New to skydiving and wondering what jumpsuit to buy? This blog post is for you!
Your choice of jumpsuit is influenced by a number of factors. While we’re not going to recommend any specific manufacturer (there are lots, each have their benefits), we will share insight into the considerations you need to take when choosing what to buy. This post is intended mainly for those of you who are less experienced; if you have more specific questions relating to your own requirements or build, speak to an instructor/coach.
- FS or FF suit?
Your biggest choice when looking at your first jumpsuit is the one between FS (formation skydiving) and FF (freefly) suits.
FS is the discipline you’ll most likely start with because the body position used is very similar to the one you learn on your AFF or Category Systems course. As part of your progression as a qualified skydiver, you’ll want to hone your skills and most people choose FS to do this.
FF is the discipline built around flying in different orientations – so rather than being belly to earth as you were as a student, you’ll fly in a ‘sit’ position, a ‘stand’ position, upside down (head down) or a whole variety of other axes. Note: no matter what the discipline, you’ll always finish your skydive in a belly to earth orientation for pull time because, as we know, this is the most stable position from which to deploy your canopy.
For the reasons explained here, the likelihood is that as a newly qualified jumper, you’ll be aiming to get your FS1 after your A license, so having an FS suit makes sense. If you think you’re likely to refocus your attentions on FF rather than FS after you gain your FS qualification, then you might opt to buy a cheaper second hand FS suit rather than a brand new one. But if you think FS is for you, it’s well worth investing in a quality FS suit from the start so you can learn to fly effectively using things like booties (explained below).
Either way, you’ll definitely benefit from having a suit that belongs to you and that fits you well. The ‘fit’ is very personal and the right fit is determined by your body shape and size. Ask an instructor or coach – ideally one who has jumped with you and understands your ‘fall rate’ (the speed at which you fall) – to advise you on what fit you need. They can also help you judge whether a second hand suit fits you well or not.
The other benefit to having your own suit is that you know you have it ready to use. While we do have a range of suits available for you to borrow in the kit store, it’s better to have one that you can use any time and get used to.
2. Understanding FS suits
FS is the discipline in which you fall belly to earth and build shapes in the sky by taking hold of one another. An FS suit will have, as a minimum:
Grips are needed to allow your team mates or buddies to take hold of you and build ‘formations’ (shapes) by doing so. You’ll want grips on your arms (either one or two per arm doesn’t really make much difference) and grips on the inside and outside of both legs.
Booties are extensions to the foot part of your suit that create a ‘sail’ effect between your knee and toe. They give you additional power for moves like turns and tracking by enabling you to catch air and build air pressure to then deflect and maximise the output generated by your input. Booty designs differ between manufacturers and personal choices. You definitely want booties on your FS suit; the bigger the booty, the more powerful they will be so you might choose smaller ones for your first suit.
Your FS suit can also help to define your fall rate. For example, if you tend to fall more slowly than average, you’ll benefit from having a tigher fitting suit and might want to choose a design where the grips don’t create too much drag. There are also materials that can aid a faster fall rate, so if purchasing your own bespoke suit, these are considerations you can take into account. On the flip side, if you fall faster than average, you will benefit from a baggier suit and again, there are materials which your suit can be made from to help you fall a little slower.
Fall rate wise, the ideal is that everyone is able to comfortably fall at a similar pace within the mid range of their body’s ability – so never too arched, never not arched. Which means if your natural fall rate is faster than your friends’, your choicee of suit can help alleviate the need for you to spend your jumps trying to slow fall (also speak to a coach who will be able to help you amend your body position to support a more comfortable fall rate).
Manufacturers vary in their styles and prices, so it’s really up to personal preference to choose the one you’d like. Vertex is a skydiving suit manufacturer based right here at Langar and Laura has been working with them on their FS suit design, so talk to her or to James Moran. Symbiosis is also based in the UK so both of those are good for getting really high quality suits without the need for import taxes and what not. Emily is sponsored by Symbi so chat with her about their suits. Jedi is another great option, and Kayleigh is a Jedi dealer, so talk to her about options and getting fitted.
If you’re thinking of entering competitions in FS, it’s worth noting that judges prefer simpler suit colours and need to be able to clearly see the grips of your suit and your teammates gloves against them – so while it’s not a ‘rule’ as such, it’s best to steer clear of too many complex patterns and bright colours for a competitive FS suit. But if not competing, go wild! There are so many options for suit colours, patterns and variations that you really can let your personality shine through!
