I’ve been trying to find more ways to be outside enjoying the sunshine now that it is no long unbearably hot here, so the last couple of weekends I decided to get out and throw my slackline up between a couple of trees. I haven’t slacklined in a long time, and it has been a lot of fun getting back into it.
I started slacklining four years ago at the beginning of my freshman year of college. There was a line set up at the bouldering wall of UGA, and so when my hands hurt or my arms were too pumped to climb, I would slackline as a break. After about six months I started to get comfortable on the line, and was slacklining more than I was bouldering.
I bought my first slackline that summer when I found out that I didn’t have access to the gym during the summer months. That first line was a Slackline Express Classic 50. It was a solid system, and I really liked it, mostly because I could set it up by myself. This was important to me because a lot of the time I would just go out by myself for half an hour and wanted the set up to be quick and easy with just one person working on it. I did have two qualms with the system though. First, the ratchet was very heavier than it needed to be. This made the line feel a bit odd when it swayed, but it was something that I could easily get used to. The second problem I had was that the ratchet kept eating my line. I had two lines get caught in the ratchet and create serious weak points. I have since had a chance to use a newer model of the ratchet that a friend owned and think it is a bit lighter and definitely better made, so these issues (at least the line eating issue) may be less pressing.
However, after my second line got caught I decided to go with a primitive set up that I put together from scratch, rather than buying it as a package. Without the ratchet, I ended up relying on the generosity of strangers to help me pull it tight at times, but living in a college town, a helpful hand was never hard to find. A few months back I found a couple of videos on youtube that have helped me add a multiplier and set up a nice, flat line. My system is a bit different than what is actually seen in the video. First, I only use five carabiners in total for the line and multiplier, because that is what I had sitting around for my normal primitive setup, and I figured I could get by with just that.I use four carabiners to set up the line, and use one carabiner to attach a pulley and cordelette to the end of the slackline as shown in the video.
For the pulley that I anchor to the tree, I have a 10 ft piece of 5/8″ webbing that I tie directly to the pulley using two follow through figure eights. The pulley’s themselves do not have to be life supporting devices, and so I did not decide to spend money on a life supporting climbing pulley. Instead, I went to Lowe’s and bought 2 $6 pulleys that can be seen in the picture above.
To keep the line nice and flat, I use rings to anchor the webbing at the beginning of the primitive pulley and the connection to the anchor. I decided to use quick links from Lowes. In this case, I did not save a lot of money using these instead of purchasing rappel rings, but since I was already at Lowes for the pulleys, this was definitely quick to get my hands on and works just as well.
The cordelette I use for the pulley is a bit small for pulling, so I have taken to making a figure eight on a bight towards the end and then passing some old 11mm static climbing rope I had (about 3ft) through it on a follow through figure 8. This gives me a good grip to pull on.
One final thing I’ve found I like is that with my anchors I create a fixed loop on one end with a bowline, but on the either end I use a clove hitch each time. This allows me to make the anchors as long as I need for each new location. With 15 ft anchors, this allows for a lot of options.
With this setup, I am able to get a tight line of about 25 – 30ft without anyone’s help. I don’t generally want a line longer than this, so it works out very well for me.