Skydive Tips: Getting A Rig

If you’re a new skydiver, your A-license may feel like a great reason to shop for gear. But first, you need to do your homework. And this blog is the first step. Use it to get acquainted with the primary aspects of a rig, so you can start researching and refining the type of gear you want and need.  


Your reserve may be the least exciting, but most important part of your rig. When purchasing one, you need to think beyond squirrelly line twists and cutaways. Your reserve must be large enough to land you if for some reason you cannot land yourself.

For that reason, in an ideal world, you should install a reserve that’s one size larger than your main or, at the very least, the same size. If you’re concerned about space, you could look into a low bulk reserve but check with your rigger, as there are trade offs such as expense and, sometimes, a deployment that's less smooth.


This is the fun part with countless options based on how you want to fly—but not if you’re a new skydiver.

New skydivers need to limit themselves. Think conservative. Think safe. Think getting to the next level. Then get a main canopy that fits your wing-loading (1:1 or less) so you can land safely each time. Jump the hell of it, improve your canopy control, hone your skills THEN, when you’re ready, get the canopy that best fits the skydiving direction you want to take.

Skydive Videographer Under Canopy


Now that you know the size of the canopies that will go into your container, it’s time to choose the container itself. Virtually every container manufacturer publishes a volume chart. Locate your canopy and reserve size, and you’ll find the recommended container size.

If you’re buying a new container, the harness should be sized to your dimensions. If you’re buying a used one, make sure the original owner’s body type isn’t the opposite of your own. If the harness is too big or too small, it will impact jump comfort and if you have it re-sized may not make economic sense.


The Automatic Activation Device attaches to the interior of the reserve parachute container. Its job is to automatically deploy the reserve at a pre-set altitude, time, and percentage of terminal velocity. This small device is a vital, life-saving part of your rig and the most reputable manufacturers are Vigil and Cypress.

As we mentioned in a previous blog, if you’re a new skydiver, we strongly recommend renting gear until you have between 50 to 100 jumps under your belt. 

But if you can’t wait that long, please don’t rush off and buy gear on your own. Talk to your rigger, your coaches and experienced skydivers who have jumped with you. Get their advice on which products and sizes fit your skills best and will be safest for you.

If you have any questions about getting your first rig, contact our rigger, Ryan, at

This is #2 in a three-part series exploring gear for newly-licensed jumpers. Check out the others for insights on renting vs. buying and buying new vs. used gear.