Looking for fun for the whole family in your own backyard? We haven't met anyone who doesn't get a giddy thrill out of bouncing around on a trampoline. All across America, companies are opening trampoline gyms where kids can go jump their hearts out. But why spend tons of money every year on those indoor gyms when you can have just as much fun in your backyard? Backyard trampolines provide families with countless hours of fun and fitness, and they come with all of the safety features and construction quality necessary to put even the most cautious parent's mind at ease.
If owning your own trampoline sounds like as much fun to you as it does to us, read on as we discuss SkyBound USA's trampoline purchase recommendations and all of the information you need to bring home your very own bouncing paradise.
Let's start with the most commonly asked questions from trampoline customers:
1. What Size and Shape Should I Buy?
Before we get to which trampolines are the best on the market right now, let’s consider some of the factors buyers face when deciding which trampoline to buy. Of course, the price is at the forefront of everyone's mind when making big purchase, but that isn't the only important choice. Some shoppers may not realize this, but trampolines come in shapes other than round, and depending on your situation, one of the other shapes (square, rectangle, oval) might be better suited for you.
Round trampolines are the most popular style, and while they do have their advantages, they might not be the best choice for all scenarios. In a round trampoline, the springs impart their reaction force evenly around the perimeter of the trampoline, which means jumpers tend to move toward to the middle.
This is certainly fine for one jumper, and it would be easy enough for two jumpers to avoid collisions, but it becomes more dangerous with large groups of jumpers. At that point, everyone is responsible for their whereabouts on the trampoline, and self-awareness may not be a strong suit for all kids.
Of course, if your children jump by themselves, a round trampoline that directs them into the middle of the jumping surface will reduce the likelihood that they accidentally fall out of the safety net.
What sizes are available for round trampolines? The smallest is 6 feet in diameter, but these work better as personal exercise trampolines, rather than for recreational use. The bounce won't be as high and the usable surface area is small, so you won't get much more than a simple up-and-down jump. Kids may get bored with this quickly. Eight-foot trampolines are much more common and allow more space for a child to move around, but they are still a one-at-a-time size.
Medium trampolines in the 10- to 12-foot range are much better for two jumpers at a time. This is the range where trampolines move from personal exercise machines to playtime powerhouses. The bounce is bigger, and you have much more space for tricks and flips.
Trampolines in the 14- to 16-foot category are the largest you'll find in a round shape. If you’re a daredevil or you plan to get all of your friends in on the fun, you'll want a trampoline that is at least 14 feet in diameter. A 14-foot trampoline is also necessary if you as the parent want to have a good time too.
Round trampolines are the least expensive shape, which makes them the most affordable option for many buyers. The circle is an exceptionally sturdy structural shape, so the frame for the trampoline can be lighter while still being robust enough to hold up.
With an oval shape, jumpers still drift to the middle. An oval design offers a larger jumping surface than a similarly sized round trampoline, but the reaction of the forces around the edge of the surface is close to the same. Thus a trampoline with an oval shape offers the best hybrid of a round and a rectangle design. The frame on an oval trampoline is made of thicker steel and heavier than a round trampoline.
Oval trampolines are ideal for multiple bouncers because the length of the surface allows for several bounce areas that don’t interfere with one another. This means there's less potential for collisions. When bouncing solo, you can jump longer distances from one end to the other. The elongated shape also makes it easier to fit the trampoline into irregular spaces without it looking like it takes up too much room.
Square trampolines are strikingly different from their circular counterparts. On a square design, the springs on each side don't react as they do on a circular model, so jumpers stay in place more easily. Try this: Jump straight up on a square trampoline and you will land exactly where you started.
Since most backyards are rectangular, square trampolines make better use of your space. If your available space is within a fenced-in area, you can fit it tighter to the fence on each side than you could with a round or oval shape. You'll still have to keep enough room in between to maintain a safety zone though (we recommend 2 to 6 feet from any wall or surface).
Rectangular trampolines offer the largest area of all available shapes, which is why they're often used in competitive gymnastics and trampolining. In fact, rectangle trampolines are very popular, if not the most popular shape of trampoline in the USA. They’re also a classic. In 1934, George Nissen, the inventor of the trampoline, used a rectangular shape in his first design.
Small rectangular trampolines sit in the range of 7 by 10 feet, whereas larger competition-style trampolines go up to 10 by 17 feet. The larger the trampoline, the more surface area, the more jumpers it can accommodate at one time. But you might find that the largest, professionally oriented trampolines are more expensive than you need for simple backyard fun.
Like square, rectangle trampolines are relatively easy to assemble, store and transport. This enables you to take your trampoline down when it’s not in use, such as in the winter months, to create more room in your yard.
Because their structures handle the force of the jump differently, square and rectangle trampolines have heavier, sturdier frames. This makes their fully assembled portability much worse than a round design. It is entirely conceivable that you could get a few friends to pick up a round trampoline and reposition it in the yard. With a larger rectangle trampoline, you'll want to pick the right spot the first time.
