There’s nothing quite like a climbing frame to inspire excitement and wonder in children – especially if it’s one which also includes swings and slides!
Adding a climbing frame to your garden is a great way to encourage kids to play outside – without having to take them to the park every day. With one of these outdoor play centres, you can watch them climb, swing, slide, and have the best time, all from the comfort of your patio or kitchen window.
Climbing frames come in all shapes and sizes, from simple metal bars, to elaborate structures with multiple play features incorporated into the design. When choosing yours, be sure to first measure your available space, allowing for a clearance area around the climbing frame.
If you want to delight your kids by adding one of these fun-tastic structures to your garden, check out our list of the 5 best climbing frames on the market below.
Last update on 2021-09-01 / All Pricing & Imagery from Amazon Product Advertising API
We’ve taken into account their design, durability and value – but mostly it comes down to the amount of fun on offer!
Our best climbing frame is a multi-level structure, packed with play features – including a climbing wall, slide, swings, and sandpit
Topping our list of the best children’s climbing frames is this FruityForest Fun XXL Climbing Frame from FATMOOSE, which is a fantastic fun centre for children aged 3 years and over.
This comprehensive climbing frame features a double swing, wave slide, XXL sandpit, climbing ladder and climbing stones. There are also 2 platforms, at 90cm and 120cm high, and a variety of extra play features, such as the steering wheel and flag, to further fuel children’s imaginations.
Made in Germany, the climbing frame is crafted predominantly from solid wood, which is pressure-treated to resist the elements, and means you don’t need to paint or treat it on arrival. It also comes with a 10-year guarantee on all the wooden parts.
The climbing frame is relatively easy for 2 adults to put together – you will just need a few hours and some tools, including a ratchet and a drill/impact driver. The finished result may also require a little sandpapering to remove sawn edges, before children are allowed on.
This playhouse is strong and sturdy, and packed with play features that are sure to delight children. There’s so much on offer with this one that multiple kids will be able to play at once, and be entertained for hours.
- Sturdy and durable playhouse/climbing frame.
- Made from pressure-treated solid wood – no painting required.
- Includes a double swing, slide, climbing wall and sandpit.
- Extra play features, including a steering wheel, and connection to turn the slide into a water slide.
- Safety handles make it easier and safer for children to use.
- 10-year guarantee on wooden elements.
- Need to purchase anchors separately, for securing it to the ground.
- May need sandpapering before use, to remove rough sawn edges.
Our best value climbing frame includes a platform, den and frame, for an extremely reasonable price
Cost: Price not available
If you’re looking for a more affordable climbing frame, without all the extra bells and whistles, take a look at this Explorer with Platform & Den by TP Toys.
Featuring a simple design with a metal frame, platform and den area, it’s perfect for kids who already have a slide and swing set, and/or just want something to climb on. It also makes a great alternative to a treehouse, if you’re not blessed with trees in your garden.
One of the best things about this climbing frame is that it can be adjusted to 2 possible heights, with the lowest platform height (56cm) being suitable for children as young as 18 months, and the higher one (119cm) suitable for up to 12 years (the maximum combined user weight is 100kg). This helps to give the climbing frame longevity.
This is our most affordable climbing frame, and this is reflected in the simplicity of the design. However, it is possible to purchase compatible extensions from TP Toys, including their Jungle Run and Crazy Wavy Slide, if you decide you want to expand on it later.
Ultimately, this climbing frame is great for those looking for a high quality base unit, or standalone climbing frame, for a low price.
- Made from galvanised steel, guaranteed for 5 years against rust.
- Includes a platform and den area, with windows, and roll-up doors.
- Extendable height gives the climbing frame longevity – suitable for kids of 18 months (at low height), up to 12 years (at highest height).
- Safe connector cap system keeps bolts away from children.
- Compatible with TP Toys extensions, which you can add on later.
- Low price – this is our cheapest climbing frame.
- Comparatively basic design, with no swing, slide or sandpit included – kids may get bored sooner.
- Den should be taken inside during bad weather.
This large wooden playhouse is a high-quality option, with swings, a slide, monkey bars and climbing stones – but you will pay more
Our next climbing frame is also our priciest – but it’s not hard to see why. This Wooden Playhouse by Dunster House could easily pass for something you’d find at a public playground.
It consists of a large wooden structure, with steps and climbing stones up to the playhouse, a balcony, a wavy slide, monkey bars and a double swing set, as well as a hidden den underneath. With all this on offer, kids should be able to find plenty to entertain themselves and their friends.
All parts are high-quality, with the swings and slide being made from thick plastic, and the climbing stones being a professional-grade Polyresin. The timber which forms the main structure is pressure-treated, to protect it from weathering, and comes with a 10-year guarantee against rot.
The overall construction of the playhouse is sturdy and robust, which is reflected in the recommended age range of 3-14 years. Despite the large size, it’s not too difficult for 2 DIY-savvy adults to assemble, and also comes with the necessary ground anchors, for fixing it securely to the ground.
