Slider Stowage

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Pete Allum runs through everything you could ever want to know about your slider…

  • What’s it for?
  • When should you start collapsing it?
  • Why jump a removable slider?
  • How to collapse or remove the slider
Stowing your slider improves canopy performance but you must be aware of traffic
Photo by Pete Allum

Let’s start by looking at why we have that rectangle of nylon above our heads…

Slider function

Back in the days before colour TV, ram-air parachute manufacturers tried a number of different techniques to slow the openings down. Without some help these wings wanted to crack open pretty dang fast (watch a slider-down BASE opening), causing severe injuries to the operator on all terminal jumps.

After playing with a number of designs, the slider became the easiest and safest option. The slider’s job is to keep the canopy in a semi-open state, rather than allowing it to slam fully open then, after there is pressure on the lines from above, the slider obeys its name and slithers down the lines.

Slider drawbacks

Once the slider has fulfilled its purpose it can become a nuisance; it flaps irritatingly in your ears, blocks your vision, creates drag (therefore reducing speed and potential for lift) and on smaller wings can distort the shape of the wing. 

On a larger canopy designed for a student, the slider can happily sit flapping away at the top of the risers for a few jumps while you deal with the higher priorities of surviving. On heavier loaded, high-performance wings, the slider grommets can also damage the lines in this position.

Slider Management Level 1 – Collapsing it

When should you start to think about collapsing your slider?

Once you have graduated from your course and are ready to take more control of your canopy, you may notice that there are two bits of string hanging out of the back of the slider, don’t worry if you don’t see them, not all canopies have them. If you do see them, grab the ends of the string and pull until the little barb stops it from going back in, therefore keeping the slider collapsed. This will reduce the distraction and some of the drag.

If you have no slider bumpers (or little black hats – for slinks), the slider may annoy you as it keeps wanting to slide down towards your toggles.

You should be able to pull the drawstrings and collapse the slider, whilst you are fully aware of your surroundings and altitude (TAP). Please only try this on a solo jump with plenty of time to practise.

Congratulations, you just chose to become more in control of your wing!

Level 2 – Slider down the risers

The next stage of slider management may not be necessary for you and your wing, for example if you are jumping a 1.1 or lighter loaded wing and/or participate in big-way events that require 100% focus after opening to avoid traffic, even pulling on the drawstrings can be challenging.

The next possible step; some of you may decide to jump a more heavily loaded, or higher-performance wing at some point in your career and, as mentioned previously, the slider can reduce the performance of that wing, especially if it is up at the end of the risers, resting on the slinks.

This step needs to be practised on the ground with your open canopy: Slide the slider grommets over the rear slinks (if you cannot, do not proceed to the next step) and over your set brakes, without dislodging the toggles or getting entangled in your spare brake line, then pull the front grommets down so that you now have your slider resting in the V of the risers, now do it 10 more times!

When you first try this in the air, I highly recommend a solo jump, a hop n pop or higher pull, so that you can struggle on your own rather than being a danger to others, you may even abandon the first attempt and have to practise more on the ground.

Yay, level 2! So what do you do with that slider now that it is resting behind your head? Some of you will find that it sits quietly and comfortably in place, others will find that it annoyingly keeps wanting to pop back up the risers 🤷🏽‍♂️. The reason for this can be the fit of your rig, position of the 3 rings or some other random cause, if that is the case, you may need to run to the nearest virtual or real DZ store to make a purchase: the slider keeper.

I could write a complete article about this small and unassuming accessory but I’ll try not to bore you. The idea of the keeper is to keep your slider down in the V of the risers but it has to achieve that without becoming a liability. I know of at least 2 fatalities that have been caused by this little addition, so please check with your instructor, rigger or canopy coach, someone that you trust with your life, that you have the correct piece of kit that you are about to put on your rig. 

Here are the requirements:

  • It should hold the slider in place
  • It should not be a snag hazard
  • It should detach if it has become snagged

On heavily loaded high-performance wings, a slider that stays up over the lines will damage the lines and potentially make the canopy uncontrollable, as well as all the other potential dangers that come with jumping heavily loaded high-performance wings (I’m talking here of canopies like the Valkyrie, Leia, HK etc at a 2.0 or more WL).

