Most children love to climb and, while taking the kids to the park is a great way to burn off some energy, nothing beats having an adventure in your own back garden with a climbing frame. This versatile piece of kit can vary from a small plastic frame for toddlers to build their confidence all the way up to huge wooden forts with climbing walls, sandpits and cargo nets. As well as being a lot of fun to play on, climbing frames teach children how to navigate risk and help them to develop key skills including balance, strength and gross motor skills.
We have researched a whole host of different climbing frames to suit a range of gardens and budgets. It is really important that climbing frames are safe and so all of the products we have featured conform to the latest quality and safety tests. We have included frames to suit a range of budgets, with the cheapest climbing frame at just over £100 and models that go up to more than £1,000.
Most of the frames in our selection are just for climbing, but we’ve also rounded up our pick of the best swing and slide sets for even more outdoor fun.
What to look for when choosing a climbing frame
Space – Most outdoor climbing frames require level ground and a minimum amount of clear space around the structure. This is something you will need to factor in when measuring your garden and choosing the size frame you want.
Age suitability – This is a really important feature to consider, as it can be dangerous for younger children to use play equipment that’s too high for them. It is also important to look at the maximum weight limit, especially if you are going to have younger and older siblings playing on the same climbing frame.
Material – The majority of climbing frames are made from plastic, wood or metal. Each material has its pros and cons, for example, treated wooden climbing frames tend to be hardwearing and most have quite long manufacturer guarantees. Metal frames can be very sturdy, but are prone to rust if they are left open to the elements throughout the year. Plastic is really easy to clean, but can get hot and fade in the sun.
Assembly – In general, most climbing frames will come in parts and need to be self-assembled. Depending on how DIY-savvy you are, if you have a helper and how long it will take to build, it might be worth paying a professional to do this for you. Wooden climbing frames usually come with pre-cut pieces of timber, but you might have to drill the holes yourself or cut any tarpaulin pieces. For some climbing frame models, you are advised to buy ground anchors in addition to the frame to make sure it is secure.
Extras – Many climbing frames come with items such as swings, ropes, covers or bars, but make sure you check exactly what you are getting for your money. Often the stock photographs will show items that you have to purchase separately to add to your climbing frame. It is also worth checking if the climbing frame is modular and can have other sections added at a later date. For example, you might want to add swings or a slide when your children are older or if you have more children.
Here’s our pick of the best climbing frames for kids:
1. TP Explorer Metal Climbing Frame, £179.99
– Best for growing with your kids
Age: 18 months+ | Size: H201cm x W208cm x L208cm| Maximum user weight: 100kg | Main material: steel | Ease of assembly: 2 hours with 2 adults
If you are looking for a climbing frame that offers shaded areas with protection from the sun, the TP Explorer Metal Climbing Frame could be just the ticket. It has a covered den at the top, with a round viewpoint to look across your garden and 2 entry/exit points.
The clever design grows with your child so the platform can be built at a low height (56cm) for younger kids. Then as they grow it can be raised all the way up to 119cm.
It has also been built with a modular design where you can add accessories such as a slide, monkey run, swing and a basketball hoop, so offers a whole variety of play opportunities too.
Available from: Smyths Toys
2. FatMoose CleverClimber Club XXL, £699.95
– Best for different climbing options
Age: 3+ | Size: H220cm x W105cm x L250cm | Main material: solid wood | Ease of assembly: over 2 hours
If your kids are active and adventurous, the mix of ladders, nets, ropes and climbing wall on the CleverClimber Club XXL climbing frame will keep them busy for hours. The range of acrobatic activities on offer can help children to improve their strength, balance, motor and climbing skills.
This solid-wood climbing frame doesn’t take up too much space, is versatile and can be tweaked to suit your children’s needs. For example, you can extend the climbing wall to make it the full height of the frame or you can use the extra wooden boards to create a basketball ring backboard (basketball ring sold separately). For budding gymnasts, there is also a long tumble bar that can be attached at different heights to challenge your kids as they grow.
As with the other wooden climbing frames we have featured, the company recommends purchasing 6 anchors to help with assembly and – particularly as this frame is used for acrobatics – 20 SoftSafe safety mats to help protect kids if they do fall off.
3. Dunster House Monkey Bars Climbing Frame, £249.99
– Best for monkey bars
Age: 3 to 14 years | Size: H220cm x W315cm x L190cm | Maximum user weight: 50kg | Main material: wood and steel | Ease of assembly: 1 day with 2 adults
For kids who are more confident when it comes to climbing, we love this monkey bar climbing frame from Dunster House. Kids can swing from bar to bar and you can even attach a trapeze swing and rope ladder (as on Amazon customer did) for more play opportunities. Though keep in mind the bars are at a significant height (over 2 metres), so you may want to place a safety mat underneath to cushion any potential falls.
The wood has been pressure-treated, which means you won’t have to paint or treat it for 10 years, making it very low maintenance. While the wooden parts come pre-cut and there are comprehensive instructions, Dunster House estimates that it will take 2 adults a whole day to build this climbing frame – it is not for the faint-hearted!
It is recommended that you place the play system on a level surface at least 2m from any structure or obstruction, such as a fence, garage, house, overhanging branches or electrical wires. So it is worth measuring your available space to check that this won’t completely dominate your garden.
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4. Plum Climbing Pyramid Wooden Play Centre, £734.99
– Best for all seasons
Age: 3 to 12 years | Size: H210cm x W390cm x L150cm | Maximum user weight: 50kg | Main material: wood | Ease of assembly: 5 hours with 2 adults
Made from premium FSC certified timber, this climbing frame works brilliantly all year round – with closed areas for colder months and an ability to turn it into a waterslide in the summer thanks to a hosepipe attachment.
With a wave slide and a climbing wall with coloured hand and foot grips on one side and a ladder and cargo net on the other side, it features a ‘secret’ play area inside the triangle. This lower play area can be accessed by crawling through one of the camouflage fabric wall panels, which opens and closes with a zip.
As well as the size dimensions, you’ll need to allow for a 1.8m (6ft) play perimeter around the climbing pyramid. At the top of the climbing pyramid is a large split-level platform play deck. We can already see kids standing at the top and shouting: “I’m the King of the castle!”
5. Eezy Peezy Monkey Bars Climbing Tower, £119.99
– Best budget-friendly frame
Age: 3+ | Size: H118cm x W166cm x L178cm | Maximum user weight: 70kg | Main material: plastic | Ease of assembly: easy
The most budget-friendly climbing frame in our top 10, the sturdy Eezy Peezy Monkey Bars Climbing Tower can be used indoors or outdoors. It has a lightweight frame at just 12.2kg, which means it is super-easy to move around your house or garden.
Kids can climb to the top of the dome, swing from the bars and make a camp inside. This type of interlocking open frame is great for developing problem-solving, gross and fine motor skills, as well as building upper and lower body strength. While its main use is climbing, we also like the potential for imaginative play. The dome shape lends itself well to becoming a den and we found that with a couple of sheets and some pegs it becomes a fun hideaway!
This frame is made from UV-resistant plastic frame, making it sturdy and durable, while the solid interlocking connectors and double self-locking springs mean it is pretty straightforward to build too.
Available from: Smyths Toys
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6. Wickey GhostFlyer, £1,129.95
– Best for imaginative play
Age: 3+ | Size: H260cm x W480cm x L415cm | Maximum user weight: 600kg | Main material: wood | Ease of assembly: difficult
If I could go back in time and dream up my ultimate climbing frame as a child, then the Wickey GhostFlyer would be it. It gives kids their very own pirate ship complete with flag, swings, slide, climbing wall, wobbly bridge and so much more.
With a picnic table, 2 integrated sandpits, a lookout, ship’s wheel and telescope, there are so many opportunities for imaginative play. The only downside – apart from the high price-tag – is that your child will be constantly asked to host play-dates!
The wood has been pressure treated, so you won’t need to paint or treat it and there are multiple configurations and colour choices to choose from. However, you may need to drill some of the wooden elements yourself during installation. Wickey supplies the tarpaulin and the sticker-film uncut, which you also will need to do at home. Keep in mind, it also advises that you buy ground anchors and rubber safety tiles for extra security.
