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Direct Bag

This page is a chapter in 'BASE Wiki Jumping Techniques'

Direct Bag deployment is one method used for ultra-low BASE jumps. The jumpers canopy is packed into a hand held deployment bag similar to the ones used in skydiving. This method requires at least two people; the jumper who wears the harness/container, and a person to hold the Direct Bag and is responsible to ensure that the canopy deploys on heading and without snagging. Mark Hewitt is generally credited with introducing this piece of equipment to the sport of BASE jumping.

In skydiving, your main is packed into a deployment bag in order to keep it contained until line stretch and your lines are stowed using elastic bands in order to ensure an orderly line deployment. Both the bag and the elastic stows reef the canopy deployment and slow the opening. This is totally unsuitable for the BASE environment.

In skydiving, your reserve is packing into a "free bag". A free bag is similar to your main canopy's deployment bag except that is it designed to completely separate itself from the canopy once is has done it's job and extracted the canopy from the container. The free bag, in conjunction with the spring loaded reserve pilot chute is designed to extract and deploy the canopy as quickly as possible with minimal snag hazards. The lines are free stowed in a Velcro closed pouch only using elastic bands to "lock" the flap. This is more similar to the way in which Direct Bag is used in BASE.

With a Direct Bag BASE deployment, the jumpers canopy is packed pretty much the same way as normal but then stowed in a specially made bag external to the jumpers container. The lines have been free stowed in the bag in a way that is similar to your Tail Pocket and some designs utilize external rubber band to stow lines. While the bag should be designed to minimize the possibility of prematurely dumping the canopy and/or lines out before the jumpers exits, great care should also be taken by the bag holder to keep this from happening.

This bag typically will have color coded handles sewn into the outside in order for the person assisting the jumper to maintain a good and secure grip. The de facto standard for handles on direct bags--the right handle is red and the left handle is not red. This is important because it enables the bag holder to clearly identify proper orientation of the bag to avoid line twist. Some bag designs will have a label prominently displayed to visually explain proper orientation. The bag will also typically have a "safety lanyard" of some sort in order to securely attach the Direct Bag to the object as a safety back up in case the bag holder loses his grip or drops the bag. Without a safety lanyard, if the bag holder were to release the bag before canopy extraction, it is very unlikely that the canopy would clear itself from the bag in time to save the jumper.

Care must be taken when packing the canopy in the bag so as not to reverse deployment orientation.

There is a "half stow" line stow band in the middle of the "hinged" edge of the bag's closing flap. The "half stow" provision on the bag allows the final stows to leave the right risers at the right side of the bag and the left risers on the left side. Try this: pack a canopy in a deployment bag and stow the lines normally, but stow them all the way to the connector links. Suppose the last stow is on the left side of the bag. Unstow only the right line groups from the last stow and stow them (at the connector links) on the right side of the bag.

The slack that results can conveniently be stowed if you have a stow band in the middle. BASE jumpers do this to make sure that the risers are properly oriented in the intended direction of deployment and are not twisted around one another.

The jumper has the responsibility to communicate with his bag holder to ensure that they are both on the same timing during the jump. The bag holder has the responsibility to make sure that the rigging is correct and clear of any potential snag hazards and that the canopy and lines stay stowed until the jumper exits. The bag holder stands directly behind the jumper at the exit point, holding the direct bag in a position that will enable the canopy, which is not attached to the bag, to begin deploying as soon as the jumper exits. The bag is held so that the canopy will deploy with the same heading as the jumper.

The Direct Bag method seems to be more popular overseas and has pretty much been replaced by Static Line in the United States which also allows the jumper a positive deployment of the canopy on low altitude jumps but can be rigged and performed solo by the jumper. The Direct Bag method does allow the bag holder to "steer" the canopy deployment direction by turning the bag in the desired direction.

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