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All About Slackline Webbing

In the Balance Community Shop, there are a number of different slackline webbings to choose from. Each of these webbings is unique in it's own right and each has special characteristics that are favorable for certain types of slacklines and slackliners. I would like to take a look at the characteristics in detail to help people decide which webbing is right for them.

First off, there are a number of characteristics that are similar across all slackline webbings that can be used to compare two webbings very easily. Here is a list of these properties:

  1. Breaking Strength
  2. Stretch
  3. Weight
  4. Thickness
  5. Hand

I will go into detail about each of these below.

 

Breaking Strength

Minimum Breaking StrengthThe breaking strength of a webbing is a very important property as it defines (in combination with stretch) how safe a webbing is for use in slacklines (specifically, highlines). The stronger your webbing, the safer it will be. A good rule of thumb to go by is that your webbing should be 3 times stronger than the maximum tension you will ever tension said webbing to. For instance, if you plan on setting up a line that is 600 feet long with about 8 feet of sag, that will require roughly 3,000 lbs of tension. This means you should not use a webbing that breaks at a force lower than 9,000 lbs.

Be very careful with the strength of webbing though, for there are more, somewhat ambiguous factors to take into consideration. The most important detail to consider is the safety cushion that is placed on the strength rating of the webbing. Typically, webbings made in the US are rated very conservatively in order to protect the mills that produce them. This is because there are such large fluctuations in the finished product. The process of milling a webbing allows for many things to go wrong, such as the width of the webbing, the tensions of the individual monofilaments, the tightness of the weave. Also, other things can happen during the weave that can affect the strength of the finished substrate. These include broken monofilaments, miss-weaves, loose fiber ends, and a few others. All of these combined can allow for HUGE ranges in the breaking strength for webbing, even within batches from the same manufacturer. This is why it's important to not read too heavily into the breaking strength numbers for all webbing. As I said before, webbing in the US tends to have a large cushion placed on the breaking strength for this reason. Webbing made in other parts of the world does not usually have these kinds of safety margins, which is why it's important to look at how the company that sells the webbing rates their material.

The strength is not the only factor to look at when considering the safety of a webbing. The stretch plays a VERY large role in how safe your line will be, which we will be looking at next.

 

Stretch

ElongationThe stretch of your webbing plays a very important role in how safe your line is for highline use. The higher the stretch of your line, the less strong it needs to be. The reason for this is that during a leash fall your line will be shockloaded by the impact force of your fall. In a low stretch webbing, the fall happens very quickly, which results in a high impact force, thus enabling higher shockload values to occur. On a high-stretch webbing, the leash fall happens a lot slower. This is because the webbing stretches as you fall, which lengthens the time for the impact force to peak. The slower the fall, the lower the impact force, the lower the shockload on your webbing. So, high-stretch webbings experience lower shockload values compared to low stretch webbings. This is why the lower the stretch of your webbing, the higher the strength needs to be. This isn't to say that low stretch webbings are unsafe for highlines though, it just means that you should use only the highest strength materials if you choose to go the low-stretch route (i.e. Mantra and Spider Silk MKII).

Not only is stretch an important factor in highline safety, but it's also a characteristic of highly dynamic webbing. High-stretch webbings lend themselves to more dynamic tricks on the slackline. For instance, surfing and bouncing the line become much more powerful on a stretchy webbing compared to low-stretch lines. If you like dynamic slacklines, then high stretch webbing is definitely for you (i.e. Type-18 and Threaded Slack-Spec Tubular).

Stretch also plays a big role in how easy your line will be to setup. A webbing with higher stretch will need to have more slack pulled out of it to get to walking tension compared to a low-stretch webbing. More slack being pulled out means more work, and more rope for your Pulley System, which means less energy for walking. If you are into quick setup times, then low stretch webbing is for you (i.e. Mantra and Spider Silk MKII).

