So, you’re interested in buying a slackline! Awesome! Welcome to a world wide community of welcoming and inspiring people. I wrote this blog post as a resource to help you understand the crazy words and world of slacklining in a better way, and help you choose your first slackline based on your slackline goals.
First, lets go over some vocabulary and definitions, so that I can use them later on in this piece.
Types of Slacklining:
Slacklining: The activity of balancing on a piece of flat nylon and/or polyester webbing anchored between two fixed anchor points. (pretty general, right?)
“Park-lining”: A term I sometimes hear used for putting up a generally short slackline in a park, at a generally low height from the ground.
Tricklining: A sub-set of slacklining in which the slackline is very tight, and used for bouncing, jumping, spinning, flipping, etc. Some of you may have seen Andy Lewis tricklining in the 2012 Superbowl Half Time show with Madonna.
Longlining: A slackline that is generally longer that 100-150 feet. Pulleys or an external tensioning system are typically needed to rig a longline.
Yogaslacking/ slackline yoga: The practice of taking any yoga pose from the mat and practicing it on the slackline for an extra challenge in balance and focus. Theoretically, any pose that can be done on the mat can be done on the slackline. www.yogaslackers.com
Highlining: The practice of slacklining high above the ground over a canyon, gorge, mountain bowl, etc. Strictly speaking a highline must by higher than it is long, but this definition gets fuzzy when the highline is 500 feet long and 300 feet high. No one doubts that it’s a highline, although it is not higher than it is long.
Types of Tensioning Systems:
Primitive Slackline: A slackline in which one uses the webbing from the slackline itself, carabiners, and often times metal O-rings in order to build a “primitive” pulley system with which to pull on and tension the line. Don’t worry, it’s not as hard as it sounds.
Ratchet Slacklines: Oftentimes slackline “kits” sold by Gibbon, Slackline Industries, and similar companies are sold with a large, heavy, metal ratchet for tensioning.
Widths of Webbing:
Now: the difference between a one-inch slackline and a two-inch slackline, which are the most common widths of webbing for slacklining.
Two-inch webbing: Slacklines with two-inch webbing are often sold in slackline kits, the type you might buy on amazon, or at REI, or oddly enough, now at Walmart. They typically include a large, heavy ratchet in order to tension the slackline. Two-inch webbing is more commonly used for tricklining. If you’re aiming to progress into tricklining, two-inch webbing might be the way to go.
One-inch webbing: One-inch webbing is sold at all climbing stores and is the original width of webbing used for slacklines. It’s the chosen type of slackline for slackline yoga, longlining, and highlining. If you’re aiming to progress into these types of slacklining, one-inch webbing is the only way to go.
Common misconception: Two-inch webbing is easier than one-inch webbing. This is simply not true. The easier width of webbing is the one that you practice on more. I honeslty find two-inch webbing more difficult in general because it twists side to side more and your ankle muscles have yet another degree of freedom to stabilize. The one-inch webbing fits directly underfoot and doesn’t twist side to side.
Choosing your first slackline
If you think that you might only ever rig the slackline in the park at barbeques for the kiddos from time to time, it really doesn’t matter what slackline you get.
If you want to progress into longlining and highlining, it matters a little more, so I hope you paid attention above.
Slackline kits are the easiest way to order everything you need for a slackline in one click.
BUYING A SLACKLINE KIT:
1) Option 1: Buy a two-inch ratchet kit from Slackline Industries. They have all sorts of options for types of two-inch slackline kits. As far as I am concerned they are all functionally the same. This is your option if you want to get into tricklining.
*** You might see that Slackline Industries on their website also sells the next option for slackline, you can buy it there too, YogaSlackers and Slackline Industries are partnered***
2) Option 2: Buy a one-inch YogaSlackers E-line kit.
