Your kids had so much fun zip lining a few weeks ago that they’ve since begged and begged you to go back. Rather than do that, you had the idea to bring the zip lining fun to your backyard with a zip line kit. This way, your kids can go zip lining for hours. How much would a zip line kit cost you?
Zipline kits vary in price from around $100 to as much as $1,000. Since amateur zip lines can be more dangerous than commercial zip lines, you want to allot a sizable budget to ensure your zip line kit is made of high-quality materials.
This article will tell you everything you need to know about zip line kits, from what you get for your money, basic assembly instructions, and whether an amateur zip-lining kit can be safe. Before your kids go riding down your homemade zip line, you’ll definitely want to read this!
What’s a Zip Line Kit and What’s Included in One?
Zip Line Kits 101
Zipline kits are a great way to make a kid’s wildest dreams come true. With everything included in the kit, you can set up your very own zip line course in your backyard.
Now, this “course,” to speak, won’t have a zip line cable that’s nearly as long nor as steep as what you see in commercial zip lining courses. Most at-home zip line kits also don’t require riders to ascend to the same heights to go zip lining, but that’s okay, especially from a safety perspective.
The benefits of a zip line kit make them very much worth owning. Anytime your kids feel like going zip-lining, you don’t have to pack up the car and drive an hour (or more) to the nearest zip line course. The kids can just go out into the backyard and zip line to their hearts’ content. You also don’t have to worry about scheduling a zip line ride, nor will you have to deal with any long lines anymore.
Oh, and did we mention the perk of saving money? We’ll talk more in the next section about what you’ll pay for a zip line kit, but they often pay for themselves if your kids use them enough. You also pocket more money since you’re not spending cash on gas and the commercial zip line ride itself.
What’s in the Box?
When your zip line kit arrives at your doorstep and you eagerly open the box, what’s going to be in it? Well, it’s hard to say for sure because the contents vary depending on the manufacturer, but at the very least, you should expect the following components.
The trolley is your “seat” when zip lining, so it should be made of high-quality materials such as stainless steel housing. Durable bearings that are dual-layered, sealed, or even both will also ensure the trolley is usable for a long time to come. The ball bearings can make for a smoother and faster ride, two things that kids like.
Some zip-lining kits may only include one trolley but others could have two. If you’re paying for double the trolleys, you have to expect your zip lining kit to be more expensive overall.
Your kids have to stop their zip line somehow, and this is where the brake system comes in handy. What kind of braking system might be included in your zip line kit is dependent on the manufacturer. That said, the common option is a bungee braking system with a 30-foot cord that only lets your kids go so far before the cord pulls them to a stop. Since it’s a bungee, the cord has plenty of stretch so the stop isn’t sudden nor rough.
Harnesses connect each rider to the zip line cable, so of course, you can expect these to be in the box of your zip line kit. If your kit comes with one trolley, then it will likely have one harness, although the manufacturer might throw in an extra. With most harnesses will be carabiners and foot lanyards so your kids are safely settled in.
This is what the zip line rider holds onto for the duration of their ride. The handlebar will more than likely be a hard material such as plastic. It might include padding for grip, but since most amateur zip line rides are so short, the handlebars could very well not have any padding.
The zip line cable is the most important component, as you need a sturdy, secure cable that can stand up to some wear and tear. Galvanized metal is always better than stainless steel, as the former is stronger. Some zip line kits use aircraft-quality cable, which is real heavy-duty stuff.
No, these aren’t turnbuckles like in a pro wrestling ring. Instead, these turnbuckles let you set the tension of the zip line cable so it’s looser or tighter. Most turnbuckles are 5/8th inches by 12 inches. You’ll probably get two of them, one turnbuckle for each end of the cable.
Outside of those basic necessities, your zip line kit might also include:
- A thimble and several cable clamps so you can easily cut the zip line cable and make it shorter
- Cable slings for attaching to trees or poles
- A stop block as a secondary brake
How Much Do Zip Line Kits Cost?
Now that you know more about them, you’re very much interested in buying a zip line kit for the kiddos. Before you proceed though, you have to know what you’re going to spend on such a kit.
As we said in the intro, the average cost of a zip line kit is $100 to $1,000. For $100, you’re going to get only the most basic zip line kits for young kids, such as this Happybuy kit on Amazon. The length of the zip line is 100 feet long and the trolley is just a red plastic disc. The cable is steel.
Kids who are five to seven years old might not mind zip lining on something like this. Yet your tweens will find riding on the Happybuy zip line a little childish and boring for their tastes. In that case, you’d need a more serious option such as Backyard Ziplines’ Ultimate Torpedo Zip Line Kit.
This kit costs around $600, but it has a high-quality harness that features black and orange accents and is rated for adult usage. Also included are a stop block, a bungee brake kit, a nylon lanyard, two carabiners, one thimble, three clamps, two cable slings, and two turnbuckles. The 5/16-inch cable coil can extend thanks to 10 more feet of cable.
A kit like the Happybuy zip line is something your kids will outgrow in a matter of years. The Backyard Ziplines kit is not. Thus, although it costs six times more, the longevity makes the price worth it. Besides, you can use the Backyard Zipline yourself if you wanted to. The Happybuy kit might say it’s appropriate for adults to ride, but we wouldn’t recommend you take your chances.
