we think this is a great deal! There are three models of Skyfort actually, and they are all in the same price range. The original Skyfort will run you about $2,500, the Skyfort two is a little cheaper at $2,300 and the cheapest in the series is the Skyfort III at a flat $2,000. Of course, you get what you pay for, and spending a little extra can be worth it!
Backyard Discovery is like most retailers who will include "free" shipping. Of course, the cost of shipping is probably already tied into the purchase price and it just sounds good to get something free. You need to always check out the return policy though, because it is never actually free, and there typically are no free returns. With transportation and gas rates on the rise, A return could actually cost you $250-350 to ship it back. Always read the fine print, if it sounds too good to be true it usually is.
You might be able to get someone to install this for $800-$900, but it may be hard to get someone to do it for so cheap, remember, this is work, so what is your time worth? If you remember, we are estimating this to be a two-day install process. Of course, if funds are running low you can always install it yourself!
Their warranty has actually improved recently, but it still isn't great with a 5-year warranty on decay and a 2-year warranty on workmanship for the wood, this used to be a sliding scale that became worse coverage over time (which you know if you have read any of our previous Backyard Discovery Set reviews!); metal for 5-years as well; no mention of plastic. Beware, this doesn't cover labor for fixing, anything resulting from bad weather, disrepair from what they consider regular maintenance, or anything they deem as "natural". It is up in the air as to what “natural” really is.
With an overall rating of 4.1 stars, this is a good set for Backyard Discovery, and why it made our list of the best large playsets of the year.
The Skyfort Series by Backyard Discovery is a solid swing set option at the larger end of what Backyard Discovery will normally produce. Its hardware and wood are pretty average, but it has a nice stain and some great play features.
For the price, this is a decent swing set and will keep your kids entertained for quite a few years with the fun accessories like the web swing and multiple slides. It also has some potential hangout spots for older kids, such as the clubhouse.
Thanks for reading up on our comprehensive review of the Skyfort swing set by Backyard Discovery!