Ziplining is a popular activity all around the world, resulting in a wide variety of ziplining experiences. There’s ziplining in metropolitan areas surrounded by skyscrapers or ziplining in beautiful natural areas such as over a waterfall, through tree canopies in a jungle, or above a snow-covered frozen tundra. In addition to the differences of environment and scenery, there are differences in line configuration (height, speed, distance, etc.) braking style, and more. Because every zipline and zipline tour is unique, it is important to ask the right questions so you’re well-prepared no matter where you go.
1. Is this zipline company legitimate and safe?
There are many zipline companies around the world. Like any industry, some companies are better at their jobs than others. Ask how long a company has been in business, how focused they are on safety, and what their safety track record indicates.
There are many safety standards that zipline companies are held to in order to keep this thrilling experience safe and enjoyable, and those standards go beyond what the first-time zipper might look for.
The equipment should be complete, properly rated for speed and weight, and properly maintained. If any key piece of equipment is missing or damaged (um, should this helmet be cracked?), don’t take the risk.
Make sure you find out what the company does to make their course safe (platforms, lines, etc.). At Skyline Eco-Adventures, we place a priority on safety. We test each zipline every day to ensure that there are no issues on any of the lines. Ask what the zipline company does to make sure their course is up to par. Also, ask how often they perform these safety checks (Daily? Weekly? Monthly?).
A company with a proper focus on safety will have proper equipment and procedures, and a safety record they’re proud of.
2. What type of tour is this, and how many lines are there?
There are a couple of primary differences in types of tours and ziplines, and you can properly set the expectations of your group by asking a couple of questions.
Zipline vs. Zipline Course
Many people do not think about the difference between a zipline and a zipline course. A zipline is a single line that you ride on to get from one point to another. A zipline course (or tour) is a course with multiple ziplines involved. Most times on a zipline course, there is some hiking involved to get from one zipline to the next.
If you see the word “canopy” in the course title, there are likely platform-to-platform lines in the trees. This differs from a non-canopy tour, which likely uses platforms and may be surrounded by trees, but isn’t necessarily a treetop-to-treetop experience.
If the location is a zipline course, ask if there are restrooms available for use between ziplines. It can take a few hours to complete a zipline course so if restrooms are not available, plan ahead.
There are multiple types of braking systems on ziplines, and they can be categorized as either active braking (requiring some involvement from the rider) and passive braking, where a guide or equipment system brings you to a safe stop. There are pros and cons of each system, and most companies have good reasons for choosing the specific type of braking.
3. What is the dress code?
To stay safe, it is important to follow rules related to dress code. For example, Skyline Eco-Adventures recommends that you wear pants while ziplining so you are comfortable. We also require that you wear closed-toe shoes such as tennis shoes for your safety. Requirements related to how you style your hair are important to know as well. For example, if you have long hair, you will most likely be asked to tie it back into a ponytail so it does not interfere with your ziplining experience.
4. Can you wear a belt bag?
No one likes to lose things. If you have items in your pockets while ziplining, they will most likely fall out during your time on the line. This is because of the position that you are sitting in while strapped into the harness. Many times you can wear a belt bag or fanny pack while ziplining. You can use this to store your things like your wallet, keys, and phone. Also, if you are wearing sunglasses it is a good idea to purchase a strap for them so they stay securely on your head while you are flying through the air.
5. How will you capture your adventure?
Many people want to have a memory of their experience captured in a photo or video. Ask if you can bring your camera with you while on the zipline. Or ask if you can use your phone for something like Snapchat while on the zipline.
Even if the operator does allow you to hold your phone or camera, determine whether you want to take the risk of your equipment possibly being dropped. Also, think about whether you want to deal with the hassle of taking pictures while zipping. If you do not want to hold onto your phone or camera, ask if the guides will take pictures of you while you are flying through the air.
Another option is to use a GoPro to capture your excitement. If you have a GoPro, ask if you will be able to mount it to your harness or helmet. If you do not own a GoPro but would like to use one, ask if rentals are available.
6. What is the weather usually like?
Find out what the normal temperatures are for the time of year you are going to zipline. If it is hot and sunny, wear sunscreen and bring water. Supposing it is rainy, you might want to bring a rain jacket that meets any dress guidelines of the course. If it is cold, wear lots of layers and bundle up, again being careful to adhere to the dress guidelines. Remember that when you are on a zipline, you will be traveling quickly through the air, so factor in the windchill when you are choosing an outfit.
7. What is the weight limit?
Most zipline companies have a minimum weight requirement as well as a maximum weight limit. These weight limits are created for your safety. There is a minimum weight on ziplines because if you do not weight enough, you will get stuck on the line rather than zipping across like you should. (If you do get stuck, the guides will be able to help you return safely to the ground, but it can take a bit of time.)
On the other hand, the maximum weight restriction is in place because if you weight too much, you will zip much more quickly than you should. Ziplining too quickly causes a safety risk when you are trying to come to a stop at the end of the line.
Asking the right questions before you arrive will ensure that you have a safe and enjoyable ziplining experience no matter where you go.
About the Author: Skyline Eco-Adventures is the United States’ original zipline company. With zipline tours on the islands of Kauai, Maui and the Big Island, Skyline Eco-Adventures has an adventure for every visitor. For more info or to make your reservation today, visit www.zipline.com.