Anyone who has little kids at home knows that they’re balls of endless energy, and when the weather is pleasant, nothing beats letting them run around outside to expend that energy. But if you’re buried in the demands of work and parenthood, you may not always have time to take the little ones to the playground or the park. A swing set will have them soaring, sliding, and climbing for hours, right in the safety of your own backyard. As it’s a big purchase that often comes with additional costs, like delivery, assembly, and add-ons, choosing can be a daunting task, so we’ve found five of the best swing sets.
Features to look for in the best swing sets
The number one thing to think about when buying the best swing sets for kids is safety. Confirm that the structure is sturdy and stable, and stay away from anything that feels lightweight. Something that’s too light could run the risk of tipping over when your child climbs on it.
Because a kids’ swing set is such a big purchase, and because kids grow so quickly, you may want to splurge on an expandable design model that can grow as the kids grow. These types are modular and allow you to build onto the mainframe as your child’s wants and abilities expand. On the other hand, you may prefer a less expensive, non-expandable model with the understanding that your kids may be interested in something entirely different in a couple years.
Lastly, decide what material you’re interested in. Decades ago, metal was the most widely available material for backyard swing sets, but now wood or plastic are more popular. Wooden swing sets are the most durable of the three, which comes at a higher price, and many would argue that it’s the nicest looking option. Metal and plastic are less costly, but that comes at the expense of a low weight capacity and susceptibility to bend and break.
Finding a reliable metal swing set
Metal swing sets can run the risk of rusting and bending, but one made from durable, quality materials should be long lasting. A galvanized steel model with powder coating will be strong and carry protection from natural elements that tend to rust and deteriorate metals. Keep an eye out for a model that comes with rubber or plastic caps on the end pieces to protect kids from sharp edges.
Best metal: Lifetime Monkey Bar Adventure Swing Set
This Lifetime swing set comes highly rated due to its easy assembly and sturdy frame. It’s a larger design, with high monkey bars that give older kids plenty of room to play and adjustable swings you can raise as the kids grow. It comes with plenty of features to keep everyone busy: three swings, a trapeze bar with rings, a slide, a fireman’s pole, and of course the monkey bars.
Wooden swing sets are long-lasting and sturdy
Wood is the most durable material for an outdoor swing set. Quality materials come at a higher price, but the splurge may be worth it for a structure that will last all through the childhood years, and possibly beyond. Backyard Discovery swing sets are one of the most popular brands for wooden models and come in a variety of different frames.
Best wooden: Backyard Discovery Weston Playset
Backyard Discovery’s Weston Playset is a relatively basic set that comes with a few extra features, like a sandbox, rock climbing wall, and a snack stand with a built-in bench. Like most modern swing sets, it comes unassembled and you’ll have to put it together yourself, but the instructions are clear and the finished product is a safe and sturdy cedar swing set that you can feel confident letting your kids monkey around on.
A larger swing set offers extended play
Kids love forts and secret hideouts, and many playsets now come equipped with hideouts, porches, and sun decks. A larger extended playset has all this and more, and in many instances will come in modular versions so that you can add on to the set as your kids grow and require more challenges in their play.
Best extended play set: Backyard Discovery Skyfort II
This model from Backyard Discovery is almost 22 feet long and spans from monkey bars, to a play fort and slide, to a pair of swings and a two-person glider. The play fort has windows, a covered porch, and a sun deck. The set is made from 100% cedar, which has a natural resistance to rot and decay and with basic upkeep can last for over twenty years. While it’s a big assembly job, Backyard Discovery offers a 3D interactive assembly app that makes it super easy to follow.
A single swing is a simple choice for a toddler
If you have a toddler and aren’t quite ready to throw down money for an entire swing set that they aren’t old enough to use yet, a single toddler swing is an inexpensive option for outdoor swinging. These individual swings are easily adapted to hang from different secure locations.
Best toddler swing: Little Tikes 2-in-1 Snug ‘n Secure Swing
The ubiquitous Little Tikes toddler swing is easily recognizable due to its popularity, and that popularity is earned. The item is made from lightweight plastic and is fitted with a T-bar and straps to keep your tot safely secured while they swing. Able to bear up to 50 pounds, the swing has hooks to hang, or you can purchase an additional adaptor to hang it from a tree or other sturdy structure.
Best on a budget
Swing sets are by nature a big purchase, so in this instance, “on a budget” means roughly under $500. Here’s a tip for the frugal: even the best swing sets are often sold at a discount during the off-season, especially if you live in a climate with cold winters. A wide assortment of plastic and metal options are available in that price range, but we also found some wooden swing sets that are inexpensive and reliable.
Best budget: KidKraft Andorra Play Set
This play set from KidKraft comes in under $500 and is made of high-quality cedar wood. It boasts two swings, a slide, a rock-climbing wall, a sandbox, and a vinyl chalk wall at the top of its play deck for creative fun. The weight limit is slightly less than more expensive models (about 770 pounds, while others generally hold about 1,000 pounds) but it’s plenty steady enough.
Q: Are metal or wood swing sets better?
While this is a loaded question and depends somewhat on a person’s individual needs, overall we would say that wood is better than metal for your backyard swing set. A quality wood model is durable enough that, with proper care and maintenance, it can withstand years of use and weather. A metal swing set could potentially bend and break after sustained use, and you may find yourself dealing with rust.
Q: How long do wooden swing sets last?
In general, you can expect about twenty years of life from a wooden swing set—possibly longer depending on the kind of wood. Pressure treated pine, a preserved wood, is the most durable and long lasting, and it requires the least amount of maintenance and upkeep. Cedar, another popular option, is not preserved and needs to be stained or painted periodically.
Q: How much weight can a swing set hold?
You should check the specifications of each model you’re considering to find out how much weight it can hold. As long as you’re not going with the absolute cheapest model, you shouldn’t have any need to worry about the weight limits. Most wooden swing sets list at least 1,000 pounds as a conservative limit, but you want to be safe and check the specs.
Some final thoughts on the best swing sets
The best swing sets for your backyard will offer your kids years of outdoor play. Swinging, sliding, and climbing are great ways to get exercise and keep the kids happy—and keep the parents happy when the little ones are sleeping soundly through the night after a busy day of play. Adding a swing set to your yard is a big decision, but one that pays back tenfold in the end. You’ll love watching your kids play for years.