skydiving equipment for the new skydiver.
Questions to ask when investing ?
The investment you are
going to make in your skydiving equipment literarily ranges between $4
for a Mary Poplins style umbrella to $12000 for a state of the art
tandem parachute. The bad news is there is no such thing of cheap safe
quality equipment. You can expect to pay between $2599 and $9000 for
state of the art gear. Obviously you must consider your personal
financial circumstances, but how much is your life worth to you.
Should I by new or used?
This is always a tough
question, sometimes you get lucky and get equipment that is safe for you
and reasonably reliable other times, because of your excitement and
wanting to be part of the community, You will get F*. Buyer beware.
There is no returning bum gear. If you wish to purchase second hand
gear purchase from a reputable dealer (Any in skydiving?).
Get the equipment
appraised by an independent rigger. (not any old skydiver, whose buddies
all know he trying to dump his old junk on the unsuspecting. You!).
It is highly recommended
that you jump the equipment first. One indication that the equipment is
junk is when the DZO won't let you on the airplane.
The age old question, an
old adage (round is sound square is there) does not quite apply anymore.
Unless you are a smoke Jumper. Paratroop/ or aerobatic pilot don't buy a
round parachute. All reserves in the USA must be have a T.S.O.
Fancy talk for F.A.A. specifications.
Modern square reserves
are generally constructed of 7 cells. Modern mains generally come in 7
or 9 cells .The main questions to ask in finding suitable parachutes
are based on wing loading and construction materials.
Standard wing loading for
a seven cell should be about 1dqft for every pound of weight.+ 30 sq
ft. i.e. if you way 200 lbs jump a 230 sqft.
Loading for mains are
normally 1lb per sqft. You weigh 200 lbs get a 200 s.. If you wish to
maximize performance then a good rule of thumb is take your weight
subtract 30 and you will get close to best forward speed i.e.. 200lbs
jump a 170.
Remember the more you
load the wing the faster forward you will go but you downward velocity
will also increase. Your inherent parachute stability will also
decrease, It will become more susceptible to turbulence and will not
return to straight flight as fast. The parachute will also be less
forgiving in pilot error. Consider the size of DZ and spotting
Many people in selecting
there reserves feel that because there are used so irregularly. That
smaller is better, forgetting that when you have that reserve ride, you
will be low and off the dz surrounded by nasty looking trees and power
lines waiting just for you.
F111 is great when its
new but sun and use rapidly degrade there ability to slow the air
flow.F111 parachutes are great till about 200 jumps and then its the
luck of the draw. I had one that lasted me almost 1500 jumps, I also had
one that was trash after 50.
Spend the money buy zero
P. The canopies have better resale value and maintain there lack of
porosity a lot longer. The parachute will probably go through a few line
sets but so what.
Lines. Now here is a
. I like Dacron , there
is more elasticity in the lines and I believe they assist in making the
parachute open slower because of that stretch. They also create more
friction on the slider grommets, retarding the slider. They appear more
susceptible to breaking in dry dusty climates. On my strong tandem
mains they had t be replaced about every 150 jumps. On my sport gear
over 500 jumps.
Spectra. The lines are
thinner supposedly they cut down on drag and give the parachute better
speed. However there is no stretch on the line and through use the lines
through slider frictional heat actually shrink. This makes the canopy
open harder, Placing more wear and tear on your body. All the opening
shock is transmitted immediately into your harness, Replacing the lines
about every 300 jumps is highly recommended.
Vectran Is a relatively
new comer to skydiving so far I have liked it on my tandem mains. The
lines are slightly bulkier but still easy to pack. I have not had the
opportunity to test it on a sport canopy but it seems a better deal than
Kevlar. Don't spend your
There are many other
types of line they come in different widths, elasticity, weaves,
breaking strains and names used for different purposes. Check with your
rigger or manufacturer for more information.
Harness Container system.
Harness container systems
are like Japanese cars, they are essentially the same. There is so much
cross breeding and when a new container comes around, its because
someone is pissed at someone else.
containers when looking at reliability, maintenance, spares
availability, manufacturer responsiveness, and resale value is a Mirage,
Vector, and Wings has been around so damn long that it makes Chinese civilization
look like it was born yesterday.
How many ways can you fit
webbing to the human form? When purchasing a system you need to make
sure it fits correctly. The reserve and main should fit there containers
snugly when packed. There is a tendency in skydiving culture to cram as
much material in as smallest size as possible. This makes the container
very stiff on the back. It also makes containers extremely difficult to
close leading to forcing rigs closed , damaging grommets and bending
parachute vs. container volume, consider the environment you will
generally be skydiving in. A dry hot climate will make parachutes harder
to compress. (Of course your sweating all over it will help with the
Sizing the harness to
your body is extremely important. Having the correct length for your
torso will make a difference to your comfort under parachute as well as
being able to find cut away and reserve handles.
Automatic activation devices.
This is a must.
If I were going to jump an automatic
opener, I'd buy new rather than used, as used AADs (Automatic Opening
Device) usually aren't that cheap. The two top AAD's are the
Vigil II & Airtec Cypres, because both
have earned an excellent reputation for reliability and hassle-free
The Vigil II, (@$1395.00), has no life limit, does not
require every 4 year maintenance (which takes 3 weeks for the
Cypres), and the battery lasts @ 10 years.
II, (@$1450.00), has a life limit of 12 years, and requires every 4 years to send
it back to the factory (which takes 3 weeks) for testing, and the 4 Year
test costs $225.00.
Gee we really don't need
a long discussion, wear one.
Wear one the odds of
staying alive skydiving are greater than dying, the odds of being killed
are greater than being paralyzed, The odds of getting your head bashed
in on a bad landing are really good. Reduce your risk factor. Wear a
snug fitting comfortable helmet that will protect your head from minor
Check out your skydiving
discipline and get the jumpsuit that works best. (Kind of obvious huh?)
Every DZ has its preferences , in my opinion go with the flow. Jumpsuits
don't substitute for skydiving skills but they so assist in regulating
fall rate and looking cool. Physical exercise and diet also assist in
these endeavors. I personally have never managed to purchase a custom
built jumpsuit that has fitted correctly. I buy off the rack, try it on
,it works for me , Great.
I hope this demystifies
the buying process for you, perhaps it just shows you how hard or simple
it can be. Either way I will be happy to assist in helping purchase
equipment for you. Just remember I don't work for free. I accept cash,
cashiers check or visa.