One of my children’s favorite activities is jumping on the trampoline with friends. A trampoline can be a loft above the ground for camping out, a shelter for a hideaway, an Olympic-style backyard competition, or an exciting gathering place for kids anxious to relieve some energy.
But as parents, we wonder how to choose the right trampoline for our kids. With so many options available, it can get overwhelming trying to decide which trampoline is right for your family. There are many aspects to the decision to consider, which is why we made this handy guide to help you out.
Here are the main criteria that we use in our trampoline reviews:
Let’s dive in to each one of these criteria and what to look for.
The durability of the trampoline depends on several factors: what it’s made of, connected with, and how it’s anchored to the ground are just some of those factors. As we investigate the different manufacturing options, we have to decide what fits our active families.
Trampolines have four main parts: frame or tubing, springs, jumping pad, and safety pads. Each of these parts comes with many options, and we have to decide which style to choose.
The first thing you’ll notice when shopping around for a trampoline is the wide variety of shapes they come in. Round, rectangular, oval, or square are the most common shapes. They also come in various sizes, including inflatable options for use on water or as bouncy houses for parties!
The framing material is dependent on the size and purpose of the trampoline. Inflatable trampolines are made from inflatable PVC, while regular trampoline frames are made from galvanized steel to be rust-resistant. Any trampoline you purchase should have this framing so that it doesn’t rust out and become damaged.
Most frames have u-shaped legs that provide a sturdy platform connecting the ground to the trampoline. These legs are helpful because they won’t sink into the dirt with the weight of use. They also offer a minimal surface area for damage to the lawn while remaining sturdy for safety.
There are also a few different spring options. Most of us are familiar with the standard coil springs made from galvanized wire. These are the most commonly recognized and are sturdy and robust. Some models of trampolines, such as miniature or bungee trampolines, use bungee cords instead of springs. Another type is fiberglass rods in spring-free trampolines.
The length of the springs also makes a difference in how much bounce you get. The longer the spring, the higher the bounce!
Again, galvanized materials will be more robust and more durable, especially if you leave your trampoline assembled through the winter. They are rust-resistant and stronger than other materials due to how the metals bond with the coating.
Trampoline mats are made from synthetic woven fibers like polyethylene or nylon. The fibers are covered with a fade-resistant protectant, so the color doesn’t fade in harsh sunlight or weather. These are relatively standard and don’t come with variable options. They are durable and difficult to damage, though wear and tear do occur over time.
The mats need to be monitored each season for tears and continued durability so that they remain safe for your family to use.
A trampoline should also have trampoline pads to cover the springs for safety. These may or may not come standard with your trampoline purchase but can be easily found as an add-on item from a trampoline retailer.
Your trampoline purchase should also include safety nets. According to JumpSport, trampolines with safety nets are 50% safer than those without them. These are also available as add-on items from your trampoline retailer.
Anchoring the Trampoline
Another item that comes with design choices is the ability to anchor the trampoline. An anchor will hold the trampoline more solidly to the ground in the event of weight imbalance or strong winds. Choosing a trampoline frame that works efficiently with anchors will be crucial for safety.
U-shaped anchors are possibly the most recognizable as they resemble the anchors we use to hold our tents to the ground while camping. They are easy to use and work well in windy weather.
Perhaps a bit sturdier, though, is the augur anchor. These screw into the ground with metal or nylon straps that hold the frame in place. Augurs go more deeply into the ground than u-shaped anchors, which makes them stronger in heavy winds.
No anchor can guarantee that significant weather events won’t affect the trampoline, but they reduce the risk.
Different shapes, sizes, and styles of trampolines have different weight limits. Keeping in mind that trampoline safety recommends no more than one jumper at a time, the decision about which trampoline best suits your needs will use weight as a major factor. Miniature trampolines have a weight limit of around 150 lbs., which means a child can easily jump around on it, but a full-grown adult probably shouldn’t.
Larger trampolines can hold over 400 lbs. safely, but remember that they’re only supposed to have one jumper at a time. Realistically, though, we know our kids will climb up with their friends, so knowing that the trampoline can hold the weight is essential.
Round trampolines have lower weight limits than rectangular ones due to the way the springs are used. The springs on round trampolines work all at the same time to hold the weight and force of the trampoline mat and jumper, whereas rectangular ones hold the weight in specific areas where the jumper is.
Rectangular trampolines are designed for gymnastics and competition, so they naturally hold the force differently. Most of us won’t have these rectangular trampolines, so the weight limit we can reasonably expect would be the upper limit of about 400 lbs.
Our highest priority as parents is our children’s safety, and with trampolines, that can be tricky. They’re a fun backyard tool that can be dangerous if not used correctly. As you’re searching for the perfect trampoline, it is important to look at overall safety ratings. Look at reviews (ours are coming soon), materials the trampoline is made from liked we talked about above, and whether there have been any reported recalls.
Doctors often recommend against owning a trampoline due to the sheer volume of injuries they see each year. Trampolines were initially designed as athletic equipment, not for family use. The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly cautions parents about the safety risks related to trampolines and children.
