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STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS

 

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foreverfree  (D 17240)

Sep 23, 2004, 12:40 PM
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STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS Can't Post

I wish to start an open non-judgemental -no biased discussion about the pros/cons or advantages or plusses/minusses regarding each one of these highly popular tandem rigs in an effort to understand the differences/peculiarities of each individual rig with special consideration and focus on emergency procedures or possibilities of packing errors or probabilities of malfunctions or defects or errors/mistakes.


(This post was edited by foreverfree on Sep 23, 2004, 1:01 PM)


TALONSKY  (D License)

Sep 23, 2004, 12:51 PM
Post #2 of 95 (5979 views)
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Re: [foreverfree] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

Just a hint, you may want to turn your caplock off. It is considered YELLING when done in capitals.
Kirk


Premier SkymonkeyONE  (D 12501)

Sep 23, 2004, 2:42 PM
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Re: [foreverfree] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

That might possibly be the longest run-on sentence I have seen in some time.Sly

Not sure what you want to compare these things for, but I will talk about the rigs I am rated on and what I think about them:

Vector II: the first rig I got rated on. Pretty comfortable; simple to use; ability to move secondary drogue release where you want it. Still a decent rig. You are supported slightly head-low on a Vector. Cons: possibility of losing your drogue releases, particularly when you permit students to pull (tandem progression). Older 421 and 500 F-111 mains suck, but each later main was an improvement. I put a lot of jumps on an EZ-384 after we replaced our 421's. You can put a nice Sigma main in an older Vector II and still have a nice, cheap, safe rig.

Eclipse: Exactly like a Vector II except with a slightly narrower profile. Additional drogue cutaway handle for instances where you might have a drogue-in-tow total. Most came with Icarus (Precision) mains which fly great. You can find cheap Eclipses all over the place and they are nice rigs in my opinion. I only put about 10 jumps on ours. You are also supported head-low on an Eclipse

Sigma: Incredible harness and container systems. The absolute standard, but pricey and with a long wait for a new one. I have jumped them with Sigma 370's since they came out and think it's a great main, but wish they offered one around 340 or 350. The majority of my tandem jumps are with a Sigma. You are supported less head-low on a Sigma than a V-II.

Racer: Very, very tidy and light. Incredibly comfortable. The Firebolt tandem main is great and is available in sizes as small as 298. I got my entire rig, custom colors, with a Firebolt 350 in 16 days flat for several thousand less than the best price I could get on a Sigma. You are supported right in the middle of your fore/aft CG with a Racer. Also, when you pitch the drogue, the laterals draw tight and pull the passenger to you. Pulling the cutaway cuts away the drogue, therefore your EP's remain the same, no matter what the mal.

Strong: I don't have this rating and never will. I think the rig looks like crap anyway you pack it. The design is incredibly dated. The strong, like the Eclipse, has a separate drogue cutaway handle for those times when you have a total with drogue-in-tow. Some people swear by Strongs, but I am not one of them. A Strong SET main does fly and land OK, but I couldn't ever see us buying one. We just gave five Strong systems away because we had no luck selling the damn things. They were listed for three years for cheap.

Everyone has different opinions about different gear. Many people have preconceived notions about gear without ever having laid eyes on the stuff; I am not one of those people.

Chuck


foreverfree  (D 17240)

Sep 23, 2004, 2:50 PM
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Re: [SkymonkeyONE] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks again for your feedback.
So if you were to buy yourself one , would you select the SIGMA?


JohnMitchell  (D 6462)

Sep 23, 2004, 3:38 PM
Post #5 of 95 (5936 views)
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Re: [SkymonkeyONE] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

I jump sigmas and vectors, but used to own racers for my personal gear. Your comments on the racer system interests me. Do they still use a double RSL or have any other safety issues with their tandem rig? I've actually never examined one hands on.


crutch  (D 10182)

Sep 23, 2004, 4:42 PM
Post #6 of 95 (5915 views)
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Re: [SkymonkeyONE] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

Everything Chuck says, he summed it up pretty well. Except, I shelled out the extra dough and bought a Sigma. It is by far one of the best investments I have ever made. Although, it is heavier and much wider than the Racer (which is be far the most comfortable for the TM) the system has to be the simplest out there, with very nice well thought out safety features.


BIGUN  (D 23385)

Sep 23, 2004, 8:30 PM
Post #7 of 95 (5890 views)
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Re: [SkymonkeyONE] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
Eclipse: Exactly like a Vector II except with a slightly narrower profile. Additional drogue cutaway handle for instances where you might have a drogue-in-tow total. Most came with Icarus (Precision) mains which fly great. You can find cheap Eclipses all over the place and they are nice rigs in my opinion. I only put about 10 jumps on ours. You are also supported head-low on an Eclipse

I have two Eclipse Tandems. One of them has the third drogue release on the cutaway handle, the other does not. The Icarus (Precision) main is an awesome canopy to fly. One does not need any assistance from the student during landing.

