Gearing Up for Your Backyard Zip Line

Last week we talked about the basics of backyard Zip Line construction.  Now we’re ready to go for a ride, almost.  We’ll need to review some riding gear to ensure our ride is fun and safe.

Pulleys / Trolleys   Pulleys have a single sheave, or wheel, while trolleys have 2 inline sheaves.  Pulleys are less expensive and will work fine for a residential zip, but consider a trolley for a smoother ride with less twisting on the cable.  Again, remember to get a trolley with steel sheaves that will last longer on steel cable.  Some trolleys have extra mounting holes for attaching backup lanyards and haul-back lines if needed.  Some pulleys and trolleys have swinging side plates or wider openings to allow easy on-off installation to the cable.  Others will need to be added to the cable permanently before the cable is attached to the anchor.

Connectors   Quick links, carabiners and other connectors are used to attach the cable to the anchors, and the riders to the cable trolley.   These should be positive locking design that cannot be opened accidentally while riding.  Always inspect these connectors before each ride to ensure they are safely locked.

Lanyards   For riders using a harness or saddle for support, webbing lanyards are typically used to support the rider to the trolley.  For seat type support, ropes at least ½ inch in diameter are typically used and are attached to the seat and connectors with a secure knot or can be spliced.  Riders also hold on to the lanyard to maintain an upright position, and a optional handlebar can be connected to the trolley to minimize spinning on the zip.

Harnesses / Saddle   Zip riders will vary in age, size and ability, so selecting rider support system is important.  Younger riders under 40 pounds usually do better with a full body harness that gives them full support and keeps the upright throughout the ride.  Larger kids and adults can pick from a variety of simple web saddles that fully adjust around the upper legs and waist.    On both styles the lanyard is attached to the front providing a hand hold without restricting the view or the ride.  On short or low rides, a seat can be used for comfort and easy on-off riding.

Head Protection   Accidents happen, so riders should always wear head protection.  Inexpensive bicycling helmets will do, but good deals can also be found on climbing helmets in a variety of colors, styles and sizes.  Be sure to get one with a good chin strap, and wear it whenever riding a zip line.

For more information on setting up a residential zip line, contact Pinnacle Arborist Supplies at 501-663-8733.

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