on October 7, 2011
Hello! I have had this hoop in use with my two boys (13 & 9 years old)for a month or so (as well as myself) and it works great! Very nice product and we are really pleased. I had seen so many comments (pro and con)on portable basketball hoop systems that I wanted to share my experience. This is my first time I have ever written a review, so please "bear with me" as I am hoping to be of some help as I share some of the questions/experiences I had with you.
I was looking for a nice quality basketball hoop, but had to keep the budget around $300.00(spouse's orders). Actually, I was really concerned at finding something of quality at that price point. I wanted at least a decent sized backboard of good material for my boys. At first I was first thinking of an in-ground systems as I thought they would be more stable. However, I was not sure on an ideal location for a permanent mount (each had some drawbacks in our location) due to the way we have our driveway, the slope on part of it, and what car(s) may be parked outside. In addition, I really did not want to get into digging a post hole and cementing in a sleeve only to find out the boys would not like the location. So, I changed my mind and started looking at only portable systems. Please be assured that this portable system is stable. Another concern I had was that perhaps the portable system might not look as nice (I don't know why I was worried about that, I think this hoop looks great!).
Amazon did a wonderful job shipping and delivering the whole box right to my garage (free shipping).
After reading many reviews about others putting together portable basketball hoop systems I was really DREADING putting this thing together. I consider myself reasonably handy, but frankly some of the other reviews for this or similar systems were troubling... to say the least (i.e. terrible directions, missing parts, holes needing to be redrilled, parts not going together etc. etc.). I opened the box and well yes...it did seem a LITTLE.. overwhelming looking at all those parts at first! If there is one thing I would like to pass on is please do not worry! The directions were extremely clear and parts were grouped in bags by task. On that note as I was looking at the directions my 9 year old son strengthened my confidence by saying... "don't worry dad it is just like following the directions for Legos". So we jumped in. My boys came out a few times to check on my progress or help here or there, but I put it all together myself except for the final step of standing it up on the driveway. Please read on for my thoughts and a couple of tips.
(1)Make sure you have ALL the tools they recommend to complete the job. Nothing unusual here (sockets, open end wrenches, screwdriver, pliers, hammer), but you really do need everything. The exception is a rubber mallet(for tapping pieces together), a regular hammer and a piece of wood to cushion the blows is fine. A portable or corded drill is a VERY important (in my opinion) to drive the self tapping screws when attaching the plastic trim to the backboard and also in bolting the three poles together. I used a small bit to drill a small pilot hole for the self tapping screws (on poles and backboard) as I wanted to make sure the self-tappers went in straight. Also, on the backboard I did not want to risk cracking it. A drill with a screw bit really makes short work of driving in the self-tapping screws. I tried using a ratchet at first and it was too slow and much too hard to apply enough pressure to drive the self-tappers in (even with the pilot holes). Yes, get out the power tools and have some fun.
(2) Please read and follow all directions carefully (yeh I hate doing that too!). However, I probably escaped without any trouble because I did just that. They even have pictures of the bolts/screws in the directions (that are true-to-scale) you can measure things against the directions to make sure you are using the correct screw or bolt. I often studied the picture in detail to see how things went together. I had no problems.
(3) There are 3 poles you will put together to make the one long pole for attaching your rim to the base. When you put the poles together I took a flat mill file and filed off the burrs left by the factory on the inside of poles (where the factory pre-drilled holes were located). I also applied a small amount of lithium grease (I had a small tube already) where the poles go together. I followed the directions and tapped the poles together on my garage floor over a short piece of wood). They went together perfectly and very easily. I only mention this added information (filing the burrs and grease) as in other reviews many people complained on how difficult it was to get the poles together. I think the burrs on the inside must have caused them problems.
(4) It took me 4 hours total working by myself to put everything together. I went slow and steady, took a couple of short breaks for water. I then went to the home improvement store for sand. I did not time the sand filling part, but maybe 20-30 minutes or so???
(5) I purchased 6 bags (50 lbs each) of sand. I bought "silica sand" (it is a very fine-grained sand and all grains are uniform). I would NOT recommend "play sand" as it has many different grains sizes and is dusty and it would be hard to pour through the funnel. I bought the silica sand at Menards (I know other stores carry it too).
