You’ve just qualified and gained your BPA A Licence. Well done! The good news is that jump tickets get a whole load cheaper, the bad news is that you’ll have to shell out for some kit. This can be a daunting process, there are a lot of options from a lot of different manufacturers, so here's some guidance to getting on the kit ladder. Manufacturer suggestions aren't exhaustive, there are others available but this should give you an idea of where to start looking. As always, if you have questions about what's right for you just come and talk to one of our instructors.
You’ll want to start off with the smaller items first - goggles, gloves, altimeter and a helmet.
Buy a pair of non-tinted goggles, as these are better for eye contact whilst you’re learning FS. Depending on the time of year, winter or summer gloves, preferably with a leather palm. You need to be able to locate and grip handles while wearing them, so thick ski-style gloves are no use. Even in warmer weather it's not a bad idea to wear gloves; in case of a bad landing it's better to scuff up your gloves than your hands!
There are various companies that offer altimeters, and you may have seen other jumpers around the DZ with both digital and analogue options. Whilst you are still relatively inexperienced, we suggest you stick to what you know - an analogue alti. If you do want to get a digital one, then it’s advisable to wear both for a period to get used to it. Digital altimeters tend to be more accurate, and are great for canopy flight plan precision, but may be harder to read at a glance in freefall - or when you're under a canopy with line twists being thrown around and trying to check how much height you have to deal with it!
Another form of altimeter well worth investing in is an audible. This is placed into your helmet and gives you audio alarms at preset altitudes, such as when it’s time to break off and then pull.
Analog altimeters - Altimaster Galaxy, L&B Stella
Digital altimeters - L&B Viso, Alti-2 N3
Audible altimeters - L&B Optima/Protrack/Solo, Alti-2 N3, AON2 Brilliant Pebbles
When it comes to helmets, you'll be asking yourself open face or full face. You’ll need a B Licence before you’re able to jump a full face in the UK so work out how close you are to that, try some on and see what fits best. Open faced helmets come from simple and cheap (Protec) to expandable/upgradable, but more expensive (Cookie Fuel), so check some out in the shop before you buy to see what you want.
Open face - Pro-tec, Cookie Fuel, Bertrand adrenaline
Full face - Cookie G3, Square1 Kiss/PhantomXV, Paratec Z1
Once you have bought the above it’s time to think about jumpsuits. Firstly, which discipline are you interested in? Dress for success as they say. Before you get carried away dreaming about wingsuiting, you should learn some basic formation skydiving skills to make you safe in the sky with others, and the best tool for that job is an FS suit. If you have no interest in doing FS longer term, you can get through FS1 with a freefly suit, but investing some time in developing good FS skills will make you a stronger all-round skydiver. FS suits have booties (like a rudder on the end of each leg to give you extra power to turn), and grips on the arms and legs (commonly known as 'sausages') for taking hold of your jump buddies.
FS suits - Tony Suits, Bev Suits, Symbiosis Suits
FF suits - Boogieman, Tonfly, Vertical, Tribe
It’s always best to be measured by a dealer, they know how to do each measurement correctly and can advise you on suit choice, and most importantly your colour combinations! You can have different fabric and fit options to help with fall rate, and your dealer will be able to talk you through these.
So you’ve now got all your ancillary items, all colour matching of course, now to add a matching rig to your get up so you no longer have to pay for kit hire. The bad news, guess what, more cash spent! Keep an eye out for our next article looking at options for your first rig purchase.
Words: Tom Shorten
Air Supply gear store is based at Skydive Langar; drop in to talk to Phil Curtis (or give him a call on 07787 555496) about any/all of the above items and more!