You basically have the paragliding gear required to get started, once you have bought yourself a paraglider, harness and helmet. In time, as in any sport, you will find there is a lot of other stuff to consider.
You might progress from the quite minimal initial requirements to just get you down the hill, through to adding a few basic flying instruments if you later step up to cross country flying.
And for the experts and competition flyers, paragliding gear really starts to get hi-tech.
Look at practically any paragliding picture these days, and the pilot will be wearing a helmet. Buying a paragliding helmet is one of the essentials, up there with harness and canopy.
While it's possible to operate a paraglider while dressed in a tuxedo and wearing ballroom dancing shoes, in practice some common-sense rules apply to paragliding clothing! For your first few learning adventures just wear any casual, hard-wearing clothes that are appropriate to the climate.
Exercise some common sense with your paragliding apparel, taking into account the site you will be flying at. Flexible lace-up shoes or boots should be considered essential paragliding gear.
A paragliding harness will be required. For the first few lessons, you will probably be using club paragliding gear. But when the time comes to visit a paraglider shop to buy your own wing, you will need to look at paragliding harnesses as well.
It's a bit inconvenient trying to carry a paraglider canopy by itself, so a paraglider stuff bag comes in handy during local soaring. You can land, stuff everything away quickly and conveniently, and then head back to the launch area.
Backpacks, which are often sold with the paraglider, are more than just a simple bag and are more appropriate when you are actually travelling somewhere with all your paragliding equipment. In fact, as of 2007, some harnesses such as the Apco Chairbag are available which serve as both paragliding harness and backpack!
It's hardly essential gear, but there's quite a range of eye-catching paragliding t-shirts available on-line. You won't find any in your local department stores or even sports shops though, the sport is pretty tiny compared to most others.
Many of the well-known paragliding schools are also agents for the
top-quality gear you need. It is often possible to pick up good used
paragliding gear through your school contacts as well. The instructor
you have spent the most time with is the best person to advise you on
the right gear for you.
The factors considered are:
An example. You might be a well-to-do retiree, and have seen other older people happily soaring up and down the local sand dune site not far from where you live. You think 'Great! I could enjoy doing that forever!'. Your instructor might recommend buying the latest new DHV-1 paraglider from his favorite manufacturer of paragliding gear. Very easy to fly, adequate performance.
Another example. You are a keen 25 year old hang-glider pilot, but have now fallen in love with paragliding instead. However, your finances are limited. Your instructor recognizes your above-average ability, and your keen desire to fly as far as possible cross-country. He recommends a good used paraglider just recently put on the market by someone he knows. The canopy is rated DHV-1/2, has very good performance for its class. It has a one or two minor handling quirks that are nothing you can't cope with.
Photo courtesy of Dorin Paslaru.
Here's a link to some pages that are a bit out of date now. You will find write-ups for a number of paraglider manufacturers, and a paraglider design by each manufacturer. Most of the wings are a few years old now.
Anyhow, have a browse, you might find something interesting in these old Paragliding Equipment pages.
Finally, have a peek at this nice looking site in The Netherlands. It caters for German and French speakers too...