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albntomat0

Reserves Smaller than Main

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Hey. First off, I'm new, just hit 40 jumps today (wooo!).

I've been hunting around for gear (after talking with experienced people at my DZ, reading guides, etc.) and have noticed that a number of rigs have reserves a size smaller than the main. This seemed odd, so I asked around today, and was told that this is done for 2 reasons.

1. People care about looking good, and thus get a smaller reserve. I was warned that this can be dangerous, and I happen to agree.

2. Since reserves are rarely flown, they are much newer than the mains that people jump, and perform better. Thus, some of the difference in size is made up for.

Are there any others? Mainly I am frustrated in finding rigs in my size (both harness and main) that have a reserve size that I am skeptical about. For reference, I am 205-210 out the door, looking for a main in the 210-230 range. A large number of mains in this range seem to go with a 190/193 reserve, which I am highly skeptical about jumping.

Thanks!

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What's your wingloading on it? I understand that people may fly mains larger than the smallest that they could handle. Maybe I am just assuming that people are downsizing hard rather than flying a large main with a smaller reserve that they are fully capable of using.

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While I can't speak for manufacturers, when one has a medium to large sized main, the tendency is indeed to have a rig fit a slightly smaller reserve.

You don't use the reserve a lot so a little extra risk is considered ok. And to some degree the market on average likes to keep rig size down.

Yes one could counter those arguments and say that when you need your reserve, you may be injured or dazed and low over bad terrain, and that's when extra square footage would be handy.

In the old days of round reserves, that reserve usually would be smaller and harder landing than main round canopy and certainly so compared to a newfangled square main. You didn't expect to have a nice landing, but you'd be alive and probably nothing broken. (And fewer dz's were surrounded by built up areas.) Who knows, maybe a little of that philosophy kept on going
even while reserves got better.

Your point #2 about reserve age doesn't really apply. However, it would be true that few of us use F-111 style mains, but that's normal for reserves, and their performance is reasonable since they don't have many jumps on them. (Reserve performance is more a factor of design with newer designs handling better at high wing loadings. At low loadings it doesn't matter nearly as much.)

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albntomat0

What's your wingloading on it? I understand that people may fly mains larger than the smallest that they could handle. Maybe I am just assuming that people are downsizing hard rather than flying a large main with a smaller reserve that they are fully capable of using.



I'm loading my main around 1.1 to 1 -- very conservative. I like how it flies and haven't felt inclined to downsize. My reserve is neighborhood of 1.15 to 1, which is still pretty conservative.
I'm trying to teach myself how to set things on fire with my mind. Hey... is it hot in here?

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Another reason...... in the pre-aad days some of the very experienced jumpers at that time would advise others to get a smaller reserve than their main. The rationale was that as it was their last chance, a small one was better than nothing (in those days if you didn't pull, you were dead). A friend of mine continued this practice until very recently. A 150 main and a 120 ish reserve as recommended, many years ago, by someone who is still very well known in the sport today. I suspect the advice would be very different these days.

***********************************************
I'm NOT totally useless... I can be used as a bad example

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When I had 43 jumps I bought a slightly used rig with a low bulk 210 main and a 176 reserve, Next got a 190 main, and this year have a 168 main and still the same 176 reserve which I have not used yet. So if I had cut away, my reserve was smaller than my main, but now is about the same size or very slightly larger. I think my experience is very common, but don't follow just anyone's advice on the internet!

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As a follow on to the pre AAD comment,

Before AAD's were popular landing unconscious under your reserve was rare. It's still rare but now possible. Many of the popular small reserves today received a wavier from one of the certification requirements that mandated a particular landing speed, both forward and vertical, when loaded with 170 lbs. The justification was that the reserve can be landed softer when flared. When the new certification standards were issued by the FAA they did not approve flared landing for rate of descent and have stated that they will not issue any new waivers.

What this means is that many jumpers are jumping reserves that if they land under unconscious or otherwise incapacitated without flaring they likely will be severely injured or killed.

You first should decide if your going to use an aad. If so then you need to decide if your going to accept wearing a reserve that may kill you if your unconscious. (ANY uncontrolled landing under any reserve might kill you but higher risk with smaller reserves.) Then pick the reserve size you want/should have. Then pick the container size that will hold it.

The way it goes these days is people pick the main, then either pick the smallest container it will fit in and pick a reserve that will fit in that container, irregardless of loading or risk. Depending on the brand and model of reserve experienced jumpers get away with this for the most part.

