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bsrodeo540

Reserve Size Discussion (was: Fatality Western Australia 15 Mar 2021)

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Posted (edited)

What’s everyone’s opinion on small reserves? I get it it’s all relative and I heard an opinion that ideally reserve should be close to the size of the main, which supposedly should be easier to deal with in the event of double out, but personally I’ve been reluctant to downsize my reserve, rig specs permitting. I’m flying 105 main with a 150 reserve now, I’m a smaller dude so might consider 126 in the future, but overall my attitude is that my reserve is my last line of defense and so far I can’t justify the benefit of a smaller and slicker rig at the expense of reduced safety (i.e. spinning linetwists). I guess it also is somewhat discipline-specific?

Edited by bsrodeo540
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In the case of the fatality mentioned in the thread title; the reserve was an Optima 113, combined with a Spectre 120 main. I do not know the physical size of the person in that fatality, but that's a pretty aggressive size for most people.

I currently have a larger reserve than main, and I'm not that large a person. Of course, I'm old...

Considerations to me include the "do you really want to downsize on your first reserve ride," along with terrain where you jump (if it's flat all over, then you have a lot more leeway and are less likely to have to sink your reserve into a back yard or a hole in the trees) and experience, and RSL or MARD use.

There have been discussions in the past on this topic, but there's always room for a new discussion, because there are always people who can contribute and/or learn

Wendy P.

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I understand the two out argument but it's a rare day when a two out happens for a reason other than incompetence on the part of the jumper. Other may disagree but I base my personal choice of reserve on the basis that I don't want to be dealing with a relatively unfamiliar canopy the size of or smaller than my main when I'm super stressed, at low altitude, potentially with line twists to deal with while looking for someone's garden to land in.

The smallest reserve I've owned is a 140 and I wouldn't want to go smaller, despite flying smaller mains. I see people at my DZ on 106 reserves loaded at more than the manufacturer's maximum loading and shake my head.

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This involved a Spectre 120 main and a wingsuit. The deceased had nearly 6k jumps and was a National level wingsuit competitor. Jumping small mains and reserves with non-wingsuit specific containers aren’t a problem when everything goes right and are a big problem when everything goes wrong. This is truly a tragedy and a great loss. There are ways to reduce risk during wingsuit skydives. Everyone makes risk calculations when choosing gear. Using ZP mains and reserves under 150 sq ft and containers not designed for wingsuits increases risk.

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I have a 109 main and a 126 reserve on both my rigs, at "cost" of increasing the container size one notch. The particular reason that made me make this choice was the thought "if I'm landing incapacitated or unconscious, I still want to have a chance to survive and stay at least relatively whole".

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10 hours ago, wmw999 said:

In the case of the fatality mentioned in the thread title; the reserve was an Optima 113, combined with a Spectre 120 main. I do not know the physical size of the person in that fatality, but that's a pretty aggressive size for most people.

I currently have a larger reserve than main, and I'm not that large a person. Of course, I'm old...

Considerations to me include the "do you really want to downsize on your first reserve ride," along with terrain where you jump (if it's flat all over, then you have a lot more leeway and are less likely to have to sink your reserve into a back yard or a hole in the trees) and experience, and RSL or MARD use.

There have been discussions in the past on this topic, but there's always room for a new discussion, because there are always people who can contribute and/or learn

Wendy P.

A big part of the problem is that people simply don't read their reserve manuals. The Optimum has clearly stated maximum levels from novice through to expert. I am not certain of the certification status in the grey zone between maximum wing loading above expert and below the listed absolute maximum weight. 

https://www.performancedesigns.com/products/optimum/

For a 143 Reserve the recommendations are 122lb for a novice, 143lb intermediate, advanced 165lb and expert 200lb with maximum rated capacity at 254lb. 

This means that the vast majority of jumpers on 143 and smaller reserves are in the expert category and often exceeding manufacturers recommendations. At 300 jumps I was on a PD160 reserve placing me in the expert category. 

