As we return from the landing area, with smiles all over our faces because we had an awesome skydive, it is already time to prepare for our next jump…
Packing our canopy
Having a great skydive is not only about having great flying skills, but also about your packjob. The care and attention you put into packing can also make the difference between a good jump and a bad jump. Hard, violent or off-heading openings can cause injury and be a factor in collisions. So, instead of rushing to get that that piece of fabric into the container, take your time and, most importantly, keep an eye on the symmetry of your packjob. A perfect opening is symmetrical, so packing evenly gives your canopy the best chance of an ideal deployment.
This is NOT a packing tutorial; however, bearing in mind that symmetry – of our body position on deployment and our packjob – affects our opening, this article will concentrate on how we keep our packjob symmetrical.
So, let’s start our pro-pack…
Lining it up
At first, when we put our harness on the packing area, line the risers parallel to each other. Some people prefer to tie the largest ring of the 3-ring system together with a pull-up cord to keep the risers parallel at all times. You would know where your pull up is when it’s time to close your rig 🙂 I suggest using a weight to secure the harness, especially on slippery ground. This will help you to set and retain tension on the lines throughout your packing. I would not recommend putting weight in the main container. The weights we use at the DZs are old plastic bottles, rusty weights and so on. I suggest using weight on the outside of the yoke of your rig or you can put both leg straps over a weight. However if you are using your own weight belt, go ahead and keep it in the main container.
While checking your lines and going towards the canopy, check your cascades. Both the left and right hand sides should line up parallel with each other.
Line Group Attachment Points
When the canopy hangs in front of you, make sure that the attachment points for all the line groups are lined up symmetrically on both sides. All A-line attachment point should be on level, all B lines should be on level and so on… we want to place all A, B, and C lines on top of each other as close as we can, and keep the symmetry on both right and left side.
Squaring The Slider
When you square the slider ensure that slider has been divided equally on left/right/front and back of the canopy. And all the grommets are on the same level and are up against the slider stoppers. We want the relative wind to catch the slider; placing the slider correctly will reduce hard openings.
Position The Steering Lines & Stabilizers
At this point you need to make sure your steering lines are clear from fabric. You don’t want any line burns on your canopy. Then you want to position them into the middle of your canopy, just on the side of your slider. Repeat the process on the other side of the canopy too. Make sure your stabilizers are clear and left where they are. Now you are ready to wrap the tail.
Some people prefer to turn the stabilizers to the centre, to give them a solid mass of fabric to get hold of, making it easier to control the canopy for placing on the ground. If you are using this technique on your packing, please make sure you know where the slider grommets are, they are still level and slider has not moved. You are still in charge of the packing.
Wrapping The Tail
When wrapping the tail, make sure you are not disturbing your lines by pulling around the tail and make sure the centre stitch on the centre cell (where the warning label is) in the middle. (For cross-braced canopies there are two centre line stitchings, use the middle point between these as your centre reference)
Check your Cells & Quarter the Slider
Check if your cells are still in position and make sure your slider hasn’t moved and is still quartered symmetrically as shown in the photo.
Rolling The Tail
Before rolling the tail, make sure that the centre line stitching is still in the middle and the other stitching lines up symmetrical on each side, stitching on stitching 😉
Be careful to avoid rolling the tail too much. You don’t want to move the lines towards you by rolling too much, killing the canopy and undoing all your hard work by moving the lines.
Laying the Canopy Down
Gently lay down your canopy, keeping the line tension and the centre line stitching is still in the middle. A tip for this is when laying down the canopy try putting it further away from you, not just putting it down in front of you.
Placing the Canopy into the D-bag
Place your canopy into your D-bag, ensuring that you maintain the symmetry. We all know the difficulty here, especially when you are new to packing, but you can ruin your previous work if you don’t take care and just shove it in the bag any way you can. Do your best to make sure the centre line stitching is in the middle of the D-bag.
Stowing The Lines
Stow all your lines as per normal but make sure you keep the tension on the lines and each bite is same size as the other (3 fingers/2 inches) and you have double stowed all your rubber bands. Continue the symmetry on your pack job; do not mix double and single stows, this can give you an out-of-sequence opening, line twist, or malfunction. Don’t use different sizes or types of rubber bands; old mixed with new, or some normal bungees and some tube stoes.
The Last Stow
The last stow must leave some excess line from there to the links at your risers. You should leave excess of 12-18inches – or as long as the distance from your fingertip to your elbow.
Removing the pull-up
Now it is a good time to remove your pull-up if you used one to keep your lines parallel.
Stowing the Excess Lines
After sorting the risers into your harness, excess line should be S-folded into the bottom of the container. Some people find it easer to stow the excess line turning it into an ‘O’ and leaving at the bottom of the container.
Closing The Container
Close the container in the correct closing sequence for your harness, making sure to route the bridle correctly. If you are not sure about the closing sequence because you borrowed the rig from your friend:
Check the manufacturer’s manual on the internet, or ask someone who knows the system.
Closing Loop Length
The length of the closing loop should be appropriate for the rig and the canopy inside. You can check the manual of your rig to find out the correct length of closing loop. An ‘old school’ quick check is to push the pin back out through the loop with your thumb after you packed your rig fully. If it slides out easily then the chances are your loop is too long.
Good to Go!
Now you are ready to go and with the knowledge that you have done everything packing-wise to ensure a good stable opening.
Have fun and enjoy your skydive!
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