Parachute Cost

How Much Does a Parachute Cost?

Last Updated on February 16, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

Skydiving is an exhilarating adventure sport that involves jumping out of an airplane and parachuting safely back to the ground. As a beginner looking to get started in skydiving, one of the first things you’ll need to do is purchase parachuting equipment.

But how much does a parachute cost for recreational skydiving? The price can vary quite a bit depending on the type and quality of the gear. This article will break down the different factors that affect the cost of skydiving parachutes and equipment. We’ll also provide tips for getting the best value when purchasing your first parachute system.

How Much Does a Parachute Cost?

For those who are completely new to the sport, you’ll need to plan for an initial investment of $3,500 to $6,500 for a full set of brand-new skydiving gear. This includes the main parachute canopy, harness and container system, automatic activation device (AAD), reserve parachute, altimeter, helmet, goggles, and other accessories.

As you advance in the sport and purchase higher-performance parachutes and equipment, costs can range from $5,000 up to $12,000 or more.

Starter Parachute Packages

Many drop zones and parachute equipment companies offer complete starter package deals in the range of $3,500 to $4,500. This typically includes a used main canopy rated for students, a new harness and container, AAD, reserve parachute, altimeter, and helmet.

Purchasing a package can be a cost-effective way for students to get set up with functional gear for initial training jumps and beyond.

Intermediate Parachute Systems

After 25 jumps or so, you may want to upgrade to an intermediate parachute system for around $5,000 to $7,000. This would include a new intermediate canopy sized around 190 to 210 square feet, along with a brand new harness, AAD, and reserve parachute specifically sized for your body weight and experience level.

High-quality gear at this stage offers increased performance and durability.

Advanced Parachuting Equipment

Advanced skydivers with 200+ jumps may spend $8,000 to $12,000 or more on specialized equipment like high-performance canopies, state-of-the-art harness/container systems, audible altimeters, automatic activation devices, and high-end helmets and jumpsuits.

Investing in advanced gear provides experienced jumpers with cutting-edge technology engineered for optimum speed, precision, and safety when navigating high-speed maneuvers.

At ChutingStar Skydiving Gear, for example, a Pilot Emergency Parachute System costs $3,565.00. The price of a complete parachute system ranges from $2,000 to $13,000, depending on the age, brand, and technology.

Factors Affecting Parachute Costs

Several key factors determine the price range when buying skydiving gear:

  • New vs. Used – Brand new parachute equipment costs significantly more than used gear. Used gear in good condition can offer substantial savings, especially for student kits.
  • Type of Canopy – Main canopies vary greatly in price. Cheaper, more docile student canopies start around $1,500, while high-performance elliptical canopies can cost $4,500 and up.
  • Size/Quality of Materials – Larger parachute canopies with higher-grade materials, stitching, and construction command higher prices.
  • Harness/Container System – Complete rigs with dual parachute capabilities start around $1,500 and go up drastically based on features.
  • Brand Name – Premium parachute manufacturers like Performance Designs, Aerodyne Research, and Mirage charge more for their pro-level gear.
  • Options & Features – Options like customizable colors, riser covers, kill line slider stops and fitted harness sizes add cost.

Parachute Equipment Expenses

To understand what goes into the total sticker price of a complete parachute system, let’s break it down by the main components and equipment needs:

Main Canopy Parachute

This is the largest expense, starting around $1,500 for basic student models and going up to $4,500+ for advanced elliptical parachutes made with lightweight materials and high-performance designs. Expect to pay more for specialty canopies like wingsuit-friendly models with additional cells.

Reserve Parachute

FAA regulations require skydivers to have an emergency back-up parachute. New reserves range from $500 for basic models to $1,500 or more for reserve canopies with larger surface area that allow for easier landings.

Automatic Activation Device (AAD)

An AAD unit costs $600 on average. This essential safety device automatically deploys the reserve parachute if a skydiver exceeds minimum deployment altitude without opening the main canopy.

Harness and Container System

These specialized harnesses hold the main and reserve parachute canopies and cost between $1,500 and $3,000 depending on the brand and features like expandable leg-strap wraps, lumbar support, BOC pouches, and stainless steel hardware.

