Talk to your home dropzone before you make any plans to buy gear. There are plenty of sources of gear, both new and used, on the Internet. Similar to dating websites, what you think you're getting may not be what you end up with.
This is going to be a multiple part series, comprised of the same conversations I seem to have with every junior jumper that's just graduated the program. I love those conversations, don't get me wrong, but I've also had plenty of conversations with people (often from other dropzones) AFTER they've parted with too much of their hard-earned cash.
As a junior jumper, there are several items to consider when buying that first rig. Will it save my life? Will I look bad-ass walking to the plane? How small is the smallest parachute that I can put in here?
Before you start shopping, let's cover a couple ground rules:
Nobody can guarantee that you're going to get the perfect rig, for the perfect price. There isn't a perfect rig. Moving on...
There are a lot of different body types out there, so just because you and a seller are five foot eight and a half inches tall and 163.8 pounds does not mean that the rig will fit you the same way. Try before you buy.
The rollover to Y2K happened 15 years ago. I fall victim to the "where did the time go" problem too, but gear made in 2000 is now 15 years old.
If you're looking for good gear at a good price, you'll need to be diligent and patient, but lucky sometimes happens.
This isn't just about naysaying. There are lots of good deals to be had, and if you're one of those good sellers, kudos to you.
If you're a junior jumper, your first priority when buying new (to you) gear should be:
Really? Yep. The majority of junior jumpers are looking to get away from spending tons of money on rental gear, which isn't available half the time anyway, and they really don't know what they want. Or they do know what they want, but their instructors, coaches and the S&TA are holding them back from buying a 75 square foot Valkyrie. Either way, this first set of gear is probably NOT going to be the rig you hold onto forever, which means that if you're planning on reselling it, you better have something decent.
Your second priority should be safety. This means that even though you can buy a "still crispy" PD 170 for only $600 (I've seen this ad, too recently), maybe you should be willing to consider a slightly more expensive canopy in order to save your tibias and fibulas.
Finally, your budget comes into play as priority number three. You should not be blowing all of your savings on your gear, yet. If you've spent all your money, how are you going to pay for jumps? Seriously though, even though you might have enough money to pay for the first rig you find, there are deals to be had. And you'll have lots of opportunity to spend your remaining bankroll on all of the other available gadgets.
Check out our next article which will delve further into the murky waters of buying used gear.