 

Weight

WeightThe weight of your line (combined with the stretch) determines how difficult it will be to walk. Lightweight webbing will always be easier to walk than heavyweight webbing. This is because there is less weight to react to your movements when you walk the line, and the subsequent movements have less momentum that has the potential to throw you off the line. When a heavier webbing starts to move, it takes more energy to stop those movements, thus making it harder to control. There are other aspects of webbing that can determine the difficulty besides the weight, such as the hand and fiber type. Although, the weight is the most critical of these aspects.

Just because heavy webbings are more difficult to walk does not make them any less enjoyable. A heavy line is one of the best training tools for teaching yourself how to keep the line calm while walking. A calm line is always easy to control since it is not moving. Heavyweight lines provide a way to train this.

 

Thickness

The thickness of your webbing is mainly important for use oflocking devices as well as determining how sharp the line is for catching on a highline. Thicker webbings tend to not do as well as thinner webbing's in webbing anchors. This is because when a thick webbing bends around a radius, the inside fibers stretch much less than the outer fibers (depending on the size of the radius), resulting in low breaking numbers. The thickness is not the only factor that determines this though--stretch plays a large part.

Also, for catching on a highline, a thicker webbing is usually far less sharp than a thin webbing. This is wonderful if you take a lot of falls on highlines and don't want to get scraped up too badly.

 

Hand

Webbing HandThe hand of a webbing is basically how it feels in your hands and on your feet. Some types of webbing are soft, some are stiff, some have ridges, and some are very rough. There are many variables that determine how the webbing feels, all of which affect the other characteristics above. Each individual webbing has a different hand, so I will describe the features that affect each webbing below.

The main variable that affects the hand of a webbing is the weave pattern and fiber size. A tighter weave with smaller fibers will produce a much softer hand compared to larger fibers with looser weaves. The hand is important for how a webbing feels on your feet when you are walking it. A softer hand will be much nicer to walk than a stiff handed webbing. This makes the walking experience much more enjoyable.

 

That concludes the description part of this article, now onto individual analyses of the webbings offered in the BC Shop:

 

1" Threaded Slack-Spec Tubular

Threaded Slack-Spec Tubular
  • Breaking Strength: 33.4 kN (7,500 lbf.)
  • Stretch: 13.5% at 2,000 lbf
  • Weight: 70 g/m (4.70 lbs/100 ft.)
  • Thickness: 0.16" (4.1 mm)
  • Hand: Extremely Soft
Threaded Slack-Spec tubular is one of the classic slackline webbings. It's been around since the beginning and it's still one of the best webbings out there for slacklining. The high-stretch allows for some amazing dynamic movements, even on shorter lines. It's one of my favorite webbings for lines under 150 ft. long as well as a really fun longer line webbing (250-350 feet). The thickness makes for a great highline webbing because it's very soft on your hands for catching. The high stretch also lends itself to soft falls on a highline. Beware of the rattle sounds that threaded tubular makes though. The inner line moves when the line shakes, which causes a rattling-like sound, which is unique to threaded-tubular.

 

 

Type 18

Type 18
  • Breaking Strength: 26.7 kN (6,000 lbf.)
  • Stretch: 13.9% at 2,000 lbf
  • Weight: 60 g/m (4.00 lbs/100 ft.)
  • Thickness: 0.12" (3.0 mm)
  • Hand: Extremely Soft
Type-18 is a very nice webbing for all sorts of lines. It's definitely the most versatile webbing out there. The high-stretch makes it great for shorter trick-style lines, as well as highly dynamic longlines. You can also wrench it down pretty tight for a fun-to-walk longer line. The high-stretch also makes for very comfortable highline falls. It's quite thick as well for not so sharp highline catches. I really like Type-18 in the 250-350 ft. range for its amazingly powerful bouncing and surfing sensations. No other webbing out there has the same power that Type-18 has.

