What is Slacklining?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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Slacklining is a sport which involves walking on a strip of webbing strung loosely between two points. In contrast with tightrope walking, a related sport, slacklining involves, as the name suggests, a line which is slack, rather than taut. As a result, it requires a different set of skills and abilities, and encourages people to develop an excellent sense of balance. Once people master the basics of slacklining, they can venture into the wide world of slacklining tricks.

This sport appears to have emerged in force in California in the 1980s, when bored climbers started playing with their climbing webbing to develop a version of tightrope walking. In addition to killing time, slacklining also helped climbers to develop good reflexes and an excellent sense of balance, two things which serve them well in the field.

Slacklining is an incredibly dynamic sport, as the webbing fluctuates with every movement, and in response to the wind. The use of webbing is crucial, as the flattened nature of the webbing creates an easier surface to grip and balance; while people can slackline on things like ropes and chains, webbing is generally believed to be better. As someone walks across the slackline, the center of balance constantly changes while the line dips, sways, and buckles; it usually takes quite a few tries to walk a slackline from end to end, at least for beginners.


When slacklining is done close to the ground, it is known as lowlining. Many people learn a variety of tricks while lowlining, and they may use the relative safety of low height to push their skills and sense of balance. Highlining, on the other hand, is slacklining done at a much greater height, and the use of safety harnesses is recommended so that if someone falls, he or she will not be badly injured.

All people need to practice this balance sport are two objects to affix a line to, and some high-quality climbing webbing, which should be available from any climbing store and most sports stores. For people who are unfamiliar with working with climbing equipment, it's a good idea to learn some climbing knots, to ensure that the slackline will stay up; if it falls down even from a low height, the results can be painful for the person walking the line.


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