With the evolution of main canopies, the flight characteristics are vastly different between mains and reserves. So I have no idea on a two out situation (which is one of the reasons cited for having similar sizes) what the outcome would be.

You need to make an informed choice on your reserve. The type of jumps you do, the terrain you are jumping over, your experience level, physical fitness and how your reserve responds if you're slumped over in the harness due to being unconscious. 

We all take risks, and this is a risk based sport, but it is better to take risks with an informed decision. Just because you are jumping a 119 Crossfire, doesn't mean that  a 126 reserve is a sensible choice as an example. 

 

 

 

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11 hours ago, nigel99 said:

A big part of the problem is that people simply don't read their reserve manuals. The Optimum has clearly stated maximum levels from novice through to expert. I am not certain of the certification status in the grey zone between maximum wing loading above expert and below the listed absolute maximum weight. 

https://www.performancedesigns.com/products/optimum/

For a 143 Reserve the recommendations are 122lb for a novice, 143lb intermediate, advanced 165lb and expert 200lb with maximum rated capacity at 254lb. 

This means that the vast majority of jumpers on 143 and smaller reserves are in the expert category and often exceeding manufacturers recommendations. At 300 jumps I was on a PD160 reserve placing me in the expert category. 

With the evolution of main canopies, the flight characteristics are vastly different between mains and reserves. So I have no idea on a two out situation (which is one of the reasons cited for having similar sizes) what the outcome would be.

You need to make an informed choice on your reserve. The type of jumps you do, the terrain you are jumping over, your experience level, physical fitness and how your reserve responds if you're slumped over in the harness due to being unconscious. 

We all take risks, and this is a risk based sport, but it is better to take risks with an informed decision. Just because you are jumping a 119 Crossfire, doesn't mean that  a 126 reserve is a sensible choice as an example. 

 

 

 

I jump a Spectre 190 with a PD160 reserve. I had one ride on the reserve about 6 years ago when I was 300+- jumps and found it as easy to handle and land as my Spectre - conditions to be fair, were very benign and perfect for landing. I realise a lot is down to WL on canopies but the question I have is this - are reserves configured or set up to handle 'easier' than a standard main canopy? I still jump the 190' because I'm old and prefer to be safe rather than flash, so wasn't lulled into a false sense of downsize security by my let off on the 160' . Thanks. 

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4 hours ago, Bokdrol said:

I jump a Spectre 190 with a PD160 reserve. I had one ride on the reserve about 6 years ago when I was 300+- jumps and found it as easy to handle and land as my Spectre - conditions to be fair, were very benign and perfect for landing. I realise a lot is down to WL on canopies but the question I have is this - are reserves configured or set up to handle 'easier' than a standard main canopy? I still jump the 190' because I'm old and prefer to be safe rather than flash, so wasn't lulled into a false sense of downsize security by my let off on the 160' . Thanks. 

I started jumping on F111 7 cells canopies. I’ve only had one reserve ride on a Tempo 160 and was fine. But I also had 3500 feet to do practise flares etc.

I think someone with more experience is probably better placed to answer your question 

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I'm also a jumper familiar with F-111 style 7 cells.  I'll give a stab at the issue of reserve flaring, without being any kind of expert:

Reserves tend to not have a lot of energy to convert into a long duration flare, which is both because they are high drag compared to modern main canopies, and may fly flatter than more ground hungry canopies.

(Earlier reserves like the original Ravens, perhaps the most popular of the late 1980s, are especially flat trimmed and if at higher loadings,  tend to lack much flare power, and have high stall points on the toggles. But you don't see them around much any more.)

I have seen a jumper on his first reserve ride, who wasn't familiar with 7 cell F-111, have a terrible landing. On a small modern reserve like a PD126, he started to feed in his flare gradually and progressively, from higher up, as one might do while casually planing out a main. He ran out of airspeed and flare power while still some ways from the ground and thumped in, only avoiding injury by landing in muddy ground. 