(6) You will need a wide mouth funnel with a good sized hole in it (quarter sized?) to pour in the sand. I had a nice one from an auto parts store in my garage already. I brought out my step ladder so I could rest the bag on the 3rd step of the ladder above the funnel to pour in the sand (the base is tilted up as the hole is in the back end of the base). I put a hole in the corner of the bag and poured while my son held the funnel. You could do it yourself, but he likes to help. I put in 4 bags. Then the last two bags I wrapped in double lined garbage bags and put on top of the base once I had it moved into place. If you put all six bags in right at first you are going to have ONE heavy base to move!!!! I had my dear wife come out and help me tilt the pole in place. I live in a cold climate and did not want to put water in the base with antifreeze or just water (leaving room for expansion on freezing) or mess around with all of that (my opinion again). I think the sand is more stable and will be cleaner. I may put in the last two bags later or leave them on top where they are.
(7)The system is very sturdy. We are having fun with it and I come home from work and shoot a few too. Also, my 9 year old son can adjust the height of the hoop all by himself! My 13 year old is working on rebounding (cross training for goal keeper in soccer) and enjoys shooting as well as the 9 year old. I am glad I listened to my wife and did not go out and spend more money (yes dads it is productive to listen to your better half!.. all the moms at this point are nodding and saying...well YES!). Thank you for reading and good luck on all your future basketball careers!
on March 30, 2012
I purchased this hoop for my kids...ages 12,10,8 and 5. My husband put it together and came to the part where he was to put the first two poles together, lined up at the holes as indicated in the directions. When he put the poles together, the holes were indeed NOT lined up and there was no way the poles were coming apart. Eventually I called the company....information was easy to find on the website. The customer service person seemed to know immediately of my issue and said "I must have the wrong directtions". Apparently, the poles were updated but the instructions were not. So the poles needed to align on a different set of holes. The woman then proceeded to tell us how to get the poles apart, which included lifting them waist high and dropping them on a tarp or blanket on a flat surface. They came apart after about 30 drops. After this, he aligned the poles to the correct holes as indicated verbally by the company over the phone. Boy would it have saved a lot of heartache if they had someway to update the instructions when the holes changed. So annoying!!
The kids are enjoying the hoop and it is very easy to adjust the height for the different ages. Overall good purchase for the money.....and even better with free Amazon Prime Shipping!
on June 4, 2012
This is a hard product to review. On one hand you're getting a good product for the money. I was very happy with the final product. But getting the goal put together was the single hardest "some assembly required" product I've ever had to complete. I've put together bookcases, desks, cabinets, entertainment centers, Bowflex gyms...you name it. I've never had many issues with any of these and felt I was pretty handy with most anything that needed assembly. This Lifetime basketball goal made those look ridiculously easy.
There are several problems that you have to overcome. First is the sheer size of this goal. It makes it extremely difficult as it's very heavy and large and each step of assembly seems to require the goal to be in a different position. Sawhorses, not listed in the Tools Needed section of the instructions, are absolutely essential. They help position the goal in various ways and keeps the weight off the rim as several steps seem to indicate that the goal and entire weight should be placed with the rim on the ground. I can't imagine the rim not bending from that.
More difficult are the instructions. As most everyone has noted in their reviews, the instructions seem to have been put together by a sadist. Everything is referred to by strange three letter codes (AAF, AEB, etc) but nothing (not a single part) is labeled. Parts are placed in bags, but each bag does not go with a single step. You basically have to dump out 100 screws, bolts, nuts and other goodies onto the table and figure out what each part is. If this isn't bad enough, several of the bolts are very close, but not identical, to each other. It's very easy to use the 7" bolt where the other 7 1/8" bolts go. It makes assembly slow and maddening.
Further, the instructions do not help you figure out the best way to do each step. While the picture shows you how to put bolt AAE through the holes in AVR with nut ACS, it offers no clue on how to wrangle the goal into place to do this. Simple pictures showing you the best way to perform each step would have been so helpful. If you buy this goal, read through all of the reviews as many other reviews have some excellent tips and suggestions on how to put this monstrosity together.
The correct (most recent) instructions arrived with mine but I was fearful because of reviews that Lifetime is shipping old instructions with new goals. Google Lifetime basketball goal and you will find the manufacturer's website where they have both the older and newer instructions. If you believe you have the older ones, you can download and print the newer ones yourself.