 

 

Type 18 MKII

Type 18 MKII
  • Breaking Strength: 35.6 kN (8,000 lbf.)
  • Stretch: 12.5% @ 2,000 lbf
  • Weight: 62 g/m (4.17 lbs/100 ft.)
  • Thickness: 0.12" (3.0 mm)
  • Hand: Extremely Soft
Type 18 MKII is a very nice webbing for all sorts of lines. It's definitely the most versatile webbing out there. The high stretch makes it great for shorter trick-style lines, as well as highly dynamic longlines. You can also wrench it down pretty tight for a fun-to-walk longer line. The high stretch also makes for very comfortable highline falls. It's quite thick as well for not so sharp highline catches. I really like Type-18 in the 250-350 ft. range for its amazingly powerful bouncing and surfing sensations. No other webbing out there has the same power that Type-18 MKII has.

The second version of Type 18 (T18MKII) has increased strength, TruRound Rounded Edges, increased strength, more vibrant colors to choose from, edge markers for easy twist detection, and the option to add LineSkin Resin Coating.

 

 

Aero

Aero
  • Breaking Strength: 33.4 kN (7,500 lbf.)
  • Stretch: 8.8% @ 2,000 lbf
  • Weight: 59 g/m (3.96 lbs/100 ft.)
  • Thickness: 0.10" (2.5 mm)
  • Hand: Extremely Soft
Aero is an extremely supple polyester webbing that is fantastic for easy to setup long lines. Its low weight makes for a very easy walk at even longer distances. My favorite is to setup Aero at around 350-400 feet and just cruise back and forth. The TruRound Rounded Edges and smooth weave structure are super soft on the feet, so walking Aero is quite nice. The low stretch of Aero allows you to setup longer lines with very little work so that you may spend all your energy walking the line instead!

 

 

Mantra

Mantra
  • Breaking Strength: 42.0 kN (9,450 lbf)
  • Stretch: 3.1% at 2,000 lbf
  • Weight: 72 g/m (4.80 lbs/100 ft.)
  • Thickness: 0.11" (2.7 mm)
  • Hand: Soft with ridges. Also a little stiff.
Mantra is a very powerful polyester webbing with amazingly low stretch. It's very easy to rig even super longlines with Mantra because of its low stretch. You can also get it VERY tight for some really long tricklines. I really like Mantra in the 600-700 foot range as the movements are very very slow and allow for a really relaxing longline walk. Bouncing Mantra at these lengths is fantastic too because of how slow the movements are. On lines in the 250-350 foot range, Mantra behaves very nicely. The slow movements give you a lot of time to react and correct yourself, which makes for a very pleasant walk.

 

 

Mantra MKII

Mantra MKII
  • Breaking Strength: 42.0 kN (9,450 lbf)
  • Stretch: 4.7% at 2,000 lbf
  • Weight: 79 g/m (5.31 lbs/100 ft.)
  • Thickness: 0.120" (3.0 mm)
  • Hand: Soft with ridges. Also a little stiff.
Mantra MKII is a very powerful polyester webbing with very low stretch and exceptional strength. It's very easy to rig even super longlines with Mantra MKII because of its low stretch. You can also get it VERY tight for some really long tricklines. I really like Mantra MKII in the 500-600 foot range as the movements are very very slow and allow for a really relaxing longline walk. Bouncing Mantra MKII at these lengths is fantastic too because of how slow the movements are. On lines in the 250-350 foot range, Mantra behaves very nicely. The slow movements give you a lot of time to react and correct yourself, which makes for a very pleasant walk. One of my favorite things to do with Mantra MKII is rig a 300-350 foot line with about 10 feet of sag and surf it in the middle. The surfs are faster than other webbings, but still slow enough to go SUPER big.

