One Way to Build a Zip Line in Your Backyard

As any responsible parent knows, SWAT skills are vital for a kid 's development—and security. Visualize your youngster being trapped in a building that is tall and not understanding the best way to escape by zipping down the closest telephone cable. It is a frightening thought, really. That's why at-home training is so significant. Regrettably, not every concerned parent has the means for a commercial zip line, which generally needs a big lawn with an important elevation fall, as well as a sizeable financial investment. But that's no excuse. You can create a zip line for under $20 and execute your duty of preparing your child for life in an unpredictable world, by modeling the basic set up shown here.

Before we proceed, a word of caution is in order (don't worry, this is not about child security; it is about deltoids). What makes this zip line work is the fact that the parent (or other trusted adult) offers the change in raising needed to propel the rider forward: The adult stands on a ladder right behind the rider's launching platform (any veranda chair will do) and lifts up on the line itself, then holds the line in both hands above their head while the rider sails toward the opposite end of the line. This does take some strength— depends on your child's weight. It is also worth noting that this is great exercise for both parent and child: You work your shoulders and triceps, and your youngster gets a cardio work out running back with the trolley after every run (they will also get a great start on constructing those Popeye forearms children are really so crazy about these days).

And now for a word about child security: You, not I, are entirely responsible for anything that happens to your kid as an outcome of zip liner. All I can say is, my zip line has been safe for my 40-lb. daughter for two summers, so far. Now, in the event you'll excuse me, I must go find some wood to knock.



I used the following components to create my backyard zip line:

3/8-inch-dia. x 100-ft. nylon rope (I can not recall the load evaluation, but it was many times more than my daughter's weight)
Ratchet straps (2)
Stainless steel pulley
Small carabiner
Large carabiner
Big galvanized eye slowdowns (2)
Wood broom handle
This is the process I followed:

1. Install eye lag at end of run.
I drove the lag through the siding and into to a top wall plate (2 x 4) of a shed.
2. Knot end of rope to eye lag.
3. Tie ratchet strap around branch of distant tree, creating a few loops. Add large carabiner to loops (carabiner reduces rope friction).
Ordinary webbing would work for the loops. In lieu of a tree, I would have driven another eye lag into my house or a good fencepost.
4. Drive second eye lag into wood anchor point near tree (fencepost, wood retaining wall, or tree would work). Tie second ratchet strap to eye, leaving room for tightening strap with ratchet.
5. Thread free end of rope through pulley, then through large carabiner. Tie rope to second ratchet strap (or use another carabiner or locking link).
6. Build trolley (handle-and-pulley assembly) with a 14-inch length of broom handle, eye bolt, washers and nuts. Link eye bolt to pulley eye with small carabiner.
7. . Set up a fairly tall stepladder near tree-end of line, with launching platform in front. Kid stands on platform and grasps trolley handle. On “Go,” adult lifts line with a swift clean-and-jerk motion. Kid zips with glee, building essential life skills in the process.

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