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7. Quadro Climbing Pyramid, £198
– Best for versatility
Age: 12 months+ | Size: each grid 40x40cm | Maximum user weight: 100kg | Main material: UV-resistant plastic | Ease of assembly: under 2 hours
With a variety of different grid designs, the Quadro Climbing Pyramid offers the ultimate choice for parents – and it can be used indoors or outdoors. This giant plastic construction set comes with 236 parts and a simple plug-in system, which allows you to create 11 different designs using 40x40cm grids. The ability to constantly change configurations and build cubes, tunnels, pyramids, play towers and even mountains means that the climbing frame will keep them entertained for years.
This set is great if you have children of varying ages, as the little ones can climb on the lower grids and the slightly older or more adventurous ones can go a bit higher. You can also start off building a lower frame and then tweak the design as your child grows to make it more challenging. For much older children, you can combine multiple climbing pyramid sets to create a large obstacle course and there’s also the option to add a slide.
8. Little Tikes Jungle Climber, £259.99
– Best starter climbing frame
Age: 3 to 8 years | Size: H137cm x W37cm x L169cm | Main material: plastic | Ease of assembly: 2 hours with 2 adults
A great starter climbing frame for toddlers, the Little Tikes Jungle Climber features a cargo net, multi-level platforms, a wavy slide, rotating door and openings at ground level that connect to the play area. The frame is lightweight, meaning it is easy to move around the garden and we love the bright colourful jungle design. With the majority of parts made of plastic, it is also extremely easy to clean with your garden hose or a cloth and some soapy water.
Another plus point is that there are no sharp corners to bump into and all of the play platforms are low to the ground, meaning less chance of accidents.
Feedback from parent users on Amazon report that this climbing frame is a great investment and handles the winter weather well with no obvious wear, but some people found the colours – especially the red parts – became faded in the sun.
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9. Colourful PomPom Climbing Triangle, £240
– Best for indoor play
Age: 6 months to 5 years | Size: folded H79cm x W18cm; unfolded H57-71cm x W80cm | Maximum user weight: 100kg | Main material: sustainable wood | Ease of assembly: comes fully assembled
With 3 adjustable heights, a reversible slide/ramp and the ability to fold down, this Climbing Triangle from PomPom brings physical play inside. The wooden climbing frame is made in the UK and arrives fully assembled, which is perfect for parents who aren’t confident building things.
The great thing about this frame is that it is suitable for children from 6 months old and is a safe way to build their strength and awareness of their body from a young age. We also love the fact that the frame is painted in Edward Bulmer Natural Paint, which is a plastic-free and nursery safe paint meaning you don’t have to worry if your toddler decides to lick or chew the wood.
This piece of kit will take up quite a lot of space in your living room or playroom, but it can be easily folded down for storage. The design aims to support your child’s development and give them freedom of movement so they can gain confidence in their own abilities.
Available from: Etsy
10. Jungle Hut Fireman’s Pole, £599
– Best for multiple children
Age: 3 to 10 years | Size: H125cm x W114cm x L114cm | Maximum user weight: 50kg | Main material: wood | Ease of assembly: 5 hours with 2 adults
We love all the opportunities for play with this Jungle Gym climbing frame – kids can make their own secret hideout in the hut, slide down the ‘fireman’s pole’ or sit in the shaded sandpit at the bottom of the frame. This also makes it a great garden activity if you have lots of different ages kids over, as some can head to the top and some can stay at the bottom.
It’s not an easy building job requiring 2 pairs of hands over 5 hours, so make sure to put plenty of time aside. The sand for the sandpit isn’t included so you may also want to buy this ahead of time, so your kids can make full use of the frame once it’s built.
Available from: Jungle Gym
About the author
Georgina Probert has been a journalist for 13 years working on a wide range of titles including Homes & Gardens, Good Homes, Relocate Global and Cage & Aviary Birds. After the birth of her first daughter she has gone on to write about parenting products, education, slow living and more. She lives in the Kent countryside with her husband, two daughters and cat Molly.