You can’t go skydiving without a skydiving parachute. As a matter of fact, the skydiving parachute is the most important piece of equipment required for skydiving – and experienced jumpers take a great deal of pride in the chute they choose.

Parachutes are contained in a backpack, known as a ‘container’, and together, they are known as a ‘rig’. Rigs come in different sizes depending on the size of the parachutes inside. They are also made to fit their owner. At a sport skydiver’s deployment altitude, the individual manually deploys a small pilot-chute which acts as a drogue, catching air and pulling out the main parachute or the main canopy.

There are two principal systems in use: the “throw – out”, where the skydiver pulls a toggle attached to the top of the pilot-chute stowed in a small pocket outside the main container: and the “pull – out”, where the skydiver pulls a small pad attached to the pilot-chute which is stowed inside the container. Higher performance and Tandem Parachutes cost significantly more, whilst large docile student parachutes often cost less.

Come to think of it, there is no one size or one type fits all when it comes to parachutes. There are different types of parachutes in the world of skydiving and each is built to suit different experience levels, disciplines, and to provide the desired performance.

The type of parachute used by a wingsuit flyer would often be very different from the parachute used by someone who flies in a head down (freeflyer) body position. Skydiving parachutes come in different sizes and all skydivers jump with two parachutes; a main and a reserve.

The reason for two is that, in the event one has a problem, you can deploy the second. Considering the number of options on the market, shopping for the best parachutes can be challenging and time – consuming. So, in no particular order, here are 10 of the best parachutes for skydiving you can get today.

What are the Types of Parachute to Buy for Skydiving?

  1. Lightning CReW Main Parachute Canopy

If you are serious about CReW, then there really is only one choice: the PD Lightning. The Lightning is not just a “regular canopy with CReW lines,” it is a canopy designed from the ground up with one thing in mind – canopy relative work.

From the pilot chute and bridle retraction system, special trims, and tail pockets, the Lightning has what you need to perform at your best. Whether it is setting world records for the largest formation or the fastest rotation times, the Lightning is the #1 choice in CReW canopies and you can get it for $2,340.00.

The Lightning comes with a variety of trims, line lengths and other options to tailor to your specific needs. It is available in all ZP construction (terminal deployments are not recommended on all-ZP Lightnings), combination (ZP top skin only), or entirely low porosity fabric (F-111 type).

  1. Sabre3 Main Parachute Canopy

Introducing the Sabre3, the third canopy in a lineage of amazing, world-renowned wings. But it is not just a new wing, it is a better wing. It redefines the Sabre name. Crisp handling, consistent on-heading openings, huge dynamic speed range, incredible landings, more power, and seriously responsive to inputs.

PD Athletes and Test Jumpers agree that this will be one of the most sought-after canopies in the world for intermediate to expert skydivers, the next greatest all-around 9-cell modern canopy and you can get it for $2,500.00. For nearly 40 years, their design team has worked tirelessly to refine what is possible in canopy design, and they’ve done it again, delivering yet another cutting-edge canopy to the skydiving community.

The Sabre3 is not only worthy of the name, it redefines it. This new wing exemplifies PD’s continued passion to build the next greatest all around 9-cell modern canopy, one which is sure to excite anyone who flies it, and truly amaze those new to the brand.

Though the Sabre3 shares a lineage with two historically popular Performance Designs canopies, the Sabre and Sabre2, the designers began with a clean slate with the goal of creating the world’s next most popular canopy. They enhanced the qualities people loved most about the Sabre2 but minimized or eliminated those some found less desirable.

Already tested endlessly by PD Test Jumpers, and demoed by PD Athletes, the Sabre3 has been described as dynamic, powerful, and perfectly suited for today’s modern canopy pilot – delivering superb openings, crisp response, and amazing landings.

  1. The NZ Aerosports Icarus Kraken Main Canopy

The Kraken is known as a wing of legends, it delivers unprecedented opening and flare characteristics and it goes for $2,290.00. She’s ideal for wingsuiting novices but will excite even the most experienced pilots. This hybrid low-pack volume wing has a lightweight configuration which allows the pilot to pack bigger sizes in a normal container without sacrificing fabric longevity.

This coupled back with a tighter, firmer tail makes the outline curvy for high maneuverability in the sky. This wing is the ultimate ‘party in the front and business at the back’, she’s super responsive and holds tight when pushed hard.