That being said, it isn't like all the jumpers trained in the last decades under ZP student canopies are all smashing in when they first land a small reserve. Even a ZP student canopy, at typical low wing loadings, is going to need a shorter sharper flare than one will use later in one's skydiving career.

One does want to think about one's reserve flare & hopefully practice it higher up. A shorter, sharper flare, started closer to the ground, will be what is needed. It can still be so-called 2-stage to evaluate how it is going and finish it off, but the total duration of the flare isn't going to be very long!

(Would I go as far as Riggerrob saying a reserve is similar to a Sabre 1 of similar size?      Hmm, I don't think I'd go that far. I think my Sabre 1 135 does plane out way better than a PD reserve of similar size. But still, I see the point:  As long as you treat the reserve like a canopy that isn't by modern standards a ground hungry super-swooper, and start the flare closer to the ground and quicker, that will help.)
 

PD has some useful info in their documents on their canopies' flight characteristics. A couple relevant quotes:

For the PD Reserve:

Quote

Many people will find it easier to land a zero-p main than a canopy of the same size made from
“F-111” type fabric.  Most zero-p main canopies can create more lift during the flare than an “F-111” canopy, and
a zero-p main may be more forgiving if you don’t time your flare correctly. Smaller canopies generally require
more skill to land than larger ones, so the difference between landing a small zero-p main and landing a small
“F-111” reserve will be even more noticeable than the differences between larger ones.

For the PD Optimum, which is supposed to be easier to land:

Quote

The canopy responds immediately to proper flare input, providing ample feedback to the jumper.
The “sweet spot” in the flare is easy to find, starting around mid stroke, and is well above the stall
point. A properly timed flaring will cause the Optimum to plane out easily, better than other
reserves and similar to many main canopies.


With the long control range and powerful response, it is relatively easy to land well, with timing of
the input being less critical than for other reserve parachutes of similar size.

However, these great
landings are not automatic.  You must have the skill and technique that is appropriate for the
Optimum size you have selected. Any small canopy will have a high descent rate on final, so
flaring must be timed well. Regardless of how great the flare potential is with the Optimum, a hard
landing will be the likely result from a poorly timed flare.

 

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On 3/23/2021 at 3:06 PM, nigel99 said:

A big part of the problem is that people simply don't read their reserve manuals. The Optimum has clearly stated maximum levels from novice through to expert. I am not certain of the certification status in the grey zone between maximum wing loading above expert and below the listed absolute maximum weight. 

https://www.performancedesigns.com/products/optimum/

For a 143 Reserve the recommendations are 122lb for a novice, 143lb intermediate, advanced 165lb and expert 200lb with maximum rated capacity at 254lb. 

T

 

 

 

Not picking on you, but what are the recommendations for an unconscious jumper of any weight?

I've been conscious and aware for all my reserve rides (many........., training CReW jumpers has it's hazards), but always size my reserves close to 1:1 in the event I'm just a sack of meat and am not flying it.

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(edited)
On 3/23/2021 at 3:06 PM, nigel99 said:

"A big part of the problem is that people simply don't read their reserve manuals. ...". 

 

 

 

 

On the first day of a riggers' course, the instructor asked his students: "Where is the best place to find a manual?"

Answer: "In the DZ trash can."

Hah!

Hah!

During TSO drop tests, all reserves must prove that remain intact during high speed openings with 254 pounds suspended weight.

After that, the manufacturer may placard to reserve for 254 pounds or any lighter weight.

Edited by riggerrob
add a paragraph

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14 hours ago, riggerrob said:

On the first day of a riggers' course, the instructor asked his students: "Where is the best place to find a manual?"

Answer: "In the DZ trash can."

Hah!

Hah!

During TSO drop tests, all reserves must prove that remain intact during high speed openings with 254 pounds suspended weight.

After that, the manufacturer may placard to reserve for 254 pounds or any lighter weight.

