Continuing on with the next in our series of skydiving gear configurations, we look at the risers which connect the harness to the parachute suspension lines. This skydiving blog article is pretty big, so dig in and take a look. There’s more to it than you first think!

Many thanks to Tom Hill for writing this article and for taking the pics.

Large 3 Ring Release System/Standard 3 Ring Release System

The version of the 3 Ring Release System that uses the large rings and Type 8 webbing for the Main Risers. This system is mandatory on student equipment and is the original set up of the 3 Ring Release System. When using this system, you will not be able to pull the slider behind your head, you will need Mini Rings on Type 17 webbing to do this. However the force required for a Cut Away is much lower on large rings due to their mechanical advantage.

Mini Rings/Mini 3 Ring Release System

This uses small rings for the 3 Ring Release System on Type 17 or Type 8 webbing. On Type 17 webbing, it causes less aerodynamic drag than the standard 3 Ring Release System and is favoured by some for its looks however it requires more force to cut away due to lower mechanical advantage by the system. To address this, some manufacturers have extended the middle ring to increase the mechanical advantage provided.

Figure 18: Large 3 Ring Release System on Type 8 Risers (left) compared to Mini Rings on Type 8 Risers (right). Note the difference in the final ring size compared to the Riser Grommet.

Reserve Risers

These are the Risers for the Reserve Parachute and are typically made of the same material as the Harness.

Figure 19: Reserve Risers made of Type 7 webbing. Note the red Reserve Handles.


Reverse Mounted Risers

This was developed by some manufacturers to address the issue of Mini Risers breaking on deployment, an event which is almost un-heard of today. Reverse mounting the risers prevents the need to pierce the webbing used for construction in order to attach the Risers to the Harness. Manufacturers that have pierced the Riser have reinforced the Riser to compensate. The Harness Ring for Reverse Risers must sit towards the shoulder of the wearer in order to work properly. If it does not, the system will not function as designed. You must check whether your container is compatible with Reverse Risers.

Figure 20: Mounted Risers (left) looking from the wearers back vs Front Mounted Risers right looking from the wearers front. Note there is no piercing of the Riser with Reverse Mounted Risers.

Cut Away Hard Housing

A hard housing within the Main Riser for the cut away cables. This allows the Skydiver to cut away if they have line twists. If you are buying used equipment, it may not have this option.

Figure 21: Cut Away Hard Housing within the Main Riser.

Figure 22: Cut Away Hard Housing close up.

Front Loops

Loops which are attached to the Front Risers to change the angle of attack on a Canopy. Front Loops allow the Skydiver to pull the nose of the Canopy down and improve diving performance. Some have a Louie Loop configuration where the top of the handle will come over the connection of the Riser to the Canopy Lines and pulls the loop closer to the top of the riser. This is typically used for swooping.

Figure 23: Main Riser with Front Loops (Louie Loop configuration).

Figure 24: Front Loop in a Louie Loop configuration close up. © Tom Hill

Velcro Brake Toggles

An option offered by some manufacturers on their Main Risers although rarely seen on modern equipment due to the abrasion damage to webbing and lines that occurs. They are found on older equipment. However, they can keep the brake toggles more secure and for this reason they are normally used on Reserve Parachutes.

Figure 25: Velcro Brake toggles. Note: the red loop in this image is a dive loop, not a Reserve Handle.

Velcro-less Brake Toggles

The standard option and preferred by most sports Skydivers for their Main Canopies.

Main Soft Links

Nylon links used to attach the Main Canopy to the Risers. They are preferred by some skydivers because they do not damage the Slider Grommets. Always used the Soft Links recommended by the Manufacturer.

Figure 26: Main Canopy Lines attached to the Main Risers with Soft Links.

Mallion® Rapide Links

Metal links used to attach a Canopy to the Risers. Do check with the Container/Canopy manufacturer the correct links have been used. They must be Mallion® Rapide links or have a stamped rating in Newtons. Be aware of cheap imitations or ones bought from hardware shops.

Figure 27: Main Canopy Lines attached to Main Risers with Mallion® Rapide Links.






The Container

The Container is the second key component of a Rig. While the Container is a single construction with the Harness, its role is to house the Main and Reserve Canopies whereas the Harness is designed to fit the wearer.

Many thanks to Tom Hill for writing this article and for taking the pics.

The Container is designed to fit a specific range and type of Canopies. Always refer to the container manufacturer to confirm which sizes will fit into it. The size of the Canopy can be measured in Square Feet and Pack Volume. A Canopy (or set of canopies as mentioned in Compatibility) that is too tight for the Container may not deploy at all whereas a Canopy that is too small could deploy prematurely as it does not apply enough pressure on the closing pin. 

Tuck Tab Riser Covers

The standard option on most modern sports skydiving equipment. This system uses tuck tabs to secure the Riser Covers and ensure they remain secure until the Main Canopy is deployed. Older equipment uses Velcro which wears out over time and can damage the Harness and Container through abrasion.

Figure 15: Tuck Tab Riser Covers (left) and Magnetic Riser Covers (right) prior to closing. Note the 2 discs in the photo on the right which are the magnets.

Magnetic Riser Covers

An optional extra. The magnets secure the Riser Cover better than standard Tuck Tabs meaning the Riser Cover is less likely to come open in free fall. Some Speed Skydiving Coaches list them as a mandatory piece of equipment if you are doing Speed Skydiving and require 3 magnets.

Internal Riser Covers

An optional extra that protects the Riser and Brakes within the Container.

Dynamic Corners/Cut Out Corners

A specialist option designed for Wingsuit Skydiving. The corners of the Main Deployment Tray are not joined in a box shape to allow an easier lateral extraction of the Main Deployment Bag and Canopy.

Figure 16: The bottom of a rig with Dynamic Corners, note it is not sewn in a box shape. © David Fullstone.

Pin Stripes, Tie Dye, Binding Tape Colour

These are cosmetic options that do not affect the performance of the equipment. On new equipment, you can customise to your liking however customisations are often not included in the base price.

Container Material

Skydiving Containers are generally made from Cordura® Nylon however, other materials are now available for example Ballistic Nylon. The material properties vary so do confirm them with the manufacturer. Generally, Cordura ® is more abrasion resistant whereas Ballistic Nylon is more tear resistant. In any case, a well maintained container will last for 1000’s of jumps.

Figure 17: Weave of Ballistic Nylon. © David Fullstone.