You might also like our articles about the cost of skydiving, hot air balloons, or bungee jumping.


Visual and audible altimeters are critical for monitoring drift and altitude awareness. Basic digital altimeters start around $300, while full-featured audible models with log books can cost up to $600.

Helmet, Goggles, Jumpsuit

Expect to spend around $400 for a basic open-face skydiving helmet. Full-face models run $600 and up. Goggles are around $60-100. Jumpsuits to reduce drag start at $100 for basic designs and go into the thousands for custom wingsuits.

Is Buying or Renting Gear Better?

Skydiving With InstructorFor new skydivers, renting parachute equipment at your drop zone to start is common and cost-effective. Rental fees are generally $25 to $40 per day. This allows you to sample different gear to find preferences before investing in buying equipment.

Once you progress beyond student status, purchasing your own gear offers advantages. You can customize your system for the best fit, performance and style. Investing in quality equipment means you can jump at any drop zone without rental fees, and your gear will last for 500-1000 jumps if properly maintained.

Plus you can often recoup 50-75% of your investment by reselling used gear.

Additional Parachuting Cost Considerations

Besides the upfront equipment expenses, be sure to factor in these ongoing skydiving costs:

  • Drop Zone Fees – Expect to pay $20 to $30 per jump for things like aircraft rental, instructor tips and facility fees.
  • Membership Dues – Many drop zones require membership fees of $500 per year to cover insurance and maintenance.
  • Certification & Training – After your first jump course, further coaching and licenses like wing-suiting or AFF instructor ratings can cost $2,000 and up.
  • Maintenance – Annual reserve repacks cost around $100. Occasional main canopy maintenance like line adjustments and patching runs $200 to $600.
  • Insurance – Parachute equipment insurance costs around $250 per year depending on the value of your gear.

Smart Shopping Tips for Parachute Gear

Follow these tips to get the most value when investing in your parachute equipment:

  • Only buy gear from reputable dealers who include manufacturer warranties.
  • Compare packages and a la carte pricing to find deals.
  • Consider purchasing high-quality used gear from experienced skydivers looking to upgrade.
  • Don’t skimp on key components like reserves, AADs and altimeters.
  • Work with a qualified rigger to find the right size canopies and container to fit your body type.
  • Ask your instructors for gear recommendations based on your experience level and skills.
  • Finance large purchases through installment plans offered by many equipment companies.

Final Words on Parachute Costs

Thanks to technological advances in materials and safety, today’s parachutes offer an exciting opportunity for thrill-seekers to enjoy skydiving safely. While parachuting gear involves a sizable upfront investment, the unforgettable adrenaline rush of jumping from an airplane makes it worthwhile for many.

Plus the gear lasts for hundreds of jumps when properly maintained. Understanding the cost factors and utilizing smart shopping strategies allows new jumpers to equip themselves with quality parachutes and equipment that match their skill level and budget.

Frequently Asked Questions

How rare is it for a parachute to fail?

Parachute malfunctions are extremely rare due to stringent manufacturing standards and mandatory equipment maintenance. Statistics show main parachutes fail less than 1% of the time when properly deployed. Reserve parachutes are even more reliable, with fail rates of only .01% to .02% thanks to simple mechanical design and infrequent use.

How many jumps can a parachute last?

With proper care and maintenance, a main skydiving parachute can last 500-1000 jumps, while reserve parachutes can last 15 years or more since they are rarely used.

Older main canopies may need line and panel replacements around the 500 jump mark. Reserves must be repacked every 180 days by an FAA rigger. Components like AAD batteries and altimeter batteries should be replaced as recommended by manufacturers.

With routine maintenance, a complete parachute system can provide many years of service life.

Can a parachute be reused?

Skydiving parachutes can be reused over and over. However, the main canopy should be inspected and repaired as needed by a qualified parachute rigger after every 60 to 100 jumps depending on the type of jumping.

The reserve parachute must be repacked and certified by an FAA rigger every 180 days, even if it wasn’t used. As long as the parachute materials, lines and hardware are in good condition with no signs of wear, a well-maintained parachute can be reused for hundreds of safe jumps.

However, parachutes should be retired after the manufacturer’s recommended service life limits are reached.

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