If you are in the market for a new trampoline or a new trampoline bed, one thing you might not think about may be the most important – the trampoline bed!
Just as one will find differences between trampoline frames and their construction, there are also significant differences between the types of trampoline beds that are available.
And if this trampoline is going to be used for instructing divers in a dryland environment, there are several key points to understand before choosing what type of bed you want on your trampoline.
The Trampoline Bed – Tight or Loose
Basically, trampoline mats or beds can be differentiated by how much resistance they cause – that’s resistance to the air that flows through them as an individual bounces. As you might expect the more resistance the less bounce, and vice versa.
Following that train of thought, new trampoline beds can be basically broken down into three categories: mesh or string and in-between.
Polypropylene Mesh Mats
A polypropylene mat or black poly bed (I will use those terms mat and bed interchangeably, so be prepared) is the most common mat you will see, and the same type of mat that is sold with retail backyard trampolines whether round or rectangular.
Constructed of a polypropylene thread that is tightly weaved to create what appears to be a solid surface, these types of mats allow little air flow and as a result restrict the rebound of the trampoline. As you would imagine, this is why they are sold to the general public – less spring, less injuries, less liability, etc.
Almost always coming in black, they can be brutal on a hot day in the summer … ouch, but they do stand up to a great deal of wear and tear, especially outdoors.
If you haven’t ever been on a string bed you may be surprised about how high you can jump. String beds, as the name would imply, have one set of strings that run lengthwise, and another set that run widthwise.
Made of a synthetic polyester fiber, the strings are woven into a pattern that allows a great deal of airflow (especially when compared to a black poly bed), creating a major bounce. In fact, you can’t get a bed that creates more bounce than a string bed!
Intended for use by competitive athletes, these types of beds are not recommended for recreational use. One drawback is that these string beds can be a bit abrasive to the skin, and they do take a while to get used to.
Do you want the best attributes of each type of bed, well there is a product out there that combines the both of best worlds, it is called a “High Performance Bed.”
The same polypropylene threads used in the tight weave of a black poly bed are, in a manner of speaking, given some room to breath.
That is to say that they are not woven as tightly as the black poly bed. The result is that you get a trampoline bed that has a great deal of bounce - not as much as a string bed, but is a lot more forgiving when you land on bare skin.
Rectangular or Round
This may seem obvious as a round trampoline bed goes on a round trampoline, and a rectangular bed goes on a … you guessed it, rectangular trampoline! But the point here is that mesh or poly beds are seen on every type of trampoline on the market, while string beds and high performance beds are almost exclusive to rectangular trampolines used for training and competition.
As a result string beds are rarely seen on outside tramps (except for an outdoor dryland facility), primarily because they bounce so high that they need to be in an environment where safety is a priority – something that is not always evident in the backyard.
Secondarily they are more expensive and do not hold up as well in the rain, sun and wind as a mesh mat.
If price is a consideration, then choosing a black poly bed is a bit of a no-brainer. They are roughly one-tenth the cost of a good string bed and can handle quite a bit more abuse.
String beds, well, that is another matter because it’s all about performance. There is no doubt you get what you pay for with a string bed but you will also pay a lot more, upwards of $2500.00 for a high quality 7-foot by 14-foot bed.
Budget string beds are available for considerably cheaper and high performance beds can be purchased for under $500 depending on the size of the trampoline.
Making the right choice of a trampoline and trampoline bed is dependent on a number of factors, and it begins with understanding the different types of trampoline beds: black poly, string or in-between!