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Slacklining is a practice in balance that typically uses nylon or polyester webbing tensioned between two anchor points. Many people suggest slacklining is distinct from tightrope walking in that the line is not held rigidly taut (although it is still under some tension); it is instead dynamic, stretching and bouncing like a long and narrow trampoline. The line's tension can be adjusted to suit the user and different types of webbing can be used to achieve a variety of feats. The line itself is usually flat, due to the nature of webbing, thus keeping one's footing from rolling as would be the case with an ordinary rope. The dynamic nature of the line allows for tricks and stunts. Slacklining has quickly become popular due to its simplicity and versatility and its ability to be practiced in a variety of environments. Those who participate in slacklining are often called "slackers".[1]

Slackline setup[edit]

Slacklining in the city


The most common slackline setup includes two separate sections. The first section is a long (30 ft.–100 ft.) piece of two-inch or one-inch webbing with a loop sewn on one end, allowing it to cinch tightly around a tree. The second section is typically much shorter (10 ft.) and has a similar sewn loop on one end, allowing it to cinch around a tree while the other end of this shorter piece of webbing is sewn to a ratchet. The ratchet allows these two sections of webbing to be connected and tensioned to the user's specifications.

A more traditional slackline setup includes three sections of one-inch webbing: a long section of webbing (30 ft.–100 ft.) strung tightly and connected to the two shorter sections (8–12 ft.) that are called "tree slings" and are used as anchors on either end. The most difficult and widely discussed element of a slackline setup is the tensioning system. Common setups include simple friction methods, using wraps of webbing between two carabiners, a ratchet, a comealong, a carabiner pulley system,[2][3] a roped pulley system, or a commercial slackline kit.

Tree anchors[edit]

The most common anchors for slacklines are trees. Trees greater than 12 inches in diameter are considered ideal in most cases. There are several very effective methods of tree protection that function on two principles: eliminating abrasion, and redistributing the load over a wider area. One of the most effective means of tree protection is a wrap of vertical blocks (1" x 1" cut into 6" pieces) strung together by drilling a small-diameter hole through the center and running cord through them. Blocks are spaced evenly to prevent the anchor slings from contacting and abrading the outer bark, and the length of the blocks distributes the load vertically as opposed to horizontally, compressing a continuous line around the trunk. The addition of a carpet square between the block wrap and the outer bark is considered ideal among the founding community of slackliners. Many other ways to protect the tree are commonly used, such as towels, mats, cardboard, carpet and purpose-made tree protectors.

Using carpet squares or cardboard even, by themselves, addresses only abrasion, leaving the load concentrated on a small area of the tree. These methods are adequate for occasional use, but with the high tension of longlines, one who slacklines regularly should take every precaution to protect the life of the tree.


A special characteristic of slacklining is the ease with which the dynamics of the practice can be altered. Using narrow (5/8-inch) webbing will result in a stretchier slackline. This allows for more sway in the line and can make a short line feel substantially longer. Wider webbing (2 -inch) is much more rigid, often creating a bouncier slackline optimal for aerial tricks. The tension of the line will also increase or decrease the sway of the line. Weight due to the different methods of tensioning will also vary the performance of a slackline. A comealong and a ratchet will both add enough weight to allow the feedback from quick movements on shorter slacklines to be felt.

Slacklining in a park

Styles of slacklining[edit]

Slacklining on a beach


Main article: Urbanlining

Urbanlining or urban slacklining combines all the different styles of slacklining. It is practiced in urban areas, for example in city parks and on the streets. Slackliners use wide 2-inch (50mm) lines for dynamic tricklining in parks, others use narrower 1-inch (25mm) lines for teaching, yoga, static tricks and longline purposes. A static trick can be seen below

Slackline handstand

The inspiration comes from within by mindful meditation. In body and mind development it is important to have a balance between hard and soft exercises.


