Hang Gliding vs Paragliding: which is easier, safer and more fun?

Hang Gliding vs Paragliding: Ever wonder what the difference between these two aerial adventures is? Which one is better? Which one is more suitable for you?


Even though many people think that these two air sports are the same, actually there are a number of factors proving that there is a huge distinction between hang gliding and paragliding. Surely, these sports have a lot of things in common, for example, both offer motor-free flight, both require air and winds, but there are many differences between them, which make them unique.  


And in this blog post, I’m going to introduce you to the basic differences between hang gliding and paragliding, so that you can clearly distinguish one air sport from the other and choose one over the other for your next aerial adventure.

Check my list of differences between these two air sports down below. 

1. Differences in the Structure of Hang Gliding and Paragliding

One of the most noticeable differences between hang gliding and paragliding can be seen from the equipment- the shape, size and weight of the glider.

Whereas hang-gliders are stiff structures composed of heavy tarpaulin stretched over a metal airframe with a triangle shape,  paragliders are merely comprised of a paragliding harness hanged beneath a wing made of fabric cells. 

By the way, paraglider wings have a rounder shape. And overall paraglider resembles a parachute, just it’s a bit more rigid and stronger than the standard parachute.

2. Hang Gliding vs Paragliding - Differences in Pilot’s Position

Both hang-gliding and paragliding require air moving upwards in order to increase the duration of the flight, nevertheless, the differences between the shapes imply that the approaches of pilots to operating the equipment must vary as well. So the next significant difference between hang gliding and paragliding is the posture of the flier.

In hang gliding, the flier is laying down in a prone – fully horizontal position similar to superman. While, contemporary chair-like paragliding harnesses let the pilot sit in a high posture in a harness between the wing, which is certainly more convenient, especially for complete beginners than the abnormal position of hang gliding.

In terms of paragliding, the wing and the harness are joined by suspension lines. The paragliding pilot pulls one of the two brake lines to make it go in the direction he wants. Using the brake lines for changing both the direction and speed is very handy and straightforward.

Furthermore, if brakes failures happen, pilots can positione the risers connecting to the rear of the wing to guide and reduce the speed of flight. From the flier posture, rather than just going with the flow of the wind, you can push yourself precisely where you want with rope pulling.

3.Differences between the Physical Demands of Hang Gliders and Paragliders

Both hang gliding and paragliding are relaxing types of sport and both aren’t demanding in terms of pilots’ physical preparedness.

With regard to the pilot’s physical agility, power and activity, there isn’t much required. However, it should be mentioned that managing a hang-glider is more complicated than a paraglider.   

Paraglider pilots change direction and pitch by tugging on the strings attaching them to the awning changing the form of the wing and hence the way the wind interacts with the wing. Although it is likely to seem a little dangerous, it is easier than it seems. Over time you will start to instinctively feel how the glider will act in response to your input.

Contrarily, in hang-gliding, the bodies of pilots are connected to the craft and in order to change the direction they have to move their body weight while turning. By the way, on prolonged flights, you can become a little tired, if you haven’t trained your core. So the sportier and the more athletic you are, the easier hang gliding is for you.

4.Differences between the Speed of Hang Gliders and Paragliders

The feelings people have during hang gliding and paragliding  greatly vary because of the speed differences.

Despite the fact that both gliders have about similar minimum speed (almost 15mph or 25km per hour), hang gliders maximum speed exceeds that of paragliders as a rule due to the construction of the equipment, their heavier weight, pilot’s position and particularly owing to the speed of the wing.

In hang gliding for starters, it is possible to reach from 13 mph to almost 40 mph. Moreover, advanced hang gliders can reach 100 mph. Imagine what it would feel like in the air when this speed on land alone feels extraordinarily fast.  In contrast, in paragliding starters go 13-23mph and advanced ones go from 13 mph to 35 mph. Actually, going more than 35mph is threatening for paragliders conditioned by the structure of the glider. 

 As in hang gliding, one can reach shocking speeds, it is possible to pass fantastically large space in a small amount of time and fly in fierce weather conditions. On the other hand, light winds are favorable for paragliding.  

So we can assume that hang-gliding is more suitable for high-speed thrill-seekers. While paragliding is preferable for those who get pleasure from watching the stunning blue sky and the scenic beauty of nature. 

5.Differences in the Duration of Flights

Both hang gliders and paragliders stay in the air owing to the thermal updrafts. So the duration of each flight depends on the terrain, the weather conditions, and flier skills, experience and intentions.

