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Highlining: what is it?

what is highlining
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Highlining is a slackline discipline that is practiced at great heights, between mountains, buildings, bridges or whatever. It is a great challenge and a slackline discipline in which the mental game and mindset are far more important than the technical and physical ability. To really know what is highlining you probably have to try to stand on one or, maybe, if you get to see quite decent slackliners crumble when facing this new context and challenge, you’ll get a pretty close idea of what it means for the one on the line.

This form of slackline provides an incredible adrenaline rush when tried for the first time and has a great impact on the spectators as well. With the exception of highline freesolo, where the athlete is purposely unsafe, the highliner is permanently secured by a harness, attached to the main slackline line and, at the same time, to a lifeline, called the backup.

What is highlining
On this picture we can clearly see the main line, the backup, and the leash that connects the harness to both of them.

Despite the fact that accidents are potentially fatal and that highlining deaths have happened, statistics show that highlining has become a really safe sport if practiced according to safety standards. Nowadays highline systems are redundant and unlike slacklining close to the ground, the highliner simply falls into the air if mis-stepping with almost no risk of injury. What looks scary and dangerous from the outside has become a really safe sport with almost no limits.

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What is Highlining: the definition and it’s types

When we speak of highline, we speak about walking slacklines that are rigged on such a height that it would be lethal to fall off.

In this kind of slacklining the athlete is attached by the harness to the slackline, which ensures that he is supported in the event of a fall.

There is a sub-category of highlines, called midlines . Those are highlines that are safer to walk with a harness but that are still rather close to the ground – often about 10-15m heigh. Midlines are less intimidating than highlines but in reality more dangerous, as the athlete – in the unlikely case of a mainline failure – could potentially touch the ground.

What is Highlining FreeStyle?

In this recent way of experiencing highline, athletes perform spectacular tricks on the slackline. They bounce on the line and then enchain a series of moves, taking advantage of the momentum. The combinations can be endless and include shoulder stands, handstands, dynamic mounts and rolls among other crazy stunts.

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Highline FreeSolo

What defines Highline Free solo is that highliner is simply walking unsecured. In this regard the risk of death is always present and the slightest mistake can be fatal. It is not a practice that, impressive as it may be, should be encouraged or celebrated. Slacktivity refrains from this practice and supports no athletes who are into highline free soloing.

The Security Basics

Highline rigging is a complex task that should always be performed or accompanied by experienced riggers.

All the information in this document is only a recommendation from SLACKTIVITY. This is not an official guideline. Every highline anchor point looks different.

Making an anchor point cannot be learnt from this document only

but from courses and with experience.

SLACKTIVITY is not responsible for misuse or accidents.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is highlining safe?

Yes, this branch of slackline can be a safe activity as long as it is practiced according to the best practices and safety standards. Find out more about it at Slacktivity’s blog.

Is there specific gear for highline?

Yes. The International Slackline Association – ISA developed a system to test and certifies gear to be used in highline setups. Check our highlining certified gear here.

Where can i learn how to setup a highline?

Rigging a highline should in any case involve experieced riggers. If are not experieced and you are 100% sure of what you are doing, don’t rigg a highline by yourself. Find highliners near you, join them and start learning.

2 Replies to “Highlining: what is it?”

  1. Jonathan

    I would love to join a group, I like to travel, and I just started.

    1. andrevaz

      Hi Jonathan,

      Hope you are doing fine! You should check Slackchat Facebook group or ISA listed slackline groups, to see if you have any people nearby that you could join.


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