Skydiving is known for two things:
Being absolutely amazing, and being absolutely expensive.
But how expensive is skydiving, exactly? How much does a skydiving parachute cost? Or a whole rig, for that matter?
The short answer is that it depends. Like with any sport, there are a lot of variables that go into how much the gear costs. A skydiving canopy can be picked up from anywhere between $200 to $3,500 – depending on if it’s new, used, and the quality.
That being said, I certainly wouldn’t want to fly the $200 canopy!
As a fellow newbie skydiver, I was curious about how much everything costs – so I’ve put together this guide.
How Much Skydiving Gear Costs
After researching everything from online sites and forums to asking skydiving friends, here’s a rough guide to how much skydiving gear costs:
|Gear||Used Low||Used High||New Low||New High|
New vs Old Skydiving Gear
As with any sport, you can see there’s a massive difference between new and used gear!
In skydiving, the advantage of new gear is that it’s customized to your size. That means your rig fits your perfectly, and your canopy has the optimal wing loading for how you like to fly. It’s not like a, car where the size of the driver doesn’t matter!
On the other hand, used equipment is cheaper but might not fit as well. Like a car, it may also be prone to needing more maintenance (i.e. the canopy’s lines).
The main reason used gear is so cheap, however, is that it’s often a buyer’s market. Skydiving is a true passion – one that most people aren’t afraid to save up for. Everyone often wants their own perfect kit, so it’s typically only beginner jumpers that are shopping for a hand-me-down rig.
Skydiving Canopy Costs
From that whole table above, skydiving canopies have the biggest variation in price range.
We’re going all the way from a $200 used bedsheet that someone calls a canopy (probably), to a high-end, custom designed, perfectly balanced canopy that’s guaranteed to turn you into an eagle.
For skydivers, their canopy is like their extension from themselves. Your canopy says a lot about you!
From just their canopy alone, skydivers can tell if you’re…
- A beginner (student chutes)
- Stylish (an awesome design)
- Wacky (a not-so-awesome design)
- Rich (high-end brands)
- Responsible (custom and well-sized canopy)
- Thrill seeking (custom and small-sized canopy)
- Insane (practically flying under a large piece of paper)
Just like a car, a canopy can be seen as your ‘statement’ about what you’re into – and where you’re at – as a skydiver. That reason is why hand-me-down’s are so cheap while brand new parachutes are so expensive.
Now, it’s safe to say that you don’t just need a canopy! (Though I’m sure someone’s tried just holding on to one). Let’s look at total rig costs.
Skydiving Rig Costs (2x Canopy + Container & Harness + AAD…)
Often, the ‘level-up’ to becoming an intermediate skydiver is when you invest in your own rig. While these can be picked up for a few grand, most jumpers tend to save up and fork out $5-7,000 on a rig that really suits them.
This can seem like a lot – and it is – but there’s a lot of things you need to be able to throw yourself out of a plane. So while you could get a small car for the money, here’s what you’re looking at with a full skydiving rig:
- Main Canopy (you often get a lot of choice here when buying new)
- Reserve Canopy (packed and certified by an expert)
- Container (holds everything together)
- Harness (holds you together)
- AAD (automatic activation device – a backup that will open your reserve automatically)
- Altimeter (often thrown in as an extra)
That’s a hefty list – and each of the first 5 items can easily range to well over $1,000 each. That’s why buying a rig can be a great idea. It’s also a guarantee that all the equipment works well together. If you’re buying all the pieces separately, there’s a chance you find out that your canopy doesn’t fit into your container!
However, you might notice that list is missing a few things.
What about helmets? What about jumpsuits? What about altimeters?
Great spot! Let’s walk through these.
Skydiving Helmet Costs
Why wear a helmet if you’re jumping out of a plane?
That’s a question many people ask, and a motto some skydivers stick to. For most of us though, helmets are a no-brainer.
(Or in other words, not wearing a helmet could make you a no-brainer!)
We need helmets to protect us against:
- Smacking your head against the plane as you leave
- Smacking into other skydivers
- Flying into something hard
- Hard landings
They’re also fantastic bases to mount your Go-Pro!
