Pilot in Command – Take Control!
Flying a parachute confidently is far safer than being timid...
A brilliant solution for anyone carrying 10kg or more of weight!
Jumping with weight is like having periods – it really sucks but no-one talks about it!
Lighter jumpers, and those with a high area-to-mass ratio [long, gangly arms and legs] are fairly stuck with wearing weight for most FS jumps, unless they can find a team of similar body shape.
There are various styles and shapes of weight belts and vests. I’ve pretty well jumped them all. Recently, rigger Ted Farnsworth made me a weight belt that is unquestionably the most comfortable solution I’ve found for carrying large amounts of lead (10+kg). He’s not making the belts commercially, they require too much work to be practical – but I thought I would explain the concept in case anyone else round the world wants to run with the idea.
Most weight belts are just that – a wide belt that buckles round the waist, with pockets that can be filled with lead pouches. The problem is, for the body size that needs to wear most weight, it’s hard to carry over 7kg without the belt becoming very rigid, making it restrictive to fly in, and causing bruises on the hips. Most belts for small waists won’t take more than 9kg, so then you have to wear two, making it even more uncomfortable.
Ted’s weight belt is not a belt – it’s a pouch that clips onto the rings on your rig, sitting like a front-mounted reserve. My first impression when it arrived was that it was very beautifully crafted and clearly built to last. It comes with rings that you attach to the articulated rings on your harness, and then clip the weight pouch to them when you’re ready to go. It is very small and neat and at first I didn’t quite believe Ted’s claim I could get 22lbs in there – well I packed 24 lbs in and it wasn’t quite full!
There are many advantages to Ted’s method. The biggest, to me, was that I could do all my prep – dirtdiving, aircraft mock-ups, sorting out the exit order, etc – without the weight and just clip it on last minute, reducing strain and potential fatigue considerably. In the plane, although I had to sit carefully and arrange the pouch – I’m tempted to call it the Kangaroo – it felt much more comfortable than conventional weight belt, as it wasn't digging into me. In freefall the Kangaroo hangs freely, suspended from the rig, as you can see in the above photo. This means my body is completely free to move, useful for fast 4- and 8-way. It also means that, when I deploy, the extra force of the weight I’m carrying is transmitted to the harness, not the spine, reducing the opening shock on the body – something that over the years will make a difference to your body.
All in all, I absolutely love this solution. Kangaroo – I adore you!
I could only find one tiny disadvantage of this system. Normally when traveling I wear my weight belt round the airport, to avoid overpriced excess baggage charges, by my carry-on or hold bag being overweight. But with this design, it’s not possible. Still Ted is finding me a solution!
There is one other downside – Ted is not making the Kangaroo commercially. But, he is happy for anyone to copy the idea. Thanks Ted! You truly are one of the nicest guys on the planet!