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The Best Outdoor Trampolines

By Jennifer Marlowe

Say the word "trampoline" in a crowded room and you will hear horror stories about broken bones or worse. Jumping on a trampoline, however, makes for a terrific aerobic workout for children and adults. Buying an outdoor trampoline involves more than heading to a sporting goods store. Do some homework and learn the basics of trampoline safety along with the safety ratings for specific brands.

Alley Oop DoubleBounce

Considered a high-end, outdoor trampoline, JumpSport's Alley Oop DoubleBounce ranks as the safest recreational trampoline on the market, according to the consumer safety website TrampolineSafety.com. In addition, Ronald Froehlich, chairman of U.S.A. Gymnastics, endorses all of the company's trampolines. The DoubleBounce comes with two 14-foot wide round trampoline beds. One bed is suspended eight and a half inches above the other bed in an effort to reduce the impact on the body. Thick, heavy-duty steel tubing with 10-inch springs (96 springs for the top bed and 32 for the bottom) support the beds. Installation time runs around four hours. The frame and enclosure poles come with a 20-year-warranty, while the enclosure net and springs will require replacement in three to five years. The DoubleBounce costs approximately $2,000. Head to JumpSport's website, www.jumpsport.com/dealers/, for a list of dealers.

JumpSport's StagedBounce

JumpSport offers the StagedBounce, combining a high safety rating with a low price. This trampoline makes a reasonable alternative to the company's high-end AlleyOop line of trampolines. Like the DoubleBounce, the StagedBounce has a 14-foot wide round bed, but includes smaller, eight-and-a-quarter-inch springs (96 total). The steel frame for the StagedBounce has a 20-year warranty and uses u-bolts to attach the netted, safety enclosure (optional). Installation for the total unit, with safety enclosure, takes a little longer than the four-hour-installation time for the DoubleBounce, according to TrampolineSafety.com. JumpSport's StagedBounce costs $500 for the trampoline and an additional $260 for the optional safety enclosure. Check out JumpSport's website, www.jumpsport.com/dealers/, for a list of dealers.

Skywalker Trampolines

Spending $300, or less, may not give you the very best trampoline on the market, but the Skywalker brand will still provide hours of safe aerobic activity when used with care. Skywalker offers a series of low-cost, enclosed outdoor trampolines perfect for younger child and those without much trampoline experience. If you fear your child will lose interest in bouncing after a single season, consider this trampoline. Sold at Walmart, Skywalker offers round, enclosed trampolines with eight-foot, 12-foot and 15-foot widths. Safety nets come with each trampoline and start at $168 for 8-foot wide enclosure and trampoline combo. Don't, however, expect years of fun. The 14-foot wide, round Skywalker trampoline has 72 springs, each measuring six and a half inches long. Though the frame is steel, the quality of the materials in this product are low, according to TrampolineSafety.com, and won't safely endure more than a few seasons. Installation time runs around two hours.

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