I used to rock climb pretty avidly when I was in high school. My friends and I even built a mini climbing cave in my mom’s garage, complete with real holds and mattresses for us to fall on (the cave ceiling was only about 8 feet tall). That was a lot of fun, but I realized as I got better at it that climbing requires physical skills that many of the other sports I had played simply did not; namely, balance and coordination, using muscles I didn’t know I even had.
I wish I had known about Slacklining back then, because I’d probably have become a much better climber. Slacklining has its roots in the late 1970s-early 80s, when some rock climbers Yosemite National Park stretched a piece of nylon webbing between a couple of trees and used it to improve their balance and coordination.
Over the last few years, I’ve heard of slacklining here and there, but never gave much thought to it. That is, until I realized I’m getting older and it’s getting harder for me to be as active as I’d like to. Slacklining is an ideal activity to while away summer afternoons in the great outdoors–afternoons that would otherwise likely be spent on the couch watching television. Simple, quick to set up, with a short learning curve, slacklining feels like an activity that just about anyone can get in on.
In my research into the subject, I found that slacklining has several levels of difficulty, and different gear that can make it more fun and challenging. There is even a branch of slacklining called “Tricklining,” where people use springier slacklines that allow them to do crazy flips, kicks, jumps, and other tricks. This has led to tricklining competitions around the world.
The best part about slacklining is that it’s easy and accessible. The equipment is relatively inexpensive ($60-$180 or so), and setup is very simple. Just stretch the line between two solid objects, and start slacklining. The activity is great for core training and balance, which for people like me who have bad backs and need more exercise, can be a godsend. There is gear that allows you to setup a slackline indoors, so even wintertime blues can be offset by slacklining.
While slacklining can be a bit dangerous–you’ll want to avoid heights and hard objects at first–the benefits far outweigh the dangers. Most slacklines are made by Gibbon Slacklines, and their website has a wealth of information on the sport, the gear, and the competitions. With the low barrier to entry and the superior benefits, I plan on asking Santa Claus for a Christmas slackline!