  1. Firebird RUSH Reserve Canopy

The new Rush 7-cell reserve canopy was developed for the demands of today’s skydiving. The construction is the result of the latest 2D/3D technology. Its performance was researched, tested and fine-tuned through a multitude of high-speed droptests, g-force measurements and additional flight tests and experiments.

The result is one of the strongest, most stable reserves on the market with a maximum deployment speed of 150 KEAS and you can get it for $1,250.00. Firebird RUSH Reserve Canopy is Certified under ETSO C23d and TS0 23d. It has reliably safe and fast openings, easy landings for the smallest size of canopy, very good diving characteristics, small packing volume, etc.

  1. Squirrel EPICENE PRO Main Parachute Canopy

The EPICENE PRO delivers consistent and reliable openings, with improved glide and flare performance and you can get it for $2,190.00.

The EPICENE series is the most popular choice among the world’s best wingsuit pilots, with a reputation for the best openings in wingsuit skydiving. Squirrel believes the EPICENE concept is the future of wingsuit skydive parachute design, and some of the world’s best skydivers agree.

The Epicene series was designed from the ground up to deliver the most reliable openings possible, specifically for modern wingsuit skydiving use. The Epicene series provides incredibly consistent on-heading openings in a comparatively short amount of altitude.

Piloting the Epicene is straightforward and fun. It has a sporty and compact feel in the air, with direct control inputs and progressive brake-travel.

  1. Strong 26′ Lo-Po Lite Reserve Canopy

The Lo-Po Lite is a smaller, lighter emergency canopy that still features all of the strength, performance, and durability that Strong canopies are known for. Lighter weight than other emergency canopies, Lo-Po Lite packs up significantly smaller.

A perfect companion to AcroPro, the smallest and lightest Para-Cushion, it is a perfect fit for smaller Pilots and Passengers with a system weight of 15 ½ lbs. $900 Lo-Po Lite Canopy comes with, Canopy, Lines and Toggles.

  1. Aerodyne A2 Tandem Main Parachute Canopy

The Aerodyne A2 Tandem Main Parachute is made to be the workhorse of your tandem operation and you can get it for $4,210.00 The A2 is an elliptical 9-cell canopy, built completely from ZP fabric to maintain consistent performance.

Its airfoil and moderate planform factor guarantee superb handling characteristics, to minimize the workload of tandem masters. Not only will they find the toggle pressure, turn response and flare power they have been seeking, but they will be pleasantly surprised by the soft on-heading openings.

The turn recovery and ability to slow the canopy in no wind conditions are additional features that will be greatly appreciated by all tandem masters. The A2 is equipped with Spectra suspension lines which make for considerably less bulk and a more compact container on their back. With their lower weight, the Spectra lines also reduce the risk of line dump and subsequent premature opening of the deployment bag, a significant cause of malfunctions.

If durability, flight characteristics, and efficiency are important, while maximizing tandem safety and enjoyment, the A2 can offer an unbeatable combination. All of this coupled with the world’s most stringent quality control standards (ISO 9001) and an unparalleled investment value in a tandem canopy.

  1. HORIZON Main Parachute Canopy from Performance Designs

The Horizon is a low-bulk 7-cell main canopy designed to be an easy ‘off button’ to end your wingsuit flight with as little drama as possible. The emphasis for developing this canopy was on eliminating deployment problems caused by the burble of larger wingsuits, without sacrificing a great flare or responsive handling.

The Horizon has the best stopping power of any canopy in its class. Best of all, the horizon give gives you the ability to upsize as many as two full sizes compared to a non-crossbraced ZP canopy main, meaning you can fit a larger canopy in your existing rig for wingsuit jumps. No need for a new container.

The Horizon is suitable for, Wingsuit flyers who want to put a larger canopy in their current container, those who want an easy “off” button to wingsuiting and wingsuiters who want a reliable opening without sacrificing a powerful flare.

  1. ZULU Main Parachute Canopy

The ZULU is the totally new high performance, non cross braced, 9 cell canopy now being introduced by Aerodyne. It was designed using Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation software with the application of sophisticated aerodynamic principles to create a versatile high performance aerofoil and it goes for $2,575.00.

