Building and riding a home-made zip line is extremely dangerous! I am not recommending that anyone attempt what I have done - doing so could result in serious injury or death. I am not an expert in this subject, and it's quite possible that what I have built is a death trap! I am writing up this web page just to document my experience with constructing a zip line, but I do not recommend that anyone try this. There... now that I've said that...


It is now the winter of 2010 - exactly three years since my brother and I built our first zipline. That old zipline was getting pretty dull, so I got some friends together and built another one which is higher, faster, and a little bit longer.

The HD video below documents the entire day of construction for the new zipline:


All of the gear we used to construct the new zipline came from a great site called There are basically two ways to build a zipline: 1) figure out what you need and buy it all from different places (like I did last time), or 2) go to and buy one of their turn-key packages which includes everything you need. The kit we got even included a pre-built sling, so we didn't have to waste time cutting line and creating our own.


We also used a cable tensioning kit from which consist of a cable puller (aka "comalong"), and a cable grabber. This made tensioning the line sooo much easier than last time. Actually, there's no way we could have tensioned it without this. I strongly recommend that anyone building a zipline invest in this kit. You can "rent" these from since they allow you to return the tensioning kit for a 85% refund. Some people will probably only need to use it once to put up their line, but I'd recommend just buying the thing since you never know when you may want to retension or move the zipline.

Since we used a tensioner this time around, we didn't need 2 turnbuckes since we didn't have to rely on them to take up the slack like last time. The kit we got included one turnbuckle for one end of the line. The other end was much easier - we simply wrapped the line around the tree and then connected it to itself with the 3 clips. So, not only does the tensioning kit make tensioning 100x easier, but it also eliminates the need for 2 turnbuckles which saves money and complexity.


There are now many different trolleys that you can buy for your zipline, but I still recommend the tried and true Petzl Tandem Speed. It's great and it takes a beating! The one I bought 3 years ago is still in perfect working order and will likely last a lifetime.

One thing to be careful of when deciding which trolley to buy is this: get one that's got solid metal on top, covering the wheels. Some trolley's don't have metal on the top, so if you're riding with one hand on the trolley and one to brake then your trolley hand will possibly make contact with the wheels and that's very dangerous. Never put your hand on top of a trolley that doesn't have a metal top like the Petzl's do. The topless trolleys are only safe if you're riding them in the "dangling" position where your hand will never make contact with any moving parts. Additionally, one of the most common zipline accidents is when long hair gets caught in the trolley - often when women try to ride backwards and their hair gets blown into the wheels. The more casing that there is around the wheels the more protection you have.

©2011 Brian Greenstone