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Skydiving Article - Reserve Packing Guide

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Reserve Packing Guide

Allan Hewitt - BPA Advanced Rigger/Examiner & AFF Instructor

The aim of the Reserve Packing Guide is not to teach reserve packing (this must be done on a one to one basis) but to cover reserve packing in general. Take your reserve packing seriously, stay current and treat it like the life saving device it is. If in doubt ask!




Make sure the canopy you are packing are the right size for thecontainer and that all components parts are compatible with each other.


No matter how neatly it's packed a reserve that's not been thoroughly inspected might be a threat to the safety of its user. Newness is not necessarily an indication that it's in good condition, that's why an inspection is critical.

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Bridle Line and Freebag

The Canopy

Check the canopy fabric for snags, tears or other problems, by carefully inspecting it panel by panel; any patches should be checked for proper applications and security. Check the strength of the canopy fabric by pulling on fabric with both hands, (canopies with sub strength fabric are easy to tear) this simple but effective test is applied to many areas of the canopy. Inspect all seams and bartacks, etc, for security. If possible a canopy hoist is to be used as this is an excellent inspection aid.

Suspension Lines

Give the suspension lines a continuity check to ensure that each line is in the correct order on the connector link and is attached to the proper riser, also check lines for burnt or snagged spots. If it's rigged incorrectly and you pack it, then it becomes your mistake and someone else's life. Inspect all stitching for security. Always check the line sequence by using a canopy hoist or an assistance to hold the canopy open. It must always be checked when in a flying configuration.

Connector Links

There are two types of connector links commonly used in conjunction with reserves. Firstly, the Maillon rapid links; check they are tightly secured (hand tight and a quarter turn with a small spanner) do not over tighten. Check the barrel and replace it if it's cracked, beware of cheap imitations that have no tensile strength marked on them. Rapide links are not designed for side loading.

Secondly, soft links; these are designed and supplied by manufacturers to be used with the line type that's used on their canopies. Always try to use the canopy manufacturers approved soft links.


Check for serviceability, also check stitching, any sewing machine stitch can look good on one side and not have any thread on the other side.

Harness & Container

Thoroughly check the harness and container throughout inspecting grommets, pack tray, webbing for fraying, wear, abrasion, defective stitching, etc (look in hidden areas).

Reserve Ripcords

Check the ripcord, ripcord housings, ripcord pocket and associated sewing.

Closure Loop length

Automatic Activation Devices (AAD's)

Read the AAD manual and abide by its rules. AAD's that extract the pin (FXC Type) must be tested to ensure that they perform as designed to ensure they do extract the pin when fired.

Reserve Static Line (RSL)

Check the serviceability and correct routing. If routed incorrectly this could cause the canopy to hang up after cutting away or cause a premature deployment.

Packing & Finishing

Sealing Reserves

BPA qualified riggers are allowed to seal reserves, if they wish, but only when using the BPA approved sealing method.


An inspection report must be filled in during the inspection and packing process and given to the owner after packing. Keep a copy of this and it can be used as your reserve packing log. Both the inspection check list and reserve packing card are required to be kept with the equipment.


Reserve packers must be inquisitive. If you see someone packing a reserve go and talk to them, watch and ask questions. If you see a write up referring to reserve packing, read and study it. Read all the reserve packing manuals you can get your hands on. Attached at Annex C are some reports that have been collated from various sources, use them for their educational value, and don't make the same mistakes. Be professional and gain the knowledge that will enable you to be “safe”.

Servicing the 3 Ring Release System

The 3 Ring Release System

Knowing how the 3 ring release works will help a skydiver assemble and inspect it properly. Each ring forms a lever with a ten-to-one mechanical advantage as it passes through another ring. A force of 1000lbs on the large harness ring exerts a force of only 10lbs on the white loop, (the opening shock is usually no more than 1000 lbs or 500 lbs on each riser). It 's important to understand one of the properties of the nylon locking loop. When nylon stays in the same position for a long time, it begins to conform to that position – it takes a ‘set’. If the 3 ring release system stays assembled for too long, the nylon can become so stiff that the low drag from a malfunction (such as a streamer) will not allow the riser to release after cuting away.


Incident Reports

There have been lots of incidents caused by a poor inspect or a bad pack job. Read the incident reports so you can see the types of mistake sthat others have made so you are aware of what not to do.

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