Trampoline Reviews 2015 – Safety Minded Parents Speak Out
When I was looking to buy our first trampoline, it was difficult to wade through the trampoline reviews left by parents, especially since they were all over the map. Some people had a strong like or dislike for a product. But the vast majority of trampoline reviews were muddled. The reviewers liked certain aspects of their product, and disliked others.
Or they found obscure problems that most people might not even consider – but that actually make sense in retrospect. So if you want to spare the effort of reading hundreds of reviews, read my summary of them below. This is a summary of reviews that are left by real people regarding trampolines.
Top Selling Backyard Trampolines - A Comparison
|Average Consumer Opinion||Very Good||Good||Good|
|Number of reviews on Amazon||1,000+||~100||~100|
|Popularity||Market leader - the best selling brand||Widely available||Widely available|
|More =>||Read our full review||Review coming soon||Review coming soon|
|Sizes that sell well (ft.)||5, 10, 12, 14, 15, 17||12, 14, 15, 16||12, 14, 15|
|Safety Net||Optimized||Not Optimized||Not Optimized|
Most Common Positives
The vast majority of reviews, especially on sites like Amazon, are positive. As cynical as we would like to believe our world to be, ultimately most people just want to talk about the good things in their lives.
The most common things that people focus on when they’re discussing the positives of a trampoline:
- The frame and pieces are made from sturdy materials that stand up to sustained use. The best reviews also give updates months down the line to provide an idea of how long parts will last over all. In my view, this is just awesome. I love the commitment of these people to the community.
- How much fun it is for the family. These types of comments also discuss fitness in a lot of cases. Or more esoteric contributions. Like one reviewer who discussed how his teenager and her friends enjoy laying on the trampoline and watching the stars.
- Price plays a huge role in the mind of the consumer, and in the perceived value of the product, especially with companies like Skywalker that provide a high quality product that competes well on pricing against other consumer brands.
Most Common Negative Reviews
The problem with many positive reviews is that those same people also bury complaints in an otherwise stellar report. This is not to say that they are wrong to do so, but it makes it more difficult to tease out the nuances.
- Safety features are not quite safe enough, break down quickly, or are incapable of handling regular use.
- Assembly is difficult or instruction manuals don’t give an accurate indication of how to actually put together the trampoline. I have had this problem myself.
These can be especially difficult problems when they are combined with poor or confusing customer service.
Comments About Skywalker TrampolinesWhen it comes to Skywalker brand trampolines, consumer comments are almost exclusively positive. Criticisms exist, but they generally revolve around the same few topics. While there are a few disturbing ones, it seems they are rare with this brand. Perhaps the most common praise given to Skywalker is their focus on safety.👍 In our judgment this is a strong positive, because any evaluation of a trampoline should begin there.
Most people will discuss the spring padding, which is about an inch think and covers the entire outside frame and spring assembly. So that there is little chance of actually landing on something that you don’t want to, either with your feet of your head.
But to us, even though that is a positive, it is missing the point. The real benefit of Skywalker engineering is their optimized safety nets. By optimized, we mean that the net attaches in such a way that children cannot fall on – or step on (or thru!) – the springs while jumping.
Much is also made of the snap button system that Skywalker trampolines, especially the 15 foot and 12 foot backyard models, use to attach the safety net to the mat. We concur with these evaluations.
There are a series of buttons that connect with corresponding ones on the mat so that it’s easy to simply snap them all in place one at a time. This creates a seal on the edge that is hard to escape from, either intentionally or fall through by accident. The assessment of a number of parents is that this mechanism is a good way to keep smaller children from crawling off the trampoline any place other than where the ladder is. Thus, the risk of falling off is reduced greatly.
The biggest criticism that Skywalker suffers from seems to be in their customer service. It starts with poorly written manuals that don’t give a lot of real guidance when it comes to building things or with parts that either don’t work or arrive broken. Then the customer has to call up and face a highly adversarial process that seems to assume that they are lying and attempting to steal from the company. Many parents have found this to be incredibly off putting. A few have returned their product for an alternative brand.
