by Quynbi Ada November 18, 2019 12 min read

Open a Doorway to the Air with A Portable Aerial Rig

1. Everything you need to know about portable aerial rigs.

Have you ever dreamed of having greater independence as an aerial artist, but haven’t made the leap quite yet? Do you aspire to greater heights with the above-ground practice you’ve just discovered, or have grown to love so much? At Uplift Active, we know exactly what that kind of dedication feels like. 

Our goal is to help you fly your aerial dreams. Whether you’re a mistress of the silks, a trapeze master, an aerial yogi approaching nirvana, or a Lyra enthusiast, we have the tools and expertise to assist your discipline. 

In this article, you’ll find helpful information on how to choose and purchase one of the most important pieces of equipment in an aerialist’s career: the portable aerial rig. 

Photo by @aerialyogalife

2. What is an Aerial Rig?

An aerial rig is a freestanding structure used to suspend aerial arts equipment, like aerial hoops, aerial straps, aerial silks, yoga hammocks, trapeze, and much more. Aerial rigs are most often made of strong metals like aluminum, stainless steel, and magnesium alloys, but they also can be made of wood or bamboo. Aerial rigs are usually either semi-permanent structures (tethered or reinforced to one location), or portable (which can be packed up and moved from one location to another). 

Whether you are just starting out with your aerial yoga practice or if you’re already a seasoned professional, purchasing a new portable aerial rig is almost as big of a thrill as it is to dance in the air. One of the biggest benefits of owning a portable aerial rig is that you can take it anywhere, which can save a lot of money in rigging costs over time. Think about it - you can take your aerial rig just about anywhere and have a safe and reliable place to hang aerial equipment! But before you make this valuable investment, be sure you have all the information you need to enhance your practice, your studio community, and your dreams.

Elaine on Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

3. The Benefits of Owning an Aerial Rig

It doesn’t matter if your practice is grounded at home or across the ocean... having your own rig gives you much greater independence as an aerial artist. If you want to fly virtually anywhere, a portable aerial rig for silks is the best way to go. 

When your practice gets serious (as it does so quickly for many of us!) you'll discover that your rig will pay for itself within just a few uses. For many professional aerialists, the rig will pay for itself in full in a single performance. And as a devoted aerial yoga practitioner, think of the money saved on classes and private lessons when you can DIY in the comfort and security of your own home. If you’re a studio owner needing to accommodate extra students or wanting to take a rig to the park for a demo or performance, a portable aerial rig is the best way to go.

Another perk to having your own rig instead of rigging into an existing space is its main selling point: portability. People change residencies all the time both for home and business. Say you have gone to all the trouble of doing your homework, checking references, hiring a structural engineer, and then paying that person to install a point or two in your home or commercial building. And then you decide to move. Then what? Will you leave the overhead point for the next resident's discretion? Do you hope for the best possible scenario in your next location, and then begin the rigging process all over again in your new place? To put it lightly, the real estate market can be a challenge for those of us who are passionate about aerial arts. With your own rig, the answer is simple: just take it with you!

Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

4. Aerial Rigs can save you a lot of money.

Perhaps one of the biggest stressors for performing aerialists (aside from stagefright...we've all got that!) is having to find and hire a reliable rigger to whom you will entrust your very life. Not only does it save money to have your own portable rig, but there is truly no feeling like the sweet taste of self-sufficiency when it comes to having a rig you can build yourself without the hassle of dealing with someone else’s terms. At Uplift Active, we believe that as long as you are clear on the basis of safety and take good care of your equipment, you can fulfill your airborne dreams with independence and style.

The cost-effective benefits to an aerial rig are numerous. You can use it for performance, for play, to teach, and to condition between workouts at the gym. Having the ability to train at home can save time and money attending open gyms for extra training, and will motivate you to train more! Owning a rig will transform your practice, career, and/or studio business.

Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

Photo by @aangielicious

5. How to Choose the Right Type of Aerial Rig

When it comes to aerial rigs, you’ll run across two main styles: the quad or the A-frame, and the tripod. They both can be adjustable or non-adjustable in height and can be set up indoors or outdoors as long as there’s enough room and it’s a suitable environment. Both support a variety of apparatuses, although one will give you more height over the other.

The quad or A-Frame is generally stronger and more stable, as it has more legs to distribute its weight load. It allows for an unobstructed view for your audience members and for you. Its style lends itself to a header bar so that you can take advantage of its full height, instead of sacrificing precious air space overhead to your rig’s connecting point. Some A-Frame aerial rigs for sale can support a pulley or fly system.

tripod style aerial rig will tend to be lighter. It’s possible for a single person can set one up on her own. There is a distinct aesthetic appeal that is achieved with a perfect tetrahedron shape. However, the tripod can only handle about 75% of the load that a quad or A-frame can take.

Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

Photo by @highdeserthippie

6.  A Very Brief History of Aerial Rigging

Aerial arts are an incredible union between astounding athleticism, art, and physics. Aerial rigging as we know it today emerged from the tradition of nautical rigging, borrowing time-tested truths for an exciting new application. 

