Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $110
Pros: Versatile, durable line. Easy to setup and take down. Great all around value.
Cons: Bulky. Pops during disassembly.
Best Uses: Versatile for yoga, tricks, long-line practice
The Gibbon 1" Tubeline Kit 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 line is closer in feel to more traditional (primitive) slacklines although with a little less stretch, and provides the option for an easy-to-setup longer (60 ft) slackline kit than can be used for static or dynamic tricks. The tubular webbing is soft on the feet and provides a moderate stretch for balance postures. With two ratchets the line can be cranked tight and allows for many aerial maneuvers as well.
For traditionalists you might be better served by sticking with tubular webbing (15-20% stretch) in a primitive setup if you enjoy a line that gives and stretches in harmony with your movements. For those aerial liners I would recommend sticking with a 2" Gibbon Jibline or Gibbon Surfline which offers more surface area on which to bounce and play. For those looking to walk a longer more sturdy line that can be setup at lower heights, one might consider the Gibbon 1" Flowline, or potentially purchase Gibbon Tubeline in a longer spool along with the appropriate pulley technology and tensioning system.
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 double ratchet system that comes with the 1" Tubeline allows for more flexibility in the overall setup, including tightening at much higher tensions. Although it took us a little bit to get the hang of this setup (to ensure that we didn't over ratchet one side jamming up the line and making it more difficult to de-tension), once we got the hang of the two ratchet system we found it preferable as we were able to rig a range of setups from a loose 60 foot rodeo line to an extremely tight trickline at virtually all lengths. We especially like the addition of spacers to the 2" ratchets to help keep your line away from sharp metal edges. This kept the line from getting caught in the ratchet and frayed the way many 2" comparable lines do, likely meaning these kits will last a lot longer than other ratchet systems that tend to eat the line in only a short amount of time.
The Gibbon 1" Tubeline is an amazing all purpose generalist, not necessarily a specialist. This line has a great feel on the feet and can be rigged from 10-60 feet, is fun to walk, can be setup low for beginners and has some bounce and play for an advanced practice. We especially like setting the line up at 8-10ft high as a rodeo line (completely slack and just off the ground) to help train our core and work on our center for walking longer lines.
The Tubeline can be tensioned significantly enough at short and medium distances (under 40 feet) to perform aerial maneuvers such as the butt bounce, lemur leap, vertical jumps, and more. However for those true aerialists out there you would be better served by a 2" Gibbon trick line such as the Gibbon Jibline currently used in competition. The Jibline has a lot more bounce and recoil. For those that have a traditional yoga / balancing style of practice the Tubeline does not stretch quite like traditional military spec webbing, but does offer enough movement to flow zen-like on the line. We especially like the range of possibilities offered based on different levels of tightness, it is enough to keep using the line in different ways and never get bored.
As a final point with two ratchets and 60 feet of webbing this kit is not light-weight or compact, so not the best line to take with you when traveling. Instead we recommend something like the Trango eLine or Gibbon Travelline for those on the move with limited cargo space.
Although the Tubeline has not been available as long as other lines on the market, we can tell from our initial testing that this line is built to last. The tubular webbing offers 10% stretch; more than its sister product the Gibon Flowline at 8%, but much less than typical webbing used in more primitive slackline setups. This low stretch and tubular feel, along with the rubber grip printed coating produces a line that is comfortable to walk on barefoot, versatile, and all around high quality. The line is rated up to 6,000 lbs and is not something we envision ever breaking or even stretching out over time. Additionally due to the spacers in the tightening system that protect the 1" line from getting caught in the 2" metal ratchet, we believe this line should last much longer than other ratchet systems where the 2" wide line tends to get caught in the sides of the ratchet during tightening, often resulting in shredded webbing.
While the double ratchet system makes setup a bit more cumbersome for setup, it does not adversely affect the process duration or safety of the system during de-tensioning. Disassembly is easy once you get the hang of these ratchets, where you release the safety, straighten out the ratchet until the system pops and the line comes free and then easily pulls through. We have experienced and tested lines that utilize a 2" ratchet system for a 1" slackline, and in these cases taking the line down can be quite a problem depending on how carefully it was setup. Often the line will wander on the ratchet, getting caught in the sides and becoming a mess to release. With the 1" spacers designed for this system the process of disassembly is quite clean, assuming of course you were careful to ensure that you did not over tighten the system and get the line partially stuck.
Please note that it did take us a few times through to get the hang of the ratchet, and the pop can be a little scary the first few times when the line is exceptionally tight. We encourage you to tension and de-tension the system a few times without cranking the line very tight to get a feel for the system. Also if during tensioning you notice the line getting caught in the sides or not feeding straight please stop and start over, as de-tensioning can get a bit more dangerous if the line is not fed through the ratchet clean and without twisting on itself.
One additional point is that for the first ten or so times using the line we have noticed that the rubber coating tends to "melt" the line together and stick during de-tensioning. Fortunately it is just something to note, as it has not been a problem to separate the line when this happens and it stops happening after only a few weeks of use.
Slacklines in general don't offer a tremendous number of features and accessories, but those subtle differences do make or break a product. The specific features of the Tubeline that set it apart is the improved ratchet technology, featuring 1" spacers in a 2" ratchet that is much easier to use, durably built, and most importantly safe. The fact that the systems comes with two of these ratchets allows for a wide range of configurations during setup and is a key feature in the system. Additionally the Tubeline has a subtle rubber coating on the line which offers excellent grip on the feet and shoes.
Overall the Gibbon Tubeline was the most versatile slackline kit we tested. While no slackline can meet the needs of every style of slacker out there, the Tubeline comes as close as you can get. Setup between 20 to 40 feet long, only 1 or 2 feet high and pulled very taught, we found this to be a great line for beginners taking their very first steps. It holds firm and tight and offers an easy to mount, easy to fall line for those that don't want to venture too far from the ground. For those slackers out there that have incorporated precise balance postures including arm balances and other yogic poses into their routine, the Tubeline kit can be setup from 40 to as long as 60 feet in a moderately tight setup that allows for a lot of movement and general flow. For trick liners that bounce and jump and seem to spend as much time above the line as on it, the Tubeline can be pulled extremely taught at 20-40 feet to serve as a great intro trickline. Finally long line enthusiasts can be challenged by setting up the Tubeline kit rodeo style, very loose with anchors high off the ground, to practice centering themselves and controlling precise movement with every step and every breath.
The Gibbon Tubeline kit is on the more expensive side of slackline kits on the market, but offers tremendous value for your money as an extremely versatile, multi-purpose kit. We feel you get a tremendous, durable product that will last years and is not likely to get boring or end up collecting dust in your toy shed. If you don't have a very specific style of slackline you are looking for, but want a general product that you, your family, and your friends can use and continue to work to master for years to come, the Gibbon Tubeline is our Editor's Choice.
Overall the Tubeline offers a great product for most slackliners out there. A beginner that is looking for a slackline that will take a long time to outgrow will be well served by this line. For more advanced practitioners that want a versatile line that incorporates various styles to practice, we highly recommend this setup. However if you are specifically a trickliner, a long-liner, or a yoga slacker you might be better served by getting the line that is more specifically tailored to your area of expertise.
Other Versions and Accessories
Although we reviewed the Gibbon Tubeline Kit, it is worth noting that the Tubeline webbing is available in any length up to 490 ft, priced per foot. Additionally we recommend purchasing or making tree protection for setting up lines in the park or in public spaces.
— Brian Blum
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Most recent review: November 18, 2013
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