The guys at Squirrel are nothing if not prolific, as can be seen in the plethora of new products spilling into the market from wherever it is they store their nuts. Wingsuit are the main product line, but they also offer a couple of canopies, a wingsuit BASE specific container. The latest addition to the family is the Snatch PC, a pilot chute. This time around they’ve released the BASE specific version (available for ordering on their website), with plans to come out with versions for standard and specialized skydiving applications (ranging from freefly to CRW) at a later date.
From the Squirrel website:
In a way, traditional pilot chute designs are very simple. Take two circles of cloth, one mesh and one ZP/F111, and then sew them together. Add some load tapes, or not, and ship it out. Pilot chutes today vary widely in weight, design, and construction, and many seem to be carelessly made if you start to think very carefully about the importance of weight and symmetry – or maybe the manufacturers just accept the fact that they “work”, as is. And it’s true, current PCs “work” just fine. That’s what one experienced jumper told me when I showed him my Snatch – he shrugged, sneered, and said that his old thing worked just fine. So maybe it’s nothing special, but we think it’s better.
We started out with a traditional PC design two years ago. It worked just fine. Will Kitto then presented us with the idea for the Snatch: a Toroidal Arc PDA, designed in 3D. Even from the first moment we snapped it open by hand, you could see the difference. So we decided to focus on this new design instead, and see what it was all about.
A year of testing, with wingsuits, slider-off low cliffs, in wind-tunnels, etc, and we’re convinced that this is at least a small step forward. Personally, for wingsuit use, I like the light handle and the increased stability – you can see it in rear facing video quite clearly. Will likes it for his low-cliff jumping, he says the larger sizes “set” better and pull more steadily.
They are complex to build. It’s not easy to sew the six or eight gores together because they aren’t just “slices” of pie. Each panel has a subtle curve on all edges, to enable the 3D shaping. It is a very time-consuming process and it takes a high level of sewing ability. Fortunately, we have the manpower and the skill in the Squirrel workshop. Anyone who has seen our wingsuits can attest to the precision inherent in them, and our PCs are no different.
Finally, since we do believe that this is a worthy improvement and we would love feedback from all interested jumpers regardless of where they like to get their gear from, we are open sourcing the design. We’ll send the 2D patterns for the entire size range to whoever wants it.
Cheers, from all the Team.