Introduction: How to Set Up a Slackline
Slacklining is an up-and-coming activity that utilizes balance and skill to walk a line suspended between two fixed points. It can be done in a backyard, on a college campus, over a canyon, and even thousands of feet above the ground. Many people do it for fun, others for the athletic benefits, and some for the meditative release from their busy lives. Slacklining is a relatively simple activity as long as you have the necessary materials, the knowledge to set it up, and the patience to learn how to walk the line.
Step 1: Getting the Necessary Materials
Before slackline setup can begin, the necessary materials must be obtained. There are four major categories of items required to construct a slackline; anchor lines to go around the trees, carabiners and other connectors to hold the line together, towels for tree protection, and the main section of the line that is walked on.
The setup that I personally use consists of the following
• Two anchors made from 15 feet of 1" webbing water-knotted together (more details on these are in the coming steps)
• Four climbing-grade carabiners and two climbing-grade rappel rings
• Two towels
• 50 feet of 1" webbing used for the main section of the line that is walked on
I use this setup because it is easy to construct/tear down/use in general. Also, it has a cheap initial cost (everything listed above can be bought for around $60; I reused old towels and did not include them in the cost estimate). Also, constructing a slackline using this setup eliminates the use of knots (except for the very first setup) and is therefore extremely beginner-friendly. On top of all that, this setup can be constructed in only 3-5 minutes.
The next step in the process is selecting a place to slackline.
Step 2: Where to Slackline
Picking a place to slackline is mostly based on personal preference. To set up the line, two objects will be needed to tie it into place (typically trees). For me, the ideal spot is two trees about 20 feet apart with no low-hanging branches to get in the way while I’m on the line. The longer the line is, the more it will swing back and forth in the middle and the lower it will sag to the ground. Like I said before, the preference for distance and objects used to anchor the line vary from person to person.
Once a spot to set up shop has been selected, it is now time to construct and place the anchors.
Step 3: Constructing Anchor Loops
Constructing a slackline requires two shorter lines or ‘anchors’ that are used to secure the main line between two trees. These lines are typically 10 to 15 feet in length and are made out of the same 1” webbing as the main line. To make the first anchor loop, a simple water knot must be tied to connect both ends of the line. Take one end of the anchor line and tie an overhand knot without pulling it tight. Then, take the other end of the anchor and follow the tied end of the anchor back through the overhand knot as shown in the pictures above (or at this link ). Once this has been completed and the knot is pulled tight, repeat the process again using the other 10 to 15 foot section of line to create the two anchor loops.
Now, using one of the anchor loops just created, go around the tree once with it at a height about halfway up the thigh. Then, put a carabiner (carabiner 1) through it as shown in the photo. Allow the carabiner/anchor combo to dangle from the tree so the next few steps can be completed.
In the next step the main line will be connected to the anchor with a rappel ring.
Step 4: Connecting the Main Line to the First Anchor
Place one of the rappel rings about 10” from one end of the main line. As shown in the photos above, pull the main line through the ring to create a loop (call it loop 1). Using the loop 1, go around and back through the rappel ring to create another loop (loop 2) inside of loop 1. Take carabiner 1 and clip it through loop 2 (this process is actually simple and it explains itself much easier through the photos above). After pulling tight, this should connect the anchor to the main line without the need to tie any knots!
Next, the second anchor loop needs to be placed.
Step 5: Setting the Second Anchor Loop
The second anchor loop will be set up in almost the exact same way the first was. Place the loop around the tree at a height about halfway up the thigh. To connect the anchor around the tree, use two carabiners instead of one this time. The carabiner on the top will be carabiner 2 and the one on the bottom will be carabiner 3.
Now the final carabiner will be placed.
Step 6: Placing the Final Carabiner
Starting from the first anchor loop that was connected to the main line, take the line in your hand and walk about 80% of the way to the second anchor loop placed, making sure that the main line is not twisted. At this 80% mark, place the rappel ring on top of the line and loop it through just like the first one (see pictures above). Use the final carabiner (carabiner 4) to hold the ring in place.
It is now time to connect the main line to the second anchor loop.
Step 7: Connecting the Main Line to the Anchor Loop
Disclaimer: This step will be much easier to do using the pictures above.
Firstly, make sure the line is not twisted. Take the main line and go up through carabiner 3. Then go up through carabiner 4. From here, go down through carabiner 2. The line should now be between itself. Go down through carabiner 4 one last time and slip it underneath the line that was already in carabiner 4 as shown.
This will allow the line to be pulled tight, however before it can be pulled tight we must put in tree protection (towels).
Step 8: Protecting the Trees
If trees are not being used as anchoring objects, this step can be omitted.
To protect the bark on the trees, towels must be inserted between the anchors and the trees. While the line is loose, fold a towel over itself a couple of times and wedge it between the anchor and tree at both ends of the line.
Now the line is ready to be pulled tight.
Step 9: Tightening the Line
To tighten the line, pull on the long remaining tail of the line. The tightness of the line is completely up to personal preference. Usually, two or three people will pull on the line at once to get it as tight as needed. This step can always be repeated if the line becomes too loose during use.
Congratulations, the line is all set up! Now it is time to learn how to walk.
Step 10: Slacklining for the First Time
Now it’s time to begin slacklining! The first time on the line can be very frustrating for most people; their legs will cause the line to shake back and forth. This is perfectly normal for someone who hasn’t spent a decent amount of time on a line! The ‘wobbles’ will go away after some time. Also, slacklining without shoes on is the best way to get started. This allows for the user’s feet to get a better feeling for the line.
To mount the line for the first time, stand close to one of the trees and face the middle of the line. Place the foot closest to the line on it; keeping your feet parallel to the line while walking is key. Also, pick a stationary point (usually the far tree) to stare at while on the line. From here, jump off of the ground and transfer the weight smoothly from the leg on the ground to the one on the line and stand up. First, try to balance on one foot. Then, balance on the other foot. Once balancing on both feet feels comfortable, proceed to start walking! THIS WILL TAKE SOME TIME. Patience and persistence are the keys to figuring it out.