The Mountaineer swing set by Gorilla Playsets is one of our top-rated wooden swing set. For 2023, we have pegged it as the best value among all playsets. You’ll get a lot of the great bells and whistles at the right size and price point, while maintaining the high level of durability that comes with a Gorilla product.
With this place said, you will get a spiral slide, wave slide, fort, table, and more in addition to swings. We find that the Mountaineer checks a lot of boxes with a smaller footprint at the right value. The Mountaineer also comes with a clubhouse option, but it isn’t totally clear that Gorilla will continue with its clubhouses and fort kits going forward.
The Backyartisan's Verdict
Below, we will cover the following aspects of the Mountaineer wooden swing set by Gorilla Playsets. We use a 5-star scale at the Backyartisan for all of our swing set ratings. Next to each category, we’ve got the weight we give that category. Roughly 30% go to aspects of the playset before use, 45% to the swing set use, and 25% to the value of the purchase. Okay, let’s get down to business with the Backyartisan rating for the Mountaineer by Gorilla Playsets.
Shipping & Receiving
Receiving the Mountaineer swing set is a difficult experience. Unfortunately, to get this playset put together, this is just the rite of passage. We give this slightly more than an average rating due to the fact that it is a little bit smaller than most of the other Gorilla playsets. Read more here about receiving a shipment.
Our Mountaineer verdict: We give the Mountaineer 4 stars, as it is about average what you’ll see by Gorilla Playsets, but slightly easier because of its smaller stature. This generally is a tough brand to put together, but you’ll find out below why we think that it can be worth it.
Trucking Company Appointments
The Mountaineer swing set comes in a freight shipment. It can be a little rough that you have to jump up into the truck van, but it really is the best way to ship packages like this across the entire US. You may request some additional services at a higher fee, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.
Dealing with Pallets
Be on the lookout for a 10 foot pallet that is 40 inches wide. You may have to deal with it yourself, but sometimes the trucking company likes to hang onto those. Just wanted to make sure you were prepared for that potential gift!
Unboxing and Taking Inventory
This playset comes with 8-9 boxes depending upon which roof you choose or if you get a treehouse kit. Do plan on taking a bunch of pictures of the entire shipment before you ever cut back any saran wrap or banding. It is extremely critical to have these pictures in case you run into any issues down the road.
Inside each of the large boxes, you’ll see a lot of pieces, bags, and other smaller boxes to sort through. At the time of delivery, you really only want to focus on the large boxes and taking inventory of those well ensuring that nothing is damaged from the exterior. You may also get the wave slide banded to the top, if it’s not put directly into it’s slide box.
Box Weight and Dimensions
The Mountaineer weighs a total of 740 lbs. once you Account for the 10’ pallet at 100 lbs. That means your boxes average roughly 82 lbs., but the largest one is upwards of 200 lbs. You’ll want to be sure you’ve got somebody helpful nearby. No pieces are longer than the 10’ pallet.
So now you’re surrounded by a bunch of boxes and plastic slides, how are you going to attack this project? Check out our article about assembling a playset yourself, read through the write up below, and even check out our article on hiring a pro to take it off your plate. You want to be as prepared as possible heading into such an undertaking.
Our Mountaineer verdict: Putting together the Mountaineer is more difficult than it would seem compared to the other one fort place that’s out there. The real interesting and difficult part turns out to be the tube slide. Not much you can do about such a heavy duty fort, just a ton of boards and hardware to handle. We give it an average three stars rating because it just comes with the territory of such a heavy duty set.
Nothing too special about the number of tools that you’ll need. In addition to a drill and wrench with socket options, you’re looking at tape measure, level, hammer, pliers, shovel, marker, and pencil. All of this stuff should be lying around the house with the exception of some of the bits needed in varying sizes.
In terms of drill bits, you’ll need ⅛”, 3/16”, ⅜”, 7/64”, 9/64”, and 11/64”. For fastening bolts, you’ll need well sockets that are ½” and 9/16” in size.
Ease and Timeframe of Installation
The Mountaineer playset looks simple enough as it is, with one fort and a couple of slides. That said, you should really plan to spend quite a bit of time on this project. All of the boards are nicely sanded and pre-drilled, but you’ll still want to have a friend help out.
Gorilla suggests that you could put this together in 12 to 16 hours, so a day and a half to two days. I would easily say for those who have never done one of these before, you want to give yourself another day grace period. Definitely grab a buddy for the larger heights and longer beams.
