Giant Inflatable Hamster Balls (AKA Zorbs): Everything You Need To Know

Written By: Jen

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Zorbing is a really popular activity – the idea of having giant inflatable balls you can get inside of and roll around is a lot of fun. They’re often found at carnivals, or you can try some more extreme versions that can be really exhilarating, rolling down the side of a hill.

Whether you’re looking to hire some inflatable bumper balls for your next event, or you’re even considering buying some, here’s a guide to everything you need to know about these giant inflatable hamster balls.

giant inflatable zorb balls

What Are Zorb Balls?

Zorb balls are essentially large inflatable balls you can get in. They allow you to roll around as if you were in your own padded hamster ball. They’re used for fun games and for some extreme sports.

Zorb balls are made from a vinyl or PVC material, with an outer ball and an inner ball. Between the balls are a number of cushioned ropes to ensure that the larger ball retains its structure.

The outer ball is inflated, and you climb into the middle one. Once you’re inside, you can then start rolling around. The inflated ball means that the ropes remain taut, which is what gives the zorb its structure and what makes sure that the inner ball turns at the same time and speed as the outer ball.

This air between the two balls acts as a shock absorber. Since the zorb balls are lightweight, injury risk is minimized.

Some zorb balls only have a single layer – these are used on water.

kids zorbing on water

Types of Zorbing Games

Zorbs are used for a load of different games. You can use them just to roll around on the grass, or they can even float on water. Getting traction on the water is difficult, but that’s half the fun, as you try to move around a pool or lake.

You can also take part in various zorbing games. Two of the most popular are a form of zorb sumo, where you try to knock another person out of the way, and zorb soccer, where a team of you try to play soccer, rolling into a lightweight ball to try to knock it into oversized goals.

If you can get a race track, then you could also set up a zorbing race.

Inflatable Zorb Ball Race Track

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But zorbing is also an extreme sport – you can get strapped into a zorb and rolled down an incline, achieving high speeds of up to 25 mph.

What Are The Two Types Of Zorbing?

There are two types of zorbing you can do – free zorbing, or harnessed.

  • In free zorbing, you aren’t strapped in – you can move and roll around in the inner ball
  • In harnessed zorbing, you are tightly strapped in, so you can’t move – only the ball can

Most zorbing uses free zorbing, but that’d be dangerous if you were trying extreme zorbing and rolling down the hill. You might be inside a cushioned ball, but you could still hurt yourself tumbling around at high speeds.

So, a harness zorb is needed if you’re going to be traveling fast – just so you don’t get injured by your own arms and legs flailing.

a kid playing zorb ball
free zorbing

Water zorbing is always free zorbing. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to move the inflatable ball. This type of activity is most popular with children at funfairs.

Are Zorb balls dangerous?

Zorb balls are not thought to be dangerous, provided they are used for short periods of time and in a safe way. You shouldn’t stay in one for more than a few minutes, and you should never go extreme zorbing down a route that hasn’t been checked.

There are a few parts to this, but basically, a zorb ball itself is unlikely to injure you. Rolling around in one is comfortable, if a little wild, because you’re just bouncing along on air.

But they are sealed, and so you can only remain in one for a short while. Plus, you can hurt yourself if you go too fast. That’s why extreme zorbs have you strapped into place.

There is a chance you could get pretty dizzy when you try extreme zorbing, so you should be careful as you exit the ball. You might fall over and you’ll want to sit down and wait to fully recover.

You should also avoid zorbing on a very hot day. The heat will make you use more oxygen quickly, and being exposed inside a clear plastic ball will be dangerous.

Finally, if you’re going to try extreme zorbing, you have to do it on a slope that’s clear of dangers. No trees that you might accidentally hit, and no roads at the bottom that you could roll onto.

Follow these steps and zorbing is perfectly safe.

How Do You Get Into A Zorb Ball?

Climbing into a zorb ball is relatively easy, if a little bit clumsy. First, the outer ball is unzipped, and then the inner ball. You’ll climb in, and then get strapped in, if needed, while someone else zips the balls back up, re-inflating them as they do.

Whenever you unzip a zorb ball, you’re letting air escape. So you’ll normally be asked to climb in quite quickly, just to save on re-inflating it too much. However, safety is always the most important thing, so don’t rush and trip yourself up.

Can You Pop A Zorb Ball?

