We put 11 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 model 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, long-lines, and trick-lines to help you find the right model for your style.
The Best Slacklines of 2019
|Price||$145 List||$160 List||$38.95 at Amazon||$49.99 at Amazon||$54.99 at Amazon|
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|Pros||Lightweight, lots of length options, gear is adaptable for progression||Long length, dynamic webbing, safety backups, heavy duty ratchet, slow release mechanism||Attractive package, beginner friendly||Inexpensive, long length, beginner friendly||Easy to set-up, challenging, long|
|Cons||More complicated set-up than ratchet systems||Expensive, Involved set up process, Heavy||Red dye||Minimal features||Not great for beginners|
|Bottom Line||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.||A powerhouse of a slackline that can be anything from a learning line for a beginner to a 100 foot x 2 inch trampoline!||A great complete package that has all the features to get you walking the line.||This affordable slackline is perfect for those wanting to start walking longer lines.||This simple to set-up 1-inch line is great for your first foray into the art of longlining.|
|Rating Categories||Primitive Kit||Boss Line Kit||Zen Monkey Complete Kit||Base Line||Gibbon Flowline|
|Ease Of Set Up (20%)|
|Specs||Primitive Kit||Boss Line Kit||Zen Monkey...||Base Line||Gibbon Flowline|
|Width||1 in||2 in||2 in||2 in||1 in|
|Features||Tree pro w/ loops, independent anchor slings, BC shackle, webbing specific carabiners, multiplier ring, BC line locker||Dual Rachets w/ leverage extension, Anchor slings, back-up lines, Shackles, Slow Roll, storage bag.||Overhead training line & ratchet, Arm Trainer, Tree protectors w/ loops, Cloth carry bag||Tree pro, carry bag, ratchet cover||Two rachet anchors|
|Time to Rig||10-15 minutes||10-15 minutes||5 minutes||5 minutes||5-10 minutes|
|Anchor Length||8 ft||6 ft, 9 ft||8.08 ft|
Best Overall Model
Balance Community Primitive Kit
Our Editors' Choice Award goes to the newly-updated Balance Community Primitive Kit. We absolutely love this line and think it's a must-have for your kit. This is a specialized one-inch system with the highest quality components available. 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 with the largest hurdle 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 Advanced Users
Slackline Industries Boss Line Kit
The Slackline Industries Boss Line is a kit that has and does it all for advanced users, earning it our Top Pick Award. The one-hundred feet of trick-line webbing can be set up to suit almost any user, from the most basic short line in the local park, to a super long, stretchy rodeo line, to a serious trick-line of any length. This kit has two heavy-duty ratchets and a handle extension to give added leverage, so you can get even the longest lines tight enough for insane bounce tricks.
That alone makes this an extremely versatile kit, but, with these features comes extra force on the system, so two safety backups are included to protect the user and a slow-release system to eliminate wear-and-tear that comes from the shock of releasing a ratchet-based system. The Boss Line Kit also comes with independent tree slings and stainless steel shackles, tree padding, and a great carrying bag. This kit is a workhorse not to be overlooked, but admittedly, a bit overkill for those just looking for a simple kit.
Read review: Slackline Industries Boss Line
Top Pick for Primitive Line Alternative
The Gibbon Flowline is a great kit for the casual slacker who wants a ratchet-based slackline system, but instead of a typical two-inch line, is more interested in walking a longer, narrower one-inch system. Typically, one-inch kits are primitive set-ups, that require pullies and special rigging techniques, but with the Flowline, dual ratchets simplify tensioning the webbing, allowing you to get a tight line easily, regardless of whether you set the line up a short or long.
The one-inch, open weave webbing, has a soft feel underfoot. and more elasticity than a standard two-inch, making this a fun dynamic line. This kit isn't for a slackline purist, but for those looking for a fun, long, one-inch slackline kit for playing on, this should definitely be on your radar.
Read review: Gibbon Flowline
Best Buy for Beginners
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 for you. 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 our Best Buy 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
Best Buy for Long-Line fun
Slackline Industries Base Line
The Slackline Industries Base Line makes for a great, low priced, long-line that is sure to please all but the most advanced slackers. The webbing isn't as bouncy as the Boss Line or the trick Line, but the added length makes this line fun to walk. With eighty feet of webbing under your feet, it is going to feel dynamic regardless of the type of webbing it is!
The ratchet does a pretty good job of tensioning the line for a tight for a long set-up though sometimes we had to rig it slightly higher than preferable so the line didn't bottom out in the middle.
Read review: Slackline Industries Base Line
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 line 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. With more traditional setups, you'll see those dollar signs reflect the quality of the materials. The Zen Monkey Complete Kit is by far the best value as it is one of the least expensive lines and performed well, though the Slackline Industries Base Line is a close second and around the same price. The Balance Community Primitive Kit carries a steeper price tag, 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 bodyweight 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 of 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 usually 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 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, which can fray the edge of the line.
Ten out of eleven 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. The Surferline and the Boss Line both have heavy-duty ratchets for extra tight lines, and the Flowline uses two separate ratchets and adds plastic buffers to accommodate the narrower webbing width, but functionally they are all similar and their mechanism of action is identical.
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. There are multiple ways to rig a primitive line and all use pulleys for a mechanical advantage. Most Primitive kits also include a friction brake which is simply a method or rigging that incorporates friction to automatically lock of when tension. This type of brake is extremely easy to disengage which just requires pulling the webbing away from the anchor tree, releasing it from under the other portion of webbing. This makes for a much nicer way to de-tension a slackline than with a traditional ratchet design.
The Balance Community Primitive Kit 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 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.
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 Trailblaze Complete Kit offer little to the consumer beyond a shorter, less dynamic line that is good for learning to walk and practicing static poses. In contrast, our Top Pick selection, the Boss Line, is a versatile line that meets the needs of a variety of users, from brand new slackers to professional 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. Worst-case scenarios that start with improperly loaded or misaligned webbing make de-tensioning difficult or even dangerous. Each line, but especially the Slackers Wave Walker and the Gibbon Surferline 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 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 Gibbon Surferline has an extra-long ratchet, measuring 13 inches instead of the standard 8.5 inches, which makes it easy to tension its ninety-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.
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 training lines that came with the Trailblaze and the Slackers Wave Walker. This feature enhances the experience for first-time walkers or those looking to try out dynamic tricks. The Zen Monkey 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 Trailblaze and the Wave Walker also both come with ratchet covers. The Trailblaze'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 11 models we tested, only one did not come with included tree protectors: the Slackers Wave Walker. Almost all of the rest of the models included two Velcro closing tree protectors that were almost indistinguishable from one another except for by their length. Zen Monkey added loops to hold the webbing in place and the Balance Comunity Primitive Kit had a different type altogether that has a strap to hold the padding in place and belt loops to hold the line while you set up the system. 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 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.
— Adam Paashaus & Leslie Yedor