Should I get a steerable reserve?
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.