What Is the Difference Between Hang Gliding and Paragliding (and Which One Is Safer)?

The primary difference between hang gliding and paragliding lies in their level of convenience, accessibility, comfortability, and safety. These two extreme air sports also differ in the kind of kite they use and the amount of money it takes to get into the sport. Finding out which one is more secure is completely situational given that several factors affect the safety of the two unique sports.
What Is the Difference Between Hang Gliding and Paragliding

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If you are having a hard time picking out which sport you want to engage in, it is strongly recommended by many to try out both hang gliding and paragliding. Having a feel for yourself will greatly help you in deciding which one you like best. These two kinds of flying are very different from each other but both of them pose several challenges and risks so keep in mind that prioritizing your safety should always come first.

Is Hang Gliding the Same as Paragliding?

The two extreme sports have a lot in common. Apart from being more convenient because they are both easily available for use compared to other various types of mechanical flying, hang gliding and paragliding both launch from the ground and offer simple flights that do not require the use of power.

Although they might seem exactly the same, they actually have plenty of differences that make them very distinct from one another. Here’s a table to show you the main differences between hang gliding and paragliding:

Hang Gliding Paragliding
History Has been around for way longer than paragliding. Is a more recent sport that gained massive popularity rapidly in the last few years.
Price Hang gliding kites are priced higher compared to paragliding kites. They range from $5000 to $6000 and you also have to pay for training. Kites used in paragliding are much cheaper than kites used in hang gliding. They cost around $3000 to $4000 and this does not include training fees.
Wing Shape and Design It uses a particular triangular-shaped kite that is more solid since it uses a frame made of aluminum or carbon fiber. It uses a much softer wing structure that has an egg shape once filled with air. It is more like a parachute kite.
Size Hang gliders need a specialized roof rack to be transported on top of a vehicle because they are usually 5 meters long. Can be packed and fit into a backpack with ease which makes it easy to carry around and transport via plane, train or car.
Weight Hang gliding equipment weighs three times more than paragliding equipment excluding extra equipment. Equipment used in paragliding are much lighter and only weighs around 10kg.
Position The pilot in hang gliding is lying horizontally faced down below the A-frame and they use their bodies to make turns. It is an unusual position but thrill-seekers will find the “superman” position incredibly fun. Paragliding pilots sit upright with a harness similar to a chair and make use of the chute to control the flight with their hands. This position is way more pleasant and less intimidating for first-timers.
Safety Although paragliding is considered to be much safer, hang gliding is still a very secure activity due to improvement in technology. Generally speaking, paragliding is deemed to be a more peaceful activity than hang gliding.
Speed and Thrill Factor Hang gliding is capable of going at extremely higher speeds which makes it more thrilling. It allows you to reach approximately 100km per hour while providing you with more opportunities in performing aerial tricks. Paragliding can reach a speed of approximately 20km per hour. It is significantly slower than hang gliding since it is usually done for sightseeing.
Popularity and accessibility Over the last few years, hang gliding became less popular. Schools that offer hang gliding training became fewer and more difficult to find. Due to its higher level of comfortability and safety, paragliding has increased hugely in popularity.
Acquiring proper training Training for hang gliding is much harder and it requires at least 10 lessons before you get the hang of how to maneuver correctly. Obtaining proper training for paragliding is a lot cheaper and easier than hang gliding training. You can easily learn it in just a couple of lessons.

Is Hang Gliding or Paragliding More Fun?

Even though they might seem the same, hang gliding and paragliding offer two completely different experiences. However, it is undeniable that they are both extremely fun activities. As mentioned earlier, hang gliding allows you to go at insanely fast speeds as you carry out various aerial acrobatics while paragliding offers a more comfortable and safer experience as you enjoy wonderful scenic views from high up in the clouds with the birds.

If you are an adrenaline junkie who takes pleasure in reaching incredibly high speeds, then hang gliding will give you a lot of entertainment. On the other hand, if you are someone who finds joy in soaring slowly in the sky while looking at picturesque sceneries, then paragliding will be a lot of fun for you. With that said, the only way to find out which is more fun is for you to try both.

Is Hang Gliding Safer or More Dangerous Than Paragliding?

Both hang gliding and paragliding have inherent risks, but some people claim that hang gliding is more dangerous because it is faster. This means that the possibility of sustaining an ankle, knee, or hand injury is much higher amidst landing the hand glider. In addition, some also claim that you have a backup deployable parachute that you can count on if your parachute collapses.

On the contrary, others say that paragliding is more dangerous because you are more likely to suffer from a serious injury or even worse, a fatal accident. They also say that paragliders are more prone to the change in weather conditions which can cause the wing to collapse. Having said that, there are risks in whatever sport you get into and all these dangers can be mitigated so long as you proceed with caution.

Why Is Paragliding More Popular Than Hang Gliding?

Paragliding has obtained more massive popularity than hang gliding very quickly in the past few years because of its advantages. It is easier, cheaper, safer, and more comfortable because you are seated in a chair-like harness. Paragliding became more well-known to more and more people because of these advantages while hang gliding declined in popularity.

Paragliders are also much easier to bring with you since it is packable and transportable by different modes of transportation (car, train, plane, etc.) which makes it more suitable for traveling. On top of that, paragliding costs relatively cheaper than hang gliding, and learning how to fly paragliders is less difficult.

Which Is Better – Hang Gliding or Paragliding?

As with all extreme sports, they both have their pros and cons. Plenty of people find the “superman” position in hang gliding a lot of fun because you are facing down with your arms are stretched out which gives you a beautiful feeling of soaring fast like a bird high up in the sky. It can also be a bit of a hassle since it takes so much more effort to pack, transport, set up, and land compared to paragliding.

On the other hand, some prefer paragliding because it is super convenient, and you get to have an exceptionally fun time catching sight of the breathtaking sceneries around you. It can be slightly unsteady when dealing with harsh weather conditions because of its soft wing which is why some prefer to hang gliding more. It can be quite hard to make up your mind since hang gliding and paragliding both have a lot to offer and the only way for you to find out which one you like better is to spend some time trying out the two sports.