The first aerial rig originates from the Dues ex Machina, used in ancient Greek and Roman theatres of the 5th and 4th centuries B.C. Loosely translated from the Latin as “god from the machine”, the mechanism may have been a first for flying human beings onstage. An actor portraying a god or a goddess would appear from the sky via an early crane device, ormachene, descending to the awe and delight of the audience. Centuries later, aerial artists are still eliciting that same reaction! The plot device later expanded to encompass any surprising twist that resolves a storyline. 

Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

Photo by @smerikaspam

In Shakespeare’s day, it’s likely that sailors were hired to rig the elaborate sets from legendary playhouses like the Globe Theatre. Influenced by their experience sailing the high seas, the wisdom of the water was taken to the air with amazing results.

Like all good ideas, the aerial rig has evolved to arrive at an exciting point in time. The popularity of aerial arts has soared in recent years, with more people than ever taking to the air all over the world. Many artists in the modern aerial world may pay homage to the revolutionary concepts that gave rise to our art.

Uplift Active Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

Photo by @payne_isbeauty

7. Rigging Safety and Education: Understanding the Basics

  • Always follow your rig manufacturer’s recommendations. When in doubt, look up your questions or ask a trusted rigger. 
  • Remember that our aerial rigs for sale are not to be used for swinging style work.
  • Never exceed working loads.
  • Never train alone.

For additional reading material and training resources, check out ETCP rigging educators Delbert Hall and Brett Copes.

Uplift Active Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

Photo by @payne_isbeauty

8. The Best Aerial Rigs from Uplift Active

Buying an aerial rig is a big investment and an even bigger responsibility. It’s important to get the model that’s just right for you and for anyone else who will use it.

We offer two high-quality, sturdy aerial rigs for sale, each capable of accommodating a number of different apparatuses. They differ slightly in header bar design and accessories. And unlike some aerial rigs for sale, ours are highly portable and very easy to use.

Uplift Active Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

  • The Height Adjustable Portable Aerial Rig is ideal for portable aerial play, including Aerial Fitness, Low Silks, Aerial Yoga, Static Trapeze, and Aerial Hoop. With its adjustable top bar connectors, you can quickly and easily swap out one apparatus for another to train multiple disciplines in a single session. Simply attach your carabiner/s directly into the top bar. This feature truly makes rigging an absolute breeze. 

Made of super-strong and lightweight magnesium alloy, you can pack up and tote your rig to virtually any place your airborne career may take you. Just make sure you know the ceiling height if you’ll be indoors, and the rig’s footprint (4.4sqm-8.9sqm) for all uses. Its adjustable height stands between 5’ (152 cm) and 11’ (335 cm) when fully extended. 

Weight Capacity for this rig is 600KG, with a safe load at 120KG (265lb user weight) at a 5:1 ratio for regular aerial use. This model is NOT intended for drops, doubles work, or swinging maneuvers.

Uplift Active Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

Equipment included in the Height Adjustable Portable Aerial Rig:

  • Top Bar Cross pipe:  1pcs 1.4meters
  • Expansion Pipe Legs: 4 pcs 1.6meters. (The size in between each height hole: 15cm) 
  • Tension D Bolt: 12 pcs.  
  • Stabilizing belt: 2 pcs (Black)
  • Top Bar Connector Ring: 2 pcs (Silver)
  • Wrench (Figure 7 Shape): 1pcs
  • Triangle Plug: 2pcs
  • Anti-skid silicone pads: 4pcs (Assembled on the bottom of the feet) 
  • 2 Carrying Bags (optional)

This rig ships worldwide, with only a few exceptions.

Uplift Active X-Pole A Frame Rig

  • The X-Pole A-Frame comes with sandbag covers to stabilize your frame as you work in the air, which is helpful when you’re set up outdoors. Sand is not included, as that would cause shipping costs to skyrocket, but sand is easy to come by and it’s a super fun project to fill your sandbags! 

This A-Frame aerial rig model is fully height adjustable with telescopic legs from 2235mm (7.6’) to 3350mm (11’). Its footprint extends between 4.4sqm-8.9sqm depending on how high you set it up. The rig is rated for silks, hoop, and static trapeze. Please note: this rig is NOT designed for swinging.

The X-Pole aerial rig is constructed of stainless steel and aluminum, and comes with a solid header bar, meaning that it requires additional equipment to rig. It does not have top bar connectors. You can use daisy chains or choke a round sling over the bar to hang from. If you don’t already own these items, find them with our  Aerial Silks set or the  Yoga Hammock set, or you can purchase them à la carte in our store

Uplift Active X-Pole A Frame Aerial Rig


This product ships to the US, Canada, China, Cambodia, Australia, India, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, UAE, and select other countries. All countries besides the US: contact us for a custom quote.

Bothof these portable rigs are simple to set up, take down, to transport anywhere, which means the possibilities are nearly limitless. 