The box arrived in excellent condition and I was not missing any parts. However the bolt and cap that are used to hold the base braces to the pole was stripped and unusable. I had to make a special trip to replace this part which was irritating to say the least. The polycarbonate backboard had a few edge chips but not enough that you would really notice.
The "Tools Required" section in the beginning of the instructions are lacking. In addition to what they list, you will also want to have the following:
Two sawhorses - Absolutely necessary to keep this from breaking your back and supporting the weight of the goal.
A complete ratchet set AND a full set of wrenches make this much easier. At the very least you will need two each of many different size wrenches (1/2", ¾", 9/16", etc).
A 3/8 nut driver for several of the self-driving screws that you can place into your drill. This is not listed in the tools required, but is listed as necessary later in the instructions. I have no idea how you would get these installed without a nut driver and drill.
Various drill bits for pilot holes because instead of drilling holes for you they just give you self-driving screws. Going into the thick metal pole with these without a pilot hole can be difficult.
A jig to help you stretch the two massive springs across the backboard brace and arms. They suggest using a wrench, but there is no way I could hold onto a wrench and do this. I solved it by taking a claw hammer and screwing a hefty eye screw into the bottom. This allowed me to hook the end of the spring and have the claw to hold onto. My wife and kid both held onto the goal as I braced my feet against the backboard and pulled with everything I had to get these stretched over the correct bar.
I did not want to use water and ended up putting 350lbs of sand into the base. It was completely full after this. I would highly recommend using as much sand as possible to make sure this goal doesn't fall over during a windstorm.
Once completed, the goal is very nice and I'm happy with it. For the value it gets 5 stars. But I have to take away a star because of the terrible instructions and stripped bolt. I spent 7 SOLID hours of work on this, and that doesn't include prep time getting tools together and two separate trips to the hardware store (once for the nut driver and once for the stripped bolt). It's a weekend project (or one long day) and you will need AT A MINIMUM two people. My 10 year old boy was a big help, but there were many steps made much easier with my wife helping as well . You cannot put this together by yourself.
EDIT (December 2015) : I wanted to add on to my review and say that after 3 1/2 years this goal has held up very well. It's received quite a bit of play and has survived windstorms, ice storms, snow, etc without much wear. The net is still in good shape, no rust or particular wear. The base is a bit faded, but nothing that I would call excessive. I stand by my original review that this is a good value...hopefully they will fix the instructions.
on December 7, 2013
Super hoop! My husband and I purchased this hoop back in July 2013. The plan was to set it up in the Fall. First weekend of November rolled around and we embarked on the assembly adventure.
My suggestions and comments are as follows:
1. Read the directions all the way through before ripping open any parts packages.
2. We separated each bag of parts in a series of flat box lids and kept the packaging so we knew which box lid to grab at each point in assembly.
3. Buy lithium grease!!!!! Saved us the headache of forcing poles together unnecessarily.
4. Buy a rubber mallet. You WILL need it especially for wheel assembly to base portion.
5. Make sure you have a closed wrench for stretching the springs in the final steps. You'll need it and someone with some upper body strength!
6. The backboard attachment to the pole section can be a little tricky. I would recommend 2 adults do this. We had a retaining wall that gradually increased in height so we were able to use that to great advantage. Not everyone has that so saw horses would help a lot.
7. We used a traffic cone with the end cut to fit around the base opening for filling with sand. Again we used the retaining wall to rest fully assembled hoop at an angle so sand would flow easily. Saw horses would help here, too or you can fill with water.
8. Socket set was a life saver.
9. Pre-drill ALL holes when using self tapping screws. I may just not have the brute strength to make self tapping screws grab so I Pre-drilled all holes and had no issues (yes, the tools are all mine and I know how to use them. Hubby not handy!).
10. Enjoy! It's a solid hoop with nice rebound, great rim give and the adjustable height is super easy to work once assembled.
Took us about 4.5 hours to fully assemble at a very deliberate pace.
on June 30, 2012
Ordered our hoop with FREE SuperSaver shipping, and it arrived in good condition 6 days later. That's great service for a 100+ lb package traveling 2300 miles. Well done, UPS and Lifetime!
I assembled the hoop entirely by myself, at a careful pace, in a little over 5 hours. The instructions say 2 adults are required, but you can manage by yourself if you have a couple sawhorses for the backboard assembly, and can find a way to stabilize the base/pole while you attach the backboard. I leaned the pole on a sawhorse and wedged the base against a wall with chock-blocks. Worked fine.
