Buying Your First Rig: What To Know

Buying Your First Rig: What To Know

Published: February 15, 2013

Every first jump course there is a student that just completed their training tandems, does their first level 1, and then starts scouring the dropzone sites looking for their own gear.

This itch to have their own gear only gets enhanced further once they finish their levels and have to pay for gear rental.

Trust us when we tell you, slow down. It's not that we don't want to see you in your spiffy customized rig with tailored colors and design, with your matching helmet and suit. We'd love to see you in all of that - all in due time.

I can't tell you how many people I know through the years who've purchased rigs, canopies, jumpsuits, helmets, altimeters, etc. only to realize that they are not quite what they need. Just because The Golden Knights use this canopy, doesn't mean it is suitable for you. And just because world-class jumpers use this helmet, doesn't mean it is right for you.

There are so so so many things to take into consideration when buying your skydiving equipment.

For starters, what new student (unless your husband, wife, brother, sister, etc. are current skydivers) would even know that harnesses come in different sizes? Why does that matter? Well, ask the guy who recently bought one that was too big for him and as he was in freefall it started to slip off his shoulder (yes, his chest strap was on and snug). Or ask the guy who paid $5k for a complete used rig, only to receive it and realize he can't find his handles because it is too tight - and of course "all sales are final" and now he's stuck trying to find a new buyer to recoup his fees before he can start looking for a new one again for him.

Now to canopies, that is another whole issue that will require a blog post of its own, so just trust us when we tell you to hang tight.....don't run out and purchase a canopy just yet.

Jumpsuits are another thing. Yes, of course you can get your own jumpsuit and not have to jump in a student one....but, are you doing all standup landings? Are you flying too fast or too slow? Do you know yet what discipline of flying you'd like to do down the road? Freefly, belly? Grippers? Booties? Grippers and Booties? For every suit - there are ton of customized features you will probably want or need, but until you learn how to fly and truly know your limits, you won't know which ones to get. Sure, you can buy one used online - but again, what material is it made of? This makes a difference in how it flies. Is it too big (now you have extra drag on your body that will toss you around in the air) - you are still learning to fly and not at all prepared to fly a suit that is flying you. Or maybe you are a bigger person and the suit you bought fits you just right....while that may be great for you, you may be stuck doing a lot of solo jumps. Maybe the better suit for you would be one with more drag. You won't know any of this until you get through AFF and your instructor has a better of idea of your flying skills.

Another issue that comes up with the helmet. Some people prefer a full-face helmet but as a student you are required to wear an open face. We need to be able to see you, look into your eyes and make sure you are ok at all times. Even when the time comes and you want to buy a helmet, no two helmets fit the same nor are the same. I learned that myself the hard way when I bought my full-face mamba. Yes, some people love that helmet. I bought it, had it painted all fancy with my name on it, etc. only to realize after jumping it several times that the mouth piece on it is high and when I come in on landing and I am staring out 45 degrees ahead of me, I get target fixated on the mouth part and it kills my landings. That was a waste of a lot of money for me and I can't sell it with my name on it [or sell it easily]. That brings up another tidbit, be careful with personalizing your stuff, I also jump with a rig that reads "Mateo". Not everyone wants to buy personalized gear or equipment.

Half Effort = Double Time?

When you don't give something the proper effort or attention, often the results are not satisfactory. Then you find yourself in the position that you have to do it again. Not doing a task "right the first time" often creates more work.

This holds true to buying your gear. Rushing into it, getting all the wrong gear and then having something that you can't use or use well, or having to resell everything and start from scratch is not the road you'd want to take.

Don't rush it, be patience, get guidance and in the end, you will be satisfied with your new equipment.

Anyway, take your time young grasshoppers......when the time comes to buy your gear, suit, etc. talk to an instructor, especially one that has flown with you and is familiar with your skills. They can best direct you on what to buy and offer suggestions, but definitely hold off on buying anything until you've at least completed your AFF training.

Blue skies....

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My experience at Skydive Long Island was AMAZING! Erika was exceptional! She was professional, educational, warm and she was genuinely happy to be part of my first experience sky diving.

» Jenny H.

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