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Soft Links – Happies and Horrors

Slinks front, correctly assembled&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;by <a href='https://skydivemag.smallteaser.com/user/rezzan.shiel' class='captionLink'>Rezzan Aral Shiel</a>
Slinks front, correctly assembled — by Rezzan Aral Shiel
Slinks, back view, correctly assembled&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;by <a href='https://skydivemag.smallteaser.com/user/rezzan.shiel' class='captionLink'>Rezzan Aral Shiel</a>
Slinks, back view, correctly assembled — by Rezzan Aral Shiel
Slinks side view, correct, with the tab neatly tucked away in the riser top&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;by <a href='https://skydivemag.smallteaser.com/user/rezzan.shiel' class='captionLink'>Rezzan Aral Shiel</a>
Slinks side view, correct, with the tab neatly tucked away in the riser top — by Rezzan Aral Shiel

Soft links – What a great invention! Remember the metal links we used before? Yes, they have done a good job all these years, but they were heavy, bulky and you could feel reserve links from your backpack. Main connector links have given some scares to skydivers by breaking or bending. They have had their time in the sport, they can go on the shelf and rest in peace.

Now, the question is, soft links/slinks, are they better? Well, of course they are better. PD designed and patented the SLink, which other companies have drawn inspiration from. You can get soft links for main and reserve parachutes as well as tandem canopies.

Benefits of soft links

  • They are more durable
  • They are re-usable
  • They reduce potential damage to the slider grommets, which then gives a longer life span on suspension lines
  • You don’t need a tool to install or remove them
  • They are not bulky/heavy.
  • They make the slider easier to drop down
  • They are easier to pack with

Patent

PD patented SLinks on January 2000, if you are interested you can check the link here

How to install Slinks correctly, by PD

Considerations

When using soft links please consider this:

1 Riser covers

You don’t actually have to use the slink riser covers that come with your soft links. However, if you are not using covers, the slink tabs need to be tacked. Make sure that slinks are able to move up and down slightly, after they are tacked. There have been incidents where a loose slink tab caught a line on the opening of the main canopy and caused a spinning malfunction. We want to eliminate the possibility of an incident before it happens.

Aerodyne soft link (older design), correctly assembled&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;by <a href='https://skydivemag.smallteaser.com/user/rezzan.shiel' class='captionLink'>Rezzan Aral Shiel</a>
Aerodyne soft link (older design), correctly assembled — by Rezzan Aral Shiel
Aerodyne's ALinks (newer design), correctly assembled&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;by <a href='https://skydivemag.smallteaser.com/user/rezzan.shiel' class='captionLink'>Rezzan Aral Shiel</a>
Aerodyne's ALinks (newer design), correctly assembled — by Rezzan Aral Shiel

2 Set in shape

Once installed set the slinks in the correct shape by pulling/tagging/squeezing before tacking.

3 Read the instructions

There are different types of soft links out in the market but they all work in a very similar way. If you are not sure what you are doing and have never seen that soft link before, check the manufacturer’s instructions, they are not all the same. For example, Aerodyne’s old soft link tabs are round metal, they are not full soft links. Please note that Aerodyne now has new links which are called A-Links, which are very similar to PD and Icarus’s soft links

Links to Manuals

You can find all the manuals required online very easily these days:
PD SLinks
Aerodyne (Older) Soft Links
Aerodyne New 'A' Links
Icarus Soft LINKS

4 Always check, never assume

If you are not competent and comfortable, never assume that you have done it correctly and install the canopy without checking the manual. The consequences could be very serious. I have found couple of main parachutes with the soft links assembled incorrectly after the owner had done 200 jumps on them – very lucky that no incident occurred. The owner whose reserve soft links were not installed correctly was not a happy chap and was very scared (as he should be). See photos below:

Links WRONGLY assembled

PD Slink, WRONGLY assembled&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;by <a href='https://skydivemag.smallteaser.com/user/rezzan.shiel' class='captionLink'>Rezzan Aral Shiel</a>
PD Slink, WRONGLY assembled — by Rezzan Aral Shiel
PD Slink, WRONGLY assembled&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;by <a href='https://skydivemag.smallteaser.com/user/rezzan.shiel' class='captionLink'>Rezzan Aral Shiel</a>
PD Slink, WRONGLY assembled — by Rezzan Aral Shiel
Aerodyne soft link, WRONGLY assembled&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;by <a href='https://skydivemag.smallteaser.com/user/rezzan.shiel' class='captionLink'>Rezzan Aral Shiel</a>
Aerodyne soft link, WRONGLY assembled — by Rezzan Aral Shiel
Aerodyne soft link, WRONGLY assembled&nbsp;&mdash;&nbsp;by <a href='https://skydivemag.smallteaser.com/user/rezzan.shiel' class='captionLink'>Rezzan Aral Shiel</a>
Aerodyne soft link, WRONGLY assembled — by Rezzan Aral Shiel

5 Inspect regularly

As with all parts of your gear, your soft links do wear and tear. They should be inspected regularly and replaced if necessary. If you don’t know what you are looking for, ask a rigger.

Have fun and stay safe!

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