Some reserve models perform fine at the wing loading your describing. Some definitely should NOT be loaded more than 1:1. Seek advice and look at manufacturer's recommending and max loadings.
I'm old for my age.
Terry Urban
D-8631
FAA DPRE

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I unfortunately think you are very right in that looking cool is a big part of it. Everyone wants that tiny Vector, so they end up with what it can fit.

One forgiving argument might be that the 7-cell reserve is most likely more docile than your main canopy, but that is about it I think.

...says the guy with a 113 PDR loaded to 1.6. Can't say I'm looking forward to landing under it having been hit unconscious by someone on a speed star turned zoo jump.

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albntomat0

2. Since reserves are rarely flown, they are much newer than the mains that people jump, and perform better. Thus, some of the difference in size is made up for.



This was probably awesome logic back in the days when canopy performance degraded through jumping because they were made of low-porosity nylon. But those days, minor nitpicking aside, are long gone. ZP canopies don't get ragged out in quite the same way - they wear out eventually and break, but they don't lose their flare after 400 jumps any more.

The idea that a reserve is more docile is true as far as it goes, but substitute different for docile and you can see where the problem starts... now I'm unstowing brakes at 1200ft, breathing hard and shaking with the adrenaline of my first chop. I'm about to land by a road in a crosswind, on the smallest canopy I have ever flown, and it flies and lands differently to the ones I've jumped the last 300 times. Fingers crossed!
--
"I'll tell you how all skydivers are judged, . They are judged by the laws of physics." - kkeenan

"You jump out, pull the string and either live or die. What's there to be good at?

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I got a low bulk reserve paired with a high bulk main, meaning i'm jumping a 135 with a 170 in the back-up department B|

One reason it's being bandied about for different sized main/reserve is that in a 2 out situation not having a bigger dominant canopy may increase the chances of it turning into a downplane, but the hard data on that is thin on the ground...

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Thanks for the advice (especially the data sheets for the reserves)! I have found a rig that should work, that currently has a reserve at a slightly larger size than the main. I am very hesitant about having my first reserve ride being on the smallest chute that I have jumped, so I should avoid that!

Thanks again!

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If you have an opportunity to demo jump a reserve, go for it.

If you have crw jumpers at your dz, talk to them about getting some 2 way coach jumps in where you can:
Fly a PD lightning (very very similar to PD reserves)
Fly a biplane and side by side formation (with a coach, with instruction and saftey briefing beforehand).

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You could always demo a reserve in the size you are looking at buying

edited to add: both of my main canopies are 170sf I have 1 reserve at 176 and the other is a 160 both reserves are PD. I have not notice much difference in their flight characteristics. I am loading them at 1.2 and 1.3 respectively
You can't be drunk all day if you don't start early!

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I agree with you about having a reserve "less dominant" than the main which means smaller. For me what is important is to have the reserve lines shorter than the main ones. Because in case of two out, IMO the two parachutes would more likely form a biplane. This happened to me at Perris in 2005. While my main was just starting to open, my reserve popped because of a low pull. My AAD had fired. I had a beautiful biplane. I thought about cutting my main but what changes my mind is the possible "whip" effect of the main risers which could get entangled with my reserve lines. Anyway, I kept the biplane without unbreaking the reserve.
My main was a Sabre 2-170 while the reserve was a PD 160.

Note 1: a PD 176 reserve has shorter lines than the Katana 170.

Note 2: I have a total of 7 reserve rides, 3 rounds and 4 squares. From my personal experience, each time I was under a reserve, I was concerned about the landing and very concentrated. No legs apart, arms and elbows against the body and prepared for a good PLF. I never hurt myself despite of a couple of rough landings.
In other words, when you know the landing could be hard, you get yourself ready for it.
Learn from others mistakes, you will never live long enough to make them all.

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I asked Dan BC the same question. His reply was "you're probably not going to find yourself under your reserve, wishing it was SMALLER."

A couple of weeks ago, I had my first reserve ride in 20 years of jumping (jump 2703). As I was landing in a less-than-perfect area, not knowing which way the winds were, I found myself thinking "I wish I was going slower." My wing loading was about the same as my main, and I stood it up, which surprised me a little.
There are battered women? I've been eating 'em plain all of these years...

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Part of what you're seeing is that containers can fit a small range of canopy sizes. If you're looking at Vectors, you're probably looking at the v353. The v353 is designed to fit a PDR193 and a 190 main, however you can fit a slightly larger or smaller main in it - you could start with a 190, and downsize to a 170 (or upsize to a 190 for wingsuiting, say) with the same container and reserve.

Don't worry about the rationale of the person selling it in putting it together that way - worry about how you will be using it. You are shopping for a reserve first and foremost, and then a wrapper for it. If the reserve doesn't meet your needs, don't buy it.