I found the instruction booklet (dated 3/31/2012) to be very good, with well-defined steps and plenty of accurate illustrations. I'd rate it 4-1/2 stars out of 5. Doesn't get 5 because: First, the use of arbitrary 3-letter sequences as part identifiers makes it unnecessarily tedious to read the diagrams. Label the top pole section TPS if you want, but not ALH(?), come on! Second, it would be nice if the many bags of small parts were labeled. They were mostly grouped by step, which was helpful, but were unmarked. I strongly advise assemblers to leave the parts in their bags until the relevant step, as many parts look similar but are, in fact, different.
I read the instructions carefully and checked my work against the diagrams at the end of each step. Assembly itself was pretty easy, with the parts fitting together well--no misaligned holes, ragged edges, missing pieces, etc. The only hiccup was with the self-tapping screws. The larger ones are supposed to fit in the chuck of your electric drill, but they were too big (barely) for my Craftsman 3/8" chuck. (First time the 3/8" has ever been too small for a household drilling need.) I had to drill pilot holes and drive them with a socket wrench instead, which added 10 minutes of grunt work. I suggest drilling pilots for the smaller screws too, though the instructions don't specifically say that. Anyway, I got everything properly attached. Overall, it was a fun project, with lots of oddly shaped pieces fitting together in interesting ways.
Our hoop will get mostly light-duty use from my 7-year old daughter and myself, in a spot protected from the wind. I decided to try water in the base, and it seems plenty stable, yet is not so heavy that I can't move the hoop by myself, if necessary. If I had teenage boys doing dunks, I would use sand for the extra stability, and get help when it needed moving.
As with any portable hoop, there is some rattle and wobble, but it's closer to my best hopes than my worst fears. I'm pleased that there's very little oscillation or sway. Typical bankshots work fine on the 50" backboard, and in general, good shots are rewarded, which is what counts. Another minor portable hoop issue is that, at full height, the pole is only a couple feet behind the backboard. If I was playing competitively on it, I'd invest in padding for the pole.
Adjusting the height is quick and easy, requiring little strength. A 12-year old could do it, but younger kids may have trouble reaching the adjustment handle. The supports and rim mechanism are all strong metal. Sturdy plastic is used in the base, the adjustment handle, and some spacers. I don't see anything that looks likely to break.
The family loves it. Overall, I'm very pleased, and am sure we'll get $300 worth of enjoyment from it. Recommended.
on May 11, 2012
First thing: my 10 year old son and I both love this basketball hoop. Even so, it was quite an adventure assembling it. I consider myself very good to excellent at following written directions for this type of assembly, even though I am not the most handy guy on the block.
One thing I did and strongly recommend is to assemble all of the tools listed in the directions before starting. For example, I bought the rubber mallet and it turned out to be extremely valuable, maybe indispensable, several times in the assembly process. Also, a ratchet wrench type wrench is very helpful, especially when two wrenches are used at the same time.
Two other recommendations not found in the instructions: use the cardboard box the hoop comes in to work on and start the project early in the day!
I got quite discouraged when, after the very early step of inserting one part of the support pole into another - as directed - I found that the screw holes did not line up! I called the assistance phone line and was promptly connected to a very helpful advisor (on a Saturday afternoon) who figured out that I received the "old" instructions with the "new" product. Fortunately, the advisor was able to tell me how I could separate the two pole segments even though they seemed permanently connected (drop the pole from about 2 feet off the ground onto the flattened out cardboard box, "5 times, or maybe up to 50 times" and the vibrations made the poles come apart.) To be properly aligned, the "A" hole in pole #1 had to line up with the "B" hole in pole #2, as it turned out. I asked the advisor if there were any other instructions in the old directions that would be wrong with the new hoop product and was told no, which fortunately turned out to be correct.
When I got to the last step of filling the base, I thought I was home free. I'd bought the "fine grain" play sand as specified. The directions have a misleading drawing of a man easily pouring a bag of sand into the base. Well, the 60 lb. bags that I bought were too heavy for me to hold and pour directly into the opening in the base (about half the pour was missing the opening) so I used a plastic funnel with a scoop to get the sand from the bag to the funnel into the base. I cut the small tip of the funnel about 2-3 inches from the very end which enabled the sand to go through the funnel much faster. At that point getting the sand into the base became easy and fun.
