Among the top five questions we receive (maybe top three, actually) is about the weight limit for skydiving. If you assume the skydiving weight limit is a decision left solely up to the dropzone, then weight restrictions seem discriminatory and punitive – but that’s not at all the case.
Skydiving weight limits are in place for reasons of safety and comfort, and they differ from one dropzone to the next for a few reasons. Let’s get into the details –
The gear produced by skydiving equipment manufacturers is subject to rigorous testing before being issued a Technical Standard Order (TSO) from the FAA – which includes a maximum operating weight. Every product has its own TSO, which is why a solo skydiving rig will have a different weight restriction than a tandem skydiving rig.
It should be noted as well that military rigs have very different weight restrictions. We are often asked why humvees can be dropped under parachutes, but someone more than 300 lbs cannot be – the physics are in no way apples to apples. It’s not as simple as putting a bigger parachute in the mix!
For most tandem rigs, the total weight limit is 500 lbs, including the instructor, student, and the rig itself, which is about 60 lbs. This is why tandem skydiving weight restrictions in the US tend to range between 225 lbs and 275 lbs. Gambling with an issued weight limit would not only violate a federally-established order, but it is also irresponsible to the point of potential disaster. At Skydive Orange, we put safety first, always.
Comfort is another consideration with weight. You typically freefall at a rate of 120 mph; faster if you’re closer to the maximum weight allowance. Once the parachute is deployed, you decelerate to about 14 mph in a matter of seconds. The closer a tandem pair to the 500 lb limit, the more uncomfortable the deployment for both the instructor and the student. Skydiving is supposed to be fun, not painful!
The total weight under the parachute affects general wear and tear on the equipment and directly influences navigation too. The tandem instructor steers the parachute back to the landing area using hand-held control lines called toggles. A heavier pair is more challenging to maneuver and is also harder on the instructor’s body.
Body mass index is an important factor indeed. Skydiving harnesses are designed for lots of body types – tall, short, wide, narrow, heavy, and light – and in all cases, the person who is proportionate in height and weight is going to be most secure and comfortable. For example, an individual weighing 255 lbs and is 6’4” will fit into the tandem harness differently than someone weighing 255 lbs and is 5’4”. That point above about parachute deployment? Yeah, combine a hard opening with an uncomfortable harness … ouch.
You don’t have to be in the prime of your life, but you do need to be in generally good health. Tandem students are active participants during the skydiving process and must be able to perform certain tasks – from climbing into the plane and scooting to the door, to positioning the body in freefall and lifting the legs for landing. The most strenuous part for most is lifting the knees and feet. The instructor needs the student’s legs out of the way so s/he can safely maneuver the pair for touchdown, either sliding into home base together or landing standing up.
If you have any concerns about your health, weight-related or otherwise, please consult with your doctor before making a skydive.
Now that you know the ins and outs of how and why skydiving weight limits are set, let’s talk about the numbers in play at Skydive Orange.
Our standard weight limit for tandem skydiving is 220 lbs. We can accommodate some folks who weigh up to 240 lbs while fully clothed, as long as they are height and weight proportionate and in good physical shape. (Note that we do apply a surcharge of $35 for every 10 lbs over 220 lbs.) Those wishing to enroll in our Accelerated Free Fall program to learn how to skydive solo cannot weigh more than 225 lbs, including clothing and shoes.
Another popular question – “Do they weigh you before skydiving?” – and the rather unpopular answer: yes. For the safety of our guests and that of our instructors, we have to ensure we are within the weight restrictions of our equipment, and now you can plainly see why.
Determining whether you’re a candidate for tandem skydiving or AFF occurs on a case-by-case basis. Connect with us to discuss your eligibility to jump, and check out our FAQs for more information.
The safety of our guests is our number one priority. We recognize that weight can be a sensitive topic and we promise both discretion and empathy. Skydiving is one of the most epic and empowering adventures on the planet, and we want you to have the best day ever. Feel free to contact us should you have any questions at all. We are here to support your skydiving journey!
The largest tandem skydiving center near Northern Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.
Copyright © 2023, Skydive Orange, All Rights Reserved.
DropZone Web Design & Marketing by Beyond Marketing, LLC
Are there any places that do over 350 and up?
Hey I’m a 245 pound guy and I would like to skydive I was wondering if you can help me
Hi Skyler! We sure can, we can accommodate up to 250 lbs fully clothed.