3. Understanding FF suits
Your FF suit can be quite basic, or more advanced, depending on your needs. As a starting point, a simple ‘boiler suit’ style will suffice but the materials you choose and where those materials are used will have an effect on the way you are able to fly.
The fit of your suit will also make a difference. For someone who falls slower than average, as with FS suits, a tighter fit will support a faster fall rate but can also make it more difficult to achieve the desired body position due to a lack of drag (or a lack of drag ‘benefit’). For people just starting out, the drag of a suit can have benefitting effects on your body position but it is dependent on your body shape and style.
Speak to an FF coach to get the best advice on the right suit style for you.
When it comes to manufacturers, the same applies as it does to FS – there are different benefits to all manufacturers so it’s worth looking around and speaking to a coach to find out if one manufacturer’s style is better suited to your needs.
Again, you could opt for a second hand suit if you’re not sure yet, and then invest more once you’re confident in your FF flying style and ambitions.
4. New suit or second hand?
You can choose to buy a brand new jumpsuit, the benefits of which include:
- Getting the perfect fit for you
- Getting the right materials for you
- Getting the right style for you
- Being able to choose your own colours and look to reflect your personality
Generally speaking, a new suit will cost you anything from around £200 upwards, depending on the manufacturer and the choices you make. Buying from a country like America will also incur import fees and should be considered in your calculations.
Having your own brand new suits means you can have it specifically made for you, as all suits are bespoke, and can therefore be confident in knowing you’re learning to fly with the best possible equipment.
With that said, it is possible to find a suit which fits you well but isn’t brand new – or you can adjust it. The second hand market in the UK is very strong and you can still get some really good deals – especially at places like Langar where teams tend to train a lot as a competitive team might invest in (or be sponsored with) new suits annually and therefore have good quality suits to sell.
When looking at second hand suits, don’t make assumptions about what will fit based on the body shape of the current owner. While it might seem logical that you’d need to find someone of the exact same proportions as yourself to be able to fit well into their suit, the reality is that a suit made for someone shorter that you, for example, might fit you well if your overall body shapes allow it – so if you find something that looks like it could be about right, it’s well worth trying it on, even if you’re not sure it will be perfect.
Always try on a second hand suit before buying it and, if the seller is happy for you to do so, try flying it in the sky/wind tunnel too. A coach or instructor will be happy to advise you on suit fit.
Luckily, skydivers are awesome people and we are a community that will typically speaking be very honest and genuine with one another, so it’s super unlikely anyone will try to sell you a ‘dud’ – expect second hand suits not to be perfect but also feel free to ask the seller if there are any areas that they believe need repair or will need repair soon. It is possible, and relatively easy thanks to jumpsuit manufacturer Tribe being based here at Langar, to get your jumpsuits repaired as needed.
5. To shoe goo, or not to shoe goo…
As an FS jumper, you may have heard ‘shoe goo’ being talked about. Shoe goo is a product which FS jumpers can use to protect the bottom of their booties from wear, making them less likely to be ripped or damaged when you’re wearing them while boarding the plane or, if you choose not to remove them under canopy (speak to an instructor about this), to stop them getting worn out from your landings.
Most FS jumpers will choose to use the shoe goo as a means of protection, but will also avoid walking around in their booties too much. Put them on just before you board the plane, then remove them again either under canopy (ask for a brief before doing this) or once they’ve landed (while obviously staying observant and safe in the landing area).
Some suit manufacturers recommend not using shoe goo at all, as the material of their booties is designed not to wear and shoe goo could do more harm than good. Ask your manufacturer or the person selling you the second hand suit if you’re unsure.
6. Where to go for a new / second hand suit
There are lots of options available to you when looking to buy a suit.
For new suits, go direct to the manufacturer by Googling the brand name and visiting their website. Alternatively, visit Langar’s on site shop Air Supply to buy through them.
For second hand suits, keep an eye out for notices on the notice board, see second hand suits in the shop, or check out Facebook Marketplace; groups like UK Skydiving Gear for Sale and Wanted and Skydiving Kit Sales are pretty good places to find what you need.
As with all things in skydiving, our coaches and instructors are always more than happy to help, so if you have any questions, concerns and just want to discuss options, catch one of us (when we’re not jumping of course). Enjoy!