The assembly process took me more than five hours over two days, but when the job was completed I did have a real sense of accomplishment. And a really good hoop. My only semi complaint with the system is that the backboard is thinner than I'd like, but this is the case for all hoop systems that I checked out in the general price range.
on July 23, 2013
I've had this hoop now for about 2 months and here are my impressions:
Installation: The manual is well written and clear as long as you take your time and follow the steps as they are laid out. The couple mistakes I made were because I rushed a step and didn't read the instructions carefully enough. You will need a second person to help with some parts of the installation but most parts can be done by one person. It took me about 4 hours to put everything together. I used water for the base as I have it in a temporary location. I'll use sand once its in its permanent location.
Functionality: Once assembled the the hoop looks great. My kids started playing with it right away and loved it. One of my concerns about a portable basketball system was the wobble of the back board on rebounds. I was glad to see that there is very little wobble from the back board when the ball rebounds off it. My absolutely favorite feature is the adjustable height mechanisim. It was very well designed and even my 7 year old son can make adjustments to the height.
The box as expected is huge and the packaging is not strong enough which resulted in the box ripping in some areas. Fortunately, no parts were lost. However, the the metal hoop was badly scratched in a small 2 inch area, removing the orange paint all the way to the bare metal. I did not want the hassel of returning the part and delaying the surprise gift for my kids so I had to make a trip to the Home Depot to find matching spray paint.
Overall, this is a well made system that is sturdy and a lot of fun for my family.
This backboard has exceeded my already high expectations. I will just mention my thoughts on why assembling this went very smoothly and quickly for me (instead of the reports of others finding it difficult). I did the assembly by myself.
1. Read the instructions completely and look at the diagrams very carefully. There is very little writing in the manual. The diagrams are incredibly accurate and will show a small detail that will determine for example which end of a pole a screw needs to be placed. If a picture shows a line or small dot detail, then that will be your clue that this part may be different from other similar parts that lack that line or dot detail. There won't be much writing. The pictures must be looked at for EXACT and SMALL details to differentiate from similar parts.
2. I used a Black and Decker Workmate 425 workbench Black & Decker WM425 Workmate 425 550-Pound Capacity Portable Workbench which I found essential for working on the back of the really large backboard while the rim hung below. A similar small workbench or pair of saw horses will make this step significantly easier.
3. I used a Dewalt impact driver from this combo kit DEWALT DCK290L2 20-Volt MAX Li-Ion 3.0 Ah Hammer Drill and Impact Driver Combo Kit which made driving the self tapping screws into the metal poles and backboard frame easy. A high quality driver is a requirement.
4. You MUST have a 3/8" nut driver bit for your power driver/drill or an appropriate adapter bit (hex shank to 1/4" or 3/8" socket) for your driver/drill with a separate 3/8" socket from your socket set. There is an early step involving the poles in which there is no reasonable way to manually place the 2 self tapping hexagonal head metal screws with a ratchet. This was the ONLY step in which I could not manually complete a step involving nuts or sockets with my ratchets.
5. For many steps involving nuts, one needs to hold one end (ie nut) with a fixed wrench while using a ratchet on the other end (ie bolt hexagonal head). Usually the bolt head is the same size as the nut. This means that you need 2 wrenches of each size or 1 wrench and a ratchet with the same size socket. I highly recommend using ratchets and sockets instead of attempting to do the work with 2 sets of fixed wrenches or with 2 Crescent (adjustable) wrenches.
6. I used the 12 point ends of fixed, combination wrenches for 3/8", 1/2", 9/16"', 11/16", 3/4" hexagonal nuts (these are from memory, so I may be wrong about one size.)
7. I ended up using 3 different ratchets (1/4", 3/8", 1/2") because of my particular socket set to be able to use sockets for sizes 3/8", 1/2", 9/16"', 11/16", 3/4". (Depending on your socket set, you may just need the 1/4 or 3/8" ratchet, but my 3/4" socket needed the 1/2" ratchet.)
8. I know that some reviewers stated they used lithium grease to connect the poles. I did NOT need to use any. The poles slid smoothly into each other. I also did NOT need a metal file, like another reviewer did to smooth any burrs.
