Today, the outdoor trampoline is pretty much an essential garden feature, enjoyed by children and young people but also adults. Many children beg and plead with their parents to buy them a trampoline and there are numerous variations of trampoline available. So it can be difficult to know which trampoline you should select and why, particularly when consumers often find it difficult to determine what makes a good trampoline and which models represent good quality. Many discount stores and supermarkets sell cheap trampolines, but what’s the quality like – and are they really good value for money? To find out, we have tested a range of different trampolines.
Most of the trampolines sold today are low price trampolines, because this is what consumers demand. This isn’t surprising, because if you’re not familiar with the market it can be difficult to know what you really get when you spend the extra money for a more expensive trampoline. Our tests show that, although a quality trampoline has a higher purchase price, the total cost after a few years of use will paradoxically be lower than for a cheaper "low price" trampoline. The reason is the quality trampoline's better durability and hence the reduced need for spare parts.
Many parents are worried that trampolines are dangerous and that their children might be injured. But if used correctly, a properly constructed trampoline is no more dangerous than a bike or a swing. At a time when children spend less time outdoors and exercise less, you should also be aware that bouncing on a trampoline has a series of strengthening benefits, especially for children. The trampoline is first and foremost an extremely effective tool for training the child's sense of balance. Even a one-year-old child who has barely learned to walk can improve their balance by walking or crawling on the trampoline. In addition to balance, a trampoline also improves motor function, muscle strength (especially in the legs and back) and overall fitness. Moreover, trampoline jumping is a fantastically efficient calorie burner, and for many people it’s much easier to motivate themselves to use the trampoline than, for example, to run on a treadmill. If you take these health effects into account, a trampoline can be a very positive addition to your garden.
Just as you use a helmet when cycling, you should use a safety net when jumping on a trampoline. The safety net is there to prevent you from landing on the edge or outside the trampoline. But while it’s obviously important that the trampoline is safe, the safety net must also be of high enough standard to provide adequate protection. We therefore strongly recommend that you also invest in a high quality net if you buy a trampoline.
More and more people are discovering the advantages of making their purchases of large, bulky products - such as trampolines - online and receiving them via home delivery. Three clear advantages are:
Low prices: The prices in online shops are very difficult to beat. On the one hand, they keep costs down by purchasing large volumes from the manufacturers. On the other, they often have little or no costs for retail rent and so on. There’s also tough price competition between online shops.
Superior selection: Online, you will mostly find cheap "low price" trampolines that are most commonly sold. However, you can also find quality trampolines that are hard to come by in normal shops, even in large cities. This is probably the single most important advantage for the quality-conscious parent who is willing to pay extra for better safety, durability and functionality (such as better bounce).
Home delivery: If you buy the trampoline online, delivery is often included, which means you don’t have to worry about how to get the trampoline home. This advantage shouldn’t be overlooked, as a proper trampoline with accompanying nets and ladders is a difficult item to transport. The trampoline itself can weigh more than 100 kg, and in addition to the weight, the packages are cumbersome and don’t fit in the boot of most vehicles. To transport a trampoline home from a normal shop is therefore often a lot of trouble; hiring a van, driving it to the shop, loading the trampoline, driving home, unloading the trampoline and then returning the van.
The springs, together with the jumping mat, enable the user to bounce up and down by extending and stretching. The springs used for trampolines are tension springs of cylindrical coil type. These are normally a galvanised steel wire tightly wound into a cylindrical spiral. The springs affect the trampoline in terms of their number, length, material quality, the thickness of the steel wire and its diameter. The larger the diameter of the coil, the easier it is to extend. Likewise, a spring of thinner wire is easier to extend than a thicker one and a longer spring is easier to extend over a certain length than a shorter one. The more springs a trampoline has, the less burden there is on each spring, which tends to give better bounce and durability.
