You don’t need wings to fly
This is it, the party stopper. The heights, the speeds, the anticipation, the thrills. Zip lines are the big guns in the tree house accessories department, and for good reason. No other accessory keeps you coming back more than the excitement of leaping off into the air, your hands holding on for dear life, flying down that incline with the whorl of the trolley above you. Zip-lines come in many different forms yet the #1 reason why they are such a fantastic addition is because of their versatility in appealing to all ages. Young or old, everyone loves an adventure and with only a few hundred dollars, you can install one yourself!
Before you begin investing any significant thought into a zipline, there are a few things you should think about. First, know the age bracket of the people who will ride it and build an appropriate ride. If this is for you or your teenagers, great! You can build something adventurous if you follow safety guidelines in construction and operation. However, for younger children, safety should really be your #1 priority.
Small children should wear a helmet and harness when riding. The ride is going to need to be a bit shorter and slower with a firm place to step off when the trip is over. If the idea of a harness is too much of a hassle, especially when you’re having a party I recommend installing a seat and handle configuration. Make sure to go over all the zip-line safety rules beforehand.
Second, make sure the cable you’re using is over engineered for what you need. Different size cables have different size weight ratings and a smaller cable of 3000 pounds may seem like plenty for your backyard, but what you may not know is that the body weight on the cable is greatly magnified by the tension already on it causing a 250 pound adult really act like 2000 pounds on the cable. If you’re planning on hiring a zipline builder, ask them what size cable they’re planning on using and the weight it can support with expected tension.
A zip-line to call your own
Zip-lines have seen a great boost in popularity over the past two decades and more and more people are beginning to put them up themselves. Every zip-line consists of a cable, a trolley, hardware to attach yourself to it and a way to get on and off. Make sure you have a clear and safe path the zip-line can follow. The length of zip-lines can very from under 100 feet to over a mile; though the normal home zip-line almost never exceeds 400 feet. If you have yet to build your tree house, make sure the porch area is oriented toward the ending point of the ride. If you plan on installing it yourself, there are a few tools you’re going to need to invest in that you’ll be hard pressed to find at the local Home Depot. For more “do it yourself” instructions, tools and zip-line kits, check out this excellent “How to Build a Zipline” website.
Allow me to end with an awesome example of someone attaching a zip-line to a tree house: