The Best Slackline Review

Which slackline is the best? To find out we took 12 of the top 1" and 2" kits and evaluated them from the perspective of all styles of slacklining to determine side-by-side which is the best and most complete kit on the market. We set them up in parks, public spaces, and even traveled internationally, inviting beginners and experts alike to set them up and walk them, taking note of their direct and indirect feedback. We evaluated them from the perspectives of Ease of Setup, Versatility, Quality, Disassembly, and Features, looking at every angle to determine what is truly a great line.

Read on to learn more about the best Slackline Kits available and to find out which kit will be right for you.

Read the full review below >

Review by: ⋅ Review Editor, OutdoorGearLab

Top Ranked Slacklines

Displaying 1 - 5 of 12 << Previous | View All | Next >>
Our Ranking #1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Product Name
Gibbon Flowline
Gibbon Flowline
Read the Review
Gibbon Classic
Gibbon Classic
Read the Review
Video video review
Gibbon Jibline
Gibbon Jibline
Read the Review
Video video review
Trango eLine
Trango eLine
Read the Review
Primitive Rig
Primitive Rig
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Video video review
Editors' Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award      Best Buy Award 
Street Price $75
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Varies $84 - $85
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Varies $85 - $152
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$90$0-75
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Pros Solid construction, long lasting kit. Great for beginners and long-line enthusiasts.Easy to set up, easy to walk, great for beginners. Great Value.Best line for tricks, fast to set up, wide webbing is easy to learn on.Inexpensive, lightweight.Inexpensive, lightweight, safe to detension, often can be made from gear you have lying around (if you are a climber).
Cons Sharp on the feet. Double ratchet makes kit heavy.Ratchet tricky to release, not durable and wears down webbing. Not versatile.Ratchet tricky to release, not durable and wears down webbing.Not great for tricklines or longlines.Need to assemble parts and figure out how to set up, requires two people to get good tension.
Best Uses Beginning practice for walking longer and longer linesWalking, static poses, beginning aerial tricks.TrickliningRecommended uses: walking, static poses.Walking, surfing, tricklining.
Date Reviewed Mar 28, 2015Mar 28, 2015Jun 22, 2012Jul 17, 2011Mar 28, 2015
Weighted Scores Gibbon Flowline Gibbon Classic Gibbon Jibline Trango eLine Primitive Rig
Ease Of Set Up - 20%
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Versatility - 30%
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Quality - 30%
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Disassembly - 10%
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Product Specs Gibbon Flowline Gibbon Classic Gibbon Jibline Trango eLine Primitive Rig
Width (inches) 1 2 2 1 1
Features 2" Ratchet w/ 1" spacers protects line Ratchet Pad Protective Cover Thin Bouncy Webbing Very Low Stretch (Žâ nylon webbing) â carrying case
Recommended length (feet) 10-65 10-43 10-43 20-40 10-75
Time to Rig (minutes) 10 5 5 10 15
Tightening system Double Ratchet w/ Safety Single Ratchet w/ Safety Single Ratchet Primitive 2 biner + line lock primitive
Anchor Length 2 meter 2.5 meter 2.5 meter 2 meter Variable

  • Review Photos
  • Editors' Choice Winners

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review



Update Note: April 2015
We have contacted all of the companies and have confirmed any changes, which have been noted in the reviews. A complete review was performed in November 2013.


Whether you are completely new to slacklining or progressing to serious tricklining or longlining, this review will help you select the setup that's right for you.

Check out our How To Article and Buying Advice article to learn more about slacklining.

So Many Lines to Choose From


Just as we all tread quite differently across this beautiful green earth, we all walk, stride, bounce, glide, hop, and fall differently across a slackline. The 12 slackline kits we evaluated in this review range from the very simple humble traditionalists line to the latest and greatest competitive stunt lines. Whether you are new to the sport of slacklining or you are a seasoned veteran trying to learn more about the latest and greatest in slacklining technology, we wrote our review to answer those critical questions you do or should have regarding finding the perfect kit or line for your needs.

Criteria for Evaluation


To appropriately evaluate the best products available on the market we considered twelve of the most common slacklining kits and excluded from our consideration any piece by piece setups put together with a specific focus in mind such as walking exceptionally long distances. For those custom or highly specialized kits please take a look at the Balance Community Titen Series Custom Pulley System, the Slackline Brothers Slackline Kit, or a more traditional Primitive Rig which for some can be put together using old climbing gear retired or found around the house. For the rest consider our ratings with respect to the following five criteria.
Click to enlarge
Damian Cooksey becomes the first person to slackline over Yosemite Falls.
Credit: Tom Evans

Ease of Set-up


Setup is not always as easy and intuitive as one might imagine. After many years of slacklining, having come in contact with dozens of different setups, we continue to be amazed at how intricate and often physical the process of setting up can be. Of course this is understandable given that we are talking about forces potentially in the 1000's of lbs of tension, especially for some longer lines that can extend well over 200 or even 300 feet. But this is true for some very simple, short, seemingly straight forward lines as well. Rigging them is not always intuitive, and therefore it is important to look at the different types of lines and what the setup process involves.

