What is the Best Trampoline – And the Safest – for 2017?
Updated January 2017
Our backyard trampoline is great fun for our entire family. And great exercise too. With a little research and comparison shopping, we were able to find the best trampoline for our family and yard. We’ve had two of them, plus a small indoor one. Plus we’ve trained youngsters in local gymnastic centers. Of course, that doesn’t make us the “be all and end all” experts. But it does leave us with enough experience to give you a few pointers.
Today there is a wide diversity of trampoline manufacturers, shapes and sizes. However, they all seem to be similar. They all claim to be the best trampoline. And it’s hard to tell from a casual look which one is the safest and most durable.
I am a bit obsessive (perhaps neurotic?), so I did a lot of homework when choosing our trampolines. For me it was not just about price and size; it was about my children’s safety. After that, I considered the suitability of a particular design for our living space and lifestyle.
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How We Chose Our Trampoline
Here are some of the most important things we investigated and considered before purchasing our new trampoline. We reviewed and compared features to ensure we were buying the right unit.
There are a wide range of trampoline sizes. Home-use trampolines generally range in size from six-foot to 17-foot in diameter. Of course, we wanted the biggest bang for our buck here, but we had to measure the yard space we had available first, making sure to leave ample leeway on all sides.
We wanted to buy a big model, but we couldn’t cram a 17-foot trampoline into the small space we allotted. My rule of thumb is that you need at least 5-10 feet clearance on all sides of the trampoline. Moreover, you need head clearance. I wanted our yard to have a vertical clearance of 25 feet infinity for absolute safety.
When determining which size was best for our yard, I made sure to check for out buildings, fences, poles, power lines and any other impediments that may be potential hazards.
There are smaller sizes available to accommodate limited space, but you need to make sure the size and model you select is the best trampoline for all the members of your family.
Which Shape Is Best?
There are four basic geometric designs for trampolines. Each has its own strengths and different shapes are best suited for distinct uses.
Round (you’ll find your best value here with top safety features)
Circular trampolines i found are the most common sold for backyard recreation. Although some say this shape has more strength, I question this. The shape does however require fewer support members in its construction. The frame equally absorbs the force of a jump around the perimeter so it can be lighter in weight and still maintain its strength. But I question whether this makes a meaningful difference in cost or performance though.
My husband told me the circular shape directs movement to the center of the surface regardless of where on the pad the user is jumping and it has less bounce, which makes it safer for younger or less experienced users.
This shape also accommodates less weight and force, so it’s best suited for lighter weight individuals and those who are learning how to use the trampoline.
Sizes available are generally 8-foot, 10-foot, 12-foot, 14-foot, 15-foot and 16-foot models. The 8 and 10 foot sizes didn’t excite me, but the 15 footer seemed right. Simply because it provides my kids with more room for error. I tell them to stay in the center when jumping. This provides them with a large margin for error in case of the inevitable stumble, so they avoid injury.
Rectangular (like the Olympians jump on)
Next I found that rectangular trampolines are the choice of professionals and for competitions.
This shape has a higher bounce but absorbs more of the jumper’s force, so the landing is softer. The springs act independently to produce a contained, stable lift off and landing no matter where the jumper stands on the mat.
Rectangular models are more costly to build, as they require more supports and fasteners than round trampolines. I checked out You Tube and watched some competitive jumping tournaments. The heights reached shocked me.
Square (some high end models if you want to splurge a bit)
I didn’t find many square models. But truth be told, that didn’t surprise me. Square trampolines blend positive features of both the round and rectangular shapes. A square trampoline has a larger jumping surface than a similarly sized round unit does and it has the higher bounce than the round version.
However, it does provide the safety of a round trampoline, as the shape directs the user to the center of the space.
This shape also takes up less space than the rectangle, so it’s good for users who need more power in a small area. The square shape fits into small spaces well, with little wasted ground area.
The diagonal distance between corners is greater and the square shape generally provides as much as 20 percent more usable space than a comparable round trampoline.
In the end, this shape just didn’t fit my yard, so I passed on it.
Octagon – a novelty?
I found even fewer octagons. An octagonal model is similar to the round trampoline, with comparable space constraints. However, because of the straight edge design, the user will achieve a somewhat higher bounce than with a round shaped trampoline. To me, this shape seemed more of novelty than anything else.
(to pair with ‘Ovaltine’ of course) 🙂 The oval trampolines I found had a bigger usable surface than a similar round trampoline. The user has a broader jumping surface from one side to the other, while maintaining the self-centering feature of the round shaped trampoline. As with all large trampolines, it takes additional effort to obtain a big bounce with the oval units.