When you order with Uplift Active, you will also receive access to our expert support team. We are here for each stage in your process as an aerial artist, from answering initial inquiries about silks for beginners to taking orders for replacement parts for your trusty aerial rig.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact us today. We are here for you!

Uplift Active Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

Photo by @aerialist.audrey

9. FAQ

  • Will it fit in my room/studio/gym/backyard?

It’s easy to tell if a rig will fit in the space in which you intend to use it. Check the product descriptions to compare each rig’s footprint, or how much space it will take up on the floor or ground.

  • What apparatus can I use?

You can play with many classic apparatuses such as low aerial silks, static trapeze, yoga swing, hammock (sling), and aerial hoop (Lyra). Other ideas include aerial net, short conditioning straps, and smaller hanging apparatuses like a tiny hoop. 

  • How to make an aerial rig?

The best way to make your own aerial rig is to create a custom truss system. This can allow flexibility to build a rig to fit your unique space and needs. However, bear in mind that it can be dangerous to make your own aerial rig and we suggest consulting with a truss expert if you are going down this route! Keep in mind that you will be hanging your life from this apparatus, so you want to make sure it’s been tested thoroughly and made professionally.

Uplift Active Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

Photo by @highdeserthippie

  • How to build an aerial rig?

It is very dangerous to build your own aerial rig using materials like bamboo, wood, or metal at home. 

  • How to set up an aerial rig?

Each set up is unique depending on what type of aerial rig that you have. You may require tools to install screws for some models. It can be dangerous to set up an aerial rig - there are heavy pieces that can fall, pinch, or injury if not assembled correctly. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions in great detail. The Uplift Active portable rigs assemble with tension pins so there are no tools or hardware required.

  • How much does a freestanding rig weigh?

Portable Rigs weigh between 70-200lbs, depending on how big they are. The Uplift Active portable rigs are approximately 70lbs. We caution against any rigs that are lighter than this, because they may be too lightweight to be sturdy to movements.

Uplift Active Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

Photo by @fancy_eb

  • How tall does a portable rig need to be for aerial yoga?

For aerial yoga, you will need a minimum of 8-feet, and even at this height, there will be some limitations on poses available. At lower heights, you can still practice conditioning and low swing poses.

  • How tall does a portable rig need to be for aerial silks?

The height required for aerial silks depends on what you plan to use it for. 10 feet is a good minimum height for aerial silks, but conditioning and some poses can be achieved at lower heights.

  • How tall does a portable rig need to be for aerial hoop/lyra?

For aerial hoop, a portable rig can be used at lower heights but at least 8-10 feet is recommended.

  • Can I use a portable rig in my backyard?

Yes, you can use a portable rig in a backyard, park, festival, or other outdoor settings.

  • Can I leave a portable rig outside?

If you leave a portable rig outside, it will be exposed to the environment and prone to increased wear and tear. We recommend storing inside for longevity.

  • What is the best type of aerial rig?

The best type of aerial rig depends on your needs and what you plan to use it for!

  • Can I fit a portable rig in a car?

Yes, you can fit the Uplift Active portable rigs in a car (sedan or larger). However, other rigs may be larger so be sure to check your measurements in advance!

  • Can I use a swing set as an aerial rig?

Uplift Active Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

Photo by @itsrobynwitha_y

    Typical swing sets are not tall enough for aerial arts. For aerial yoga, you will need a minimum of 8-feet, and even at this height, there will be some limitations on poses available. 

    • Can I bring an aerial rig on an airplane?

    Most airlines accept the oversized cargo, but you will need to check with the specific airline’s baggage rules. Aerial rigs are often considered oversized (and possibly overweight); it doesn’t mean that you can’t bring it, but it may be subject to a surcharge. Each airline handles this differently. 

    • Will my portable rig move or sway when using it? 

    Yes, a portable rig may move slightly when being used. This is normal and expected - the legs are designed to absorb shock. However, if the top bar or legs remain warped after use when no weight is applied, the rig has been damaged and should not be used; contact the manufacturer for assistance.

    Uplift Active Portable Height Adjustable Aerial Rig

    Photo by @brishaepfeifer

    10. Take Your Aerial Career to the Next Level

    So where do you want to take your trusty rig? Will you pack it up and hit the road or will it live in your spare room? Do you plan to fill a raw studio space with a dozen of these beauties or take it out of town for a performance? Wherever your adventures take you, remember to give your trusty rig a name! ;)

    Discovering a passion for aerial arts is a lot like falling in love. But you can forget about all the drama that sometimes goes with an LTR. When the time comes in your career as an aerialist that you are ready for the big time, an aerial rig is your best bet. Find the best aerial rigs for silks, hammock, and aerial hoop right here at Uplift Active. There are installment plans and financing plans available so you don’t have to pay everything upfront.

    Are you ready for your own aerial rig?  Check out the Uplift Active Aerial Rigs today to launch your dream into the air!



    Quynbi Ada
    Quynbi Ada

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