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Basic Gear Maintenance by Chris Saindon



So, you just got your license, or maybe you’re a seasoned jumper, but how much do you really know about your gear? What can you do yourself and what is best to leave to your rigger to take care of? It seems that most jumpers rely on their packers and riggers to maintain their gear, but there are a few things that everyone could (and should) do.  


DISCLAIMER: If you are unsure of anything I mention below, please speak with your local rigger, or send me a message directly. I would hate to see someone attempt something, only to cause more risk by not reconnecting something correctly.


How about giving your risers some exercise? No, I don’t mean go out and put another jump on them, I mean disconnect them and give them a twist. You can easily pull the cutaway cable (NOT your reserve handle!) all the way out and pull the risers away from the main 3 ring. Once they’re loose, you’ll probably see that they retain a “J” shape if you look at them from the side. This is the problem you’ll be correcting. That “J” shape can actually cause your risers to hang up during an emergency cutaway, and we all know that seconds count when you need them most. So, to prevent any delay of your 3 ring system, bend the “J” shape backwards and forwards several times to take out the “memory”. You can also give the risers a twist several times in each direction and you should be good to go! See? That was just a couple of minutes’ worth of effort and is recommended to do once a month.


While your 3 rings are still disconnected and your cutaway cable is removed, this is a great time to give your cutaway cables a wipe down. The inside of your cutaway housings are a place where dirt gets into and is very difficult to get out. That dirt gets onto the cutaway cable and can make the force required to cutaway very high. Take any cloth, a towel, or even your shirt and wrap it around each yellow cable. Pull the cable through the cloth to wipe any grease or dirt off. Now that you’ve completed these basic steps, put your 3 ring system back together. Remember to ask questions if you’re not sure how to reassemble!


The two things above are a couple of the simplest things that you can do to maintain your gear. There are many other general things you can do without really taking any time out of your day.


Below are some of the more common things to keep on your mind:

  • * Don’t leave your gear in a hot car during the summer. This can do all sorts of scary stuff to it, and if you have an AAD in your rig, batteries really don’t get along well with intense heat. Same goes for storing your gear in the car during winter.
  • * Avoid getting any liquids on your gear. This may sound obvious, but the grease on your spare tire or the battery acid from that battery you carried for a friend can cause severe damage to your rig, and possibly even compromising its integrity (YIKES!). If you accidentally spill something on it, wipe as much off as you can and air it out. If you spilled something other than a harmless chemical such as water (i.e.: pop, juice), it’s best to give your rigger a shout and let them know what happened. They will give you advice on what you should do, and that may mean bringing it to them for a gear cleaning and repack.
  • * If you get your gear wet in the swoop pond, or take a slide across the sandy/muddy part of the LZ, make sure you give your gear an inspection immediately after and prior to jumping again. Remember why we cleaned the 3 rings? Well, that dirt gets in there from all your non-optimal landings. Any damage should be investigated and repaired as required. In regards to wet gear, water may seem harmless, but when suspension lines get wet, they become sticky and very prone to tension knots. Something you don’t want when you need your reserve. There was a fatality just a few years ago as a result of exactly this.
  • * Take care to avoid damaging your gear. Again, this one seems a bit obvious, but it’s absolutely astonishing to see how some people treat their life saving device. Something as simple as throwing your gear in the car, and then accidentally closing the door on the harness. Seems harmless right? Wrong! Imagine how you’d feel when you needed to pull your reserve and your cutaway cable was pinched by the cutaway housing. It’s happened…don’t let it happen to you.

Proper gear maintenance is something that everyone should keep on their mind. There is really no training in CSPA’s program to address items such as gear maintenance, but if you hang out at the DZ on a rainy day, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about your gear. I also recommend asking your rigger if they would mind if you hung out while they packed a reserve (does not have to be your own gear). Some riggers allow this, others prefer not to for various valid reasons. I am thrilled to have someone watch their gear get packed by me because even if they only gain the slightest bit of information about their gear, it may be the information that will prevent an incident one day.


