Paragliding sometimes gets a bad rap as a hobby that’s especially hard to pick up without a significant investment. Far too many would-be paraglider enthusiasts are discouraged from joining the fun from the start. The truth about paragliding costs is quite different.
Sometimes it can be hard to get good information on the cost of a paraglider, classes, and accessories. Or the information is confusing. We put together this article to help clear up any misconceptions about this one-of-a-kind sport- paragliding.
Is paragliding your biggest dream? Or, is it a hobby about which you’re just curious to learn more? Either way, we’ve got estimates on total costs for you.
Of course, the range of paragliding options is vast. The total cost of purchasing a paraglider itself, safety equipment, training classes, and certifications will depend on what you’re comfortable paying. Helpfully, we’ve put together a couple of estimates that should apply to most introductory paragliders.
The average paraglider will cost you $2,600-$4,000 for a quality beginner or mid-range unit. The overall average is about $3,500.
If you buy a pre-owned unit, there are significant savings. However, don’t expect to find a quality (and, more importantly, safe) paraglider for less than $600. We recommend buying a new unit for a first paraglider. With a used paraglider, you may end up paying more with all the repairs and replacement parts you’ll end up needing.
What Else Do You Need Besides a Paraglider?
Once you’ve got your eyes set on a quality paragliding rig that will fit your budget, it’s time to think about other expenses. What additional costs, you might be asking? There are a few.
Safety Equipment and Extra Gear
Paragliding is perhaps the most exhilarating hobby out there. Even so, no other pursuit puts such a high priority on your safety. To be a suitable paraglider, you’ll need more than your rig.
Unfortunately, the extra equipment can be costly. But intelligent buyers can keep costs down. You’ll need the following accessories:
- Paragliding helmet– Always buy new head protection either from reputable sellers or training schools. Helmets from school programs can be about $100. Custom and mid-range helmets usually start at $180 and top off at $600.
- Flying gloves- A good pair of gloves shouldn’t cost you any more than $50. Above that point, you won’t get many extra features. Second-hand gloves are also suitable.
- Your harness- A paragliding harness is essential to your kit, and it’s key to buy one that fits your body well. Expect costs between $400 and $2,000.
- Extra parachute- Reserve parachutes are a must if safety is vital for you. The best brands offer chutes for $1,500, but $500 offerings will do just as well.
- Boots- Paragliding boots should be on your checklist because they boost performance exponentially. But hiking boots also work. Good paragliding boots cost about $325.
- Backpack- Specialty paragliding backpacks average $200, and it’s worthwhile to invest in one for the long term. Strong hiking packs are a good substitute, as long as it’s light and weather resistant.
If you don’t have the training, you won’t go very far with your new paragliding rig and safety accessories. Education is a critical stage that all paragliders pursue.
It’s not imperative to get a formal license to be a paraglider (paragliders are classified as “ultralights” by the Federal Aviation Regulations Section 103).
However, you will need a permit if you plan to join the USHPA or United States Hang Gliding & Paragliding Association. It’s much more fun to enjoy the sport when you’re a part of the association, anyway. If you plan to become a paragliding pilot, then a license is required.
So, how much do training courses usually cost? In our experience, an average paragliding lesson with a creditable school costs $140-$170. Most gliders are fully competent and get a license within 15 classes. Many eager hobbyists can achieve competence in as little as 7.
In total, we estimate the total cost of training to be $2,000. It’s a high price, but essential.
Upkeep and Maintenance
Talk to any pilot, and you’ll probably hear about how much of their time and energy (and cash) goes into maintaining their rig. Paragliding is no different. The hobby is hazardous if you get into poor conditions. You’ll need to invest in upkeep to stay safe.
What are the most prevalent reasons for upkeep in the hobby of paragliding? Here are some maintenance costs you’ll likely need to prepare to spend:
- Wing damage- The most common site of glider damage is the wing. An entire wing repair can cost thousands. You can fix tears less than 10cm in length with inexpensive wing tape
- UV damage from overexposure to sunlight
- Mildew or heat (smoke) damage to the canopy. Invest in dry storage space.
- Dirt and scuffing– The harness, lines, and canopy will lose integrity if you don’t properly store them and fold them away.
- Repairs to the paraglider– Paragliding is an aviation sport. It is essential to repair your rig often. Expect to pay no less than $4,000.
By final expenses, we don’t mean funeral costs…No, the opposite! These final costs are those that slip through the cracks and rarely show up on your budget until you’ve already paid them. Some of these extra costs include:
- Radios- The more involved you get with the association (or the more people you invite into the sport), the more critical radios are. A good one costs $180.
- Fuel costs- You’ll need to pay fuel to and from training and gliding locations. It adds up. Fuel usage varies, but you may spend $100s every weekend if your gliding locations are far away.
- Insurance- Paramotor insurance isn’t necessary, but it’s a good idea to cover your motor for the long haul. The United Ultralights Association has more information.
Let’s add up the estimated costs. A $3,500 paraglider plus $2,000 training, plus $2,000 in safety equipment and finally $500 in extra expenses equals…$8,000. That figure falls on the high end of our estimates, but it’s still a real number to keep in your budget.
Yes, paragliding can be an expensive hobby. However, it doesn’t have to be outside your budget. Buying second-hand equipment and gear is one way to drop costs.
Talking to local paragliders or reading up on paragliding is perhaps an even better way to learn how to enjoy the sport without breaking the bank. We hope you’ve found some guidance in this article! Stay safe and keep gliding!