I was wondering since I’m over that limit (300) and haven’t skydived before am I able to solo dive?
Hey Mike! Our maximum weight limit for solo diving is 225 lbs.
so even if i tandem at 240, i can never solo at 240??
Correct, when learning to skydive you must be 225 lbs fully clothed or lower.
HI I am 270 and I was wondering if I could still go Tandem Skydiving
You could with prior planning. You would need to be 270 lbs fully clothed and we’d need you to call about 2 weeks prior to make the reservation to make sure we have the staff to accommodate you.
Whitney, if the gear for tandem is 500 pounds, why is AFF 225? I was just there this past weekend watching the GF have the time of her life but because I’m 6-4 and built like a linebacker, now I can’t do either?! Can’t you jump solo with a tandem pack? I mean if they can drop tanks from 10,000 feet…..to the guy that doesn’t understand, can you briefly explain the reduction of weight reasoning if the gear can handle 500? A simple cuz you’re the size of a horse is sufficient if thats all you want to say. Thanks again
Yes, Brent… Horse-size people can’t skydive! But, in all seriousness, the weight limits for AFF and Tandem are different because the gear is different; and they are completely different systems.
We follow recommended guidelines and the Basic Safety Requirements of the U.S. Parachute Association when training AFF. The weight limit is based on the ratio of suspended weight of the jumper (including gear) to the square footage of the canopy (which is called wing-loading). A recommended beginning wing-loading for a first jump student is between .8 and .95 and not to exceed 1:1. Newly A-licensed jumpers are typically close to the 1:1 ratio as they graduate the AFF program. Our largest student canopy is 300 sq. ft. (which is the largest student canopy manufactured). That means a student weighing 225 lbs. + 55 lbs. of equipment = 280 lbs. “out the door” / (divided by) the square footage of the canopy = 300 s.f. is a ratio of .93. (280/300 = .93)
Why can’t you jump tandem gear as a solo student? Because the tandem system is a different system with different emergency procedures. To jump a tandem system, it is required by the USPA and the gear manufacturers that you have at least 3 years in the sport and a minimum of 500 skydives. The system is built for a drogue-release which requires different emergency protocol than our sport gear; and with six handles (as opposed to three) are more involved than the emergency procedures and gear systems that we use for our sport and student gear (emergency procedures = cutting away a malfunctioned main canopy and deploying a reserve canopy).
Can a tandem system be modified for larger jumpers? Yes, it has been done. The tandem system converted for larger jumpers is expensive and cost-prohibitive for most DZs.
I hope this explains the difference in gear and why linebackers can’t skydive. We appreciate your enthusiasm and are sorry that you weren’t able to jump with us during your visit. Please let us know if you have any additional questions.
Can i bring my dog skydiving? I’m 215 pounds and but he’s 50 pounds so together that’s over the limit. Do I still have to pay the extra fees?
Hey I weigh 500 pounds and Skydiving Yellow let me dive solo. So do you guys Weight-match, its kinda like price match.
Hi my name is amber….i was wondering how much would it be because my husband is 268 and im 214…would we be able to sky dive. And how much for both of us to do so…
I am an overweight man, I have been working on losing weight all my life. I have always wanted to go skydiving but have been put off by the weight limit. What I can’t understand is, why is there a weight limit, when I have seen videos of the army parachuting tanks out of plans. I thought it had to do with the size of the parachute, but maybe there’s more to it than that. Can you explain? thanks.
You can also buy your own gear from the military. I’m 6’5″, 270 lbs. And I’m going to make it a life style change. So, it all depends on if you just want the one time or if you want to be about it.
Hi…I want to do skydiving but I am bit overweight…my height is 172 cm and body weight is 86 kgs….will I be allowed to do it??
According to the measurements you listed, you’re about 190 lbs and 5’7″? If that’s the case then yes you fall under the weight limit and as long as you’re in good physical/mental health then you should be able to skydive.
Hey there, sadly to say this article makes me really sad. I’ve always longed To be able to skydive. I already have a pilots license but always wanted to skydive but with that being said I’m also 6 foot 4 1/2 and about 320 I could probably drop another 40 pounds but anything more than that would start becoming unhealthy for me because I am naturally build bigger. This just kind a crush my dreams little bit. Not your fault just makes me sad but I’ll never get to for fill one of my lifelong dreams be able to skydive. I hope you have a pilots license but I’ve always wanted to skydive but with that being said I’m also 6 foot 4 1/2 and about 320 I could probably drop another 40 pounds but anything more than that would start becoming unhealthy for me because I am naturally built bigger. This is just going to crush my dreams little bit. It’s Not your fault just makes me sad that I’ll never get to fulfill one of my wife long dreams to Join the skydiving community
The manufacture of Skydive Orange’s Tandem Gear, United Parachute Technologies (UPT) test the gear and then set the applicable limits. The gear must be TSO’d in the US.
