Once you’ve experienced the thrill of soaring above the ground and letting the wind take you wherever you want to travel you may decide that you want to purchase your own paraglider or ‘canopy’ as they are commonly referred to.
Buying Brand New
A brand new canopy can become something you’ll develop a lot of trust in as you become familiar with it and it will be easier to repair and also easier to sell on. The prime consideration should be the manufacturer’s reputation and, just like with all sporting equipment, you will pay more to buy a canopy from a leading British recognised manufacturer but it will prove to be far better in the long run than taking a cheaper option. Also, if you buy from a less well known overseas company, you’ll find it much more difficult to resell and also to obtain spare parts and repair costs may be considerably higher too.
Variations in Design
Once you’re a qualified paraglider pilot, you’ll not want a canopy that isn’t suited to your level of ability either. There are variations in design and more sporty paragliders, designed to give a competitive edge when used in competition can often compromise on security somewhat, in order to improve performance. Therefore, if you’re just starting out, this type of canopy will be unsuitable and it may take you over 100 flying hours to get anywhere near the level at which you’ll be able to handle the more sporty designs.
Buying Second Hand
The disadvantage of buying second hand is that you’ll not really be able to tell how much flying time a canopy has been put through nor will you know how punishing the conditions have been on its previous flights, unless you trust the seller implicitly. Even the best canopies have to be taken out of service eventually so buying used may save you money but, as with buying a second hand car, unless you’re really knowledgeable, the savings you make over buying new may end up costing you more in the long run and it could even compromise your safety.
Seek Advice From Your Instructor
Your instructor is probably best positioned to offer you advice on buying a canopy and related equipment such as a harness and a helmet etc.
The majority of paragliding instructors rely on repeat business coming from word of mouth so they’ll be only too happy to assist you with your buying decision. They’re also the best judge of your flying ability so they’ll be able to determine the kind of canopy you should be considering. They may also have reciprocal arrangements with certain preferred suppliers too so may be in a position to get you a discount than if you were to go to the supplier directly.
The instructor will look at things such as your shape and size and your level of competence as a canopy choice isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ solution.
They’ll want to recommend canopies which will be forgiving of pilot error, if you are just starting out, and ones that will handle air turbulence safely. Other things to consider are how easy it is to handle on the ground and from a take-off point and that you’ll be able to get several years out of it before you wish to try one which presents more of a challenge.
Given the correct advice based on your needs, however, you should get a good few years of use out of your canopy if you buy brand new. Prices can vary for canopies suitable for first-timers, but a decent one will probably set you back just under £2000. However, prices can go much higher than that as you become more advanced and need more specialist equipment. Fortunately, many suppliers will let you try before you buy.