By Andrew Fanning.
As a highliner and industrial designer, my interests align when it comes to sophisticated, heavy duty gear and equipment. Especially when the designers of the gear have been led by a desire to optimise the product and improve on previous iterations, even if they are already the market leaders. Such is the case with Slackpro, whose latest product, the Linecoil, minimises weight whilst improving function, is designed for disassembly and further streamlines their manufacturing process.
Gear specifically designed and engineered for slacklining has been rapidly evolving, over the last decade, to suit the ever-changing landscape of the balance sport. Through this new frontier, small companies from around the world have begun to emerge, jointly young and impassioned, to solve issues such as tensioning, anchoring and material technology, both for the webbing itself and the gear used to rig it.
As slacklines became longer and higher, the need for a product that allowed for the reset and removal of the pulley system from the rig became nothing short of necessary, lest you wanted to carry around upwards of 50m of static rope to feed your pulleys; along with the tens of kilos of additional gear. Slackpro’s invention of the patented Linegrip in 2010 was an elegant solution to this problem. It gave you the freedom to set your pulley system anywhere along the line and reset it as much as required. It wasn’t fixed based off your best estimation of how much slack to pull out, as was done traditionally. It uses leverage to convert pulling force from the tensioning system into clamping strength. It’s stylish, colourful, made of lightweight aluminium, has several common parts and uses a rubber compound coating that took a year and 26 attempts to perfect, this grips the webbing without damaging it or slipping. The Linegrip, as with all slackline gear, is designed to withstand tonnes of force and high temperatures caused by friction and exposure. I assumed that we had reached the end of the line, as it were, when it came to innovation and engineering, so when the Linecoil was announced a month ago I was sceptically intrigued.
The Linecoil serves the same purpose as the Linegrip, but uses far fewer parts, can hold more tension and uses a different technology entirely. Instead of leverage, it uses coils of 6mm Dyneema rope to apply pressure to its two identical modules without causing friction, and then, in turn, the webbing. As I stand in awe of the Linecoil’s extreme optimisation, knowing nothing is there that isn’t absolutely integral to its function, I am happy to throw all of my reservations as to its organic, flowing, bone-like and even phallic aesthetic by the wayside. This is one of those few exceptions where I just don’t care because it works so perfectly. Currently, the Linecoil exists as a carbon fibre prototype but could eventually be made from fibre reinforced plastic or aluminium. I’m excited that the SlackPro team have used their comfy position in the market to dedicate their time to material experimentation, design for disassembly and streamlining the whole process from design to manufacture. The Linecoil consists of two identical clamping modules, a length of rope with a braided polyester sheath to protect from wear and the mounting brackets with rubber coating from the Linegrip, which remain completely compatible.
Check out Linecoil being demonstrated below in Slackpro’s first video blog and for an in-depth understanding of my enthusiasm for this product; I go into further detail here