Choosing The Right Paraglider
The tandem flight or the taster day has gone well, maybe you have completed your first introductory course and the time has come for you to buy your first wing and equipment. It can be a daunting task to make sure you buy the right equipment. There is a lot out there to choose from but with a few key questions answered we can narrow down the list.
- Safety Rating
- Size & Style
Here is our guide to buying your first paraglider setup…
When to Buy?
Paragliding is not for everyone and we highly recommend that, before you go out and buy any equipment, you have some lessons or at least a tandem experience.
If you have done a few days, maybe even your EP or IPPI 1 or 2, then maybe you are considering buying some gear and continuing to learn on our own stuff. This is a good idea as it give the instructor you are learning with a chance to show you things about your own equipment that you might not know should you have bought it after you finished the course using school equipment. Having the instructor check over the gear and ensure it is suitable for you is also a good idea, especially if the equipment is used or ex demo.
Don’t feel pressure to choose your school because they offer free training with equipment purchases. They all offer this more or less (we do too ;-)). Choose your school because it feels right and you get on well with the instructor. Here is a list of BHPA Schools.
The most important thing to consider when choosing your first paraglider is it’s safety rating. There are a number of classification to identify the performance and handling characteristics of wings including the DHV rating system and the EN Rating system. For this article we will only focus on the EN Ratings.
When starting out with paragliding you want a wing that you can trust most importantly. When you know it has been tested and designed to be a safe as possible this helps. This helps us focus on learning to fly it well rather than staring at the skinny bits of webbing holding you up and panicking. Typically you want to stick to EN A paragliders when you are buying your first wing.
EN A gliders have been designed with beginners in mind. Easy to inflate and take off, gentle to control and fly. They don’t collapse easily and when they do, and by the time you have noticed, the wing has recovered and is likely flying on the same course and heading it previously was. Nowadays EN A rated wings have fantastic performance and
As you progress you will want to upgrade to wings that have a higher performance level and handle a little more dynamically. You will then look at EN B wings. The majority of wings are in the EN B range and deliver excellent balance of safety and performance. Many pilots never progress past the EN B class as it is sufficiently wide to give the pilot choice. You may have heard people talk about ‘High B’s ‘ or ‘Low B’s.’ This refers to where in the B Classification the wing has been placed.
Only after a lot of experience would we then consider flying paragliders that have an EN rating of C, D or CCC. This wings are very dangerous to fly if you do not know how to actively fly them and recover from situations that often occur flying these wings. To buy a wing of this rating most Paragliding Retailers, including ParaglidingGuide.com, require further information regarding your flying experience before they will decide to sell such a wing to you or not.
Considering your budget is also important. While paragliders are not cheap we must remember it is an aircraft in a backpack that can allow you to fly hundreds of kilometres. Considering that, it is relatively inexpensive.
Like all sporting brands there are expensive ones and less expensive ones. There of course are differences in quality between the brands, they all produce very high quality products but this does necessarily reflect the price tag. Many of the more affordable wings out there are actually some of the higher quality wings available.
A new paraglider can cost you anything from 2000 to 4500 GBP
You should consider the style of flying you will pursue when considering what wing or wings you should buy. Where will you fly, how often will you fly, is there a hike up to the take off, what is the terrain like where you will fly?
If you like to hike or have to hike to take off then considering a light weight wing and a light weight harness may suit your needs and flying style. Most manufacturers make lighter versions of some of their wings. Light weight wings tend to wear quicker and don’t fair well in rocky or sandy conditions. A light weight wing in Morocco for example may not go too well whereas the a light weight wing on grassy take offs of a Swiss mountain side might be more agreeable. If you wish to fly the beach or any coastal sites then forget light weight wings.
If you plan to stick to weekend flying, or maybe less, then staying well in the EN A range would be wise. If you are more ambitions and will fly more than just the weekends, maybe you are self employed and live where the conditions are reliable, a low EN B may suit you better.
You might feel some pressure from the school to buy their ‘preferred’ or particular brand. That coupled with the fact that any pilot you talk to on the hill will tell you they love their wing and their brand. So, who do you listen to and which brands are the best?
We here at Paragliding Guide have no affiliation to one brand but of course we have our preferences. In fact, our shop is a reflection of our preferences, if we don’t believe in the product or the brand then we don’t sell it. Our advice to you would be to stick to the big well known brand names until you have more experience and have your own preferences.
For more information on any equipment here or in our Shop, anything paragliding related in fact, then please do not hesitate to get in contact with us. Even if it is some advice on some second hand gear you have found and would like another opinion. Contact Us
Here are some examples of EN A Paragliders: