Here's my experience with the Colugo so far:
Immediately I noticed how easy it is to don this suit. No squeezing into a tight awkward position, there is plenty of room for winter clothes and equipment, and performance doesn't appear to change with footwear (boots vs shoes). It was very quick and easy to install the container and the innie / outie zipper system left me very confident that I would be able to reach my emergency handles in the case of a malfunction. Small details such as the nut sack and chest pouch are small additions that make things like phone access, sunglasses and stash bag storage easy and convenient. Gear or clothing storage doesn’t seem to affect the performance or comfort of the suit. These features will be really appreciated on those big mountain jumps.
First impression, post skydiving:
Since most of my BASE and skydive experience has been in suits that have a cut and position much different, I was prepared for a considerable learning curve. I expected it to resemble the characteristics more like that of a different manufacturer. The Colugo, in my opinion, is NOT a copy or modification of a different suit. The center of gravity, initiating dives and turns, gripper inputs, and basically everything feels very different from my experience flying suits of similar surface area.
Most importantly, the pull and RAD system (rapid arm deployment) is clean and confident inspiring. The plan for my first skydive was to have a nice stable exit and practice my pull, as with all my first jumps with new suits. The pull, as advertised, is very clean and fast. Not once did I grab wing or double dab to find the pud. Initially pulling symmetrically with the arms, then later asymmetric with one arm (as is conventional thought to reduce altitude loss during deployment). However, since the suit stays inflated during the reach, it will take me more time with the suit to establish if an asymmetrical pull is even beneficial. The punch out system never worked adequately for me in suits from other brands. In the Colugo I had my hands on the risers before the slider hit the stops and felt no need to unzip my arms prior to landing. It should also be mentioned that this is a demo suit and built for arms of smaller dimensions. The RAD system was a major selling point for me and basically I am very VERY happy with the results.
The learning curve:
I was very surprised how quickly I felt comfortable in the suit. I anticipated considerable skydiving practice prior to bringing it to the mountains, but this was not the case. The suit feels so balanced and intuitive, I feel confident suggesting it to people coming from smaller suits with adequate skydive training and experience.
The performance, start arch, turning and diving:
Since the suit has such positive inflation, during my first exit I was hesitant to release the leg wing prematurely in fear it would put me head down. Even with this conservative approach it started faster than the suit I have over one hundred base jumps with. During my second exit, I D arched after approximately 2 seconds and I experienced the amazing potential this suit has to start really fast.
I am still learning the optimal aoa and body position for glide performance and need more time to make a thorough assessment. However, I was immediately impressed with glide performance and look forward to even more with subtle adjustments.
Another surprise was how this suit dives and turns. The wing feels SOLID at very high speeds. No hint of wobble, flapping, or wing deformation whatsoever during dive or recovery arch. Very simply, the turning in this suit is sharp and precise without being twitchy. Honestly, I didn't expect it to feel as precise as it does due to its large surface area. I never felt like I was fighting the suit, that it wanted to flip me on my back or that I would loose control.
With nothing but love and respect for all wingsuit manufactures out there, I feel like this suit is a positive addition to our community in terms of performance, comfort and most importantly safety. Thanks to Matt Gerdes, Dan Vicary, Sean Leary , Nicola Martinez , and Scotty Bob for the help and advice.
- Laurent Frat