Critical Appraisal of Zupapa Trampolines
One of the lesser known brands is Zupapa. We have been watching this one for the last year or so. Zupapa is competing with Skywalker for the high quality, low price market. My research tells me their trampolines are generally well thought of and considered to be worth the price in almost every case.
The most common comment about Zupapa I see in reviews is, surprisingly, how easy they are to put together. Considering how many other brands are specifically called out for the difficulty in assembly, it’s somewhat refreshing for me to see so many people talking about the simplicity of setup.
A phrase that keeps coming up is “better than average.” For one reason or another, it seems like many parents set their expectations low for the brand and end up being pleasantly surprised. Speaking from experience, for me this is a major advantage. As I read through the comments, I kept saying to myself “I hear ya”.
Another thing that a lot of parents like is that Zupapa trampolines can hold up to 375 pounds at once, which makes them ideal for the heavy bouncer or the teenager concern that is mentioned above.
The issues on Zupapa brand trampolines that ‘concerned parents’ mention are minor problems. Reviewers mentioned things like broken parts that don’t jeopardize safety or functionality. This is the brand where one commenter mentioned that the enclosure zipper broke within two months of purchase. Another customer, who also had problems with the zipper breaking, had issues with the spring pad which kept popping seams and having tie downs snap off.
The most unique complaint I saw about a Zupapa trampoline — the 15 foot model — was that the string that is used to tie the safety net down to the mat is a single length. This means you have to run the entire 20 feet of rope through every spring loop in order to attach it properly. Even then, it doesn’t actually seem to be long enough at 20 feet to get all the way around the mat. The consumer suggests cutting the string in half and tying it together since you’ll have to tie on extra string at the end anyway and this means you only have to pull a maximum of 10 feet through several loops. This comment is a perfect example of why I love reading consumers’ opinions.
Reviewer Assessment of Upper Bounce TrampolinesUpper Bounce sits comfortably in the middle range of trampolines both in terms of price and quality. That being said, the sheer number of different opinions about Upper Bounce is concerning to me due to lack of consistency. These could be all isolated incidents, but I felt there are a lot of unique ones to wade through.
For example, some people found the canopy rails were not welded to the frame properly and snapped within a month. Others found the net clips were cheaply made and break. You can see some of these beefs for yourself if you visit Amazon. Some of the more critical assessments have made their way to the top of the list, and are there to see for anyone who scrolls down to the bottom of the product page. I found other consumers who were unapologetic in their appraisal.
To be sure, there were some positive assessments. At least one person spent quite some time talking about how the design of the 8′ x 14′ model has a remarkably small footprint due to the design of the legs and fits perfectly in his back yard.
- Uneven reviews from consumers
- Poor packing. Some parts may be scratched during shipping. Bags that held screws and small parts have fallen open.
- The instruction manual itself can use improvement. One reviewer said it mistook the long and short top rails with one another, necessitating a complete dis-assembly and reassembly of the trampoline.
That being said, those who have had good experiences have been remarkably pleased with the brand. Their take is positive. They talked at length about:
- the quality of bounce
- ow well it stays put in heavy wind and weather.
Reviewer Evaluation of Springfree Trampolines
Springfree trampolines are unique in that they, as the name would imply, have no springs to worry about. Rightly or wrongly, this lack of springs is one of the biggest selling points for the brand in the mind of consumers. According to some it significantly reduces the chance of injury that comes with using springs.
The majority of the comments are not about the safety, however, but about the bounce. Most parents bought Springfree because of the lack of springs, but find that it’s actually a high quality product when it comes to doing its job as well.
Those that did comment on the safety mentioned how it’s actually pretty difficult to land on a metal part since the mat sits roughly 18 inches above the frame and that was not only desirable for them, but worth the money.