Zorb balls can and do pop. However, rather than a sudden burst, the air will usually leak out slowly. If you find that your Zorb ball becomes soft and floppy before your zorbing session is over, that probably means that it has a puncture.

popped zorb ball on water
A popped zorb ball

How Long Can You Breathe In A Zorb Ball?

You should be able to breathe inside a standard zorb ball for 15 minutes. Some manufacturers have claimed that there is 30 minutes of oxygen inside a zorb ball. However, most zorb rides last a few minutes at most.

You don’t want to risk being inside a zorb ball for too long. Even if you stay inside one for 15 minutes, you could start to find yourself a little short of breath, and you may get a headache.

It’s best to use them for no more than 10 minutes at a time, to be safe.

a kid inside a zorb ball

Can You Suffocate In A Zorb Ball?

It is technically possible to suffocate in a zorb ball, if you stayed inside one for too long. That’s why you should only use a zorb ball when supervised by at least two people – if something happens to one person suddenly, a second person can get you out.

Nobody should suffocate inside a zorb ball provided you only use them for short bursts of time. They are easy to unzip from the outside, so there is no excuse for people being left inside too long.

Can You Buy A Zorb Ball?

It is possible to buy a zorb ball but not from most standard retailers. You will have to find specialist retailers online, and check the reviews before you buy. Zorb balls will likely cost at least $600 each, up to around $1,200 for high-quality ones.

For that reason, most people tend to rent zorbs or use them at events where they are provided. Zorb rides can cost as little as $5 for five minutes.

If you are planning on buying zorbs, make sure they are made from a non-toxic PVC material and that it has handles and shoulder straps to keep you safe when using it.

How Much Does It Cost To Rent A Zorb Ball?

Renting zorb balls can be surprisingly expensive. You can sometimes find them for around $200 for a few hours, but often it costs $600 to 800 for a full day – although you normally get more than one for that price.

Considering how you can buy your own of similar quality for around $1200, renting might seem quite expensive. But bear in mind that when you rent zorbs then you also normally get the staff with it, who can work to make sure everyone is looked after safely.

Does Zorbing Hurt?

Zorbing doesn’t hurt most of the time. The air provides a natural cushion so that you can roll around in comfort. It can be a little uncomfortable if you’re trying extreme zorbing, but you’ll wear padded clothing so you aren’t at risk of injury.

Zorbing is generally a fun and safe activity, as long as you respect the fact that these inflatable balls don’t have infinite oxygen.

Is There A Weight Limit For Zorbing?

Zorbs are tough and durable, and so usually have quite a high weight limit of around 320 pounds. They are also unsuitable for anyone over 6′ 8″ as they won’t be able to fit inside the zorb safely.

Zorbs of varying sizes are available, so those more suited to children can also be enjoyed. For adult-sized zorbs, nobody under the age of 14 should use them as the inner ball will be too large.

Zorbing Safety Measures

Follow these tips to make sure you are safe when zorbing:

  • Check to see if the zorb is properly inflated. If not, use an electric pump to boost the orb with enough air so that it is firm.
  • Never leave children unsupervised in zorbs
  • Ensure there aren’t large bumps on the ground that allow the orb to rise off the surface, as its impact could be dangerous.
  • Remove jewelry before the ride when zorbing
  • If zorbing on open water, make sure there is a rope attached to the zorb to pull it back to shore.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Those Giant Inflatable Balls Called?

Giant inflatable balls that you can get in are called zorbs, although they are sometimes called zorb hamster balls since they are essentially like a giant hamster ball for humans. The sport of zorbing is when you roll down a hill inside a zorb.

Who Can Use A Zorb Ball?

For a standard zorb, anyone over the age of 14 can use them as long as they are fit, they don’t get motion sickness, they are under 6′ 8″ and 320lb, and they don’t have any current muscle injuries. Smaller zorbs are available for children but should only be used for those aged 8+ and always under supervision.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’ve always wanted to try extreme zorbing, or you’ve just seen the inflatable knocker balls at the carnival and you wanted to know more about them, hopefully, you now have a good idea of what a zorb is, and how they work.

They’re fun and safe, but only to be used when there are plenty of people nearby to supervise and help out.

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Jen is your go-to expert on all things inflatable, from pools to tents and beyond. A former hot tub rental company owner, she's experienced the ups and downs of inflatables firsthand. Nowadays, she writes practical guides on maintaining and enjoying inflatables. A mom of young enthusiasts, her family's favorite outing is the inflatable fun park!

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