Slacklining is a sport that can offer a lot of rewards to those who practice it: balance, mental focus, core, arms, legs, and for some, overcome their fears of height and falling. It is a very social sport that breeds friendships and creates community.
You can find slacklines in two types – ratchet lines and primitive systems. While ratchet lines are known for their quick and easy setup, once you setup a primitive line a few times, it can be just as quick.
Primitive systems are lighter, thinner (1 inch wide webbing), pack smaller, and don't require specialised gear. You can easily pop them into your bag for travel and use them to practice for longer lines, like highlines. Ratchet lines are heavier with thicker webbing (2 inch wide) and a ratchet tension system. On a ratchet system you can achieve higher tension than primitive lines, which makes them better for bouncing, doing tricks, and some people find them easier to walk on.
As a beginner, you can start with either of these lines. In this guide, Kyle will walk you through how to rig and de-rig a simple primitive slackline system one step at a time!
**Note: It's always best to consult an expert and follow best practices when rigging and walking on lines. Please reach out to us if you have any questions!
SETTING UP A PRIMITIVE SLACKLINE
CHOOSING A LOCATION
1) Choose a location away from high traffic areas
You want a location that does not block public access and is in a place where no one will accidentally run, or worse cycle, into your line. The ground should also be soft and clear of sticks and rocks. If setting up in a local park, make sure you're informed of the rules and regulations of the area.
2) Use two solid anchor points.
Never use anchors where you are unsure of their strength. Do not use light poles, small trees, etc. If using trees, ensure the diameter of the trunk is at least 30cm thick.
3) Build your "static anchor"
If using a tree, wrap tree protection around the truck of the tree and then place the anchor around the tree. Using a locking oval carabiner, attach the sewn-loop end of the webbing to your anchor. This will be your “static anchor”.
4) Build your "rigging anchor"
Hold the line in your hands to keep the webbing flat and walk the webbing over to the other anchor point. Stop roughly 2 meteres from your next anchor point to attach a line locker to the webbing (see below on how to attach a line locker).
After your line locked is attached, lay the webbing flat on the ground. Build the rigging anchor with tree protection, connect with a locking oval carabiner similar to your static anchor.
IMPORTANT: TREE PROTECTION
You must always use proper tree protection. Not using proper tree protection (tree pro) will “ring bark” the tree, damaging the circulatory system of the trunk, causing irrecoverable visual and internal harm to the tree. To protect the tree, place the protection around the truck and then put your sling over the top, ensuring it stays in place when tensioning the line.
Tree Pro Kits: Aspiring Tree Protection Kit, Balance Community TreeHugger, and Gibbon TreeWear. You can also use towels, felt or capret square. Avoid using a cheap yoga mat, generally the foam is too thin to provide adequate protection.
ATTACHING A LINE LOCKER
1) Create a bite of webbing about 2 metres from the rigging anchor.
2) Push the bite through the middle of the line locker and wrap underneath.
3) Push the bite through the middle of the line locker again.
4) Clip a locking oval carabiner through the centre of the bite to ‘lock’ the line in place.
BUILDING THE TENSION SYSTEM
5) Attach line to rigging anchor
Pick up the locked line from off the ground. Without twisting the line, clip it through the rigging anchor carabiner and pull it back to the carabiner attached to the line locker.
6) Pass line back to line locker carabiner, then to rigging anchor
Clip the webbing through the line locker carabiner and pull it back through to the rigging anchor. You should not have any twists in the line and the webbing should look as if it is spiraling in on itself.
7) Create first friction lock
When you reach the rigging anchor carabiner again, clip the webbing through in the same way as the first pass, but lift the original strand up and place this strand underneath the original. In this way we have created a friction lock, and this is what will hold the tension of the line.
8) Create second friction lock
Continue to pull the webbing back through to the line locker carabiner and repeat the previous step, passing the line through the carabiner and under the existing line. Now we have two friction locks set up and we are ready to tension!
HOW TO TENSION THE LINE
9) Tension the line
Pull on the end of the webbing in the direction of the rigging anchor until you reach the desired tension. At minimum, the line should have enough tension to keep you off the ground while walking in the middle of the line. More tension will make the line tighter and easier to walk. The line will settle after walking on it and it may need to be re-tensioned throughout your session.
HOW TO TIDY THE TAIL
10) Tie a figure of 8 on a bite on the tail end of the webbing.
11) Attach it to the anchor with a locking carabiner. This will ensure the system does not come undone
12) Double check your system from anchor to anchor ensuring that it is set up correctly, all carabiners are locked, and the webbing tail is tied off
13) Walk the line!
TAKING DOWN THE LINE
- Unclip the end of the webbing and undo the knot there.
- To de-tension, pull the end of the webbing back toward the static side anchor. With a small tug the bottom strand should slip out of the friction lock.
- Bring the end of the webbing back to toward the rigging anchor and tug the bottom strand again to undo the final friction lock.
- Slowly give out the webbing from your grip until the line is fully de-tensioned.
- Unclip all carabiners.
- Take down the anchors.
- Butterfly coil the webbing and store in a cool, dry location.
That is the basic principles or setting up and breaking down a primitive slackline system.
Pro Tip: Practice your set up at home a few times in a row to really understand how it works, and look like a pro in front of your mates.
AUSTRALIAN SLACKLINE ASSOCIATION (ASA)
We would also like to mention the Australian Slackline Association (ASA) is an amazing place to get started, ask questions, and join a wonderful community. ASA members get a 10% discount at Climbing Anchors. You can visit them here: https://www.slacklining.org.au/
I started highlining back in 2014 in and around Sydney. Since then I have highlined all around Australia. It has been excellent to see how the slackline scene has developed and grown since that time and I am excited to be apart of it. I am currently managing our CA Store in Fitzroy so if you have questions regarding slacklining, highlining or climbing, come and say hello.