The Great Skye swing set by Gorilla Playsets is our choice for best combination of slides among all the wooden swing sets we review. Though there are certainly other places with more slides, we find that the Great Skye accomplishes so much out of a one-fort playset.
This playset has two “models” (Great Skye I and Great Skye II), but the primary difference is the addition of a 14 foot scoop slide to the II model. That makes the Great Skye II an unbelievable value of sliding around for your kids, with three amazing and long options. We generally treat these two options as one in our review because the difference really is only that scoop slide.
The Backyartisan's Verdict
Here we go on reviewing the Great Skye by Gorilla Playsets, covering what we believe the be the primary considerations of the swing set. Here are the Backyartisan ratings, each on a 5-star scale. Weights are given to each category in the overall rating. You’ll see 30% of the weight goes to the playset in the pre-assembly phase, 45% to the enjoyment and use phase, and 25% to the swing set value. All right, here’s the Backyartisan rating for the Great Skye wooden swing set.
Shipping & Receiving
The Great Skye receiving and shipping experience is not necessarily great. This is a very premium playset, and to undertake what you got ahead of you, it just will take time and effort. You can always learn more in our article about what to expect when receiving a playset shipment.
Our Great Skye verdict: We give the Great Skye an average rating of three stars. We find that premium quality sets just take longer, require more skill, and in general, to be a headache, even though that’s common.
Trucking Company Appointments
The Great Skye by Gorilla Playsets comes via freight. This might mean that it only pulls up curbside to your house and you are responsible for unloading. It is a cost effective yet sweaty method of delivery. You may be able to request services that feel more white glove, but they aren’t necessary in this case and may cost you a couple hundred bucks.
Dealing with Pallets
After you complete unloading the swing set, you will be left with a 10 foot long pallet that is 40 inches wide. You can typically get the freight carrier to take it with them, but you should be prepared just in case they refuse it. Feel free to repurpose it into something fun for your kids to play with while they wait on their swing set assembly.
Unboxing and Taking Inventory
The Great Skye comes with a total of 10-11 boxes that you will have to unload from your LTL truck. Please please take some time to snap a bunch of pictures of the entire shipment before you do anything next. You’ll want those for the sake of a claim or any other issues should you run into them down the road. I mean, you have that camera in your pocket all day long every day. You might as well use it.
You’ll run into quite a few boxes within boxes, within boxes…a little fun Russian nesting doll of hardware throughout your delivery. These will be packaged up in bags generally, and you’ll want to keep good tabs of where everything is as you unpack it.
Box Weight and Dimensions
This is a pretty big swing set. All in, the boxes weigh a total of roughly 1000 lbs. once you remove the weight of the 10’ pallet. That puts the average weight of the boxes at over 90 lbs. The largest box is 200 lbs., but you do have three others that are over 100 lbs. As you can tell, you’ll need a few hands to help out with unloading. No boxes will really be longer than the 10’ pallet.
The scoop slide is 14’ long and can be cumbersome, though not really all that heavy. It should come wrapped in plastic for protection.
Okay, you’ve taken possession of your swing set and you’re ready to dig in. Problem is, this may be a little bit more than what you bargained for. Gorilla Playsets are not known for being easy to whip together. Check out what we wrote up on installing and assembling a playset by yourself, but definitely check out our article about hiring an installer to save some blood, sweat, and tears.
Our Great Skye verdict: Compared to its one forte counterparts, the Great Skye is quite a beast to put together. You really should expect a high-quality product, though, which is why we give it an average three star review. We basically find it to be average for what you’re getting.
In terms of the tools and supplies you’ll need, most of it should be readily available in your toolbox. You’ll need a level, tape measure, hammer, pencil, pliers, shovel, and marker. If you don’t have the sizes of bits or sockets we list below, they all are fairly standard and can be found at your local hardware store.
For drill bits, you’re going to need ⅛”, 3/16”, ⅜”, 7/64”, 9/64”, and 11/64”; for bolts you’ll need deep well sockets and wrenches that are ½” and 9/16”.
Ease and Timeframe of Installation
You really don’t wanna try this assembly by yourself. Yeah, you’ve got the tools and the pre-drilled holes and boards that are cut to size, but you’ll find yourself beating your head against the wall trying to do all this by yourself.
Gorilla states that this assembly should take 14 to 16 hours, which is kind of nuts. Of course, they are the manufacturer and they are trying to sell your product. I’m sure, technically, there’s somebody out there who could do it in this timeframe, but I would give yourself an extra two days on top of what they say. I just want you to be prepared!
Quality of Directions
No Gorilla playset is easy to put together, but they take a lot of care in the assembly instructions. With over 125 pages, this manual will give you the entire playbook you need, and goes into great minutia.