If you have a significant budget for your zip line kit, then you might look into something like the Rogue Combo Zip Line Kit from Treehouse Supplies. This kit includes a zip line cable that’s up to 500 feet long so you can create an at-home zip lining experience that’s on par with commercial companies.
Yes, the entire kit is more than $900, but it has everything you need to get started. That includes a 30-foot bungee braking system, two sets of handlebars, two carabiners, two sets of 24-foot lanyards, two harnesses, two Rogue cable trolleys, a thimble, cable clamps, two turnbuckles, and two cable slings, each of them 8 feet. The galvanized aircraft-quality cable is 5/16th-inches, the zip lining standard, and the cable features machine looping on one side.
Users up to 350 feet can use this Treehouse Supplies zip-lining kit, so once again, mom and dad can go zip lining with the kids to make family memories right in the backyard!
How Do You Assemble a Zip Line Kit?
How much assembly is required when you buy a zip line kit? You have to put everything together, so if you’re the type who gets frustrated assembling an IKEA couch, it might be better to plan another commercial zip lining trip instead.
For those who are ready for quite the project, here’s what you need to know.
Where you install your zip line is very important. Your yard should have at least two trees that are parallel (or roughly parallel) to one another. You can have a homemade zip line if your yard is treeless, but then you’d need to build your own anchors from scratch using metal or wooden posts. It’s more work, more time, and more money.
The space between the two trees should be enough that your zip line cable can fit. You can always cut down the cable if it’s too long, but make sure the cable isn’t too short, as that’s a bigger problem.
Besides their distance from one another, the trees also have to be sturdy. If they can’t handle around 3,000 pounds of horizontal force without bending or snapping, then you have to pick a different spot. Check the health of your trees before you assemble your zip line kit. You’re looking for tree damage such as cracks or rot.
You should also look at the area around the tree. Is there firmly-rooted grass all around or loosely-packed sand or soil? If it’s the latter, then you again cannot use the tree for your zip line course. It could come right out of the ground as your kids soar down the zip line!
Once you find the right trees, it’s time to get started. One of the two trees is your starting anchor. Enwrap your cable slings and then connect one of the two turnbuckles. The zip line cable should link into the turnbuckle’s empty slot and then stretch to the ending anchor on the other tree. With the cable clamps, you can secure the other end of the cable to the second turnbuckle.
Are Zip Line Kits Safe?
You’re really thinking about buying a zip line kit for your kids, but there’s just one niggling concern on your mind. Are zip line kits all that safe?
If you read our post about zip line safety statistics, you should know that while zip lining isn’t the most dangerous airborne activity you could do, the rate of injuries has admittedly started shooting up within the last decade or so.
Commercial zip line courses are not federally regulated, so it’s often up to individual states to create rules on who will inspect the line and how often. Amateur zip lines are even more unregulated, as they’re privately owned. There’s no state entity to mandate wear and tear inspections. That would be up to the zip line owner.
That does make amateur zip lines far more dangerous than commercial zip lines, but with some caveats. If you buy a quality zip line kit, then you shouldn’t have to worry as much about safety. You know that you’re getting higher-quality materials that–while they won’t last forever–won’t fall apart after a few uses.
You must ensure that you follow assembly instructions very carefully, as making even one mistake could risk the stability of the zip line kit. You should get into the habit of checking the cable before your kids ride, doing this every time. When the day comes that you need to replace the zip line cable, please take care of this without delay.
Even if you buy a premium zip line kit and you put it together perfectly, riding the zip line can be a risky experience if it’s misused. Know the weight limit for your zip line and don’t push it. Don’t alter the zip line in any way to try to make it faster or scarier either.
Tips for Buying a Zip Line Kit
Let’s wrap up with some pointers to keep in mind as you shop around for zip line kits. We’re sure this information will come in handy during your search!
Cheaper Is Not Better
You get what you pay for. That’s not such a big deal when you buy a cheap hamburger, but it is when it comes to zip lining kits. Cheap kits are either poorly made or intended for young users like children.
The money you save now could result in doctor’s visits or hospital trips later, both of which can cost 10 or 20 times what you spent on the zip line and often even more than that. Maybe you skip the yearly family vacation to splurge on a quality zip line kit, but you’ll be glad you did!
Choose Galvanized over Stainless Steel
If the zip line kit you’re looking at includes a cable made of stainless steel, we’d encourage you to reconsider. In other applications, stainless steel is fine, but for zip line cables, it’s lacking in tensile strength compared to galvanized metal. You’ll have to replace the steel line over and over again, and this is money out of your pocket each time you do.
Read the Reviews
Manufacturers will always try to make any product look fantastic through pictures, and that goes for zip line kits as well. Make sure that you do your due diligence and read through some user reviews. If the zip line kit has more positive reviews than negative ones, that’s a good sign. If it’s the opposite, then steer clear of that kit.
Zipline kits retail for $100 to $1,000. By spending more money on your kit, it’ll often include galvanized cables, trolleys with dual bearings for smooth rides, and advanced harness systems. You can feel confident in the zip line kit you chose and your kids can enjoy their new favorite hobby from the comfort of their home!