George Stuart-Ranchev

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  1. I know exactly what you're talking about, fortunately it definitely gets better with time as the hard foam padding compresses with use. I actually sped this up by using a 'Hat Stretcher' to gently put pressure on the sides (akin to what my head would have done naturally over a bunch of jumps. The Aero XXL simply did not fit unless I removed all the (non-impact rated) padding. At that point I was wearing a carbon fiber shell with nothing besides the fabric lining the interior. To reiterate, I'm 24.5" around.
  2. Hey, I went through this exact train of thought late last year and ended up getting the Mirage M5-1/2, you can check the size chart here ( I bought it after talking to Mirage directly and being told that it can fit a LPV 190 Main (I went with the Pulse 190), a ZP 170 and a ZP 150 (I plan on going Pilot 170, not sure if I'll even go to a 150, but the option is there at least). Importantly, I wanted at least a 175 Reserve, and according to them an LPV 175 is optimal (I went with the Smart LPV 175). The M5-1/2 is essentially inbetween the M5 and M4 in terms of size, insofar as the main pack tray is slightly smaller (so it best accomodates a ZP 170, unlike the M5) but, the reserve pack tray is identical to the M5 (so it best accomodates a LPV 175, unlike the LPV 150 which is recommended for the M4). In addition, Mirage has an option for a 'Secondary Closing Loop', which allows you to change the location of the closing loop to a second location on the bottom of the main pack tray; according to them it means you can pack in a smaller main without compromising on closing loop length/tension ( So a ZP 150 would not be out of the question by any means for the M5-1/2. I specifically went for the Mirage M5-1/2 over the M4M or M4L because I tried on a friends Javelin Odyssey rig that was designed to be a longer rig, it had roughly the same dimensions as the longer M4. I personally didn't like the added length (1-2"), I found it sat on my buttocks when standing up and was rather uncomfortable compared to a standard length rig (I'm 5'9"). Here's a snip of an excel sheet I made, in the end I went for the Mirage over the other offerings because it fit the sizes I wanted; I could buy it directly through the Mirage site without dealing with a dealer (I had my friend measure me); but most importantly, the stock rig was reduced by ~$1000 during the Thanksgiving sale. Stock meaning the colors were pre-chosen but everything else was custom (measurements, options, etc). Fortunately, I don't have a creative bone in my body and I adore the stock design I went for! That's what I did, take from it what you will, but it's up to you to decide what you want to do :^) [Just to add, I'm only an A-licensed jumper and I don't want to be misconstrued as an overconfident/underinformed 100-jump wonder, though I did buy this after talking to my instructors about everything!]
  3. Just got the Cookie G4 and wanted to post a quick review for anyone interested in it either because of its larger size compared to other full face helmets or simply because it’s a new product on a small market. Anyway, the G4 XXL is the only full face on the market (including the Tonfly TFX) to include 62cm/24.5” heads. Which may not seem like a big deal to most skydivers, but to the small community of skydivers that have XXL/XXXL heads there aren’t many helmets that properly fit. The G3, KISS, Tonfly, Aero and Dynamic only go up to 24”, which in my experience means they don’t fit at all or fit with major drawbacks to form and function. Suffice to say the G4 fits well, it’s a bit tight around the temple area but, based on experience with the G3 loosening up after a few jumps, I’m not worried in the least. I’m actually really psyched as nothing else on the market has fit me, I was truly afraid I’d have to jump an open face forever (not that there’s anything wrong with that). The helmet has a very premium-feel to it right out of the box, even comes with a full manual and numerous references to the safety ratings it seems to be pioneering. The mesh inner is very comfortable, the adjustable vents work well and it’s a much quieter experience than the G3. It has much nicer integrated pockets for audibles insofar as they’re larger and have different openings. The liner too is replaceable and there doesn’t seem to be any glue holding it in place anymore. It looks like it has improved ventilation and an anti-fog coating that’s better bound to the plastic, which should hopefully nullify the problems the G3 had with fogging issues after a few months of use, though obviously I haven’t had enough time to properly comment. Lastly, despite a camera mount voiding the warranty, the liner on the top of the helmet has a flap so you can easily drill a roller mount or GoPro mount in. The biggest improvement over other helmets on the market, however, is the inclusion of actual safety ratings specific to skydiving. It’s not going to save your noggin if you hit the earth at terminal (though it would probably help). But meat missile collisions or knocks inside/outside the plane should definitely be safer. Especially compared to something like the Aero or Dynamic, which have millimeters of padding beneath the carbon fiber shell (I’ve had enough bad run-ins with Bonehead to actively dis-encourage their use), which won’t do anything at all in case of an impact. Like motorcycle helmets, you’re recommended to ditch the helmet if it’s involved in an actual collision though, as the shock absorbing material deforms and loses it’s elastic properties. All in all it looks like the G4 is a sizeable improvement (pun intended) over the G3, with all the little flaws seemingly fixed. After using the G3, Kiss and Aero - and being less than impressed with the latter - I’d highly recommend this helmet for new buyers (unless the safety rating or size is that important to you, I wouldn’t say it’s worth the $439 to ditch your current helmet though). Here are some quick pictures of the unboxing: and here are some pictures of the front vent:
  4. The Ares II has precisely the same software, features and barometric hardware as the Viso II+. It differs insofar as it has a toughened scratchproof glass screen versus plastic, and the screen is ~120% larger than on the Viso II+.