Closing loops are a vital, and yet cheap and simple part of every skydiving container. The USPA recommends that a closing loop be changed out when it shows more than 10% wear. That’s great, but how do you determine what 10% wear is? I never knew so I did what any curious skydiver would do: I asked somebody. I reached out to a knowledgeable rigger and got an opinion on a closing loop I had replaced. How bad had it gotten before I swapped it out?
According to the rigger, it was an estimated 25%. Obviously, all these estimations (even by the almighty USPA) are subjective, but there are some things to look for. Do you see the wear in the finger trap area (the bottom of the loop portion)? Showing signs of wear there is a good sign you should replace your closing loop. Perhaps if that area wasn’t showing wear, we’d be looking at a closing loop closer to the 10% range. Its dirtiness doesn’t really affect that percentage much, but the fraying is what to look for. Keep in mind that this is a close-up macro picture. You’ll have to look with a keen eye (or have the help of a fellow skydiver, packer or rigger if your eyesight isn’t great) and really take a few seconds to inspect the closing loop to know what its current state is.
Don’t forget how unbelievably cheap these are. You can get a 100 yard spool of this material from Paragear (called “100 Yard Roll Type IIA Sleeving White”) for $31.50 (at the time of this writing). Considering we cut these off in approximately 6″ increments, you could get 600 closing loops out of that. That’s less than a penny per closing loop. Can you imagine getting a broken neck from a premature deployment over a fraction of a cent? If you’re the lazy type or deathly afraid of things that come on spools, you can get pre-made closing loops from almost any gear store. Chutingstar sells them for $6 right now.
As with many things in skydiving, if you’re questioning whether or not it should be swapped out, it should be. In the case of closing loops, it should probably be swapped out even sooner. Be safe out there!