Slackline Set up BAsics

Most often, people's first introduction to a slackline is through one of two basic systems. Either the 1" wide Primitive Slackline or the 2" wide Ratchet Slackline. Each of these systems is great for learning but there are some key differences when it comes set up.


Primitive slacklines have been around since the early years of slacklining, roughly the 1960's. A primitive system (also known as an Ellington) is comprised primarily from 1" webbing, a few carabiners and a couple chain links or rings. The Ellington creates a simple mechanical advantage tensioning system that can take a few tries to complete correctly, but once mastered is quick and simple method to rig shorter slacklines. 

Basic primitive slackline gear paired with the multiplier (2 carabiners and a ring).

Basic primitive slackline gear paired with the multiplier (2 carabiners and a ring).

In total, the slackline consists of 2 webbing slings made from 1" wide webbing (one for each tree anchor), 3 carabiners, 2 chainlinks, some protective padding for the tree (known as TreePro) and about 60 ft of 1" wide webbing. The webbing does not need to be anything special for a beginner system. 1" wide Climb-Spec or Mil-Spec (available online or at most outdoor retailers) will work fine but you'll need to get it tight enough to keep yourself off the ground. One way help with that is by using a multiplier to increase your pulling power. It is comprised of 2 additional carabiners and a large steel ring.



Ratchet slackline systems are one of the most available slacklines sold as pre-made kits. They are available in both 1 inch and 2 inch versions, where the 2 inch is the most widely available. They are simple to set up and great for learning on. Many beginners prefer this style of slackline because it is easy to rig and offers a wider walking platform to start on.

BaseLine Ratchet slackline kit from Slackline Industries.

BaseLine Ratchet slackline kit from Slackline Industries.

Available kits come with a slackline and tensioning ratchet with attached sling. One one end of the slackline webbing has a sewn loop. This is used to create one anchor point by girth hitching the tree. The webbing sling that the ratchet comes with also has a sewn loop on one side. This is also girth hitched around an anchor tree. When the two anchors are set, the webbing can be fed into the ratchet and tension brought.


Setting up slacklines in Public spaces

Slacklining is becoming more popular AROUND THE WORLD every day. with the propagation of the activity, we as a community have to make sure that some simple practices are followed when setting up slacklines in public spaces.

A huge threat to slackline use in city parks is the improper set up of the slackline itself. If trees are damaged or people accidentally injured due to our actions, it really doesn't help the slackline cause. Please Follow these simple strategies to keep and promote responsible slackline use at your local park.

USE TREE PADDING – The most common slackline anchor in any park is a pair of burley trees. When trees are used, they must be protected from the anchoring material (slings and spansets). This can be done by putting a buffer between the tree and sling. Materials commonly used are carpet, cardboard, burlap, yoga mats, commercial slackline tree padding, etc… I think you get the idea. If you’re using an especially soft bark tree such as redwoods, it’s might also wise to place sticks/spacers between the slings and carpet. This keeps the sling from actually contacting the tree, thereby maximizing protection.

USE BIG TREES FOR ANCHORS – Use anchor trees that are at least 1 foot in diameter. Smaller trees have less secure root structure and significant loads may damage or uproot the tree. Also, DO NOT attach your slackline to buildings, benches, bike racks, handrails, art objects, fencing, playground equipment, signage, tables, utility poles or light poles. Some cities have actually established slackline parks with permanent anchors sunk into the ground. These are great for beginners and trickliners, but for longlining we need height and length, so burley trees with lots of space between are the ideal option.

MAKE IT VISIBLE – When setting up any slackline regardless of length, it’s use needs to be made known to every user group in the park. There are cyclists, runners, dog walkers, friz-bee players, ball throwers, drunks and children all using the park. Be sure to use flagging, cones or some brightly colored material to let people know that you have a slackline set up. Make it VISIBLE!

BE AWARE OF THE FLOW OF PEOPLE – Don’t set up your slackline across a road, sidewalk, or common pathway. Take the time to observe how people move through the park. Try not to set your slackline perpendicular to main routes of traffic or close to it. Be aware of unmaintained pathways as well; routes people take for the "path of least resistance." This will reduce the chances of someone accidentally running into your slackline.

DON’T LEAVE YOUR SLACKLINE UNATTENDED – The easiest way for people to see that there is a slackline up is to see someone on or around it. Do not set up your slackline and then walk away from it. Doing this increases the risk of someone accidentally running into the line.

LENGTH AND HEIGHT RESTRICTIONS –  Many municipalities set the allowable length at roughly 100 ft and no more than 36” - 48” off the ground. With the popularity of longlining and hard core tricklining becoming more popular slackliners need more height and length than what many are suggesting. Private property on obscure public spaces seem to be the better place to practice these forms of slacklining.

USE GOOD EQUIPMENT – Don’t use sketchy equipment. It’s common for by-standers to approach slacklines in order to ask questions and potentially try the slackline. It would not be good for your equipment to break while they are trying the slackline for the first time.


Established slackline policies

With the popularity of slacklining growing year after year municipalities and government bodies have begun creating policies and regulation to allow for the controlled and responsible growth of slacklining within their communities. Many of the policies have been developed out of the perceived need to protect by-standards, participants and public property from unnecessary risk and/or damage. The intent of this information is to provide both slackliners and government bodies with a source of information they can use to develop their own workable slackline policies from examples already established.