Maybe you’re in your wild early twenties, or it’s your midlife crisis, or you’re just an adrenaline junky, but you’ve decided you want to take up skydiving. Congratulations on making plummeting from the stratosphere your hobby! Next to staying calm and keeping your wits about you, one of the most important things in skydiving is the equipment you use. Below are some pieces of essential skydiving equipment, but before you jump out of the plane, make sure you’ve consulted an expert and know how to use your gear.
The piece of skydiving equipment that gets the most glory, the parachute is one thing whose absence would be quite obvious in free fall. Nowadays, modern parachutes are rectangular and made from ultra-strong nylon. The best parachutes are designed to give the jumper ultimate control and execute soft landings. The best chutes are designed with seven cells, with wing loading of about one pound per square foot. It’s best to buy a parachute that is equal to your body weight; safety risks increase the smaller your parachute is. Parachutes may be the biggest equipment expense; be prepared to pony up about $2,000 for one parachute, and don’t forget that you’ll need two: the main parachute and the reserve.
While in some places it is permissible to jump without a helmet, a hard casing around your head is strongly recommended. When you’re looking at helmets, make sure to check into how much impact the helmet absorbs. Make sure that it fits comfortably, and is neither too big nor too small. There are all sorts of extras that can come with a helmet, like digital cameras, sound systems, and varieties of colors and face coverage.
As for goggles, it can sometimes be uncomfortable to have high-speed winds rushing into your naked eyeball, and can impair your vision, especially if you get debris in your eye. Play it safe and smart and invest in a quality pair of goggles. The jumpsuit is more optional that the other pieces of equipment listed above. The jumpsuit can help protect your body from the elements, like low temperatures, and influence the speed and direction of your jump.
A highly recommended piece of skydiving equipment, the altimeter indicates altitude, barometric pressure, and temperature; and some have altitude alerts to serve as reminders for when to open your chute.
The automatic activation device, or AAD, is there to deploy your parachute if you are unable to do so or fail to do so at the proper altitude. As you are falling, AADs can calculate both the speed of your fall and your distance from the ground. Considered the lifesavers and fail-safes of skydiving, AADs aren’t cheap, starting at about $3,000 each and going up to $7,000, but they may be cheaper than buying a new life insurance policy. While they are life saving devices, AADs should be used as backups, as they are never 100% reliable.
This device will automatically trigger your reserve parachute if your main line does not deploy. Spending the extra money for a reserve static line is probably less painful than hitting the ground without an open parachute.