The first Skyhook-equipped Sun Path Javelin Odyssey was dropped off at Chuting Star Rigging Loft in April 2008 for a full assembly. I had seen the new Javelin Odyssey updates at the Parachute Industry Association 2007 Symposium in Reno, but this was the first time I was able to really see how the updates work with a fully-assembled and packed rig.
From the outside, the Javelin look remains the same. It has always been a rig that has little flash, but gets the job done. The Javelin reserve container has also been one that is what I consider to be rigger-friendly and easy to make look good. It's a combination of the limited reserve container flaps (4) and the fact that the reserve freebag sits fully against the side flaps. This keeps wrinkles in the reserve container nearly non-existent with a smooth pack job.
The new updates do not change the looks of the reserve or main container. A smooth pack job still leads to a nice looking rig.
The functional changes to the new Javelin Odyssey include a velcroless RSL/Skyhook lanyard, velcroless reserve toggle system, one additional reserve container flap, the Skyhook option, new reserve bridle stowage procedures and the two-piece main riser cover tuck tabs.
The velcroless reserve toggle system (shown above) eliminates any chance of Velcro damage on the reserve steering lines during assembly and packing. The excess steering lines are also stowed in a veclroless system (threaded through two elastic keepers). Reducing the chance of Velcro damage is a great idea, but I do have concerns with how secure the new velcroless toggle system is compared to Velcro. I believe there is a higher chance of a brake coming unstowed on deployment with the new system. The excess steering line stowage loops leave more of the steering line exposed during packing and deployment, which again increases the chance of steering line damage or snags.
The new reserve steering toggles are manufactured like the main toggles and are sewn/reinforced in a way that should have the toggles open for an easy grab after deployment, which is a nice improvement.
Javelin's new RSL/Skyhook lanyard is velcroless. It is stowed along the right side of the yoke in a fold-over pouch similar in design to Infinity's RSL lanyard. It's great Sun Path is looking to reduce Velcro, but I know many Infinity owners with this type of RSL lanyard that somehow manage to have the lanyard outside of the pocket floating around. It's just not as secure as Velcro in this configuration.
The two-piece main riser cover tuck tab system is necessary due to the new Skyhook configuration. It seems like it may be more secure than the older Javelin main riser cover tuck tabs. Hopefully the tuck tab system will be more resistant to warping or coming open when the bulk management isn't absolutely correct in the reserve tray.
The Skyhook is positioned on a new reserve container flap located at the top and is closed first on top of the freebag and some of the bridle. The Skyhook is a great new system and leads to a reserve deployment from a partial malfunction cutaway in about 80 feet, according to manufacturer testing and documentation. On UPT Sigma and Vector rigs, the Skyhook is positioned horizontally with a cover flap toward the top of the reserve container. On the new Javelins, the Skyhook is positioned at a 45-degree angle on a triangular flap between the ears of the freebag, near the center grommets and under the pilot chute cap.
To me, it seems the Skyhook positioning is odd. I understand making the Skyhook fit on a Javelin given its original configuration was challenging, but from my perspective, it is not as clean a placement as on the UPT containers. I do know it has been tested successfully by Sun Path, and it is where it's going to be; end of story.
Lastly, we riggers now have a second manufacturer using the square reserve pin. This pin is definitely a little more challenging to pin than the traditional reserve ripcord pin.
I do have a tip to pass along to riggers closing rigs with the square pin: use 1500# spectra for a pullup cord. This still satisfies the wear issue during closing by keeping spectra on spectra. Yet, the larger spectra cord opens up the closing loop enough to allow pinning the square pin comfortably.
Usage of the 1500# spectra was a tip I received from Georgia rigger Joe Bennett about a year ago. This works great on Javelin and Sigma/Vector rigs. The only difference on Sigmas and Vectors with AADs, is that you have to start with a Cypres pullup cord until you get above the AAD cutter, than you just thread the 1500# spectra through the loop and remove the Cypres pullup cord. The reason for this extra step is that the 1500# spectra won't pass through the cutter.
Overall, the new Skyhook-equipped Javelin Odyssey is definitely an improvement over the older Javelin Odyssey. I'm sure over the next several months the company will continue to improve on or change some of the questionable areas such as the veclroless reserve toggle system, the tuck flap RSL lanyard pocket and the skyhook position. Or those designs may prove themselves to be perfect. Either way, Sun Path has shown itself as a container manufacturer that wants to stay on the cutting edge of technology and we skydivers thank them for that.