Welcome to the first in a series of blog articles all designed to give you a great head-ups into the world of skydiving gear. This first article discusses the pros and cons of buying your gear as a package, or in parts. Its you what to watch out for and how to judge which is the best option for you in-terms of your wallet and gear availability.
Many thanks to Tom Hill for writing this article and for taking the pics.
- Sellers will sell equipment in a variety of formats, the most common are listed below. This can help and hinder the process of buying equipment depending on your requirements.
- You can request the Reserve Packing Card in addition to the Rig Information Tab which will tell you how many times the Reserve has been repacked and deployed and the Rig Information Tab will give you the Serial Numbers, Date of Manufacture, Container and Harness size. These are generally found either behind the orange large Technical Standard Order Label on the back pad (you do not need to open the Container) or inside the Reserve Closing Flap. You can contact the Manufacturer to understand the exact measurements provided to them although some sellers will tell you this. Make sure you understand the limitations of any equipment like suspended weight and the suitability for your disciplines prior to purchasing to prevent an expensive mistake or worse.
- An Automatic Activation Device (AAD) will give you an idea of the number of jumps the Rig has done. While the Automatic Activation Device may have been replaced or bought second hand, it will give you some questions to ask the seller. You can find out how to access the jump numbers of an Automatic Activation Device from the Manufacturers website.
- Prior to buying a rig, you may wish to check the Manufacturers website to see if any safety notices are in force for the equipment. Some of these notices are due at the next repack whereas others are due before the next jump. Any safety notices dated after the date of manufacture for your equipment may apply. If you are unsure, check with a British Parachute Association Advanced Packer or Rigger.
- You may wish to consider getting yourself measured before buying equipment so you can understand whether a piece of equipment is more likely to fit you.
- Full Rig – This is the sale of a full Rig including its canopies although might not include an Automatic Activation Device. It will contain the main components however you will need to speak with the seller to understand the optional extras that the equipment has. This ideal for people who want a ready to jump configuration however you may find the Main Canopy is unsuitable. Some sellers are willing to split the set up and sell the Main Canopy separately and you purchase the Container, Reserve and Automatic Activation Device (if fitted) however others may not want to.
Figure 3: An example of a Container Only. The Reserve Deployment System and Main Deployment Systems are out of shot.
Automatic Activation Device Only
This is the sale of the Automatic Activation Device. An Automatic Activation Device has a finite life, CYPRES® 2’s manufactured during December 2015 and earlier have a life of 12.5 years from the date of manufacture with a mandatory service at 4 and 8 years; CYPRES® 2’s manufactured during 2016 have a 12.5 year life from the date of manufacture with a recommended service at 4 and 8 years and those manufactured after January 2017 have a 15.5 year service life from the date of manufacture with a recommended service at 5 and 10 years. The Vigil® 2+ has a 20 year life from the date of manufacture with a battery change every 10 years or 2000 jumps whichever is soonest. To calculate how much you should pay, take the Recommended Retail Price and divide it by the number of years left on the unit.
Reserve Canopy Only
This is the sale of the Reserve Canopy only. You will need to check that the Reserve will fit in your container prior to purchase. All Reserve Canopies must come with a packing card showing the number of repacks and deployments, this card stays with the Reserve, not the container. Some Reserve Canopies have a certified life of 20 years and those older must be returned to the manufacturer for recertification or be destroyed. Some manufacturers state the Reserve it must be returned to them for inspection if it has more than a certain number of deployments. Therefore make sure you understand how many deployments it has had.
Reserve Canopies have a Maximum Suspended Weight (your weight, clothes and any equipment), sometimes known as Exit Weight, that must not be exceeded under any circumstances.
You must be a BPA Advanced Rigger to conduct any repair work on Reserve Canopies and you must be at least a BPA Advanced Packer to assemble/pack a Reserve Canopy or interact with the Reserve Deployment System.
Main Canopy Only
This is the sale of the Main Canopy only. You will need to confirm it will fit in your container and it is suitable for your experience level and skill. The Main Canopy will not come with Main Risers as the Main Risers belong to the Rig/Container. You will need a hold a BPA Approved Packing Certificate or above to attach a Main Canopy to the Main Risers.
If the Main Canopy does come with Main Risers, you must ensure they are compatible with your container. Reverse Mounted Risers are not compatible with the majority of containers. Failure to check compatibility could result in major injury or death as you could be unable to cut away from a malfunctioned Main Canopy.