How to Pack a Parachute

Packing a parachute is easy, read on for everything you need to know! …. NO, no no no. That’s not how this works. DO NOT, attempt to pack your own parachute solely off instructions you find on the internet. Bad idea.

This post is in no way intended to replace a full packing class, like those in the accelerated freefall program here at Skydive Taft. and even then, your parachute should always be checked by a professional.

About Parachute Packing

The skills to pack your own parachute will be important if you own your own equipment plan to go out for more than one jump. Most people start with a tandem jump to get a feel for skydiving first before setting out to learn on their own.

Parachutes must be folded and packed in a certain way to ensure that the main canopy deploys properly from the container. While modern skydiving containers feature reserve parachutes that are packed and sealed by professionals, an improperly packed main canopy is still incredibly dangerous.

Folding a Parachute: The Objectives

For the experienced skydivers, the packing process typically takes about 10-15 minutes. At the end of the day, your parachute needs to accomplish certain things. Your parachute needs to deploy:

  • Reliably
  • At the right pace. If it deploys too quickly, you can get hurt and/or your gear can be damaged.
  • Consistently. You should know what to expect when it deploys
  • Without tangling lines
  • Without twisting, so you can maintain directional control throughout the process.

Ways to Pack a Parachute

There are a few ways to packs parachutes. Once the fundamentals are covered, it comes down to a matter of preference.

Stack or Side Packing

Begins by laying the canopy flat on the ground.

Advantages:

  1. Relatively easy to learn for novices
  2. Good directional control on deployment
  3. Lower chance of malfunction, since you have a better awareness of the steering lines when placing the canopy in the bag.

Disadvantages:

  1. Takes more time than some other methods
  2. More time on knees than some other methods

Roll Packing

Advantages:

  1. Seems to be the easiest to learn for the novice
  2. The folding method makes canopy easier control and get into the bag.

Disadvantages:

  1. More likely to open off heading due to all of the folding in of the canopy
  2. More time on knees than other methods

Proper Ram-Air Orientation (PRO) Packing

PRO refers to the ram-air design of the parachute, in which the chute has openings all along the front edge into which air is ‘rammed’ during flight. This design gives the parachute its rigidity. This method pays particular attention to packing the parachute in the correct orientation so it can fill with air immediately upon deployment and involves flaking the canopy standing up.

Advantages:

  1. Best for keeping zero porosity canopies under control
  2. If packed properly, provides better directional control when deployed.
  3. Less time on knees when packing

Disadvantages:

  1. Can be challenging for novices
  2. Requires particular attention to the position of steering lines to prevent “line over” malfunctions.

If you’re itching for a bit more detail on the various packing techniques, ask at your local dropzone.

FAA-Certified Riggers

A parachute rigger is some who holds a professional certification in parachute packing and maintenance. Every drop zone employs at least one rigger. Their job is to ensure that the fabric components of skydiving containers are properly handled and ready for safe usage every time. Basically, an FAA-certified rigger is an expert in how to pack a parachute. There are two different levels of rigging qualification: Senior and Master. Each level requires testing and demonstration of skill and knowledge.

Special Challenges When Folding a Parachute

Parachutes made from zero-porosity material can be especially challenging. Zero-porosity materials are designed to provide better lifting performance by not allowing air to pass through the material. While this is great for skydiving, it can be more challenging to get all the air out of the parachute when folding.

Skydive Taft Experience

Skydive Taft has been serving Southern California and Los Angeles for over twenty years and has a reputation for outstanding customer service and safety. We carry pristine gear and our instructors are some of the best in the business. Come and see why Blue Skies magazine ranks us among the best mid-size dropzones in the nation. Bring your friends, family, and coworkers to share in a thrilling adventure. A tandem skydive is a great place to start.