How to Build a Zip Line

Zip lines are becoming more and more common in backyards and vacation experiences. They're like mini roller coasters through the great outdoors. A zip line is a fun experience and really handy to have in your own backyard for adults and kids alike.

Decide where you want your zip line to go. This should be an area that is slightly downhill so that gravity will carry you down the zip line.

Clear your zip line area. Once you have decided where your zip line is going to go, make sure that you clear the area of the zip line of trees, tree branches and brush. The best way to do this is to take a nylon rope and string it across the area that your zip line is going to run in order to ensure that you clear all the surrounding area properly.

Prepare the trees or install the poles that your zip line is going to be attached to. You will want to make sure that these two ends are strong enough to hold the weight of who ever is going to be using the zip line.

Attach your zip line to your two trees or poles. You can do this in a number or ways and with a number of products. For a more temporary zip line, you can use nylon cord to create your zip line. Simply tie the nylon cord firmly around your two points as taunt as you can make it. If you want a more permanent zip line, look into a galvanized or stainless steel line for your zip line. This will be a more permanent, safe method but also requires more installation. For the ends of this method, you can either drill a hole through your trees or poles, and use an eye bolt to anchor the cable to the two ends. You can also create a sling line around the trees with a length of cable and then attach the cable with thimbles to a turnbuckle which in turn holds the zip line cable.

Tighten your zip line. Your weight will pull on the zip line so you want to make the line as taunt as possible when you're installing it. For the nylon cord method, just ensure that when you attach the second end of the zip line, you pull the cord tight. For the steel cable method, you will need to tighten the cord after you attach it to the first turnbuckle and pull it taunt through the second turnbuckle. If you're going to do a very long area of zip line with the second method, you will need to use a racheting tool to tighten the line.

Attach the pulley and harness to your zip line. If you're going to build a zip line that is long or has a steep decline, then a harness is necessary. It's also a lot safer than using another set up.

Test your zip line. You never know what is going to happen to the zip line once you actually get weight on it so it's best to try out the line before you get a person on it. If the zip line seems to work well with after the test run, you're set to go.


  • Always use proper safety and supervision methods during both construction and use of a zip line.

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