Paragliding is a sport that can be both recreational and competitive. It can display amazing views at dizzying high heights. This sport is a one person activity, and is similar to skydiving.
The equipment used for paragliding is mostly developed for safety purposes. Equipment like the harness, reserve parachute and helmet directly relate to physical safety. Awareness is a key factor in this sport, which is where items like a GPS, compass and radio come in handy.
The list below will have you prepared with all of the gear you need to begin paragliding. Make sure you are financially prepared as the equipment can be fairly expensive.
Since you will need ample room for your body to sit comfortably in the harness, a backpack is a good storage option for all of your electronics and smaller items. A backpack also gives you the freedom to keep your hands at the ready if you need to steer yourself in another direction. A suitable backpack for paragliding will cost about $100.
Landing is the final component to paragliding, and you don't want to hurt yourself during your descent. It is essential to be wearing durable boots so that your ankles and feet are protected. Lace straps are recommended so that your laces do not get tangled within the harness. A pair of boots designed for paragliding cost around $300.
A compass is good to have alongside your more specific GPS. When flying high in the sky, it can be easy to lose your sense of direction by gliding through a cloud or fog. A GPS will not work well in low visibility areas or during turbulence, while a basic compass will always know the direction you are heading in. A compass should cost you no more than $30.
A flight deck is very similar to a fanny pack. It can hold small electronics and gives you easy access to them in case you need them quickly. Most paragliders put their radio, GPS, compass and a camera in their flight decks. The deck comes with straps and can be mounted by the carabiners that attach to the wing. It is not too large and can be used as an alternative to a backpack if you are packing light. A flight deck will cost about $100.
A flight suit is important while paragliding because it offers many benefits that will result in a smoother flight. Compared to a regular bulky jacket, flight suits are lightweight, aerodynamic and have a bunch of pockets for personal items. They are most often made of nylon, similar to a windbreaker. Most suits are designed in one piece with a full length zipper and can cost between $100-$200.
High altitudes bring cold temperatures, which means you will need gloves to be comfortable while paragliding. Heated gloves are the best option and give you a when directing your wing. Gloves will prevent your hand from becoming overly cold and possibly frostbitten. A nice pair of heated gloves can cost $100.
GoPros are the smallest and most versatile camera with high quality you can find, as they take exceptional photos and video. A GoPro can easily slide into your pocket or flight deck, just make sure you have it charged and that there is space on the device to create new snapshots and videos of your journey. GoPros range in price from $250-$400.
A combination of a GPS and a variometer is essential when embarking on a paragliding flight. The variometer will keep track of your vertical speed, altitude and air temperature. The main function of the GPS is to tell you your direction and surrounding location. This combination will come in handy when you are not sure what is below you and how fast you should be traveling. A GPS/Variometer combo can range anywhere from $100-$1,400.
Besides the wing, the harness is the most essential piece of equipment for paragliding. The harness acts as a seat for the pilot and also offers a direct connection to the wing. The reserve parachute is stored underneath the harness, and can be triggered by the red loop on the side. Modern harnesses also have an airbag and zippered pouches for personal belongings. There are different types of harnesses, some provide more protection than others. They cost between $450-$1,500.
It is recommended to choose a helmet with a faceguard for paragliding. This is because pilots can land at many different angles, even during the takeoff phase. The faceguard will help protect the jaw along with the nose. Helmets not equipped with faceguards should only be used by experienced pilots. A helmet with a faceguard will cost between $200-$350.
A phone is essential along with all of your other electronics while paragliding. The phone can be used for photography purposes, but in emergency situations it can come in handy. You may be able to reach out for help or use your phone as a spare compass in times of need. The average smartphone with these functions can cost between $500-$1000.
Radios serve the main purpose of communication between other pilots while you are in the air. They can easily relay information to you like the weather on the ground, emergencies and clearances to land. Simple to use radios are recommended and pilots have their own personalized channels in order to connect to authorities. Radios are cheap and very functional, costing about $50.
This radio harness is optional for pilots but is very useful in many situations. It provides easy access to your radio and has a compartment to store extra batteries, instead of having to search your flight deck for a new pair. Also when landing you may land without your flight deck or backpack nearby. Having your radio securely attached via the harness will make it easy for you to quickly communicate with other pilots. A radio harness will cost about $55.
While reserve parachutes are only used in dire situations, they are essential to have onboard while paragliding. It often fits underneath the harness, and should be triggered when your glider is no longer functional. This last resort option will often no longer give you control over where you land, although there are some steerable reserves now available. When buying a reserve parachute, purchase the biggest one to give you the most coverage. Most reserves cost between $600-$1,100.
Sunglasses might be needed while paragliding to ensure you of your direction. Protective eyewear is important when in the sky to combat brightness and sun damage. Having a pair of sunglasses nearby will be very useful when you encounter the sun on your flight. A good pair of sunglasses costs between $50-$100.
The most important piece of equipment while paragliding will be the wing. Either made of nylon or polyester, the wing is the device that keeps you sailing at high altitudes. They are designed with a ribbed pattern to manage aerodynamics and are fairly large in size. They attach to carabiners on your harness. Due to the giant size and functionality of the wing, be prepared to spend between $3,000-$4,000.