Hang Gliding vs. Paragliding (2022)

Hang Gliding vs. Paragliding - There seems to be a constant debate of which is better than the other. When debating hang gliding vs. paragliding, there are a ton of factors to consider! It goes above and beyond the basic equipment and flight speeds. While hang gliding and paragliding have their similarities, they also have their differences. So, whether you are a hang glider or a paraglider who is looking to learn about the other sport, someone who is trying to decide which sport is more suitable for them, or someone is fascinated with the hang gliding vs. paragliding debate, continue below!


  1. Differences between Hang Gliding and Paragliding, Some Basic Facts to Understand
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  2. Conclusion on Hang Gliding VS Paragliding

Differences between Hang Gliding and Paragliding, Some Basic Facts to Understand

Hang Gliding vs. Paragliding (1)
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Do you know the differences between hang gliding and paragliding? Although most people think that they are the same, they are actually different. Sure, both of the sports share some similarities but let’s not forget that they also share some of the basic differences. Both of them will take you t

o soar to the sky. They will also allow you to enjoy the view from above. You will be pampered with the scenic beauty while you descend. Keep in mind that such sports may not be for everyone – especially those who are afraid of tall and high places. But if you want to enjoy nature from another perspective while coping with the challenging situation, then both of them can be your best options.

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The question is now: which one is better? Which one suits you the most? In order to know more about the two sports, let’s dig further to the facts and details. The similar traits are that both of them need air and winds so the flyers can soar to the sky. They also need the air moving upward so they can extend their flights

Hang Gliding vs Paragliding - Differences in Equipment

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The first differences between hang gliding and paragliding can be seen from the equipment. When you hang glide, you will hold on to a bar withatriangle shape connected to the wings. The wings havearigid and solid frame – certainly more rigid than those on paragliding. The equipment for hang gliding has a basic structure with only fewer cords. On the other hand, when you paraglide, you are attached to a parachute-like construction. Surely, the structure is more solid and stronger than the regular parachute. But when compared to the hang gliding, the structure of paragliding wings are somewhat rounder and more cords. In terms of assembling and disassembling (as well as for transport), the hang gliding equipment is easier to manage and arrange.

If you are a hang glider, or you have noticed hang gliding equipment, you are attached/holding on to a triangle shape bar that is connected to your wing. The frame of the wing is more rigid than a paragliding wing. Also, paragliding wings tend to have a rounder shape around the corners. Hang gliding equipment tends to have more of a basic structure, with fewer cords, than paragliding equipment. So, hang gliding equipment is a lot easier to assemble, disassemble, and transport than paragliding equipment.

Another huge difference between hang gliding and paragliding equipment is how the equipment requires the flier to fly. When to hang gliding, the rigid structure requires the flier to fly in a position similar to superman. But, the relaxed structure of a paraglider allows the flier to fly in a sitting up position. Although the fundamentals of hang gliding and paragliding are different, both of the sports require winds and air moving upwards to extend the time of their flight.

Hang Gliding vs Paragliding - The Difference in Position

The second difference is related to the flying position. For us, the regular people, the flying position may seem similar – but not for the flyers. In hang gliding, the flyer’s position needs to be in a superman-like position. Because of the solid and rigid construction and the fact that the flyer needs to hold on to the bar, the flyer should be attached in the proper position – the superman-like thing. On the contrary to the hang gliding, flyers in paragliding can fly in the sitting upright position. The position in paragliding is somewhat more relaxed than the position in hang gliding.

While hang gliding and paragliding require fliers to launch off high altitude areas and glide through the air, the way they do it is different. Since pilots are strapped to the wing in a superman position in hang gliding, they are required to shift their body weight in order to change direction. While hang gliders have to move around during their flights, paragliders just have to sit there and pull cords—well, it’s harder than that. Paragliders change direction by gently pulling on cords which are connected to the paragliding wing. When paragliders pull on the cords, the paragliding wing slightly alters its shape, thus, the wind can shift the wing differently.

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Hang Gliding vs Paragliding - Further Differences

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As it was mentioned before, both sports share similarities but their differences are more than the similarities. Both of them need a launching platform, which is generally located ina high altitude area. It allows the flyers to glide and descend downward. However, keep in mind that they may do it in a different way. In hang gliding, the flyers will be strapped to the bar structure. They need to shift their weights when they want to change course or directions. Hang glider flyers need to move around while flying. In paragliding, however, flyers don’t need to do anything. They only need to change cords while sitting. The cords are connected to the wings. So when the flyers pull the cords gently, they change the shape of the wings – the wind takes care of the rest by shifting the wing in a different way. Those are other differences between hang gliding and paragliding.

Don’t forget to pay attention to glide ratios, sink rates, and speed. For a starter related to speed, hang gliders generally go faster when compared to paragliders. This is because of the construction of the equipment and also the flying position. Beginner hang gliders can reach from 14 mph to around 45 mph, while the advanced ones can go up to 100 mph. 100 mph on land alone feel fast so you can imagine what it feels on the sky. On the contrary, paragliders (beginners) will go from 13 mph to 22 mph while the advanced ones may go up to 35 mph, max. As you can see, it is quite a difference because paragliders would be exposed to greater dangers if they go more than 35 mph – it is related to the equipment and the structure.