You’ll find very good diagrams, well written English, and all sorts of pointers when it comes to putting together your Great Skye playset.
Due to the 14’ scoop slide of the Great Skye II, you’ll get some pretty different dimensions between the Great Skye I and II. Both models of the Great Skye have 7’ decks for the upper tube, thus the entire height of the swing set is 13’. The Great Skye I is 19’ x 20’, and when you add the 6’ perimeter, you’ll need 31’ x 32’ for a safe running area.
The Great Skye II has the 14’ scoop, so it’s installed dimensions are 27’ x 20’, yielding a safety zone of 39’ x 32’ for the playset. You’ll need those safety zones and the critical fall height of 7’ to calculate how much mulch you need, if you go that direction.
Stability & Durability
This next part looks into the longevity that you can expect out of this playset. We go into the joints, components, and materials of your Gorilla Playsets purchase. You’ll get a sense of what to expect in terms of durability.
Our Great Skye verdict: Gorilla really hits on all cylinders when it comes to longevity and durability of their products. With their association and common ownership alongside shed companies, they build the Great Skye in a similar fashion.
Joints & Hardware
You won’t find very many issues with the hardware used by Gorilla on their playset. They typically do things the right way, even if it’s to the detriment of the amount of time it takes to put this thing together.
I do want to point out that on the turbo slides, we have found the bracket that braces the slide about midway down will sometimes give away to larger children or the fun-loving adult who can’t resist trying the turbo slide. I would probably recommend supplementing this brace.
With wood screws at #8 in size and hex bolts at ⅜” thick, Gorilla has gone with a fairly standard hardware pack for the majority of their fasteners. I’d love to see this a little bit larger and bulkier, but Gorilla certainly gets great longevity out of these choices.
The Great Skye wooden playset is made out of cedar, which is known for its durability and longevity. All posts that are upright or 4x4 and the crossbeam for your swing is 4x6. That is absurdly beefy.
Most other boards and decking are 1.25” thick, and ancillary boards are an inch thick. All wood has been sanded on corners and edges and pre-drilled for convenience and is fairly nice to the touch for your kids.
The Great Skye comes with a 7’ turbo slide, which is packed into a box and needs to be put together with mini mini bolts. It is very heavy duty. The wave slide is thermoformed and generally sicker than what we’ve seen in the industry when compared to cheaper brands. The Great Skye II also comes with the rotomolded 14’ scoop slide, a beast in the industry and one of the best features in the playset market right now, even though they are expensive and difficult to ship well.
Wood Stain & Finish
Gorilla likes to refer to this finish as an amber post. That’s just what it is, amber. I don’t necessarily love the yellow color of the stain, but I can’t argue that it’s not properly applied and smooth upon receipt of the swing set.
The weight limits are important to understand so that you know what your playset can withstand. They are dialed in based on the product specs, and you likely don’t want to mess with them, unless you’re okay risking safety!
The fort platforms hold a weight of 800 lbs., rope ladder holds up to 75 lbs., the rock walls, all slides, and climbing ramps are set for up to 150 lbs., and monkey bars are good for up to 175 lbs. The belt swings have a recommended max swinging weight of 150 lbs. and the trapeze bar goes up to 125 lbs. The maximum swing weight of the entire swing beam is 425 lbs.
You have invested quite a bit of money into the Great Skye, so you should really take care of it. Doing so will lend itself towards eventually selling it when your kids are all grown up. That’s right, these playsets really do last that long.
Make sure that no sprinklers are pointed at your playset with any regularity. Cut back and prune any growth around your swing set. Check out your connection points and hardware regularly. I mean, you get the point, there’s a whole checklist that you should follow. Here’s an article that we wrote on playset maintenance with more detail.
Another main thing you may want to check out is resealing the playset every few years. We have an article devoted to staining your playset as well.
This next section goes deeper into the various components, slides, and other elements you’ll find on this playset. You’ve got to put yourself in the shoes of your children, and here’s where we do that.
Our Great Skye verdict: We give the Great Skye very high marks for accomplishing up to 3 slides and lots of fun for what is otherwise a smaller swing set. We recommend that you take advantage of the II version to get the most out of this purchase, even though the scoop slide represents an additional $300-400.
Ups, Downs & Acrosses
Here’s where we get down into some of the fun weeds, the how you get on and how you get off this playset. The Great Skye has both a 5’ and 7’ deck, so this is actually an important aspect for a one fort play set. Going up, you’ll find a normal ladder, a rock wall with assisting rope, and a rope ladder.
Getting across the playset once you’re on the fort, you’ll find a nifty way of climbing from the 5’ deck to the 7’ deck. It is really just walked into the railing.
Coming off of the Great Skye, you’ll find the wave slide, The 7’ twisting tube slide, and if you do get the II version you’ll have a 14’ scoop slide as well.
