After a long and great day of jumping, I couldn’t bring myself to pack my last jump (I chose beer!). The next day I was packing in my apartment: brand new canopy, dry air-conditioned air, and a whole lot of frustration. There has to be an easier way to pack! I started thinking, what is a nearly equivalent problem? And it occurred to me that bed sheets are very similar. OK, they don’t save your life (or do they...?), but when you buy a new set of bed sheets, they come packed in a small rectangular plastic bag, folded perfectly. How do they do THAT?? Well, after a little googling and youtubing, I learned they use small rectangular pieces of cardboard to fold the sheets around and define perfect little rectangles of folded fabric. OH wait! Can this be applied to parachute packing as well?? After experimenting with a few different shapes and sizes, “cardboard Pack Monkey” was born (though it wasn’t called that yet).
Realizing that cardboard does not have the resilience to withstand more than a few pack jobs, I needed something tougher. I drafted a first prototype at my friend Louis and Kristen’s house (they had a sewing machine, and Kristen patiently showed me how to use it), took that prototype to the dropzone (Cross Keys in NJ, outside of Philly) and asked everyone what they thought. The response was mostly positive, a lot of “why doesn’t this already exist?” and “neat idea!” comments. That incidentally is also when the tool was named “Pack Monkey” by Mark Kruse (one of those career skydivers who seems impossibly experienced, wise and sometimes witty). Credit to him, I am NOT good at naming things; I was thinking originally of calling it “Bag Horn” (like a shoe horn) knowing that was a pretty bad name, but unable to come up with anything good.
I then reached out to some manufacturers and specified some prototype designs. After a few iterations of the design process, Pack Monkey in its current form was born. My goal now is to show it to everyone, knowing how much easier it has made my packing life.
Pack easily and reliably, and jump more!