The Lookout Extreme wooden swing set by KidKraft is one of their top of the line products. At roughly $2,100 with shipping included, it has a triple decker experience for your kids. This is on the higher end of what KidKraft offers, and you’ll see quite a bit of features and elements that will catch your eye.
Due to the overall size of the Lookout Extreme wooden swing set, it boasts one of the higher capacities offered by KidKraft. You’ll see quite a bit of fun stuff on it. We think it checks a lot of boxes and you’ll be happy.
The Backyartisan's Verdict
We cover a lot of detail for you so that you don’t have to recreate the wheel. Here are the Backyartisan, ratings for each category on a 5-star scale. Next to that category, we’ve included a weight we give it towards the overall rating. We give 30% of the weight to the experience before the playset is put to use, 45% to the use of the playset, and 25% to the overall value of the purchase. Here you have it, the Backyartisan review of the Lookout Extreme wooden swing set by KidKraft.
Shipping & Receiving
To really get into the weeds of receiving a playset, I’d recommend you check out our article outlining what to expect when receiving a playset shipment and how to get in the zone for what you’re up against.
Our Lookout Extreme verdict: On the whole, the Lookout Extreme is pretty straightforward. With only 5 boxes and a simple packing scheme, we have this an above average rating of 4 stars.
Trucking Company Appointments
The most common way for shipping a playset is via LTL freight. This is different than your typical parcel service and will require you to make an appointment and possibly even unload the playset. It is very important that you be ready to take inventory and deal with the boxes and pallets. Trucking companies should give you a call to set this appointment, though they may not always make it on time.
Dealing with Pallets
You should be prepared to deal with a pallet after you unload the swing set. There will generally be five boxes for the Lookout Extreme and we expect the typical pallet to be upwards of 8 feet long. Your trucking company may gladly take it off your hands at the end, but you can’t 100% count on it.
Unboxing and Taking Inventory
You’ll find that this playset only comes with five boxes. One box is the slide while the other four are the hardware and wood parts. You will want to immediately take inventory of all of the pieces on the shipment. Be sure to take the entire product to a place where you’ve got enough room to spread it out and really know what’s in each package.
Box Weight and Dimensions
The largest box of the five is just over 200 lbs. The total shipment is just over 650 lbs. if you feel good about handling three boxes that are over 100 lbs., you shouldn’t have much of an issue with this. The pallet itself is 8’ long.
You’ll find that installation is the most critical step in the process of getting your swing set put to use. Check out the information we’ve already written about assembling it on your own, and potentially think hard about whether or not you should hire an installer.
Our Lookout Extreme verdict: We generally think that the KidKraft playsets are on the easier side of the spectrum when it comes to installation. They give detailed instructions that should be very helpful, and a lot up to 20 hours for the Lookout Extreme. We give it 4 stars.
Your standard toolbox should include almost everything that you need for this assembly. Tools required include a tape measure, carpenters level, carpenter square, hammer, cordless drill, screwdriver set, ratchet, wrenches, standard drill bit sizes, ladder, safety glasses, and pencil. At #1 Philips head and ½” and 9/16” wrenches, along with ⅛” and 3/16” drill bits, you should have most of these on hand, but you may need to swing by the hardware store. If you do, these items will come in handy down the road - you’ll be glad you have them.
Ease and Timeframe of Installation
In our experience, KidKraft has always been extremely focused on the installation process. The Lookout Extreme playset was designed by Solowave, a company that KidKraft acquired when they wanted to get into the outdoor space. With that said, it’s still checks a lot of the installation boxes that KidKraft likes when it comes to ease of installation
They say here that it should take up to 18 hours to put together the fort and swing plus another two hours for the tube slide, totaling 20 hours. We like to give another 20% of additional hours at least to account for the newbies who are taking this on. We’d say that you should give it a total of 24 to 30 hours. Yes, that means most of your week, which is why it might make sense to hire this out. Doing so may cost you $500-600.
