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Gear Wisdom: Steering Lines

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Sixth Gear Wisdom article by Rezzan Aral Shiel…

Did you know you can replace your steering lines to get more use out of your current line set?

Twisted steering line

Lower steering lines

The lower steering lines, known as your excess-brake lines, usually wear before the rest of your line set. The reason is the way we stow the excess. With the twisted way we stuff the excess to the keeper behind the toggle, it gets a memory. Sometimes you get finger-trapping coming out (the end of the line coming through), which can be annoying. I sometimes see skydivers getting worried about this.

End of the steering line coming out of the finger-trapping

The photo below shows a very furry, fuzzy line that is the lower steering line of this canopy. You can look after this part of your gear very cheaply. Give it your rigger to just change the lower steering lines, to get a nice fresh look and remove the worries.

Worn fuzzy lower steering line

Upper steering lines

Twists in the lower steering line

The upper steering lines wear quicker than the rest of the lines as they get most of the opening shock. Steering lines are not anchored like suspension lines; therefore they wear out fastest and they get twisted easily, the friction on opening with the slider coming down makes them wear out faster than the others.

After each jump when we set our brakes, for one reason or another, we can put a twist in them. After landing, letting your toggles go free creates more twists in the lines. The twists build up in time and become too many, which shortens the line. Remember, the slider goes down on each opening creating heat! Imagine this heat going down on the twisted steering lines – yes, they get damaged more. The line gets more breakage, which weakens the line.

Twists in the steering lines can cause tension knot/slider hang-up malfunctions! They can cause turns and uncharacteristic openings on the canopy. It is recommended that the twists should be removed either at the end of each jumping day, or often enough before the line gets a memory where you could never take out this twist. This would be a good discipline to adopt. Try stowing your toggles to the keepers on the field after landing, you can set your brakes afterward.

When to replace your steering (brake) lines

If your steering lines show a bad memory, you cannot take the twists out, have more wear than the other lines and are shorter than the original length, you should replace them. This will give you more time to enjoy the rest of your line set and it will be cheaper maintenance.

How to take the twists out

Starting from the top of the canopy, one at a time find your steering lines and start walking down to the container, while taking the twist out. If the twist is going to the left, try twisting the line to the right and walk down the line while doing it. Towards the end/brake toggle you will get a bunch of twists. Set the toggle free and all the twists will run out. Now you can set your brake, then do the same on the other steering line. This reduces the chance of tension knot/slider hang-up malfunctions and increases the life of your steering lines.

Removing Twists

Words and gear photos by Rezzan Aral Shiel


Gear Wisdom Series

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Rezzy by Dave Head

All by Rezzan Aral Shiel, our lovely friendly rigger

Coming Soon

  • New Line Set – is it time?
  • BOC
  • Chest Strap
  • Reserve & Main canopy – what are the differences?
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Meet: Rezzan Aral Shiel

Rezzan Aral Shiel has been a professional packer and rigger for over 20 years. Her smiling face, impeccable organising skills, infectious laugh and calm personality make her a reassuring presence at major skydiving events worldwide. Rezzy packs brilliantly for all her athletes but is far more than a packer; she is a supportive, interested, empathic ally, who plays an important role in helping them achieve success. Rezzy rocks!

Owner/ President at Rezolutions LLC





Studied at Shaw Academy





Studied Life coaching at AVADO





Studied at Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi





Studied Technical drawing at 9 EYLUL UNIVERSITY (IZMIR-TURKEY)





Went to Karsiyaka Gazi Lisesi





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