Slackline Webbing Wear
How worn is worn? When should you
retire your slackline? What is safe? For a most part the world's
answer for how long to use a slackline has always answered "use your
best judgment", "untill it breaks" or the even less helpful suggestion
of when it's "sketchy".
Webbing life span is for the most
part the "elephant in the room no one talks about." All webbing
retailers know that these conditions not only can but eventually
will happen to all webbing due to use. However, almost none however are willing
to give guidelines about replacing it. They want to make the initial
sale and inspire confidence in the product without acknowledging that all nylon safety products have a
shelf life of about 5-10 years even if they are unused, much less
left out in the rain and sun for a few years with constant load of
being stretched tight for a permanent slackline. We're trying to be
a bit more realistic, a slackline under normal use can last up to 5
years after that it should be much replaced if not sooner depending on
wear. In extreme cases webbing can be permanently damaged to an
unsafe level in a single use.
If you encounter any of the "bad"
examples and would like your line refurbished please
Contact Us, we're glad to help
you out and if we originally made the slackline we try to do repairs
and refurbishments at a no-profit pricing. If you received a
slackline from us with a mill flaw please contact us, we'll fix it
at our cost ASAP. We do our best at finding them all but given the
nature of some flaws, they may not be evident until the line is put
Some of these examples have been
obtained from our own testing, some donated from people in the
field, some web was sent in from customers wanting their lines refurbished while
examples have been created for our illustrational purposes.
Perfectly fine webbing with only a small number of fibers lifting
from the weave.
This webbing has been slightly abraded by either incomplete locking
off of a cam buckle or by a lack of padding on a tree. This webbing
is still perfectly fine but
those trees or pre-load
those cam buckles.
This is an example of fibers being pulled out from overfilling a
ratchet. The tale-tell is the gouge/fiber pull only on one the edge of the webbing.
This is where
the webbing on the spool gets bound against the slide plate that
locks into the gears on the ratchet. While this web is still good be
careful, if you can get a pinky finger into it, you'll should scrap your web. Avoid doing this by using our
Super Tensioning Add-on pack for classic or
or learn to use the Tensioning Widget that is already built into the
This is an example of what will eventually happen to webbing without
padding on the tree slings. While still ok for casual use, I'd avoid
using it on lines longer than 40 feet as the clumping goes pretty
deep. This is definitely a grey
area on judgment calls but I have to be honest, the prospect of
getting snapped with a webbing "whip" with 1,000 lbs of tension on
it is definitely not on my list of things I want to do. I'd consider
swapping out the sling for normal use, for a low line with the kids
playing on it, it may be fine but you should pad the line to prevent
it from failing.
A massive gouge in the line caused by slamming it in a car door
where the latch was. Sadly this line was trashed before it was used
even once. Even if the tensile strength is still there for
now it'll accumulate dirt and debris into the webbing weave and
quickly reduce it's strength.
This is an obvious mill flaw, the weaving machine did not "close"
the side edge of the weave and it is just falling apart. The unfortunately truth is these do
leave the factory and the web often does not fall apart into an
obvious defect until the line receives a load. It is the job of all
slackers and climbers to diligently inspect their webbing. Something
like this is obviously not safe, however it may look just fine until
you put a load on it or actually closely inspect the webbing.
This example too is a serious flaw from the production mill. The entire roll
looked perfectly fine but about 200 feet in we found this. This is
why you must inspect the entire length of your webbing before
putting it into use. This is an extreme example however much smaller
mill flaws easily make it past quality control from the plant. We
catch these non-woven patches in about every case of webbing we buy
however we do our best to catch any defects before it makes it to
This is an example of a typical burn. This is
pretty common for nighttime slacking at campsites when someone sets
up a line next to a lantern. The line is significantly compromised
and it is recommended that it be replaced. It could probably be ok
for light duty use but melting damages webbing pretty bad as it
shortens the fibers which then loads the webbing un-uniformly which
leads to it shredding under load.
Obviously trash. This example has been melted through one side and
partly into the other. It only took 3 seconds of contact with hot
metal to do this.
A puncture wound from slinging a tree that had a barb wire fence
anchored to it. The line is probably ok, but keep an eye on it to
ensure the hole doesn't get worse. Taking a flame to this will help
seal the tuft of fiber so it doesn't get worse over time.
Looks ok from this side however check out the back:
This is an excellent example of why we say padding your trees will
make a difference. This is climb-spec webbing designed to take extra
abrasion and this level of damage was attained after two weeks of
daily use. While still usable it will eventually fail due to
abrasion if the owner continued to use it without padding.
This will test your eyesight but if you look closely the tracer
black dash in the middle is offset to one side and disappears. This
is a mill flaw, but a very minor one. We'd usually try to avoid
selling it, but strength wise it should be perfectly fine.
This mill flaw however isn't quite so innocent. This example was
caught before put into production.
This is a new piece of webbing. If you are worried about it being
good you obviously haven't checked out our
force calculator. It should be good
for 4,000 lb + of tensile load.
Yet another mill flaw. However, this one didn't show up until it had
a load placed on it. It made a small "pop" noise as the webbing
elongated once the person hopped on.
Again, a mill flaw. This time a lengthwise type of weave flaw. This
is a less common flaw but still be cautious to check for it. Most
likely the line is still fine.
Congratulations, you've gotten your line dirty. No worries, if you
are paranoid about it you could
This is why we say to pad your edges. Eventually it will snap. This
was loaded over a brick column for a week or so, and yes it failed
while in use. Thankfully no one was hurt.
Ah, this tests your eyes. Notice that the weave changes a bit, this
is a very minor mill flaw. While the line is probably strong enough,
best to not use it as it will wear prematurely and will have lost
unknown amounts of strength.
Even smooth anchors can wear into webbing. This example was supplied
by a missionary in Guatemala that mounted on a smooth round light
pole for about 4 months. It was taken down every day but always put
up in the exact same place. We were able to replace their slings and
send them a
Padding Pack and nearly a year later it shows
no signs of abuse.
This is a trick, it may be new webbing but this time we soaked up
some car battery acid with it, left it under the car battery for a
month or two, then washed it off. I haven't load tested it, but it
would probably break with only a thousand pounds or so as a rough
guess. This is a reminder that nylon is susceptible to more than
abrasion and flaws from the factory. It feels different to the touch
but would be hard to identify if in the middle of a hundred feet of
Yet another trick, this time I found the sample in Joshua Tree
National Park in the desert. This webbing looks new but it used to
be yellow. It has been completely bleached from UV light. The
underside of the sling was still yellow, although fainter than
normal. It feels brittle to the touch and would probably break under
less than five hundred pounds.