your own slackline with a couple of trees, some ordinary climbing gear,
simple knots, and a carbiner pulley system to tighten the line. The end
result is a fusion between a tightrope and a trampoline--a bouncy,
highly-tensioned, single-line playground that you can carry around in
stuff sack. Maybe you've tried a friend’s slackline or read the How to Walk a Slackline
featured article and now want to figure out how to build one on your
own. Once you learn the steps and gather your supplies, you can set it
up in 5 minutes.
- Gather your supplies. Slacklines are typically built from 1" tubular webbing, although other materials can be used. A typical setup includes:
- 50 feet (or more) of webbing for the main line
- 2 ten-foot pieces of 1" tubular webbing for the anchors
- 5 carabiners (climbing-strength, oval-shaped)
- 2 pieces of carpet or other sturdy material for protecting tree anchors
- Select the anchor points. A good length for beginners
is about 15-20 feet between anchors. Find an area clear of sharp
objects--smooth grassy areas are ideal. Shorter spans are easier to
learn on than longer spans and allow for a lower line.
- Build the anchors. Choose anchors capable of holding about 500-1000
pounds of lateral force: medium-to-large trees, cemented poles, truck
hitches, eye-bolts, etc. When using trees for anchors make sure to
protect the trees by padding the area of contact with carpet or other
sturdy material. Wrap the loop of webbing around the first anchor about
2-3 feet off the ground (for a 20 foot length). Attach a carabiner to
the two ends. Repeat for the second anchor using two carabiners instead
- Attach the webbing to the first anchor. Connect the webbing to the carabiner on the first anchor with any secure knot. Or, if you're good with knots tie a munter hitch with a half-hitch backup to make it easy to untie when disassembling.
- Attach the other end of the line to two carabiners. Tie an overhand knot about 4-5 feet from the second anchor and attach two carabiners. Or, use a clove hitch here to make untying easier.
- Build a simple pulley system.
Loop the webbing through the first carabiner attached to the anchor,
then through the first carabiner on the slackline end. Repeat for the
second carabiners on anchor and slackline. You should have a zig-zag
pattern connecting the carabiners. Pull tightly, using about 50-100lbs
(or more) of pulling force. Grab the lines in the pulley with one hand
and tie off the loose end with 3 half-hitches. Alternately, use a
tightening system that comes with a specialty slackline kit.
- Tighten your line. You can experiment with tying your
line very taut or moderately taut. If the line is too loose, it will
lose many of its dynamic qualities. Make sure, however, that the line
is tight enough so that it will not touch the ground at any point along
your path over it.
- Buy more webbing than you need for the span between anchors. Although, you may only want a slackline that’s 20 feet long, you’ll need about 20 more feet to operate the pulley system.
- Use different colored webbing for the anchors and main line. This makes it easy to sort out your supplies when setting up the slackline.
- Get more leverage when tightening the line by wrapping the webbing around a sturdy stick.
As the distances increase, you’ll need more leverage to tighten the
line. Tie the webbing to a stick with a clove hitch and several wraps
around the pulling end of the webbing to get a better grip on the line.
- Piggy-back pulley systems to maximize tightening for long lines.
Instead of pulling directly on the webbing used for tightening, run
this webbing through another pulley system attached to another nearby
anchor. Ideally, the other anchor is in line with your line. Although
somewhat complicated, this will provide an enormous amount of leverage,
for those extra long lines.
- Combine pulling strength with 2 or 3 friends. Get a
friend or two to help pull the line with you. If using a stick with a
clove hitch, you can each pull on a side of the stick.
- Buy a commercial tightening system. If you want a fast
and easy method for setting up a slackline, consider investing in kit.
Several manufacturers offer professional tightening systems and
complete slackline kits. Expect to pay about $100-$200, depending on the model.
- Slacklines generate enormous forces on the anchors when weighted. Carefully choose anchors that can withstand these forces.
- Do not use slackline materials for climbing after they have been tensioned in a slackline.
Things You'll Need
- Two anchor points
- 50 feet of 1” tubular Webbing for the main line and pulley system
- 2, 10 foot pieces of 1” tubular Webbing tied into loops for the anchors.
- 2 medium to large trees or other anchors.
- 5 carabiners