The money part often comes up as common criticism. In many parent’s judgment, this is a big issue. These are very expensive trampolines, among the highest priced available on the market. They represent a major investment for most families. As a result, expectations tend to be pretty high for quality and performance. And when it doesn’t match up, criticism is leveled.Another problem that concerned parents is that they felt Springfree trampolines tend to be incredibly difficult to set up.. Assembly requires that every step be followed in order. But instructions are poor. Some commenters have mentioned that they were forced to look up assembly videos online in order to actually figure out what they were supposed to do. If that wasn’t enough, they require at least two people in most cases to set up properly.
Once they are up, though, most commenters seemed to be happy with their purchase, even years later.
Check Out This Short Video Summary of Springfree Models:
Analysis of JumpSport/AlleyOop Trampolines
JumpSport is the primary company in this case, but they have two lines: the JumpSport branded line, and the AlleyOop line. We’ll discuss both here.
JumpSport is the less expensive line of trampolines. As a result many of the comments are based around how affordable they are. Anecdotally, one person who purchased one mentioned that they felt like they were finally an adult because they could afford the item they were always told was too expensive when they were a kid.
The price is absolutely a selling feature of the JumpSport models. This is the prevailing consumer sentiment. That doesn’t mean that they are not also concerned with safety. In this case, most consumers commend the net and the design of various enclosures that make them easy to set up. They also feel they do an excellent job of keeping people from bouncing off the edges.
The AlleyOop line, on the other hand, is generally praised primarily for design. This is the more expensive set of models and employ more advanced features both in terms of jumping and safety. For example, AlleyOop trampolines often have two mats that are interlocked in such a way as to give more powerful bounces by utilizing the energy from both. They are also designed to subtly push people toward the center of the trampoline and away from the edges to keep them safe, a fact that is frequently noticed and appreciated by parents.
When it comes to JumpSport’s failures, most comments focus around the materials and how they start to fall apart quickly. At least one consumer mentioned that the safety net had started to disintegrate within a year of having it up. Another customer was worried because the spring pad had started to warp from being outside. It bent out of shape and no longer covered the springs in certain places.
For the AlleyOop line, the materials are generally said to last anywhere from two to five years without major damage. That’s about as good a verdict as you are gonna get for a mass-market consumer trampoline exposed to the elements outdoors. Instead, the primary criticism of consumers is the set-up. According to representatives from the company responding to negative reviews, it can take anywhere from two to three hours to complete with two people. Apparently it is nearly impossible for one person to assemble alone. This is because several of the connections need to be made at the same time on opposite ends of the frame.
Looking More Deeply At Materials Comments
Comments about the materials that a trampoline is made of can go a number of different ways, but most of them are either related to durability or safety. The latter of these is what concerns me.
For example, one person complained about a trampoline that they bought. Their child bounced for roughly three hours after which the mat became stretched out and was no longer responsive. This complaint happens fairly often, though more often it’s a problem with springs that start to uncoil or refuse to jump back to their original position.
In most cases, these seem like they are reasonably isolated manufacturer defects and not endemic of the product in general. No manufacturing process is perfect, so it’s inevitable that some of the results will be flawed, sub-par, or not work quite right. Comparing the number of negative comments to positive ones based on materials, it seems that this is an unlikely occurrence.
On the positive side, comments about materials tend to talk mostly about frames. They often use descriptors such as “heavy,” “sturdy,” or “reliable” when being used in a positive context. One of the less noticed positive sets of comments about the actual building material of the products that you find in trampoline reviews is discussion of the nets.
This is actually somewhat surprising,
since the nets are one of the primary safety features of modern consumer trampolines. Umm…actually…your mind is the most important way to stay safe. In particular your knowledge of safe jumping rules. Practice safe jumping! See our ORANGE, GREEN, and BLUE lists of trampoline safety tips here. People who do talk about them generally have nothing but rave reviews, either for how well they work or how easy they are to attach.
In one case, a parent said that they actually watched their child bounce poorly and they would have been thrown from the trampoline to the ground, but the net caught the kid before he got too far. Unsurprisingly, the mother in question was distraught for several minutes afterward, but the child could only laugh because of how much fun it was. Hmm. Sounds like my kids!