For the most part there are two general categories of setup / tightening systems. The first and most prominent in the kits we evaluated is the ratchet based system. The second, found in fewer and fewer kits these days is a more traditional carabiner with line locker setup. There is a third for advanced liners to consider which involves a multiplier system. basically pulleys, line lockers, brakes, line grips, etc.., but for our purposes we will leave these more complicated systems out of the discussion.

The more traditional method of setting up a line involve a simple repel ring or line locker to connect the line to an anchor (for one side lines often come with a loop so that the entire line is slung as the anchor). On the tightening side webbing or static line is used to build an anchor and a series of carabiners are used to friction hitch the webbing to the anchor, without knots and without expensive parts. This method is simple once you learn the technique, and involves gear that can be easily replaced when worn out. It also is relatively nice to the line (no sharp edges mean much less fraying). The drawback is that this method only works for 1" lines, so no aerial tricklining with these systems, and can be quite difficult to tension at distances over 30-40 feet. Additional carabiners and eventually expensive pulley systems are required for longer lengths and higher tensions.

In some ways ratchets have made tightening and set up quicker and easier, but in other ways we have found these systems to introduce new problems of their own. With a ratchet system you usually run a line around your first tree or anchor, through a loop in the end of the line, and out towards your second tree or anchor where a sling with ratchet at the end resides. One inherent limitation that already exists in this type of system is that the ratchet is a necessarily and not cheaply replaceable component of the system. If the ratchet and sling is 2m in circumference, and your tree is 2+ meters as well, you simply will have issues setting it up.
Click to enlarge
The Gibbon Tubeline with a 2m anchor sling is not quite long enough for this tree.
Credit: Brian Blum
Another aspect of the ratchet is that it is made of metal, often with sharp edges; something not friendly to Nylon or Polyester webbing. If the ratchet is not setup nice and straight there is a tendency for the line to get caught in the sides, often chewing and fraying a line, and sometimes getting stuck in a way that makes de-tensioning difficult or even dangerous. Ratchets also have the tendency to break. We have experienced, and know many people who have lost springs, bent their ratchet, etc.. Ratchets also add weight to the line, something very noticeable as the line gets longer and tighter.

All that said our evaluation took every aspect of setting up a line into consideration, including the wear and tear on the line, the durability of the system itself, the tension necessary for setup, the time and precision during setup, etc… In general we found that the Gibbon products, and most specifically the Gibbon Classic, Gibbon Jibline, [[Gibbon Travelline], and Gibbon Flowline were all easy to setup and with some care and knowledge kept both the line and ratchet in good working order over time.

Versatility


As the sport of slacklining grows, people are using lines in increasingly new, clever, and creative ways. The traditional progress of walking longer and longer, and higher and higher lines has given way to incredible aerial assaults, the integration of yoga, and even fire spinning, juggling, and uni-cycling on a line. People are interested in utilizing a slackline for a variety of things, and beginners often approach the sport without knowing where or in what direction it will take them. To ackowledge and incorporate this diversity into our review, we consider the versatility of a kit an extremely important metric in our analysis as it ensures a purchase will last as one grows in the sport.

The clear standout when it comes to versatility is the Gibbon Flowline, which offers a challenging line for virtually all styles of slacklining we have seen. Beginners can set this line up short and low to the ground, using the double ratchets to increase and loosen tension as needed. For those wanting to challenge themselves in distance the Flowline can be setup as long as 60 feet, and can be setup with high anchors and a very loose line to truly train your center in preparation for much longer walks. The 10% stretch in this tubular webbing allows it to function as a solid yoga / static line, offering a line that flows with you during arm balances, splits, and other challenging balancing postures. Finally for those interested in launching an aerial assult, this line can be setup short and very tight so that you can start working on your butt bounces, lemur leaps, 360 jumps, and maybe one day a back flip.
Click to enlarge
Gibbon 1" Tubeline
Credit: Brian Blum

Quality


The majority of lines tested are inherently using high quality webbing and parts, as they must be rated safe at several 100 lbs of tension. However there are clear differences in equipment when it comes to usability and durability, even within a single manufacturer. Our testing aimed to really beat up the equipment, using it and abusing it the way many out there will. We specifically focused on quality with respect to safety, as we felt a slackline failure and possible injury is one of the worst things that could happen for this product. We also considered the quality of the experience on the line; however this was less of a focus as we recognize that as a rating criteria the feel, performance, movement, and experience on a line is extremely subjective and very hard to rate.

