In 2018 we had a dream: We wanted to rig and walk the longest highline in the world. We had a 3km-project in mind (Y2K? – “Why 2K if you can do 3K?”). But for that we needed to develop the best slackline webbing possible. And not simply a webbing but a whole new system to rig long highlines. And so we created many drafts. A few months later the first segmented highline-webbing was born. Each segment was 50m long. Every 50m there was a physical connection between the mainline and the backup.
Why are segmented slackline webbings important?
Segmented lines have several advantages – quite a few of them were necessary on our World Record Project in Norway. The first advantage that comes to mind is that – in the unlikely case of a mainline failure – the backup fall would be much shorter and softer. But here are a few more advantages:
- In Norway during the rigging, heavy wind came up. The line was still in the lake and was pushed to the shore by the wind. It got heavily damaged. If using a traditional line, the project would have been over. But with the segment-system we simply had to replace the 3 damaged parts and could continue rigging one day later.
- We were able to start rigging at 3 different places at the same time. One team was responsible to rig from anchor point A down to the like. Another team crossed the lake and a third team rigged from the lake to anchor point B. Only after all 3 connections were done, we started connecting the 3 lines. Also this would have been impossible with a traditional line.
- 3 days after we rigged the line, a heavy storm came in. A big part of the line got untaped but at the segments it held together. Traditional lines might have been damaged beyond repair and gone totally wild in the wind. Here we only had 3 slightly damaged segments.
- We had to hike up 400m of altitude to reach the anchor points. We simply squeezed 3-4 50m segments into one backpack. With a traditional line, the whole system would have stayed connected and we would have needed 15 people to walk simultaneously up the mountain with connected backpacks.
Since this projects, also other brands have started producing segmented webbings. But why is Y2K still the leading high-tech webbing on the market? Well, first of all it’s of course never wrong to support the developers of new innovations, simply for the sake of supporting innovative brands. But beyond that, Y2K has the most sophisticated webbing construction.
This webbing has a Kern-Mantle-construction. The outer, protective layer is made of polyester. The inner layer that is responsible for the breaking strength is made of UHMWPE (also known as Dyneema). Why is this so important?
- Surely, the polyester sheeth protects the core from abrasion. But this effect is not huge and webbings should anyway never see any abrasion when under tension, otherwise there is something terribly wrong with the highline construction. Therefore this advantage is mainly important during rigging, e.g. while laying out the webbing on the ground.
- Much more important is the protection against UV-light. The mantle protects the core from sunlight. Buying high-tech webbing is a big investment. So having a long-lasting webbing like the Y2K will be much better invested money.
- Dyneema is a slippery material. Having a polyester sheeth makes the Y2K less slippery compared to other high-tech webbing. This is not only an advantage when walking (specially on the steep ends of long lines) but also allows webbing grips (e.g. T-Grip, LineGrip) to not slip.
Is Y2K the best slackline high-tech webbing?
In our opinion, Y2K is definitely the best high-tech slackline webbing out there. The system simply works and in all the time that it has been on the market we’ve never had any serious issues with it, unless the line got hit by heavy storms. The entire system is perfectly optimized. The backup length fits the length of the main. So far we haven’t seen any tension under which the backup would have engaged or under which the customer had complained that the backup was too long.
How do you connect 2 pieces of Y2K?
We recommend to connect the 2 pieces by using 2 8mm INOX Quicklinks of Maillon Rapide. Those Quicklinks are certified and undergo a great quality control. 8mm is the right size to go for – bigger quicklinks will make it hard to pass the leash rings. With 8mm quicklinks the rings still pass smoothly if the connection is taped well. We recommend using INOX quicklinks specially on permanent rigs as they will not start rusting even if left out in the rain for several months. We’ve seen people connecting Y2K with soft-shackles. Obviously such things are possible but it is not the official recommendation and with the 8mm quicklinks we’ve never had any problems.
In the picture below you can see how the loops should be connected. Make sure to screw the quicklinks tight with a climbingTool once you’ve connected the lines!