Hi Rob,

The latest version of the TSO standard requires that the 'heavy' drops be at 1.1 times the weight to be certificated to, with a minimum 'floor weight' that I do not remember just now.

While testing under C23(b) we had to drop at 400 lbs.

Jerry Baumchen

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On 3/23/2021 at 10:30 AM, BMAC615 said:

This involved a Spectre 120 main and a wingsuit. The deceased had nearly 6k jumps and was a National level wingsuit competitor. Jumping small mains and reserves with non-wingsuit specific containers aren’t a problem when everything goes right and are a big problem when everything goes wrong. This is truly a tragedy and a great loss. There are ways to reduce risk during wingsuit skydives. Everyone makes risk calculations when choosing gear. Using ZP mains and reserves under 150 sq ft and containers not designed for wingsuits increases risk.

In a word, avoidable. He falls into the "over experienced" group, where confidence clouds sound decision making. 

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On 3/24/2021 at 5:06 PM, riggerrob said:

Modern reserves can be compared to Sabre 1 of the same size.

For example, I have an Amigo 172 reserve and for many years I jumped a Sabre 1 170. They both turned and flared in similar manners.

that’s exactly what I thought when I chopped my sabre 170 and got on my pr176. Everything was the same except it sank a bit more while the sabre glided better. not much better with 1k jumps on it but noticeable. made everything very unstressful and people couldn’t tell that I chopped from my calm composure (aside from the few that saw it)

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I’m late to the discussion. I do have a formed opinion on the matter as a wingsuit’er with a lot of experience and having been in charge of safety in this area in my country. My opinion is basically simple. Reserve: pls go by the wl chart of the manufacturer and stay within the recommended range and do not exceed it. Yes it means a larger chute for most people, due to the fact that people think it is smart to go small, weighs less, looks neat etc etc. It can be problematic if the jumper also e.g. is a freeflyer and want to have a small compact rig, but there you have it... so maybe own two rigs.... or go for the larger option if you want to avoid spinning reserves as a result of an unstable WS cutaway. It has happened many times this way. Even with mega experienced WS’ers. I remember one recent chilling video posted by a Red Bull WS pilot cutting, then having a small Optimum reserve twisting and then going down in crazy spins. He got out of the twists seconds before landing. Be smart. Go big. 

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On 3/23/2021 at 12:32 AM, bsrodeo540 said:

What’s everyone’s opinion on small reserves? I get it it’s all relative and I heard an opinion that ideally reserve should be close to the size of the main, which supposedly should be easier to deal with in the event of double out, but personally I’ve been reluctant to downsize my reserve, rig specs permitting. I’m flying 105 main with a 150 reserve now, I’m a smaller dude so might consider 126 in the future, but overall my attitude is that my reserve is my last line of defense and so far I can’t justify the benefit of a smaller and slicker rig at the expense of reduced safety (i.e. spinning linetwists). I guess it also is somewhat discipline-specific?

I just had a cutaway from velo84 and in that rig I have PDR113. No skyhook or RSL  . Velo was spinning with me on my back, cutaway and was rolling belly to earth when I dump it... opened with no issues and felt in flight very docile... stand up with 7 mph headwind. I am 80 kilos without gear. on my other rig I had OP143, I think flare was not as strong.

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(edited)

my small rig has a Neos 109 and a PD 106 R, for the sake of having a small rig.

Got to use the reserve once, and it is very responsive on front risers.

Afterthought, I was very happy that I landed at my well groomed DZ and not one of the typical out landing you often get when things turn sour.

This is one of my top 2 worse gear choice decisions (not the PDR, it is a great canopy, just the size. And the colour. I got a nice light blue canopy. Afterwords I thought I should have gotten a bright pink)

 

Edited to add : it is loaded around 1.9 lbs/sq ft. OK to land in good physical and mental conditions, on a rather good terrain. Absolutely ridiculous if one of these factors is deficient.