Here’s some food for thought…literally. I was once told that skydiving relates very closely to Swiss cheese. Yes, Swiss cheese. Think of it this way. During an incident, there is always a series of events leading up to it. You’ve all heard of the person who forgot to turn on their AAD, realized that they forgot their altimeter half way to altitude, and just installed a new, smaller canopy. Going back to Swiss cheese, none of those individual items would necessarily cause an incident, but when the holes in the Swiss cheese line up and make a path all the way through, that’s when an incident can happen. Keeping in mind the basic gear maintenance tips mentioned above, you are helping to prevent those holes from lining up, or at least increasing the odds that everything will work as designed when you need it most. Learn as much about your gear as you can!


If you have any questions, please talk to your local rigger, or contact me (Chris) through my website I am happy to answer any questions you might have.

Thank you!


About the Author: Chris Saindon is a certified CSPA Rigger A and the owner/operator of  

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DZ Differences

Over the course of the last year, I’ve been truly blessed to have the opportunity to travel to some amazing dropzones. What I’ve come to find is that each has it’s own unique set of qualities and it’s own unique group of jumpers.

This definitely keeps things interesting.

When it comes to issues like safety, I’ve come to find that each dropzone has their “danger zone” – that one element of the sport where there is constant discussion regarding jumper safety. Seems that every dropzone has their area(s) where they proceed with much caution.

This really came to my attention this weekend when the debate continued regarding canopy downsizing.

As I forgot to mention a couple weeks ago, I decided not to purchase that Sabre 2-120 I had been demoing. Not due to the size, but due to inconsistent and incredibly odd openings. It gave me gear fear, and that’s not how it should be. I really came to realize this after demoing another Sabre2-120 that opened perfectly every time. So needless to say, I’m back on my Sabre 1-150 for the time being – at least until my wallet will allow me to buy new.

The experts at CSC all questioned why I purchased the 150 in the first place, stating that with my weight I should be on a smaller canopy. There goes that mixed message again.

So it got me to thinking about the areas of the sport where safety is a main focus and the differences between dropzones I have visited. Come to find out, almost ALL of them vary widely. These are definitely things that set dropzones apart from one another. Check this out:

  • The folks at one dropzone I have frequented are extremely hesitant when it comes to downsizing. The focus is on the size of the canopy rather than the wingloading. However, most of these people don’t bat an eye when it comes to wingsuiting or camera flying.
  • On the total opposite end of that spectrum, I’ve visited a dropzone that was hesitant to put anyone with less than 500 jumps in a wingsuit, but they highly encourage jumpers to test out canopy size and find what works for them – stressing wingloading rather than fearing size. (Though don’t get me wrong, neither of these dropzones are negligent or ignorant of the safety behind any issue, they just have those areas where they’re more likely to proceed with caution).
  • There’s a local dropzone that’s extremely strict on the rule of not flying a camera before you have 200 jumps, though I’ve been on loads where they don’t hesitate to throw jumpers out through “industrial haze” so thick it’s a guessing game when it comes to locating the LZ.
  • Then there’s the dropzone where jumpers on the flight will have the pilot do two or three go-arounds just to ensure that everyone on the flight will be able to avoid the clouds at a significant distance but they don’t hesitate to throw jumpers out in high, turbulent winds.
  • I’ve also been to a dropzone that in general is very strict. So much so that until you have 500 skydives, you can be grounded for any of the following: not having an AAD, freeflying with another jumper if you both don’t have 500 skydives, trying to jump in winds higher than 15 mph, wingsuiting or camera flying. Though, this very same dropzone has ZERO rules about swooping. Anyone, anywhere, anytime.
  • Then there are the dropzones that have strict swooping rules, these jumpers are often confined to specific areas of the LZ and you will be grounded if you don’t abide by them. Of course, these dropzones have their areas where they turn a blind eye as well.
  • Some dropzones don’t care if you jump barefoot, others won’t even think twice about it.

I’m sure the list goes on, but this is just off the top of my head. It’s amazing how much dropzone policy can differ from one to the next.

And yes, I’m keeping this vague. Who am I to call out dropzones on their policies. I’m no one, that’s who!

For the most part, the majority of dropzones I’ve visited are very safety conscious. Most have pretty strict landing patterns, or at least they encourage safe canopy piloting based on location and conditions. Most are incredibly strict on BSRs, though camera flying has been split about 50/50 when it comes to that 200 jump requirement.

Anyhow, this is just an observation that I found interesting and wanted to share. Though if you’re looking for my opinion, for what it’s worth, I say proceed with caution in every aspect of the sport. Safety should always come first. Know your limits, be aware of those around you and always pay attention.

That is all.

Blue skies!