Gibbon Flowline Review
Cons: Not great for beginners
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Our Analysis and Test Results
If you're looking to progress into 1-inch longlining, the Gibbon Flowline is a simple setup that's easy to rig on your own. If you want to push your slacklining abilities or are toying with the idea of progressing into highlining and aren't afraid of some basic rigging, a more traditional rig would be a better choice, but for casual backyard or park fun, this beginner style longline is easy to set up, and a blast to walk.
Ease of Set-up
As far as one-inch long-lines go, this product is incredibly straightforward and quick to set-up. Eighty-two feet is a lot of webbing, and more traditional longlines require a ton of force to achieve the desired tension. We're talking pulley systems for mechanical advantage, or lots of strong-armed friends. But not for this line! With a standard ratchet attachment on each end of the line, you'll have it rigged at its full length in no-time.
The two-sided webbing has one blue side and one yellow side, so that, when you pull it tight to tension, you can easily see if there are any twists in the line. The kit we tested also had two tree protection pads that were easy-to-use but could have used more length, which left often us borrowing pads from other kits. Gibbon does sell tree protection separately and we recommend adding a couple of them to the cart at checkout!
To reduce the amount of wobble in the slackline due to the heavy ratchets bouncing, try using larger trees, or wrap the ratchet around the anchor a couple of times. This positions the ratchets closer to the anchor, reducing the wobble created by them significantly. Keep in mind, by moving the ratchets closer to the trees will reduce the total walkable length.
This product works great as intended, but while it's an efficient longlining set-up, the 1-inch webbing makes it more challenging for beginners to learn on. However, if this is the line you choose to learn on, the ratchets allow you to set it up as short as you want, and lengthen the line as you grow more comfortable. True tricksters may be able to slack on just about anything, but if you're interested in learning tricks or already have a love for flips, this isn't the best line for you.
Now, this isn't a great trick-line or a true long-line, but the 90+ feet of webbing really opens up your opportunities at the local park when trees or anchor selections are limited.
Both of the ratchets that come with this model are the standard design and include plastic buffers to neatly accommodate the narrow one-inch line width. The plastic line spacers are smooth and forgiving to protect the edge of the webbing from rubbing when tensioning and releasing the line. As with all of the ratchet based systems we tested, ratchet failure is exceedingly rare except in the case of user-error.
The Flowline has a relatively thick webbing that is soft underfoot and enjoyable to walk on with bare feet or with shoes, but unfortunately, its loose weave is prone to fraying or picking, so use caution to keep the line running evenly in the ratchet drum when tensioning and releasing the line. The portion of the webbing that gets fed into the ratchet is the most susceptible to wear and tear and double ratchets mean both ends of this line are at risk, but as long as everything stays aligned when tensioning and disassembly, the wear to the material should be minimal.
The Flowline has the same disassembly process as any other ratchet based system even though there are two ratchets. After you "POP!" one side loose, of course, the other ratchet is no longer under tension and can be unlocked to fully disassemble. We did find this to have a fair amount of bite however, so watch your fingers and trust the process! Gibbon also sells a slow-release system that will prolong the life of the slackline by eliminating the abrasion from the "SNAP!" all-together.
The model we tested came with tree protection, the slackline, and two ratchets. The tree padding was good, but we wish it were at least a foot longer to reach around more trees. Many kits we tested included a cheap storage bag, but no storage bag was included in this kit, though honestly, bags that come with these slacklines are usually of poor quality.
Having a second ratchet allows you to tension the line fully since the one-inch webbing is more elastic and requires more tension than the more modern 2-inch slacklines. One ratchet doesn't quite have enough "throw", so having two ratchets allows you twice the tensioning room.
While this line is one of the more expensive products we tested, it is still significantly less than a more traditional longline setup. The durability was good for the price, and for a simple ratchet based 1-inch long-line, there aren't that many options available. The simple fact that this line is so fun to walk, ups the value factor a fair amount. If you want to expand to walking seriously long or high-lines, then this may suffice for a minute, but you will outgrow this kit quickly. However, if you just want to experience the feel of a long line without the extra gear or commitment required with a traditional set-up, this line is an awesome option.
We had a great time testing this line and enjoyed the freedom that an easy to set-up longline offered. If you are looking to grow into walking longer lines without taking anything too seriously, this is a great line. If you know the limitations of the kit and are okay with them, this kit may just be what you need. Out of the top contenders, this was one of the most fun to walk and surf, yet it was also one of the easier long-lines to get set up. For some, this line doesn't check all the boxes, and that makes sense, but for many, this line will be a great option that will satisfy them for years!
— Adam Paashaus & Leslie Yedor