 

 

Mantra MKIII

Mantra MKIII
  • Breaking Strength: 42.0 kN (9,450 lbf)
  • Stretch: 8.0% at 2,000 lbf
  • Weight: 83 g/m (5.60 lbs/100 ft.)
  • Thickness: 0.16" (4.1 mm)
  • Hand: Extremely soft.
Mantra MKIII has been redesigned from the ground up. We've completely changed the weave structure and have added a few things to the design that have further optimized it for ultra longlines. The new weave uses big fiber bundles that provide a suppleness that you wouldn't believe! This new weave structure also adds an incredible amount of lateral stability, which basically means a much more enjoyable longlining experience. With this lateral stability, there is a lot of play in the line when walking big lines. No longer will your body movements send oscillations down the line, making walking bigger lines a lot easier.

In addition to the weave structure, we have added a bit of color to the new design. There is now a vibrant green and black edges profile to Mantra MKIII! This allows for super easy twist detection as well as an aesthetic walking experience. Whether you are trying to push past a personal record or simply heading out for a day in the park, Mantra MKII is the ideal longline webbing for you!

 

 

Spider Silk

Spider Silk
  • Breaking Strength: 53.4 kN (12,000 lbf)
  • Stretch: 2.5% at 2,000 lbf
  • Weight: 39 g/m (2.49 lbs/100 ft.)
  • Thickness: 0.09" (2.3 mm)
  • Hand: Soft
The first generation of Spider Silk. Extremely light and very supple. However, there were issues with the weave that caused it to crease under tension, which is the main reason for the following version.

 

 

Spider Silk MKII

Spider SIlk MKII
  • Breaking Strength: 66.7 kN (15,000 lbf)
  • Stretch: 2.1% at 2,000 lbf
  • Weight: 49 g/m (3.30 lbs/100 ft.)
  • Thickness: 0.10" (2.6 mm)
  • Hand: Strong, stiff, and smooth
Spider Silk MKII is the most advanced slackline webbing on the planet. By far the strongest 1" webbing on the market, as well as the lowest stretch. These two features alone make Spider Silk MKII the best webbing out there for large lines (300 feet and beyond). The very low weight makes for a very pleasant walk on even the longest of lines. My favorite length with Spider Silk MKII is in the 800 - 1000 foot range. The bounces and walking is so incredibly smooth, it's unreal. It's a bit on the thin side for highline catches, but this can be solved by doubling it up, which is the optimal rig for any long highline (longer than 150 feet).

The strong and stiff feelings of this webbing come from the resin coating that is applied post weaving. This coating binds the fibers together very tightly making the webbing feel like a solid object rather than a woven substrate. This weave style also makes for a very stable platform under tension.

 

 

PowrLine

PowrLine
  • Breaking Strength: 37.0 kN (8,318 lbf)
  • Stretch: NA
  • Weight: 89 g/m (6.00 lbs/100 ft.)
  • Thickness: 0.18" (4.5 mm)
  • Hand: Supple, and extremely smooth
The PowrLine is an extremely dynamic, 1.25" wide trickline webbing that provides a ton of power. Because the PowrLine is made from 100% Nylon, the bounces tend to be a lot slower, but often provide the biggest amount of air out of all the trickline solutions. The high weight gives the line a lot of momentum when undergoing big aerial tricks, which adds to the power that this line offers.

 

 

RAGEline

RAGEline
  • Breaking Strength: 42.0 kN (9,450 lbf)
  • Stretch: 6.7% at 2,000 lbf
  • Weight: 104 g/m (7.00 lbs/100 ft.)
  • Thickness: 0.18" (4.5 mm)
  • Hand: Strong, stiff, and rigid
The RAGEline is a hybrid fiber webbing that has been built for the high-intensity trickliners. The core fibers are made from 100% nylon and the outer sheath is made from 100% polyester. This hybrid fiber technology gives the RAGEline very little stretch, while still maintaining the dynamics of a trickline webbing. You can setup very tight tricklines fairly low to the ground and still get massive air in the middle of the line. The RAGEline differs from the PowrLine in its bounce speed. For fast, back-to-back tricks where accuracy and precision are necessary, the RAGEline is the best option. The RAGEline is equipped with TruRound Rounded Edges, which gives it a soft edge for those big dynamic tricks.

