Replacement reserve2020-10-04T17:30:51+00:00

If you ever need your reserve, it just has to work

Why risk relying on an out-of-date reserve?

If your reserve is out of date, replace it without delay

Don’t have your plans disrupted by a last minute discovery

We stock a range of round and square reserves

Details are available on request

How do I choose?

If you need to replace your reserve, what should you look for? We’ve set out the key criteria,  and the table below summarises the different types of reserve available.

The core operational factors are vital: will it open quickly and reliably, and once open, will it be stable and descend slowly? It’s also important that your reserve is compatible with your harness or front mounted container.

Secondary factors are weight, whether or not it’s steerable, and price. These are different aspects which understandably some suppliers might seek to emphasise and differentiate, and their prices reflect that.


Why do reserves go out of date?2019-01-04T09:26:39+00:00

The manufacturer’s service life is the best guidance there is

It would be ideal if we could test reserves like we can paragliders to be able to conclude they remain servicable, but unfortunately that’s not possible. Given that the pilot’s life may depend on the speed and reliability of deployment, we follow the BHPA guidance to observe the manufacturer’s guidance on emergency parachute service life.

If you would like to know more, read this article

How long does a reserve last?2019-01-04T10:20:57+00:00

Usually 10 years, but it can be up to 12 or 14

Most manufacturers specify a ten year service life. Examples include Gin and Ozone. But some others stipulate a longer period, such as Independence who stand by a 12 year service life for their reserves. We have seen other manufacturers extending that to 14. It’s worth factoring the service life length in to any consideration of the price of a replacement reserve.

Is a square safer than a round PDA?2019-01-04T12:01:42+00:00

There’s not much in it, but a square may be slightly better

Modern PDA and square reserves are both quick in deployment and stable as they descend. But the flatter shape of the typical square reserve may make it slightly quicker to deploy, and stabilise faster.

Another aspect of square reserves is that they do tend to track in one direction or another. This has two consequences. The first is that the horizontal tracking creates lift, resulting in a slightly lower descent rate for the same size, allowing squares to be slightly smaller and lighter to achieve the same descent rate. The second is that the tracking could mean that there is a greater (or lower) horizontal speed on landing, since the direction of track is random, so it could add to or reduce effect of the prevailing wind.

Should I get a steerable reserve?2019-01-04T11:14:21+00:00

Is the extra cost worth it?

There are two different types of steerable reserve available: the established Rogallo design; and the newer steerable square.

The Rogallo is particularly quick to open, so can be faster than a square. However, the design is much more complex, and as a consequence there is a greater risk of a complication in deployment than with a standard square or round PDA type. The steerable square is simpler, and not as prone to this risk.

Before steerable control can be established, the main canopy needs to be disabled, brought in and secured in some manner. This can be difficult and take some time. Keeping the main secure may require the use of one hand, reducing control to the use of just one hand. Have a look at some example test deployments online to understand the practical issues that need to be overcome before a reserve can be steered.

Pilots who fly with two reserves will have a back up should the deployment of a Rogallo fail. Those who fly extensively in remote mountainous areas may see significant benefit in being able to glide on descent to a more appropriate landing area. In these cases, it is easier to see that the additional risks of a steerable have been mitigated, and the benefit justifies the additional cost. In other cases, it may be worth reflecting further to determine whether or not the advantages of a steerable design are worthwhile.

How do I know it’s compatible with my harness?2019-01-04T11:21:24+00:00

Compatibility is best checked by a BHPA qualified packer

The most significant risk is that the reserve is the wrong shape or size to easily come out of the harness compartment. There can be other risks associated with the handle attachment point, and the length of the handle or bridle.

For these reasons, we recommend that you seek advice and help from someone who has been trained and qualified through the BHPA programme. There may be someone in your local club who can help, or you can ask a professional packer to check compatibility and install your reserve.

Should I install a reserve myself?2019-01-04T12:04:10+00:00

We’d recommend you ask for advice from a qualified packer

You can follow the manuals for your reserve and harness carefully if you like, but take particular care to ensure that the reserve is compatible with the harness. If you’re in any doubt, seek advice and help from someone who has been trained and qualified through the BHPA programme. There may be someone in your local club who can help, or you can ask a professional packer to check compatibility and install your reserve.


Round PDA


Steerable square


Opening speed




Very fast

Opening reliability







Very stable

Very stable

Very stable

Descent rate




Very low


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