Choosing Skydiving Equipment: Including Parachute!
To start off there is no such thing as cheap quality, safe skydiving equipment. That does not mean that the best gear is the most expensive, you can buy good gear that is used. Of course you don’t want to get dumped with bad equipment so doing a thorough check of the equipment is a must. Get this equipment appraised by an independent rigger, not just any skydiver, experienced or not, or you can even jump the equipment before (recommended) buying (if the DZO won’t let you on the airplane, it’s probably a good indication that the equipment isn’t good). Do not settle for equipment, bad equipment could mean your life! We know it isn’t the cheapest hobby to take up, but hey how much is your life worth to you!? Another option instead of buying all the equipment, is renting, you do not need to own everything to be able to jump, especially if you only plan to jump every once in a while.
The modern day parachute are square with 7 or 9 cells and the reserve parachute, which is square, usually comes in 7 cells, as well. When finding a good parachute the wing loading and construction materials are what you need to be most concerned with. Standard wing loading for a seven cell should be about 1dqft for every pound of weight + 30 sq ft. (For instance if you way 200 lbs jump a 230 sq ft.)
The loading is normally 1 lb per square foot, and you will need to buy a parachute that equals your weight. Some people may say to buy a parachute that is a lower size than you need for better performance, but that increases safety risks tremendously. Your parachute stability with decrease and become more susceptible to turbulence and getting back to straight flight will not be as quick. In the instance of pilot error the parachute will be less forgiving. Your reserve is very important, so do not down play it just because they are used irregularly, smaller is not better because that one time you are going to have to do a reserve ride you will be at lower altitude and most likely off the drop zone with lovely trees and power lines waiting to catch you. Unless you are a smoke jumper, paratroop, or a aerobatic pilot then you do not need a round parachute. All reserves in the USA must be have a T.S.O. Fancy talk for F.A.A. specifications.
Harness Container system.
Vector is a great, reliable choice, and it pretty much trouble free. They have good resale value, the manufacturer is responsive, and spares availability. Make sure when purchasing a system that it fits correctly. When packed the main parachute and the reserve parachute should fit snugly in you pack. Do not cram as much material into a small bag, this make containers extremely difficult to close lead for forcing rigs closed, damages grommets, and bends the pins, as well as making the container stiff on your back. Size to body ratio is extremely important when sizing a harness. Your comfort under the parachute, finding cut away and reserve handles, make all the difference when having the correct harness length for your torso. Consider the environment you will be skydiving in when choosing your container volume to parachute ratio. Parachutes are harder to compress when in a hot, dry climate.
Automatic activation devices.
When you reach the appropriate altitude, this is what deploys your parachute, in other words this is a must! AADs have brought down the fatality levels of skydivers majorly and are considered life savers. Don’t get cocky and think that you have everything under control. Yeah you do until you get knocked out and are to close to the drop zone to stop.
This is essential to skydiving gear. You don’t need to spend a fortune but keep in mind that a less expensive one is also usually less accurate. The compass and altitude are the most important features on altimeters. Other features that are great to have are barometric pressure, temperature levels and the attitude alarm. Just wear one.
When choosing a helmet find one that is a snug fit and comfortable. Check the impact and how much it is designed to absorb, very important. The odds of you living while skydiving are greater than dying. Your most likely going to die in a car crash rather than skydiving. The odds of dying in an skydiving accident are much greater than being paralyzed, and in the event of a bad landing getting your head bashed in are very good. Wear a helmet, reduce the risk.
Jumpsuits are important because of the impact ion of your fall rate, speed, and direction. Decide what you skydiving discipline is and find the jumpsuit that works the best for you. Keeping warm is also a good perk of a jumpsuit. They regulate your fall rate, and make you look cool, but don’t substitute for skills and aren’t required. Quality fabric if you decide to buy one is essential.