Are you new to slacklining or looking to upgrade your current setup? We put 12 of the top rated and most popular slacklines on the market today through a vigorous set of side-by-side tests. We rigged, we walked, and we evaluated each slackline on the ease of set up, its versatility, the quality of the line and tensioning system, the ease of disassembly, and any bonus features. From novices taking their first wobbly steps to pros hucking backflips, we put these slacklines through it all. We examined the modern two-inch lines with ratchet systems, traditionally rigged one-inch lines, longlines, and tricklines to help you find the right model for your style. Check out the full review below to find out which contender is the best to take you to new heights or lengths.
The Best Slacklines of 2018
This spring, we updated our 2018 slackline review, bringing you a complete run-down on everything from the latest and greatest to the long-time favorites. We tested the 12 most popular models and were excited to find new frontrunners as well as a renewed love for some of the older lines too. Our Editors' Choice goes to one of the newest models, the Flybold Kit for its superior quality and comprehensive features. With its remarkably low price, it also swooped in as the Best Buy. Traditions are tradition for a reason, and the Balance Community Primitive Kit remains our Top Pick for Traditional Slacklining. We also added a new Top Pick for Tricklining, the Voodoo 82' Gold Trickline which is an excellent line for this dynamic version of the sport.
Best Overall Slackline
Flybold Complete Kit
Excelling in almost all aspects of the sport, the Flybold Kit was easily our favorite line of all the models we tested. This entire kit was thoughtfully designed and includes a high-quality line with added features that do a marvelous job of pleasing both beginner and intermediate slackers. The overhead hand line with the addition of an arm trainer is great for novice walkers to help gain their balance, and it teaches proper technique at the same time.
The webbing is soft enough to walk barefoot or with shoes, is stiff enough for beginners, but sports enough bounce for dabbling in tricks. The price point is exceptionally low, and for all the people you can entertain with this line, well worth it! For all of these reasons we've awarded it our Editors' Choice and at such a low price, it's our Best Buy too.
Read review: Flybold Kit
Top Pick for Traditional Slacklining
Balance Community Primitive Kit
Our Top Pick for Traditional Slacklining award goes to the Balance Community Primitive Kit. This is a specialized one-inch system with the highest quality components we tested, and it's a must-have for any long-term slacker. The pieces of this kit grow with you as you move through the various disciplines, and their high quality ensures they will outlast even the most motivated slacker. As two-inch models increase in popularity and ubiquity, the Balance Community Primitive Kit is a big win for the traditional slackers out there.
What makes this kit stand out is the way it tackles the main drawbacks to primitive lines. They've included two highly durable and independent anchor pieces, which leaves your main line out of the anchor system and increases its longevity. The multiplier ring helps combat the most significant drawback to primitive lines: tensioning. This simple addition enables you to tension much longer lines with ease.
Read review: Balance Community Primitive Kit
Top Pick for Tricklining
Voodoo Gold Trickline
The Voodoo 82' Gold Trickline is a high-quality line with enough bounce for even the biggest aerial tricks. It excels in its specialty, earning it our Top Pick for Tricklining award. This kit boasts a 13-inch long ratchet as part of its anchoring system instead of the standard 8-inches. This extra length allows the solo slacker to easily tension all 82-feet of this stretchy webbing.
While the trampoline-like quality of this webbing makes it ideal for tricks, the added bounce reduces its stability and makes it more challenging for beginners trying to learn to walk. If you are already into tricks and/or are looking to increase your vert and gymnastic-like feats, this line packs all the zing you need.
Read review: Voodoo Gold Trickline
Analysis and Test Results
The act of being on a slackline is often referred to as a form of "moving meditation." Participants must focus their attention, center their body, and let go of any daily distractions. Over the years, the simple process of walking a strand of webbing has transformed into various disciplines including slackline yoga, longlining, highlining, and tricklining. The 12 kits we evaluated in this updated review cover the most commonly practiced forms of slacklining and leave the more extreme versions for you to discover on your own. Whether you are new to the sport or are a seasoned veteran trying to learn more about the updates in slackline technology, we wrote our review to address questions you may have regarding the perfect kit.