The strong and stiff feelings of this webbing comes from the resin coating that is applied post weaving. This coating binds the fibers together very tightly making the webbing feel like a solid object rather than a woven substrate. This weave style also makes for a very stable platform under tension.

 

 

Here's a nice table showing the differences between the four webbing types above:

Webbing Breaking Strength Stretch @ 2,000 lbf Weight Thickness Hand Price
1" Threaded Slack-Spec Tubular 33.4 kN (7,500 lbf) 13.5% 70 g/m (4.70 lbs/100 ft.) 0.16" (4.1mm) Extremely Soft $0.95/foot
Type 18 26.7 kN (6,000 lbf) 13.9% 60 g/m (4.00 lbs/100 ft.) 0.19" (3.0mm) Extremely Soft NA
Type 18 MKII 35.6 kN (8,000 lbf) 12.5% 62 g/m (4.17 lbs/100 ft.) 0.12" (3.0mm) Extremely Soft $0.79/foot
Aero 33.4 kN (7,500 lbf) 8.8% 59 g/m (3.96 lbs/100 ft.) 0.10" (2.5mm) Extremely Soft $0.96/foot
Mantra 42.0 kN (9,450 lbf) 3.1% 72 g/m (4.80 lbs/100 ft.) 0.11" (3.0mm) Soft w/ridges. NA
Mantra MKII 42.0 kN (9,450 lbf) 4.7% 79 g/m (5.31 lbs/100 ft.) 0.12" (3.0mm) Soft w/ridges. NA
Mantra MKIII 42.0 kN (9,450 lbf) 8.0% 83 g/m (5.60 lbs/100 ft.) 0.16" (4.1mm) Extremely Soft $0.96/foot
Spider Silk 53.4 kN (12,000 lbf) 2.5% 37 g/m ( lbs/100 ft.) 0.09" (2.3mm) Soft NA
Spider Silk MKII 66.7 kN (15,000 lbf) 2.1% 49 g/m (3.30 lbs/100 ft.) 0.10" (2.5mm) Strong, stiff, and smooth $3.048/foot
PowrLine 37.0 kN (8,318 lbf) 89 g/m (6.0 lbs/100 ft.) 0.18" (4.5mm) Supple, extremely smooth $1.30/foot
RAGEline 42.0 kN (9,450 lbf) 6.7% 104 g/m (7.0 lbs/100 ft.) 0.18" (4.5mm) Strong, stuff, and rigid $1.75/foot

 

Here is a chart that displays the stretch of each of the above webbings compared to the force (in Kilo Newtons). Note that 1 kN = 224.8 lbf

 

Webbing Stretch Webbing Stretch


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25 thoughts on “All About Slackline Webbing”

  • a really informative and nice article, jerry :)
    despite the abundance of technical info, still easy reading. like!
    may i copy/paste? :p

  • was very good indeed! I will also copy :)

  • Natalio Huer-Blazin - January 29, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Great article!

  • I'm buying my first slackline very soon and this article was very helpful and informative. Thanks!;)

  • Great article. Information provided answers most questions... anyone feel like updating it with the new Rageline and Powrline tech info?

  • Hi Slack Science,
    I've just been doing 20-30m gibbon slacklines, but now looking to set up my own longer lines, probably to the 30-50m mark. I'm keen to have a pleasant walk, not a big trickster, wondering what you would recommend?

    • Hey Nigel,

      The best walking webbing that we carry is the Mantra MKII. The added weight gives the line very slow movements, which are very easy to control. Not to mention, the low stretch makes for an easy rig. Definitely a good choice for your application.

      Hope that helps!

  • Hey there, I am trying to find the best webbing that can be used as a multi purpose line. I am interested in long lengths 200+ ft and I'm interested in a line that can be used for longlining and highlining. I tend to favor my 75' 1" primitive military spec climbing webbing. I've had the line super slack, super tight, and in between. I prefer a slower corrective bounce to my step.

