Rigging a highline is a very complex activity that has many parts that all have their importance. The leash is an aspect of highlines that is often overlooked. This is a shame because the leash is arguably the most essential part of the rig as it's the component that attaches you to the line that you are walking on. If you have a poorly constructed leash, the consequences could potentially be fatal. This is why I would like to look at what a good leash is and how you can make or purchase one.

First, it needs to be said that all highline leashes need to be dynamic. Taking a leash fall on a highline is an incredibly dynamic situation where static materials do not do so well. Making your leash out of dynamic materials not only makes the fall softer on your body, but also reduces the loads on your highline gear. Dynamic Rope is a good way to go for this, but we will get into that a bit later.

As with everything dealing with highlining, a good leash must be redundant. There are a few ways to make a leash redundant, each with their own benefits. The most redundant, but heaviest way to do it, would be to use two independent leashes. There are ways to consolidate the leashes so that they act as one, but this just makes the leash a lot heavier. If you are wanting to do crazy highline tricks where leash falls are frequent, this is a good technique to go with. Some good components to go with would be the 2 strands of 8mm Double Dynamic Rope threaded inside 1" Tubular. Remember, you need the two ends of rope to be tied to your leash attachment point independently, so only thread the rope through the tubular up to where you need the knots to be on both sides.

Double Threaded Highline Leash

Another way to make a redundant leash would be to thread a rope inside a piece of tubular webbing. This method is favored in the highline community. One thing to remember when making a threaded leash is to choose strong components, such as the 9.5 - 10.0mm Dynamic Rope threaded inside 11/16" Tubular. These two components fit perfectly with each other. Keep in mind, this leash method is not fully redundant as there is only one knot per side, but it's significantly better than just a single rope. Check out the Threaded HighLine Leash Kit for a pre-threaded highline leash complete with two highline leash rings (more about rings in next article).

Threaded Highline Leash

The next aspect of a leash that is important is the length. The longer your highline leash is, the higher force your line will see during a leash fall. The leash should be just long enough to not get in your way while walking. A good technique for determining how long your leash should be knot-to-knot is to hold the leash on one end such that the knot is on your wrist and then hold the other end with your other hand (see picture below). The second knot should go between where your elbow and wrist is. The perfect length for your leash to ensure you have enough room for both knots and backup knots on both ends is 12 feet. This length will prevent you from making your leash too long while also giving you just the right amount of room for a beefy figure-8 knot on both sides with sufficient room left for a backup double over-hand knot. I will get into tying these knots in the next article.

Leash Length

That concludes the most important characteristics concerning the leash itself. In the next articles we will discuss the leash attachment points, leash climbing techniques, and leash management.

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