Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Easy to set up, easy to walk, great for beginners. Great Value.
Cons: Ratchet tricky to release, not durable and wears down webbing. Not versatile.
Best Uses: Walking, static poses, beginning aerial tricks.
The Gibbon Classic Slackline 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 slackline 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.
Check out our complete Slackline review to see how this compares to other lines out there.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
Ease of Setup
The Gibbon Classic has evolved quite a bit over the years, with the latest version on the market providing a much improved ratchet system with an incorporated safety lock that makes it extremely easy to setup and take down, and does a much better job of preventing the line from catching and getting torn in the gears of the ratchet. To truly test ease of setup with this and other kits we had newbies that have never been on or setup a line before try to setup a few of the slacklines we evaluated. We found that by far the Gibbon Classic was quicker, more intuitive and less confusing for most, and for those that did have some trouble it is worth noting that the Classic comes with an instruction booklet to walk you through the step-by-step setup process.
The Gibbon Classic is hands down a beginner line, and a great beginner line, but not a tremendous amount more. We found that this is a great line for parties and for setting up in public spaces where many people can try and succeed on this line in just a short amount of time. In general a great entry into the sport. It also provides good tension and some bounce, allowing those aspiring to do aerial tricks or more challenging poses to begin to test the waters, so to speak. Overall this is a line that will last an individual months, not years of play.
This is not to say that you cannot do more with this line, but given a particular style of more advanced slacklining we felt a lot more comfortable on lines designed specifically for movement or bounce, or lines that allow more feel underfoot. For anyone that is looking to more seriously get into the sport of slacklining, and wants a line that they can improve on and continue to use over the years, we instead recommend a more versatile line such as the Gibbon Tubeline. The Classic will not support more advanced aerial tricks and does not provide the experience that many Yogi's are looking for on a 1" line with stretch and feel under your feet. Long line enthusiasts also gain very little from this line, although it is offered in an 82 ft version which we unfortunately did not have a chance to test.
The quality of the Gibbon Classic Slackline Kit has improved quite a bit over the years. The Classic was the beginning of Gibbon's sojourn into the slackline world. Realizing the complexity and mechanical understanding required to rig most slackline kits, Gibbon marketed a line that is incredibly easy to rig and fairly versatile in its uses. In the earlier versions the ratchet technology was off-the-shelf and had the tendency to break or snag and fray the line. Over the years Gibbon has continued to improve on their technology, developing a patented ratchet system that works more smoothly with less issues and greater longevity.
The material of the Gibbon Classic has also improved over the years. What started as a very stiff 2" wide line has softened a bit and been re-engineered for an improved feel, a little more bounce, and a more solid weave. The Classic that you purchase today in stores or from Gibbon has a much higher quality feel from the first Gibbon 2" Classic lines sold. The recently added feature of the ratchet pad protective cover helps protect the ratchet from debris and other things getting caught inside, and serves as an additional safety measure. Gibbon has gone great lengths to make the Classic as approachable by beginners as possible, and as a result of the Classic in particular, the sport of slacklining has grown by leaps and bounds.
In general we have found that ratchet systems and all slacklining tightening systems have their pro's and con's when it comes to disassembly, especially from the standpoint of safety. The trick here is being very familiar with how the tightening system releases and being smart and mindful to keep your fingers away from moving components and to be very conscious of how and in what direction potential energy will release. That said we found that the Gibbon Classic offers an average level of technicality and safety when it comes to disassembly as the 2" wide single ratchet holds extreme tension which tends to release in one, potentially scary and even dangerous pop. In most cases when the line is properly tensioned and the ratchet is in good working order the process is smooth and simple. However older ratchets have been known to become difficult to work with, often getting stuck and requiring finagling to release the line. When this happens, especially when the 2" line is not centered properly and gets caught in the sides of the ratchet, there is a tendency to get your fingers deeper into the system, pushing and pulling on different parts to try and release the tension. Please BE VERY CAREFUL and keep your ratchet and line in good working order. When tightening please be very careful to keep the line centered and if it begins to feed in to the sides of the ratchet, stop, release the pressure and re-do everything so that it is clean and carefully tensioned.
It is important to note that a lot of the problems we have seen with the Classic were on an older ratchet system, and Gibbon has taken great strides to improve the technology so that it is more durable, safer, and easier to work with. This is especially true for the x13 version which comes with an updated ratchet tightening system.
As a line specifically suited for children and beginners, Gibbon recently included a ratchet pad protective cover that fits over the metal ratchet tightening system both protecting the user during falls and protecting the ratchet itself from debris. The 8 ft ratchet loop that wraps around the tree on the tightening side also allows the line to be setup on larger trees. Note that the 8 ft is available on the Red Classic x13 line, versus the Red Classic which comes with a 6.5 ft anchor.
We feel the Gibbon Classic is most appropriate for beginners, groups or organizations that are new to slacklining or want to offer a line that has a low barrier of entry. This line is especially good for yoga studios or climbing gyms looking for an introductory line to put up. Also we recommend the Gibbon for someone looking for a party line for their children or for social gatherings.
The overall value of the Gibbon Classic (specifically the Red Classic x13) awards it a Best Buy. There are other lines out there made specifically for beginners, but the Classic is extremely well made, well priced, easy to setup, and generally a great introductory line at an affordable price. We highly recommend this line for anyone out there wanting a casual line for their back yard, especially for children.
The Gibbon Classic has stood the test of time and has proven itself as an excellent introductory line over the years. As Gibbon continues to improve on the technology of the webbing, ratchet, and other accessories, this line continues to get better. At a low price point the Classic allows new slackliners a great transition into this growing sport.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Gibbon Tubeline wins our Editor's Choice Award as the most versatile all-purpose line tested. We love that this line can be setup short for beginners, tight for trickliners, or long and loose for long-line enthusiasts working to keep a perfect center.
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.
Some places require you to use tree protection when setting up your line, because of this we recommend you either purchase Gibbon Treewear or make your own.
Promo Video for the Gibbon Classic Slackline
Video on How to Set up a Gibbon Line
— Brian Blum
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Most recent review: June 5, 2014
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