paragliding equipment

Paragliding Equipment – What do you need to get started?

There are a number of things that you will need to start paragliding, we will cover the basics at the start then we will move on to some of the optional extras in order of importance. There are also some things that are important depending on how you want to fly.

For example, you will need some other accessories if you want to fly long distances and if you want to go into remote areas you will need some safety and survival gear.

Essential Paragliding Equipment – What do I need to start paragliding?

So, what do you need, what is the bare minimum to start paragliding? Well here is a list of the essential equipment to get you in the air.

This is what you would need if you wanted to go and start training in a school with your own equipment. Or to just go and fly solo. 

Note: Many schools will provide you with equipment for the training, make sure you check what is included before you buy your own gear. 

For example, you will need some other accessories if you want to fly long distances and if you want to go into remote areas you will need some safety and survival gear.

Paraglider wing

This one is pretty obvious but you will actually need a paraglider wing. You will need to find the correct wing for your weight and skill level.

The most important things to look at when buying a paragliding wing are.

  1. Your total flying weight; allows you to buy the correct size of glider.
  2. Your skill level and experience. Almost all beginners start with a class EN-A glider as they are very safe and great to learn on.

See our guide before you get your first wing.

Reserve Parachute

A reserve parachute, while not 100% required is highly recommended for beginners and most pilots. Only pilots who have a specific reason to carry a reserve and have completed SIV training should not carry a reserve parachute.

You should also learn how and when to throw your reserve parachute. Knowing the correct and incorrect time to throw the reserve is very important as well as how to control the main chute after you have deployed the reserve. 

Paragliding Harness

There are many different kinds of paragliding harnesses and many for different purposes. You will need to choose the correct harness for your use and size. Here are some of the different kinds of harnesses.

  • Standard harnesses
    These are usually quite safe and have an upright seating position and all the basics that you would for simply flying up to a couple of hours. These are what are generally used in schools as they are easy to use and give the pilot a lot of safety and control.
  • Hiking Harness 
    Next are hiking harnesses for “hike and fly” these are great if you want something lightweight and there are a number of them that are reversible so that you don’t need a bag to go with it. 
  • Pod Harness
    Pod harnesses are usually what experienced pilots will use they have a very laid back seating position, and are made to be very aerodynamic to give the best performance in the sky. These are not usually advised for beginners as they take a lot of getting used to and have their own nuances when it comes to controlling the glider. 
  • Minimalist Harnesses
    These are the smallest of the bunch and are usually just made of some straps and material. They are used when you want the absolute minimum weight like when doing aerobatics. 

Paragliding Helmet

One of the most important pieces of safety equipment that all pilots should have is a helmet. There are several different varieties that you can choose from.

  • Open-face paragliding helmets
    Open face helmets like the supair pilot helmet on the left are some of the most common. These are great in most weather conditions, provide decent safety and great visibility.
  • Full-face paragliding helmets 
    Typically used in competition and by more experienced pilots full-face helmets have better safety, especially in the event of forward fall. 

While there are a number of options specifically for paragliding it is quite common for pilots to use snow helmets. While not quite as safe they are still a good option and there are many more options available.

See our post on helmets to learn more.

This concludes this list of Essential Equipment for paragliding. there are other items like a phone and radio that most pilots will carry every time anyway but these are not 100% required. 

Optional Paragliding Equipment

There are many optional pieces of Paragliding equipment that you can choose to fly with. Some pilots will say some of these are required, like a variometer and a radio but they are not strictly required. 


Most pilots carry 1 or 2 radios with them when they fly. One for communication between pilots and other people on the ground like a chase car. Some also carry an airband radio for operations around restricted airspace.

  • UFH Radio
    UFH is a short-range line of sight radio band allowed for use by the general public. This is what most pilots use for in-flight communication as it can travel a fairly long way when there are no obstacles in the way. No license is needed for this type of radio.
  • VHF Radio
    VHF is a restricted radio band that depending on what country you are in has channels available for use in free flight. It typically has a range of around 10km depending on the landscape. Be careful when using VHF unlicensed as many countries carry penalties for misuse.
  • Airband Radio
    Airband is a specific type of radio only used by aircraft and Air traffic control. If you wish to enter controlled airspace you will need to be licensed and have an airband radio to fly in that space. Many pilots don’t have airband and don’t bother getting it as it requires another certification and a separate radio. 


A variometer is a very sensitive altimeter that can determine altitude changes down to about 10cm changes in height. This is used to show your relative change in altitude while flying. 

A vario (variometer) is a very useful piece of equipment and there are many different options available. From the cheap models that simply give an audible signal of the rate of climb that you can feel. All the way to GPS embedded models that 

Paraglider GPS

If you want to fly long distances or you need to fly around complex controlled airspace then it will be very important to have a GPS. 

There are many models of GPS designed for paragliders and hang gliders. they incorporate an internal battery, weatherproofing, and easy to read screens that you can see in the sun. 

If you want to become a long-distance pilot then a unit like this will be extremely valuable. 

These are not recommended for beginners though as the added complexity of running one of these units can quickly overwhelm a beginner meaning they will forget to do other more important things.

Personal Locator Beacon

Another important piece of safety equipment is a PLB or personal locator beacon. for use in emergencies when there is no one in the radio range and no cellphone reception this unit will send a distress signal via satellite to authorities so they can come and save you. 

Very important if you plan to be flying through remote mountainous regions where there is no contact with the outside world.  

Frist-aid Kit

This really should be in the essential column but it is technically optional. 

Every pilot should carry a first aid kit and know how to use it. It will probably only get used for little cuts and minor issues from time to time but if there ever is a big injury you will be very happy that you have one. 

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