    Is there any particular line you would recommend for me. I've heard good things about the Mantra line, but I'm curious how this line handles as a highline less than 200ft long?

    Any advice would be much appreciated! :)

    • I would recommend the Type-18 for an all-around line. It's great at lengths of about 200 feet and also for most length highlines. It stretches a bit more than the Mantra does, but the feel is quite soft and it moves very smoothly.

      As for the slower corrective bounce, you will notice it's a bit faster than a polyester line, but the movements are very controllable. It's quite a bit lighter than the Mantra, so it will be easier in that respect.

      I hope that helps!

  • If I were to buy a winch for a 250 ft line of 1" slack spec tubular, how many pounds of pull would it need to have to make for a decently tight line?

    • I would highly recommend NOT getting a winch to tighten your slackline. You can very easily over-tension it and it can become dangerous very quickly. Best would be to get a pulley system so you can have a rough idea what sort of tensions you have on the line.

      As for a 250 foot Slack-Spec Tubular line, I would recommend not putting more than 1,000 lbf on it.

      Hope that helps.

    • Winches wont hold the line anyway. Automotive winches have an electronic brake that is attached to the planetary gear in the winch's gear box. That electronic brake is only designed to stop the automotive from rolling down a hill while being winched up, or something similar. If you place a sustained load on the winch, you will damage the planetary gear which will render your $600 winch inoperable.

  • Heya there.
    my amiga and I would like to begin some slack lining adventures.
    We arent quite sure where to start, materials and such. I've done some research and definitely wouldnt like it to be complex in set up or bulky to carry. The thing is because I've never slacked before I'm not sure what is best for us and what we will progress to enjoy.
    If you have any tips on getting started, let me know :)

    • Hey Amber,

      Thanks for the comment, glad to see you are looking to get into slacklining! You should definitely check out the BC Primitive Slackline Kit (link at end of comment). It's a really simple slackline kit that will allow you to grow into longer and longer lines over time. It's very lightweight (about 4.5 pounds, or 2 kilograms) and super simple. Here is the link: http://www.balancecommunity.com/BC-Primitive-Slackline-Kit

  • hi, I was wondering how a simple line used to attache equipment on trucks for example would compare to the slackline you are mentionning. If no test was done, can you give us a feeling of the difference ? I live in thailand, this sport is not popular. I wonder if introducing slackling with those chep webbing would be ok... and what real slackline would add to the experience.

    Thanks

    • Tie-down webbings are notorious for being incredibly stiff and unpleasant to walk on due to their abrasive texture. The lines we design and sell are made specifically for slacklining. So they offer a softer feel, a more dynamic experience, and they have all been thoroughly tested for use with slacklines.

      I hope this answers your questions.

  • Is the Spider Silk MKII break strength supposed to be 15,000 LBS?

  • hello,

    I'm looking for a new highline webbing, most of the line i setup are not more than 30m
    and i like tight lines.

    untill now i used 2 tubbular nylon webbing for that purpose, should i keep with that method or should i use 1 type 18 webbing instead for example?? is it strong enough?

    • Hey Eran,

      Thanks for the comment, much appreciated.

      You should absolutely NEVER using a single line on a highline. Always backup your line and every other component in the system.

      With that being said, Type-18 is a great line for highlines. In fact, it's my favorite! It has great dynamics and is incredible soft to catch. I usually double it up for a great feeling line. Remember to have separate anchors for each line though!

      I hope this answers your questions, let me know if you need any additional help.

  • Paolo Fernandez - January 29, 2014 at 8:30 am

    Hi! Was wondring, im about to but 320ft of mantra mk11 and is ok if i rig it primitively, if to say i just want an 80ft line? Cause some times it laborious to always rig a long line.,

  • […] preference. I have written a pretty in-depth guide on the subject in this Slack Science Article: Slack Science - All About Slackline Webbing. I will outline my personal favorites for different types of lines […]

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