How Zip Line Brakes Work

How Zip Line Brakes Work

When you’re riding a zip line, you don’t have much of an opportunity to think about how it all works. You’re too busy feeling the rush of zipping between the trees in Tampa Bay! But there’s a lot going on to keep you safe while you do it. For instance, there are a few different ways zip line braking works to help you come to a comfortable stop. The Empower team takes a look at a few different types of brakes you’ll find on zip lines and how they work.

Related Post: What Equipment Is Used For Zip Lining?

Passive Brakes

Passive brake systems are systems where the person riding the zip line isn’t directly in control of how they stop. These systems are common, especially when it comes to zip lines that cater to a lot of people since they take the individual responsibility of stopping away from the rider. Types of passive brakes are listed below.


Tires are often used as a type of passive braking in zip lines. The tire provides a cushion at the end of the zip line and is usually used on smaller or shorter zip lines. The type of tire is typically just a regular auto tire.


A spring works in a similar way to a tire but can provide a softer stop. Some zip lines will use multiple springs. Spring brake systems are more expensive than using tires and are usually seen at commercial parks.


Bungee brakes work slightly differently. With a bungee brake system, the zip line will have a padded block with a length of bungee rope attached. This stretchy rope will move with the rider until it tightens enough to slow its momentum before retracting, bringing the rider back to the lowest point of the zip line.


A gravity “brake” is actually the absence of a brake. This type of zip line braking involves simply letting the rider slow to a stop, which is done by allowing a certain amount of slack. This way, rather than zipping all the way to the end, the rider gradually slows to a certain point where they can safely dismount.

Active Brakes

Active brakes are less common in commercial zip line parks because they rely on the rider to stop themselves. This can be done with specially padded and designed gloves or specific manual braking systems. While this does give the rider control over when they stop, it also takes a good understanding of how a zip line works. Active braking is better left to those with real zipline experience.

Related Post: How Zip Line Courses Are Made

Feel Empowered with a Zip Line Adventure

Want to feel truly empowered and experience something you’ll never forget? Contact the team at Empower Adventures in Tampa Bay, Florida. We’re dedicated to providing fun and excitement in a safe environment, and we can help you find new confidence in yourself and what you can achieve.

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