What about the sink rates? Sink rates refer to gliding down rates while on air – measured in fpm or feet per minute. The lower the rate, the easier it will be to remain up. When it is related to it, hang gliders have better rates than the paragliders. Beginner hang gliders may have between 200 fpm and 220 fpm, while the advanced ones may have 160 fpm to 180 fpm. Beginner paragliders may have 220 fpm to around 240 fpm. As you can see from these differences between hang gliding and paragliding, the sink rates for hang gliding are better than paragliding. Let’s not forget that hang gliding generally can fly further and longer. This makes hang gliding a laid back and somewhat relaxed extreme sport on air.

Other huge differences between hang gliders and paragliders are speed, sink rates, and glide ratios. To begin, hang gliders tend to go much faster than paragliders. This is mainly contributed to the position that hangs gliders fly in and the general construction of their equipment. Beginner hang gliders can go anywhere from 14 mph to 45 mph, and advanced hang gliders usually go anywhere from 16 mph to over 100 mph. 100 mph is extremely fast on land, imagine what it would feel like in the air with virtually nothing encasing you! While hang gliders can go just as fast as a high-speed cop chase, paragliding is a little bit lower key.

Beginner paragliders tend to go 13 mph to 22 mph, and advanced paragliders tend to go anywhere from 14 mph to 35 mph. In fact, it is dangerous for paragliders to go above 35 mph. Some paragliders even say that going 35 mph is too extreme for them. Again, this has to do with the general structure of paragliding equipment.

Moving on to the sink rates of hang gliding and paragliding, hang gliders have better sink rates than paragliders. Sink rates are the rate at which a pilot glides down in still air. Sink rates are measured in feet per minute (fpm). A hang gliding beginner sink rate ranges from 200 to 220 fpm, and an advanced hang gliding sink rate ranges from 160 to 180 fpm. A beginner paraglider sink rate ranges from 220 to 240 fpm. So, right off the bat, you can tell that hang gliding sink rates are much better than paragliding sink rates.

The lower the sink rate, the easier it is to stay up. So, then it should come as no surprise that the glide ratios for hang gliders are more superior to paragliding glide ratios. Thus, hang gliders can fly much further than paragliders, so hang gliding flights tend to be longer than paragliding flights. So, if you are looking for a more laid back extreme sport, which can be done in shorter periods of time, paragliding might be right for you. But, if you want a truly exhilarating experience, which can last for hours at end, then be sure to try to hang gliding!

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Hang Gliding vs Paragliding - Price Differences

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Price is also another huge difference. Hang glider equipment tends to be cheaper than paraglider equipment. Also, hang glider equipment tend to last a lot longer than paragliding equipment. This is accounted for because while hang gliding equipment is crafted specifically for longer and more advanced flying conditions, paragliding equipment is crafted for shorter and easier flying conditions. Thus, hang gliding equipment tends to be more durable. So, if you want a cheaper sport that will not require a lot of upkeep or purchasing new equipment more frequently than you may want to try to hang gliding instead of paragliding.

Don’t forget that when we are talking about equipment, we are talking about cost or price. Hang glider equipment is relatively cheaper when compared to paragliding equipment. Not to mention that hang glider stuff is generally sturdier, leading to long-lasting use. It goes back to the basic construction and design. The equipment for hang gliding is designed foralonger and more advanced flying condition. They are stronger and more durable. The one for paragliding, on the other hand, is designed fortheeasier and shorter condition.

Conclusion on Hang Gliding VS Paragliding

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There is no such thing as the winner over hang gliding and paragliding debate. They do share some similarities as well astheir differences. To choose which one you will like more, you need to look into your personal preference and like. Are you a relaxed type? Are you competitive? Do you want to enjoy the air longer? Do you want to learn quickly or are you willing to spend more time? Ask yourself these questions and you should be able to make an educated decision. Now that you already know the similarities and differences between hang gliding and paragliding, which one you choose?

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Overall, although hang gliding and paragliding initially seems to be extremely similar, they are very different. Virtually everything about hang gliding and paragliding is different. The only overruling similarity seems to be the basic fundamentals of it: you are gliding through the air while being attached to some type of wing. There is not really a winner of the hang gliding vs. paragliding debate. If you really want a winner, it should be chosen by you and the aspects you are looking for from an extreme sport. Hang gliding is extremely faced paced, less expensive, and somewhat more durable than paragliding. But, paragliding is easier to learn and master than hang gliding because the flights tend to be slower, shorter, and of a lower altitude.

Paragliding is also an activity that is more accessible because you can usually complete a flight in under an hour. Thus, there are pros and cons to hang gliding and paragliding. There are also similarities and differences. While hang gliding isn’t better than paragliding, and vice versa, one may be better suited for you. It’s just up to you to decide which is the better sport for you.

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