How to Choose the Right Trampoline For You
Summer is just around the corner, and that means it’s time to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and exercise of the warm months. However, if you’re anything like me, your kids apparently still think it’s the middle of January and laze around in front of the TV! Or perhaps you can get your kids to brave the outdoors but they just stand around using their phones or scraping in the dirt. You need something for them to do, something that will get them active and using their bodies, something that won’t get boring after a day, and most importantly, it has to be low-maintenance and easily installed.
Trampolines are a fantastic purchase for many families because they meet all those needs. Kids love jumping on a trampoline, especially if it has features like a basketball hoop, and the exercise promotes healthy development, regulates metabolism and sleep cycles, and gets your kids some fresh air in the great outdoors. Trampolines are easy to set up and low-maintenance, meaning you don’t have to do anything other than scrape off a few leaves in fall for them to serve you all year long.
But given the glut of trampolines on the market, how can you know which one will be best for you and your family? Here at Swings-n-Things we’ve compared many different products and we’re here to help you learn the most important factors you should consider when picking a trampoline. For one, springless or springfree trampolines have countless advantages over their coil spring cousins, like improved safety and bounce profiles, more jumping area for your money, and improved frames. Another factor is the trampoline’s materials. UV-resistant polyethylene is the gold standard for preventing wear and maintaining the appearance of the trampoline for many years to come. Finally, tech specs like jumper weight rating, surface area, and structural load capacity all contribute to the overall quality of a trampoline. Let’s look at each of these factors in detail so you have the knowledge you need to make an informed decision.
Springless vs Coil Spring Mechanisms
Traditional trampoline utilize horizontal coils that attach to a frame adjacent to the jumping surface. This design introduces several hazards to jumpers:
- Jumpers can easily fall onto (or even between) the hard metal frame and coils and injure themselves
- Water can get into the coils and cause them to rust or become compromised
- The bounce response is not even across the entire trampoline surface, causing jumpers to “gravitate” towards the middle of the mat
Due to these problems, we at Swings-n-Things highly recommend springless trampolines such as ones made by Vuly and Rainbow. The vertical rods on these designs nearly eliminate any possibility of falling onto hard metal surfaces, are more resistant to weather, and have a more even bounce response that helps prevent whiplash and collisions between jumpers. Of course, on almost all trampoline models allowing only one jumper at a time is best to prevent accidents.
When comparing springless trampolines, consider the following factors:
- What material are the rods? Aluminum, fiberglass, or some other material? For example, the Rainbow Springless Trampoline uses aircraft-grade aluminum rods which we believe to be the best in terms of weather resistance and appearance.
- Is the safety net mounted closely to the jumping surface? Can jumpers impact with the safety net poles or are the poles mounted outside the net?
- How high is the mat? It should not be more than 3 to 4 feet above the ground.
- What material is the mat? If the mat is made of plastic (most are) it should be UV-resistant.
Additionally, the form factor of a springless trampoline needs to be taken into consideration. Due to their vertically-oriented rods, springless trampolines can come in square-shaped designs, not only the standard round shape. Square trampolines provide more surface area than a round trampoline for nearly the same space requirements. Additionally, they may be better if you plan to play games such as basketball on your trampoline or use it as a camping spot.
Trampoline Tech Specs
Upon viewing a trampoline in an online store, you will often find a sheet of specs such as this one for the Rainbow R14:
|Mat Size||14 x 14 ft|
|Jumper Weight Rating:||220 lbs|
|Structural Load Capacity:||1000 lbs|
|Minimum Lateral Installation Clearance:||35 ft|
|Height Of Mat Above Ground:||3 ft|
|Height of Net Above Mat:||6 ft|
|Total Height:||9 ft|
The mat size and mat height parameters are self-explanatory, but what about the “Jumper Weight Rating”? Or “Structural Load Capacity”? These terms may not be immediately obvious.
Jumper Weight Rating simply refers to the maximum amount of weight that should be bouncing on the trampoline at one time. Although it’s not recommended, a weight rating of 220lbs means that two people who each weighed 110lbs each could safely jump, or one person with a weight of 150lbs and another with a weight of 70lbs. This weight rating is different from the Structural Load Capacity, which refers to the amount of weight the trampoline can safely support. So for example, a group of 10 kids who each weighed 100lbs each could safely camp out on the R14 overnight without danger of breaking the net or damaging the frame. The maximum weight of a jumper is the Jumper Weight Rating, while the static weight the trampoline can support is the Structural Load Capacity.
So it’s clear that different trampolines may be better for specific purposes. For example, the Vuly Thunder Pro XL has a weight rating of 330lbs in contrast to the R14’s 220lbs. The weight of a jumper can be much higher on the Vuly than the Rainbow. However, the R14 has much more surface area than the Vuly does, so camping out on the R14 (a very common use scenario) would be a better experience than camping out on the Vuly. When evaluating a trampoline, think carefully about what you might use it for, and pick the trampoline that fulfills all of those requirements.
Trampoline Materials, Warranty, and Accessories Ecosystem
The materials that make up a trampoline directly determine its performance. Look for UV-resistant mats and safety nets so that the trampoline maintains its integrity over many years. For springless trampolines, aluminum rods such as the Rainbow R14’s rods can perform better and keep their appearance longer in comparison to fiberglass rods. Many trampolines, such as the Vuly Thunder Pro, also come with galvanized frames with powder coating. These protective measures will keep your trampoline in tip-top shape. Unfortunately, details about the trampoline frame are not often mentioned in online product descriptions, but customer service representatives will know the details for the products they sell. At Swings-n-Things, we have experts that can speak to you about all of the trampolines in our store and our online shop.
The warranty conditions of a trampoline can also determine which may be a better choice. Look for at least a 10-year warranty on key components such as the rods and frame. These are the components that influence the performance of the trampoline the most. The Vuly Thunder Pro offers a 10-year warranty on the frame, but only a 1-year warranty on the rods. The Rainbow R14 offers a 10-year warranty on both the frame and rods. The Springfree trampolines also offer a 10-year warranty on both the frame and rods.
If you’re looking to make a single purchase and be done with shopping, look for trampolines that come with anchors, ladders, and toys like a basketball hoop. The Rainbow trampolines come standard with a basketball net and ball, while trampolines like the Vuly and Springfree do not. However, unlike the Rainbow, the Vuly trampoline line has an entire ecosystem of various add-ons and accessories that can improve your experience, such as the Shade Cover, Basketball Hoop, or Tent. Not every trampoline will have a compatible accessories line, so it's worth researching the one you plan to purchase ahead of time if you might want extras in the future.
Although picking the right trampoline can be difficult, identifying your size+weight requirements early on can really help narrow down all the choices. Picking trampolines with better materials (UV-resistant nets and metal rods) can improve your experience over the lifetime of the trampoline and trampolines with at least 10-year warranties on the frame and rods will ensure you don’t waste your money. In general, most springless trampolines will be very similar in terms of performance, so discriminating based on specs and durability instead of features can be a good decision making process. And if you’re still uncertain, our staff here at Swings-n-Things can speak with you on the phone, in the store, or via email to give you more personalized advice. Don’t hesitate to contact us!