Quality of Directions
The instructions for the Lookout Extreme are well written and organized to follow closely. No matter what comes in the box, you can find the full instructions online. It’s a little pet peeve of mine, but I don’t understand why KidKraft defaults to grayscale instructions. It just isn’t that difficult to add color. Oddly, there are a couple of pages with color, but I just think that it would be much easier to delineate pieces with a color palette.
Though the set is clearly made in China, the instructions appear to be written in native English, which is always a plus. Do note that they take 135 pages to accomplish everything, which seems excessive, but it just means that they have many large diagrams.
The use zone for the Lookout Extreme is 28’ x 32.5’, which means you really need that amount of space without a fence, tree, or other permanent items in the way. The highest fall height is 6.5 feet, which you’ll need to know when calculating the depth of your mulch or other surfacing.
Not a humongous set, but that is quite a footprint.
Stability & Durability
The durability and stability of your playset is extremely vital to the longevity of the product. In the section we go into the different components that we find to be most important in a swing set.
Our Lookout Extreme verdict: We think that this is an average set. Quite frankly, KidKraft is a toy company and engineers their products as such. If the playset calls apart in 3-5 years, they can sell another one to you. Their other sets don’t necessarily perform as well as the Lookout Extreme, but we’ve still given this 3 stars.
Joints & Hardware
All joint and hardware components for the Lookout Extreme are made of steel and have a galvanized finish. We do feel like most of the hardware is off the shelf stuff and doesn’t feel very heavy. That’s fine, but certainly lends itself to an overall average durability.
I just want to be clear that in general, KidKraft engineers their playsets for the most value. That means that this isn’t going to be the thickest wood in the market. It was originally designed by the predecessor company that was acquired by KidKraft, so it does feel like fewer corners have been taken.
The crossbeam for the swing set is 3” by 5.25”, which is pretty decent among most KidKraft sets. Most of the boards in this playset are 15/16”, just under a full inch. All in all, pretty good, but not heavy duty by many standards.
We do feel like the thermoformed plastic used for the Lookout Extreme is pretty sturdy. We have seen some companies, KidKraft included, who have really been working to compact the slides as much as possible, which leads to excessive seams or thin spots in certain areas. This doesn’t really seem to be the case for the Lookout Extreme.
Additionally, the plastic is your classic, slick thermoformed finish, which is great for sliding, even if there’s a little more status than we’d like.
Wood Stain & Finish
This is probably the only section where I point out much about aesthetics. KidKraft uses a reddish yellow stain on the Lookout Extreme. Generally, it is well applied across all the boards. That said I’m just not a huge fan of the color choice.
The Lookout Extreme comes with a max capacity of 16 children ages 3 to 10 years old. That may seem like quite a lot when you look at the picture, but given that there are 3 swing positions and 3 slide positions, it’s easy to see how you could have an entire classroom playing at the same time.
The maximum weight limit is 110 pounds per child. We know some big children, but that should handle most any one who is drawn to play on this playset. By the way, we know some adults who fancy themselves children may want to partake, but we don’t recommend that, as outlined here in our playset weight limit guide.
You’ve decided on a KidKraft playset, which doesn’t come with a very long warranty or heavy duty parts. I think it’s safe to say that you should probably take the normal precautions and inspect your playset with some regularity. We go into quite a bit of detail in this playset maintenance article on the importance of maintenance.
You shouldn’t expect anything by KidKraft to last 10 years, but also note that you’re dealing with an age range of 3-10 years, so you may not need it to last quite that long. We generally think it’d be nice to have the playset around for a next wave of kids (or one of those special surprise children that may come). Inspection and regular maintenance will give you that extra few years.
All right, let’s jump into all of the fun from the child’s eyes. In this section, we take a hard look at everything your kids will enjoy when playing on the Lookout Extreme. You’ll want to consider what your kids love before putting a dollar or hour into building a playset.