Cheap trampolines are characterised by small and hard springs that provide a short and muted bounce. They also tend to be fewer in number than on quality trampolines. Meanwhile, quality trampolines are characterised by the springs being larger, longer and more numerous, which provides a deeper and more vigorous bounce. But even though a cheap trampoline usually has poorer springs, they rarely break. They can, however, be overstretched if exposed to excessive forces.
The shape of a trampoline has a major impact on the bounce, but also on other aspects of the trampoline. By far the most popular shape for family trampolines is circular. This shape provides a symmetrical force distribution if you bounce in the middle of the mat, and a more asymmetrical distribution the farther from the centre you bounce. There are also rectangular and oval trampolines, though these are mostly used by adult professional jumpers, as they can provide a deeper, more controlled bounce. An advantage of circular trampolines is that they tend to shift the user towards the centre and thus prevent you from falling off the trampoline. Another important reason for the circular trampoline’s complete dominance of the market for family trampolines is that they don’t require the same sturdy frame as trampolines with other shapes. This is because the circular shape is completely symmetrical and therefore distributes the force evenly across the frame. A less powerful frame requires less material, which means a lower production cost. These cost savings are then passed onto the end customer in the shape of a lower price tag.
The characteristics of the jumping mat affect the trampoline in several ways. The jumping mat should be made of a durable and UV-resistant material such as polypropylene fabric. This will help prevent the mat from becoming sun-bleached and makes it last longer. In addition, the fabric ensures that the jumping surface has sufficient friction. If the friction is too low, it’s easy to slip on the mat, which increases risk of damage. The risk of slipping is the greatest when the mat is wet, for example after rain or in the morning when dew can cover the fabric. If the friction is too high, you will get burns instead, as you slide on the mat. This is common with cheaper jumping mats that use fabric of cheaper material. The reason why polypropylene mats are so popular as premium mats for family use is that they meet all these requirements and they are also maintenance-free. However, there are also different qualities of polypropylene mats, where the cheaper variant is coarser than the more expensive.
The job of the edge protector is to prevent the jumper from landing and hurting themselves on the frame and springs. This makes the edge protector the most important aspect of the trampoline from the point of view of safety. Together with the frame, the edge protector is the most expensive component on the trampoline. Good edge protection costs a lot to produce, so this is where producers of cheap "low-cost" models generally cut corners. The result is unfortunately that these types of trampoline often provide inadequate safety levels. In addition, cheap edge protection wears out quickly, mainly from the sun's UV rays, which means that they often must be replaced after only a couple of summers. High quality edge protectors are made of materials like EPE and EVA. This makes them very resistant to weather and wind. Even these edge protectors do finally wear out, but they will usually have had a significantly longer service life. More importantly, high quality edge protection provides very good safety levels that effectively protect the user from injury.
The safest type of edge protector covers the frame, springs and spring brackets well, even on the outer edge. It’s also sufficiently well secured and fixed, efficiently preventing it from moving during jumps or in high winds. The edge protector should also be sufficiently thick and shock-absorbent so as not to give way if you inadvertently land on it. A thickness of two centimetres is a good benchmark for good edge protection. In addition to hitting the frame, it is common for the user to end up with a foot between two springs, with the edge protection being unable to withstand the pressure and breaking as a result.
In cheaper trampolines, the foam inside the outer casing is often made of polyurethane foam, which is cheap but not sufficiently shock-absorbent. Furthermore, the material absorbs water – such as rain – allowing the foam to eventually rot and break.
Even the outer casing material is of great importance as it must withstand both wear and UV light. In the worst-case scenario, cheap trampolines have outer casing of reinforced PE plastic, which is the same material that cheap tarpaulins are made of. A better material is reinforced PVC which is also used in rainwear and bags.
Regarding edge seams, you can generally say the more, the better. In addition to this, it’s also important how well made and how heavy the seams are. If the edge seams are too few and of low quality, they can easily break over time. But this isn’t really a problem, as other parts of the trampoline normally break before then.
