Skydiver Tips: Used vs. New Gear

Used or New Gear?

You’re done with renting gear, and ready to move on to purchasing your own. You’ve talked with your mentors, coaches and rigger, you’ve done your research, you know what you want and what you need. The next step is making the investment and figuring out what you can buy used, what you must buy new. Here are some tips to help you on your way.

If it’s your first set of gear, buy used. Why? You’ll probably only use this gear for the first 100 jumps or so, after which you’ll have a better idea of the style of jumping you prefer, and the gear you need to do it. Plus, new jumpers tend to be a bit harder on their gear.  Besides, this is the time to put your money into honing your skydiving skills. Don't be gear rich, and experience poor. 

Of course, there are some aspects of skydiving gear that you really should buy new if possible. The following explores the benefits of new gear vs. used, and gives you some important tips for making sure you're getting the gear you need.

What you can buy used. What you should buy new.

AAD: Used or new, it doesn’t really matter. However, since AADs expire faster than other gear, it’s harder to find used ones, which means they're also pricey. 

Reserve: You can save a lot of money here by buying used.  As a rule, reserve parachutes don’t get used very often, and even if they’re ten years old, they tend to be in good condition.  

Used Reserve Check List

  • Are there holes, patches or repairs
  • Does it have less than five rides
  • Is it less than 15 years old

If you see any repairs that have been or need to be made, you can send it back to the factory be checked out before you make the purchase. A thorough inspection by your rigger is always a good idea, too.

If you opt to buy used, it’s best to make sure the reserve has less than five rides, and is less than 15 years old. Of course, make sure there are no holes, patches or repairs. If it does, see if you can send it back to the factory to be checked out before you make the purchase.

Main: If your budget allows you buy a new main, that’s great. If not, look for one with as few  jumps as possible. After all, this is the chute you’ll use nearly all of the time, and you want to be able to put a lot of jumps on it.

Used Main Check List

  • Has it been jumped more than 200 times?
  • Is it the original lines?
  • Where was it jumped?
  • Was it jumped seasonally or all year long?

The answers to these questions will help you determine if you this is the main for you. The most important tip is to make sure your rigger checks it out before the purchase; consider sending it back to the factory to be checked as well.

Harness/Container: Used is the way to go. Newer jumpers tend to not land on their feet and trust us, scuffing up a used harness won’t hurt as much as marring a new one!  The trick is to find the right-sized container for your main and your reserve, and the right harness for your body.

HOWEVER, if you fall outside of the “average” body type, (tall and thin, super tiny, or on the big and tall side) an average harness may feel uncomfortable. Because resizing may cost more than the container is worth, you may just want to start new and get your harness and containers sized to fit.

Jumpsuit:  You could go either way here, depending on budget. To get the look and fit you want, it may be easier to buy new, but if you can find a used one that's just your size, then go for it! 

Altimeter:  Buy a new one; you’re going to keep it for a long time and you want to make sure it’s in good shape. Start with an analog altimeter. 

Helmet: Whether it’s soft or hard, buy new and make sure it fits properly.

Final words of wisdom.

  • Before you make the investment on a rig, hire a rigger to conduct a pre-purchase inspection on any major component you're about to buy. In addition to advice, ask for a written list of discrepancies and how much it would cost to fix them. 
  • If you're going new, buy gear from mainstream skydiving manufacturers. You can count on the products, plus there’s more longevity should you need factory support.
  • Some manufacturers offer great discounts for active military, so if that’s you, make sure you check it out.
  • If you can, try before you buy, It’s not unusual for manufacturers and dealers to have "demo" programs where you can try different rigs, canopies and jumpsuits. Take full of advantage of this opportunity when you find it!
  • At the end of the day, it’s more important for a new skydiver to spend more money on jumps than gear.  Don’t spend so much money on new gear that you can’t afford to use it!

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to talk to our rigger, Ryan.

This is #3 in a three-part series exploring gear for newly-licensed jumpers. Check out the others for insights on renting vs. buying and on getting a rig,

Experienced skydivers waiting for the door to open