The 8 Best Zip Line Kits
This wiki has been updated 29 times since it was first published in April of 2016. Now here's something that is guaranteed to get your kids out from in front of the TV or their smartphones and back into the fresh air. These zip line kits offer a thrilling ride, but to avoid injuries, it's important to follow all the manufacturer's instructions regarding supervision and safety equipment, and consider having a professional install it, especially if you're not handy. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 04, 2021:
It wound up being a busy round of updates, with a variety of availability issues leading to the elimination of the Alien Flier X3-H100 and Slackers Hawk Series. We were especially disappointed to see the Hawk Series go, as many users appreciate its build quality, but believe that fans of the company will still be well served by our remaining inclusion, the luminescent Slackers Night Riderz. We also swapped out the Sleadd 150 LX for the Sleadd 250 LX, as the latter didn’t cost much more than the former, and we liked that it was longer and came with a harness.
The ZLP Manufacturing Ultimate Torpedo joined the Zip Line Gear Rogue as one of the only options on our list that’s offered in lengths up to 500 feet. Both options boast a 350-pound capacity, and both are notably expensive choices, but the Ultimate Torpedo is more affordable than the Rogue, and thus earned a higher spot on our list.
Contrastingly, the Trsmima LSTZ1 became one of the shortest options we ranked, with a total length of 98 feet. Its 1/4-inch cable is slimmer than other options, but thanks to its 304 stainless steel construction it can hold up an impressive 450 pounds, which is the primary reason it ranked so high on our list, but its patented spring brake and 10-year limited warranty didn’t hurt its cause, either.
Our last new addition was the American Ninja Warrior Ninjaline, which has a modest 200-pound capacity and a relatively short length of 90 feet. Despite its admitted mediocrity, it has been reviewing well and it is priced reasonably, so we thought it was worth including for fans of the show (or, more likely, parents of fans of the show) who might like to implement it as part of their own backyard obstacle course.
On the other hand, if your kids aren’t quite of a zip-lining age yet, but you’d still like to find ways to encourage active backyard recreation, then maybe consider getting started with a small play structure or dome climber.
January 17, 2020:
All the choices on this list were evaluated for their safety features, but none of them will be safe unless they are installed and used exactly as the manufacturer recommends. For those who aren't very handy, safety experts recommend having them professionally installed.
While the Zip Line Gear Rogue is a lot pricier than most you do get what you pay for. We put it in the top spot because its components are heftier than those generally sold for home usage, with 5/16 steel cable instead of the usual 3/16, plus the dual wheel bearing trolley will stand up to frequent usage for years. For those with the space, this option is great if it's often going to be used by adults as well as children.
The Slackers Night Riderz takes a top spot because the brand for all of its ziplines provides quality installation hardware, like locking nuts and bolts, a turnbuckle safety backup, plus protective tubing for section of cable that wraps around your tree. We chose the brand's Night Riderz kit because it provides a 100 feet of cable, and their upgraded compression braking system.
Zip Line Gear In addition to riding gear, this company offers several complete kits that are suitable for a variety of applications. If one of their stock options isn't going to work out for you, consider their do-it-yourself route, which allows you to choose between 1/4-, 5/16- and 3/8-inch cable, available in lengths from 75 to 1,000 feet. ziplinegear.com
Tree House Supplies This company specializes in treehouses, and sells plans and hardware aimed at aiding in their construction. Justifiably, they've included zip lines and slacklines as part of that niche, and offer several kits to help you accessorize your backyard or treehouse with a new rig. treehousesupplies.com
What To Look For In A Zip Line Kit
Child-safe zip lines will typically come with a seat and handlebars.
Zip line kits can be fun and unique additions to a backyard; both children and adults enjoy them. There are some things to consider when choosing the best one for your home, though. If you want to travel far on your zip line, then you need the ability to go fast. This is because acceleration affects distance.
Since zip lines are not motor powered and depend entirely on gravity for movement, to go fast on one you'll have to start high up and make the line slowly drop. Zip lines created for higher-up installment usually won't come with a seat and handlebar. This is because it is safer to attach directly to the trolley on these via a harness, carabiner, and lanyard.
While certainly invigorating, the previously mentioned type of zip line kit may not be the safest for children. If purchasing a zip line kit for children, get one that is meant for lower-to-the-ground use. Four percent of pediatric deaths each year are caused by falls, particularly off of backyard play equipment. Child-safe zip lines will typically come with a seat and handlebars. Make sure the handlebars have non-slip grips.
Since setting up and taking down a zip line can take some time, you will ideally only have to do that once. So get a kit that is weather resistant; this way you won't need to run outside to take it down every time the rain falls. If you don't have patience for involved installation, look for a kit that can simply be strung between two trees without additional hardware.
Safety Tips For Riding Your Zip Line
Part of the fun of zip lines is that they can move incredibly fast. Some even travel up to 100 miles per hour, but this is also what can make them quite dangerous. They also are typically set up in the unpredictable and uncontrollable outdoors, where riders face risks of running into shrubbery or a passing bird. Zip line kits that utilize a harness and lanyard leave the rider hands-free. Unless you are in a very open area, do not extend your arms out to the sides or above you while riding a zip line, since you might hit something.
Zip line kits that utilize a harness and lanyard leave the rider hands-free.
Loose or long clothing should be avoided when riding a zip line as these can get caught on a branch. Wearing a long scarf on a zip line can also be very dangerous. If it gets caught on something, it can strangle the rider. If you are installing your zip line over a lake or body of water, make sure riders always wear a life vest. You may be setting up a zip line as a part of a ropes course, which has been shown to have a lot of psychological benefits. If this is the case, make sure that kids do not attempt to cling onto a rider, or put any pressure on the line while waiting for their turn at the top of the tree.
Most kits will not include a helmet, but if you have a quality bike helmet at home, you can wear it while you ride your zip line. If not, you should buy a dedicated zip line or climbing helmet. Make sure that people on the property know a zip line is in use, so an unsuspecting person doesn't walk through the yard and get head-on by a zip line rider. If you are attaching your kit to trees, make sure they are very thick and sturdy.
The History Of Zip Lines
While today, people may use zip lines just for fun, these devices were originally utilitarian. Historians debate as to whether zip lining originated in the Himalayas or South America. They agree on the fact that it was first used to traverse rough terrain and get to remote villages that otherwise could not be accessed via land or water. In many ways, zip lines were the airplane's predecessor.
In the 17th century, there were people whose entire job was looking after church steeples, and they would spend much of the day on these high-up spires.
The English were the first to use zip lining for purely recreational purposes. In the 17th century, there were people whose entire job was looking after church steeples, and they would spend much of the day on these high-up spires. A few of them realized that, rather than climb all the way down at the end of their shift, they could instead slide down on a line. While this was at first practical, crowds used to gather to watch the steeplejacks do this. Enjoying the attention, the line riders started performing different acrobatics, and making their trip down the rope more visually entertaining.
Zip lining as we know it today was inspired by mountaineers. In Australia, on the Tyrolean Traverse, mountaineers would attach a rope between two points, attach a pulley to it, and have a person ride it from point A to point B. On these contraptions, however, the user would have to manually pull themselves along the rope and didn't get to experience the hands-free movement that modern zip liners do.