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…
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…
At first, when we put our harness on the packing area, line the risers parallel to each other and tie the largest rings of your 3 ring system together with your pull-up. This will help ensure your packjob is symmetrical right from the start. You will be using your pull-up soon anyway, so why not use it from the beginning. I always recommend using a weight to secure the harness, especially on slippery ground. This will help you to set and retain the tension on the lines throughout your packing. My preference is to place the weight 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.
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 points (the shortest lines) should be on level, all B-Lines should be on level and so on…
When you square the slider ensure that all the grommets are on the same level and are up against the slider stoppers.
At this next point you need to pull out all the fabric from the stabilizers to prevent burns to the fabric and sort your steering lines into the middle to prevent a line over. However, instead of just pulling out the fabric and sorting the steering lines into the middle, concentrate on making it symmetrical, thus shaping the canopy from the outset in the shape you want to have later when laying it on the ground.
Firstly sort your steering lines into the middle, start with the middle two steering lines and then work your way to the last steering lines at the end of the canopy. Then, consecutively left and right, pull the stabilizers' fabric to the centre and you should end with something like in the picture. Always keep track of the grommets; they should still be level.
When wrapping the tail, the stitching on the centre line stiching should always be in the middle. (For cross braced canopies there are two centre line stichings, use the middle point between these as your centre reference.)
Check if your cells are still in position and quarter your slider symmetrically as shown in the photo.
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 ;)
Do not roll the tail too much! It’s enough to roll it 3-4 times, any more and you are in danger of losing the symmetry you have worked so hard to achieve.
Gently lay down your canopy, keeping the lines tensioned and the centre line stitching in the middle.
Place your canopy into your D-bag, ensuring that you maintain that symmetry! We all know the difficulty here, especially when you are new to packing, but you can ruin your previous work here if you don’t take care and just shove it in the bag any way you can. After closing your first line stow, your centre line stitching should still be, yes you guessed it, in the middle ;)
Stow all your lines as per normal but keep an eye on the symmetry of each stow whilst maintaining the line tension as you do so. Doing this helps ensure the stows play out evenly whilst in the deployment phase. Similarly remember to use the same kind and sizes of rubber bands. Do not mix Tube Stoes and rubber bands!
The last stow must leave some excess line from there to the links at your risers. A good rule of thumb is for the excess to be at least as long as the distance from your fingertip to your elbow.
Now you want to remove the pull-up from your 3-ring.
After sorting the risers into your harness, you need to stow that excess line at the bottom of the container. Just circle the lines into an 'O' as shown in the photo.
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 manufacturers’ manual on the internet, or ask someone who knows the system!
The length of the closure loop should be appropriate for the rig and the canopy inside. If you are not sure if the loop is the correct length: When the rig is packed try to push the pin back out through the loop with your thumb. If it slides out easily then chances are your loop is too long, if your thumb starts to hurt before the pin stays moves then chances are your loop is the correct length.
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!