I’ve recently been slacklining quite a bit. A slackline is a tensioned line of webbing which you can try and walk along it or performing trick on it. Many of you may be familiar with a tightrope, and a slack
line is very similar, although will actually move about with you on it. It is an incredibly simple idea, and it is this simplicity which both benefits it, and disadvantages it as an activity.
Firstly, proof of it being simple is that all you need is your rig (gear to set up your line) which can be bought for around £20 – £50 when starting out, and two anchors such as two (strong) trees. Setting up is simple after the first few times and can be done within about 5 minutes.
Slacklining is not hugely dependent on the weather or other factors, unlike a lot of other adventure sports. While keeping the line dry is preferable, it really can be done more or less whenever you fancy it; always a bonus!
As mentioned above, slacklining’s simplicity is also its downfall for two main reasons.
a) It looks really easy – I’m not one to argue with this – when you watch someone slackline, it does look really easy. If I’d got a pound every time someone had told me it looks easy… Of course, when these people are offered a go, they discover it’s not as simple as it looks! Don’t be deceived! Of course, this can be turned on its head as it makes it feel like an even greater achievement when you complete your first line!
b) It looks so simple that many consider it pointless – Of course, to the objective observer, walking along a slackline between two trees may seem fairly pointless. This is not the place for a discussion on what activities humans do, do or do not have a purpose, but instead, I will demonstrate that there is a lot more to slacklining having some fun in the park (although get down the park and give it a go, for sure!).
One extension of slacklining is highlining. The clue is in the name, and this involves slacklining high up. There’s some great videos of this here, here and here. This is usually done with a safety harness, but it can also be done without a safety leash, which then becomes freelining. This is amazing to watch and will have you on the edge of your chair (check out here and here), but clearly pretty risky! I think I’ll stick to doing it with a leash! I’m not sure what this counts as, but I’m pretty sure you don’t want to fall!! A slight variation on these is baselining, walking highlines without a safety harness but with a base jumping rig on your back, so should you fall, you can pull your chute and glide down to safety, like here.
Alternatively, you may decide to get involved in tricklining and show off some of your epic moves. This is pretty tricky to learn and takes a lot of practice but shows just what can be done on slacklines. Sit back and watch these awesome videos here and here.
The final “…lining” I’m going to mention is longlining. The longer the line you try and walk, the harder it becomes. Not only do you need to concentrate and focus for longer, but a longer line means you are a greater distance from the anchors and therefore the line will usually move more, certainly making it more challenging. Longlining can become quite an addiction, as when you manage to walk a certain distance, the objective is set to walk an even longer line! In case you’re interested, the longest slackline ever walked is 494 metres long. Challenge accepted?
So, as you can see, slacklining is a massively wide discipline, and there is plenty to keep you occupied from its humble and simple beginnings! So, get out there and give it a go!
Wanna walk your first line? Of course you do, grab a quick read here!