The kits that performed the best with respect to quality are those that took extra measures to protect the line and had the least likelihood of jamming or parts breaking from constant use or even misuse. The Trango eLine, most similar to the Primitive Rig, provided good quality webbing and a simple (once learned) tensioning system that does not have complicated moving parts that can break or snag the line. The Mammut Slackline also scored high as its unique use of a combination of two tensioning methods: the friction hitch (a.k.a., primitive rig or the Ellington) and a ratchet protect the ratchet and the line simultaneously. Finally the Gibbon Tubeline and Gibbon Flowline offer a high quality ratchet system with double ratchets that include 1" spacers to protect the line from getting caught.
Trango E-Line - a.k.a. YogaSlackers Slackline KIT
Trango E-Line - a.k.a. YogaSlackers Slackline KIT
Credit: Damian Cooksey

Disassembly


After hours of walking, bouncing, balancing, sitting and potentially growing exhausted on your line, the last thing you want is a difficult, scary, or even dangerous experience when de-tensioning it. From the standpoint of disassembly we specifically considered both how easy it is to pack up and head home, and more importantly what could happen or go wrong that could make this process dangerous to you or anyone around.

With respect to disassembly and safety we found that ratchets, which have the tendency to make setup more simple and straight forward, also have the tendency to make break-down and de-tensioning more complicated. As a result the 2" lines with ratchet systems generally scored on the lower end as we have seen countless examples of lines getting caught in the ratchet and people sticking their fingers deep inside to try and pop off the safety lock. We have also seen a lot of lines get caught in the sides of the ratchet making for a scary experience when you have to pull with all your might to get it loose, having the system suddenly go POP! Our top scorers in this category again were the more primitive setups like the Trango eLine that included carabiners. The unique Mammut system scored highest in this category as the ratchet remained removed from the tensioning system once setup making it easy to tension, easy to break down. Finally the Flowline and Tubeline scored well as the 1" spacers keep the line out of the ratchet and, once done a few times, offer an easy to use and safe safety release.

Features


In addition to a basic line and tightening system, some of the kits and companies selling them took great strides to specialize their product and offer unique features to set them apart. This included carrying cases, instruction manuals for setting up the line, protection for the metal ratchet, rubberized grip on the line itself, adjustable tree anchors, and subtle modifications to the tightening system that made it a little easier or more convenient to work with. We found that while these little nuances made a difference in our experience, none of them broke the bank when it came to making a decision on which line to buy, and often we found that those kits that had the most features seemed to be throwing in features to compensate for a lower quality line.

No particular product blew away the competition from the standpoint of features. Gibbon offered a few products with ratchet protectors which we thought was a nice feature for the safety of children, but was not offered on their higher end trick lines where aerialists were most likely to collide head on with the chunk of metal. The Freeflow Charger, Trango eLine and Slackers Classic Series offered a carrying case; nice, but easy to pick up yourself. A few of the Gibbon lines offered nice grippy coatings, which was especially nice for tricklining. The Mammut offered adjustable tree slings, again nice but not by any means a necessity. The Slackers Classic also offered a guide line to setup overhead and assist beginners while walking. Again nice for children and beginners but a lot of extra material and extra cost to boost ratings significantly.

One feature which none of the kits offered that we do feel is important is tree protection. Although this would be cumbersome to include in a kit, we do recommend that anyone slacklining on trees with soft bark use some form of tree protection underneath the anchor, whether it be a piece of cardboard, carpet, or specific tree protection like that sold by Gibbon.

Editor's Choice Award


Overall the Gibbon Flowline offers a great product for most slackliners out there. A beginner that is looking for a product that will take a long time to outgrow will be well served by this line. The Flowline is easy to setup, and offers a solid double ratchet system with protective spacers that make setup and disassembly simple. This line can be setup short and tight for beginners, long and loose for long line enthusiasts, and tight for those looking to perform aerial maneuvers. This general applicability and versatility makes the Gibbon Flowline our Editor's Choice Award winner as the best overall slacklining kit.
Click to enlarge
Gibbon 1" Tubeline
Credit: Brian Blum


Best Buy


The Gibbon Classic is an excellent line for an entry-level slackliner and wins our Best Buy Award as it is available at a very low price tag ($70 for the 49 ft version which is what we rated, $90 for the longer 82 ft version). Children, in particular, find this line much easier to balance on because it has very little movement to it and can be setup extremely low to the ground. Although movement of the line is part of the fun with slacklining, we found that the fact that this line hardly moves at all is actually beneficial to beginners. No other line we reviewed was as beginner friendly. If you are just starting out with slacklining and are looking for a great value, the Gibbon Classic is an excellent choice.

