Best Slackline Kit Review – Top 5 Most Balanced List for Aug. 2017
Once upon a time, you didn’t need much specialized equipment to have a great time outdoors. Sure, if you were a skier or a golfer you had to have skis, boots and poles, or a good set of clubs. But most people were just fine with a glove, a ball or a racquet.
That was before activities like rock climbing, ziplining, kiteboarding and slacklining went mainstream. The emergence of a new, adventurous generation in the late 20th and early 21st century has given rise to an entirely new roster of outdoor activities – and a huge catalog of the equipment necessary to participate.
Slacklining (walking or doing tricks on a thin stretch of fabric, sort of like tightrope walking) is a great example. As the sport grew in popularity one big manufacturer of slacklines saw a sales growth of 10,000% over a three year period in the early 2010s, and there’s even a World Cup of Slacklining. Interested in joining the crowd but not sure what you’ll need? Read on.
The Many Types of Slacklining
Slacklining was originally a pastime for California climbers some 40 years ago; in between climbs, they tried walking and balancing on the webbing they had in their kits. As the sport became more popular it branched into several different specialties, each calling for specific types of equipment.
Longlines require tremendous balance and endurance since they extend over very long distances and are quite unstable.
Highlining adds a large amount of natural fear to the mix, even if you’re firmly attached to a harness. Slackline walking and slackline yoga are done closer to the ground but require lots of concentration in addition to agility.
Tricklining is the most common type of competitive slacklining, with athletes performing mind-bending jumps, drops and spins on a skinny, suspended line. There are other variations as well, including waterlining over a body of water, windlining in heavy winds and daredevil-style freestyle slacklining which is done on a very slack line.
Once you’ve decided which type of slacklining you’ll be focusing on, here’s a look at some of the equipment you’ll be using.
When the sport first developed one-inch webbing was standard, but most slacklining is now done on wider two-inch webbing which doesn’t feel as scary. Each has benefits, however.
One-inch lines are usually nylon and manufactured in the form of a flattened tube. This makes the webbing feel smooth and flexible underfoot, and it’s extremely strong because the “strength per inch” is much greater. It’s also easier to tie knots attaching to tensioning systems with this flexible webbing. For those reasons, plus the additional challenge of walking on a thinner line, many experienced slackliners prefer to use one-inch webbing. However, it’s often difficult to maintain sufficient tension in a nylon line so things can get quite wobbly up high, and the webbing may bottom out (hit the ground) when used down low. You can buy polyester one-inch lines that aren’t as stretchy, but they’re only suitable for low-risk slacklining.
Two-inch slacklines aren’t tubular and most aren’t made from nylon. The webbing is usually a nylon/polyester blend which is relatively stiff (and not as intimidating) but able to provide good bounce; it’s ideal for both tricks and lowlining without bottoming out. Slacklines made for different purposes will have different blends of nylon and polyester, with some extremely stable lines for highlining and some with so much bounce they can be used in competitive tricklining. One end of a two-inch line will have a loop that can be used with a fixed anchor.
Once you have a line, however, how do you attach it to trees or other anchors? You use a tensioning system.
Slackline Tensioning Systems
Each type of webbing lends itself to a different type of tensioning system that attaches to trees or other support structures.
One-inch webbing generally calls for what’s known as a “primitive” setup, sometimes known as an “Ellington.” It utilizes carabiners (metal loops that have a locking mechanism, commonly used in climbing) and rings to hold the end of the webbing and create a pulley system. It’s fairly simple, but it’s difficult to maintain the right amount of tension with this approach; primitive is a good name for it.
Slackline ratchets are used with two-inch webbing and they’re easy to use because they’re dedicated equipment that you just purchase and set up. The webbing is threaded through the unit and you crank down the ratchet until the tension is right. The process takes just minutes. When you’re done with your session, you just pull a release trigger. The only issue is making sure that the line stays straight as you feed it into the ratchet so it doesn’t snag and rip.
There’s a specialized type of tensioning system designed for advanced longlining and highlining and it can cost as much as several thousand dollars. As you’d guess, these anchors aren’t available in slackline kits, so we won’t go into detail here.
Buying the Best Slackline Kit
The beauty of buying a kit is that you don’t have to worry about choosing a style of webbing tensioning system; once you’ve decided on the type of slacklining you want to do, the proper kit will have the proper equipment. Many will have extras like an overhead hand line or tree protectors, but naturally at a higher price.
The other beauty of buying a kit is that the Groom+Style review team has already ranked the top 5 best slackline kits for you.
1. Slackline Industries Baseline Slackline Complete Kit
This is the best kit on the market for beginning and lower-level intermediate slackliners who are looking for fun rather than a scary or overly-challenging adventure. It includes sturdy, thick-woven two-inch webbing that’s 50 feet long, with a generous eight-foot extra length at one end for attaching to the included ratchet tensioning system and an anchor loop on the other end. There are also tree protection wraps in the kit, plus both cartoon-style instructions and a DVD that can be helpful if you’re not quite sure what goes where – but you shouldn’t worry. This is a very easy system to set up, and it’s quite reasonably priced.
