Newer skydivers look around the dropzone and see angle flyers and free flyers going up without a jumpsuit… while their instructors insist they grab a jumpsuit from the school’s closet and wear it on every jump. Sometimes they’re clean. Sometimes they aren’t. At some dropzones, it’s been a very long time since the student jumpsuits have been cleaned. And look at all the cool kids jumping in jeans and a skydiving jersey. Who wouldn’t want to do that?

Dress for Success

With all sports, the best participants could play the game in their pajamas and perform better than almost anyone else. But is that how they dress when they compete? No. They use tools tailor made to allow them to interact with their environment at the highest possible level. We’ll come back to the sport analogy in a moment, but let’s take a quick detour to talk about some of the different disciplines in skydiving.

Skydiving has relative work (RW) (or formation skydiving / belly flying), freeflying, freestyle, precision, crew, angle flying, tracking, speed flying, swooping, and wingsuiting… plus probably some stuff some kid in California invented that I haven’t heard of yet. The interesting thing about these disciplines is they all have their own unique ways in which the skydiver must interact with their environment. And that’s where we come back to other sports.

Consider dancer, someone who runs track, and a tennis player. All three of them must interact with their environment. To get from point A to point B, they push against the ground with their feet… but the way they interact with the ground is different. The dancer may need to spin, jump, move laterally, and more. The track athlete wants to go as fast as they can, mostly forward, and with only gradual left turns. The tennis player puts enormous acceleration and stopping pressure on their feet in all directions. They have different needs, and they wear distinctly different shoes.

Skydivers, with our various disciplines, also have a wide variety of needs for how we interact with our environment. In our case, we push against the air, and our jumpsuits reflect that… but beyond just interacting with the air, we’re doing it to achieve specific movement. Consider the RW suit, with its grippers on arms and legs, and the booties that give the suit’s wearer substantially more power. Someone that’s flying vertically in a 10 person head down formation has very different needs, and their suit looks dramatically different. Tracking suits and wing suits are designed to transfer fall rate into horizontal speed.

The point I’m trying to make is that the way you dress will impact your ability to skydive accurately. If all you want to do is jump out of an airplane, you can jump naked and still make it to the ground… but if you want to exhibit some control over where you are in the sky, the best way to do that is to dress for success. I encourage all new skydivers to invest in the appropriate wardrobe.

Fall Rate

In addition to discipline specific jumpsuits, unless you’re already in the “average fall rate” camp, you’ll want to choose your jumpsuit to either speed you up… or slow you down. I’m a marathon runner, and as such, have a decent amount of lower body muscle mass. I also like pizza, and that also makes my short stature a little bit on the heavier side.

In other words, I fall like a safe.

I also have my coach rating, and that means I want to be able to fly with students of all statures. As of this writing, I’ve been able to fly with students as light as 126 pounds and as heavy as 235 pounds. The smaller student had me wearing an RW suit with lots of extra features and fabric designed to slow me down. The suit is baggy, has air vents that allow it to inflate and present more fabric to the wind, swoop cords that allow me to tighten the fabric on demand, and fabrics that are “slower” (less aerodynamic).

For the larger student, I have a suit made by the same manufacturer, but it’s skin tight and has lots of spandex. Between that and a ten pound weight belt, I was able to go from my usual 125 MPH to nearly 140 MPH.

The point is, your suit can slow you down or help you fall faster, and you should keep that in mind when purchasing a skydiving suit. This is more important in relative work suits than it is for other disciplines.

Hybrid Options

Many manufacturers will offer a hybrid suit that includes elements of relative work suits and free fly suits. Typically these present like a free fly suit but with smaller, flatter grips on the arms and legs. The idea is that you can receive grips in a relative work type of jump, but do it without adding the bulky grips of a relative work suit. I’m not a huge fan of this type of suit; it doesn’t give you everything you want for RW flying. It’s better to have a RW suit for that type of jump, and a freefly suit for when you’re learning to freefly.

Formation skydivers need extra fabric below the knee… freeflyers do not want this at all. This means a Hybrid suit is really just a freefly suit with grippers, not an RW suit.

New or Used

This is a tricky spot, especially for newer skydivers. It’s an expensive sport, with a lot of different needs that will drain your wallet. Unlike canopies, there is not as big of a marketplace for used skydiving suits. Those who stay in the sport tend to keep their custom made suits.

For RW fliers, it can be especially challenging to find a used suit that fits. RW suits like the one at the top of this page have fabric that extends to the the toe of your foot; we call this feature “booties.” The geometry of the legs should be sewn such that by bending your legs and pointing your toes, you can fully engage the fabric and have it stretched tight from knee to toe. Two people of the same height and weight can have very different legs, and thus not be able to wear the same suit.