With the ZULU, the canopy pilot gets consistent and positive on heading openings. It is elliptical at both the nose and the tail, with a tapered wing, and it is highly responsive to toggle, riser, and harness input. Like a great sports car or an aerobatic airplane, it does exactly what it is told to do.

The ZULU does not exhibit the temperamental nature of some high performance canopies which can be prone to radical openings and oversteer. It is a parachute that is easy to fly with precision. With that said, it is a performance canopy and not intended for the inexperienced canopy pilot.

The more experienced skydiver will appreciate the ZULU’s capabilities and should be prepared for the exhilaration of a canopy that can make your heart pound as you put it through its paces. Over and above The ZULU is a well-mannered high performance canopy and is suitable for many disciplines. The Aerodyne test team made hundreds of jumps on ZULUs which included wingsuiting, big way, and camera jumps.

  1. Icarus Equinox Main Parachute Canopy

Recognizing the learning issues canopy students face when they start their journey from AFF to their first canopy, ICARUS Canopies has developed the EQUINOX specifically to allow a safer canopy piloting learning process. With a carefully balanced rectangular planform, the EQUINOX provides a soft but consistent short snivel deployment both with spring loaded and hand deployed pilot chutes.

Its easy but lively handling at student wing loading airspeeds and high control range provides the student a great learning experience. EQUINOX forgiving flare characteristics complete an ideal learning tool for drop zones and flight schools. $2,090.00

The EQUINOX is heavy duty engineered hybrid canopy prepared to withstand the hard use experienced in busy flight schools and dropzones. It provides a hassle – free option for student/novice jumpers looking for reliable openings, easy maneuverability, and comfortable pack volume.

EQUINOX provides a perfect choice for drop zones and schools in need of cost effective, reliable and forgiving canopies for AFF, Static Line and Rental Gear. The rugged construction of the EQUINOX has proven itself in both military and sport drop zone environments since years.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which Skydiving Rig Is Right For You?

It depends on some factors, but it is important to state that the Javelin Odyssey is recognized worldwide as one of the best skydiving containers on the market and is suitable for most sport jumpers, from beginners to world champions.

  1. How Much Does A Skydiving Rig Cost?

A complete skydiving rig, brand new, ranges from about $5000 USD to $8000 USD; most are about $6500–7000. In addition, you’ll need an altimeter ($120-$200) and a helmet and goggles ($50 to $350). While you are a student, you’ll also need a jumpsuit but most drop zones have some you can use.

  1. How Much Does A Skydiving Setup Cost?

Depending on the combination of new and used gear, everything you need will cost between $4000 and $10,000 USD. Your training will be up to $3000. A complete skydiving rig, brand new, ranges from about $5000 USD to $8000 USD; most are about $6500–7000.

  1. What Is The Best Size For A Parachute?

Expert skydivers use parachutes that range in size from 80 square feet to 200 square feet. Newbies and expert divers use parachute sizes that are based on weight. However, some experts use parachutes that are small for their weight to gain a faster descent.

  1. What Is The Best Parachute To Buy?

Ram-Air is the best parachute to buy because it is the most modern parachute in competitive skydiving. The self-inflating air-foils, known as parafoils, give the jumper greater control of speed and direction. They also spread the stress of deployment (a major problem on some older chutes).

  1. How High Do You Skydive From?

The industry standard for tandem skydiving is considered to be between 5,000 and 6,000 feet. Licensed skydivers usually deploy or “pull” their parachutes at 3,000 feet.

  1. Why Do Skydivers Wear Jumpsuits?

Skydivers wear jumpsuits because jumpsuits help to protect skydiver’s skin from minor scrapes and abrasions that could occur on landing. The jumpsuit is also useful for protecting clothes from stains and potential damage.

  1. How Long Does A Skydive Rig Last?

At 9,000 ft skydive rig lasts approximately 30 seconds in freefall and 14,000 ft it last approximately 60 seconds in freefall.

  1. Why Is Skydiving Gear So Expensive?

Skydiving gear are so expensive because they are specially designed with expensive materials, plus, they are precision devices that have to save your life on a daily basis, and besides, the amount of R&D that goes into designing parachute gear is enormous.