I like the Eclipse tandems because the secondary (student) handle is always on my hip routed thru a short cable housing. 1) I never have to worry about the "snake" coming undone, 2) for the Tandem Progression Program, it is placed well for the students to begin learning where to reach for their own handle when they migrate over to their own rig. The student harness is OK, but the leg pads could be designed a little better. It does have a belly and back band which really gives the student an extra feeling of security. They do not come with a Collins Lanyard. You are a little heads down when flying. I takes me roughly two extra minutes to pack than a sport rig.

I'm not rated on another system, although I've been thru the orientation course for the Sigma. I found it to be a little more comfortable than my Eclipse, liked the drogue positioning and would consider getting the skyhook if I purchased one.


AggieDave  (D License)

Sep 23, 2004, 9:48 PM
Post #8 of 95 (5882 views)
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Re: [foreverfree] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

The Sigma design makes an out of sequence deployment (container before drogue) nearly impossible, out of sequence deployments accounts for a large majority of the tandem fatalities to date.

The drogue fully collapses upon drogue release, which will help with more consistant and softer openings.

If the drogue isn't uncollapsed during the packing process and the TI misses on his/her gear check prior to donning the gear, the drogue will cock its self upon deployment (quick enough that RWS couldn't tell the difference between an uncocked and a cocked drogue even when using high speed cameras).

The list could go on. I've jumped Sigma, Vector and Racer. Although I haven't jumped a Strong and an Ecllipse, I've been around them a LOT and have looked at the rigs as a TI objectively. With that said, my opinion about those rigs doesn't really hold water since I haven't jumped them. If I can make it through my tandem career without having to get rated in those rigs, then I'm going to stay away from those rigs.

For me it comes down to jumping the tandem system that has addressed the issues in the previous tandem fatalities, which the Sigma has done.

The only downside is obviously the higher price and the fact that RWS has no rigs in stock right now, so you'll have to wait for it get built.


diablopilot  (D License)

Sep 24, 2004, 12:43 AM
Post #9 of 95 (5874 views)
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Re: [SkymonkeyONE] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
Strong: I don't have this rating and never will. I think the rig looks like crap anyway you pack it. The design is incredibly dated. The strong, like the Eclipse, has a separate drogue cutaway handle for those times when you have a total with drogue-in-tow. Some people swear by Strongs, but I am not one of them. A Strong SET main does fly and land OK, but I couldn't ever see us buying one. We just gave five Strong systems away because we had no luck selling the damn things. They were listed for three years for cheap.

Just when I thought the main bag on those things were overly complex, I then got the chance to see the reserve deplyments system. Shit we got rid of that kind of mess from sport rigs 15 to 20 years ago, WTF is it doing on a tandem!?


feuergnom  (D License)

Sep 24, 2004, 1:45 AM
Post #10 of 95 (5870 views)
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Re: [diablopilot] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
Just when I thought the main bag on those things were overly complex, I then got the chance to see the reserve deplyments system. Shit we got rid of that kind of mess from sport rigs 15 to 20 years ago, WTF is it doing on a tandem!?

mind to be more specific? if you don't want to post your answer here - pm me


Premier SkymonkeyONE  (D 12501)

Sep 24, 2004, 6:36 AM
Post #11 of 95 (5842 views)
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Re: [foreverfree] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Thanks again for your feedback.
So if you were to buy yourself one , would you select the SIGMA?

No, I bought a Racer. I saved myself four thousand dollars and had my new rig delivered to me in 16 days, complete: custom embroidered container, new custom main, new reserve. My Racer weighs just under 38 pounds and has bungee retractable drogue releases just like a Sigma. If you don't believe the 38 pound statement, I would be glad to sit it on a scale for you. I have my drogue releases in the same location as on a Sigma as well. I am a Small guy (5' 7", 155 pounds) and this rig is perfect for me. I would have loved to have had a Sigma, but the extra cost and the tremendous wait made me choose differently.

Chuck


Premier PhreeZone  (D License)
Moderator
Sep 24, 2004, 7:41 AM
Post #12 of 95 (5832 views)
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Re: [SkymonkeyONE] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

>bungee retractable drogue releases just like a Sigma

Actually it has coiled metal spring retractors acourding to Mike at WFFC this year. He estimated they were good for 10000+ cycles. Replacing the bungies on the Sigmga is a pain, but is easly done. Not sure how you'd replace the metal coils.


riggerrob  (D 14840)

Sep 24, 2004, 7:56 AM
Post #13 of 95 (5828 views)
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Re: [SkymonkeyONE] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

Strongs can be retro-fitted with bungee retractors on the drogue release. I also sewed buckles on the right instructors' leg pads on all dozen of our Strong tandems.
Sure we copied Eclipse, so we have one fewer buckle to worry about during hook up.

