Slackline Tree Protection: Abrasion

Trees offer some of the best anchors to rig slacklines to. Unfortunately, using trees as anchors can result in a few problems if you don’t know what to pay attention to. Using trees as slackline anchors creates 3 main issues: 1) abrasion of the bark, 2) pressure on the tree and 3) affects the reputation of the sport. Each of these problems can be remedied by using different forms of tree protection.

Bark damage to tree due to improper padding; Big NO-NO!

Bark damage to tree due to improper padding; Big NO-NO!

Abrasion

We’ll start off with abrasion because it creates the most visible damage to trees. Abrasion to tree bark occurs when someone walks, bounces and generally does anything on a slackline. The actions on the slackline create movement and friction at the anchor sling. Over time, these movements can strip off the tree bark, damage and possibly kill trees. When the tree bark is completely removed, the cambium layer of the tree is exposed. This increases the chance for pests to get into the tree, creates opportunity for microbial infection and impedes the trees ability to send nutrients from the soil to the leaves of the tree. The use of tree protection effectively minimizes abrasion, but only if it actually protects the spots where the anchor sling moves on the tree.

A great way to pad trees! Wrap trunk in carpet or padding and place spacers (small branches or sticks) around webbing to eliminate friction points and cambium pressure.

A great way to pad trees! Wrap trunk in carpet or padding and place spacers (small branches or sticks) around webbing to eliminate friction points and cambium pressure.

A Few common mistakes people make when using tree pro are:

  • Threading rope through tight fitting webbing; this creates the same problem in regards to friction points. We strongly recommend against using small diameter rope for tree anchors. Whereas large diameter rope manufactured for arborist purposes may be more suitable.
  • Padding the back of the tree instead of the contact points (see pictures below). This commonly occurs when not enough tree pro is brought to the park. If you’re limited on treepro, it makes more sense to pad the contact points near the girth hitch where the movement will actually take place
  • Using treepro that is too narrow. Narrow treepro does not cover the full range of vertical motion of the sling. Make your padding count!
  • Setting up a girth hitch anchor without lining up the slackline in the direction of pull. Even with tree pro, this attachment method can torque the bark off trees.
Treepro used in the WRONG place. The areas where the sling can move are not protected.

Treepro used in the WRONG place. The areas where the sling can move are not protected.