Hands-on Gear Review
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Street Price: $0-75
Pros: Inexpensive, lightweight, safe to detension, often can be made from gear you have lying around (if you are a climber).
Cons: Need to assemble parts and figure out how to set up, requires two people to get good tension.
Best Uses: Walking, surfing, tricklining.
The Primitive Rig’s price tag earns it our Best Buy Award. That said, we recommend the Gibbon Classic to most people who are just starting out. The Classic compared to the Primitive rig is easier to rig, easier to walk, and can be about the same cost depending on if you have all the parts around to make the primitive rig or not.
The Primitive Rig is versatile enough to rig everything from a short beginner line, to a reasonably tight trickline, to a bonafide longline. You’ll need some friends around to help out with tensioning – but that’s part of the fun. And unlike a kit with a ratchet, it is easy and safe to de-tension this line. If you don't want to assemble this kit yourself, you can buy the Balance Community Primitive Kit ($110) or the Trango ELine ($90).
Check out our complete Slackline review to see how this compared to others.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
With the onslaught of slackline companies selling kits these days, the Primitive rig is still a viable choice for getting into the sport. We couldn’t review slackline kits without including the rig that started it all. The Primitive Rig is just that – primitive. It is the first system created with webbing and a few biners in Yosemite by Jeff Ellington in the early 1980s. There are some companies that sell kits that are essentially a primitive rigs. However, this review is on the basic, build-your-own slackline like they did it back in the day. The only late-day addition is the linelocker, which replaces all or some of the knots in the rig.
The price tag for this rig varies from $0-75 depending on whether you have some old carabiners you’re willing to sacrifice for slacklining. If you are a climber, you can probably find all the components lying around so the line sorta costs $0. But it you were to drive to REI to get carabiners and 50-100 feet of webbing then to the hardware store for the chain link you could easily spend $50-75 (plus gas and your time).
• An Important note about this rig: Do not mix slacklining gear with climbing gear. Aluminum carabiners are designed for a quick shock load and can sometimes develop stress fractures under the continuous load of a slackline. A carabiner used for slacklining should never be used for climbing.
First of all, this rig is cheap. Really cheap. If you are already a climber, you probably have some retired carabiners lying around, so that part of the rig won’t cost you anything.
If you buy a long enough piece of webbing, you could rig a line up to 100 feet with a Primitive Rig. This is great because a lot of the kits on the market do not give you the option of rigging a longer line.
This is the lightest and most compact slackline option. There is no heavy ratchet or thick line, which makes it very easy to travel with. We took one of the ratchet kits on a trip to Hawaii and it not only caused a lot of delays in security, it took up most of the space in the carry on.
The main disadvantage of this line is only encountered when you get to the level of aerial tricklining. Another name for the Primitive Rig is the “friction wrap." The name pretty much says it all - there is a ton of friction in this system. The theoretical mechanical advantage is 4:1 but much of that advantage is lost in friction. A couple of people can effectively bring a Primitive rig to walking tension, but if you want a super tight line you’ll need to multiply the forces with either a pulley or another couple of carabiners. (There are a number of videos on YouTube showing how to do this.)
Another point of anguish about the Primitive Rig is the wear on the line that comes with using the friction wrap to tension. If you are a serious trickliner, be prepared to loose some length off of your line over time. The scuff marks will turn in to frays, and the frays will eventually snap. Webbing is pretty durable, so this will take some time.
— Damian Cooksey
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Most recent review: July 21, 2011
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