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How to install a zipline at your cottage

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This article was originally published in the Early Summer 2016 issue of Cottage Life magazine.

Soaring down a zipline, the ground a blur below, is the closest most of us will ever come to flying superhero-style. Luckily, the exhilarating buzz is easy to create, thanks to zipline kits now available online and at stores such as Bass Pro Shops or Toys R Us. The kits include everything you need to get zipping, except the location. And that’s easier to find than most people realize. “You can put up a zipline on just about any piece of property,” says Brent Bigelow of “You don’t even need a slope.”

The easiest scenario is to find two healthy trees, each at least 12″ in diameter. If that’s not possible, you can securely anchor a 10×10 post. The average span for a cottage zipline, Bigelow says, is 30 metres. As for slope, six percent is ideal. For a 30-metre zip, with the end at 1.5 metres high, the launch should be 1.8 metres higher. If your terrain is flat, just install one end higher than the other. And clear a four-metre-wide a swath for the runway. Now, measure between the two trees and add three metres—that’s your line length.

The price of kits varies, mostly based on the length of the line, ranging from less than $100 to $1,400 or more. And, at a minimum, kits include cable, hardware, a trolley, handle, and seat. Lines shorter than 40 metres use 3/16″-dia. cable. Upgrade to thicker cable for longer set-ups. For high-flying zips and ones spanning more than 60 metres, add a harness and a brake block.

Whether your goal is a “Whee!” from kids or screams of excitement and a midway plunge into a stream, Bigelow says, don’t be intim- idated. Ziplines are adaptable to almost any situation and, with the kits, they require no special knowledge or tools. All you’ll need is your red cape.

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