What’s a Gibbon?

It’s always interesting to look at the name of a company and learn where the name came from. Let’s look at GIBBON Slacklines. Obviously, they make slacklines. A piece of material, usually webbing, that stretches across some gap that’s pulled tight enough to walk or even jump on. The gap can be two trees, man-made anchors (GIBBON Independence Classic), rocks, really anything sturdy enough to manage the forces placed on it. But what they sell is only nearly as interesting as who they are and where they’ve come from. 

Let’s start with the easiest question. What is a Gibbon? You already know, it’s a company that makes slacklines. Alright, but they weren’t the first Gibbon, were they? What was it then? Well, they’re apes (chimpanzee, gorilla, orangutans) which basically means a monkey without a tail. They live in South-East Asia. They’re the smallest of the apes but they’re the fastest and most agile of all tree-dwelling, non-flying mammals. They can swing between branches, leaping up to 50 feet at speeds as high as 34 mph.  

So, what does that have to do with slacklines? According to GIBBON (the folks who make the slacklines, not the animal) the correlation is in intelligence, balance, and mobility. The mobility part immediately makes sense; the gibbon ape is fast and can get around really well. Balance makes sense on a slackline; you’re trying to stay on top of a narrow piece of webbing that can sway side to side. The intelligence is a little less intuitive; it comes from the creative side of slacklining. You’re trying to express yourself by finding ways to move on top of the line. This can be referred to as tricking and is performed on a trick line. 

Ok, now that we have a better idea of where it came from, how long has it been around? It started back in the ‘70s as a bad weather activity for climbers. This made it fairly inaccessible to beginner slackliners because climbers would set up the lines at heights that made it challenging for anyone who was unaccustomed to being high above ground and they would use techniques that were somewhat complicated to the untrained. It wasn’t until GIBBON came along and found a way to make the lines simpler to set up with a ratchet device rather than rap rings and carabiners that it became accessible to anyone with a willingness to try. Additionally, they’ve been working to innovate their lines and make them better suited for different styles of slacklining. 

GIBBON has been creative in finding applications for their slacklines. They’ve got standard lines for balance and tricks. They’ve got specialty lines for more advanced feats. They’ve got lines designed for fitness enthusiasts. This one may be surprising because slacklines seem like an item of play more than fitness. However, finding ways to incorporate balance into your fitness regime is very beneficial. This leads into their next product line, which is designed for recovery, specifically physical therapy.  

They’re a fascinating company. Their mission to “drive excellence in focus and core strength, to balance mind and body, and deliver improvement on everyday life” is much more than to create and sell a niche outdoor training tool or to some a game. Really, that’s where slacklining started. It was a toy that very few people used. GIBBON saw opportunity for this game to be a benefit to people’s lives. They developed it so that anyone can use it. Children play in backyards and professional athletes compete. No, really, GIBBON holds large competitions in Germany and they have a team of professional slackliners. GIBBON made slacklining more accessible and are teaching people to find greater mobility by developing core strength and balance. Not unlike the ape from whom they found their name. 

Liberty Mountain is the exclusive distributor of GIBBON Slacklines in the U.S. visit the U.S. site to shop today.

Featured Products:

Gibbon Slackrack

Jib Line

Independence Classic

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