Now that you have attached your ‘approved’ keeper, please consider a solo jump to get comfortable with the procedure, rather than the equivalent of tying your shoelace whilst driving down a busy highway on a motorbike.

Photos by Javier ‘Buzz’ Ortiz, courtesy of Performance Designs

Level 3 – Removable slider

Now for level 3… As I mentioned previously, you may not even feel the need to go beyond a simple collapse of the slider using the drawstrings but some of us feel the urge to generate more speed and jump more high-performance wings, if that is your path, your next step could be a removable slider. These devices must be approved by the canopy manufacturer and have to slow the deployment down without accidentally becoming detached. They also need to be assembled by you prior to packing, rather than handing everything to your packer to deal with. Removable sliders can be assembled incorrectly and can cause a malfunction; again, ask your local canopy coach to show you the procedure.

With the addition of this new piece of gear you will also need to find somewhere to stow the thing after you have removed it. If you are a canopy pilot that is focussing on performance and landing, you will probably already have a pair of fancy swoop pants, these will have a handy pocket for you to stash your slider, alternatively you can unzip your jump suit and pop it in there. One other option is to stuff it quickly in your t-shirt and then watch open-mouthed, as it slips away under canopy and you lose your new $400 slider. Of course I have never done that! 😉 

Stashing the slider in the swoop pants’ pcoket
Photo shows Allison Reay, courtesy of PD

Level 4 – RDS (Removable Deployment System)

Now for the fourth and final level in this game, that you may choose never to play…

Let’s say that you have over 1,000 jumps on a non-cross-braced canopy, you have been getting regular coaching and you have transitioned to one of the newer shapes of wing that is going to get you ready to start training for your first CP competition… Or perhaps you are about to start flying XRW. As I said this path is not for many, only a small percentage of canopy pilots choose this route.

A full RDS system removes the whole deployment system, including the pilot chute
Photo shows Allison Reay, courtesy of PD

Your next step would be a full RDS, this is going to remove even more drag from your tiny canopy allowing you to eke out longer recovery arcs and faster speeds. It is also even harder to deal with during packing and removal in flight, so please speak with someone that has done this thousands of times and get a solid briefing!

Tip Tuesday: RDS

Performance Designs athlete Allison Reay shows how to assemble, remove and store your RDS – as an overview only, this does not replace a briefing

Slider stuck?

Depending upon where you jump, your lines may wear more quickly; think dusty, dirty environments. This wear on the lines can also make it harder for your slider to come down. The constant rubbing of the slider grommets on those lines will damage them even further; if in doubt have a rigger look at your line set. Bonus: A new line set can make your canopy feel almost new again!


Here are some key points on sliders:

  • We absolutely need them on our skydiving canopies.
  • On most canopies you don’t need to mess with them to have decent control.
  • They can be distracting.
  • They do create drag.
  • They can distort a smaller wing.
  • If you are going to collapse, bring down or remove your slider, practise on the ground and then try it on a solo jump first.
  • If you are practising stalls, leave your slider above the links (you can still collapse it).
  • If you do not have clear Traffic, sufficient Altitude or are not in the right Position, do not waste time messing with your slider.
A full RDS (no slider, pilot chute or bag) is ideal for XRW
Photo: author Pete Allum (canopy pilot) with Dani Roman (WS pilot), by Puro Skydive


  • WL – Wing Load, ratio of suspended weight to canopy size
  • RDS – Removable Deployment System; this can be as simple as just the slider, or could incorporate the bridle, bag and pilot chute.
  • XRW – Xtreme Relative Work, pilots with tiny, heavily loaded canopies flying with wingsuiters
  • CP – Canopy Piloting, we are all canopy pilots, but this is also the name of the discipline more commonly known as swooping.
  • TAP – Traffic, Altitude, Position; checks to be done before any manoeuvre under canopy 

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Meet: Pete Allum

36,000+ jumps
FS and CP national teams, world meet podium in both disciplines.
Flight-1 coach
FS indoor/outdoor coach
Baby free flyer

Pete is proud to be sponsored by UPT, PD, Cookie, Cypres, L&B and Sonic Flywear

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