The ups and downs of the Great Skye really stand out to us. When you buy a Great Skye II, we feel like you are getting a lot of bang for your buck here.
Gorilla employs their classic 6x4 crossbeam with a trapeze bar flanked by two belts in the swings. You can really go to dress it up by checking out other accessories to replace the swings, but we have found that this is not a bad tried-and-true but they offer.
Social Play Accessories
In terms of playing with other kids, your children will find the picnic table and tic-tac-toe attachment as a fun option. We aren’t totally wild about the big plastic accessories, but I guess the kids like some of that stuff. Ours tend to eventually ignore it.
Solo Play Accessories
For the solo play items, you’ll find a sandbox and spyglass along with a chalkboard on the upper deck. Again they give a little bit of fun things for your kids to check out.
Roof & Kit Options
Gorilla offers the full suite of roof options on the Great Skye. You will find, of course, the standard wood roof. I generally like to end the conversation there. I really do feel like the standard wood roof gets the job done, looks good, and will last for a long time.
If you’re looking to save a little bit of money, you may decide to choose the vinyl tarp roof. It is adequate, but I do not think that it provides the same level of protection for your playset, and cutting it out just doesn’t save you that much money anyway.
Finally the Malibu roof is available on the Great Skye. Personally, I feel like it is over built, adds too many roof lines, and doesn’t really merit the extra $300+. Yes, it comes with some little dinky solar powered lights on the side and some opening windows, I just haven’t found any children to be tall enough to open those windows and enjoy the gables, so it just sort of feels like a waste before I even consider the cosmetic side doesn’t do it for me.
Price & Value
Depending upon which version you get, you are looking at spending $3,000-4,000. It makes a lot of sense to step back and wonder if it’s all worth it. Here’s where we try to break it down on a few different levels.
Our Great Skye verdict: We think that this is an above average value for such a high ticket price. We know that you will have this for many years to come, and your children will thank you for it as they grow and it stands steady throughout their childhood. We give the Great Skye 4 stars.
We know that this is not a cheap or an expensive purchase, but we do believe that the product can be worth this high cost. Gorilla Playsets knows what they’re doing when it comes to long-standing structures. We think that you’ll get your money’s worth if you take the right precautions and steps to preserve it.
Given that you’ll get many years out of it, we aren’t sure that you should cut any corners and choose different roof options that might expose the decking to more weather patterns. This product is extremely well designed, and we’d hate for you to cut a few bucks out for a tarp roof and potentially cut its life short 3-5 years.
Conversely, we don’t think that you should upgrade to the Malibu roof either. We don’t feel like it does much cosmetically. Scratch that, we think that it does some damage to it cosmetically. We just don’t find it to be worth the money.
We do want to say that going with the II version will give you the large scoop slide, and doing so will keep your older children interested in the playset for far longer. There’s nothing like a kid’s need for speed.
You’ll run into a lot of retailers who offer free shipping for places. Make no mistake, there’s nothing free in this industry when it comes to shipping. They are simply baking the cost of the shipment into the product. In fact, you could technically save a good bit of money if your retailer broke out shipping because shipping services are not typically charged sales tax in many states.
You’ll definitely want to check into the return policies for any retailers. Playsets are large and complex and will be very difficult and expensive to ship back to anyone. You’ll find yourself a lot more able to recoup any costs by selling it onto the next person locally.
This particular site should cost you roughly $500 to actually ship, if you were to break out that LTL freight cost.
Installing the Great Skye by yourself will set you back a few days, not to mention the blood, sweat, and tears. Paying someone else may set you back $1,000. You know what your own time is worth to you. It’s a little bit harder to put a dollar amount on your sanity, though. We will leave that decision up to you!
Gorilla set a warranty on the wood for up to 10 years. It is extremely constricted to factory malfunctions. Anything naturally occurring or due to water or bugs are not included. We find the detail in the limitations overly broad and probably isn’t that great of coverage for such a big product. Gorilla really should do better.
For plastic components and hardware, everything is warranted for one year. Honestly, if you have any issues within five years on any of the stuff, I’d be surprised.
I’m not quite sure why the components that last much longer aren’t warranted for longer and the really long warranty for wood components is so stringent. The best guess is they really don’t intend to service this warranty much.
By the way, this warranty also is not transferable if you were to sell your set. You should definitely know that before buying from someone else.
Here at Backyartisan, we try to reserve 4 or more stars in an overall rating for very high-quality playsets. The Great Sky by Gorilla Playsets meets that mark. In fact, we listed on our 2021 Best Playsets as the swing set with the best slide options.
Thank you so much for reading our comprehensive and detailed review of the Great Skye wooden swing set. Feel free to reach out if you have any more questions or requests for future reviews.