Our Lookout Extreme verdict: We give the Lookout Extreme 4 stars because it has quite a bit of options that we lay out below, but it is a little lacking on social play. There are certainly some sets that do better than the Lookout Extreme for play elements, but this playset really does check a ton of boxes.
Ups, Downs & Acrosses
Here is the section where we take a look at getting around the playset. We call it by each direction you’ll go. The Lookout Extreme has a rock wall, ladder, and rope ladder heading up. Heading down, or the double wave slide and 5 foot tube slide. Not much in terms of getting across, but unique to the Lookout Extreme is a third story on the fort. We love the height of this lookout — it’s, well, extreme.
We think KidKraft does a great job on this swing component. With two belt swings and an acrobat bar in the middle, this is a nice set of options. You may want to get a glider or other accessory to round it out.
Social Play Accessories
It is very important to us that children are brought together by a playset. We find the pretend kitchen and for it to be a decent way to interact, but in general, the Lookout Extreme does not offer very much by way of social engagement activities.
Solo Play Accessories
Whereas the playset does not include much social play, it is full of opportunities for solo exploration. With the steering wheel and rock wall, kids can drive a ship or scale a mountain. Some kids may be particularly drawn to the interactive home play stuck by the door and kitchen along with the great dinner bell. Of course swings and slides are also solo options.
Roof & Kit Options
Some playset brands offer various roof options or kits that upgrade their products. In general, KidKraft does not do anything to this effect. You will get what you see in the picture.
Price & Value
Finally, we reach the section where we try to put a dollar value on everything we have laid out for you. We realize at the end of the day, that you are the only one who can speak for your own wallet.
Our Lookout Extreme verdict: We give the Lookout Extreme five stars for value. We think you get a lot of bang for your buck within this budget compared to what you’ll see in the market. It is also a relatively simple playset to put together, so you won’t have to pay out the nose to have someone install it for you. With that said, we don’t love the warranty and don’t think there’s a high likelihood that you’ll ever collect on it.
Given all of the options and the user experience, we think that this playset achieves a lot for less than $2,500. You could easily double your budget and come up with maybe 1 more slide and another fort, but we can totally see why you’d stick with something more simple that still hits on all cylinders. Taking the right measures and inspecting with some regularity will give you even more bang for your buck.
Do you want to check into the return policies for your retailer, but most stores bake the shipping cost into the product and give you free shipping. With that said, it is certainly not free. It’ll likely cost close to $300, depending upon where you live in the US.
We do think that you’ll want to consider hiring a professional, depending on how much you value your time. You should expect it to cost upwards of $800-$1000 for installation.
When you consider that it’ll take 20 hours, that may be on par with what you’re willing to do. Plus, hiring a pro will mean that you’ll have your set completed more quickly and with less pain.
KidKraft boasts a 10-year warranty for their wood, but honestly, there are so many limitations and outs for the manufacturer, I just would not expect a ton of help beyond the first 30 days for anything that isn’t a small replacement part. There’s a 1-year warranty on most every other component, but that is the stuff we always expect to last longer anyway.
Within the first 30 days, they’ll generally cover issues because it was likely a problem within their shipping or quality control department and they are still looking for a good review from you. Beyond a few years, they likely won’t even have a playset by the same name (they rotate models quite frequently) and may not have pieces for you.
The Lookout Extreme wooden swing set by KidKraft gets an overall rating from Backyartisan of 4 stars. It doesn’t generally work out to a nice round number, given all of the weighting we give in our ranking system, but that’s where we land with this one. We don’t really give it average marks anywhere besides durability, but that’s generally why you see a separation in prices across brands.
It’s worth noting that this playset reaches a broader age range than most of KidKraft’s other options. That’s great, because we find that longevity generally goes well with larger age ranges. Buying a swing set for a very small age range generally means it’s not useful for many years.
Thanks for reading up on the Lookout Extreme by KidKraft with the Backyartisan. We hope to equip you with the best knowledge possible before you dive in with your kids in the backyard.