The frame of the trampoline can be said to be its skeleton, as the frame holds up the entire design. Even on cheap trampolines the frame is normally strong enough not to collapse under excessive load. On the other hand, a cheap and slim frame easily bends with time. The frame is normally made of galvanised steel to prevent rusting. The steel should be at least 1.5 mm thick to withstand damage over time. It is also important that the frame is galvanised both inside and outside to prevent rust. It is equally important that the welds between the leg and the ring are cleaned thoroughly after welding so that the anti-corrosion protection is durable. Otherwise the welds become the weak point of the frame, where the rust can occur first. A frame with thick weld thickness isn’t only stronger than a thinner frame, but also more stable. For obvious reasons, it’s also heavier. It can therefore generally be a good rule of thumb that a heavy frame is a good thing. As a benchmark the frame of a trampoline with a diameter of 4.3 m should weigh at least 80 kg.
A good after-sales service is especially important when buying a trampoline. Partly because it’s an expensive product that costs a lot, and partly because it’s very heavy and unwieldy, making it troublesome to take it back to the shop. So it’s important that the shop you bought it from is quick to answer any questions about installation and can send extra parts – within a reasonable time and at a reasonable price – if anything breaks.
The availability of spare parts is particularly important in the long term if you intend to keep the trampoline for several years. A major problem with low-cost trampolines is that they are relatively often replaced with new models from new manufacturers. If you’re unlucky, this may make it impossible to get a spare part for a low-cost trampoline that’s only a year old. This problem is further exacerbated by the fact that cheap trampolines often break and therefore have a greater need of spare parts. Renowned quality brands often have a completely different continuity in terms of their range, and thus the manufacturers are able to supply spare parts long after you originally bought the trampoline. This helps to extend the life of the quality trampoline in comparison with low cost ones.
The size of a trampoline affects not only jumping space available, but also the type of bounce it gives. The larger the trampoline, the heavier the user must be to get a proper bounce. If the user weighs too little in relation to the trampoline size, the jumps become sluggish and you are unable to start a decent bounce. This is because the air under the trampoline is constantly pushed in and out as the jumping mat moves up and down. This air movement sucks the kinetic energy from the bounce, and the user must compensate for this either by being sufficiently heavy or by jumping high enough. In other words, unless you have legs like a frog, you simply have to be heavy enough to use your body weight to squeeze out enough air during each jump.
That the largest standard size for family trampolines is 4.3 meters (14 feet) in diameter is no accident, but simply because this size is enough to give you plenty of room to jump, while even children - with their low weight - can get a good bounce. For children under approximately 20 kg, a trampoline of 4.3 meter can be sluggish and for example a size of 3.8 m provides a better rebound at as low weight. At the same time, you should think long term if you intend to keep the trampoline for several years, and even at 4-6 years of age, a trampoline of 4.3 meters will no longer feel especially sluggish. Due to its smaller size, a trampoline with a diameter of 3.8 m is also less suitable for two people to jump on at the same time.
The fact that the largest standard size for family trampolines is 4.3 metres (14 feet) in diameter is no accident, but simply because this size is enough to give you plenty of room to jump, while even children – with their low weight – can get a good bounce. For children under about 20 kg, a trampoline of 4.3 m in diameter can be sluggish and, for example, a size of 3.8 m provides a better bounce at low weight. At the same time, you should think long term if you intend to keep the trampoline for several years, and even when the user is 4-6 years of age, a trampoline of 4.3 m will no longer feel especially sluggish. Due to its smaller size, a trampoline with a diameter of 3.8 m is also less suitable for two people to jump on at the same time.
Favorit is a stylish, quality trampoline from the Dutch company Berg and it is awarded Best in Test thanks to its combination of build quality, safety and performance at a great price. The bounce is elastic and stable, enabling high jumps and this makes Favorit fun to jump on. The frame thickness is substantial, which not only makes it strong, it also means a high weight, which helps to keep the trampoline steady. The welds and galvanisation are high quality, which prevents rust, especially over time, and if the frame is left outside during winter. The edge protection is made of durable material that can withstand exposure to the elements, including the sun's UV rays. Safety is exemplary and the edge protection covers both the springs and frame thoroughly and provides efficient shock absorption. The safety net is durable with well-placed poles. Correctly stretched, the net "pulls" the mat inward and this reduces the risk of falling towards the outer frame if you happen to jump straight into the net.
