Dan Guest, from the UK VFS team Omni 99, is our NZA Athlete answering this month’s questions for us. It’s all about buying skydive gear and he’s got a ton of advice for all you skydivers out there. Plus, we’ve got a video from the Chrisss on what equipment they jump and why. Read on for tips on buying skydive gear for your next adventure.
Tell us about yourself, Dan!
My parents met on a DZ, so I was born into the lifestyle and immediately hooked after my AFF jumping and travelling as much as I could. I’ve always been quite competitive so I quickly fell into putting a team together to do a Head-up only category in Freefly. Since then I’ve competed a lot in 2/4 way Dynamic in the tunnel and multiple disciplines in the sky. I like to mix it up a lot so focus changes year to year as to which discipline.
I’ve always enjoyed learning about canopy flight and did a couple of fun CP competitions. Then I got to put a jump on a friend’s Petra and instantly fell in love. I spent a couple years focusing on hop’n’pops and swooping and have been flying all things NZ Aerosports since!
What are you jumping at the moment? Rig, canopy, jumpsuit, helmet, etc.
Vector3 container, Leia 62 canopy, Cypres2 AAD, Vertical suits, Cookie G4/Fuel helmets, L&B altis.
What should our newer jumpers think about when buying skydiving gear for the first time? How did you go about buying your first ever skydiving gear?
It’s one of those subjects where everyone thinks what they have is best and will tell you to get that. In reality a lot is down to personal preference but what saved me a lot of money was I was told not to be too keen and rush out and buy everything new initially.
Skydive gear is like a car, it depreciates quite a lot early on and you’re more likely to go through equipment quicker in the early stages of your jumping career and whilst you decide what aspects you enjoy the most. By the time I was ready to buy new I had a good idea of what I liked and what I didn’t!
Any advice for purchasing second-hand skydiving gear? Is there a piece of skydiving equipment that is better bought second-hand or new?
If buying second hand, I’d always try to find something in person you can physically look over and get second opinions on first where possible rather than a random ad that looks cheap from abroad. This is more important for things that need a custom fit like containers/suits, I’ve often seen people stuck with something that doesn’t quite fit because they bought it blind. Even with other gear though, it might not always be quite the condition you expected if you don’t see it first as I found out!
What do you consider and think about when you are buying the ‘main parts’ of your skydiving equipment? Your canopy, container and reserve?
These are the most expensive purchases so I definitely always tried on lots of rigs at the DZ and made use of demo tours for canopies to try lots of things out. Canopies in particular, they all have such different characteristics it’s worth spending the time to find what suits you.
”A ‘friend’ once offered me a container at a price too good to be true because they no longer used it. I thought it would be perfect for a second rig I was trying to put together. After persisting with repeated pilot chute hesitation for a few more jumps than I should have and then finally a malfunction I spoke to them and found out that’s exactly why they were no longer using it. As with most things in life if it’s too good to be true it probably is!”
Read more: 10 Examples of Skydiving Mistakes
Do you have any tips for people buying skydiving gear who are outside the more popular sizes(smaller or larger)?
Being smaller this was often frustrating looking for second hand. On the flip side when something did come up it was usually a good price because the market was smaller. But particularly with suits sometimes biting the bullet and getting the perfect custom fitting one is going to be worth it for the difference it makes in the sky.
What has been your best purchase so far? And why?
A couple of contenders, not strictly skydiving gear but I feel the cold and jumping a lot in the UK. I bought the most amazing lightweight thermal fleece near the start of my jumping career. It still comes to the DZ with me all the time and must have about 5000 jumps! Other than that, Petra! In a discipline like CP canopy selection definitely makes a difference. I won the UK Nationals on my first competition with it and that was worth the price tag alone!
There are many ‘extras’ you can add-on to skydiving gear. What are the add-ons that you would choose?
A lot of these are personal preference and discipline specific, don’t be afraid to ask to see other people’s gear and find out the pros and cons. I’m a massive fan of sewn up non-adjustable leg straps, doing a lot of back to backs whilst team training, it saves all the faff of tightening and stowing them each jump whilst running to the plane but there are a lot of downsides and they won’t be great for most.
Have you made any ‘bad’ purchases? What should you not do when buying skydiving equipment?
I once bought a canopy from abroad, solid white. The pictures looked good but the advert said it had been jumped a few times in California (known to be dusty). The completely brown canopy I received flew great but it wasn’t winning any awards for aesthetics.
For those heading out and travelling around the world, going from boogie to boogie, is there any purchase that you could recommend for making it easier? What is the one piece of skydiving gear you can’t live without when you are travelling?
My logbook holder that I keep all my docs in, that always stays with me on the plane. If your bags get lost you can always borrow gear but you’re not going to get far without any docs!
And lastly, if there was one piece of advice you could give to someone buying skydiving equipment, what would it be?
Once you know the gear you need for your favourite discipline and you’ll be using it for a long time I’ve rarely heard anyone say they wish they hadn’t bought new custom gear. There’s nothing like opening the parcel of the design you spent months dreaming up!