Written by Terry Smith
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Top garden boules sets rated for the best price and quality
This article was last updated on August 7th, 2021 at 3:20 am
Boules, simply meaning ‘ball’, is an umbrella term often used to describe a group of games where heavy balls are thrown with the goal to get as close to a target as possible. Such games include British lawn bowls, bocce, and Petanque.
If you’re interested in picking up one of these sports, or you are just in the market for a new set, you’ve come to the right place. On this page you will find a collection of reviews of some of the best Boules sets to buy for the warmer weather ahead. And with the Covid lockdown having a few good games to play certainly eases the woes.
Table of Contents
What are boules sets and who can play?
From its origins in ancient Greece, this game has evolved into many forms and is now a very popular pastime in Europe and several other regions across the world. A lot of credit for this popularity has to be given to the fact that these games can be played by just about anyone, old or young, fit or not, and with only the minimum of equipment.
With quite a variety of boules sets to choose from, you might be feeling a little indecisive when it comes to choosing which one is best for you and your family.
If that’s the case, then maybe reading this short buyer’s guide will help you to find some clarity.
If you’ve read through our reviews, you’d have already seen that these sets are available in a range of different materials. For introducing kids into the game, a cheap plastic set, or even better a nice wooden set like the ones we just reviewed, are just fine.
For older players, or people who want to have a more serious game, you should probably buy a metal set, or poly-resin material like the Hey! Play! Set we talked about earlier. Then there are the soft sets that are like small bean bags filled with plastic granules. These are great for playing indoors, and can even be used in the water. My kids used theirs in the garden swimming pool during lockdown last summer and really had a blast!
Number of balls
These sets come with a different number of balls in each set. This is because there are different games that are similar to each other but need a different number of balls to be played. If you are just playing in the garden for fun, it probably isn’t that important, but if you intend on going to play, let’s say Petanque, with avid players, you’ll need a set that has at least three balls that have the same pattern or colour. For other games, two of each colour or pattern might be just fine. Any set you buy should have a smaller ‘jack’ ball or the set is pretty much useless and can’t be used to actually play the game.
Price and quality
Like with pretty much anything, you get what you pay for, and buying the least expensive set you can find will probably see that you don’t enjoy it for too long before it starts to deteriorate. I’m not saying you have to empty your bank account and pay hundreds of pounds for a professional set, but just don’t expect the balls that only cost you a fiver or so to last forever, or even show up in immaculate condition. It’s always best just to pay a little more than the absolute low budget models to get something of a higher quality, especially if it is something made from plastic as cheap plastic never lasts long at all.
Most of these sets are made to be transported so that you can go and play in the park, or at the beach. This is why the vast majority of them come in some kind of carry case or bag. The materials used, and the quality of these bags does differ quite a lot from product to product, but really all you need is something that will keep all the components together and easy to carry. Now, having said that, if you pay a lot of money for your metal boules set, you probably don’t want the balls rolling around on each other and getting scratched up or chipped, so a higher quality case that keeps the balls separated might be a better idea.
Best Garden Boules Sets
1. AKORD Plastic French Boules Garden Game Set
This plastic French boules set is the ideal way to get your family interested in the game.
Encased in the moulded black carry case, you will find eight balls each measuring 3 inches in diameter. There are 2 of each colour: blue, yellow, green, and red; and each has authentic markings on them. There is also a smaller, white ‘jack’ ball that you aim to get the closest too to win.
The balls are made of sealed plastic, but are filled with water to give them weight and behave more like the real thing. The plastic feels fairly solid, and I doubt that you would have any problems with them leaking as long as you don’t purposely puncture them, or let the dog play with them.
This set can be used by anyone aged 3 and above, so it is perfect for getting young family members started playing sports. The simple rules of the game are also very easy to understand for young players.
At just under £9, this is a very affordable Boules set, and one that is surprisingly durable for the price too and easily my best pick for garden boules sets on a budget.
2. HEY PLAY Bocce Ball Original Version One size
One of the best things about the game of Bocce, is that it can be played just about anywhere: your garden, the park, or even the beach. With this in mind, it’s important to be able to transport your Bocce set around easily without fear of losing any of the components, and with the modern looking carry case that you get with this set, that will never be a problem.
The carry case is well made from quality materials and has a zipped top to ensure that everything stays inside until it’s time to play. There is a carry handle on the side to make things easier too.