After looking at all the shapes, I decided to go with the round. The selection was broadest here, and the quality/safety, which I will get to later, seemed best.
Weight Limits: Ignore at your own risk!
To be honest, the trampolines I researched seemed pretty beefy, but after seeing people’s feet slice right through the middle of their mats on the down jump, I really began to read up on this.
Trampolines I found have specific weight limits, and these guidelines are important for the safety of the users. I saw this information on all trampoline models in either the product’s description or specified in the owner’s manual.
Sure, I only planned on having one person at a time jump, but my husband is over 200 lbs. And I wanted to make sure there was plenty of leeway to accommodate him.
Frame Construction – BORING!
Next I read up on frames. And I say ‘boring’, because for all the hullabaloo made about them, I don’t think anybody ever gets injured because of a weak frame. I could be wrong, but I have never heard of any in all my years in the sport. The research supports this view, at least in terms of numbers and probabilities. If you do get injured in this way, it is likely because you have loaded the trampoline with more than one person, and if so, shame on you! Manufacturers use tubular steel in constructing trampoline frames. These frames generally are constructed of metals that are durable and don’t rust. Galvanized steel and powder coated galvanized steel is commonly used in construction to eliminate rust and provide longevity. Most brands got a check mark in this box.
Spring Count And Specifications
To me springs seemed less critical from a safety standpoint. After all, have you ever heard of springs breaking or snapping? The gauge of the metal, the length of the springs and the number of springs used all play a part in the bounce of a trampoline.
All the models I looked at had springs made of heavy gauge rust-resistant galvanized steel. The number of springs used varied by both the style and the manufacturer.
A higher number of springs will provide a higher jump. In addition, longer spring length will also provide more bounce.
When it came to padding, at the very least I wanted something that would prevent us from putting our feet through the springs. Most brands had jump mats and spring padding constructed of long-lasting and smooth materials. The jump mats were UV resistant to withstand years of exposure to the elements. They were usually made of woven polypropylene and may have had a UV resistant reinforcing layer of fabric around the perimeter to extend the life of the mat.
Spring padding, in my experience, primarily protects the user from falling on the trampoline springs. The padding is secondary. Either way, they are made from high-density foam and covered with UV-resistant vinyl or polyester.
Trampoline Safety Accessories
When I was preparing to drop some hard-earned cash on a recreational trampoline, I instinctively imagined I would just be buying the trampoline and nothing else. But I soon learned that to really be safe, I needed the extras. Some trampolines came with safety accessories, but most did not.
While not necessary for the operation of the trampoline, these items, to me, were indispensable to protect my young cubs.
The All Important Safety Enclosure
Anyone who begins researching trampoline safety runs into The American Academy of Pediatrics’ statement on trampoline safety. I was no exception. Their report says that falls from a trampoline account for 27 to 39 percent of all trampoline-related injuries. Knowing this, I put a safety net high on my list of must-needs. In fact, I learned that as of 2012, approximately 85 percent of all trampoline sales included a safety enclosure.
A safety enclosure is essential to prevent falls from the trampoline. There are a number of things I wanted in my safety enclosure:
• I wanted a net system that wrapped to the support poles with the poles well cushioned.
• The net must be securely attached to the poles at all points with interwoven shock cords and high strength strapping.
• The top strap, which is woven around the upper perimeter of the netting, should have a minimum of 1500 lbs/inch of burst strength.
• The enclosures usually have an overlapping doorway.
Don’t Forget The Ladder
Since I had a toddler, I had to consider a ladder. My older girl wouldn’t need it, but Jackie would. Ladders enable easy access to and egress from the trampoline platform. More importantly, removing the ladder between uses keeps young children from getting on the trampoline without adult supervision.
Do I Need A Trampoline Anchor Kit?
That was the question I asked myself as I saw images of stakes popping up on the side of my screen. But then I thought of all the wind we get. My husband also was concerned about the wind. An anchoring kit secures the unit to the ground. This prevents accidental toppling of the trampoline from over-enthusiastic bouncing.
A Lower Enclosure?
A lower enclosure prevents pets and people from going under the trampoline. It also keeps balls, other objects and debris from accumulating beneath the jump surface.
Children and pets may be injured by going underneath the trampoline while it’s in use and objects beneath the jumping mat can injure users. This was an easy one for me.