I hold ratings from three different tandem manufacturers and tend to echo Skymonkeys' opinions.
Only few dozen jumps on Vector 1. Drogueless freefall was a novelty event, but openings were brutal. I would like to try that again with modern canopies.
Note, openings were brutal on F-111 canopies from all manufacturers.

Vector 2, much better, but I still think EZ-384 requires too much muscle to steer.

Racers are the most comfortable with great canopies.

2800 + jumps on Strongs ... familiarity breeds contempt! At least SET 400s are decent canopies.
Strong Enterprises have done dozens of band-aid updates to containers - over the last 20 years.
Their new (ringed) student harness is a huge improvement.
What is this rumor of an entirely new tandem container from Strong?

If I were to buy a rig today, it would be a toss-up between a Sigma and a Racer.


sdctlc  (D 16437)

Sep 24, 2004, 10:27 AM
Post #14 of 95 (5810 views)
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Re: [riggerrob] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
If I were to buy a rig today, it would be a toss-up between a Sigma and a Racer.

I jump Vectors and Sigmas for Tandems but know a TM that swears by his Racer. Lots of cool features but by his own statement, It is a "Personal Tandem" I asked what he meant by that and he noted that the Racer was great, comfortable and light but he did not feel it would hold up over the long hual in a Tandem operation compared to some other brands.

I dont know if that is true and I figure there has to be some operatiuons using Racers all the time, If there is any feedback on the durability on the Raceer I would appreciate it.....

Scott C.


Premier SkymonkeyONE  (D 12501)

Sep 24, 2004, 10:59 AM
Post #15 of 95 (5802 views)
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Re: [sdctlc] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, mine is a personal tandem. It does not have an adjustable harness, so unless you are my size, you ain't jumping my rig. Not sure about long-term, hard-use durability, but I do know a couple of dropzones jump them as their primary system. Skydive Palatka is among them. The only thing I really wish was different about my Racer tandem is the passenger harness. I really like the new Sigma harnesses due to the way they seat the passenger under canopy. Racer passenger harnesses are similar to older Vector harnesses in their adjustment. Still, I have not had any complaints from any passengers, so it's all good.

Chuck


JohnMitchell  (D 6462)

Sep 25, 2004, 10:50 AM
Post #16 of 95 (5758 views)
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Re: [diablopilot] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
[
Just when I thought the main bag on those things were overly complex, I then got the chance to see the reserve deplyments system.
Last summer our Twin Otter visited a DZ that uses Strong rigs. I'm sitting on the bench wearing my Sigma, and as the Strong guys stand up to walk down the aisle, I almost grabbed their arms to tell them their shit was falling out of the main containers. It took me a second to realize that's what the rigs normally look like. Nasty!LaughLaugh


tkhayes  (D 18764)

Sep 26, 2004, 2:33 AM
Post #17 of 95 (5733 views)
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Re: [SkymonkeyONE] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

Strong gear is in use all over the country and the world - does not look great, but works well and comes from a company that cares about their gear, their customers, delivers great service and is willing to work with anyone in improving the design of the system.

Unlike some other manufacturers that I have had dealings with. Their gear is 'perfect' already, they deliver poor service, they 'eat thjeir young' when it comes to incidents involving tandems, and I will never do business with them again.
TK


tkhayes  (D 18764)

Sep 26, 2004, 2:34 AM
Post #18 of 95 (5733 views)
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Re: [AggieDave] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

Strong fixed most of those problems 5-7 years ago.


crutch  (D 10182)

Sep 26, 2004, 1:39 PM
Post #19 of 95 (5718 views)
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Re: [tkhayes] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

I am going to have to interject here. I use to own one (Strong Tandem) and when the main blew up, was accused of poor packing. When the reserve blew up the same way on a friend of mine's rig, I sold mine and bought a different brand. I have had nothing but great service from them, and a very good product. So when I bought another one, it was from that company (Relative Workshop).


efs4ever  (D 7014)

Sep 26, 2004, 2:05 PM
Post #20 of 95 (5714 views)
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Re: [foreverfree] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

Sigma rig with Sigma canopies. I've had my rig four years. EZs are history, but I jump em if I have to.