Complaints About Complaining
A particularly common complaint that a number of parents have had was not about the trampoline itself, but rather about customer service from the manufacturer.
As I mentioned above, sometimes parts fail or are made poorly. This results in an inability to actually assemble the product. Or worse, as I have seen, it creates a lack of safety due to improper assembly. While this is entirely understandable, one would expect that a company would be able to correct the problem and ensure that customers have a positive experience of the brand.
Unfortunately, for many customers, the experiences they had did not quite live up to this expectation.
Perhaps the most common complaint was simply trying to find the correct person to speak to. With automated systems and phone menus becoming more and more prominent, too many companies are simply sending customers either to FAQs on their website. Transfers through two or three people are common at some companies as well. This means that a customer can spend hours on the phone waiting on hold just to talk to somebody who can help them.
Another common complaint is when the manufacturer requires evidence of the problem and the purchase. In many cases, the trampoline reviews read as a review of a specific customer service representative rather than the company as a whole. But often it is part of a pattern of poor customer service on the part of manufacturers.
For example, several companies require that you take pictures of a defect and send them in. Then, they want proof of purchase. This is an attempt to prevent fraud from people who call to request parts or pieces that would otherwise be sold as replacements. That is a valid concern, but it brings up two problems.
- It looks poor from a public relations standpoint. It is a bit accusatory.
- It establishes an unnecessarily adversarial relationship between customers and manufacturer that can have a negative effect on business.
What becomes even more disturbing is that companies that tend to receive these types of trampoline reviews also generally have accompanying reviews suggesting that the items that were received had clearly been used. This leads me to the conclusion that they were repacking defective products and sending them out again.
It is unlikely that you will need to work with a company on issues like this. But it’s a good idea to keep this in mind when you’re making a purchase on the off chance that you do need to replace a part. It’s also a good idea to make sure that you have the option of working with the retailer instead.
Manufacturing Issues to Be Aware Of
Another issue that tends to come up is problems with the manufactured parts.
Most trampolines are shipped in one or two boxes, in pieces. You, as a consumer, are expected to put them together. This is the easiest way to get them from place to place, especially when you’re talking about a 15 foot diameter round object.
Further, it’s not entirely unheard of that something that needs to line up precisely is just slightly off, making it difficult to get it to sit in place right. This isn’t to say that it’s impossible, but it can be tough to align everything perfectly or assemble in the right order so that it will fit correctly.
While this can be annoying, it’s only really dangerous when it reduces the effectiveness of a safety device. For example, if a safety net cannot be properly attached to a post, it can leave an open space for an accident that otherwise might not happen. This happened to one Amazon user that was jumping on their backyard trampoline and ended up falling half way out of the net because the top portion didn’t fit right.
Discussing Weight Issues
Something that parents will often discuss in trampoline reviews are weight limits and how they played a role in determining what brand or model to buy.
There are a number of reasons why weight is an important factor in the decision to invest in a backyard trampoline. Rebounders are designed to only be able to handle certain weights, both in terms of the mat and the legs. They can often deal with limited use at most weights. But even a little bit of jumping outside of those limits can result in speeding up the break down process and causing mat rips, spring failure, or even twisting of the frame.
Keep in mind that we’re not only talking about the weight of the jumpers, we’re also discussing the relative weight of them coming down and the force of gravity compounding their actual size.
The most common reviews that discuss weight are those form parents who either want to bounce with their kids, or ones who have tweens. But as I have said many times on this blog, only one jumper at a time. Unless you are an adult that wants to accompany a toddler.
On the other hand, parents of tweens and young teenagers are generally not thinking of putting themselves on the trampoline at all. Rather, they’re thinking of their children and their children’s friends that will likely want to enjoy bouncing together. Again, planning to have several teenagers on the mat at once is not a good idea and not a valid reason to consider a higher weight limit trampoline. Multiple jumpers are a sure ticket to the emergency room.
Safety and Rules
Something that tends to be of a high concern for parents when considering trampolines is safety. But while safety features absolutely play a large role in reviews, safety rules suggested by the manufacturer often get brought up as well.
These sorts of compliments give me and other readers of reviews reassurance that the manufacturer has thought extensively about safety.
I also see complaints against manufacturers of coddling customers. These are often accompanied by discussions of the relative softness of the current generation of small children. You know, the “when I was a kid, we NEVER wore bicycle helmets” kind of comments. To which I always respond, “and you have no idea how your life made more difficult by the concussions you suffered…”
Reviews of this kind are rare but bizarre. They even sound defensive, as if the manufacturer or retailer is attempting to force users to obey these particular rules. My view is, hey, if you want to risk unnecessary injury to your child, go right ahead, but keep the review boards clear of your misguided opinions.
These guidelines are not requirements or dictates handed down by manufacturers in an effort to ruin the fun of customers. True, the published rules sometimes accompany dire warnings about voiding of warranties and the loss of an ability to sue the company for faulty products if not every rule is followed to the letter. I wish the manufacturers luck in trying to prove lack of compliance.
Handling Minor Issues
There are a number of minor issues that customers will often have when it comes to trampolines, at least that they feel they need to write in a review. When considering the weight of these issues, there are a number of different factors that come into play which can make something more or less important to the quality of the item overall.
In my view perhaps the most important consideration when it comes to minor problems is whether it has any effect on safety. This is every parent’s main concern regarding sporting equipment, so pay attention for criticisms of nets, spring pads, and mats. We would all be well advised to stay away from trampolines that have a consistent record of having the mat rip at the edges, that come with pads in bad shape, or that don’t have nets that can stand up to rough play.
On the other hand, there are a number of minor complaints that aren’t incredibly important to the function of the trampoline. So even on the off chance that a part fails, you will not be without an actual product while you wait for the replacement to come in. For example, zippers on the safety net can be easily replaced with a trip to the craft store, but if you want to wait on an official replacement from the company, you can fasten the entrance to the net closed in with a string safely woven through the net.
Similarly, one problem that has been mentioned at least a few times has been caps on the bottom of trampoline legs that are cracked or missing. This can be frustrating, especially since bouncing might put holes in your yard. But it is easily solved temporarily by putting a piece of wood underneath the leg or getting a rubber stopper from Home Depot to put in the opening until a proper leg cap arrives.
Again, we recognize that these problems tend to be the exception rather than the rule, so make your buying decisions accordingly.
What Does This All Mean?
We’ve taken a detailed look at reviews from a number of different concerned parents. We’ve covered subjects ranging from specific aspects of trampolines to various brands. We also discussed what tends to come up the most regarding them. So what does this all have to do with you? With buying a trampoline?
Reading reviews is a skill like any other. It can be difficult to separate what to take seriously from what we can safely ignore. As a result, you either miss huge red flags or you hesitate from making a purchase.
Keep in mind that reviews are a very select sample of highly motivated purchasers. This means you’re getting a skewed opinion either way. Instead of paying attention to specific reviews, I look for patterns. I start by determining what my priorities are. Then I see if there are related topics that come up over and over again. I then weigh the likelihood of a problem against the chance of everything coming out right.
Finally, I understand that even investing in an expensive trampoline that doesn’t work can be fixed. It may be difficult, but the odds are more in favor that everything will be as advertised and you can just enjoy your new purchase. In my view, companies that don’t provide quality in most cases don’t last. So relax and buy with confidence from a market leader. Skywalker is my preferred brand for consumers.
One of the greatest things about the Internet is that you can share your experiences. You can help others to make the better decisions based on your input. The price of that access to the opinions of others is that you have to learn how to separate valuable opinions from less useful ones.
That being said, with a little bit of guidance, some background knowledge, and a touch of common sense, you can use trampoline reviews written by concerned parents to make purchasing decisions you’ll be happy with.