Skydiving is a pretty simple experience. You go up on a plane, you jump out, and you land. The experience itself is not that complicated, but there are certain basics that cannot be overlooked if you want to stay safe and make it back in one piece.
Skydiving Equipment Check
Before every jump, even before you even board the plane, your jump instructor will check your equipment to make sure everything is in top condition, in their proper place, and mounted correctly.
If you’re an experienced jumper, it doesn’t hurt to ask another person to give you a quick once-over to make sure everything looks good to go. You don’t want to be doing this as an afterthought once on the plane. Safety is always paramount in this business.
The basic skydiving gear can be rented for the most part from the drop zone you’re at, and they’re reasonably priced. The best part about renting the quipment from the drop zone is that you know they’re in top condition and the rig is packed by a certified rigger. In short, your chute won’t fail and your equipment will function like they should, especially your automatic activation device.
Skydiving Equipment List
Yeah, it has to be a skydiving helmet. Don’t even think about using anything else. These things are impact tested and will provide for a safe landing should you get stuck with an improper landing. Make sure you get one that fits you well and the straps fit snugly.
You’re going to need these to keep your eyes from drying our during the jump. You’re especially going to need this if you wear contacts or glasses.
A digital altimeter is a great option if you’re able to get one. They offer functions like measuring your altitude, measure your descent rate, and even audible alarms to let you know when you’ve hit your target altitude for deploying the canopy. Audible altimeters are great if you can get one.
Analog altimeters are great, too, but can be bulky and they may not come with all the bells and whistles of a digital one. You’ll have to keep an eye on your altitude manually if there are no audible alarms.
Parachute rigs come in many size and flavors. Renting it will save you from having to decide on all the options you want in your rig. If you’re new, renting is the best option to get you used to the feel of how certain rigs fit. When purchasing your own, plan on forking over 10k to 50k for a single rig, depending on the canopy size, rig setup, and other options available.
Remember that a parachute rig will need a main canopy and a reserve canopy (or reserve parachute). That’s the one piece of skydiving equipment you don’t want to overlook.
As your experience grows, you’ll want to graduate from bigger to smaller canopy sizes to offer better maneuverability and control, so your collection of rigs will grow as you go. It’s no small investment.
One word of caution, though. If you plan on buying second hand rigs, make sure you run it by your DZ’s resident rigger to make sure it’s safe and you’re getting your money’s worth. The skydiving community is small and pretty friendly, so you’ll probably not run into unscrupulous sellers. But to be sure, talk to the experienced skydivers for advice as they usually know who the regulars are at that DZ.
If you get a chance, buy second hand from the skydiving center when they plan on updating their equipment. At least then you’ll know you’re not getting ripped off.
Automatic Activation Device
An AAD is essential for all rigs, whether you’re new or experienced. It’s always a good idea to have one in your gear just in case you ever need it. As a jump student, you will definitely need this and it will be set at what your instructor deems safe for you, usually around 3000 feet.
That’s about all you really need. Of course, as you progress and get certified, you’ll no doubt get enough jumps in to be authorized to strap a camera onto your helmet. The United States Parachute Association requires that you get in at least 200 jumps in before you’re authorized to do this. Most skydiving operations will enforce this, so don’t try to sneak one on.
The drop zone staff will make sure you’re set up for safety before you even board the plane, so trust the DZ operators, your instructor, and other experienced skydivers to help you out. They’re not only ensuring your safety but theirs as well.
Here’s a short list of skydiving equipment dealers to get you started.