Tricklining has become a common form of slacklining due to the easy setup of 2-inch slackline kits though many kits do not come with proper safety back ups. Tricklining is often done several feet off the ground but can be done on highlines as well. There are a plethora of tricks that can be done on the line. Because the sport is fairly new, there is plenty of room for new tricks. Some of the basic general techniques are walking,[4] walking backwards, and turns. From there slackers expand to doing drop knee, running and jumping onto the slackline to mount, and bounce walking. Some intermediate tricks include: Buddha sit, sitting down, lying down, cross-legged knee drop, surfing forward, surfing sideways, and jump turns, or 180's. Some of the advanced tricks are: jumps,[5] tree plants, jumping from line-to-line, 360s, butt bounces, and chest bounces.[6] With advancements in webbing technology the limits for what can be done on a slackline are being pushed constantly. It is not uncommon to see expert slackliners incorporating flips and twists into slackline trick combos.


Waterlining is slacklining over water. This is an ideal way to learn new tricks, or to just have more fun. Common places to set up waterlines are over pools, lakes, rivers, creeks, between pier or railroad track pillars, and boat docks. The slackline can be set up high over the surface of the water, close to the surface or even underneath the surface. It is important, however, that the water be deep enough, free from obstacles, and that the area should not be traveled by boats.


Man highlining at Taft Point in Yosemite National Park with El Capitan in the background.

Highlining is slacklining at elevation above the ground or water. Many slackliners consider highlining to be the pinnacle of the sport. Highlines are commonly set up in locations that have been used or are still used for Tyrolean traverse. When rigging highlines, experienced slackers take measures to ensure that solid, redundant and equalized anchors are used to secure the line into position. Modern highline rigging typically entails a mainline of webbing, backup webbing, and either climbing rope or amsteel rope for redundancy. However, many highlines are rigged with a mainline and backup only, especially if the highline is low tension (less than 900 lbf.), or rigged with high quality webbing like Type 18 or MKII Spider Silk. It is also common to pad all areas of the rigging which might come in contact with abrasive surfaces. To ensure safety, most highliners wear a climbing harness or swami belt with a leash attached to the slackline itself. Leash-less, or "free-solo" slacklining – a term borrowed from rockclimbing – is not unheard of, however, with exponents such as Dean Potter and Andy Lewis.[7]

Slackline Yoga[edit]

Another form of slacklining is Slackline Yoga, also referred to as YogaSlacking or Slackasana. Slackline Yoga takes traditional yoga poses and moves them to the slackline. It has been described as "distilling the art of yogic concentration." To balance on a 1" piece of webbing lightly tensioned between two trees is not easy, and doing yoga poses on it is even more challenging. The practice has many layers, simultaneously developing focus, dynamic balance, power, breath, core integration, flexibility, and confidence. Utilizing standing postures, sitting postures, arm balances, kneeling postures, inversions and unique vinyasa, a skilled slackline yogi is able to create a flowing yoga practice without ever falling from the line.

Simon grižon Super split on a slackline

In 2005, Sam Salwei and Jason Magness began demonstrating yoga poses on a slackline at the Yoga Journal conference in Estes Park, later forming YogaSlackers. Since then, the members of team YogaSlackers[8] have collectively taught over 5000 people to successfully embrace this form of asana. They have developed a special slackline and simple tensioning system, allowing for practitioners to learn safely and experience the benefit of a wide range of dynamic energies while on the line.

Another group of "slackline yogis" are the Rocky Mountain Slackline Crew out of Fort Collins, CO. The company has been involved with local and state wide yoga studios incorporating slackline into their class curriculum. They have created a series of postures, maneuvers, and breath rhythm to bring the riders a challenging and rewarding experience.

Slackline Yoga has been reported in The Wall Street Journal,[9] Yoga Journal[10] and Climbing Magazine.[11]

Freestyle slacklining[edit]

Freestyle slacklining (a.k.a. “rodeo slacklining") is the art and practice of cultivating balance on a piece of rope or webbing draped slack between two anchor points, typically about 15 to 30 feet long and a couple feet off the ground in the center. This type of very "slack" slackline provides a wide array of opportunities for both swinging and static maneuvers. A freestyle slackline has no tension in it, while both traditional slacklines and tightropes are tensioned. This slackness in the rope or webbing allows it to swing at large amplitudes and adds a different dynamic. This form of slacklining first came into popularity in 1999, through a group of students from Colby College, in Waterville ME. It was first written about on a website called the "Vultures Peak Center for Freestyle and Rodeo Slackline Research" in 2004. The article "Old Revolution - New Recognition - 3-10-04" describes these early developments in detail.


