Commonly referred to as a container, the harness/container system is the heart of your rig. It is also one of the most confusing pieces of equipment to purchase, since they come in an infinite variety of container sizes, harness sizes, colors and options.
Most containers, new or used, are or were originally built to custom specifications, If you are ordering new, this is only an issue when confronting the bewildering number of options and color choices. If you are buying used, this can make your search a bit more difficult. We’ll discuss the ins and outs of used purchases later. For now, we’ll be looking solely at new, custom containers, If you are planning to buy used; you’ll find lots of helpful information here too.
You have a number of decisions to make when purchasing your new container. First off, which one? There are so many containers out there, and each has it’s own squad of cheerleaders and detractors.
In no particular order, here are a few things to consider when choosing your container:
1) Safety: Every container manufacturer strives to produce the safest equipment possible; dead skydivers don’t buy new gear! That said, there are a few container manufacturers that offer additional safety related options (the Skyhook is an example). If those options are important to you, your pool of container choices is a bit smaller.
2) Delivery time: Delivery times – the number of weeks the manufacturer estimates between order and shipping – can vary depending on the time of year, if they have a big military order, problems sourcing hardware, or even moving of the factory. As such, your chosen manufacturer may have a delivery time that is weeks or months longer than other manufacturers. If you are currently renting gear, an
additional month of wait for your container could get expensive (or very boring and frustrating if you can’t afford to rent after buying a new rig).
3) Location: If there are container manufacturers near you, put them at the top of your list. If you have an issue with your new container, upon delivery or in the future, having the manufacturer on the same side of the country (or in the same country) will make communications easier and shipping less expensive and faster.
4) Price: Containers are sold much like cars. There’s the base price, which includes everything you need to attach two parachutes, install an AAD and skydive. And then there’s the price you end up paying after loading it up with harness rings, custom color patterns, your name on the mudflap and padded everything. Some manufacturers include as standard things that other manufacturer charge extra for, so be sure to consider the out the door price for similarly set up containers when comparing prices.
5) Looks: Hey, it’s gonna be on your back for awhile. Might as well choose something that you like the look of.
6) Comfort: Many skydivers insist that the container they jump is the most comfortable rig available, which may be true – for them. Don’t listen. Instead, try on as many different brands in your harness size as possible. Jump them if you can. One or more will stand out as being the most comfortable, for you.
7) Customer service: Although you will likely be ordering your container through a dealer, the reputation of the manufacturer for customer service could be important to you if there is a problem with your new rig, or if you need replacement parts or have a problem in the future.
In Part 2 of this article, we’ll be discussing how to fill out that order form. Watch for it in a couple weeks!