Smile


bclark  (D 22626)

Sep 26, 2004, 4:59 PM
Post #21 of 95 (5705 views)
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Re: [efs4ever] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

Racer: Only seen one once and know lots of DZ's don't use them, but they seem to have a great following among TI's who own their own gear.

Sigma: Awesome tandem rigs, everything stays closed. Near normal droguefall attitude, love all the safety features. Don't like the Sigma mains. The vote is still out on the Skyhook IMO. Seen a bunch of good Skyhook cutaways but am still curious as to what happened in Guam. I have yet to have to cutaway from a Sigma in a little under 500 on em.
( Icarus mains ). Weak points: the velcro on the reserve handles on some of the earlier models really sucks ( not too secure ). The drogue bridles take a fair amount of abuse where they pass thru the disk. The drogue attach point on top of the bag is tubular nylon and wears really quick. So you can still have that whole lost drogue after container opening scenario.

Strong: Yeah they look like shit, but a lot of instructors leave alot of crap hanging out on Strongs. I learned on Strong and did about 500 tandems on Dual Hawks. I had a few cutaways on SET 400's, although they are nice canopies. They take a little while to open. The handle configuration is a little different from just about everything else out there. Have heard complaints about hard cutaways on them but I had 4 cutaways on Strong (shitty line sets, 3 of these were in a one month period of time, 2 on the same canopy). I never had trouble with the cutaways and I am not a big guy. I think pulling the second drogue release makes it ALOT easier. Also the drogue does not collapse partially during deployment like most other systems. I think that is why they make the SET canopies open so fucking slow.

Vector 2: I only have 2 jumps on Vector 2 / EZ 384. I hate the Velcro riser covers and drogue 3 ring cover. Yes you hang from your ass under the drogue. Hate the tubular nylon drogue kill line and the fact that if it fails you lose your drogue. I've seen video of a drogue coming off a V2 right after container opening and flopping the bag right out onto the back of the TI's legs with lines / crap everywhere. Also Eclipses and V2's seem a little more prone to problems with premature main container openings, out of sequence deployments, etc...Expecially old V2's with curved pins.

Eclipse: Like an improved V2 without a Collins Lanyard. Better riser covers and drogue 3 ring protection. Some have that 3rd drogue release / cutaway thing with the flyaway ring. Not a bad idea as it would solve alot of drogue in tow problems. Also a Spectra drogue kill line. All the Eclipses I have jumped have the 3rd drogue release and they also have a flex pin instead of a curved pin holding the container closed. They usually have Icarus mains. I LIKE ICARUS MAINS. 200-250 jumps on Eclipse. Con: They are hard to get parts for as they are no longer in business. Many V2 parts work apparently. Not a bad rig by any means.

As far as Favorites: Give me a Sigma with an Icarus 365. As far as I'm concerned they have set the bar pretty high with the Sigma, and everything else sucks equally in comparison, but for different reasons. Nothin like the right tool for the job...


Skymonkey2  (D 20527)

Sep 28, 2004, 4:45 AM
Post #22 of 95 (5628 views)
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Re: [SkymonkeyONE] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

Shocked Chuck I can fit in it. LOL


crutch  (D 10182)

Sep 28, 2004, 6:25 AM
Post #23 of 95 (5612 views)
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Re: [bclark] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
The drogue attach point on top of the bag is tubular nylon and wears really quick. So you can still have that whole lost drogue after container opening scenario.

On my personal rig, I took the disc into the shop and polished it mirror smooth. The drogue bridle actually wore more at the attachment point than it did going through the disc. Even then, I put about 750 jumps on it before it needed replacing.


billbooth  (D 3546)

Sep 28, 2004, 8:12 AM
Post #24 of 95 (5606 views)
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Re: [bclark] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

The Sigma Rig involved in the Guam fatality did NOT have a Skyhook installed. The cause of the fatality is still under investigation.


riggerrob  (D 14840)

Sep 28, 2004, 10:09 PM
Post #25 of 95 (5560 views)
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Re: [billbooth] STRONG vs SIGMA vs VECTOR vs ECLIPSE TANDEM RIGS [In reply to] Can't Post

Strong Enterprises plans to debute their new ELAN tandem rig at PIA 2005. Apparently ELAN is "really great."
Apparently ELAN will be compatible with current Strong canopies, but beyond that, SEI factory personnel are being tight-lipped.

I hope that the ELAN incorporates a single-pin reserve and line guides. It should also be narrower across the shoulders than DHT.

I am of two minds on the question of ELAN handles. On the one hand, handles similar to DHT would make conversion a no-brainer.
On the other hand, it would be nice if SEI moved its handles in line with the rest of the tandem industry (i.e. second drogue release handle on lower left). That would make it easier for national aero clubs to take over the role of training new TIs.

What do you think?


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