Windlining is a practice of slacklining performed in very windy conditions. Depending on the intensity of the wind, it can be difficult to remain on the line without being blown off. The sensation one experiences is like flying as the slacker must angle his body and arms in an aerodynamic manner to maintain balance.


While rope walking has been around in one manner or another for thousands of years, the origins of modern day slacklining are generally attributed to a pair of rock climbers while attending Olympia, Washington's The Evergreen State College in 1979.[12] Adam Grosowsky and Jeff Ellington started walking on loose chains and cables around Olympia, and quickly innovated the technique of stringing up 1" flat climbing webbing and walking it, employing the dynamics and flexibility of the nylon webbing to develop tricks, including a three-club passing (juggling) routine between two slackliners balanced simultaneously on the same line. Red Square, Evergreen's central campus plaza, was a convenient between-class practice area where they often drew crowds of spectators. Brooke Sandahl, another Evergreen student and frequent climbing partner of Grosowsky and Ellington, was another very early practitioner. Grosowsky and Ellington were fascinated with wirewalking history and circus culture, and in 1981 performed leashless on a 30' highline strung 25' over a concrete floor as part of a project to recreate a traditional one-ring circus in The Evergreen State College's main performance auditorium. During this period Grosowsky, who is now a regionally well-known Northwest artist, devoted much of his lithographic art to themes involving wirewalking and circus culture. The sport blossomed within the West Coast rock climbing community, and then branched out elsewhere all over the world.

Highlining history[edit]

Highlining was inspired by a number of “high wire” artists who walked steel cable up high in unique places. 1907-1948, Mr. Ivy Baldwind of Eldorado Springs, CO crossed Eldorado Canyon on a high wire numerous times. His final crossing was documented on his 82nd birthday.[13] On August 7, 1974 Philippe Petit set-up and crossed a high wire between the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York.[14] In the summer of 1983, Adam Grosowsky and Jeff Ellington set up a 55-foot (17 m) high wire at Yosemite's Lost Arrow Spire that was nearly 2,890 feet (880 m) high. However, neither of them were able to cross this line. In the autumn of 1983, inspired by Jeff and Adam's efforts, a 20 year old Scott Balcom and 17 year old Chris Carpenter successfully completed what is believed to be the first documented high walk on nylon webbing,[12][15] instead of using cable, giving birth to what slackliners now call highlining. This first highline, referred to as The Arches,[16] was a ~30 foot span that was ~120 feet high in Pasadena, CA under the 134 Freeway bridge, between two arches that spanned the trickling Arroyo Seco below. The next summer (1984), Scott Balcom set up a highline on Yosemite’s Lost Arrow Spire with the help of Darrin Carter and Chris Carpenter. Scott’s attempt, however, was unsuccessful (neither Darrin nor Chris made an attempt). On July 13, 1985, Scott Balcom returned and successfully crossed the now-famous Lost Arrow Spire highline.[17] June 1990, Chris Carpenter purposefully "surfed" a highline spanning the gap of Horsetooth Rock in Fort Collins, CO. In 1993, Darrin Carter became the second person to successfully cross the Lost Arrow Spire highline.[14][18] In 1995, Darrin Carter performed unprotected crossings of the Lost Arrow Spire in Yosemite and The Fins, in Tucson, AZ on Mt. Lemmon highway.[12] On July 16, 2007, Libby Sauter became the first woman to successfully cross the Lost Arrow Spire, with Jenna McLennan walking it shortly after.[19] In 2008, Dean Potter became the first person to BASE jump from a highline at Hell Roaring Canyon in Utah.[20] On September 10, 2011, Chris Rigby and Balance Community: Slackline Outfitters owner Jerry Miszewski established the Balance Community Highline Festival in Garden Valley, California. There has been a highline fest each month since; nine highlines are set up, ranging 35 to 400 feet long for highliners from across the U.S. to come train on.[21][22][23]

Competitive sport history[edit]

Since 2010 the World Slackline Federation has tried to establish tricklining as a competitive sport. Jumps and other tricks are judged according to five criteria: Difficulty, technique, diversity, amplitude (of jumps) and performance. Competitions are held on several levels.[24]

Tricklining history[edit]

