* Prices may differ from that shown
When we made the decision to purchase a tp climbing frame for my boys, there were so many decisions to make. Should we go for the explorer or the challenger frame? Should we buy it in stages or all at once? And how many of these add ons are really necessary.
Eventually we did decide to buy a complete climbing frame set with monkey bars, jungle run, slide, and den. A pretty essential part of the overall package was the two fabric platforms that are postioned on the frame. I guess it would be possible to buy just the frame if you so wished, but if you want to have a slide and make it safe to use when attached to the frame, then i feel the platform adds this. It stops children from climbing up and banging their head on the top of the jungle run frame, and provides a safe point to sit if they tire of climbing or while waiting for someone else to go down the slide.
Price wise, it does seem quite extortionate to buy 2 pieces of canvas fabric for £70. I would recommend that you buy these as part of a set, or search around. I notice today i can find them at a more reasonable £55.
For your money, you get two pieces of really strong canvas guaranteed for one year. The fabric is a very tightly woven mesh. It allows light through so it does not kill off the grass underneath. It is not waterproof, so the rain water will not collect on the fabric. If you are unfortunate enough to get stains on the fabric (like bird poop) then i have found that it is easy enough to wipe it off with a baby wipe or damp cloth so the kids can get on with playing without getting it on them.
Installing the platforms means you have to thread the poles of the frame through the seams at the sides of the platform to ensure that you have a secure fit. This needs to be done really when you are assembling the frame. You would not want to take the frame apart to add these sections later. It is like threading tent poles through the canvas when assembling a tent.
The platform has a little bit of give in the material. If both kids are sat in the den on top of the lower platform, then i can see that they are sat there from the lumps that appear at the bottom. It is reasonably comfortable to sit on, but my two don't sit still for long enough for it to be a problem if it wasn't.
I find the material the platform is made from is very hard wearing. It is slightly rough to the touch, so if a child were to fall against it then they would get a friction burn from it. Overall, it is going to be as long lasting as the other components unless we were to slice through the material in some way and weaken it. It is definitely a necessary part of the frame from first assembling it in my opinion. You cannot add the den if you don't have it as that sits on top of one of the platforms. You could get away with the basic frame and platforms before starting to add on jungle runs, monkey bars, slides, basket ball hoops, and twizzlers. It might soon get a bit boring however without other add ons.
Buy it with your frame as a set to get the best price in my opinion, and shop around online as the prices are more expensive at conventional high street stores and less at specialist stores for outdoor play equipment.