BASE Safety: Magnet Bridles & Bridle Routing

Recently an Apex customer shared a story with us that we think is worth rebroadcasting. To paraphrase, it went something like this:

“I was on exit setting up my handheld jump and discovered I was unable to mate my magnet bridle to the magnet on my top flap, as I normally do. I messed with it for a few minutes until I asked a friend for help to see what was going on. Turns out that I had my bridle mis-routed around my lateral which is why the magnet wasn’t able to reach it’s usual spot…”

“A jump with that bridle routing would have certainly been fatal, and I’m not sure I’d have caught the mis-routing if it weren’t for the magnet bridle.”

To us, there is one very loud and clear message here: EXIT POINT GEAR CHECKS!

Do them at every exit, and never be afraid to be the first one to ask for a gear check. They save lives.

That said, once we heard this story it made us curious as to which mis-routed bridle configurations the use of a magnet bridle would indicate. Here’s what we found.

First, let’s start with the proper bridle routing:

A magnet bridle, properly routed for a handheld jump. — by Apex BASE
A magnet bridle, properly routed for a handheld jump. — by Apex BASE

Next let’s look at two mis-routings involving the lateral, as was the case in the story above:

This bridle is mis-routed around, and then under the lateral. — by Apex BASE
This bridle is mis-routed around, and then under the lateral. — by Apex BASE
This bridle is mis-routed under, and then around the lateral. — by Apex BASE
This bridle is mis-routed under, and then around the lateral. — by Apex BASE

We also found this mis-routing which would NOT be indicated by the magnet bridle:

This mis-routing would NOT be indicated by the use of a magnet bridle. — by Apex BASE
This mis-routing would NOT be indicated by the use of a magnet bridle. — by Apex BASE

It is important to once again reiterate that a magnet bridle is not a “cure-all” for mis-routed bridles. As shown above it is possible for the magnets to properly mate in at least one improper configuration. However we are encouraged to see that some of the more common handheld bridle routing errors are indicated through the use of a magnet bridle, and we know of at least one case where a life may have been saved because of this technology. From what we can tell, the following are all ways to help prevent bridle routing errors:

  1. Proper education and training.
  2. Gear checks.
  3. Magnet Bridles.

Multiple manufacturers offer this technology, and most old BASE containers can be modified for use with a magnet bridle.

If your container is not affixed with a top flap magnet you can buy a conversion kit HERE, which is compatible with most common BASE containers. This is an easy installation which can be done by the manufacturer, or a local rigger.

Oh yeah, and don't forget: EXIT POINT GEAR CHECKS!