Travelling with your Paraglider
In my opinion, one the greatest privileges of being a paraglider pilot is the ability to take your personal aircraft all over the world. We literally have a “magic backpack” that can easily be taken on exotic adventures. The intent of this article is to help you to figure out what to take on a paragliding holiday and how to pack it. You will need to customize this article for yourself as no two paragliding trips are the same. Going on a vol-bivouac trip to Alaska is a lot different than going on a comfortable holiday trip to Lake Annecy. This article is mainly meant for leisure pilots going on holiday.
When I go on a paragliding trip that requires air travel my packing goal is always to use one rucksack, one small carry-on bag, and one small backpack. If you can get away with less, that is great, but these are the bags that I normally take.
My preferred method is to make a list of everything that I need and then check the items off as I put them into a bag. This nearly guarantees that I do not forget any items and it is also nice to have this list for when packing to return home. Below are my packing categories, adjust them for yourself:
After I have customized my list for a specific destination and gathered everything that I want to bring, its time to pack it all up. I put all my flying equipment from the list above into my rucksack. The rucksack is a giant protective backpack that came with the wing. If the wing did not come with a rucksack, you can purchase one for $150 or less. To fit all the flying gear into the rucksack, it is necessary to concertina pack the wing into a concertina bag. If the harness is reversible, put the packed wing into the harness. When all the flying equipment (except sunglasses) is packed into the rucksack it should be well under 50 pounds. Check with the airline, but from experience most airlines have a 50 pound limit for a checked bag. Since the rucksack will be checked, expect it to get some bumps and bruises from the handlers, the whole point of the rucksack is to protect the equipment and still be easy to transport. If your gear could potentially get wet during transit, put it all into a heavy trash bag before loading it into the rucksack. Since $5000 or more worth of gear is going to be in the hands of the airlines, it’s a good idea to put some kind of electronic tracker in a pocket of the rucksack. Before handing the gear to the airline agent, be sure to tie all the loose straps to each other and try to make as least snag point as possible to accommodate the machinery that the rucksack will pass through.
Electronics are expensive and can be challenging to replace quickly. For this reason, I put all my electronics in my personal backpack. Be aware that this can sometimes make passing through airport security a little bit of a hassle, but this guarantees that your electronics will not be lost and that they will be handled with care. If the electronics are too much for your backpack, you can put some of them into your carry-on.
Before going on a trip, I like to trim down my wallet as much as possible. I always live under the assumption that my wallet will get lost. If this happens, I don’t want to have 5 credit cards and 3 ATM cards in my wallet. I take the items from the list above, documents and wallet, and that’s it. I also take a picture of everything on that list and put those pictures in their own folder in my phone. It would be terrible to lose your passport, but a picture of it will be very helpful if you did lose your passport.
The remaining items are clothing and toiletries. I put these into a small, wheeled carry-on bag that will stay with me throughout the journey. If I know that laundry facilities will be available, then I generally bring clothes for half the duration of the trip. It is obviously important to pack appropriately for the temperatures that you are expecting your trip. Remember that the temperatures at cloud base can be significantly less than the temperatures on launch.
You will have many amazing adventures with your paragliding, and I hope these tips that I’ve picked up from my personal experiences will help you be prepared for your own voyage. If you have any tips you would like to add, drop a comment below.