After feeling a bit reluctant to spring for these extras, I finally bought into the idea hook and sinker. Safety is paramount.
Our Tips For Trampoline Safety
When it comes right down to it, most trampoline safety is in the hands of the consumer. And “most” is an understatement. By purchasing a trampoline that fits your needs, and if you follow basic trampoline safety rules, the vast majority of trampoline-based injuries can be eliminated or minimized. At this point, a trampoline becomes no less risky that jogging, or playing tennis.
Taking responsibility for trampoline equipment maintenance and seeing that all users follow established rules makes a trampoline a fun and safe activity for everyone.
The failure on the part of users to follow the guidelines set by manufacturers is often the main reason for injuries. So without further ado here are our tips:
What We Do As Owners Of A Trampoline (before anyone gets on it)
- We make sure we secure the trampoline and surrounding area against unsupervised use. Remove the ladder when the unit is not in use. Actually, Bob and I hope that somebody makes a model that allows us to easily unhinge the mat when not in use.
- Before every use, we inspect the trampoline to ensure that all components are securely attached. I always check for undue wear that could be hazardous.
- Replace any worn, missing or defective parts.
- Our trampoline frame is constructed of ungrounded metallic parts that conduct electricity. So we make sure no electric cords, appliances, heaters or lighting are in the trampoline area on the trampoline itself.
- We make sure the space around your trampoline is free and clear of any impediments. Do not put it near buildings, walls, poles, fences, shrubbery and walkways.
- I always make sure there is nothing above the trampoline area. In other words, that it is clear of overhead wires, lighting, tree limbs, building overhangs or other hazards.
- We make sure there are no objects or debris underneath or around the trampoline.
- We set the trampoline on a level surface in our yard to minimize the chance of the unit tipping over.
- Make sure the trampoline is secured to ground. *
- We jump outdoors mostly now, but if you have an indoor one, provide adequate artificial lighting.
- Extremes of weather conditions quickly degrade trampoline soft materials. During winter we remove the jump mat, enclosure and spring pads and properly store them.
- We make sure any user weighs less than the maximum recommended weight.
- We only attach manufacturer-approved accessories to the trampoline or enclosure.
* A trampoline can be blown over in high winds. If there is sufficient warning, move the structure into a safe, protected area or building. We live in an area that regularly experiences high winds, so we stake the frame of our trampoline to the ground using rope and tie-down stakes. Do not attach the stakes to the legs alone, as high winds could disconnect the frame and jumping mat from the legs. Use a minimum of three stake-down points for security. Make sure the tops of the tie-down stakes are at ground level and covered to prevent injury if someone falls on them.
Our Trampoline Rules
- Do not wear jewelry when using a trampoline, as it may become entangled with the enclosure netting.
- Do not wear clothing with loops, hooks or drawstrings. They may catch with the trampoline components or enclosure.
- Do not jump while holding any hard/sharp objects. Soft plastic balls acceptable to enable exercises that build core muscles.
- Do not use the trampoline if you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Mount and leave the trampoline in a safe manner. Do not leap on or jump off the unit.
- Do not use the trampoline as a platform to jump onto something else.
- Enter and leave the trampoline from only the approved door or opening.
- Do not hang from, crawl under, climb or kick the enclosure netting.
- Only one person at a time uses the trampoline.
- Do not attempt to do summersaults or flips.
- Do not use the frame pad as a handle to pull yourself up and onto the trampoline.
- Avoid stepping on the spring pad.
- Do not use the trampoline if the mat is wet and slippery or if there are high winds.
- Do not jump on the trampoline if there are objects, people or animals underneath the unit
How We Supervise Our Kids and Their Friends Jumping
- First and foremost, we ensure only one person jumps at a time. This prevents most injuries.
- Secondly, we make sure no jumper attempts risky maneuvers such as flips. Our oldest Amanda can, because she has trained up to this, but no others.
- We always make sure our children and their friends enter and exit the trampoline safely.
- We assist toddlers in entering and exiting the trampoline.
- We make sure that the entrance to the trampoline is securely fastened shut after the child has entered the enclosure.
- Ensure that the child does not take any objects with him onto the trampoline.
- Do not let a tired or fatigued child jump on a trampoline.
- Make sure the child is dressed in clothing that has no drawstrings, loops or hooks that could entangle on components of the trampoline.
- Children under four years of age may not use a trampoline.
In all the talk about potential for injury, what never gets mentioned is the insurance aspect of home trampolines.
Beginning Trampoline Moves
Regardless of how agile and athletic someone is, there are basic moves that everyone should practice when starting to jump on a trampoline.
