Slacklining is so easy to do. All you need are two trees! Wait, but what if you can’t find two trees strong enough to be your anchors? I mean, you can’t use any old thing. Your anchor points have to be capable of withstanding the extreme loads they’re put under. And, that’s no exaggeration. You can find out just how severe these loads are using our trusty new calculator:
So, since most of us know how to set up our slacklines with trees around, we’re going to talk about setting them up without them and without doing a lot of damage to the neighbourhood or the surrounding area in the process.
If you have the right tools and material, it’s not as difficult as it may sound. In fact, if you’ve got the right ground anchors or the necessary frame, it’s easy to set up a slackline without trees. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof!
Forces in slacklining
In slacklining, there are some pretty gnarly forces at work that you really need to take into consideration when setting up your line. More specifically, it is important to make sure that your line, surrounding technology (whatever that may be) and anchor points are strong enough to withstand the load. So, before looking for possible alternatives to trees, it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the forces involved and how they come to be.
The first and certainly easiest force to understand is pretension, which is the force generated when the slackline is tensioned. Another force is generated by the weight of the slackliner as well as the sag of the slackline. There is also something called a dynamic force, which has an effect on the entire setup. This is brought about by the slackliner’s movements and increases with the degree of activity. Thus, these reactionary forces are much higher as a result of jumps than they are when a slackliner simply walks or turns around.
With the help of our calculator, you can calculate the anchor point loads quickly and easily. This will help you to familiarise yourself with the forces at work before setting up your slackline as well as give you an estimate as to whether a potential anchor point is capable of withstanding the load.
Of course, we can’t forego anchor points entirely. Even slackline frames need some kind of anchor. Strictly speaking, these handy and self-supporting systems can be installed everywhere. When using one of these frames, the slackline is tensioned between two anchor points by means of an integrated ratchet. Frames of this kind are either made out of metal or wood and usually consist of several modules that allow you to save space when you store them. A good example of such a frame is the Slackrack from Gibbon. This three-part set allows you to set up a 2 or 3 metre long line.
Since these are generally self-supporting systems, no further fix points are required. The frames are built in such a way as to be sturdy on level ground and easy to handle. Slackline frames are therefore ideally suited for fitness as well. They’re a great alternative to the usual slackline setups for schools, clubs and families as well. Of course, the coolest thing about these systems is the fact that they can be used indoors as well, no matter whether you set it up in your child’s room, a make-shift gym in your cellar or a regular gym. You’ll always find a place for it!
If you prefer to pursue your hobby in your own garden or at a park, but you can’t seem to find any anchor points, you should have a closer look at the free-standing options with anchors. These kinds of sets are made by a number of different brands, but all of them follow the same basic principle: Two ground anchors are screwed into the ground, the slackline is mounted onto it and brought up to the desired height using the two frames. Then, all you have to do is fully tension the slackline, and voila! Let the fun begin!
The cool thing about this is that the length of the slackline can be adjusted however you like it. You can also adjust the height and then choose between several clamping heights. Another great thing about this kind of setup is how quick and easy it is to disassemble. Plus, once you’ve taken it apart, it packs down nice and small. When used properly, the ground anchors hardly leave any traces in the ground. Thus, systems like the Frameline Set from Slackline Tools are ideally suited for any slackliners who want to be as mobile as possible and not have to rely on trees.
Since slackline sets with ground anchors can only be used outdoors and trees rarely grow in gymnasiums and climbing centres, the following question basically asks itself: How would you set up a long slackline indoors?
Well, if the building has strong concrete walls, it shouldn’t be a problem. There are plenty of different anchors and setup options. These are usually bolted to a wall with several heavy-duty anchors. Thus, by using permanent wall hooks, you can set up a line from one wall to another. But, this will only work if the walls are sturdy enough and may require the opinion of a stress analyst beforehand.
When it comes to gymnasiums, there are even more interesting options. Similar to the setup with ground anchors, a slackline can be attached to the floor anchors for horizontal bars. For more height, two small crates are pushed underneath. This setup is particularly suitable for school classes or clubs. Since the slackline runs over the crate at both ends, it’s much easier for kids to get on. Plus, the setup is much quicker and easier since you’re using the existing infrastructure of the gymnasium and permanent installations are not necessary.
It is not impossible to set up a slackline without trees. In fact, as we’ve seen, there are plenty of options out there that’ll do just that. Whether you’re looking for something for indoors or outdoors, big or small, or beginners or professionals, the market is full of all sorts of clever slackline kits. Speaking of clever, there are even slackline systems that have been designed to be used in physical therapy with the aim of improving the mobility of those who have been in accidents or have chronic illnesses. To tension these slacklines, you don’t really even need to use that blasted ratchet anymore, either. These are often included in complete sets, but can also be replaced with an Ellington pulley system, provided you have the proper material.