Quick facts about trampolines:
- If you want your own kids to experience the same feeling, and get plenty of exercise at the same time, you're probably considering buying a trampoline.
- Modern trampolines are a different beast to those of days gone by, so choosing the right trampoline can be quite complicated.
Should you buy a trampoline?
If you're wondering whether or not you should buy a trampoline, ask your kids what they think. Chances are most younger children will respond with a resounding yes.
Of course, there are plenty of other reasons why buying a trampoline could be a good idea:
- They're fun. This point doesn't really need any explanation, but we're sure you can agree that the sheer joy of launching yourself skywards on a trampoline is hard to beat. It can even act as a form of stress relief for adults.
- They help kids stay active. Bouncing on a trampoline can be so much fun that your kids won't even realise they're getting exercise. Instead of sitting around in front of a TV or iPad all day, they'll be outside burning off their excess energy and getting some fresh air.
- They can help develop coordination. Kids (and adults) can improve their coordination and balance by jumping on a trampoline and adjusting to their constantly shifting centre of gravity.
However, trampolines are expensive and kids' attention spans are notoriously short, so think carefully before splashing out big bucks on a top-of-the-line trampoline. There's a chance your kids will jump on their new toy for five minutes and then tire of it and let it rust.
The other main drawback is that trampolines can take up a lot of space. Some of the largest circular models can have a width of around five metres, so if you've only got limited backyard space to work with, buying a trampoline simply may not be a viable option.
Types of trampolines
Before you start shopping for a trampoline, get to know the different types on offer:
|Trampolines with springs||This is the design most people are familiar with. It features a bounce mat linked to a galvanised steel frame by metal coil springs.|
- Cheapest option
- Australian models come with a safety enclosure to stop people falling off
- Padding reduces the risk of injury from colliding with the frame or springs
- Less safe than springless models
|Springless trampolines||These models use flexible fibreglass rods or leaf springs instead of metal coil springs to provide bouncing power. These rods/leaf springs and the frame are positioned below the jumping surface to reduce the risk of injury.|
- Increased safety compared to models with springs
|In-ground trampolines||In-ground or sunken trampolines are semi-permanent outdoor fixtures that are installed directly into the ground, similar to an in-ground pool.|
- More aesthetically pleasing/less of an eyesore
- Reduced risk of high falls
- Less widely available
- Most expensive
- Difficult to install
- Installation may take multiple days depending on soil conditions
How to compare trampolines
Trampoline prices vary greatly depending on the size, brand and design of the trampoline. You can pick up a basic 10-foot model from a department store for around $150, but most brand-name models start at $300. Springless trampolines cost more than those with springs and it's possible to pay the best part of $3,000 for a top-shelf model. Finally, don't forget to double-check whether the cost of delivery is included in the price tag or whether you'll need to pay an additional fee.
Which trampoline offers the best safety features for your kids and is the best fit for your backyard? To find out you'll need to compare the following factors:
Most modern trampolines are round but there are also rectangular, square and oval-shaped models available. The even distribution of springs on a circular model draws the jumper back to the centre, but this can cause collisions when there are multiple people on the bounce mat. Rectangular trampolines offer a large jumping area and can fit well into most backyards, but they generally require heavy frames that make them difficult to move.
Trampoline sizes refer to the dimensions of the bounce mat and are often quoted in feet, with the diameter of most circular models falling in the 6-14 foot range. However, keep in mind that the frame will take up additional space around the jumping mat, so check the specs sheet for the full measurements of a trampoline.
Make sure you carefully measure the size of your backyard, including leaving at least two metres of obstacle-free space all around the trampoline, before you buy.
Trampolines are notoriously difficult to assemble, so take a look at the instruction manual to see whether it's clear and easy to understand. Note that you'll typically need at least two people to put a trampoline together safely.
Some manufacturers will also build and install your trampoline for you, for an extra fee, and others offer online video tutorials to guide you through the construction process.
The maximum recommended weight limit varies depending on the size of a trampoline and its design, but could be anywhere from 75kg to 200kg.
- Warranty. Check the length of the warranty to get a better idea of the quality of the product. Note that many manufacturers will offer differing warranty lengths on the frame, bounce mat and parts, so read the fine print to find out exactly what is and isn't covered. Look for a manufacturer that has an Australia-based service centre, and that will also carry replacement parts for a minimum of five years after you buy your trampoline.
- Ladder. Does the trampoline come with a ladder to help kids get on and off the jumping mat quickly and safely, or will this need to be purchased separately?
- Anchor kit. Anchor kits are used to secure your trampoline to the ground so that it doesn't move around when in use or in extremely windy conditions. Some models include anchor kits as standard but other manufacturers sell them as an optional extra.
- Accessories. Check whether you can purchase toys and accessories that attach to your trampoline and increase fun or functionality. For example, some manufacturers offer accessories like shade covers, basketball rings, water misters and Wi-Fi speakers.
The Australian safety standard for trampolines, AS 4989:2015, isn't mandatory. However, there are several manufacturers that endeavour to meet this standard, so check the fine print to find out whether any model you're considering is compliant.
Look out for the following safety features:
- Make sure the trampoline comes with padding for the frame and springs to prevent injuries such as arms and legs getting stuck between springs. How thick is the padding? Is it a contrasting colour to the bounce mat to help the jumper determine the boundary of the jumping area? However, note that springless models with rods or leaf springs located under the jumping mat don't require a padded edge.
- Safety enclosures are essential on above-ground trampolines to prevent jumpers landing on the ground, colliding with the frame or impacting the springs. In-ground trampolines are usually sold without safety nets. Check the net to make sure it's strong and durable, and that it provides a reliable barrier while at the same time still allowing easy entry to and exit from the bouncing mat when required. Has it been UV treated to ensure that it stands up to the harsh Australian sun? Does it securely attach to the frame and the net poles to prevent kids jumping or rolling out?
- The net poles are similarly important as they need to be sturdy but also flexible enough to move with the net. Check that the poles won't pose a collision hazard in their own right.
8 tips for safer jumping
Trampolines have come a long way since the days of those exposed-spring death traps many of us remember from our youth, but that certainly doesn't mean they're risk-free. In fact, with more than 3,000 trampoline-related injuries reported each year in Australia, and 1 in 6 children reported to have sustained a trampoline-related injury, they're still a whole lot more dangerous than many people realise.
To help combat these risks, follow these eight simple safety tips:
- Check the condition of the trampoline regularly to ensure that the mat and springs are intact and securely attached, that the frame is not bent, and that leg braces are secure.
- Place the trampoline on a level, grassed area.
- Make sure there are no hazards around the trampoline, for example walls, garden furniture or clotheslines.
- Ensure there is at least eight metres of overhead clearance from ground level.
- Only let one child use the trampoline at a time.
- Supervise children when on the trampoline.
- Jump in the middle of the trampoline.
- Climb off the trampoline when finished, don't jump.