This set includes four red balls and four green, all 3.5 inches in diameter, and also a smaller 1.5” Pallino ball. All of the balls are made from a crack resistant poly-resin compound that is extremely strong, and will guarantee that these balls will last you for years.
The balls look beautiful, with their bright colours, clear markings, and shiny finish, they are sure to please anyone who buys them.
3. Jaques of London Boules 8 Petanque Set
If you are more serious about your boules games, or you are just the type of person who likes a bit of ‘style’ in everything they do, this Jaques of London 8 ball Petanque set, might just be the thing for you, much like their Jaques garden badminton sets which are also nicely built. This company has been making products ever since the game was introduced to Britain, and has a long history of quality and expertise, which is easy to see in this product.
The word beautiful is thrown around a lot, but this is the first thing that sprung to mind when I saw this set for the first time. The eight balls are superbly crafted out of polished alloy, and are emblazoned with the company’s stylish logo. They are all also marked differently for easy identification when you play.
Coated to protect them from rusting, these durable metal balls also come wrapped in individual fabric drawstring bags, and then on top of that they are enclosed in a professional looking canvas carry case.
My only negative thoughts about this set are that people with poor eyesight might have trouble distinguishing the different patterns on the balls, especially from a distance, but apart from that, they are nigh on perfect and would make a great Christmas gift.
4. Ocean 5 Extreme Boule - Soft Boules Set
For a different take on classic boules games, why not try this soft set from Ocean 5?
Instead of hard and heavy balls, the Ocean 5 set comprises 6 soft ‘beanbag’ type balls, and one small ‘jack’. These bean bags are filled with plastic granules and this makes them very versatile when it comes to where you can play the game. In fact, this design also means that they float on water, so you could use them in the swimming pool if you wish.
Their soft design allows for the game to be played indoors as well as outside, and also to be played by anyone, no matter how young or old.
In each set you will find 6 main balls, with 3 of them having one pattern or colour, and the other 3 having a different one. The jack, or ‘piglet’ as it’s called in this set, is also a different colour and pattern. There are 4 different colour schemes you can choose from: animal print, dots, lines, or zig zag, and they all look really good, with bright colours and eye-pleasing designs.
The set comes in a drawstring sealed, net carry bag that feels strong enough to hold the weight of the balls without stretching or tearing, and should last if not abused.
This is a fun alternative to traditional boules, and well worth a try.
5. Set of 6 Two-Coloured Wooden Pétanque Balls
Want a boules set to use with your family, including young ones, but don’t like the idea of water filled plastic? Then maybe you’d prefer this set instead? The balls come in an almost identical moulded plastic carry case as many of the plastic sets you see, but these are made from shiny wood with enameled coloured sections so that you can tell the players balls apart from one another.
There are six large balls in this set, 2 with green coloured parts, 2 blue, and 2 red. In Addition to this, there is not one, but two smaller jacks, 1 coloured red and the other green. The balls are the perfect weight for allowing people of all ages to play. They feel neither too heavy, nor too light, and anyone over three years old would be fine with them.
Unlike many of these products that are made in China, this wooden boules set is made in the Jura region of France, and the difference quality shines through. Yes, they will cost you a little more than a decent plastic set, but they will no doubt last you twice as long, and look so much better too.
This is a great little set, and for a very reasonable price considering the quality.
For those who fancy a game of lawn bowls but don’t like the look of the weather outside, there is this miniature version that can be played at home: carpet bowls. These small plastic balls are scaled down versions of the real thing, and are even ‘biased’, meaning that they turn to one side when rolled.
This is a really fun game, and can be enjoyed by all the family and doesn’t really require that much space to play in. The carpeted hallway or upstairs landing can make a perfect ‘rink’.
In the set you will find a white jack, and eight larger balls, four that are black and red, and four that are black with blue. The balls measure just 2 inches in diameter and are made from injection moulded plastic.
At under 20 pounds, this is a low budget set, and so you shouldn’t expect perfectly scaled down ‘woods’ of professional quality. If that’s what you are after, then you will have to pay considerably more.
However, if you just want a fun family game that is inexpensive, or something to use as a stocking filler, then this would be ideal.
Well, that’s all for today and that buyer’s guide brings this article to a close. We sincerely hope that this article has helped you in some way, and that you have found the boules set that you are looking for. We would have liked to include some products that weren’t featured here today, but due to Covid-19 restricting shipping and supply, we decided not to make them part of our reviews.