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tmccann

Part of what you're seeing is that containers can fit a small range of canopy sizes. If you're looking at Vectors, you're probably looking at the v353. The v353 is designed to fit a PDR193 and a 190 main, however you can fit a slightly larger or smaller main in it - you could start with a 190, and downsize to a 170 (or upsize to a 190 for wingsuiting, say) with the same container and reserve.

Don't worry about the rationale of the person selling it in putting it together that way - worry about how you will be using it. You are shopping for a reserve first and foremost, and then a wrapper for it. If the reserve doesn't meet your needs, don't buy it.





Best worded reply and advice so far.
Life is short ... jump often.

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albntomat0

Hey. First off, I'm new, just hit 40 jumps today (wooo!).

I've been hunting around for gear (after talking with experienced people at my DZ, reading guides, etc.) and have noticed that a number of rigs have reserves a size smaller than the main. This seemed odd, so I asked around today, and was told that this is done for 2 reasons.

1. People care about looking good, and thus get a smaller reserve. I was warned that this can be dangerous, and I happen to agree.

2. Since reserves are rarely flown, they are much newer than the mains that people jump, and perform better. Thus, some of the difference in size is made up for.

Are there any others? Mainly I am frustrated in finding rigs in my size (both harness and main) that have a reserve size that I am skeptical about. For reference, I am 205-210 out the door, looking for a main in the 210-230 range. A large number of mains in this range seem to go with a 190/193 reserve, which I am highly skeptical about jumping.

Thanks!



Having landed 26' conical and 177 sf 5 cell reserves, I want a nylon overcast when I pull silver.

When I cut away my Icarus EXTreme 99, I landed under a Raven II 218.

I have never been under reserve thinking "ah, I could have gone a size smaller..."


BSBD,

Winsor

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winsor

***Hey. First off, I'm new, just hit 40 jumps today (wooo!).

I've been hunting around for gear (after talking with experienced people at my DZ, reading guides, etc.) and have noticed that a number of rigs have reserves a size smaller than the main. This seemed odd, so I asked around today, and was told that this is done for 2 reasons.

1. People care about looking good, and thus get a smaller reserve. I was warned that this can be dangerous, and I happen to agree.

2. Since reserves are rarely flown, they are much newer than the mains that people jump, and perform better. Thus, some of the difference in size is made up for.

Are there any others? Mainly I am frustrated in finding rigs in my size (both harness and main) that have a reserve size that I am skeptical about. For reference, I am 205-210 out the door, looking for a main in the 210-230 range. A large number of mains in this range seem to go with a 190/193 reserve, which I am highly skeptical about jumping.

Thanks!



Having landed 26' conical and 177 sf 5 cell reserves, I want a nylon overcast when I pull silver.

When I cut away my Icarus EXTreme 99, I landed under a Raven II 218.

I have never been under reserve thinking "ah, I could have gone a size smaller..."


BSBD,

Winsor

Wow. Your rig can really handle a reserve 2x the size of your main?

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Elisha

******Hey. First off, I'm new, just hit 40 jumps today (wooo!).

I've been hunting around for gear (after talking with experienced people at my DZ, reading guides, etc.) and have noticed that a number of rigs have reserves a size smaller than the main. This seemed odd, so I asked around today, and was told that this is done for 2 reasons.

1. People care about looking good, and thus get a smaller reserve. I was warned that this can be dangerous, and I happen to agree.

2. Since reserves are rarely flown, they are much newer than the mains that people jump, and perform better. Thus, some of the difference in size is made up for.

Are there any others? Mainly I am frustrated in finding rigs in my size (both harness and main) that have a reserve size that I am skeptical about. For reference, I am 205-210 out the door, looking for a main in the 210-230 range. A large number of mains in this range seem to go with a 190/193 reserve, which I am highly skeptical about jumping.

Thanks!



Having landed 26' conical and 177 sf 5 cell reserves, I want a nylon overcast when I pull silver.

When I cut away my Icarus EXTreme 99, I landed under a Raven II 218.

I have never been under reserve thinking "ah, I could have gone a size smaller..."


BSBD,

Winsor

Wow. Your rig can really handle a reserve 2x the size of your main?

No sweat.

This one is a squareback Racer, 400/400 ci. It works great.

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There are also a few different ways of measuring canopy size which makes this more confusing. For example I am lead to believe PDR 176 is actually more like a 190. I jump a Safire 2 189 with a 176 and have been assured it's actually pretty much the same size. As a low time jumper I hope this is true.
Definitely a confusing subject for us newbies.
The sky is not the limit, the ground is!

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