“How come you guys don’t jump in the winter?”
My first response to this question is invariably – BRRRRR!!!!! And then I give a horrid look as if I’ve been frozen to death. Ok, so maybe it’s not quite THAT bad, but it’s certainly cold this time of year. With altitude gain comes temperature loss, it’s an irritatingly inverse situation that gives us fair weather skydivers the “can’t come out and play today blues”. You can expect an earnest 3.5 degree drop in temperature for every 1,000 ft of altitude you gain.
Let’s put that temperature loss into perspective.
Today, December 29, 2011, the HIGH temp was 33 degrees F. Had we tempted fate today, at the warmest part of the day, we would have stepped off of the airplane into a balmy -2 Degree F environment. Toss on a mild 120mph wind chill and now you’re playing with frosty fire 😉 !! Let’s not even talk about what the temperature at exit altitude would have been in the early morning or late evening. I’m chilly just thinking about it.
Dressing for those times when we DO skydive in the winter.
Of course, that isn’t to say that we don’t occasionally skydive in cold temperatures in the early spring or late fall, those months can harbor chilly days too. It’s those cold days in March and November that force us to drag out the “cold gear”. A healthy, multi-layer, false-skin sandwich consisting of Under Armour top and bottom, synthetic long johns, jeans, two shirts and a wind-breaking jacket pretty much keep your trunk warm. But the trunk of your body is not really the most vulnerable in near zero jumping conditions. It’s the face, hands and feet that will really remind you it’s cold outside.
For my feet I use nothing but a synthetic, wool blended, high-rise sock (Smart Wool Rocks!) when I skydive in cold weather. I make sure that the socks are pulled as high over my Under Armour layer as possible leaving no possibility for exposed skin when I’m moving around in the plane or in free-fall. I keep my socks covered with a pair of throw back Vans.
While perhaps not the most insulated shoe, the fact that it’s not meshed like a sporting shoe makes it perfect for breaking the wind. And lacking an abrasive high-grip sole means it won’t break my ankle when sliding while landing. Win-win.
When it comes to gloves on a tandem skydive there are two perspectives to consider.
As instructor of the tandem jump one can’t wear just any glove. We wish it were that easy. Instead we have to strike a balance between protection from the elements and maintaining the ability to have fine motor control and precise manipulation of the parachute’s components and emergency handles. The instructor has to sacrifice a little bit of comfort to ensure a greater margin for safety on the skydive. So be nice to your instructor because he’s got cold fingers for your well being 😉
From the students perspective it’s all about comfort and warmth without the need to manipulate parachute controls or handles. This drastically increases the number of glove options. Any half decent, ultra-thick glove will get the job done. If you look like Ralphie’s brother from A Christmas Story, you’re doing it right.
My opinion is that these are the most important parts to keep toasty. Nothing detracts more from an awesome skydive and breathtaking scenery like a throbbing nose and stinging ears. I like my attention to be focused on the good stuff.
Take a page from the book of the Inuit and bundle that head up. I don a synthetic balaclava and cap it with a synthetic fur lined hat. No cold, no how. Check it.
If you have any questions about the perfect time to skydive give us a call and let’s figure out what will work best for you.