A Slack Line Setup How To
Have you seen people slacklining in the park or on the beach, and wondered to yourself; is there a DIY slackline setup that will allow me to learn how to slackline on my own? This setup is often called a “primitive” setup because it is easy for beginners to learn, and it will be the setup this article instructs.
I will include the essential slacklining videos you should watch to teach you every step of the process. I will try to direct you to the best places to buy the materials and give you a rough cost estimate for the entire setup. All the resources you need to do it yourself will be made available on this page.
- Tubular Webbing. This is the main material you will use. It is called tubular webbing because it is formed in a tube shape, and then flattened for use, making it stronger than normal webbing. You will want it to be 1 in. thick and rated for at least 4,000 lbs. The average slackline requires about 80 ft. of tubular webbing total. This is broken down to 15 ft. for each of the two anchor slings and 50 ft. for the main line. This amount works but I have often regretted not getting more line. The less you get, the lighter and smaller it is, but you can’t fit the anchor slings around big trees, and the trees can’t be too far apart. I would consider doubling the anchor sling webbing size and maybe doing a 75 ft. main line.
- Carabiners. You will need 4 climbing rated carabiners. You could use two quick links to save you about $8, but they slow down the setup process, and can be a hassle if dirt gets in the threads.
- Line Locker. Also known as rap rings or rappel rings, these help attach the line to the carabiners without an excessive reduction in line strength. You will need 2 line lockers.
- Tree Protection. This is just a couple towels or some spare padding you can wrap around each tree to keep it from being damaged.
These are rough estimates and may vary, but in general I tried to find the cheapest equipment that was still rated to be strong enough, and over estimated the cost just a bit. The average cost of tubular webbing at your local outdoor sporting goods store may run about 36 cents per foot.
Slackline Tubular Webbing
Amazon Price: $0.31 Buy Now
(price as of Sep 25, 2014)
Slackline Line Locker
- Anchor Slings. These are the lines that wrap around the tree. You make two loops from each of the 15 ft. segments of line. If you buy these online you will have to melt the edges together to prevent fraying. You should be able to do this with a lighter. If you buy them from a store they should do this for you. You need to cut two lengths of 15 ft., and then tie them together into a loop. You will tie them with a water knot to preserve as much line strength as possible. See the video below titled, “HOWTO: tie a slackline sling with a water knot” for great instructions on how to do this.
- Line Lockers. You can learn how to do this at home, and get one end ready. The other end will need adjustment based on the distance between anchors/trees. The line locker safely attaches a carabiner to each end of the main line, to allow you to connect the main slack line to the anchor slings. The video below titled, “HOWTO: use a line locker on a slackline” is another excellent video from Adam Burtle and NorthWest Slackline that will show you how to do this.
- Carabiner Cover. This is optional, but something I recommend. To prevent the tension
in the line from pushing the carabiner into the line locker and causing damage, you can cut a piece of tubular webbing and put the bottom end of the carabiner through it. See the above photo.
Slackline Water Knot Video
Slackline Line Locker Video
- Choosing a Location. Find two trees or poles that are about 25-40 feet apart. Make sure the trees are small enough to wrap the anchor sling around but large enough to support a lot of tension.
- Setting Up. This is difficult to describe, so watch the video below titled, “HOWTO: setup a slackline using the 4 carabiner ‘primitive’ method”. You may need to watch this several times and practice at home to get the concept down. You may want a friend to help you tighten the line. Don’t forget your tree protection!
- Taking Down. Many people have a hard time loosening the line. To do this you will take hold of the leading line left over from tightening. Run it through the solo carabiner that is connected directly to the main line and firmly tug in the opposite direction you tightened the line in. You may have to experiment and try a few different positions but you’ll find one that works.
Feel free to leave any questions or comments below.
Good luck slacker!