Slacklining is a fun and exciting activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and skill levels. If you’re new to the sport, setting up a slackline can seem a bit daunting, but with a little bit of guidance, it’s actually quite easy. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the process of setting up a slackline in a conversational style, so you can start enjoying this thrilling activity in no time.
First things first, let’s start with the basics. A slackline is a flat piece of webbing that is stretched between two anchor points, usually trees or sturdy poles. The objective of slacklining is to walk or balance on the webbing, which is tensioned so that it’s slightly bouncy and wobbly. It’s a great way to improve your balance, core strength, and concentration, all while having fun in the great outdoors. I’ve written a whole article all about the topic of what slacklining actually is, where it started from and how the sport has expanded into multiple different disciplines.
Now that you have a better understanding of what slacklining is, let’s move on to setting up your first slackline. Here’s what you’ll need:
- A slackline kit (this typically includes the webbing, tensioning system, and anchors)
- Two anchor points (trees or poles)
Step 1: Find your anchor points
The first step in setting up your slackline is to find two sturdy anchor points. Trees are a popular choice, but you can also use poles or other fixed objects that can support the weight of the slackline and the tensioning system. Make sure the anchors are at least 10-15 feet apart, and that there are no obstacles or hazards between them. The photo below shows a close-up of one of my anchors. Tree protectors are used and the line is low down with excess webbing moved out of the way.
Step 2: Set up your slackline kit
Next, unpack your slackline kit and lay out the webbing between your two anchor points. Attach the tensioning system to the webbing, making sure it’s centred between the two anchors. Follow the instructions that come with your kit to tension the slackline. This typically involves pulling on a ratchet system until the webbing is taut.
From left to right;
- Carry bag
- Tree protectors
- Training line (optional)
- Training line ratchet (optional)
The webbing is the flat piece of material that is stretched between the two anchor points. Slackline webbing can be made from a variety of materials, including nylon, polyester, and even carbon fiber. It’s important to choose a webbing that is appropriate for your skill level and intended use. Thicker webbing is usually more stable and easier to balance on, while thinner webbing is more challenging and requires greater skill and balance. In most beginner kits you’ll find a 2″ webbing made from either nylon or polyester. The kit that I bought is from Barefoot slacklines which came with everything required to get started.
The tensioning system is what allows you to tighten the slackline between the two anchors. There are several types of tensioning systems available, including ratchets, pulleys, and line lockers. Ratchets are the most common type of tensioning system and are often included in beginner slackline kits. They work by ratcheting the webbing tight and locking it in place. Pulleys and line lockers are more advanced and require additional equipment, but they allow for greater control over the tensioning of the slackline.
The anchors are the points where the slackline is attached to the ground. Trees are a popular choice for anchors, but you can also use poles, rocks, or other fixed objects. It’s important to choose sturdy anchors that can support the weight of the slackline and the tensioning system. If you’re using a tree make sure to use tree protection to prevent damage to the bark of the tree. You can see my full setup below. You can see a close-up of the tree above, and here you can see I’ve used a heavy-duty plastic box, a D-link, some lifting slings and some long pegs as my other anchor.
In addition to these main components, some slackline kits may include additional accessories, such as tree protection, a carrying bag, or a backup webbing. Tree protection is important to prevent damage to the tree bark and is often included with beginner slackline kits. A carrying bag is convenient for transporting your slackline to different locations, and a backup webbing can be useful in case your main webbing gets damaged or worn out.
Step 3: Test the tension
Once your slackline is set up before you jump on and start learning, you need to test that you have enough tension on the line. To do this stand to the side of the slackline facing towards one of the anchors. Put one foot onto the line lengthways and slowly transition your weight onto it. If you feel it slip or it feels loose, take the line down and start the tightening process again. The line should feel tight like a spring underfoot, but should still have some bounce to it.
Step 4: Start slacklining!
Once you’ve tested the slackline and it feels secure, it’s time to start slacklining! Start by placing one foot on the webbing and slowly transferring your weight onto it. Use your arms to help you balance and keep your core engaged to maintain your balance. Take small steps at first, and gradually increase the distance you’re able to cover on the slackline. I am documenting my slacklining journey and I am aiming to develop enough skill to be able to do a backflip on the slackline. If you want to follow my progress then you can follow my blog series all about my Journey to a Backflip.
And that’s it! Setting up a slackline is actually quite easy, and once you get the hang of it, it’s a lot of fun. So gather your friends and family, head outside, and give slacklining a try. Who knows, you may just discover your new favourite hobby!