Top Pick - Trickline


The Gibbon Surfline was the best trickline we tested and wins our Top Pick Award in this area specifically. It is designed for the aerial slackliner looking to take the sport of slacklining to X-Games style extremes, and at 90+ feet in length also offers a line that can be used for a variety of other purposes. The Surfline comes with an extra long ratchet handle for leverage to crank this 90+ foot trickline extremely tight, and offers great movement, bounce, and feel. This is a specialty line, and because of the higher cost and specificity of function we only recommend this line for those looking to take this sport to the extremes of dynamic tricklining.
Click to enlarge
Damian Cooksey on the Gibbon Surfline Slack Line
Credit: Gail Sondermeyer

History


The slackline serves as a vehicle for astounding feats of balance, agility and athleticism. The dynamic colorful webbing, strung between two anchor points, is a relatively modern piece of equipment. Yet, the idea of walking across a rope to bridge a gap is ancient. The evolution from a tight rope to the modern stretchy webbing has its roots entwined with Yosemite Valley's Camp 4 climbing culture and from these beginnings, it has spread to all corners of the world.

The bouncy line, which is commonly seen rigged up on college campus greeneries and in city parks, differs greatly from the tight rope. However, the birth of the slackline would not have been possible without the inspiration of its rigid older brother. The term for rope walking, known as funambulus (lat. "funis" rope , "ambulare" to go) dates back to Ancient Greece. The Greeks revered it as a display of artistry, but did not consider it to be athletic enough for an Olympic sport. Rope walking also played a part in Ancient Asian culture, for example, the ropewalking tradition of Jultagi is a Korean form of acrobatic storytelling accompanied by music. Historians speculate that it originated in the Silla era (57 BC 935 AD).

As in Asia, rope walking was an especially revered art in Europe. It was a form of entertainment reserved for lavish royal events. As early as 1389, a tightrope walker carrying candles was known to have "walked along a rope suspended from the spires of the cathedral to the tallest house in the city" to celebrate Queen Isabeau's coronation in Paris. Madame Saqui, one of the most well known funambulists' from the late 1700s, was a regular performer for Napoleon Bonaparte's parties and, upon the birth of the heir to his throne, Saqui awed guests by walking between the towers of the Notre-Dame cathedral.

The popularity of ropewalking continued to flourish with athletes of the modern era pushing the limits of the art form. In the early 1960's, climbers looking for mental training and physical challenges, began walking the chains between posts in Yosemite Valley parking lots. While the links did not offer the dynamic stretch of webbing, they did provide the swinging side to side movement, similar to that which a slackline produces. This climber's pastime became known as slack chaining. From slack chaining, people began to experiment further, rigging up old climbing ropes instead of the rigid metal links. These chains offered the most dynamic sensation to date and contributed with the transition to slacklining as we know it today.

In 1979 at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington two college students, Adam Growsky and Jeff Ellington, began walking the steel cables in the central campus plaza. They pushed the sport in a new direction by rigging the first piece of tubular strapping to walk the line and began to learn and appreciate the swing and bounce that this new material offered. Ellington invented a locking pulley instrument to ratchet the line, creating an easy way to adjust the tautness. In 1983, they decided to take their sport to the next level by rigging a steel high wire at Yosemite's lost arrow spire. However, at this time neither was able to make the crossing from one end to the other.

It wasn't long after when Scott Balcom and Chris Carpenter were inspired by the endeavors of Growsky and Ellington to rig a highline with nylon webbing at a spot named The Arches. It spanned a 30ft long interval, 120 ft high set up between two arches under a bridge in Pasadena, CA. This was the first documented, successful high walk on nylon webbing. The summer following this feat, the pair of brave athletes along with Darrin Carter set up a nylon highline on The Lost Arrow.
No one succeeded in crossing the highline until Scott returned a year later and accomplished the lost arrow crossing.Nearly ten years after Scott's feat, Carpenter became the second person to successfully follow this accomplishment. Subsequently, Carter completed the same feat. However, he accomplished it without a tether to the rope, which would have caught a potential fall. In 2003, the infamous Dean Potter walked it both ways un-tethered. Finally, in 2007, Libby Sauter became the first woman to successfully cross the now famous lost arrow highline.

Today, many different variations of the sport have evolved, such as urbanlining, waterlining, tricklining, freestyle and even, yoga slacklining. Each variation shares the same simple gear yet contrast in terms of technique. Variance in terms of set-up can also have great effects on how the line responds to the user's movement. For example, increased ratcheting tension lends well to the precision required of trickling. On the other hand, looser rigging enables fluid swings and surfing. While each may differ in stylistic ways, all require balance, concentration, and creativity of the mind and body.

The practice of funambulism is no longer reserved for daredevil circus performers in royal courts, the invention of the slackline has made the ancient balancing art available for everyone. All it takes is two stable points between which the line is secured and a willingness to play. From there, the sky is the limit in terms of the creativity and athleticism.

Brian Blum
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