9. A rubber mallet is essential. If I did not have one, I would have struggled to get many bolts to pass smoothly through multiple pole openings. With the rubber mallet, I just hit the bolts and they enter the slightly misaligned holes easily. The holes are misaligned because of the inexact positioning of them during assembly and not because of manufacturing. There are other steps as well in which the mallet is very useful for aligning parts during assembly. They cost $5 and are worth it.
10. Instead of breaking my back by pouring 400 lbs of sand, I used water from a garden hose mixed with a powder to form a gel in the base: BaseGel Basketball Goal Portable Bases Polymer, 16-Ounce. The gel was a compromise for me since I wanted the ease of filling the base with water and wanted the ability to empty the base easily, which sand would not allow.
This backboard looks and functions incredibly well. It is much larger, heavier, and professional looking than I expected. Assembly was done easily by just me mostly I think because I examined every diagram for minute picture details and used all the tools I listed above. Enjoy!
on December 24, 2015
This hoop is incredible. I have to admit that after reading reviews I almost didn't buy this because I was so nervous about building it! My building skills are awful--I've ruined more than one toy in the past with screws sticking out or poles crooked etc, so reading the horror stories of building this made me incredibly nervous.
My experience building this was nothing but positive. First the box is very well organized. It comes with an instruction booklet (in a few languages) that right out of the gate has all the parts, hardware, and tools you need. Follow their instruction to make sure you have all all the pieces BEFORE you start building it! Check--everything was there for me. And make sure you have all the tools. If you don't have them, you'll just get frustrated.
The instructions themselves were very intuitive. Each step included a section on what tools, parts, and hardware you'd need for that step. Honesty it was exactly like building legos. There was a bag of hardware with a specific code each step would require, and after grabbing the bag and making sure you had the right tool and parts, you move to a diagram. The diagrams were spot on, with text descriptions outlining what to do coupled with warning/advice boxes to help you with the tricky parts. As long as I went slowly, made sure I had the parts before the step, and actually read and studied the diagram, it was simple and straightforward. I did mess up a few times because I did a quick glance at the instructions and started building (out of the gate before I started to trust the images) but once I consistently followed the instructions it was simple and strait forward.
You will need two people. Attaching the pole to the base is awkward so two people makes it easy. Same with attaching the backboard to the pole. It's not that it's hard, it's just a giant backboard and long pole so it's awkward and four hands makes it much easier. I did everything else by myself.
Make sure you give yourself some time to do everything. It took me about three hours--mostly because my drill kept dying (charge it before and you won't have that issue!) but it's long enough you can't just whip this bad boy together. It probably only took an hour and a half of actual building.
The parts are very well made. In contrast with other reviews, mine came with a top cap, the pieces were high quality, and marked really well. The base is solid plastic--no idea what other people have been getting, but mine is built like a tank. You do have to lay the entire hoop down to fill the base, but the spout is a good 2.5 inches wide so it is easy to fill with water or a funnel for sand. I can't understand how it could get clogged.
Now onto the kids. We got this for an early Christmas present and it did not disappoint. They love it! So excited to have a hoop to play with! After a few games it is sturdy and doesn't move at all. It's insanely easy to adjust height with the handle and spring system. It adjusts in six inch increments so it's perfect not only at the lowest setting where my boys need it (oldest is eight) but when my wife and I want to shoot around we can raise it easily (though ten feet seems insanely high after having it at 7.5 ft!!)
Overall I am thrilled. I wished there would have been a few more positive building experiences because I almost didn't get this I was so nervous. But you can do it. I'm awful at building and after doing this I feel like a rockstar!
on January 2, 2014
The 50" backboard is a great size, the height adjustment is really easy, and the base is easily mobile. Even at the 7.5' height, the unit may not fit back in your garage. Only poor area is the shipping box and part quality. Don't be surprised if you have one missing part, scratches on the board and/or poles, and a small bend in a pole or metal part. We were able to assemble it minus one missing part that wasn't essential and we were also able to bend back and file down a bent metal part on one of the poles. I had no plans on returning the unit due to the size and cost. If it could be shipped someday with better packing so each piece fits tightly in the box, it would make all the difference. Overall, I'm happy with the setup considering the price I paid. Recommend sand for base filler. We used about 300lbs of sand and plan to add one more bag. My son loves it and could care less about minor flaws. I love that he now goes outside on his own to play instead of staying inside too much.