Important Tandem Skydiving Equipment | Skydive Jersey


Important Tandem Skydiving Equipment

The tandem skydiving experience is one like no other. Many bucket list jumpers who plan to skydive “just once” eventually become long-time veterans, returning to the drop zone again and again. Whether an inaugural leap or your 1000th dive, the equipment you use plays a vital role in the overall experience. Safety, style, comfort, and utility are all important aspects to consider when evaluating and choosing skydiving equipment.


Skydiving parachutes are commonly called “canopies”. The pioneers of the sport used rounded canopies, but that shape sharply limited both safety and maneuverability. The rectangular-shaped canopies of today are much easier to steer and provide a smoother and safer experience for the skydiver.

Made of low or zero porosity nylon, most canopies are comprised of seven or nine “cells.” Shapes vary according to the tapering at the corners of the rectangular base. Slightly tapered corners are “semi-elliptical,” while a more pronounced taper is termed “elliptical.” The level of porosity, number of cells, and canopy shape can influence smoothness of deployment, ease of packing, and overall aerodynamics, among other factors.

For skydiving parachutes, canopy size, typically provided in square footage, is one important consideration in choosing a canopy. Obviously, the larger the canopy, the more weight it can accommodate. Using a large canopy for a particularly light person could result in a much longer descent.

Conversely, using a smaller canopy for a larger person will not slow them down as much or as quickly, which can result in injury. This is why, when you are learning to skydive, you start with a relatively large canopy. As you gain more experience and improve your skills, you can move to a smaller canopy. A tandem canopy is typically 330 square feet, while an experienced jumper may use a canopy as small as 96 square feet!


A common question of first-time skydivers involves clothing. What to wear skydiving will depend on weather conditions, your level of experience, and your goal for the jump. For first-time tandem jumpers, the focus should be on comfort. Choose clothing that does not restrict your movement and is warm enough for anticipated temperatures at altitude. Also make sure that you do not wear anything that you are afraid to get dirty. Ordinary sneakers are fine, as are any close-toed athletic shoes. Avoid flip flops, slip-ons, or other footwear that aren’t firmly secured to your foot as well as boots. While boots do well to support your ankles when your feet hit the ground firmly and evenly, they can do more harm than good if you come in at an angle.

For experienced skydivers who are wondering what to wear while skydiving, you may want to consider jumpsuits or wingsuits. Jumpsuits are available in a wide variety of styles, and some are designed with specific functions in mind (e.g., those used by videographers). They resemble the suits worn by race car drivers and are typically nylon-based.

Wingsuits are a specialty item worn by some experienced divers. The increased surface area of the suit allows for more lift, increased flight time, and greater horizontal distance covered. They are sometimes called “squirrel suits” or “birdman suits”, which is an apt description of their appearance, as the suit includes two arm wings that are attached to the torso, as well as a wing between the legs. Contrary to popular belief, wingsuits are not used to replace canopies.


Altimeters are essential pieces of skydiving equipment. Both analog and digital versions are used. Altimeters provide the skydiver with audio and/or visual cues that alert him or her to current altitude and the appropriate time to deploy the canopy.

Ready For Your Tandem Skydiving Experience?

There is many more equipment that can be implemented in a skydive, but this has covered some of the most commonly used pieces. When you come in for your next skydive, your instructor will be happy to answer any questions you may have about your equipment. To start your tandem skydiving experience, give us a call at 866-669-3020 to book today!


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