Quality of Directions
Your playset will take a ton of time to put together as noted above, but at least you’ll have a manual that is very functional. Gorilla definitely took a lot of time putting this together.
With over 95 pages in the manual, plenty of detailed directions, and diagrams and colors, it is a great resource to review before you even purchase the Mountaineer playset. Also, it’s pretty clear that it was written by a native English speaker.
The Mountaineer tops out at a 5 foot deck, so the height of the overall playset is 11 feet. The installed length and width are 15’ by 21’. Taking into account the 6 feet perimeter for safe running and swinging, the overall use zone (and where you’ll want mulch or other fall protection materials) is 29’ x 35’. This packs a lot in for a smaller set.
Stability & Durability
Here’s a section where we go into the durability of this product. We look into different components, materials, and joints. We will see exactly what your investment looks like in the long term.
Our Mountaineer verdict: In general, Gorilla Playsets are well known for their longevity and attention to durability. They really don’t cut any corners in the production process, and you can kind of tell that is the case because the packaging and shipping experience is a little messy and spread out. Knowing that they have a background and corporate relationship with companies in shed production, it’s no surprise that these playsets are built to last. We give it 5 stars.
Joints & Hardware
Gorilla is known for doing the right things in production. You’ll see all the joints and hardware are pretty substantial when you work with them. They don’t really cut any corners here.
The one bracket I would warn you on is the mid level brace for the turbo slide. In my personal experience, it’s been known to bend under a little additional weight. Either think about supplementing that bracket, or just make sure no adults try going down the slide, which is ill-advised anyway, but some folks can’t resist.
The wood screws and hex bolts are fairly standard at size #8 and ⅜” thick, respectively. Personally, I wish things were a little bit beefier, but it’s hard to argue with the end result that Gorilla achieves.
Gorilla uses cedar in all of their playsets, which is known as the best outdoor fencing and playset material for this use. Upright posts are 4x4 and swing cross beams are 4x6. I’d say that is really about as much as you’ll ever need for any size kid. This is one of the main reasons your Mountaineer playset will last so long.
Most other boards are either 1.25” thick or an inch thick. All have been worked over nicely on corners and edges so they are very smooth to the touch for any child.
The wave slide that comes on the Mountaineer is thermoformed and heavy duty compared to others we’ve seen by cheaper brands. The turbo slide is only 5’ in height, and it comes with a ton of bolts to put together. That said, it’s not going anywhere and is very thick.
Wood Stain & Finish
Most playsets out there are this amber/yellow color or red cedar stain. Though the application of the stain is smooth and done properly by Gorilla, I just don’t love the overall look at the end of the day. That’s just more my opinion, though, and primarily cosmetic.
You’ll want to know the weight limits to keep your kids (and any crazy adults eyeballing adventure) safe. They are set according to product and engineering standards and don’t really need to be messed with. The fort platforms hold up to 800 lbs. The rope ladder holds only 75 lbs. Rock walls, all slides, and climbing ramps are set up to carry 150 lbs. Monkey bars are designed for 175 lbs.
Swings are where you’ll see the most force and torque on the playset. The belt swings have a maximum recommended moving/swinging weight of 150 lbs., and the trapeze bar maxes out at 125 lbs. The swing beam holds a maximum swing weight of 425 lbs. across all three swings.
We think you can really view the purchase of the Mountaineer playset as an investment, if you take the necessary measures to maintain it. You’ve done a lot (and spent a lot) for this playset. You might as well do a few things to hold it’s value and possibly resell it in the future.
The manufacturer suggests you sand and re-stain every few years, so check out some more detail about that in our article on how to stain a playset. You’ll want to make sure that anything that holds moisture does not touch the playset for any length of time. That means to cut back grass and plants from the playset. You’ll want to also make sure that no sprinklers are pointed at the wood.
Keeping pests away from your Mountaineer is important as well. I’d also suggest you check the connection points and hardware with some regularity. Please check out our checklist for more information on maintaining your playset.
So, what does this playset look like through the eyes of your kids? Here’s where we get into the elements that they will come to enjoy for many years.
Our Mountaineer verdict: For the amount of money you spend on the Mountaineer, we give the playset very high marks. For a one-fort playset, Gorilla certainly packs in a lot. We give it 4 stars and find it doesn’t really lack much.