Slacklining originated from climbers looking for entertainment on their rest days. They grabbed extra one-inch webbing they had lying around, strung it up between two trees, and the sport was born. Nowadays, it has grown into a multi-disciplinary activity with some highly specialized kits. The right model for your particular needs depends on your skill level, desired objective, and prior rigging knowledge.
A beginner is not going to have the easiest time learning how to walk on a bouncy professional trickline, and someone looking to advance in the sport will quickly grow out of the basic beginner models. Keep reading to see what's the best option for you, and for more on the evolution of the sport, check out our History section below.
The chart below plots the price of an item and its overall score. Mouse over our touch the dots below to see the product name (blue dots are award winners). The Flybold lines are by far the best value as the Complete Kit is one of the least expensive lines and scores the highest, though the Slackline Industries Base Line is a close second and around the same price.
Ease of Setup
Even with years of experience in slacklining, climbing, and rigging, setting up a line can be an intricate and often physical process. Whether it is 30-feet long and two-feet high or 1000-feet long and 3000-feet high, each line presents its own unique challenges. When contending with a system that potentially has thousands of pounds of tension, and must be adaptable to different terrain, there is no end to the variables that complicate your rigging. Because setup is rarely intuitive, it is essential to be aware of the different types of lines and what the process involves.
There are two common types of tightening systems: traditional/primitive systems and ratchet systems. For complicated highline rigging or exceptionally long lines, a third type of tensioning system involving pulleys, line lockers, brakes, and line grips is used, but that is beyond the scope of this review. Primitive/traditional systems get their name from the carabiners and line lockers used for rigging when the sport first began in the '70's. This setup is more complicated to assemble and less popular with beginners than the more modern ratchet-based systems. Like with most technologies, advancements provide convenience, and so most of the kits we tested are ratchet-based.
For the primitive/traditional system, the main one-inch webbing that you walk on doubles as the tensioning system, creating an integrated and elegant low-tech slackline. It seems confusing at first, but with a little hands-on practice, this system quickly becomes nearly as easy as a ratchet. To rig a primitive line, you attach the non-tensioned end to one anchor with a line lock, knot or girth hitch, and extend the webbing towards the far anchor. With a few feet remaining before the anchor (usually about 85 percent of the length of the line), the line is wrapped through a metal ring and connected to a carabiner using the "line lock" hitch technique. The line then continues to the anchor and goes around a carabiner clipped there. Next, it heads back to the line-locked carabiner. To create the friction brake that is integral to this system, the webbing must be placed under the loop of line that is already around the carabiner. Pull the free end until you have achieved your desired tension and viola. Slack on! If you need some visuals to go along with that description, check out the directions for the Balance Community Primitive Kit here.
The Balance Community Primitive Kit takes longer to rig than most ratchet systems; however, there are some advantages to this method. It uses gear that is easily replaceable if the parts wear out or get lost. This system is also gentle on the line. The lack of sharp edges helps prevent the webbing from fraying. The main drawback of primitive rigs is that they are quite difficult to tension at distances over 30-40 feet. If you plan to progress into the world of longlining or highlining, learning to walk a 1-inch line and employ basic rigging techniques are important first steps. Therefore, we gave the Balance Community Primitive Kit our Top Pick for Traditional Slacklining award.
The introduction of ratchets into the slackline world has greatly simplified the rigging process for beginners. With a ratchet system, you can be up and walking (or learning to) within 5-10 minutes, even for first-time users. Typically, you run the line around your first tree (or anchor) and through a loop at the end of the line, creating a girth hitch. The free end of the line then runs out towards your second tree (or anchor) where a sling with a ratchet at the end has also been girth hitched. The free end of the line is then placed into the ratchet, and all the slack is removed. Open the ratchet handle, crank the line tight and you are ready to go.
The ease of setting up a ratchet slackline is undeniable and represents one of the top reasons for purchasing a ratchet system. But these lines are not without problems. One inherent limitation is that these lines are all sold as complete kits, so if something breaks on your ratchet, you must purchase an entire kit, line and all. You are also limited in your choice of anchors due to the length of the ratchet sling. If the ratchet and sling are six feet long, and your anchor tree's circumference is higher than that, you have to get creative in rigging your line by using extra rope not included in these kits. Another negative aspect of the ratchet is its composition in that it's made of metal and has sharp edges. There is a tendency for the line to get caught in and rub against the sides of the ratchet, which chews and frays the line.
Most of the ratchets found in the two-inch kits currently on the market are virtually indistinguishable from each other, which makes their setup pretty similar. Their mechanism of action is identical, and the main difference we noticed was the shape of the handle. Some handles, like those found on our Editors' Choice, the Flybold Kit, are slightly more comfortable to use, but this difference was not significant enough to create an actual disparity between the lines. Aside from the Gibbon Flowline with its double ratchet system and the Voodoo Gold Trickline with its extra-large ratchet, ratchet systems are surprisingly uniform.
What once was an activity that didn't branch beyond basic walking has now grown into a multitude of sub-specialties. The traditional progress of walking longer and longer and higher and higher lines now has the company of incredible aerial assaults, the integration of yoga, and even fire spinning, juggling, and uni-cycling on a line. People are interested in utilizing a slackline for a variety of things, and beginners often approach the sport without knowing where or in what direction it will take them. To acknowledge and incorporate this diversity into our review, we consider the versatility of a kit an important metric in our analysis as it ensures a purchase will last as the user grows in the sport.
The versatility of the different models is one of the critical factors that distinguish these products from one another. Models like the Macaco Classic Line offer little to the consumer beyond a short, stiff line that is good for learning to walk and practicing static poses. In contrast, our Editors' Choice selection, the Flybold Kit, is a versatile line that meets the needs of a variety of users, from brand new slackers to budding trickliners. We also like the versatility of the Balance Community Primitive Kit which comes with a tensioning ring that helped us rig the line tight enough to try some jumps and bounces.
The different models we tested are all top-notch in the industry. Since high forces are inherent in the sport of slacklining, the equipment is designed to be strong and withstand a beating. As the industry has grown and the technology has progressed, the equipment has gone from good to great. It is easy to make across-the-board statements of quality for two reasons. First, these lines must be rated and comply with high safety standards because of the high forces in play. Second, according to one industry insider, some of the different brands are even made in the same factory. The individual companies have tailored specific unique traits for their own pieces, but on average, the webbing and the ratchets are extremely similar. They are all high-quality, and there is currently little difference between the various brands in this respect.
Our testing aimed to really beat up the equipment, using it and abusing it above and beyond the way most users do. We specifically focused on quality concerning safety, as we felt a slackline failure and possible injury is one of the worst things that could happen for this product. Worst case scenarios that start with improperly loaded or misaligned webbing make de-tensioning difficult or even dangerous. Each ratchet line, but especially the Slackers Wave Walker and the Gibbon FlowLine, suffered potentially hazardous fraying when rigged carelessly. However, with the advances in ratchet design, if the rigger is diligent about lining things up straight while tensioning, these lines and ratchets will last for years. While the ratchet lines all got chewed up when assembled without care, this was not the case with our Top Pick for Traditional Slacklining, the Balance Community Primitive Kit, which scored highly in this category. The primitive setup is gentler on the webbing, and the high-quality components in this kit, along with the ease of replacing them should they get damaged or lost, helped this line stand out from the rest.
Previous generations of ratchets can be predisposed to break. While we have experienced this in the past and know many people, who have lost springs or bent their ratchet, the growth of the sport has also lead to significant improvements in the durability of the gear. While it is still possible to damage a ratchet, this thankfully happens with much less frequency than in years past. We did not experience any damage to any ratchet during our testing period. While ratchets' tendency for damage has changed, they haven't gotten any lighter. They are bulky and add weight to the line, something that's noticeable as the line gets longer and tighter. The Voodoo 82' Gold Trickline has an extra-long ratchet, measuring 13-inches instead of the standard 8.5-inches, which makes it easy to tension it's 82' line at its full length, but it is also exceedingly heavy and bulky.
