Canopies are one of the most important gears in BASE jumping. With a low-quality BASE canopy, jumpers will have a harder time with surviving after a jump.
Thus, it can ruin their experience and the fun of BASE jumping. Some think that canopies used in BASE jumps should be treated the same with those used in skydiving.
But it’s important to remember that skydiving is not BASE jumping. Canopies should be treated differently and that’s what we’ll talk about today – how to figure out the best size for your canopy to ensure the safety of both your life and the fun in BASE jumping.
For starters, you should know the wing loading according to your weight and canopy size. To calculate wing loading, divide your weight (in pounds) by the canopy size.
For example, if you weigh 180 lbs. and the size of the canopy you’ll be using is 250 square foot.
180 lbs. / 250 square foot = 0.72 lbs./sq. ft.
Take note, however, that the weight you will use should be your body without gear for the most consistent value. This is because BASE gear weighs less than skydiving gears. So while skydivers measure their weight including gears, BASE jumpers don’t.
There are many things too look for the best balance in canopies according to wing loading. Here are some of them:
Slow opening forward speed, sufficient forward speed for better control inputs, stability of malfunctions that may disrupt canopy shape, soft landing, and penetration into wind.
There are many types of BASE canopies, lightly loaded and heavily loaded.
Some jumpers suggest that it’s better to load canopies lightly so their forward speed at opening won’t be slowed down, soften their landings, and make it easier to land. While that may be preferable to many, there are things to be aware of before doing so:
Penetration in wind will be reduced and so you will find it harder to go through the wind. With less forward speed, you won’t be able to maneuver nicely. And finally, with less wing loading, the internal pressure in the canopy is reduced, too.
On the other hand, jumpers with desire to have more power in controls and better range in windy conditions, heavy loading will be suitable.
Choosing a size for your canopy is not easy. But if you managed to choose the most desirable size, it would lead to the best experience in BASE jumping. So make sure you take time choosing the size of your canopies.