Sunday, June 10, 2012

Homemade Zip Line

No one died.

150 foot static (non-stretching) rope
Slackline with ratchet system
Four 15 foot sections of webbing
Tandem pulley
Single pulley
Daisy chain
Five locking carabiners
Figure eight follow through knot tying skills
A sweet location (high starting point, wide open ending point)
Some serious guts
What do you get when you put all of these together?

Video courtesy of Youtube user calebsl1

Don't try this at home but if you do, you'd better know what you're doing and 
double check everything. A 50 foot drop onto solid ground will likely kill you.

How to set up a Zipline
(for those not actually interested in the technical specs, this will probably be pretty dry)
1.       Setting up the top anchors:  We climbed up the tree 50 feet to where we wanted the zipline to start and wrapped a 15 foot section of webbing around a section of the trunk where a big branch came off.  We tied off the webbing with a figure eight follow through knot.  The standard knot for tying off webbing is a water knot, but if you use that knot here there is so much tension that you will never get the knot undone. It’s always a good idea to have two anchors so we set up another identical webbing anchor at the top.  Make the loops as even as possible to alleviate the tension. We then clipped a locking carabiner into each webbing loop.  We tied a figure eight bite knot in the end of the static rope and clipped that into the carabiners, and the starting point was ready to go.
2.       Setting up the lower anchors: This was a lot easier since we weren’t 50 feet up in a tree. We wanted to suspend the zipline finish between two trees so you didn’t slam into a tree at the end.  There were two trees about fifteen feet apart so we tied a couple webbing loops onto one of the trees about eight feet off the ground, coming out seven or eight feet to the side.
3.       The slackline: On the other tree we set up the ratchet end of the slackline. We then attached a carabiner to the anchors on the first tree anchors and clipped a single pulley into the carabiner.  Then we pulled the static rope across the pond, fed it through the single pulley and hooked it up to the slackline.  We tightened the ratchet on the slackline as tight as we could, to get as much tension as possible on the rope. 
4.       Go time: We used a tandem pulley to slide down the rope. After climbing the tree, we slipped the tandem pulley over the rope, clipped in a carabiner, and clipped a doubled over daisy chain into the carabiner.  We put each hand in a loop of the daisy chain and then went for it. Then we had the idea to put a harness on backwards and clip ourselves onto the pulley attached from behind so you could go down in a superman position. That was quite a rush. Make sure your harness is nice and tight because you pretty much flip upside down right at the start as seen in the video.

Sidenote: if you're going to buy the gear solely for the purpose of a zipline, buy some 3/16" or 1/4" galvanized cable instead of a static rope. It is cheaper, stronger, and will last much longer.


  1. Tyson just brought his friends over to watch your videos. He's proud of his uncle. It was nice to see you yesterday. PLEASE, PLEASE don't die when you go do that arch swing.

  2. Love it! We just did some extreme zip lining in Mexico and looooved it!