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Guide to Playground Climbers

April 10, 2015 |

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Guide to Playground Climbers

Have ever watched a child approach a tree, fence, or other obstacle and just leap up? They really do not stop to question whether they can or cannot climb it. They just know with a charming bravado that they will figure it out, somewhere on the way up.

Children have a biological imperative that encourages them to climb, which helps to develop important arm and leg muscle groups, and to improve strength and endurance, as well as balance and coordination. While parents and caregivers are often hesitant to allow children to climb, the safest place for them to do so is on the playground—which offers safety surfacing material to reduce risk of injury. With supervision, climbing can be a fun, safe, and exhilarating experience for children.

Step Climbers

This type of climbing activity is suitable for most children (ages 2 to 12 years), as some step climbers come equipped with hand rails or hand support to maintain balance. Others are designed for older children without the support in order to develop both confidence and balance. The Lily Pad Climber (or Frog Pads) offered on the many of our commercial play structures is an excellent example of a step climber that sometimes includes safety railing to assist children with the climb, while helping to prevent falls, depending on what age range the rest of the structure is designed to accommodate.

The motions involved in step climbers are engineered to improve leg muscles, and, like many of the climber types below, to develop an overall sense of bodily awareness, which leads to better balance.

Incline and Arch Climbers

Crawling is perhaps one of the first motor skills children begin to master as they develop. In order to provide more of a challenge we turn this horizontal motion on an incline. Like crawling, arch and incline climbers still encourage both upper and lower body physical fitness because they may require the use of both arms and legs to ascend to their tops, but the angle of ascent means they may require a keener awareness of hand and foot positioning. 

The Pent Climber included on several play structures is a perfect example of a challenging arch climber, and it is one of our most popular features. The roto-molded plastic pentagonal panels create unique shape that kids can climb on top of or crawl underneath. Its modular panels are also used to make the Hump, Mole Hill, Mound, and Mountain Deluxe independent play climbers.

Vertical/Panel Climbers

Vertical panel climbers are by far the most challenging for children who must coordinate both hand, arm and leg movement to navigate up, over or through the play structure. They are also the most rewarding in terms of the amount of physicality involved and the boost in confidence the kids receive—even if we’re only talking about scaling up to a four foot deck height. That type of climb can be fearful at young ages, but the sense of accomplishment is essential for a child’s psyche.

Several of our play structures offer a vertical panel Rock Wall Climber with foot and hand holds that assist a straight climb to one of the upper decks. Most of our vertical climbers are some type of wall, like the Panel Wall, Bubble Wall, or even Chain Link Wall, but the Coil Climber is also a vertical climb and is made from simple coiled pipe steel.

Overhead Climbers

The overhead climber is the most physically challenging activity, as it requires upper arm strength to support the body weight of the child, while being suspended. Horizontal bar climbers are an excellent example of the structure style, and there are designs that provide ADA accessible fitness opportunities for children with special needs. The Wheelchair Overhead Climber is specially designed to enhance muscle development.

More than just monkey bars, overhead climber styles also include rings and loops, which vary the type of grip available to progress horizontally. These can increase the challenge of the climb. And then there is the ever popular Zip Line / Track Ride, in which the child just needs to maintain their grip and the forward momentum is provided by a pulley system that is fully encased (to prevent hand injuries).

Whether you are looking for a complete playground that offers fun and challenging climbing structures, or an independent climber that you can use to augment your current playground equipment, APCPLAY has everything you need to promote fun and outdoor fitness with a large selection of durable options.

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