Andy Lewis is known for having the longest history in competitive slacklining. He is considered to be the father of modern day tricklining and has been the Overall World Champion of Competitive Tricklining since 2008.[citation needed] To date, he holds more prestigious international competition titles than anyone.[citation needed] In 2012, he performed a series of tricks during Madonna's Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show, to a worldwide audience of 114 million people.[citation needed]

World records[edit]

Longest highline[edit]

The longest highline walked thus far is a 375 metres (1,230 ft) by Alexander Schulz on november 15, 2014 in Yangshuo, a town in the province of Guangxi, China.[25] The second longest highline walked thus far is a 704 ft (215 m) called 'The 13th Crossing' by Jerry Misewski on October 6, 2013 in Cosumnes River Gorge, USA.[26] The third longest highline walked thus far is 150-metre (490 ft) by Théo Sanson on June 21, 2013 in France.[27] The longest female send of a highline to date is "Master of the Universe" which is 96.5 meters long and 35 meters high, walked by Faith Dickey one direction in September 2012.

Michael Kemeter's highline world record length of 86 metres (282 ft)[28] was exceeded in August 2010 by American Jerry Miszewski in Ostrov, Czech Republic, who walked a highline 95 metres (312 ft) in length.[29] A few weeks later, on September 10, 2010, Andy Lewis (USA) exceeded Jerry's record by walking a 103.5 metres (340 ft) long highline in Moab, UT.[30]

Longest free solo highline[edit]

The longest free solo highline was walked in Moab, Utah on November 19, 2011 by Andy Lewis. At a length of 55 metres (180 ft), 'The Great Bongzilla' was walked 1 way leashless by Andy Lewis.[31]

The longest free solo highline by a female is held by Faith Dickey, who walked a 28 meter long highline in Ostrov, Czech Republic in August, 2012. The line was 25 meters high.

Highest slackline[edit]

The highest slackline on record was walked by Christian Schou on August 3, 2006 at Kjerag in Rogaland, Norway. The slackline was 1,000 metres (3,281 ft) high. The project was repeated by Aleksander Mork in September 2007.[citation needed]

Just for fun and by the fact there was no earlier 1000m-approved Guinness-World-Record(GWR) Aleksander signed a "GWR-agreement/contract" with Schibsted Forlag representing GWR in Norway. Schibsted was represented by 2 observers and Aleksander received the first official GWR-certificate onsite at Kjerag. The stunt was successfully performed under strong wind and rough weather conditions. With respect the record attempt was clarified with Christian Schou - who received a GWR-certificate several months later. In April 2012 Dean Potter crossed the Enshi Grand Canyon in China's Hubei Province for a distance of 40 m (44 yd) in just over two minutes at an elevation of 1,800 m (2,000 yd) above sea level, according to Chinese state media.

The current record for walking the highest urban highline is held by professional slackliner Reinhard Kleindl, of Austria, who walked a high wire at a height of 607 feet on May 25, 2013 in front of the Messeturm Fair Tower in Frankfurt, Germany. "Reinhard Kleindl, 32, used only his arms to balance as he walked twice along a 98-feet-long polyester rope anchored to the two wings of Frankfurt's U-shaped skyscraper Tower 185 above hundreds of cheering supporters."[7][32][33]

Longest slackline[edit]

The longest slackline, with a length of 601 metres (1,972 ft), was walked on November 15, 2014 by Théo Sanson and Nathan Paulin in one direction.[34] The longest slackline walked by a woman was set in 2011 by Faith Dickey, a length of 220 meters in Prague, Czech Republic. The longest slackline ever walked on polyester webbing, with a length of 380 metres (1,250 ft), was walked on Sept 9, 2013 by Danny Menšík, Prague, Czech Republic.[35]

Longest slackline history[edit]

Long slackline walking was pioneered most notably by Dean Potter, Larry Harpe, Ammon McNeely and Braden Mayfield. Rumors of 200–300-foot slacklines were talked about; however, there is no known official line length record from this period.

