Meet Nico Gonzalez
Instructor & Coach at iFly Westchester and Indoor Skydiving Ninja Extraordinaire.
The Gear: we all know that when it comes to gear we want to look cool but at the same time we want to make sure we fly well. Just like different golf clubs, every item we wear when we fly is important and has different flight characteristics. Todays Human Flight segment Nico goes over our gear.
You will notice that everyone in the tunnel has all different types of gear. Everything that touches the wind is going to make a difference in how you feel and fly. There's a lot of choices and it can be a bit overwhelming at first. There's different helmets, suits, and even shoes come into play. So, there's our outline!
This, to me, is the most valuable tool in your arsenal. Your helmet not only protects you from getting injured, it also keeps the wind out of your face (if it has a visor), and it can look really cool. There's two basic types of helmets: Full face and open face.
A full-face helmet is a helmet that covers your face as well as the rest of your head. These have a see-through visor that protect your face from both the wind and anything that might make an attempt at your beautiful mug. There are a bunch of skydiving companies that offer these helmets. I'll write a review on each one eventually but for now just know that the Skyhelmet, G3, and Kiss are the best (in no particular order, yet).
Open face helmets are just a regular old brain bucket and then you would wear goggles to keep the wind out of your eyes. These come in every shape and size, and some people like the wind in their face (I jump an open face for that very reason). As you can tell, this helmet includes another piece of gear which are the goggles. This means there's more stuff that you can forget or break. While your cheeks are going to be flapping like crazy some of these helmets offer much better protection to your head (not including face) than their visor counterparts. And some are impact rated, which is pretty rare in the skydiving world at this time.
If the helmet was your racing seat belt, this would be your whole car. If we forget about safety, your suit is where the money is. The suit is catching the most wind, and it is the tool with which you are flying and moving around. There's a TON of different suits and they all have their weaknesses and strengths. A suit with a lot of extra fabric is going to have a lot more drag, meaning you will be able to fly slower speeds with your skinny friends. Very tight-fitting suits will give you uninterrupted feedback from the wind. And bootie suits have extra fabric on the legs so you can turn VERY fast on your belly, but they're mostly used for FS (belly flying).
I could dive into all the different suits, but that would be a very very long blog entry, so for now I'll just leave you with some tips on how to choose one. The better the fit, the better the suit. I don't care if you buy a super expensive badass suit with all the bells and whistles. If it doesn't fit right, it's not going to do its job. Buying secondhand is not always bad, some are in really good condition. And lastly, get a suit that suits your needs (pun intended, sue me). If you're not sure what the best one would be, ask a bunch of people. Everyone has their own opinions and tastes.
This isn't that important, but it does make a difference. You want a shoe that fits tight, with laces that stay tied. I tuck my laces inside the shoe so they don't come out, but to each his/her own. Big shoes aren't always better, they give you a lot more drag and are usually heavy. My favorite shoes to wear are Adidas Climacool. They have holes in the bottom so the wind goes through them, which feels very nice. And no, I'm not sponsored by them
Nico has been an indoor skydiving coach and instructor since 2014. He placed first in open freestyle at the Woodlands IBA Competition in 2016 and competes year-round. He also runs an amazing podcast dedicated to indoor skydiving: ostrichflight.com