This is a crate that I keep at the back of my shop. I have had all of these ratchets for more than a dozen years, long before I invented the Slack-Jack™. Sure I’ve tried these tools to tighten a slackline, but the big ones are way too heavy and the small one is way too wimpy.
I’m always amazed when I see people selling these tools (although slightly altered) as slackline tools. Not only do I think the big ones are too heavy, they are not always that easy to use and as soon as the nylon spools up on the ratchet drum you can not go any tighter (unless you do some sort of line grab and re-rig).
If you can’t afford a Slack-Jack™, using a simple Ellington method is light, cheap and easy. If you are just starting out and are not sure if you are going to stick with it, a beginner kit tightened with an Ellington is the way to go. People who do learn with a ratchet almost always change over to something else and abandon the ratchet. I believe the ratchet is actually detrimental to the learning process, as it does not give the proper feel of the line. Too much weight in one spot gives the line an awkwardness that blows, (“feedback”; the ratchet is swinging one way while you swing the other).
Some even claim that a ratchet is “light.” Compared to what?
Here is one of my ratchets with its hefty hook firmly on the table so it adds no extra weight (out of view). The scale says 2 pounds 5.8 ,ounces. That’s 37.8 oz., all in one spot. As that nylon spools up on the ratchet drum it will weigh even more. This picture has not been altered and reflects the weight according to this scale.
Here are the two components of the Slack-Jack™ on the same scale at 14.6 oz., just over one third of the weight of the ratchet. When the two components are farther apart, more nylon is introduced which does add to the weight, but not all in one spot.