Wednesday, December 18, 2013

My Current Paragliding Kit

My vol biv flying kit is just my regular flying kit.  I made a conscience effort to drop weight from my kit 2 year ago, which was just 1 year after making a consensus effort to drop weight from my fat ass.

It wasn't cheap, but since I lost 40 lbs I needed new gear anyway.  So I invested in the best, light weight gear on the market at the time.  The results were a flying kit that weighs less than 20 lbs.  My previous kit weighted in at 36lbs. 

My flying kit consists of a paraglider, harness, reserve parachute, helmet & flight instruments, along with a rucksack to carry it all.

My current setup includes:

  • Paraglider:  Ozone Swift 2, size Small - 4.3kg
  • Harness:  Advance Lightness, size Medium - 2.3kg
  • Reserve: Nervures Plum, size Medium - 1.15kg
  • Helmet:  Smith Vantage snow helmet - size Large, 500g
  • Rucksack:  Advance Lightpack - 600g
  • Instruments:  Flymaster Nav - 220g
All total -9kg or 19.8lbs.  Its a nice, light setup that is also highly functional.  I could compromise on both the glider and the harness for a lighter solution but that would mean giving up both performance and comfort.

The Ozone Swift 2 is an EN B glider and is top of the line for EN B's in gliding performance.  It also performs well when accelerated.  Performance at speed is important when flying in alpine settings where valley winds and long crossings are plentiful.  I love this glider.
Every time I am tempted to move back to flying a higher rated wing, I think back those times when I was in some absolutely shitty air and the Swift keep its shit together.  You can't underestimate the comfort factor of your glider and am I very, very comfortable on this wing.

The Advance Lightness is the lightest pod harness on the market at the moment.  Having a pod means better performance due to decreased drag but also increased comfort as it shields your lower body from the cold.  The Lightness is a hammock style harness, meaning it has no seat board.  It takes some getting used to as weight shifting requires different hip input and it allows lots of feedback from the glider; but once I was dialed in on it, I love it!  The other area of compromise is back protection - while it has back protection, it is not certified, since certified back protection requires 14cm of padding while the Lightness only has 10cm.   Since it doesn't have a seat board, its easier to land in a legs down postion or to setup for a good PLF if needed, so I feel the compromise is worth it.  I have also grown to love the front mounted reserve.  Its easy to access, provides a good spot for mounting the vario, and I can easily check it before flight.  Note to the fashion aware - the default color is a nasty, bright orange.  I hate Orange.  It's a high yellow content orange, so a quick dip in some denium blue RITE dye, and it's now a lovely forest green.

The Nervure Plum reserve is the same reserve as the Sup-Air extralight.  Nevures OEM's them from SupAir.  I went with the Nevures because my price on them is significantly cheaper than the equvielnt Supair.

I carry 2 varios, a Flymaster NAV which has integrated GPS for navigation and airspace alerts, and a Flyte Park Pico audio vario that is very sensitive.  I use this for sound only.

Purpose built paragliding helmets are expensive.  I've owned several and while they are certified, the modern ski/snow helmet offers much better protection and lighter weight.  I used to prefer a full face helmet but I'm grown to like the openness and increased visibility of the Smith Vantage.  I also like that it has vents that I can easily open and close in flight to help regulate airflow and temperature.
It weighs in at just over a pound and I'm always looking for a lighter option - just haven't found it yet. 

My rucksack is the Advance Lightpack that came with the lightness.  It too got the RITE dye treatment.  Its specified at 75 liters but I don't really think its that big.  I do like that it has lycra side panels that stretch.  I have no problems stuffing all my regular gear into it but using it for a longer vol biv trip will be challenging.

That leads me to the next blog's topic - Rucksacks.  Finding the right balance of durability, volume & weight has been a challenge.  Next post I will delve into our research in this area.

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