Best Slackline of 2021
|Price||$115 List||$76.00 at Amazon||$146 List||$115 List||$80 List|
|Pros||Easy to set-up, challenging, long||Dynamic webbing, safety backup line||Long, fun for easy tricks, easy set-up||Great line-feel for beginners, long length, easy set-up||Fully featured for beginners, great beginner line-feel|
|Cons||Not great for beginners||Short length||Not the most durable||Minimal features||Fairly expensive|
|Bottom Line||This one inch longline is quick to rig and great for beginning longliners||Great for stunts and surfing but is somewhat limited by its length||If the basic models have lost their allure, this long line will be a new challenge and can also be used for tricks||A tried and true basic slackline that has been time tested||This fully featured kit has everything needed to assist the first time slacker|
|Rating Categories||Gibbon Flowline||Trick Line||Gibbon Surferline||Classicline XL||Zero Gravity Kit|
|Ease Of Set Up (20%)|
|Specs||Gibbon Flowline||Trick Line||Gibbon Surferline||Classicline XL||Zero Gravity Kit|
|Width||1 in||2 in||2 in||2 in||2 in|
|Features||Two rachet anchors||Safetly line, tree protection, ratchet cover||Thin webbing for bounce, tree pro||Tree protection, basic ratchet, slackline||Carry Bag, Ratchet w/ Molded Finger Grip & Smooth Operation, Tree Protectors|
|Time to Rig||5 minutes||5 minutes||5 minutes||5 minutes||5 minutes|
|Anchor Length||8 feet||8 feet||6.5 feet||8 feet||8 feet|
Best Overall Slackline
Slackline Industries Aggro Line
The Slackline Industries Aggro Line is a specialized trick kit that has most of what any advanced user may want. The one-hundred feet of trick-line webbing can be set up to suit almost anyone, from a basic short line in the backyard, to a super long, sway-in-the-wind rodeo line, to a hardcore trickline. This kit has a heavy-duty alpha ratchet, so you can get even the longest lines taught enough for advanced aerial stunts. With these features comes extra force on the system, so a safety backup line is included to keep the ratchet from becoming a projectile, should something break. The Aggro Line Kit also comes with tree padding and a great carrying bag. This kit is a workhorse that is not to be overlooked.
The Aggro Line is a great option that will work well for tricks and long lines, but it's not the most advanced kit available. To step this line up a notch, we would look for something with two separate heavy-duty ratchets to maximize the tension for the most responsive line. This kit also will snap pretty hard upon release, so we would consider ordering a "slow-release" kit to ease disassembly and extend the life of the line in the process.
Read review: Slackline Industries Aggro Line
Best Primitive Kit
Balance Community Prim-40 Kit
The Balance Community Prim-40 is a "primitive" slackline kit. This means that the webbing you walk on is actually used as part of the tensioning system as opposed to a ratchet or a "complex" system involving an additional rope and a pulley system. This primitive kit comes with high-quality slackline-specific componentry. While it is more complicated to set up than a ratchet system, the end product leaves you with a highly adaptable system that is great for beginners to seasoned slackers alike. The included flat webbing is low stretch and high strength, meaning that even a single person should have no problem tensioning this line even up to its max length of 115 feet.
Without a doubt, the biggest drawback to this line is the steep learning curve for setting it up. While the kit doesn't come with printed instructions, Balance Community has a detailed and easy-to-follow instructional video on their website. With a little bit of practice, you should be able to get this line rigged and ready to walk in under 10 minutes. Don't let the one inch webbing turn you off from this product. It isn't that much harder to walk on than two inch lines, and if you have any desire to start longlining or highlining, this kit will help you build the foundations to get there.
Read review: Balance Community Prim-40
Best One Inch Ratchet Kit
The Gibbon Flowline is an excellent kit for the casual slacker who wants a ratchet-based system but is drawn towards a longer, narrower one-inch slackline instead of the more popular two-inch versions. Traditionally, one-inch models are primitive set-ups, which require pullies and special rigging techniques, but with the Flowline, dual ratchets simplify tensioning, allowing you to get a tight line, regardless of whether you set it up short or long.
The open weave of the webbing has a soft feel underfoot and more elasticity than a standard two-inch line. That makes this a fun, dynamic line, but the weave is so loose that it meant it's not quite as durable as some of the others in our test. As long as you rig this line with care and there is no extra abrasion upon releasing it, this line should last a long time. This isn't for the slackline purist, but for those looking for a fun, long, one-inch kit for playing on, this kit will keep you on your toes.
Read review: Gibbon Flowline
A Great Value for Beginners
Slackline Industries Base Line
The Slackline Industries Base Line is a high-quality line great for getting the beginner up and walking. If you want to learn the basics or want an easy kit to use in the backyard, this line is for you. The webbing is stable enough to make learning easy but also has enough stretch (especially when rigged at full length) to keep things interesting after you get the basics down. The added length of this line makes it super versatile for years of good fun.
