Pros: adjustable slide height and mountain slope, easy to assemble, sturdy, room for 3 kids, neutral
Cons: overpriced when purchased new, slight difference between slide heights
Last year, I was in search of something to put in my yard so the kids could climb and slide and play without me trekking to the park. We already had a little house and a turtle sandbox as well as a Little Tikes Climbing Cube. But my little girl, who was over 3 at the time needed something bigger and more challenging. And my little guy, who was one at the time, was already doing his best to climb those "baby" toys. But we had a feeling we'd be moving soon so we didn't want to spend a lot on a wooden set. When I came across this Little Tikes Adjustable Mountain Climber, I knew I wanted it.
I found our Little Tikes Adjustable Mountain Climber used on Craigslist.org for $75. New ones sell in the $300-400 range. They are pricey so I would recommend looking for them used. The woman who had it before me had her husband power wash it first so it looked good as new when I brought it home. Disassembled, it fit in the back of my minivan with the back bench seat out.
The Little Tikes Adjustable Mountain Climber is meant for kids ages 2-8. It offers things to do on each side of it. One side consists of a slide that can be adjusted to two heights. The opposite side from the slide offers a ladder to climb. The two "mountain" side ends feature climbing activities. One side is a stretched cargo net and the opposite side is a blue hard plastic curved mountain climbing apparatus with foot grips. The curved part consists of two pieces that can each or both be flipped over when assembling. One side of the curved parts offers a steeper climb. The top of the "mountain" is a flat platform with a bar on two sides and a pretend telescope anchored to the top. Underneath the base, kids can hide and play fort by crawling through an opening under the ladder.
Assembly was not difficult. It did require two people since you need to balance the sides to connect them and they're wide and a little heavy. Other than the telescope and the two curved mountain climbing sections, there aren't any metal screws involved. Everything fits together and has plastic knobs that turn and lock into place. My mechanical engineer husband was impressed by the simplicity yet durability of the design. The cargo net has knotted rope ends that fit into holes and then slide into narrower sections to sort of lock into place. The ropes sometimes come loose from the indented underside of the mountain where they stretch around but they slide back and the knotted parts have never come out. Assembly with my husband's help took about 30-40 minutes.
Though I've had it outside for over a year through all kinds of weather, it hardly shows any wear and tear. The colors are still vibrant. There are some black spots from where seeds have fallen and the gully where the mountain climbing side is fills up with water and leaves on occasion and needs to be cleaned, much like a gutter.
The colors are somewhat toned down from your typical brightly painted primary colored Little Tikes outdoor toys. Most of it has tan or gray coloring to mimic the color of rock while the slide is a sort of maroon red and the mountain is blue. There's nothing that shouts girl or boy or little annoying child. For a plastic climbing toy, it looks somewhat "natural" in the yard. Step2 makes a similar climber called the Naturally Playful Woodland Climber.
It takes up decent square footage in the yard. Nothing like one of those wooden swingset thingies, but it has a four foot square base and a slide that extends approximately 60 inches when at its lower, more sloped setting. The height of the base where the kids can stand and play is 30 inches. The guidelines say not to allow more than 3 children on the apparatus at a time. The maximum weight per child is 80 lbs.
Compared to our other "baby" outdoor toys, this one is awesome. Honestly, my son, who's now 2, had no problem climbing this at 18 months, so it's a good investment if you buy it early enough. Our neighbor is 7 and gets bored of it. There's just not enough height or adventure for him. But he has 3 older brothers so his fear factor is different from that of my kids. For my 5-year-old daughter, this climber still offers some excitement. She's gone on bigger, faster slides. She's climbed higher things. But she enjoys the imaginative play and the comfort level of this climber. She stands on the platform and pretends she's on a pirate ship, gazing through the telescope.
Three kids can play comfortably on this climber. My little guy still can't climb the cargo rope by himself but has no trouble with anything else. Although the suggested age is 2-8, I'm guessing you'd get the most use for ages 1 (with close supervision) through 6. Neither of my kids like to climb underneath. We have the slide set on the lower setting right now but we'll be moving it soon. Honestly, the difference between the two is minimal and I wish I had put it on the higher one originally. My son surprises me with how rugged he is at two. We have the lower mountain piece flipped so it's lower to the ground and easier for my little guy to climb onto. But at this point, I think he'd have no trouble if we assembled it the "more grown up" way.
Overall, the Little Tikes Adjustable Mountain Climber was a good purchase used for $75. I don't think I'd spend more than $150 on it though.