2. How Much Space Do I Need for My Trampoline?
Another consideration for trampoline buyers is the amount of space you have available for your trampoline. Each shape has its advantages regarding how it fits into available space, but let's look at some basic guidelines we can use to determine how much available space we have to work with.
To accommodate a trampoline safely, you should have about 24 feet of overhead clearance. This seems like a lot, but the last thing you want is to have someone bang their head on a tree branch. Ideally, the only thing above the surface of your trampoline is clear, blue sky.
Two to 6 feet of clearance around the perimeter will ensure that if someone should accidentally fall out of the safety net, they land on the ground and not on some other potentially dangerous surface.
3. What Type of Surface Can I Put My Trampoline On?
Grass and soil are the preferred surfaces for your trampoline. They will better absorb the forces that are transmitted through the frame of the trampoline, taking the stress off those critical structural components.
You should also set up your trampoline on level ground. Not only will this be more fun, but it will also prevent bouncers from getting launched down a hill because the trampoline is on an incline.
Finally, make sure the area under the trampoline is clear. Jumpers should not have to worry about injuring their feet or legs when they hit the surface to spring up for some serious air.
4. Which Construction Materials Are Most Important?
Size and shape aren't the only factors to consider when comparing trampolines to buy. To get years of fun out of your investment, you want to make sure you choose a trampoline that uses high-quality materials.
So, what materials should you look for in a trampoline?
Some of the most durable safety nets consist of polyethylene (PE). Polyethylene is inert, which means it is naturally resistant to dust, moisture, and organic material (bugs, germs, fungus, and all that other stuff). What does this mean? Your net will last longer before it breaks down or needs a good cleaning. With a quality PE safety net, it won't need cleaning at all.
All nets are coated with a UV-protectant spray, something like sunblock for your net. This is important if your trampoline sits in your backyard all year around. PE nets wear the UV coating a little better, so the natural breakdown that occurs in safety nets won't happen as quickly in a PE net.
Polypropylene (PP) and polyester are more rigid than polyethylene, which isn't a good thing for a safety net. You want your net to have a little give and elasticity to move with your children as they jump around and have fun. Resilience is good, so you'll want to choose a material that will return to its original shape. Rigid materials like polypropylene and polyester are more prone to tearing and ripping, and one small tear in any part of your net means you'll need to replace it as soon as possible.
A well-constructed security door consists of more than just a simple zipper. Reinforced stitching on the zipper track will make sure that the weakest part of your net is strong enough to withstand everything your kids can throw at it. Having a zipper on both sides of the net makes it much easier to get in and out.
How your safety net attaches to the frame of your trampoline is as important as the safety door, because this is the other place your children are likely to roll or fall out of the net.
Net makers have come up with several designs for these. One is a safety net that is secured beneath the surface of the trampoline, so there are no space or holes at the bottom of the net. Another is a net that uses a heavy-duty rope that runs through v-rings spaced no more than a few inches apart along the entire bottom perimeter of the net. In either case, a properly secured net will not have any space underneath for children or their limbs to slip through.
Regardless of the brand or the quality of your trampoline, the basic design will be the same strong steel springs stretched between the frame and the jumping surface. These steel springs are obviously hard, and they have sharp edges and can catch hair and fingers. To provide your kids with the safest possible environment, choose a pad that will provide secure coverage and adequate cushioning for the springs. Your children and their friends wouldn't often come in contact with this safety pad in a well-designed trampoline, but that's no excuse for skimping on protection for the sake of the what ifs.
Make sure your trampoline pad has enough padding to break a fall, and an outer material sturdy enough to handle the elements year-round. You probably don't want to take your pads off to store them inside for the winter, because they provide vital protection from rusting for the steel springs underneath.
Frame tubes are generally created from some proprietary alloy of galvanized steel and should be coated with material designed to provide weather-proofing. The heavier gauge the steel is, the longer your frame will last, but you don’t have to use tube gauge as the final indicator of quality. Chances are you’ll be keeping your trampoline up year-round, so you want to make sure the metal and welding will stand up to the elements.
Jumping mats are all made of similar materials, so when shopping for a trampoline, you want to focus on the number of stitches, sewing, and labels like “waterproof” to indicate the quality of the jumping mat. It is the most abused part of the trampoline, as well as the primary point of failure, so you don’t want to go cheap here.
Find a trampoline with components that are constructed with quality in mind, rather than cost. Well-designed and sturdily built equipment won't be cheap, but you'll appreciate the cost-savings in the long run when you don't have to replace the safety net every summer. In general, a high-quality trampoline will incorporate quality parts everywhere, so if you trust the strength of the springs and the safety net, you can be sure the jumping mat will last too.
Here at SkyBound, we only sell the highest-quality trampolines and replacement parts. We take your family’s safety as seriously as you do, and we back our products with the industry’s best warranties and customer service. Browse around our site and contact our customer service team if you have any questions at all. We’re ready to get your family up on their feet and up in the air!