The Base Line makes a great line to learn on if you rig on the shorter side rather than jumping right on it at its maximum rigged distance. In a 30'-35' configuration, beginners will feel more confident to jump on and give it a try. This line doesn't have an overhead training line that many beginner lines have, but it can be purchased separately through Slackline Industries. Keep in mind, any training line purchased for learning won't reach the full length of the Classic Line XL and will have to be rigged shorter, which is more conducive to learning anyway.
Read review: Slackline Industries Base Line
Best Bang for the Buck
Zen Monkey Complete Kit
The Zen Monkey Complete Kit is a high-quality line with all the features needed to get the beginner up and walking in no time. Whether you are looking to learn the basics or you want an easy kit to use in the backyard, this line is ideal. The webbing is stable enough to make learning easy but also has enough stretch to keep things interesting after you get the basics down.
The low price of this kit combined with all its features warrant giving this beginner line an award. When compared to the other beginner and intermediate lines in our test, the Zen Monkey was the longest at over 50 feet, making for a versatile kit that will offer a wider range of walkable options when trees and anchors are limited.
Read review: Zen Monkey Complete Kit
Why You Should Trust Us
Buck Yedor, our lead tester on this review has been walking back and forth on slacklines for over 15 years. From short primitive lines in the park to highlines in Yosemite, he has put in untold hours trying to find his flow on the line. He was even briefly a competitive trickliner, making appearances at events like the Teva Games and the Outdoor Retailer Show. Over the years, he has rigged and walked just about every kind of line there is and knows what offers the best performance.
Analysis and Test Results
Walking the line is a meditative like practice. Participants must focus their attention, center their bodies, and let go of any daily distractions. Over the years, the simple process of walking on a strand of webbing has morphed into various new disciplines such as line yoga, longlining, highlining, and tricklining. The variety sampled in this review covers the most commonly practiced forms of slacklining leaving the most extreme iterations, like highlining, for you to discover on your own. If you're new to the practice or are a seasoned veteran trying to learn more about the updates in slackline technology, we wrote this review to address all of the questions you may have.
It all began when rock climbers were 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 began. Since then it has ballooned into a multi-disciplinary activity with highly specialized kits that are a long way off from an old scrap of webbing and a few biners. The right model for your needs depends on your skill level, desired objective, and prior rigging knowledge. A first-timer is not going to have the easiest time learning how to walk on a bouncy professional trick line, and someone looking to advance in the sport will quickly grow out of the basic beginner kit.
We didn't factor in the price when rating these products and instead relied on the performance characteristics reflected in the testing metrics. There isn't a huge range in price among kits designed for beginners and intermediates. With more traditional set-ups, you'll see those dollar signs reflect the quality of the materials. New brands pop up on Amazon and many of them can offer a good value to someone looking to learn, but some won't hold their value long after you get the hang of how to walk because you are likely to be looking for more of a challenge. Products that fall in the value section of our review include the Zen Monkey and Slackline Industries Base Line, thanks to their great price and value, alongside high performance.
Ease of Set-Up
Setting up a line 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.
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 set-up 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 of each.
For the slacklines in our review, there are two common types of tensioning systems: traditional/primitive systems and ratchet systems.
Primitive/traditional systems get their name from the carabiners and line lockers used for rigging when the sport first began in the '70s. This set-up is more complex to rig and less popular with first-timers than a modern ratchet-based system but offers serious advantages seen in the other metrics of this test. As with most technologies, advancements provide convenience, and so most of what we tested are ratchet-based.
Ratchet-based systems are by far the simplest and quickest to set up. Select trees the appropriate distance apart with a circumference that fits your tree protectors, girth hitch the main-line around one tree and feed the opposite end into the ratchet girth hitched to the other tree. Crank the ratchet down until you achieve your desired level of tension.
The ease of setting up a ratchet based rig is undeniable and represents one of the best reasons for going with one of them. But they are not without problems. One inherent limitation is that these lines are usually sold as complete kits, so if something breaks on your ratchet, you must purchase an entirely new kit. You are also limited in your choice of anchors due to the length of the ratchet sling. If the ratchet sling is six feet long, and your anchor's circumference is larger than that, you have to get creative in rigging your line by using extra material not included in the kits. Another negative aspect of the ratchet is 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 drum, which can fray the edge of the line.