***This is my favorite slackline kit. Yes I AM a YogaSlackers teacher but no I do NOT get any kind of commission or benefit from telling you this. I really believe that the webbing is the easiest to learn on, they are the easiest lines to set up loose OR tight, and the most fun to learn STATIC tricks on. ***
3) Option 2: Buy a one-inch primitive slackline kit from Balance Community. It’s good.
BUILDING YOUR OWN PRIMITIVE SLACKLINE:
Building your own slackline kit can often times be a little cheaper, you get more freedom in the length of webbing and anchors (in case you live in a city with massive trees), and it’s not as hard or complicated as it seems. I’ll link everything to the REI website, because you really can just order everything on there, but if you have another outdoor gear store in mind, then you’ll likely be able to get everything there. If you don’t know what to ask for, print this out and bring it in to show the customer service at the store. They’ll know what to put together for you.
There are two types of webbing typically sold at outdoor gear stores: military spec and climbing spec (these are both types of tubular webbing, meaning it's shaped like a tube that's laid flat). Either is totally fine. I personally prefer climbing spec webbing because it’s a little softer and when I’m dragging my skin across webbing trying to do static tricks, it causes significantly less abrasion on my skin. So, for simplicity sake, I’m going to link to climbing spec only, but if your gear shop only sells military spec, it’s totally fine.
You can also buy YogaSlackers webbing (the same as sold in the kit) just individually at whatever length you prefer. I always recommend using this webbing as it's very static (not as stretchy) much easier to tension because it's not as naturally stretchy as traditional dynamic tubular webbing used for climbing, although it is also tubular (shaped like a tube laid flat).
The anchors you use to put around the tree are typically the same as what you walk on: webbing. Usually 10 feet is plenty long enough for each anchor, but if you plan to often rig your slackline around massive redwood trees, plan accordingly.
TWO pieces of Climb Spec webbing, 10-15 ft each (Note: In the Qty. Box you have to put the number of feet you want, and go through the process twice so in your cart it will have two items of climb spec webbing for your anchor pieces, each saying Qty. 10-15ft)
Webbing to walk on:
Again, I recommend climb-spec webbing. I also recommend getting a different color than your anchors for aesthetics and to avoid confusion if things get tangled.
The length is what you really have to decide. I recommend starting with about 50 feet, because you can always start really short and if you’re slacklining a lot you’ll need the extra length quickly. You can even go up as long as 80 feet, but that’s about the max length I’d recommend for a primitive set up.
ONE piece of Climb Spec webbing, 50-80 ft each
Link (same as above): https://www.rei.com/product/737298/bluewater-1-climb-spec-tubular-webbing
ONE piece of YogaSlackers E-line webbing-by-the-foot (not the kit), 50-80 ft each
You’ll basically need three carabiners and two line-locks, linked below.
I always recommend only using oval shaped carabiners on slacklines. If you have triangular carabiners from climbing, it’s okay at low tensions and lines in the park, but really gets not okay at longer lengths and higher tensions. The force on a carabiner from a slackline is opposing directions whereas on a triangular carabiner, the force is designed to be in different places.
***ESPECIALLY IF TRICKLINING DO NOT USE TRIANGULAR CARABINERS. ***
It’s not necessary to have locking carabiners for a primitive line in the park. Non-locking carabiners are A-OK. For longlining and highlining, locking carabiners are highly recommended, if not required.
***If you already have climbing gear that you plan to convert into gear for slacklining, do NOT use it again for climbing. Your climbing gear and slackline gear should never be interchanged***
THREE Aluminum Oval Non-locking carabiners.
*** While you only need three carabiners to rig your primitive line, you might choose to order a fourth to use as a primitive multiplier if you have trouble getting your line tight enough by yourself.
TWO Aluminum 1-inch rappel rings for the line-locks.
WHEW! That was lot of information. Glad we got through that. I’ll be posting a video very shortly about how to actually RIG this thing, but there are already plenty of resources online as well!
When all is said and done, if you’re building a slackline, your care might look something like this:
Hope this helps! Feel free to shoot me a message if you have any questions, or just to say hello!