The safety net also has a self-closing entrance so that it doesn't remain open. In addition to increased safety, this innovative solution eliminates the safety net's traditional Achilles heel – the zip. This increases the lifespan of the safety net considerably, saving a lot of money in the long run. The ladder is a good depth and stays in position well, while being easy to attach and detach.
Well-known company Berg's Talent is their cheapest model for small gardens or lower budgets. It's available in three relatively small sizes. We tested the biggest. The small size of the jumping area makes it easy for two children to collide if using the trampoline simultaneously. Equally, the narrowness and thinness of the edge protection means it's not particularly stable to sit on when someone else is jumping. Otherwise the edge protection is fine, with satisfactory shock absorption which effectively covers the frame, springs and spring attachments. The Talent has a medium soft bounce which makes it best for children weighing more than about 20 kg. At the same time the slightly smaller jumping area makes it easier for small children to get a bounce going. The frame is not particularly substantial but still acceptable in relation to the maximum user weight, which is low. Our tests actually showed that the Talent can easily cope with twice that weight, but remember that if you overload the trampoline you will wear out the springs.
Like other Berg trampolines, the Talent has good welded joints which should resist rust for many seasons. Even the safety net is typically Berg, with a fine mesh net in which fingers can't get stuck, good resistance to bounces, well-padded posts and a self-closing opening. The self-closing, zip-free opening is particularly useful. Both from the safety viewpoint, as children can't forget to shut it behind them, but also in terms of cost as it's usually at the zip that the safety net breaks. The assembly instructions are clear, with detailed illustrations that can be supplemented with assembly instructions on YouTube and one person can assemble the trampoline in around 30 minutes. The Berg Talent is a good choice if you don't have space or the budget for more. However, if you have space and a bigger budget, it's worth spending around £200 more for a bigger Berg Favorit
Berg Champion is a premium trampoline for very demanding users and we appoint it as the best premium choice. The Dutch company Berg is perhaps the world's leading manufacturers of trampolines, and Champion, together with its smaller sibling Favorit, are their best sellers. Champion has the higher value of the two and has a very high quality. Champion manages to combine a soft, deep bounce with an excellent elasticity. Partially this is a result of the fact that it has an unusually large number of long and thick springs. This reduces the load on each individual spring and ultimately on the trampolinist too. The latest version of the Champion also has a new type of jumping mat that allows the air to penetrate extremely effectively, which gives a significantly better bounce than before. Improved air penetration has a bigger effect on lighter users, to the delight of smaller children.
The frame thickness is properly sized and in addition to strength, this also gives a high weight, which makes the trampoline very stable. Berg's trampolines generally have very good weld joints, and this is true for the Champion too. In combination with excellent galvanization, this makes the frame extremely resistant against rust. Berg therefore dares to give a full 13-year warranty on the frame. Even the edge protector is of very high standard, with heavy, weather resistant materials. We left one test trampoline outdoors all year round for three years to maximise the effect of the weather, and thus far it shows absolutely no signs of decay. Safety levels are top-class and the edge protection completely covers both the springs and frame with a thick, effective layer of shock absorption. The Champion is sold either with the cheaper "Comfort" net or the more expensive "Deluxe" net. Both safety nets are durable and give very good protection. However, the "Deluxe" version is clearly of better quality throughout. The construction means that the net bows inwards at the centre, which is attractive and reduces the risk of landing on the outer frame, even if you happen to bounce right into the net. But the best thing is the safety net's zip-free entrance, which means it can't be left open by mistake and which significantly increases the expected lifetime of the safety net, saving you money. We also recommend that you buy Berg's excellent ladder, which has an adjustable heightThe ladder has a moderate slope, a firm foot hold and is easy to attach and detach. The instructions are relatively clear and excellent assembly instructions are available on YouTube.