One major downside to skydiving is that there are weight limits.
While the sport is incredible – really incredible – everything is based on safety. Safety of the gear, safety in control, safety in landing. And unfortunately, a skydivers weight affects all three.
It’s true that there are weight limits to skydiving. Both for tandem and solo jumps. In this article I go through what these limits are (depending your skydiving drop zone), why they’re in place, and what your options are.
In short, the weight limit for skydiving is about 225lbs (100kg). This is the maximum weight that most skydiving airfields will allow. However, you can skydive at a heavier weight in some locations (listed below). This does depend on a few factors, and may include a surcharge for the weight.
That’s the short answer, but I’ve covered everything you need to know below.
Skydiving Weight Limits – In Detail
Despite misconceptions (thanks Hollywood), skydivers are generally super safe people. They might be crazy, but they’re not reckless.
For that reason, every dropzone will make you step on a scale – privately – to make sure you’re within their weight limits.
These limits do vary per drop zone, but there’s a standard that almost every airfield abides to. This pass/fail system looks at your height and weight to see if you’ll fit the harness well, and not put too much strain on the kit.
Trust me, you don’t want to ignore this and then have a 20 minute torturous ride under canopy in too small of a harness! Say goodbye to any feeling in your legs…
Below is the general chart that most airfields stick to – courtesy of Chicago Skydive.
As you can see, it’s not just the weight that’s the limit. Your height also comes in to play. Unfortunately, if you’re super tall you could be perfectly slim but still be over the limit.
While I know this all seems unfair, there’s very real, very scary reasons behind it.
Let me explain why this is important first, before we get into ways around it.
Why Skydiving Has Weight Limits
Now, don’t get me wrong. The equipment used in skydiving is strong. Super strong.
Some say that you could even put a small car underneath a skydiving canopy, and it would land mostly undamaged (I’ve always wanted to test it).
So why is the weight limit for skydiving so strict?
Well, there’s a few reasons for that. I’ll go through them 1 by 1.
Even if a piece of equipment ‘could’ take more weight, there’s generally a maximum recommended amount given by a manufacturer.
In skydiving, this is typically the tandem student harness, and the overall kit of the combined student and instructor.
If you push these limits, you’d be using the equipment outside of their allowed limits. That means you’d void any insurance, and literally be putting your life at risk. Now in a literal sense, I know that the hooks attaching you could probably take a good bit more weight than we allow. But I would never, ever want to push that limit!
Wear & Tear
Now, let’s say we strap a heavier person into the gear and send them on their merry way. The other issue here is that – while everything will hold together – the wear and tear is a lot more damaging. Particularly when the parachute deploys, and all that gear has to rapidly slow you down from falling at 120mph to about 5mph. Imagine breaking at those speeds in a car, it’s a lot of force!
The more weight under a parachute, the harder it is to control.
Too heavy of a student and instructor can hinder the control you have over the parachute. That means risking a sketchy flight path, or not being able to turn properly.
Trust me, the last thing you want is to find yourself landing in some angry farmers field, with a bull coming towards you and a small cabin’s worth of canopy attached to you!
Lastly, more weight means faster fall speed. Even under parachute.
That faster fall speed makes it much harder to land properly. It’s the difference from jumping onto a treadmill when it’s running at walking speed, vs jumping onto it at a brisk jog. It’s hard to get the landing right.
The majority of skydiving injuries happen during landings (sprained ankles, bruised elbows), and added weight only increases this likelihood.
With all of that covered, let’s look into what to do if you’re eager to throw yourself out of an airplane, but find yourself (or your friend) weighing over 225lbs.
Can I Skydive If I’m Over 225lbs?
Here’s the good news – the answer is yes! The bad news? It kind of depends, and it’ll probably cost you.
While not every airfield does this, there are some skydiving airfields with higher weight limits. A few include:
- Skydive Utah: 250lbs. https://www.skydiveutah.com
- Skydive Wisconsin: 240lbs tandem, 235lbs solo. https://skydivetwincities.com
- Skydive Virginia: 265lbs. https://www.skydiveorange.com
I’m working on researching all of these airfields into one big database. If you’re in the UK, you’re in luck. Here’s a good number of the UK skydiving drop zones and their weight limits.
What If I’m Just A Little Over The Weight Limit?
I’ll be honest, some instructors might let a few pounds slide, with a sly comment of skipping lunch!
In most cases however – it’s a hard and fast number. This is because everything needs to be written down, and if anything were to happen, a serious review process gets hammered down onto the airfield. Including looking into tiny malpractices like this.
Skydiving only exists because it’s safe, and no self-respecting instructor will break the rules.
That being said, it doesn’t mean you can’t game the system a little bit. Skip breakfast, dehydrate yourself the day before, and you could quickly lost just enough to get on board. After the weigh-in you can rehydrate.
The bottom line, though, is that this could just be a great motivator to lose weight. There’s a lot of skydivers out there who had to shed a few pounds before jumping. Their desire to finally skydive was what pushed them to change up their diet and hit the gym!
Other jumpers keep weight off for the sport. Being held up in a harness is a lot more comfortable if you’re a lighter person – you also glide back down slower and generally get easier landings. So there’s a number of skydivers who stay active so they can fly easier.
Well, that’s about it when it comes to skydiving weights!
In the future I do hope to collate a full database of all the USA dropzones that accept jumpers above 225lbs. If you happen to find something like this, please do let me know.
I hope you enjoyed reading this. If you did, please do check out the related articles below.