Zen Monkey Complete Kit Review
Cons: Red dye
Manufacturer: Zen Monkey
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Our Analysis and Test Results
A fair price, attractive package, and excellent feature set contribute to making this a good beginner line. It works great as a learning line or for a casual slack sesh in the backyard. The webbing isn't bouncy enough for tricks, and the max this can easily be set up is about 55', which isn't bad but not long enough for longlining.
Ease of Set-up
Setting up the Zen Monkey is a breeze. Even though the ratchet included is basic, it inspires confidence and tightens the webbing easily due to its low 7% stretch. Its 8' sling allows it to reach around most trees. A good set of instructions make it easy for a first-timer to set up. Pictures show the process and clearly described written instructions were well thought out and made without the apparent fog of translation found many times with small online import companies.
The nice sized (some of the largest) felt tree protection pads have "belt-loops" on them that help to keep the slackline straps in place as you set up the rest of the system.
This is a fairly versatile slackline. An experienced slacker will like this line for a casual city park rig, or, with all its features geared towards beginners, a first-timer can learn a new skill. The low stretch webbing is perfect for learning as it tends to be more stable.
Of all the traditional length models in our test, the Zen Monkey Complete Kit was the longest. When stretched out all the way, this line can reach up to about 55' long. We found that those few extra feet helped considerably to open up the slacking opportunities when the anchor locations are not ideal.
Other slacklines ranked higher on the versatility scale, but this line is the most versatile line for learning on and getting the basics down.
The quality of the Zen Monkey is pretty good. Even though the webbing is soft, it has a tight enough weave that it held up well with repeated use. The ratchet, with its rubber-coated release lever, though basic, is extremely reliable. The tree protectors supplied with the kit were also quite nice. Measuring 6"x58", they were one of the largest and most well-padded of the tree pro.
We were delighted with the quality of the slackline itself, but slightly let down by the quality of the bonus features like the overhead training line. By the time we got done setting up the training line, red dye from the line had gotten on our clothes and coated our hands. The ratchet for the training line was also a basic non-locking style leaving a bit to be desired.
The disassembly of a ratchet based slackline and its unpredictability takes some getting used to. The instructions mention that the slackline releases with "tremendous force", and that is true. However, once you get the hang of it and keep all fingers and hair clear, it's not too bad.
This is a beginner-friendly line with beginner-friendly features. The kit includes an 8' ratchet, a 52' slackline, (2) long and wide tree protectors with loops, an overhead training line with ratchet, an arm trainer with sewn loops, and a decent quality carrying bag.
There are a couple of types of tree protectors, but the Zen Monkey Complete kit has the most common, felt with velcro. Many trees are too big for one protector to go around fully, so often, we borrowed from other rigs to make it work. Keep that in mind when ordering your slackline and consider ordering one or two extra. However, the supplied pads in this kit are longer than most, which makes them more versatile for when the trees are on the large side. We love the loops that are sewn onto the tree pro. They help hold the slackline and ratchet in place while you set up the rest of the system.
The overhead training line does have excess red dye but works as advertised. When the training line is set up slightly out of reach, holding the arm trainer with it draped over the training line, correct arm positioning comes naturally.
It might seem trivial, but we do like the visual representation of this kit. It comes in a clean box, has a well designed (non-grippy) print on the slackline itself, comes with great instructions, and a sticker, etc.
We put these slacklines through the wringer. With as many times as we set up, walked, and detached this slackline, we are seeing very little wear and tear. This line has all the features a beginner would need to learn confidently. Zen Monkey also offers the same slackline in blue without the training line. The price went up this year, but we feel its still a fair value for what you get.
This slackline makes a great casual city park style line, but it also is perfect for those looking to learn a new skill and find their "Zen". You know that crusty climber guy whos been walking on webbing since the "good ol' days", you know, "pre-ratchet"? Yeah, he's not likely to be taken aback by this slackline, but if he gets on and takes a walk for himself, it's quite possible he'll mutter the words "not bad" under his hand-rolled cigarette breath.
— Adam Paashaus