Twelve out of thirteen of the models covered in this review are ratchet-based, and the majority of those lines were about the same difficulty to set up. Most of the ratchets found in the two-inch kits currently on the market are virtually indistinguishable from each other, which makes their set-up identical. The Surferline, the Aggro Line, and the Boss Line all have heavy-duty ratchets for extra tight lines, and the Flowline and Boss Line both use two separate ratchets, but functionally they are all similar and their mechanism of action is the same.
For the primitive/traditional system, the main one-inch webbing that you walk on doubles as the tensioning line, 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 simple as a ratchet. There are multiple ways to rig a primitive line but all use pulleys for a mechanical advantage. Most Primitive types also include a friction brake which is simply a method or rigging that incorporates friction to automatically lock off when tensioned. This type of brake is extremely easy to disengage which just requires pulling the webbing away from the anchor, releasing it from under the other portion of webbing. This makes for a much nicer way to release the tension, than with a traditional ratchet design.
The Balance Community Prim 40 was the only traditional kit we tested in this review. It took our testers more time 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 rigged, 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.
At one place in time, just the act of walking was enough. But now the activity has grown into a variety of sub-specialties. When slackers started pushing their limits, it came in the form of walking longer and higher lines, but now the top athletes perform amazing aerial stunts, integration of yoga, and even fire spinning, juggling and uni-cycling on a line. People are utilizing them 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 review as it ensures a purchase will last as the user grows into the activity.
The versatility of the different models is one of the critical factors that distinguish these products from one another. Models like the Trailblaze Complete Kit offer little to the consumer beyond a short, less dynamic line that is good for learning to walk and practicing static poses. In contrast, the Aggro Line, is a versatile line that meets the needs of a variety of users, from brand new slackers to those hucking double backflips. We found the Balance Community Prim 40 to be the most versatile. With the ability to rig just about any combination of length and tension, this kit gives beginners plenty of room to grow and the ability for more experienced slackers to take their practice in new directions. The included tensioning system even let our testers get this line tight enough to dabble in dynamic jumping tricks.
Since high forces are inherent in the sport of slacklining, the equipment is over-engineered to withstand hard use. As the industry has grown, the technology has grown with it, and the equipment has gone from good to excellent. It is easy to make across-the-board statements of quality for two specific reasons. First of all, these lines are all rated and comply with high safety standards because of the high forces in play. Second, according to one industry insider, some of the different manufacturers' lines are made in the same factory. Companies have tailored specific unique traits for their own lines, but on average, the webbing and the ratchets are extremely similar. They are all high-quality, and there are very few differences between the different 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 would. 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. Worst-case scenarios that start with improperly loaded or misaligned webbing make de-tensioning difficult or even dangerous. However, with the advances in ratchet design, if the rigger is careful to line 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 the Balance Community Prim 40, which scored well in this category. The primitive assembly and disassembly is much gentler on the line, 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 components. While it is still possible to break a ratchet, this happens with much less frequency than in years past. We did not experience any damage to the ratchets during our testing process. While the tendency for damage has improved, they haven't gotten any less heavy. They are bulky and add weight to the line, something that's noticeable as the line gets longer and tighter. The Gibbon Surferline, SI Boss Line, and Aggro Line all have a longer ratchet, which makes tensioning an extra-long line at its full length possible
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.
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 taking it down. 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.
Concerning disassembly and safety, ratchets, which make set-up 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. Having the system suddenly POP makes for a scary and potentially dangerous experience. Keep fingers and hair clear of the ratchet drum! Our top model in this category was the primitive/traditional set-up, the Balance Communities Prim 40.
In addition to a basic line and tightening system, some kits have unique features that set them apart. Some brands are starting to include carrying cases (though the quality is generally poor), instructional DVDs, covers for the metal ratchet, tree protection, backup lines to protect from ratchet failure, overhead hand lines for beginners, and subtle modifications to the tightening system that make it a little easier to work with.
We were a big fan of the overhead training lines that came with the Trailblaze and Zen Monkey. This feature enhances the experience for first-time walkers. The Zen Monkey, for example, 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 slackliners 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 handline into a tool rather than a crutch. The Trailblaze and Gibbon Classic Line XL also came with ratchet covers that can be snapped into place after the line is rigged.
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 using tree protection mandatory in many parks and public areas, but it's also proper 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 13 models we tested, every one of them came with some form of padding. The Zen Monkey and the Balance Community tree pro have added loops to hold the webbing in place. The entire circumference of an anchor tree needs to be wrapped, and thus shorter protectors limit possible tree anchors without modification. The Balance Comunity Primitive Kit comes with sixty-plus inch tree protectors, the longest of any model we tested, and we never had trouble finding an appropriately sized tree.
Today, many different variations of the sport have evolved, such as urban-lining, water-lining, trick-lining, freestyle, and even yoga. Each variation shares the same simple gear yet offers contrasts concerning technique. Variance regarding set-up 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.
— Adam Paashaus