  1. Why Is A Bigger Parachute Better?

A bigger parachute is better because when a parachute is released, the weight pulls down on the strings. The large surface area of the parachute material provides air resistance to slow the parachute down. The larger the surface area the more air resistance and the slower the parachute will drop.

  1. Can You Bring A Parachute On A Plane?

Yes, you can bring a parachute on a plane, but it must be subjected to clearance from the airport authority.

  1. How Long Is A Parachute Good For?

The length of days a parachute is expected to last depends on usage, but if the parachute is well maintained and repackaged correctly, it can last for approximately 1000 jump.

  1. How Does Your Parachute Work?

A parachute works by forcing air into the front of it and creating a structured ‘wing’ under which the canopy pilot can fly. Parachutes are controlled by pulling down on steering lines that change the shape of the wing, cause it to turn, or to increase or decrease its rate of descent.

  1. How Do You Make A Parachute For An Egg Drop?

Here are the steps to follow to make a parachute for an egg drop;

  • Cut a square from the garbage bag that is 20 inches on each side.
  • Use a hole punch to punch one hole in each corner of the piece of a plastic garbage bag.
  • Cut four pieces of 20-inch-long string.
  • Thread a piece of string through each hole in the bag and secure by tying the string firmly on each corner.
  • Place one egg into the plastic sandwich bag, twist the top of the bag and tie closed with the loose ends of strings. This will also attach the parachute to the bag holding the egg.
  1. What Is A Parachute Rig?

The rig is actually another name for the container, or it’s also used to refer to the entire skydiving gear system (container, main parachute, reserve parachute).

  1. Will Your Parachute Automatically Deploy?

Actually, most skydivers will manually deploy their parachutes, however, each system is equipped with a handy device called an Automatic Activation Device (AAD).

  1. What Happens If You Open Your Parachute Too Early?

If you open a parachute too early the least bad scenario that can happen is a long, cold, and unpleasant canopy ride. Because of the temperature change, and winds, you can feel discomfort and may even miss a drop zone point. In the worst case, you can endanger your life.

  1. How Many Times Can You Use A Parachute?

It is important to state that parachutes are reusable for as long as you want to use them. As a matter of fact, if the parachute is well maintained and repackaged correctly, it can last for approximately 1000 jumps.

  1. How Do You Choose A Parachute?

It depends on your level of expertise, but expert skydivers use parachutes that range in size from 80 square feet to 200 square feet. Newbies and expert divers use parachute sizes that are based on weight. However, some experts use parachutes that are small for their weight to gain a faster descent.

If you are just starting out, then you should choose the circle parachute. The circle parachute should demonstrate the slowest average descent rate because its natural symmetrical shape would be the most efficient design to maximize wind resistance and create drag.

  1. What Parachute Types Are There?

Here are some of the types of parachutes out there;

  • Round-type parachutes.
  • Cruciform parachutes.
  • Rogallo-wing parachutes.
  • Annular parachutes.
  • Ram-air parachutes.
  • Other Ram-Air styles of a parachute.
  1. Where Can You Sell A Parachute?

Here are some of the places you can sell or buy a parachute;

  • Facebook’s “Buy/Sell Skydiving Gear” Group
  • Classifieds
  • ChutingStar
  • The DZ and/or Instructors
  1. How Does The Parachute Collapse?

The way in which a parachute is flown can increase or decrease the “G” loading on the lines. A rapid release of one or both brakes significantly increases the chances that the canopy will collapse. This allows the parachute to surge forward to a lower angle of attack, decreasing the lift of the parachute.

  1. Do Parachutes Have A Weight Limit?

There is no hard and fast rule for skydiving weight limits as it depends on the skydiving equipment being used, but the industry usually falls between 225 and 230 pounds. There are some skydiving facilities that do accommodate up to 260lbs, but this isn’t the typical standard.

  1. How Often Do Parachutes Fail?

Hardly ever. According to the USPA (which collects and publishes skydiving accident statistics), about one in every one thousand parachutes will experience a malfunction so significant that actually requires the use of the reserve parachute.

  1. How Do Parachutes Slow You Down?

An open parachute increases the cross-sectional area of the falling skydiver and thus increases the amount of air resistance which he encounters. Once the parachute is opened, the air resistance overwhelms the downward force of gravity. The skydiver thus slows down.

Ajaero Tony Martins