So many choices, and twice as many opinions about those choices. One person says Canopy X is perfect for you, another one says you will die under that handkerchief. One person says Container Y is the best in the world, another one says it’s not worth half what they charge for it. Who can you trust to tell you the right gear choices for you?
Trust no one. For gear purchasing is suffering, and it is a path that you must walk alone.
Okay, maybe not. But there is no other person on the dropzone with a vested interest in keeping you alive and uninjured besides you. In the end, it is you who has to pay for it, wait for it, wear it, maintain it, fly it and land it… as well as suffer the consequences of a hastily made or ill informed decision.
Common wisdom around the dz is that you should ask a rigger or your instructors for advice on which container, main, reserve and AAD to purchase. Is this wisdom really wise? A rigger’s ticket in the USA indicates that the holder knows how to pack reserves and maintain containers and parachutes. It does not indicate that they have any knowledge at all about which container or main is suitable for a novice skydiver. Same goes for any and all instructor ratings – selection of suitable components for a novice jumper’s first rig is not part of the instructor certification process. Experience in skydiving competition does not make a person knowledgeable about purchasing gear. Even experience selling gear doesn’t guarantee solid advice.
Many jumpers are sponsored in various ways by various manufacturers – competitors, instructors, gear salespeople, riggers. Everyone has an ulterior motive, even if it’s just to have someone validate our choices by buying the same thing we did. Even those who don’t have a financial interest in their answer have an opinion. Ask six skydivers what the best gear combination is and get six different answers… and each one of those is answers is probably the right one. For each different person. But probably not for you.
So much of which main or container or whatever is best for you is personal; the container that I love could be the most uncomfortable thing you’ve ever jumped, the main that I adore could bore you to tears.
Which is why you shouldn’t listen 100% to anyone when deciding what skydiving equipment you want. Ask other jumpers what they have, why they chose it, what they do and don’t like about it. But your mantra needs to be “try.” While renting gear, don’t always jump the same rig. Try on and jump different containers. Take advantage of demo mains and jumpsuits and helmets. See what works for you. Take the opinions of others into account when deciding which items to try; rely on your opinion when deciding what to buy.
That said, some things are not suitable for novice skydivers. Follow manufacturer guidelines for novices when choosing your first main and reserve. Stay away from more aggressive canopy types and sizes. If someone says “yeah it’s a bit small but you’ll be fine”, move along. It’s better to err on the side of boring than to wish you’d gone one size bigger… from a hospital bed. Plenty of time for that later in your skydiving career.