It’s worth noting that a manufacturer who specializes in skydiving jumpsuits will understand the unique needs of the sport. Going through the air at over 120 MPH puts a lot of stress on a jumpsuit, and a poorly made garment will not last long.Thicker fabrics with extra stitching will add to the cost of your jumpsuit, and if you order new, you’re having a garment made to your exact body measurements. Skydiving suits are expensive, so choose wisely and set yourself up for success.

Get Measured

In case you can’t tell, I have a strong bias towards getting a new suit, custom made for you. The key step here is to get measured accurately. Your jumpsuit is an investment into your future in skydiving; treat it like one. You have options here. First, you can reach out to the manufacturer to see if they have a dealer rep in your area. This is the best way to buy a suit, as the dealer rep can help you if you have any issues with your order.

If there’s no dealer representative in your area, most manufacturers have clear measuring instructions available on their website.Take those to a local reputable sewing professional (e.g., tailor or seamstress). The fee for their time will be well worth it.

I tried to a friend measure me once, and while they were close, they weren’t accurate. I’m glad I had the measurements redone by someone who knew what they were doing. Do NOT try to measure yourself. You will not get a suit that fits without someone else doing it for you.


Following is a list of vendors for skydiving jumpsuits. This list is not exhaustive, but many of the major players are represented here.

Vertical Suits (British Columbia) – This is my suit of choice for a few reasons. First, my DZM is a Vertical rep, and it was easy to get measured (thanks, Kevin!). The suits are high quality, and Vlady and team have a suit for just about anything. Formation skydiving (relative work), camera flying, freefly, freestyle, swoop shorts… you name it, they’ve got it. I own several Veritcal suits (for different disciplines) and they’re all great.

Vertical uses computerized patterns and fabric cutting, so when you are measured correctly, you’re getting a suit that will fit just as you need it to. Even though one of my Vertical suits is oversized and baggy, and the other one is skin tight, they’re both made to fit me… and we used the same measurements to get two very different suits. Lead time varies depending on demand, but they do keep a section of “off the rack” suits depending on your needs. I don’t ever recommend off-the-rack… a perfect fit is so much better.

If you fall fast like me, the RW Loose suit is your gig. Get it with Standard booties, vented, mesh lining, an extra layer of Cordura fabric on the arms, and swoop cords… you’ll be amazed how much it will slow you down.

Liquid Sky (California) – My tunnel instructor is a Liquid Sky rep and her customers are always very happy with their suits. Liquid Sky is more focused on freefly and tunnel suits, but they offer RW and camera suits, too.

TonySuits (Florida) – One of the OGs, TonySuits has been making skydive-wear since 1976. They began using computerized cutting back in 2001, leading the way on new technologies. You can buy a suit today, wear it out, and get the exact same suit made ten years from now.

They make just about any kind of suit you can imagine, and even produce wingsuits, too. TonySuits also offers sublimation print on some of their fabrics, meaning the ability to customize your suit are endless. For my faster flying friends out there, the Tony Original claims to be “the slowest FS suit in skydiving.” Impressive.

Tonfly (Italy) – Not to be confused with Tony Suits. These are the people that make the beautiful TFX helmets. Freefly, swoop, and tunnel suits only.

Skylark (Ukraine) – My first jumpsuit is a Skylark RW suit. I accidentally ordered the wrong sleeves, and they helped me fix it without a significant impact to my wallet. Could not be more impressed with the customer service. If you live in New England, I can refer you to a dealer for measurements to make sure you get an excellent fit.

CAOS (Australia) – The last I heard the suits were made in the middle east, not Australia, but they’ve got a good thing going for relatively inexpensive custom suits. When I bought a RW suit from CAOS it didn’t fit quite right, but my freefly suit is perfect (and they’ve since added extra measurements for RW suits, so they’ve probably figured the booties out now). The suits are reasonably priced, and I like the “zip off” lower arms and legs to turn it into a summer suit. They also offer sublimation print fabrics – the sky is the limit when it comes to creating a one-of-a-kind suit.

Intrudair (Hungary) – Not sure what shipping costs would be, but their base prices are relatively low. For those of us who fall fast, they have a nice option in their RW suit lineup (the “Big Way”).

EG Suits (Virginia). Smaller suit manufacturer, and I’ve read good things especially about their “Big Guys RW Suits.” Slow down? Here’s how.

Ouragan (Quebec) – One of my early mentors recommended their suit as an inexpensive entry. I don’t find them that much less than some of the other suits on this list… but they can do sublimation prints and offer a decent range of suit offerings.

A few I know very little about, but the Reddit community suggested I include:

Jedi Air Wear (United Kingdom)

Vertex (United Kingdom)

Pro-Fly (Estonia)

Cheap-ass NASA knockoff jumpsuit – I had to include this because a few of the guys at my DZ jump this suit. At about $60 bucks, it’s enough extra fabric to slow them down when they want to fall a little slower.

Another Opinion

Here’s another video from Catherine Bernier and Skydive Vibes, this one talking about skydiving suits.


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