Skydiving Gear Maintenance

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You’re a proper jumper. Your gear bag is filled to the hilt with absolutely everything you need to have a great day/week/month/season of skydiving. But how can you make sure you're gear stays in good condition? Whether you're a new jumper or you've been at it for years, it's always a good idea to think about about maintenance, especially as some of us head into the winter season or start migrating to warmer climates for events. 

Let’s get the easy one out of the way first. Reserve repack cycles. This subject has been the topic of debate for almost as many years as there have been reserves.  A bunch of years back when the subject of stretching the cycle out more was on the table, they did a test. They took military reserves that had been packed and sealed away from the elements for more than 10-20 years and put them to the test against reserves that were packed the same day. What they found was really cool!

The reserves packed away for longer periods of time opened only slightly slower than the ones packed that very same day. A reserve that opens faster dramatically increases jumpers' confidence in their equipment and the test helped lobby for what is now the official repack cycle per the Federal Aviation Administration -  180 days, or six months. Does that mean you should always wait that long? Probably not if you took a swim in the pond or had a nasty tumble on landing, but it does mean that you can’t go any longer than 180 days before your rig is considered un-airworthy.

How often should you be cleaning your cutaway and reserve cables? How about replacement of your pilot chute or Line-sets on your Canopies? Well, with these types of items, the answers are a bit more subjective. 

It really depends on how you are jumping. Are you at the DZ almost every day or maybe just a weekend warrior? You also have to take in consideration the type of environment you are jumping in. Are you spending your time landing on lush green grass or is it desert sands? Is it a dry environment or is it quite humid?

In the dry dusty spots, there’s no doubt that all of the maintenance your rig will require is going to come up more often. There is simply no doubt that gear wears out faster when exposed to areas with strong ultra-violet rays and sand or fine dust. The kind of thing that can work its way not just inside your housings, but in the cloth itself where it will wear down pilot chutes, lines, canopy fabric and even the container and harness itself. Constant detailed gear inspections will help you keep on top of any potential problems because as you know, gear checks are an absolute must

How about humid spots? Moisture can become a problem as well, allowing the formation of mold and mildew that can not only cause problems with cables and housings, but deep within the reserve itself if your equipment is subjected to these conditions for too long.

If you’re jumping all the time, you’ll be replacing things at a faster pace than you will be if you’re on a bit more of a relaxed pace, with line-sets, pilot chutes and even canopies topping that list.

In the end, your best bet is to get friendly with your rigger and ask their opinion about your specific equipment. Age doesn’t necessarily mean a piece of equipment is either bad or good, and a rigger is the best person to ask when it comes to repair or replacement. Regardless, stay on top of maintaining your equipment and take care of it, and it will continue to take care of you.

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