Ups, Downs & Acrosses
This section really covers the ways you get up, down, and around the playset. The Mountaineer is fairly basic being that it only has one fort. On this playset, you will find a rock wall with a rope, a rope ladder, and a regular ladder. Three ways up.
Nothing really to get across on this playset. Once you’re up, you’re primarily on the 5’ deck.
For getting down, you have the wave slide and 5’ tube slide. We feel that the tube slide is a really nice touch for a fairly small swing set. Overall, you are looking at three ways up, no ways across, and two nice ways down.
Gorilla has outfitted the Mountaineer with their classic 4x6 crossbeam, two belt swings flanking the trapeze acrobat bar. Totally their classic swing set up. We may recommend you looking into a glider or skateboard accessory, depending on the size of your child.
Social Play Accessories
For socializing, your children will have fun hanging out at the picnic table or playing tic-tac-toe together. These are your typical rotomolded plastic accessories that Gorilla includes.
Solo Play Accessories
When your kids are by themselves, they might have fun using the telescope and sandbox beneath the fort. Honestly, I am not personally all that excited about all the plastic stuff that Gorilla is known to attach to their playsets.
Roof & Kit Options
Gorilla offers the full range of roof options on their Mountaineer playset. That means you can have it outfitted with a heavy duty tarp to get a little cost savings, you can go with their standard wood roof that will certainly protect the fort well, or you can even opt for the Malibu gabled roof.
Personally, I do not believe that the Malibu roof is really worth the additional cost. And it can be an additional $200-300 more. Yes, it does come with a solar powered half lantern and a few extra windows. You may like that, I just don’t think it’s worth the money, nor do I think it dresses it up any more than what you might want.
I do find that the tarps can be adequate, but you will certainly want to think about replacing it every few years and you’ll find yourself wanting to keep an eye on it.
Price & Value
In the section we get down into whether or not you’re getting your money’s worth. We try to tackle this on a few different elements to really hone in on your wallet.
Our Mountaineer verdict: The Mountaineer gets our highest marks for value. In fact, we listed it as the best value playset across all playsets in the 2021 best playsets list.
Gorilla makes some very quality playsets. They pay particular attention to durability and longevity in the construction of their products. It’s sort of built into their DNA as the subsidiary of a shed company. We are certain that your Mountaineer will last at least a decade with the property maintenance.
Yes, this wooden swing set will cost you $2,500-$3,000. Yes, most other swing sets with one for it may cost under $1,300. With that said, we still strongly believe the value is here on the Mountaineer.
You may get additional value and save a few bucks by going with the tar proof. In general, we just think you should stick to your guns on a standard wood roof. We do not believe downgrading is worth the savings. We also don’t believe upgrading to the Malibu roof is worth it either.
Most retailers are shipping this for “free”, but anyone with a little experience knows that this just means that they have baked an average shipping cost into the product price.
You’ll want to check out the shipping policies of all the retailers, but you’ll find that it is very difficult to return one of these swing sets. The Mountaineer will commonly cost $400-$500 to ship. Returning it likely means you will be carrying that cost and not refunded the original shipping cost. No way around it, these are expensive to ship around the country.
You’ll find yourself staring two full days of manual labor and handiwork in front of you for installation. Hiring it out may cost you $700-$900. That is no insignificant amount of money, but you may find it totally worth it once you read through the instruction manual. It just depends on how much you value your own time and sanity.
The wooden components of the Mountaineer come with a 10-year limited warranty. We like to highlight that those limitations are pretty broad. Anything having to do with defects from the manufacturing process are covered, but basically everything else isn’t. With that being the case, we really find 10 years is a little bit of a force. After the first year or two, almost anything can be blamed on a natural element or some other restriction they have applied.
The plastic components come with a one-year warranty. Honestly, those really should last much longer than the wood anyway.
This warranty is a little "meh" to me. Gorilla could really improve this part of their offering. I’m not sure why, but these restrictions and warranties seem to be flip-flopped on what I would expect out of the actual products.
We give the Mountaineer a strong rating over four stars. Gorilla is not known for making the front end of the user experience fun, but the product is really solid and will last you a while.
With a turbo slide and rope ladder attached to one fort and basic swing set, we think this has great value.
Thanks for catching up on the very detailed review of the Mountaineer! We spend a lot of time here at the Backyartisan trying to give parents our dad-perspective and help you make the best decision for your family.