Flashback: Backyard Zip Line

Fun & Games
Flashback: Backyard Zip Line

“You could buy a dinky, ready-made kit with a short zip line for the kids, but why not make your own industrial strength zip line that will support the heaviest of neighbors? It’s a fun project you can tackle in a weekend. You can order all the parts on the web for less than $300.” Thus begins this blast from the past, the Backyard Zip Line project from our Geek Outdoors issue, MAKE Volume 05.

Got a slope on your property? Need a fun toy for summertime? Pick out your 2 trees, order supplies, clear the path, and get your build on. Here’s the article in our Digital Edition so you can check out how author Dave Mabe set his up and get started planning your own.

And for infinitely more fun in the Geek Outdoors, pick up a copy of MAKE Volume 05 in the Maker Shed. You’ll learn how to make high-powered water rockets, electricity-generating windmills, a jet engine in a jam jar, and oh-so-much more.

13 thoughts on “Flashback: Backyard Zip Line

  1. Joey says:

    We made one of these when I was a kid… My Dad decided he wanted to try it and ended dropping off at the end and running a ways. He tripped and fell cracking his head open on the sidewalk and requiring several stitches.

    My cousins scout troop had one of these. One of the leaders fell off, hit his head, and died.


    Don’t let adults anywhere near these. They simply don’t know how to use them responsibly.

  2. gear head says:

    I suppose you could always rig the pulley block with a rope and a round button seat that you sit on. Wouldn’t be as much fun, but would probably be safer for smaller kids. I suppose you’d need to figure a way of arresting the decent at the end of the ride as the rider wouldn’t be jumping off.

  3. Jeremy says:

    A common and effective descent arrester, esp. for longer zip lines is old car tires. Cut a whole in the top and bottom of the tire in the center of the tread and feed the cable through before securing it to the end post/tree. I would strongly suggest 2-3 tires minimum for any serious zip line.

    Something like this:


  4. Dax says:

    In elementary school on a class trip to a park one of the teachers pushed a student with great force at the top of the zip-line. Student hit the stopper at the other end so hard that his feet swung up over his head, he let go and landed on his head from about 6′ up. Got a concussion and the teacher got in major trouble.

  5. irene says:

    That was one good zip line out there. Just be sure that the ones will play are those kids and not that mom who is on the pic. HAHAHA. LOL. Just kidding, BTW, I just noticed that you can still make it higher so that adults can also play on it.

  6. zip lines in nj says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on fun & games.

  7. andrew says:

    I made my own Zip line and a build video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rN4PnaXygT8

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at snowgoli@gmail.com or via @snowgoli.

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