We put 12 of the best 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 setup, 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
|Price||$52.99 at Amazon||$145 List||$49.99 at Amazon||$85.49 at Amazon||$32.95 at Amazon|
|Pros||Beginner friendly, includes a hand line for learning, extra long tree protectors||Lightweight, lots of length options, gear is adaptable for progression.||Inexpensive, ergonomic ratchet, extra long webbing, beginner friendly||Super bouncy webbing, easy to set-up||Inexpensive, beginner-friendly|
|Cons||Not suitable for advanced slackliners||More complicated set-up than ratchet systems, difficult to rig at full length without help.||Minimal features||Not for beginners, ratchet rattles||Not versatile, no overhead hand line|
|Bottom Line||A great line with ingenious features that will help turn the never-ever into the intermediate slacker.||This model uses a traditional rigging technique to achieve a 1-inch line that will help you progress into more advanced slacklining disciplines like longlining and highlining.||Ideal for beginners and intermediate slackliners; it has a host of features, including an excellent price.||This line has soft, trampoline-like webbing and is idea for aerial tricks.||A quality beginner's line with no added bells and whistles.|
|Rating Categories||Complete Kit||Primitive Kit||Base Line||Voodoo Gold Trickline||Macaco Classic Line|
|Ease Of Set Up (20%)|
|Specs||Complete Kit||Primitive Kit||Base Line||Voodoo Gold Trickline||Macaco Classic Line|
|Width (inches)||2 in||1 in||2 in||2 in||2 in|
|Tested Length (feet)||57 ft||85 ft||82 ft||52 ft|
|Features||Tree pro, carrying bag, hand line, arm trainer, ratchet cover||Tree pro, BC shackle, carabiners, multiplier ring||Tree pro, carrying bag, ratchet||Tree pro, carrying bag, extra-large ratchet||Tree pro, carrying bag, how to guide, ratchet|
Best Overall Slackline
Flybold Complete Kit
Excelling in almost all aspects of the sport, the Flybold Kit was a crowd pleaser among a broad audience. 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, and sports just enough bounce for dabbling in tricks. The price point is exceptionally low and for all the people you can entertain with this line, it is well worth it. For all of these reasons we've awarded it our Editors' Choice… and at such a low price it's also our Best Buy!
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. We absolutely loved this line and think it's a must-have for the intermediate-to-advanced slacker. This is a specialized one-inch system with the highest quality components we tested. The pieces of this kit grow with you as you move from short lines to long lines and low lines to high lines 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 really 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 largest 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. Whether you are looking to expand your airborne skills or are already an elite trickliner, this line is for you. It excels in its specialty and was an easy choice for our Top Pick for Tricklining award. This kit boasts a 13-inch long ratchet as part of its anchoring system instead of the standard 8.5 inches. This extra length allows the solo slacker to easily tension all 82 feet of this super 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
Walking on a slackline requires meditative like concentration. Participants must focus their attention, center their body, and let go of any daily distractions. Over the years, the simple process of walking on a strand of webbing has morphed into various unique disciplines including slackline yoga, longlining, highlining, and tricklining. The kits in this review cover the most commonly practiced forms of slacklining and leave the more extreme versions, like highlining, 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 this review to address questions you may have regarding the perfect kit.
Slacklining originated from rock climbers looking for a way to stay active and entertained on their rest days from climbing. One-inch webbing is a common piece of climbing equipment and with the rigging knowledge born from handling webbing and ropes, it was a logical step for climbers to it string their extra webbing up between two trees and try to balance on it. And thus the sport of slacklining began. Nowadays, it has grown into a multi-disciplinary activity with some highly specialized kits that are a long way off from an old scrap of webbing. 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.
We didn't factor in the price when rating these products and instead based their scores on the performance characteristics reflected in the testing metrics. When it comes to slacklines, there isn't a huge range in price among kits designed for beginners and intermediates. When it comes to more traditional setups, you'll see those dollar signs reflect the quality of the materials. The chart below plots the price of an item and its overall score. Mouse over or click on the dots below to see the product name (blue dots are award winners). The Flybold Complete Kit is by far the best value as it is one of the least expensive lines and scored the highest, though the Slackline Industries Base Line is a close second and around the same price. The Balance Community Primitive Kit carries the steepest price tag of the bunch, but it offers serious quality and is worth considering for the ardent slacker.
Ease of Setup
Setting up a slackline means stringing a piece of webbing between two fixed points (usually trees), anchoring the line on each end, and pulling the slack out of the webbing until it is tight enough to hold your body weight off of the ground. Even with years of slacklining, climbing, and rigging experience, setting up a line can be an intricate and often physical process. 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.
For testing this metric we evaluated the time it took to rig each model and asked both novice and seasoned slackers to chime in about the setup process. The mechanics of the tensioning method play the biggest factor in the length of set-up, but selecting appropriate trees also plays a role. While we had clear winners and losers in this metric, it is important to be aware of the different types of lines, what the process involves, and the advantages and disadvantages to each.
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 '70s. This setup is more complicated to assemble and less popular with beginners than the more modern ratchet-based system, but offers serious advantages seen in the other metrics of this test. Like with most technologies, advancements provide convenience, and so most of the kits we tested are ratchet-based.
Ratchet-based systems are by far the simplest and quickest to rig. Select trees the appropriate distance apart with a circumference that fits your tree protectors, girth hitch the line around one tree and feed the opposite end into the ratchet on the other tree. Crank the ratchet down until you achieve your desired level of tension.
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.
Eleven out of twelve of the models covered in this review are ratchet-based and the majority of those lines received remarkably similar scores for their ease of setup. 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. The Flybold Complete Kit and the Slackline Industries Baseline Complete Kit were the two standouts. They both offer ratchets with comfortable grips and the line never got bunched or misfolded in the inner moving parts. They also both feature graphics on only one side of the webbing, which helps prevent the line from getting twisted during the rigging process. Otherwise, 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.
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! While this might sound really complicated, once you get the hang of it, it's actually quite simple. 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 was the only traditional kit we tested in this review. It took our testers twice as longer to rig than most of the ratchet systems. However, there are some big 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 webbing. The lack of sharp edges helps prevent the line from fraying. Once its up, it also provides a line without the weight of a ratchet on one end which is more fun for long lines or on windy days. The main drawback of primitive rigs is that they are quite difficult to tension at distances over 30-40 feet without the help of a few friends. If you plan to progress into the world of longlining or highlining, learning to walk a one-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.
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 that 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 its 82-foot 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 breakdown a bit 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. And in the case of the Wave Walker, good luck remembering to slip it on beforehand.
Tree protection is an essential part of every setup 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 five did not come with included tree protectors: the Gibbon Flowline, Jibline, and Classic Line as well as the Slackers Wave Walker and Slacker Classic Series Kit. 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