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How to slackline without trees

Lack of trees is a common problem in some areas, usually trees are the best and most accessible answer but there are other solutions. First though, my best recommendation is to go to your nearby park or other area where you can find trees that suit your needs. It’s also a good way to meet people and you don’t have to worry about the complexities of rigging or worry about breaking whatever anchors your making.

Upright Anchors

Upright anchors such as telephone poles, truck hitches on vehicles, heavily cemented street signs, porch and deck woodwork (heavy anchored 4x4’s or larger) and other various things like that work very well. Keep an eye on it when testing the line, if it moves much at all, find a different anchor. Telephone Pole as AnchorOverall as long as it will withstand 1,500 lbs of tension or greater it will work for a small line or if it will handle 2,200 lbs it would work for a longer and tighter line. Finding out the hard way that your brick enclosed BBQ grill, porch rail or chimney won't handle that load could be disastrous. If you have any doubt as to your any doubt to the anchors appropriateness or if it failed the results could be disastrous do not use it.

Usually with upright anchors you won’t need any extra equipment as even with our normal kits you can lash easily around something 10 feet in circumference depending on your kit. For more unusual anchors you might find some extra webbing useful and maybe a carabiner for each end. I wouldn’t suggest buying these until you see a specific need however as 99% of the time the kit alone will work by itself without modifications. Do remember to pad edges, concrete, bricks and stone can wear through a slackline with ease.

Ground Level Anchors

Tying off to a porch

Ground level anchors are where you can find something at ground level to attach the system to and use a second item to lift the line up to the desired height. Usually we recommend upright anchors as it is far easier to rig and less cumbersome. But, if you have to use a ground level anchor then try and make your life easier by matching it with an upright anchor on the other end to cut your rigging in half. For instance you could lash around a cement porch then run the line over the top of another item that will hold it upright under tension; the other end could be a telephone pole or tree.

Industrial Ladder as an A-Frame

Ground level anchors can get complex but you’d be amazed what people have come up with.

One answer we received as a simple permanent yet hidden ground anchor. You dig a hole a few feet below the frost line, pour some cement with a chain in the middle, cover it back up leaving the tail of the chain barely out and connect your line to that. Hiding one of these in the rock garden or flower bed seems to work fairly well without risking hitting the chain with the mower.

 

You can also use webbing or rope to equalize many items which wouldn’t be strong enough on their own such as normal fence posts and at ground level they are not being levered out so you can get by with far fewer. Another suggestion is tying a piece of rope or webbing around a block of wood, putting the wood on the ground with the rope running towards where you want to slack and parking your car on top of the rope where the wood will get squished against the tire. Basically be creative but be careful you don’t attach to something that can’t handle the load.

How to make your own A-Frames

A-Frames
To provide vertical lift we usually recommend making your own A-Frames. To make your own, simply cut a 2x4 into two posts the desired height (when at an angle) plus a few inches to have a top channel. Next cut a support board to go against the ground between the two supports as well as one to go horizontally between the top of the supports. Ideally you should cut these off at the appropriate angle to make a nice matching edge. Depending on your expected load you may need additional braces. I usually prefer lots of long screws to assemble it rather than nails as they seem to keep it held together better. Next you'll need some plywood approximately a 1/2" thick to make the support system to keep it all together from sideways motion. The photo shows minimal plywood but we suggest using a full panel cut to fit or at least using significantly larger support panels. This too should be screwed securely on both sides of the A frame to provide a good deal of support. The top should have a channel to allow you to wrap the webbing around it to keep the line in place and ideally you should have places to anchor it at other points to secure the A-frame itself to the ground if needed as well as some up top to keep it from slipping inwards when you are jumping or putting your weight near the end.

We’d make these and sell them but shipping would be horrific and we really don’t want to get into woodworking products for the time being.
 

Note: Ground level anchors almost always require extra rigging materials such as more webbing/rope and carabiners. You may need upwards of 100 feet of extra webbing for a complex set of anchors so we suggest you go ahead and buy a roll of webbing to help cut costs as you'll likely need the extra anyway.

Slacking on the Beach

The quick solution to get your slacking at the beach is buried anchors. Take a couple 2 foot long pieces of a 2x4 or similar object and bury it several feet in the sand. For best results, bury a couple on each end and equalize the load. We suggest burying your anchors at least 3-4 feet deep depending on the compactness of your sand and to keep an eye on it under use. If it starts moving, re-bury it deeper.

A-Frame 

If you don't want to bury anchors you'll need something similar to a wooden pallet with several 55 gallon trash cans full of water on top to keep it from moving. The pallet system works only if you can get a lot of grip with the ground and have a LOT of weight on it.  

Vehicles as Anchors

There are lots of ways of using heavy objects to anchor a line to and vehicles are no exception. First off though, never use a vehicle to tighten a slackline. Serious injury can result and it can destroy your slackline system very easily.

Slackline Attached to a Truck Hitch

One option is to use a pre-existing trailer hitch or similar. Make sure you are not wrapping the webbing around any sharp edges or any part of the vehicle not designed to carry a load. If your vehicle has a suitable towing system that is the correct height, great, that might work but you will have a lot more movement from the system that you'd expect.

Tied to a car

Lacking a trailer hitch or similar system, you can easily use the weight of the car to create a ground level anchor and use the A-frame method or use something else to obtain the desired height. This photo uses a series of precariously balanced railroad ties. We don't recommend stacking objects so haphazard but if they had been stacked differently, say 2 on the bottom, 2 on the top and the webbing wrapping completely around the bundle it could have been much more stable. This photo shows one possible method of connecting the system to the car without actually tying off to the car itself but instead driving over the line wrapped in padding where it has something to keep it from slipping from under the car tire.

2x4 to secure to a car

Why Saw Horses & Ladders are not as good as A-Frames

The problem with most saw horses is that they simply won’t handle the load nor do they flex with the system. They might work for an afternoon or two but long term wise the loads are just too great for most commercially made ones and even the homemade variety has to be very robust to handle it. The ladder I use in some of photos on this site only works because it’s commercial duty but it still isn’t ideal as a good set of A-Frames. One major limitation to any ladder or saw horse is that they won’t flex with the line when bouncing – that can pull them over dropping you to the ground. An A-frame will lean inward but it won’t fall if properly anchored. With either system surfing near the ends can potentially tip them over unless it is somehow secured to the ground. In the past we've tied short loops of cordage around the legs and used large tent stakes to help hold it down. This certainly helps but it doesn't solve the issue completely.

 

Child walking a slackline

"This hobby is one of the most awesome things I've ever done. Your kit made set up so easy." - Heather M. More Gear Reviews