All things considered, this is a fabulous playhouse and climbing frame combo, with a plethora of fun features for children to enjoy – and it’s as good as most of the equipment you’ll find in the park.
- Made from durable timber and thick plastic.
- Pressure-treated for weatherproofing, with a 10-year guarantee.
- Includes a double swing, slide, monkey bars, playhouse, den and climbing stone steps.
- Comes with ground anchors, to fix it to the ground.
- Has longevity – suitable for ages 3-14 years.
- Our most expensive climbing frame.
- Large size (380 x 465 x 280cm) might be too big for some gardens.
A colourful, gymnasium-style climbing frame, that’s great for kids who just want to climb
Cost: Price not available
This Niro Gymnastic Turnstation offers another completely different aesthetic. Unlike the previous Scandi-style wooden option, this unique climbing frame is made from colourful metal, giving it a more ‘gymnasium’ look.
This is also our first option which is solely designed as a climbing frame. There are no swings, slides or dens in this design; instead, it comes with multiple bars, nets, ropes and gymnastic rings, for kids to indulge all their climbing dreams.
Suitable for ages 4 years and above, this climbing frame has a maximum load capacity of 130kgs on the climbing apparatus, and 80kg on the hanging devices – so it should last children for many years.
The climbing frame requires an area of 4.5 square metres for installation, so make sure you have enough space. It is relatively easy to put together using the connecting elements, despite there being no English instructions provided (there are lots of pictures though!)
The frame is sturdy and stable, and can be set in concrete, so you can be sure it won’t topple over whilst your kids are playing on it. The same frame is said to be used in schools and gymnasiums, which gives it an added seal of approval. Any climbing-mad child is sure to love this one.
- High-quality, German-made climbing equipment.
- Includes a wide variety of bars, ropes and rings, for varied climbing.
- Also used in schools and gymnasiums.
- Suitable for ages 4 years+.
- Tested to European safety standards.
- Only a climbing frame – no swings, slide or playhouse included.
- No English assembly instructions provided.
- Not the most affordable option.
Kids will love this super-fun climbing frame, with swings, slide, sandpit and monkey bars
Cost: Price not available
Our final climbing frame has a very similar design to our top pick – with a few key differences. This Wickey Climbing Frame features a double swing, slide, sandpit, platform, climbing stones and climbing extension. The design is well-thought out, and there are several smaller details to help with creative play, including a steering wheel and a telescope.
There is less ‘den’ space in this one, compared to the FATMOOSE, and the whole structure feels more open. There are, however, monkey bars on offer, which provide a fun, additional climbing opportunity for children, aged 3 years and over.
The climbing frame is made from timber, which is pressure-treated, to resist the elements, and it comes with a 10-year guarantee on all wooden parts. Posts are 7 x 7cm thick, so the structure is strong and sturdy. An all-weather tarpaulin on the roof helps to keep the platform dry in showers.
You should find this one fairly easy to install as well, and full assembly instructions are included. The resulting structure takes up quite a lot of space, thanks to the climbing extension, so make sure to measure your garden first, to make sure it will fit.
Overall, this is another high-quality and fun kids climbing frame, that includes more actual climbing elements than many.
- High-quality and safe climbing frame/play centre.
- Includes swings, slide, sandpit, climbing stones and monkey bars.
- Pressure-treated wood, for durability.
- 10-year guarantee on wood elements.
- Comparatively large floor plan might be too big for some gardens.
What To Put Under A Climbing Frame
If you’re putting a children’s climbing frame on a lawn, you may not see the need for any additional padding underneath it. However, in summer and hot weather, even grass-covered ground can become so hard that it no longer provides a soft and safe landing for little ones.
So, what else can you use? In public playgrounds, it is common to see rubber chippings or mats below play equipment – and for good reason. These solutions are easy to install, low-maintenance, and highly effective (just make sure the rubber is thick enough).
You could also use bark chippings, which are natural-looking and inexpensive. These have their drawbacks though, as they are lightweight, so often blow away in the wind and require topping up, pushing up the cost. They can also look a lot like cat litter to desperate cats who need to go!
Artificial grass is another option, or you could try using sand if you want to create a more beachy look. This has the added benefit of adding another element to your child’s play – although it requires a considerable amount of maintenance.
Do You Need Planning Permission?
Generally speaking, you should not need planning permission for a climbing frame in the UK. However, there are some restrictions – for example, the maximum height of the playhouse should be under 3m if it is a flat roof, and 4m if it is dual pitched.
These rules apply if your climbing frame is to be positioned more than 2m from a boundary. If it’s closer than that, the maximum height must be less than 2.5m. There are also restrictions on the maximum floor area, and the height of any platforms.
Views on climbing frames can vary between local authorities, and different rules may apply if you live in a listed building, national park or conservation area. It’s therefore always best to double check with your local council, before adding a climbing frame to your garden.
April is a freelance writer who specialises in writing about home and garden design and the environment. She is an avid wildlife-enthusiast and adventure-seeker, and feels happiest when in the Great Outdoors.