But not only 2 pieces of Y2K can be connected together with this system – you could e.g. also connect a piece of pinkTube with the Y2K. Overall it works the same way. Make sure to have the Y2K-double-loop on the side where you want to connect it to the pinkTube, so that there is a physical connection between mainline and backup at this place.
How much does the Y2K get weakened in UV light?
We’ve conducted 2 big UV light tests with the Y2K so far. Overall, the outcomes are pretty amazing but we highly recommend to cover all the sewn loops e.g. with tape if leaving the line up for several weeks.
In a first UV test that lasted almost 7 months with this high-tech webbing being used in a not-shady place we had only minimal breaking strength reduction on the Y2K. To see the full results, read the following article in which we conducted the exactly same test with 5 different webbings: Webbing Breaking Strenght
In a second UV test that lasted 2.5 years, we obviously had higher breaking strength reduction.
We’ve left the Y2K as permanent 290m midline fully in the sun for 2.5 years. The tested part was not protected by shade of any trees. During that time it got sessioned about once a week. Before that, this exact webbing was hanging in the 2.8km project in Norway where it has seen forces of about 19kN.
- Mainline 2 Tests: 27.7kN & 28.1kN (MBS new approximately 34kN but it is almost impossible to test the real breaking strength as at about 31kN the core starts sliding on the mantle right beside the fixation place)
- Sewn End loop of the main line (not taped, therefore fully exposed to UV radiation): 23.0kN
- Backup-line that shows wind-damage from Norway (extremely twisted – I was not able to put it straight into the seaHorse which might have influenced the result): 15.5kN
We clearly want to state that this is not scientific due to the small number of tests. Still a few conclusions and ideas from my side:
- The Y2K is extremely well protected from UV light due to the polyester sheeth that protects the dyneema core
- Sewn loops are weakened. Possibly by wrapping tape around the sewn loop on permanent rigs this might be protected against UV light in a better way. This is not clear as we did not have a fully wrapped sewn loop as comparison.
Caution when grabbing and tensioning the line!
When grabbing the Y2K with a device like the T-Grip or LineGrip, you should go to a force of maximum 6kN. If you want to exceed this force, you should connect 2 LineGrips in a series, as the line might get damaged otherwise.
When tensioning the Y2K with a HangOver pulley, make sure to use Royal HangOvers. Otherwise the webbing might get squeezed and damaged at the edge, because it is super thin. But even with a Royal HangOver, you should make absolutely sure that the webbing stays straight in the system!
If you have a setup with e.g. pinkTube connected to Y2K, we highly recommend to tension on the pinkTube side. If you go for a long setup and want to go to high forces, we highly recommend to use a rope pulley system to not damage the line.
How sharp is this high-tech webbing under your foot?
Each and every high-tech webbing is sharp on the foot. High-tech webbings are not as thick as normal webbings and therefore the edges feel less nice. But some someone once said that the Y2K felt like flowers under his feet after having walked another high-tech webbing of less than 2cm width. Overall it’s best to protect your feet with Skinners – specially if you want to walk a Y2K that is rigged under high tension.
Is this High-Tech webbing certified?
At the moment (June 2021) the Y2K is not yet certified by the ISA for highlining. However, we intend to get a certification for future batches so we expect that Y2K will be certified from 2022 onwards. In June 2021 there were only 2 webbings worldwide that were certified for highlining. Those are the SLACKTIVITY pinkTube and SLACKTIVITY redTube.
Many of the recent highline World Records have been walked on Y2K webbing. Those are: The longest highline sends of 1.9km (2019) and 2.0km (2020). The longest highline ever rigged with 2.8km (2019) and the longest tandem send with 140m (2021). Therefore we can say with confidence that the Y2K webbing definitely allows to do crazy performances.
SLACKTIVITY Slacklines co-founder, managing partner and team athlete, Samuel Volery olds multiple highline world records (1900m – September 2019) and has a spectacular and versatile style when performing highline-shows.