Edited by piisfish
add wing loading
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(edited)
On 3/23/2021 at 12:32 AM, bsrodeo540 said:

What’s everyone’s opinion on small reserves? I get it it’s all relative and I heard an opinion that ideally reserve should be close to the size of the main, which supposedly should be easier to deal with in the event of double out, but personally I’ve been reluctant to downsize my reserve, rig specs permitting. I’m flying 105 main with a 150 reserve now, I’m a smaller dude so might consider 126 in the future, but overall my attitude is that my reserve is my last line of defense and so far I can’t justify the benefit of a smaller and slicker rig at the expense of reduced safety (i.e. spinning linetwists). I guess it also is somewhat discipline-specific?

I think the Infinity by Velocity Sports Equipment is one of the best rigs at offering different size main and reserve combinations. The Racer if my memory is correct is also versatile in what can be ordered.

Perhaps others can correct me if other mfgs also are as flexible in what can be offered.

I have the good sense to have a 210 main at a WL of 1.12, and a 220 reserve. I've been well served by having low WL on the square reserve rides I've had.

Anyway, I was wondering what you all thought of how much flexibility there is from mfgs in general to being able to combine a 100 main with a 200 reserve as just an example. I don't know if any mfg can do that.  Perhaps it is really difficult as the number of combinations forces many different flap sizes and unintended interactions. Of course the demand is just not there.  Until there is a demand for it, a 1.7 reserve WL on a swooping rig will be considered normal.

Edited by sundevil777

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i jump a 181 raven main and 218 raven 2 reserve, the main is right at 1.  i doubt i'll ever want to swoop though, i still have trouble holding my fronts for more than 2 turns.  i was going to try to order one that would hold my 218 and a 170 though, just haven't got to it yet.  i don't think that is too much of a difference but i don't know anything about it.  i like the idea of landing on a .8 if i was unconscious.  hell, if i wanted to continue to take chances i wouldn't have gotten an aad this year. 

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On 4/17/2021 at 12:02 PM, birdynamnam said:

I’m late to the discussion. I do have a formed opinion on the matter as a wingsuit’er with a lot of experience and having been in charge of safety in this area in my country. My opinion is basically simple. Reserve: pls go by the wl chart of the manufacturer and stay within the recommended range and do not exceed it. Yes it means a larger chute for most people, due to the fact that people think it is smart to go small, weighs less, looks neat etc etc. It can be problematic if the jumper also e.g. is a freeflyer and want to have a small compact rig, but there you have it... so maybe own two rigs.... or go for the larger option if you want to avoid spinning reserves as a result of an unstable WS cutaway. It has happened many times this way. Even with mega experienced WS’ers. I remember one recent chilling video posted by a Red Bull WS pilot cutting, then having a small Optimum reserve twisting and then going down in crazy spins. He got out of the twists seconds before landing. Be smart. Go big. 

I totally agree about staying within the manufacturer recommended WL range. I’m of the opinion that people should choose equipment primarily based on reserve size - choose a reserve size you can consistently land in a back yard with a chain link fence surrounded by power lines. THEN, choose your main size and THEN choose a container that will fit them both. 

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On 7/31/2021 at 7:23 PM, sfzombie13 said:

i still have trouble holding my fronts for more than 2 turns

Different canopies take different force to pull the fronts down, and technique makes a difference too. Get a Katana and do a proper toggle surge and you'll have no problem pulling them down.

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2 hours ago, nwt said:

Different canopies take different force to pull the fronts down, and technique makes a difference too. Get a Katana and do a proper toggle surge and you'll have no problem pulling them down.

yeah, right.  no way in hell.  they don't make them big enough for me.  why the hell would i want to try to kill myself for a front riser turn?  i never did see the sense in it and never will.

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3 minutes ago, sfzombie13 said:

yeah, right.  no way in hell.  they don't make them big enough for me.  why the hell would i want to try to kill myself for a front riser turn?  i never did see the sense in it and never will.

You do you man, I just thought from the way you worded your post that riser pressure was your reason for not wanting to.

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