This article appeared in its original form on pussfoot.com, a website for extreme-sports enthusiasts.
If you’re a northern jumper, winter gives you the opportunity to travel south, experience new DZs and get a break from the freezing weather. However, if you aren’t able to travel to warmer climates during the winter months, you’ll need to store your gear. Here are some tips to make sure your gear is in the best possible shape when you’re ready to jump again.
Unpack your main canopy, untwist the brake lines and loosely daisy chain the lines. As you do this, inspect the canopy for tiny holes you may have missed when packing during the season and check your lines for wear. This is also a great time to inspect all components of your main canopy and deployment bag. If your pilot chute is collapsible, check the kill line for wear and check that the colored indicator is not too faded. Inspect the pilot chute for tears, paying particular attention to the area where the handle attaches to it. Check all the metal components for nicks that could cause damage to fabric and webbing.
Make an appointment with your rigger for your next repack. It may not be due for months, but as soon as your DZ announces Safety Day, your rigger’s schedule will fill up quickly. When you talk to your rigger, discuss having your rig washed and waterproofed, which can help preserve its fabric. It’s usually not necessary to wash your rig every year; many riggers suggest doing so every other year unless the rig gets particularly dirty. This is also a good time to schedule additional work such as installing new leg-pad covers, which take time to receive if your rigger needs to order them from the manufacturer.
Store your gear on a rig rack, hanger or shelf in a dry, protected, climate- and humidity-controlled environment such as a closet. Newer rigs can generally withstand being hung up for long periods of time, while some older containers have riser covers that may warp if stored this way, preventing the tuck tabs from staying closed. Check with the manufacturer for their recommendation. This is also a good time to make sure you have photos of your gear, a copy of your reserve data cards and a record of all the serial numbers of your components and accessories, just in case your gear gets lost or stolen during the season.
The offseason—a common time for discounts and sales—is also a great time to update your gear before jumping starts again. You won’t want to make radical changes in canopy size or deployment method while you’re uncurrent or rusty, but if you need other items, take advantage of the seasonal savings.
Shauna Finley | D-34907 and FAA Master Rigger
USPA Eastern Regional Director