Both types of flights can last equal amounts of time – from 10 minutes to more than 50 minutes.  At Sky Club, the duration of our tandem flights usually ranges from 10-50 minutes. 

6.Hang Gliding vs Paragliding - Differences in Takeoff Styles

There are differences between hang gliding and paragliding in terms of taking off, as well.To begin with, in hang gliding there are tons of launch styles and techniques. They involve foot-launching from dunes, hills, mountains and cliffs or gliders are pulled up by aircraft, trucks and so on.

On the contrary, in paragliding one has only two options. Either moving forward as much as you can or moving backwards which is considered to be easier. It is worth mentioning that mistakes during take-off can be crucial, so being careful is necessary. 

7.Hang Gliding vs Paragliding - Differences in Landing

Actually, the landing process of hang gliders is much simpler than the launching process. Moreover, owing to its exceptional glide range, the hang glider can reach a broad range of landing territories. Nonetheless, the hang glider requires a larger landing area and a longer approach. But pilots can use a drogue parachute to offset this drawback.

On the other hand, landing is easier for paragliders, as its speed is slower and it requires less space. Also, as it is very portable. One can land wherever he wants without worrying about how to carry it to the vehicle. 

8.Training Differences of Hang Gliding and Paragliding

The rate of a person’s progress in paragliding lessons is higher than that of hang-gliding, as the latter has a higher speed. Hence it requires more time and endeavors to start flying confidently. learning to hang glide requires at least 10 lessons, while 3-4 lessons can be enough for paragliding. Besides this, learning to paraglide is cheaper, but becoming very skilled in paragliding is harder. 

9.Hang Gliding vs Paragliding - Differences in Transportation

If a person has to choose one over the other based on storage and transport, it’s undoubtedly that he would choose paragliding. Wondering why? Because paragliding equipment weighs only 10kg (more than three times less than hang glider), fits into a backpack. Hence it is much easier to assemble, transport and disassemble than hang gliding equipment.  The rigid structure of hang gliders requires to transport them on roof racks, while just only the backseat of your car would be enough for a paragliding kit. 

10.Differences in Cost and Durability

There are also some differences between hang gliders and paragliders in terms of prices. Hang gliding kit costs slightly more than a paragliding kit. You can buy new paragliding kits at the price of 4000-8000 USD. Whereas a new hang glider including a helmet and harness will probably cost 5000-8500 USD. 

Although the equipment for paragliding is more affordable, hang gliding equipment is more durable than paragliding equipment. Moreover, possibly it will last 7-10 years or more, while paragliding kit will become useless after only a few years. This is because the equipment for paragliding is designed for flights having short duration and easier flying conditions. 

11.Paragliding vs Hang Gliding: Which is Safer?

Safety is a key factor when choosing which sport to become engaged in. Both hang gliding and paragliding have weak points in terms of safety. 

Some people believe that hang gliding is safer than paragliding thinking that as a hang glider has a higher weight and a rigid structure, pilots are able to travel at a faster speed. Hence hang gliders are less vulnerable to wind, cloud suck and weather conditions. However paragliders can get into trouble if the wind kicks up a little, and the wing can collapse. 

Others claim that hang gliding is more dangerous as they need larger and barrier-free landing areas. Therefore the possibility of painless landing is less than that of paragliding. Apart from this, they point out that as the speed of hang gliders is faster, there is more risk of getting knee or ankle injuries during landing.

That said, personally, I believe that no matter it is paragliding or hang gliding, both can be risky unless they are approached securely. The adequate training, weather conditions, the state of equipment are factors that if not taken into consideration will have a negative impact on flights and will cause hazards. 

Conclusion on Hang Gliding vs Paragliding

To sum up, although hang gliding and paragliding have some similarities, they differ in many ways.  In paragliding, the learning process is easier, but paragliding flights are slower. In contrast, with hang gliders it is possible to pass large distances at a very high speed coping with bad weather conditions, whereas they contain the flaws of being heavier, having storage and transportation hurdles.  

As we have seen both types of these air sports have their advantages and disadvantages. To choose one over the other you need to think about what kind of experience you want and what you enjoy more.  If you are an adrenaline seeker and want to challenge yourself then hang gliding is the best option for you. However, if you want to soar to the sky and enjoy the scenic view without any tricks or fears then paragliding is more suitable for you. 

That’s it. We hope that this was useful information and now the difference between hang gliding and paragliding is so clear for you that you know which one you prefer. We frankly think that paragliding is the best choice. If you agree, contact us and we will provide an unforgettable paragliding adventure to you.