Slacklining has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the 1980s, where the first slackliners were rock climbers in Yosemite National Park just trying to kill time between climbs. Slacklining now has an International Federation, contests around the world, and celebrity athletes performing crazy Go-Pro stunts.
If you’ve started slacklining and have mastered walking across the rope, you might ask: “What’s next?” Here we explore some of the fun and fresh ways people are now using slacklines.
“Tricklining” is a broad term that covers everything from sitting on the slackline to using the slackline like a trampoline to bounce and perform backflips. Tricklining is the fastest growing and most popular form of slacklining, in part because a trickline can be set up just about anywhere. It is also the only form of slacklining that has an evolved competition circuit, official world rankings, and world championships.
Trickline setup: Use a slackline with thin webbing and lots of bounce, elasticity and foot grip like the Powerline. A trickline-specific slackline will make performing tricks easier, but can take some getting used. A trickline typically involves higher tension levels and a stronger ratchet or pulley system than a standard slackline setup.
Recommended for: Slackliners who have mastered walking across the line and are ready for the next challenge.
How to start: In general, the trickline community is very welcoming to beginners and new people. Meetup.com is a great resource for finding other trickliners in your area who can offer advice and help you learn the tricks. We also recommend taking a look at this amazing collection of slackline tricks.
Longlining is generally defined as walking a slackline longer than 100 feet, and is considered the most challenging method of slacklining. Why? Longlining is typically done on a 1" inch line (vs the standard 2" line), and requires much more complex equipment and pulley systems than a standard slackline setup (to get the higher tensions levels).
Longline setup: Setting up a longline system isn't cheap; expect to pay $300 or more for a good longline kit. Setting up your longline will also require some rigging skills and knowledge of rigging equipment.
Recommended for: Advanced slackliners who are ready to put down a few $$ on new gear and learn about rigging.
With highlining, think high wire act from the circus without one of those long balancing poles. Highlining (typically any line rigged higher than 50ft high) is the most advanced form of slacklining, and requires special equipment and know-how. Highliners are typically accomplished rock climbers, as setting up a highline often involves a climb and requires advanced knowledge of rigging equipment, leashes, harnesses, etc. At the most extreme end of the spectrum, highliners are "free soloing" without a safety harness to catch them if they fall.
Highline setup: For a complete highline setup expect to pay $400-$2000 ... don't go cheap on equipment when you life depends on it! The golden rule with highlining is to backup everything, so expect to have a hefty gear collection. A good place to start your research into equipment is www.balancecommunity.com (they also have a great knowledge base for learning the ins and outs of highlining).
Recommeded for: Advanced slackliners who have a climbing background, or are willing to put in the time to learn climbing & rigging concepts.
How to start: Our best advice for getting into highlining is to find someone who is already a competent rigger and highliner and see if you can tag along on a trip to learn the gear, concepts and equipment setup.
Yogalining is exactly like it sounds: performing yoga on a slackline. One of the more recent evolutions of slacklining, yogalining has been described as a “pure” form of yoga because of the focus it requires … if your mind wanders from your movements, you fall off the line! It’s also a killer core workout and a fun option for keeping your yoga sessions fresh.
Yogaline setup: If you’re a beginner, use a simple low-stretch ratchet system with a 2” line like the Hotline. Use a line length of around 20-30 feet with higher tension levels. The wide line with the high tension will make the line more stable. For more advanced slackliners, try a “primitive” system with with a 1” line at 40-50 feet for a greater challenge.
Recommended for: Yogis & beginner balance trainers - yogalining is an excellent way to push your balance skills without the risk involved in tricklining or highlining.
How to Start: Checkout the YogaSlackers YouTube channel for excellent tutorials and introductory videos.
Simply walking a slackline is great for building core strength and balance, but for a more intense cardio workout try slack fitness. Slacklines can be incorporated into just about any resistance training or workout routine to add a "balance" component, much like a fitness ball. See the video above for some example exercises.
Slack fitness setup: Use any style slackline, just set it up a little closer to the ground than a traditional slackline rigging (about 3' off the ground) and with high tension levels.
Recommended for: Anyone looking to freshen up their workouts.
When you set up a slackline over a pool, lake, river or other body of water, it's called a waterline. Waterlining can be quite a bit more difficult than walking over solid ground - water doesn't offer a fixed reference point, which makes keeping your balance more challenging. Keep your eyes ahead!
Waterline setup: Most waterlines are set up 5-10 feet over the water, but some waterlines are setup just over the water so you actually "walk on water" in the middle of the line as it dips down. It's important when setting up your waterline to make sure the water is deep enough to accommodate a fall, and is cleared of obstacles (like underwater logs).
Recommended for: Experienced slackliners looking for a new challenge.
How to start: A pool or pond is a great place to start. You just need a willingness to get wet, because you probably will!
"Surfing" a slackline is the art of rocking a slackline back and forth either with one foot (like in the video above) or with both feet, like on a surfboard.
Surfing setup: You can surf on just about any slackline. Set up the line at about waist height, with low tension so that it feels "loose," but not so loose that you would touch the ground in the middle. The more tension, the quicker the surf will happen. The less tension, the more "extreme" the surf. Advanced "surfers" often use a line about 85-100 ft long with about 1200-1500lbs of tension.
Recommended for: Intermediate and advanced slackliners ready for a new challenge.
How to start: Walk to the middle of the line and play around with swaying back and forth. You have to feel it out for yourself. For more sway, slowly ratchet the line higher up the tree as you progress.
A "slackladder" involves combining two or more lines criss-crossing up some natural terrain. We've only seen a few slackladders to date, but our hunch is this will be the "new thing" in slacklining among those who are pushing the sport.