Learning and practicing these fundamental techniques keeps the jumper safe as a beginner. It also ensures developing the jumping skills needed to progress to more challenging moves safely. Keep sessions short to avoid fatigue, as this can cause loss of control and possible injury.
Basic Workout Apparel
On our feet we wear trampoline shoes, socks or jump in our bare feet. We wear t-shirts and shorts, or long sleeve shirts and gym pants to reduce the risk of mat burn or abrasions to our elbows and knees.
Mounting And Dismounting
Observe proper mounting and dismounting every time a jumper uses the trampoline. Regardless of whether there is a ladder or not, practicing proper entrance and egress from the enclosure is a basic skill all jumpers learn.
Climb onto the trampoline by using the frame as a hand-rest and then stepping or rolling from the frame and springs onto the mat surface. Never step directly on the frame pad and only use the frame as a handhold when mounting or dismounting from a trampoline.
To dismount, walk to the side of the mat and grasp the frame with one hand as you bend over. You can then step off the mat and onto the ground level.
If you have a ladder available, make sure you hold the ladder frame securely and step firmly on the rungs while climbing up or down.
Trampoline First Moves
After learning proper mounting and dismounting techniques, jumpers need to learn basic body positions for the fundamental movements. Along with braking or checking, there are eight basic bounces.
Our students learn and practice these movements so they can perform them effortlessly and properly before moving onto more challenging stunts.
Braking Or Checking
Just like learning how to brake a car while learning to drive, braking or checking a bounce is one of the primary safety moves a student has to perfect. Understanding that the brake will allow a jumper to limit his bounce when he starts to lose balance or control should be stressed as the number one safety measure.
Checking or braking is done by flexing one’s knees quickly when landing. This absorbs the upward motion of the mat and allows the jumper to stop instantly.
This motion is similar to the action of your legs as you descend a stair. Several physical therapists have told me that this is one of the best exercises to safely strengthen knees and legs.
If you are in healthy physical condition and are feel you are ready to move beyond the initial, very basic of jumping, you can consider these Eight Trampoline Movements. Some of these moves can be considered intermediate level. Master these basic bounces before moving onto routines that are more complex. They can all be practiced until they are second nature. The most basic of them may be used as warm up routines for intermediate or advanced jumpers.
1. With an erect posture and your eyes on the frame pad, swing your arms in a forward and up, circular movement.
2. Keep your toes pointed downward with your feet together while airborne.
3. Keep your feet about 15 inches apart when you land on the mat surface.
And here are two additional moves…
1. Begin with a front drop.
2. Use your arms to push your body to the right or left and turn your body opposite.
3. Rotate your head and shoulders in the same direction as your body turn.
4. Keep your head up and your body parallel to the trampoline surface.
5. Return to the front drop position at the completion of the half turn.
1. Begin with a seat drop.
2. Swing your arms and turn your head concurrently to either the left or right.
3. Complete the twist by rotating your hips in the same direction as your arms and head.
4. Conclude the move by landing in a seat drop.
Once you have mastered these maneuvers, you can consider more advanced actions, like Haley:
Skywalker 15-Foot Round Trampoline With Enclosure And Spring Pad
Since 2004, Skywalker Trampolines has been producing safe, affordable and fun products for families and children of all ages. As one of the best trampoline buys in its price range, the Skywalker brand combines innovative technology with solid construction. This brings you and your family a durable piece of equipment that will keep your children active and entertained for many years.
Commitment To Quality And Safety: Skywalker Trampolines understands and maintains safety standards and works within the guidelines of ASTM/TUV Testing. All Skywalker Trampolines, accessories and components meet or exceed safety standards outlined by ASTM.
Durability Of Components And Materials
Durable, UV-resistant outdoor material is used to create the tightly woven mesh netting for Skywalker’s trampoline enclosures. This netting is woven closely enough to prevent small fingers from using it as a climbing wall and or becoming entangled in the netting itself.
Heavy-gauge gold color-coated springs are durable and have increased rust resistance. Spring pads are made with 1-inch thick, high-density foam that is covered in padding treated with a UV protective coating. These extra-wide pads attach to the trampoline with a button hole design to protect users from injury. This gap-free design keeps the safety pad in place without the need for security ropes.
The frame is made from 12-gauge galvanized tubular steel for rugged durability and rust resistance. The t-socket formation is a durable and strong design feature that makes set-up fast and easy. This design stabilizes the frame with the enclosure frame while preventing structural distortion. The frame legs are configured in a W-shape with a total of six components for increased strength.
