Rigging a primitive slackline

So I finally got around to editing a video on how to rig a primitive line. If you’d like the pictorial version of this, see [here].  Some other useful posts (with skills utilized in this video) include [using a line locker] and [making anchor slings].  If you want to know how to get the line super tight without pulling assistance from other people, we have a [video] for that too.


  1. Eric says:

    Very cool, very clear video. None of these steps are especially difficult, but I’m glad to see I was visualizing how to set the pulleys up correctly. Someone should buy you a wind cover for your camera though.

  2. Nic says:

    Another great video.

    Thanks for sharing all this info Adam! Really helps clear things up for us newbs.

  3. Brian T. says:

    I’ll have to give this a try next time I head out to slackline. Thanks for the great video. It is extremely clear. How do you detension the rig when you are done? I’m guessing you pull the line perpendicular to rest of the line at the ‘biner that has the line doubled under itself. Is that difficult to do? (EDIT: You pull in the opposite direction as to tighten, leaving enough room that the amount of line that gets “sucked back in” doesn’t take your hands with it!)

  4. Brian T. says:

    I figured out how easy it is to de-tension this rigging. I set up a test line outside of my condo and my assumption about pulling perpendicular was mostly correct and was simple to do. And after reading more of the entries here, I discovered in your “flyer” post on 1/6/2009 you say to pull in the opposite direction to release tension. I’m looking forward to setting this rig up for real and getting back on the line.

  5. Are you using Black Diamond Rocklock Screwgate Carabiners in the video?

    ANSWER: Yep!

  6. David says:

    I’m new to slacklining and like the simplicity of your system, but relying solely on the friction of the line on the “solo” biner worries me. No primary or back-up knots here? Thanks for the informative site!

    EDIT: I often tie the slack off (double half-hitch) as it can ‘pop loose’ if you just leave it dangling.

  7. Kevin says:

    First, thanks for the very clear video! I purchased my setup based on this video and it works great!

    One question though. For my anchor webbing I made two 10 foot pieces, then tied them with a water knot. The parks I’m going to typically have fat trees. I found out pretty quickly that my anchors weren’t big enough for 95%+ of the trees, and I needed to find two smaller trees close enough too. When I finally did find two small enough, I set it up, but the anchors barely stretched around the trees. The biners attached to the anchors ended up triaxially loaded. Since I like a looser slackline and it wasn’t very long I figured it wasn’t a major problem (and it wasn’t).

    How do you feel about this though? I know I could just go back to the store and buy longer anchor webbing so I could clip further away from the trees, but I don’t really want to do that either. I’m just curious what you think. Thanks!

    EDIT: triloading is a bad idea, but for shorter lines (hundreds and not thousands of pounds of tension) is an acceptable practice. You could cut your sling webbing waterknot (to get two 9ft pieces that are no longer tied in a loop) and then tie a single loop at each end. This is less strong (probably good for around 7,000lbs of tension), but will give you almost double the length of a ‘big loop’ style sling.

  8. Sarah says:

    Thanks so much for all your info in this video and on the website. I got all the stuff for a slackline, using your list and REI, for my brother as a gift. Then we went out with my family and gave it a try. We had a great time and will do this often I am sure. It was so easy and fast to put up for hours of fun! Thanks for making this sport accessible to all.

  9. Casey says:

    On your “using a line locker” post you self-describe as a saftey nazi. I am wonder why in the video the anchors don’t have redundant safety?

    Would using two carabiners on either end, exclude the use of a line locker?

    EDIT: Because the anchors on the end are good for around 16,000lbs of break strength. As opposed to the 4,000 of the main line, or 4,000 – 6,000 of the carabiners and line lockers. You could use two carabiners with a line locker, sure.

  10. Aki says:


    I want to move from my 15 meters 2 inches gibbon to a 25-30 meters 1 inch Slackline ( crossing rivers! ). My question is can this rigging method work for such lengths and if it does can I rig it solo ( with the use of the multiplier ) ?

    EDIT: sure, it will work fine for up to 80 or even 100ft (33 meters). If you want to go beyond 15 meters you’ll need someone to help pull, or a multiplier (such as shown in my “strength of three men for $20” article). I have rigged up to 50 meters by myself using a simply multiplier.

  11. Irene says:

    Thank you for all the info in this page, I’m learning a lot! About this primitive method, I have a question. I have a friend that uses only 3 carabiners, that is, 2 for the tensioning system and he passes the line inside the previous one a couple of times. What is the difference with the 3:1 and passing it just once? I’m making my own kit and here in Spain, or in my city at least, I could save 9 euros for 1 carabiner cause the webbing is not going to be cheap! Also, for the slings, I’ve seen people here using accessory cord, any though against it?
    Thank you very much!

    ANSWER: I think you could try your friend’s method and see how it feels. You won’t be able to get it quite as tight, but some people may prefer the lower tension (and saving 9 Euro). I would not use accessory cord, unless it was very thick (and strong) cord, such as 8mm (maybe 12-15Kn cord). Just use 12mm, 16mm, or 25mm webbing — it is cheap and safe.

  12. Slacker says:

    Adam, thank you so much for such an amazing website. I, too, went out last night and bought everything you recommended for a primitive slackline setup!

    I have the same issue as “Kevin February 18, 2011 at 7:19 pm”, above. I woefully underestimated the enormous size of the sycamore trees I had scouted a day earlier*.

    With my 16 ft of tubular webbing per anchor, it looks like I’ll be able to tie single loops to each end to make it work, as you recommended to Kevin.

    My questions:

    1) Is your recommendation to use a “choker” style hitch (carabiner clips to one loop), or a configuration where the carabiner clips to both loops?

    2) I bought 75 ft of tubular webbing for my main line, and plan on using the 3:1 primitive here plus $15 Petzl pulleys for the multiplier–so that’s what I’m working with in terms of tension. I assume this anchor configuration is strong enough?

    3) What kind of loop knot would you recommend? Bowline? Yosemite bowline? Janus bowline? Alpine? Figure-of-eight? Simple overhand? Does it even matter? 🙂


  13. David says:

    Hey would it be ok to set up a highline using this method? What is the longest length you could make a primitive longline/highline?

    Adam’s Coments:

    It would not. Primitive highlines are really not a very good idea. Way too much stuff to fail, and way too many points of reduction in strength of the line. Low to the ground, when the line is only 400 or 500lbs of tension and no one is leashed to it, there is very little risk of anything failing. And if it did, no one would die. Up high, death is now a factor, and there are many points where things are reduced significantly in strength (e.g. triloaded, under friction, etc). Add to that a leashed fall (“whipper”) might add 1000 or 2000lbs of tension, and you’re asking for trouble. (The tension added by a whipper is still a subject of some debate, but it is a result of basic physics … the momentum of the slacker, which is mass times velocity, and velocity is a result of the accel of gravity (9.81 meters per second squared) which accumulates over time (we will neglect air resistance since it is a short fall). The tricky part is the force is distributed over time (it is an impulse, in physics terms) and so this is where it gets complicated, because the tension in the line, the stretch of the line, the stretch of the leash, etc, all change the duration of impulse.)

    I am considering a guide to highlining, but legal implications might prevent me from publishing such a series. For now, I would watch the guide to longlining series to get an idea of the sort of equipment and calculations necessary for highline rigging. Then try to find someone locally who knows what they are doing, and sort of “apprentice” under them. Feel free to e-mail me with specific questions.

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