Dress For Success

Last updated 17 Jan 2024

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Is what you wear while you skydive helping or hindering you? Written by Emma Jaber, APF Freefly Coach and member of Team Horizon Skydiving.

Learning to fly is possibly the most challenging skill you may attempt in your lifetime. You spend a lot of energy, time and funds investing in and developing your techniques. Before you go out to use more of that energy, time and money, here is something to consider.

Is what you wear while you skydive helping you or hindering you?

Emma Jaber in DNA Suit by Beau Kahler

Does your gear fit you?

There is nothing more distracting on a skydive than your shoes, helmet or even your container moving around on you during a jump. Simple things like double knotting shoe laces, using a neck buff to fill out your helmet, or investing in a belly band, are easy and simple solutions to help you keep your gear where you want it to be. Skydiving gear is expensive so buying second hand is necessary for most people. You just need to make sure it fits. Ask your local rigger or instructor to check how a container fits you before taking the plunge to purchase it. Reharnessing a container to your measurements is a great option to ensure a second hand container fits you.

What is your body type?

Are you small and light or long and heavy, or somewhere in between? There is only so much you can do to change your body size, but there is a lot you can do to change your fall rate on a skydive. Tighter clothes on a small person is going to give them less drag and allow them to fly faster. A baggy shirt is not the best clothing for a light weight person who wants to fly fast. However, a heavier human may need more loose fitting clothing to help them slow down. For certain skydives the use of weight can give even an average size person more range in their fall rate. Dressing for the success of your skydive is way cooler than looking cool and struggling on the jump.

What type of skydive are you doing?

Emma Jaber flying taken by Cameron Puttee

Consider the type of skydives you want to partake in and ensure you have the correct gear. Freefly and tracking jumps are some of the fastest vertical speed skydives you will do. If you want to explore this discipline you need to ensure that the container you are using is "freefly friendly". This means that the riser covers are tight, the BOC spandex is tight and a good fit for the pilot chute, the bridle is covered and tucked away, your closing loop is sufficiently tight and in good condition, the flaps (main and reserve) and the handles (cutaway and reserve) are secure, your AAD is on and finally, your main and reserve parachutes are a compatible size with your container (too big or too small could lead to premature or delayed deployments). Regardless of the type of skydive you are wanting to partake in, these components should always be checked to ensure a safe skydive.

Wingsuiting requires a more docile canopy (usually 7 cells instead of the traditional 9), a bigger pilot chute, longer bridle and your container should also have flat corners to help the deployment of the main parachute. Consult a coach or instructor, who is an expert in the discipline you want to pursue, about the necessary gear you require.

Emma Jaber wingsuit

Another important thing to consider on your type of skydive is whether you are going to be altitude aware? Most skydives after your Certificate A will be with more than one other person. During this move towards group flying or different types of skydiving (such as freeflying, tracking and wingsuiting), audible altimeters are highly recommended in addition to your visual altimeters, to ensure a safe break off and deployment. And why use only one audible altimeter, when the second one may save your life? It's important to be aware that fast skydives can make it harder to hear your audible. Many skydivers choose to use two audible altimeters for extra warnings and in case one audible fails. Essentially, you need to make sure you are always altitude aware! Remember your visual altimeter must be securely mounted so that it can be read without difficulty throughout the descent (OR7.1.5(a)(ii)).

Are you being consistent?

How are you going to nail that perfect exit when every time you skydive you’ve got a different outfit on? Flying the same material each skydive allows you to become familiar with the inputs you need to get you where you want to go. Wearing a suit is one of the easiest ways to keep one variable consistent on your skydives. Most suits are custom made to your measurements and can be worn in the sky and indoor tunnel. If wearing jeans is your thing, then make sure you wear them every time. Consistency is key.

Finally, don’t borrow gear that doesn’t fit you! If it doesn’t fit you, don’t wear it. Set yourself up for success by ensuring what you wear is serving you.

About the Author

Emma Jaber is an APF Freefly Coach and member of Team Horizon Skydiving. Emma is based in Western Australia and travels around Australia and internationally as a skydiving coach.

If you would like to submit an article, or have a topic request for the APF Blog, please email blog@apf.com.au

 [Photo Sources: Beau Kahler, Cameron Puttee, Artour ‘AK’ Kolesnikov]

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