Lukas Irmler is considered one of the world‘s best Slackliners, having set numerous Guinness World Records on the 2.5cm wide webbing he loves to balance on.

Among his achievements are some breathtaking adventures, like balancing over an active volcano on the Worlds highest Slackline and crossing a one kilometer long highline whilst wearing a blindfold. That‘s right. A blindfold! Lukas walked across one of the world’s biggest waterfalls (Victoria Falls), and after landing the previously deemed impossible ‘Luke Skywalker’ trick, aptly earned himself the nickname ‘Skywalker’.

We caught up with Lukas ‘Skywalker’ Irmler to find out a little more about him, and the sport he loves so much.

Q: What is slacklining?
Lukas Irmler: Slacklining is the art of balancing on a thin (usually 2 - 5cm wide) flat webbing made out of nylon or polyester. Slacklines can be set up almost anywhere leaving lots of space for creativity and new challenges. Compared to tight rope walking I would say Slacklining is a much more dynamic form of balance, where you create balance every moment through your body movements instead of holding up a static equilibrium, like you would on the completely static wire. The dynamics of the Slackline, which are challenging at first, open up a huge amount of potential. Once you can balance you learn to harness the power and flexibility of the webbing so that you can move through the air, bouncing & ‘surfing’. Consider it like a really really thin trampoline.
Q: How did you start slacklining?
Lukas Irmler: I saw my first slackline in my neighbours‘ garden. I knew the guy from the climbing gym so I asked if I could try to balance. My first attempt was hilarious. I could not even manage to get my body completely in the air and failed over and over, trying to shift my weight onto the line. What looked so playful and easy for my neighbour was unbelievably difficult for me. I gave up after a while and remember declaring as I walked away, 'That’s never gonna be my sport!'.

A little while after I happened to walk by a permanent slackline behind the climbing gym, which I was going to almost every day back then. Every time I walked by the line I was reminded of my previous effort and decided I had to stand up at least once.

It took me about a week of trying this slackline for a couple hours every day until I was able to stand up and walk to the other end of the line. When I turned around I couldn’t quite believe I'd done it. It had seemed impossible just a week ago. I got pretty psyched to see what else I could be doing with this slackline. This dynamic balance was completely new to me and I fell in love right away. At the time it was a fairly unidentified sport, so there were tonnes of opportunities.

Q: Do you have any advice for beginners?
Lukas Irmler: I suggest you start on a low line maybe 60 cm high or something like that. If you‘re attaching the line to a tree, always use tree protection when you anchor your slackline. If you don‘t have a commercial solution you can always use an old carpet or towel.

Get a few friends together to try it with you. They can give you some support in the beginning, like holding your hand or shoulder from the ground as you try to balance on the line. One of your friends can also sit on the line, somewhere around the middle to create an even
shorter line. This will make the line tigher and shorter which will help you to take your first steps.

I recommend getting yourself a thin slackline, instead of the now common 5 cm wide lines. A wider line doesn’t make the balancing easier - it actually tilts sideways much easily and it’s much harder to place your foot in the centre and gain your balance.

Go barefoot. You’ll get a much better feeling of the line, just mind your feet on the ground. Try to practice above a soft landing, like grass.

Q: What are your next challenges?
Lukas Irmler: The line and the community have always managed to present new challenges and lately I have tried hard to learn balancing on my hands instead of my feet. Learning to handstand on a slackline was the same process as my very first steps on a slackline, but a little trickier. Since your arms, wrists and shoulders are naturally much weaker than your legs, finding balance here is certainly interesting. Unless you were previously a gymnast of course.

As far as big challenges, I have a few really exciting ones that I’m working on with my sponsors. I can’t share too much at the moment because they‘re still in planning phase but I am really excited to get them moving. Keep an eye out for some updates soon.
You can join Lukas and his outdoor adventures by following him on instagram @LukasIrmler and keep an eye out for upcoming announcements @Columbia_eu #MadeForOutside