The webbing is well-made and won’t rip or tear as long as you take the time to feed it into the ratchet setup properly, although you’ll eventually see normal wear and tear. The ratchet system is solid and works smoothly and effectively, the line locks into place and the release lever works perfectly when you’re done. It shouldn’t take more than ten minutes to get your line in the air and ready for use. All that’s missing is an overhead hand line, but this kit isn’t really challenging enough for you to need one.
The Baseline kit is fully compliant with US and European safety standards, certified by the German authorities who inspect and approve slacklines, and has a maximum weight capacity of 300 pounds.
There’s no better option for getting started with slacklining or doing regular slackline walking or yoga. The quality of the Slackline Industries Baseline is top-notch, setup and takedown is simple, and unless you’re interested in highlining, longlining or tricks, this 50-foot kit is just about perfect.
Facts and figures on the Slackline Industries Baseline Slackline Complete Kit:
2. Gibbon Slacklines Classic line Red Edition
The most famous name in slacklines is Gibbon, because the Classic line was the original product made for non-climbers. And even though a number of other very good companies (including Slackline Industries, formed by former Gibbon distributors) now compete with Gibbon, it’s still the most-purchased and most-used line in the world. The original Classic had one-inch webbing, but this version is a two-inch slackline which is the best option for beginners.
The Classicline is just a little less expensive than the Slackline Baseline set, and you get a little less for your money. The available length is just over 40 feet (they advertise it at 50 feet, but they include the eight feet that has to go into the anchor system). The ratchet tensioning setup works well, and it should only take about five minutes to set everything up. It’s best used for walking or yoga low to the ground, and has been approved by German inspection authorities.
There are no extra features or bonuses that come with Gibbon Classicline; it’s been technologically improved over the years, but it’s pretty much the same as it’s always been: simple, functional and the least-expensive basic slackline system you can buy.
More info on the Gibbon Slacklines Classicline Red Edition:
3. Slackers Wave Walker Slackline
If you’re a bit unsure about walking on a two-inch line hanging above the ground, here’s the solution. The Wave Walker is more expensive than the first two products reviewed by the Groom+Style team, but the price includes an overhead training line that can be set up using the same ratchet tensioning system that the woven two-inch slackline uses.
The review team really liked the webbing that comes with this Slackers product. It’s a bit bouncier than the line included in most competitive beginner-to-intermediate kits, so you can get a bit more adventurous as you walk. We wouldn’t advise trying any big-air tricks on the Wave Walker since it’s only 50-feet long and its best use is low to the ground, but you don’t have to worry about the line being too tight to let loose with a few drops or jumps. On the other hand, the one-inch hand line will let novices brace themselves for more simple walks until they get used to the feel of slacklining. The ratchet system works smoothly, the quality of the line is great, and setup is easy.
You’ll pay more for the Slackers Wave Walker because of the overhead training line, and many users won’t feel that’s worth an extra $30 or so. But this is a high-quality slacklining kit and the hand line may make all the difference to slightly-nervous beginners.
Looking deeper at the Slackers Wave Walker Slackline:
4. Voodoo Slackers 100-Feet Fearless Trickline Kit
More advanced slackliners who are ready to tackle tricklining will love this long two-inch bouncy line made from trampoline-style webbing. At short distances you can walk and have some fun. At full length but medium tension it’s great for longlining. And with maximum tension you’ll be able to start practicing your aerials, since this is pretty close to a professional-grade slackline.
Setup is tougher than with the standard lines we’ve previously described, but not as bad as tricklines of the past. There’s a double-ratcheted system that works extremely well but takes longer to set up, and it will take even longer to get the tension just right since you’re working with two separate devices. A three-page instruction book helps but don’t expect it to be a five or ten minute job, at least at first.
You’ll pay a premium price over $100 for the Voodoo Slackers Trickline, but that’s not an unreasonable price for a high-quality, 100-foot line that will let you do flips and aerials with plenty of air. If you’re into tricks (or you want to be), this is the kit you want.
Specifications for the Voodoo Slackers 100-Feet Fearless Trickline Kit:
5. Balance Community Primitive Kit
Chances are good that you aren’t looking for a one-inch slackline kit, but the review team recommends the Balance Community if you’re the traditional type or advanced enough that you want the extra challenge. It’s the most expensive kit on our list (shouldn’t something “primitive” be less expensive?) but it’s very, very good.
The one-inch tubular nylon webbing is 55 feet long, the kit comes with the more-complicated carabiners, rings including a tensioning ring that allows you to use different sizes of webbing, and pre-sized anchor slings (which require specific sizes of trees or anchors) needed to set up the line, and everything is extremely well built. The hardware is versatile and can be used for more advanced setups as you progress, and the primitive tensioning setup will let you use this kit for almost any type of slacklining as long as you get the tension right.
The Balance Community is hard to find, expensive, and definitely not for beginners or those who want maximum fun with minimum setup work. It’s a terrific slacklining kit, though.
A closer look at the Balance Community Primitive Kit:
A good way to get some extra fitness and to develop extra strength and endurance is to play on a mini trampoline – if this idea intrigues you then check out Groom+Style’s best mini trampoline review.