Despite excellent safety ratings on individual trampoline brands, the equipment as a whole has a rough reputation with pediatricians. This information is not to discourage you from having a trampoline, but to make educated decisions as to whether a trampoline is a good fit for your family.
These days, finding enough time to install backyard equipment feels impossible. Finding a trampoline that is easy to install, has excellent instructions, and the fewest possible number of pieces would be a dream!
The amount of time it takes to install a trampoline varies depending on the size and whether you plan to install it alone or with help. A 10′ trampoline could take anywhere from 1-3 hours, with a 14′ spring trampoline taking just a little bit longer because they have more pieces to place. Spring pullers are a great way to make the job more smooth, though, as they help stretch the springs and make them easier to install.
Spring-free trampolines can take 4 hours or longer, depending on the size. These are incredibly complex, and even though they usually come with great instructions, it is a good idea to have help for their installation.
Some companies will come to your home and install the trampoline for you in some areas. If you have a busy schedule or have to complete the installation without help, this service might be a good idea.
Price and Value
Considering that trampolines are expensive in general and potentially risky equipment, it is important to decide what you can afford based on price and value. Comparing similar items will be necessary, too.
The price of a trampoline is dependent on size, quality of material, and shape. The larger the trampoline, the more expensive it becomes. Most of us are looking for a round trampoline as they fit better in our yards, and our children are likely not vying for Olympic gold. Rectangular trampolines are generally used in gyms or athletic studios.
Price isn’t the only factor in determining value. Safety and durability are also part of the equation. Some trampolines come with extra safety features such as nets and pads, while others don’t. These are easy enough to purchase separately, however.
Brand new trampolines are your best bet, but sometimes people sell their family’s used ones. It can be tempting to purchase a used trampoline, but this decision comes with significant risk. Like any used item, it is impossible to know the history and maintenance of the equipment. Rust and damage aren’t always easily seen, and as a result, you could be purchasing something unsafe.
New is also better for purchasing a trampoline because there is often a warranty on the equipment and parts. While a warranty doesn’t guarantee that the equipment won’t fail, it offers protection and replacement for that part. Generally, warranties last ten years, by which point your kids may no longer use the trampoline anyway.
Accessories and Add-Ons
Trampolines are no longer just a thing you jump on. These days, many accessories can go along with the trampoline. Some of these accessories are for safety, while others are just for fun.
Safety accessories include safety nets surrounding the trampoline to protect your kids from falling to the ground. Ladders are another safety feature, making it easier to get up and down from the trampoline.
Trampoline pads cover the whole circumference of the trampoline and springs, but foam covers can go over each individual spring. The pads are safer as they prevent feet and arms from getting caught between the springs, though the foam covers are acceptable options.
Sunshades are also available to protect your kids from sunburns. They’re also great for keeping debris such as leaves and small branches off the trampoline when it isn’t being used.
Mini-trampolines have options for hand-rails which make it easier for younger kids to stay upright on the trampoline. This add-on is both a safety and a fun accessory.
Fun accessories are far more varied. They include:
- Bounce boards
- Basketball hoops
- Power bounce kits (to extend the bounce higher!)
- Lights and music
- Game Packs
The opportunities for fun are seemingly endless with trampolines. While there are many designated accessories, your kid’s imagination will be the true determiner of how much they can do!
Size and Shape
The size of trampolines is a factor in deciding what kind you want in your yard. This decision will also depend on the yard space you have to work with and how much money you want to spend.
In terms of shape, the circular trampoline is the most common shape in the market. A circular trampoline uses the least amount of steel and fabric, is the easiest to manufacture, and generally comes with a standard length of spring. That said, the pure physics of the circular trampoline will pull all jumpers into the center of the trampoline.
You may want to consider an octagon or rectangular trampoline for better weight distribution and so you don’t end up with your kids knocking noggins while jumping.
Inground vs. Above Ground
With increasing popularity, there are now inground trampolines that offer more safety features than above-ground trampolines, though their installation can be much more labor-intensive. At first glance, you may find the in-ground trampoline to look unsafe, but you’ll still want to consider putting a net around it to keep children from falling outside of the bounce area.
Springless vs. Traditional
When we were kids, spring trampolines was the only choice we had. Today’s families have a few different options now, and the decision of whether to go springless or traditional has a lot of various factors that will matter.
In general, springless trampolines are much more expensive and don’t provide much give when jumping, thus most of its bounciness is dependent upon the fabric. With all of the padding and nets that you can get with a traditional trampoline, I am just not sure it’s worth the added cost to purchase a springless trampoline – by removing the coils, it really seems to be fixing an old stereotype already fixed by adding the right accessories.
Considering all of the factors from size and shape to cost and accessories, choosing which trampoline will best suit your family’s needs can be overwhelming. Making a list and comparing products can make the decision easier, as well as knowing exactly what you want from your backyard equipment.
Durability, price, and safety are all important considerations, and finding the right fit means looking around at many different options before settling on the perfect trampoline.
Once you have that out of the way, choosing which add-ons and accessories you want is something you can have the kids help decide. Giving them some buy-in on the decision-making process can help them to feel like the equipment is theirs.
And that’s about it, holler if you have any questions.