When it comes to skydiving helmets, you typically need to decide between an open and full-faced helmet. Open is a simple helmet with a light chin-strap. A full face helmet is more like that on a motorbike: the helmet itself covers your entire head, often sticking out in front of your chin and with a glass visor.
While these look cool, the biggest isn’t always the best. A full-face helmet can block your view straight down, which is where you might need to look to access your cutaway and reserve equipment.
With all of that said, it’s obvious how important a helmet is! That’s why skydiving helmets can range up to almost $500. They’re also one of the first pieces of equipment to find on a used market, which is why you can often pick up perfectly good models for around a hundred bucks.
Skydiving Accessory Costs
Last up we have our skydiving accessories.
These include anything from your altimeter, to your jumpsuit, to the lucky underwear you wear every time you jump (looking at you, John!)
Altimeters in particular are often a quick pickup – going for as little as $70 used. These are typically the first thing you’ll buy and jump with that’ll be “yours”. A feeling of pride that only gets bigger as you pickup more and more equipment.
Jumpsuits aren’t sold as often, but can range between $100 to $400. Made for colder climates, a jumpsuit is quite literally a ‘suit’ of fabric you put on over your clothes. These are typically super wind-resistant, which is vitally important as it’s MUCH colder up it the sky.
Jumpsuits also range in style – covering types of jumps from indoor skydiving to competition suits. These are for jumping with other jumpers and have straps on the forearms and legs lovingly called ‘Booties’. As in ‘grab my bootie’.
Lastly, you’ve got other accessories including goggles, gloves, sunglasses, packing tools, etc. The list here is huge, and most are either begged borrowed or stolen from friends, or simply added on to online orders. All of these are often under $100, and are needed depending on the type of jumping you’ll do (and particularly in what weather).
Cheap vs Expensive Skydiving Canopies
Going back to the main topic – skydiving canopies vary a TON in cost.
I wanted to include this little section to cover what exactly that extra price tag gets you. While both a cheap and an expensive canopy will (read: should) keep you in the air, they both offer different things:
- A used canopy isn’t made for you. Paying full price means you’ll get the perfect size, wing loading, and shape you want for how you want to fly.
- Cheaper rigs aren’t as comfortable. They’re especially not as customisable, which can be the difference between a soft opening and feeling like someone’s trying to pull your legs off!
- Just like with any sport, brand names exist in skydiving due to their reputations for quality and safety. This helps them ramp up prices. (This isn’t like other things, where expensive can still be bad quality. Well known skydiving companies are generally well known for good reason.
- Agility. A smaller and well-sized canopy will be much easier and much more fun to fly. This is especially important when it comes to landing – and especially if you’re landing (or swooping) at speed.
- Better openings and flares. Before you land a parachute, you pull both toggles down to ‘flare’ the canopy. This slows you down for a moment to land. Nailing your flare is made much easier with a good canopy, which will mean your jumpsuit gets much less mud on it!
How Much Does A Skydiving Canopy Weigh?
Worried about carrying one? A skydiving canopy weighs around 10-12lbs. This is light enough for anyone to carry, especially once it’s open after you’ve landed!
Do bear in mind that you’ll have two canopies on your bag, sitting in a container. The total weight of all this can add up to 30lbs. Thankfully, the rig is strapped tightly to your body, so the weight is distributed evenly (like a good hiking rucksack).
Where to Buy Skydiving Parachutes
Last up, where to buy skydiving parachutes and other gear.
As with most hobbies, the best place to pickup used equipment is actually on eBay. However, the best deals are always made between friends. Asking around at your drop zone is often the best way to find yourself some great used equipment.
In fact, often you’ll find someone looking to sell their old stuff before you even get your license to use your own kit!
The last place to get great kit is on your drop zone’s forums and other community pages.
(Don’t worry. Unlike the rest of the internet I’m not actually trying to sell you anything! These are purely recommendations).
I hope this quick guide has given you some insight into the world of skydiving gear!
If you’re reading this because you’re doing your research, then great. Gear in a spot like this is very personal, and it’s important to spend the time making sure you’re getting the kit that suits you best.
If this article’s helped you, make sure to check out the related ones below.
Thanks for reading, and happy jumping!