Why is there a weight limit for skydiving?

Every drop zone has a weight limit for tandem skydivers, and for many would-be jumpers it's a point of confusion and frustration. What possible difference could a pound or two or ten or twenty make? Hopefully, this blog will set the record straight. 

Weight limits and parachutes

Skydive Weight Limits Are a Safety Call, Not a Judgment Call.  

The most important thing to know is weight restrictions exist for one reason and one reason only: Safety.

Parachutes and Maximum Suspended Weight

"Maximum Suspended Weight" is the maximum total weight that the tandem skydiving parachute manufacturer approves for use with the subject equipment.

It's important to understand that "Maximum Suspended Weight" is a structural limit. If a skydive exceeds this given limit, the tandem skydiving gear is much more likely to tear, to break lines or even to disintegrate during the course of a deployment.

This calculation includes everything that will need to be supported by the parachute— your weight, the weight of your tandem instructor, and the weight of all the combined skydive equipment and accessories you will have with you, such as clothing, jumpsuits, main parachute, reserve parachute, tandem harness, instructor container, helmets, goggles, altimeters, gloves, automatic activation device, radio, cameras, and more. 

Skydive parachute

The FAA and Maximum Suspended Weight

The Federal Aviation Administration(FAA)  issues safety ratings for the parachutes we use to skydive. This is called a "TSO," and it means that the canopy in question has been tested by the FAA and found strong enough to tolerate a normal deployment under the forces of that Maximum Suspended Weight. Because this weight is set and tested by the FAA, it is backed up by American federal law. 

weight limits for tandem skydives

Why Dropzones Have Slightly Different Weight Limits

Now that you understand Maximum Suspended Weight, and how it works, we think it will be easier to understand why one skydiving center may have one weight limit, say 225 lbs. and another may have a weight limit of 250 lbs. 

The most common variables will be either the instructor weight or the size and type of parachute they jump.

If the DZ has a light instructor who is physically able to handle a larger passenger, that will allow for more weight. If the DZ has larger parachutes with a higher Maximum Suspended Weight that too, will allow for more weight. 

Skydiving. The Ultimate Motivation

We have lots of people who want to skydive with us and who can't because of their size.

Sometimes these individuals are in peak shape; they just weigh more than 235 pounds, which is our weight limit. We've had to turn away professional and college football players for this very reason.

Other times, the individual needs to lose a few pounds and the opportunity to skydive becomes the motivator that gets them there.  We've had people lose anywhere from five or ten pounds to hundreds of pounds in order to skydive. We were even featured in a bariatric commercial for a local hospital. We love that our sport can be that inspiring! 

skydive weight limit

At the end of the day, know that we are here to give you an amazing, adrenaline-pumping, life-changing experience.  And that we are 100% committed to your safety.  If this isn't your month or year, we'll be here when you're ready. 

If you have any questions about weight limits, please give us a call at 800-990-5509.