The Skywalker trampoline safety enclosure has a redundant closure system on the entrance. The double closure to the opening has latch clips that snap across the vertical zipper to ensure there is no danger of falling through the opening after the zipper is closed and the clips are engaged.
Skywalker 12-Foot Round Trampoline
Just like its big brother, the Skywalker 12-foot round trampoline is one of the best trampoline buys on the market in its price range. It has all the features of the 15-foot model but is built for a smaller space.
With safety features to make it kid friendly and a size that will fit into smaller spaces, Skywalker’s 12-foot round trampoline packs a lot of exercise and fun into a compact unit.
Users agree that Skywalker trampolines are great products and the reviews on Amazon back them up. Amazon buyers consistently give Skywalker high marks for a good bounce and thoughtful, safe features.
If there is a downside to what many consider as the best trampoline in its price range, it would be the instructions and assembly of the unit. Buyers sometimes report vague or unclear instructions provided for assembling their Skywalker trampoline.
However, as with all DIY projects, thoroughly reading the entire set of instructions before beginning the assembly will often clarify seemingly ambiguous instructions, save time and frustration.
When you’re researching the best trampoline value for your family and pocketbook, consider the Skywalker trampoline for its full range of safety features, a broad choice of accessories and sizes, as well as its dedication to providing a quality product that’s become a standard for value, safety and durability.
Springfree trampolines were designed with the ultimate goal of enhancing safety by eliminating “impact points” known to cause injuries on standard spring-based trampolines. The Springfree design works by replacing a metal frame and metal coils with a complex system of flexible fiberglass rods, which provides structure to the trampoline while also lending flexibility to enable a satisfying bounce. Here we’ll explore the design a bit more in depth, and then take a look at the pros and cons of Springfree.
Unique Advantages of Springfree Trampolines
Springfree trampolines are unique because they eliminate five key safety hazards:
- The Springfree jumping surface is elevated above the frame’s base with a spiral of flexible fibreglass rods. As a result, falling jumpers are not at risk of hitting dangerously exposed steel corners where legs meet frame, a common hazard on regular trampolines.
- The base of the Springfree trampoline has a stronger, more rigid set of “legs,” so the risk of collapse during a jumping session is eliminated entirely
- There are no springs around the edge of the jumping surface, and therefore no holes for jumpers to fall through or to get limbs stuck in. Eliminating springs also prevents coil pinches, as well as lower-limb impact injuries sustained by jumping too close to the rim.
- The Springfree net has a tension design that bounces jumpers back onto the trampoline surface. Traditional trampoline nets are pouchy and slack, exposing jumpers to the risk of snagging fingers, toes, or even elbows.
- Springfree nets are held up by flexible rods that simply move out of the way when a jumper hits the net, further reducing the potential for dangerous impacts.
Ultimately, the pros of the Springfree trampoline should be obvious from its design! These trampolines have been commended by the UK’s Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, since the likelihood of a fracture or head injury is significantly reduced compared to spring trampolines. It also doesn’t hurt that Springfree trampolines look good, all while providing a good solid bounce.
Disadvantages of Springfree Trampolines
The Springfree design does have some limitations. The fiberglass used in the net struts, platform, and around the edge of the jumping surface is less durable than the steel used on standard trampolines. According to Trampoline Safety of America, an independent organization that reviews the technical specifications of industry-leading trampolines, these rods may grow brittle and snap after several years of use. Individual rods may eventually snap, and although replacement rods are available, there are over 80 of them in the entire trampoline. Therefore, the lifetime cost of maintaining a Springfree may turn off some customers. Moreover, the Springfree design is more expensive to manufacture, resulting in higher initial sticker prices than standard trampolines.
Springfree trampolines are best for use by only one person at a time. The jumping surface is tighter around the edges than in the center, which directs the jumper towards the center of the trampoline. This is a good design choice from a safety perspective, but it makes jumping with two people more effortful. Like any trampoline, the Springfree should never be used for jumping by two people of unequal weights. The reaction force of the jumping surface “coming up” as a heavy jumper is airborne and a lighter jumper comes down is enough to cause lower-limb injuries to the lighter person.
Who should make the jump?
As with any big purchase, customers interested in the Springfree trampoline should consider their priorities. Springfree trampolines are ideal for those who are willing to spend more for a significantly safer bounce. No trampoline is perfectly safe, but Springfree trampolines come as close as they possibly can!