Heinz Zak, extreme climber and photographer, was one of the first to go on record for long slacklining with his walk of a 328-foot[36] (100 m) line in August 2005. This record stood until March 4, 2007, when Damian Cooksey walked a 405-foot (123 m) line in Warsaw, Poland.[37]

This record was then broken on July 10, 2007 by Damian Cooksey when he walked a 506-foot (154 m) slackline in Munich, Germany.[citation needed]

Stefan Junghannß and Damian Jörren were the first walking more than 200m (203m onsight full man, March 16, 2009).[38]

Michael Kemeter (onsight) and Michael Aschaber from Austria were following with a length of 217 metres (712 feet) on September 18, 2009.[citation needed]

In June 2010 Stefan Junghannß and Damian Jörren were walking a 307-meter-slackline (1006 feet).[39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What is Slacklining?". PTEN. 2013. 
  2. ^ "How to Set Up a Slackline". YouTube. 3 October 2006. 
  3. ^ "How to Build a Slackline". Wikihow. 
  4. ^ "How To Walk a Slackline". Wikihow. 
  5. ^ "How to Slackline: Jump Line-to-Line". Wikihow. 
  6. ^ "Slackline Tricks Encyclopedia". Slackline HiveFly. Retrieved 10/6/14.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)
  7. ^ a b "US slackline walker Dean Potter crosses China canyon". BBC News. 23 April 2012. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Alter, Alexandra (5 April 2008). "Into the Wild With Yoga". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 8 November 2012. Jason Magness meditates in full-lotus posture balanced on a slackline over the Arizona desert.. He's also the innovator of slackline yoga and is one of its few masters. 
  10. ^ Bolster, Mary. "A climbing yogi has found a unique way to improve his balance, focus, and core strength: Doing yoga poses on a slackline". Yoga Journal. Retrieved 8 November 2012. 
  11. ^ Nadlonek, Ryan. "Highballin' – The Spot Gym Goes Off for Highball Comp". Retrieved 8 November 2012. they ran a slackline 20-feet in the air and tied in some of the area's most balanced men and women for toproped highline highjinx... The high-line event, which took place January 24, 2009, was a best-trick competition, with each slacker receiving three minutes to show their skills. Highlights included Greg Kalfa's ballsy backflip attempt and Josh Beau, looking as at home on the webbing as anyone else did on the ground (especially during his side-plank and other yoga-inspired moves). 
  12. ^ a b c Alpinist, Issue 21, Autumn 2007, "The Space Between, a history of funambulism" by Dean Potter
  13. ^ Rudolph M. Olson and the Carnegie Branch of the Boulder Public Library.
  14. ^ a b "The History of Slacklining". 
  15. ^ Walk the Line - the art of balance and the craft of slackline, by Scott Balcom 2005 ISBN 0-9764850-0-1
  16. ^ "The Arches – 1983". 
  17. ^ "First Slackline Crossing of the Lost Arrow Spire". YouTube. 24 May 2009. 
  18. ^ "History of Slacklining". 
  19. ^ "First Woman to Walk the Lost Arrow Spire". 2008. 
  20. ^ Longman, Jeré (14 March 2008). "900 Feet Up With Nowhere To Go But Down". The New York Times. 
  21. ^ "Slacklining". CBS Local.  (video)
  22. ^ Rigby, Chris; Miszewski, Jerry (9 September 2011). "Balance Community's Backyard Highline Fest". Facebook. 
  23. ^ "Balance Community Backyard Highline Festival: Volume VI". Facebook]]. 13 April 2012. 
  24. ^ "Rule Book". World Slackline Federation. July 2012. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ Miszewski, Jerry. "The 13th Crossing". Balance Community. 
  27. ^ "Highline World Record". Climb ZA. 27 June 2013. 
  28. ^
  29. ^ "New W.Record: 95m Highline Send-Jerry, again". 14 December 2009. 
  30. ^ Miszewski, Jerry (14 September 2010). "The Master of the Afrodisiac". Balance Community. 
  31. ^ "Andy Lewis". 
  32. ^ Sheahan, Maria (26 May 2013). "Man Walks On High Rope Despite Fear Of Heights". Reuters. 
  33. ^ "Climber crosses canyon on slackline". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 24 April 2012. Retrieved 25 April 2012. 
  34. ^
  35. ^ [1]
  36. ^ 328-foot (100-meter) line
  37. ^ 405-foot (123-meter) line
  38. ^ 666-foot (203-meter) line
  39. ^ 1,006-foot (307-meter) line

External links[edit]