One of the most frequent questions we receive from prospective jumpers is "What do I wear?" For first-time jumpers or solo students, what to wear is simple. You can wear whatever clothes are comfortable for the day (i.e. long pants and sweatshirt or jacket on colder days, or shorts and t-shirt on warmer days). Most dropzones require lace-up tennis shoes (sneakers) and prohibit the wearing of hard-soled shoes or sandals. Most skydiving centers will provide all other attire-related items that you need, including a jumpsuit, goggles, altimeter, helmet (for solo students) and gloves/hat (if cold enough to warrant them). Wearing of jumpsuits is generally optional for tandem skydivers, but not for solo students. If the weather is suitable for you, most skydiving centers will allow you to jump in shorts and a t-shirt, and some may allow you to jump with no clothes at all! If you wear corrective lenses (glasses or contacts), the skydiving center will provide suitable eye protection so that you may wear the corrective lenses.
The jumpsuit is designed to hold-up in the high-wind environment and protect you and your clothing in freefall and on landing. The jumpsuit also helps to deter the cold. As a general rule, the temperature will decrease by 3 degrees Farenheight for every 1000 feet of altitude, so for a 10,000' skydive, the temperature at altitude will be approximately 30 degrees less than on the ground.
The experienced skydivers you see at the dropzone will be wearing a variety of different clothing items, depending on what they are doing on the jump. Belly-flying jumpsuits are designed for belly-to-earth flying and look different than a free-flying jumpsuit (for vertical flying, i.e. head down or feet first). Some experienced skydivers wear gloves on every jump, regardless of the temperature. Helmets are optional for experienced skydivers. There are additional suits that instructors and camera persons wear. Most tandem instructors wear street clothes or jump pants and a t-shirt, while most videographers have camera-wings on their suits to give them more range in freefall (to capture that special moment). Bigger suits with wings on the upper and lower body are called wingsuits (the public often refers to these suits as bird-man or flying squirrel suits), and allow the skydiver to slow his/her fall rate and increase forward speed. Wearing the extra drag a wingsuit provides can increase a normal freefall from 60 to 240 seconds.
Whatever you wear, skydive near chicago and chicago area skydiving is the most fun you can have with your clothes on!