UPT Sigma Parachutes are rated at maximum suspended weight 500lbs. The reality is suspended weight over 450 starts to hurt during the deployment cycle. At 500lbs it is very brisk and any variation in the pack job can make the opening extremely painful. Decelerating from 130mph to 14mph in .4 seconds gets harder for the body to process, as weight goes up so does terminal velocity and opening shock. For the Passenger AND THE INSTRUCTOR.
If the government can drop food crates, medical supplies, Humvee’s or tanks from a plane, why can’t someone weighing 300+ sky dive?
Because the Military has very different parachuting equipment than the civilian side of skydiving.
I weigh in at 234. Can I do still to the tandem jump
You sure can!
Y’alls detailed explanation is extremely helpful. I’d always wondered why no one would let me jump at 230.
To anyone reading this who is overweight and wanting to or thinking about a tandem jump. It took me two years to drop the weight to make my first tandem jump, were talking over 100 lbs to shed. But now knowing what it was like I don’t regret a single mile I had to walk, a minute I spent on that dam treadmill, or the beer/pizzas I didn’t have.
When folks ask me what it was like I tell them, “you won’t see god or talk to Jesus but your morning coffee will be just that much better. And you’ll be the bad ass that jumped out of a perfectly good airplane!”.
See you on the road, still got lbs to keep off, and at the drop zone.
Can a tandem instructor weigh less than the student?
I’m only 16, but hopefully I can someday do something like this, it’ll be sick! (but by myself no tandem, I weigh 210 lbs so that’s why I’m on this page.)
So how do you account for a 200 lb stud jumping with a 100 lbs of equipment in the military, sometime HAHO or HALO?
The Military has their own gear, which can be very different than ours.
With all the questions and comments about overweight skydiving, I wonder, can anyone recommend a location where those who are heavier then the limits outlined here go and tandem jump? It seems there is a business opportunity for a sky dive location. Any ideas? I know I would be very interested in seeing locations that have equipment that would support large clients. Thank you!!
Hi, I’ve been looking to skydive as a life bucket list item. But I am 6’6”, 260 pounds. I’ve been struggling to find any place that can accommodate.
Am I just out of luck?
Hi Mickey! We’ve taken up to 280 lbs fully clothed before. Give us a call and we can discuss it further!
Im a weight lifter weighing 330 pounds, do you or do you know of a place close to lagrange Indiana that I can skydive?? I need your help!
We do not, I’m sorry.. I honestly don’t know of a DZ that can accommodate over 285 lbs.
How is this 225 lb weight limit was determined?
I mean surly there should be physical tests to test what am i capable of doing ?! even tho i am just 8 kg more than 100kg but i am confident i am physically fit and capable to do whatever is done by a guy weights less than 100kg. or is the 100kg weight limit measured according to the stress limit on parachutes and skydiving kits??
Hi there! Just give us a call – We’d be happy to explain it to you!
Hi I am 6”3 and 280 pounds, could I do a tandem jump? And what would the cost be for being over weight?
In the early 80’s at the local jump school, rectangular shoots were already in use. However, for large people like me, the use of the military T-10 style shoot, which allowed larger people to jump solo, was also available. Why are those no longer in use when it is still a staple, even in the military jump program? I would purchase the equipment and pay for it to be packed.
I meant chute in my initial post. 🙂
Hey Robert! The T-10 parachute is outdated technology on the civilian side of things. The ram-air parachute far surpasses the T-10 with modern technology making it safer and more reliable. We also do not allow students to use their own gear for liability reasons. Give us a call if you would like to discuss further!
Hello, im 265 standing weight, and me and a friend wanna skydive, she’s less then 100lbs, so am I able to skydive?
I enjoy the “all my life I’ve wanted to skydive” and “I’ll never fulfill a lifelong dream” comments.
I wanted to be an astronaut when I was 8. But not everybody gets to be/do whatever they want. None of us are entitled to anything. You can’t always get everything you want.
Comments are closed.