Because most of the lines we tested were similar regarding quality and durability, we also considered the quality of the experience while on the line and how well it did what the manufacturer said it would. When it came to the models intended for tricks, the Slackline Industries Trick Line fell short, while the Voodoo 82' Gold Trickline proved to be an excellent model.
After hours of walking, bouncing, balancing, sitting and growing exhausted on your line, the last thing you want is a difficult, scary, or even dangerous experience when de-tensioning it. From a disassembly standpoint, we specifically considered both how easy it was to pack up and head home, and more importantly, what could happen or go wrong that makes this process dangerous to you or anyone else around.
Concerning disassembly and safety, ratchets, which make setup simple and straightforward, also tend to make break down more complicated. As a result, the two-inch lines with ratchet systems generally scored on the lower end as we had many examples of lines getting caught in the ratchet and people having to fiddle with a high-tension system to get it to release. Having to pull with all your might to get it loose and having the system suddenly go POP makes for a scary experience. Our top scorer in this category was the primitive/traditional setup, the Balance Communities Primitive Kit.
In addition to a basic line and tightening system, some kits have unique features that set them apart. Manufacturers are starting to include carrying cases, instructional DVDs, covers for the metal ratchet, velcro closing tree protection, backup lines to protect from ratchet failure, overhead hand lines, and subtle modifications to the tightening system that make it a little easier or more convenient to work with. Contrary to our previous review, we now feel that the different manufacturers have done a great job of providing various quality components that help the consumer decide between lines that are otherwise quite similar.
We were a big fan of the overhead hand lines that came with the Flybold Kit and the Slackers Wave Walker. This feature enhances the experience for first-time walkers or those looking to try out dynamic tricks. The Flybold takes this feature up a notch by adding in what they call an arm trainer - a short piece of webbing with loops on each end. The arm trainer is used by draping it over the rigged hand line so that novice slackliner can hold on to each side and learn to balance. It keeps the user from falling to the ground but also encourages proper technique and turns the hand line into a tool rather than a crutch. The Flybold and the Wave Walker also both come with ratchet covers. The Flybold's version can be snapped into place after the line is rigged. The Wave Walker's, on the other hand, must be slipped on the line before rigging and then slid into place once the line is tensioned and the ratchet is locked. In general, the ratchet covers don't really add any value to these setups, but in the case of the Wave Walker, good luck remembering to slip it on beforehand.
Tree protection is an essential part of every set-up if trees are used as the anchors, and in most cases, trees are the safest and most accessible option. Not only is this mandated in many parks and public areas, but it's also proper slacker etiquette. Out of all of the possible extra features, as a necessary accessory for typical use, tree protectors are the most critical addition to a kit. Out of the 12 models we tested, only four did not come with included tree protectors; the Gibbon Flowline, Jibline, and Classic Line as well as the Slackers Wave WalkerGibbon. Gibbon Treewear has to be purchased separately. The rest of the models included two, velcro closing tree protectors that were almost indistinguishable from one another except for by their length. The entire circumference of an anchor tree needs to be wrapped, and thus shorter protectors limit possible tree anchors without modification. The Flybold kit comes with 59.5-inch tree protectors, the longest of any model we tested, and we never had trouble finding an appropriately sized tree. The tree protectors of Macaco Complete Set, however, are only 38-inches long which meant we had to be picky about the size trees we used for our anchors.
Today, many different variations of the sport have evolved, such as urbanlining, waterlining, tricklining, freestyle and even yoga slacklining. Each variation shares the same simple gear yet offers contrasts concerning technique. Variance regarding setup also has great effects on how the line responds to the user's movement. For example, increased ratcheting tension lends well to the precision required of trickling. On the other hand, looser rigging enables fluid swings and surfing. While each may differ in stylistic ways, all require balance, concentration, and creativity of the mind and body. The practice of funambulism is no longer reserved for daredevil circus performers in royal courts — the invention of the slackline has made the ancient balancing art available for everyone. All it takes is two stable points between which the line is secured and a willingness to play. From there, the sky is the limit regarding creativity and athleticism. We hope that our review has helped you decide which model best suits you; if you're still working to figure that out, we suggest you take a peek over our Buying Advice article for additional tips.
— Leslie Yedor & Libby Sauter