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Bored of us? No problem...
Bored of us? No problem...
Well here it is: everything you never needed to know about the tracking suit.
A safety device, a performance flight tool, and a great jacket to wear to the Horner of an evening (nothing says 'I'm a BASEjumper' like a Phoenix Fly jacket slung casually over the arm), the tracking suit has to be one of the most boring - yet controversial - items in your toybox.
Since the legendary Atle Dahl and friends burnt fag holes in a pair of rain pants, track suits have been a bone of performance contention. 'Tracking to the road' is the aim (3 second canopy ride, anyone?) and colour selection alone is a nightmare of ungodly proportions.
So, what to do when a pair of holey rainpants develops into a multi-brand industry...? Which tracking suit really screams 'you', as a BASEjumper and a person..? It's all so goddam complicated - and it's about to get moreso, as this summer alone THREE brand spanking new tracking suits are hitting the market.
Here's our VBG Guide to the pros and cons of tracking gear - to be taken as always, with a truckload of salt.
Ok, lets look at the options. Phoenix Fly.
The original PF tracking suits are, as Robi would certainly agree, epically AWESOME. We have seen trackers kicking ass in seasons-old Classics; this suit celebrates its 10th birthday this year, and there is a reason for this - it is the go-to tracking suit for complete novices and seasoned trackers alike.
The Phoenix Fly Power Suit is PF's SuperSuit. A bigger ass, inlets designed for fast starts and solid pressurisation; it takes the PF Classic and gives it steroids (and of course the PF look, perfect for day- to evening-wear). Unmistakably PhoenixFly in design, you can choose your custom colours and stitching and create your perfect suit.
Then there is the Pressurized gang. Many trackers found the previous TUBE3 a bit Marmite, with the crazy-big cylindrical legs either taking you for the track of your life or scaring the living bejesus out of you - but man, when it flew, it FLEW.
The TUBE4 (just in) is a different animal. Theoretically it's 2 suits in one, with it's zipper system to let you zip it out to 'Huge' or 'Less Huge', but this is still in the 'SuperSuit' category, and probably shouldn't be jumped off a cliff straight out of the bag. The relatively high price reflects this too - although the quality is great and the finish pretty special (little pockets to tuck your zipper tabs in? Oh go on then)
You also have the option to choose back vents (for extra cash) if you're planning on flip-reversing it at some point. Design-wise it's a winner, and it is a 2 piece so you can, of course, wear the jacket to pick up chicks. The vents are fairly prominent too; it fairly yells 'I JUMP OFF SHIT!'. Brilliant.
Colours though? If you want more than 2, thats extra.
Now, I should mention Pressurized's other baby - the onesie. I cant say much, as we haven't seen it in the flesh yet, but it IS available.
It was S-Fly, of course, who came up with the first one-piece tracking suit - the Cruise. And I gotta say, it performs. Yeah yeah, Fred Fugen could probably track in a MorphSuit, but the fact remains that getting to the landing area at Brento at skydive height (kinda) is pretty impressive. And we've seen tracks from the ramp here that we were convinced were wingsuits (the guy was french, which gives him an obvious advantage, but still. Impressive).
Now, the down-side to all this incredible performance? Well, it isn't the cheapest option, and the bootees are an optional extra; however the back vents come for free (unlike the Tube4), so it's a pretty good, all-round high performance SuperSuit for your hardearned cash.
Also, it looks a bit like you could paint your house in it, and as a onesie there is no jacket to double as your going-to-the-pub-outfit. So, on Looks vs. Performance? Sorry Cruise, you may fly like a m#therfu#ker, but you will NOT get me laid of an evening.
Tonysuit is working on a one-piece too - looks like onesies will be around for a while.
Back to the classic jacket and pants - and Squirrel's SUMO suit. In stock in the next few weeks, Squirrel has done to tracksuits what it has done to wingsuits - made subtle differences to differentiate them from the (lets be honest) fairly simple concept of a jacket and trousers with holes in, and delivered a rather sexy-looking suit. Performance is yet to be judged, but the test pilots' views coming out of the states are pretty positive. Stay tuned.
Intrudair's Ultimate suit (named for our very own BASE exit here in the valley) is a new contender - and as the cheapest suit in the 'SuperSuit' category, we're looking forward to getting some feedback on this one. It will be here this month (Feb). Woop.
And let us not forget Raven! The legendary Finn - Mr Track-Like-Fighterjet himself - has sprinkled his magic tracking dust and created the Raven Rami-Suit (at least I hope thats what he calls it). So far all we've seen is some serious R&D work from the Raven workshop, involving hot chicks putting on the suit and standing in it. So this bodes well for all those who want to track like Rami. Or who like women in parapack.
So in conclusion - if there is one, really, in this ramble - it depends what YOU want.
Balls-out performance? Cruise. A safety device that you want to hone your skills in and maximise distance from the wall, that will definitely keep it's resale value? Classic PhoenixFly - or with added steroids - the Power Suit. A SuperSuit with a Ferrari finish for those with deep pockets? Tube4.
The others...? Stay tuned for opinions on the new toys in the game.
And this is the thing with tracking. If you're a good tracker (yes Rami, you) you could track naked. If you just don't get it, you could slip on a Cruise and track like a fridge. As the tracking suit market expands, much like the wingsuits at the moment, you need to decide what kind of jumping/flying you do; why you need a tracking suit; what budget you have... and then BUY A SUIT. FLY IT. AND HAVE FUN IN IT.
And that's an order.
Valley BASE Gear has tracking suit in stock, ready to buy, with no wait time - at the SAME PRICE as buying from the manufacturer. Because we're not here to rip you off. We're quite nice, really.
All opinions are VBGs own and based on nothing but our own inflated sense of self-importance.
See what we have in stock here. If you want to come play show & tell, see some suits sometime and get some advice on tracking gear, rigs, wingsuits - or just have a chat - give us a call +41(0)76 265 2082
VBG are committed to bringing you up-to-date, impartial advice on the world of BASE