What's the Difference Between Paragliding and Hang Gliding? Discover now!

Paragliding vs hang gliding

Have you ever wondered what the difference between paragliding and hang gliding is?

At first glance, they seem very similar. And it’s true that these two sports have some things in common: they are both motor-free and require air and wind to be able to fly. But they also have lots of differences, so throughout this article on Paragliding vs Hang Gliding, we will go through all the distinctions these two activities have.

After reading this article, you will be able to choose if Paragliding is made for you or if it’s Hang Gliding!

paragliding and hang gliding activities mountains
Skytrek Tandem Hang Gliding & Paragliding

Hang gliding vs. paragliding kite

The main difference between these two activities is the shape and size of their kite. It is the biggest visible difference existing between a hang glider and a paraglider. The Hang Glider uses a distinctive triangular shape, it is made of thick synthetic sailcloth typically in polyester. The frame of the hang glider is made of aluminium and other metals. This A-shaped Frame offers improved aerodynamics and greater speed during the ride.

The wing used for paragliding is also made of polyester (and sometimes nylon), but the structure is completely different. The ellipse-shaped wing has two layers of fabric, the upper and lower, and unlike hang gliders, there are no metallic frames.

Hang gliding vs. paragliding position

Another difference between hang gliding and paragliding is the position the pilot has while flying. With the first one, you fly in a horizontal position and with the second you are seated.

When hang gliding, the pilot is lying horizontally, parallel to the A-frame. This special position allows the pilot to control the direction using only their body. While paragliding, you will be sitting upright in a harness, as if you were on a chair. This can be more or less comfortable, depending on the paraglide you chose (tandem paragliding being the most comfortable one). To control the paraglide, you will be using your hands to pull (gently) on the command lines.

Due to the position you have on a hang glider, you will be able to have longer flight times, but it needs a wind of at least 40 km/h. But for a paraglider, you only need a wind speed of at least 20 km/h to take off.

Tandem Paragliding Marbella
Volar Andalucia

Hang gliding vs. paragliding size

Size is another primary difference. Paraglides are easily transportable, and they fit into backpacks, making them a more practical choice for carrying.

The hang glider, on the other hand, can't fit in a backpack due to its metallic structure. It can’t be folded so the people who usually own one strap it to the roof racks on their cars.

Hang gliding vs. paragliding weight

Just like the size of the wings, the weights of hang gliders and paragliders vary.

For paragliding, the weight is around 10 and 20 kg. A paraglide carrying two people used for a classic tandem paragliding flight, will be heavier than those used when flying solo. Hang gliding weighs more than three times that weight– not including additional equipment such as a harness.

Two people Hang Gliding
Skytrek Tandem Hang Gliding & Paragliding

Hang gliding vs. paragliding thrill factor

Due to its aerodynamic wing and the position of the pilot, the hang glide allows you to reach a great speed. Traveling at a speed going up to 128 km/h, hang gliders let you glide faster than it is possible using a paraglide. With a paraglider, you can reach a maximum speed of 75 km/h.

In terms of acrobatics, you can’t do many tricks with a paraglide, because you might tangle all the strings. Paragliding is more of a leisure type of flight while hang gliding offers more opportunities for aerial acrobatics and tricks.

Hang gliding vs. paragliding training

Easier and less expensive, paragliding can be learned in just 10 to 15 days. But hang gliding demands at least 10 lessons to manoeuvre properly due to its weight and also to the speed it can reach. Hang gliding is great for sporty and determined people. Both sports involve very similar take-off and landing techniques.

Paragliding over mountains in Switzerland
Skywings Paragliding

Hang gliding vs. paragliding availability

In the past few years, hang gliding has become less popular, and paragliding has been named prom queen. Harnessing the same natural elements, paragliding is preferred for its comfortable position, its low speed, and the leisure it brings.

But for those of you looking to spice up the sightseeing, we warmly recommend trying hang gliding. There are great hang-gliding schools all over the world!

Hang gliding vs. paragliding safety

Due to its larger wing and its lower speed, people may think that paragliding is safer than hang gliding, however, they are both as safe.

For Hang gliders, the very few accidents that happen are due to high speed, whereas for paragliders, it is due to the lack of thermal winds.

However, accidents are extremely rare!

Tandem Hang Gliding over mountains in Switzerland

Hang gliding vs. paragliding price

There is an important difference between the prices of a paraglider and a hang glide when it comes to comparing their kite prices. Hang gliding kites are more expensive, their wings cost around €4500. And for Paraglides, the wing costs an average of €2500.

But if you’re not looking to buy the gliders, you will find many flying schools that allow you to try these sports at a lower cost. A hang gliding kite activity will cost from €50 to €250 depending on the length of the flight and the location. But if you would rather paraglide, then it will cost you from €40 to about €290.

Where to find destinations

There may be more opportunities to try paragliding but, in general, both can be practiced in the same locations. At Manawa, we have over 340 paragliding and hang gliding spots spread across the world.

But if you would like us to recommend you places, you can check out our 10 Best Paragliding Spots in Europe.

Our vote

At Manawa, we’re pretty biased – anything fast and fun, and we’re willing to give it a try. We love the sensation of hang gliding and using it to try cool tricks that let us turn like birds of prey – it definitely gets our vote. A proud champion of sporting underdogs, help us get hang gliding back on top!

Have you made your choice?

Now that you know all about the difference between hang gliding and paragliding, it’s time to take action! Check out all of our paragliding activities in the World. But if you’re leaning more towards hang gliding, here are our hang gliding activities spread all around the world.

Whichever you chose (how about both?) we know you’ll have a blast up there in the air! Enjoy!