Choosing My Own Rig
After a long time jumping used gear, I was finally in a position to get myself a new rig. I thought very carefully about what demands I would be placing on a system, and what features I needed to meet those demands.
Although most of my skydiving to date has been belly flying, I have been working on some freeflying and I do a lot of solos where I move my body through many axis. It was important to me that any rig that I invested in be freefly friendly, and that a lot of attention was paid to riser, reserve pin and main bridle protection.
I have never liked the reserve pin being on the outside rear of the rig, as it is on most of the production rigs out there today. I have seen many instances of premature reserve firings in the plane when somebody has dislodged that flap, and also, over a relatively short time, the flap covering the reserve pin can often start showing wear after the pin and cable has been compressed against it.
In this picture you can see at "A" where the reserve housing has, over time, worn damage into the flap and at "B" where the pin has caused damage. It doesn't take long, especially if you lean against the wall of the plane wearing your rig or lean back onto the floor for the ride to altitude pushing the pin and cable against the flap.
I liked the way that the Racer reserve pins are on the inside of the rig, against the jumper's back. There is no pressure on the pins, the closing loops or the cable as they sit in a channel and are against my back
This is a feature of the exposed pop-top, where the pilot chute is almost all outside of the rig. This was another feature that I really liked, there is nothing to hinder the release of the reserve pilot chute, it has no flaps to force open enabling a swift launch in an emergency situation.
I then looked at riser protection, and the Racer 2K3 has, in my opinion, the best riser protection in the market today (at the time of writing). The double tuck flap feature ensures that the riser covers stay closed until deployment. Similarly the main bridle is completely hidden and the main flap held in place by "walrus teeth" ensuring no snagging or premature main deployment. I also wanted a "pipe" grip for the main pilot chute as hackey's have too much mass and can cause the main pilot chute to "wiggle" out of the pocket as the boc pocket spandex loosens over time. This is especially true if the hackey sits outside of the border and is therefore exposed in the airstream in freefall.
The next option I looked at was emergency handles. I like the idea of metal, low profile handles for both the cutaway and reserve handles. Jumpshack offered this option and I chose a red, powder coated cutaway handle (easy, firm grip if you're in a spinning mal) and a black coated reserve handle.
So, considering all the requirements I wanted, I chose the Racer 2K3. There's no such thing as a perfect rig (remember Bill Booth's tandem video) but the 2K3 is the most perfect for my requirements, and when you order custom it is made to fit your body.
I had heard a lot about the legendary "Racer Comfort" and to be honest for the first 20 or so jumps I wondered what all the hype was about. Then it just "broke in" and now it feels like a second skin!