Paragliding Altimeter Choices

If you're looking for a paragliding altimeter, there is an amazing array of choices these days.

If it's just an altimeter you need, for example to add alongside 2 or 3 other instruments on your flight deck, then you'll have to look hard to find anything that just shows altitude. However...

Now here's something interesting. Due to the relentless miniaturization going on in the electronics industry, many instruments are available as watch-sized devices.

So you can actually wear your paragliding altimeter like a watch.

Of course, all the more expensive paragliding instruments will tell you altitude along with a million other things. But suppose you just want a small simple paragliding altimeter to tell you your height off the ground? You've come to the right page, I've found some specific instruments to consider.

Try One of These as a Paragliding Altimeter

NOTE: The content below was written in 2006, times have changed already... But reading about the features might still be useful and interesting!

OK, let's get down to instruments that you might take with you in your paraglider. Nothing that costs much more than $150 will be considered. Even in this price range, there will be functions a paraglider pilot would never use. Although, depending on your interests, some of the additional features could well be useful for your non-paragliding activities.

As you will have gathered from other pages on this site, prices are US dollars, and are just a guide for comparison purposes. I won't be updating them every month!

I've rounded all the current prices to the nearest 5 or 10 dollars ;-) No marketing trickery here. Bear in mind that these kinds of items are often available on specials, which can save you 10% or more. To save even more, you could try for second hand goods online since a paragliding altimeter isn't a safety-critical item.

Here they are, in order of current retail cost.

At the cheap end of the scale, you could try the Sun Hand Held Altimeter, for around $70.

  • altimeter scale from 0 to 15,000 feet, in 100ft increments, unspecified accuracy
  • metric version available
  • size is 6.9 x 8.5 x 2.5 cm (2.7 x 3.4 x 1.0 inches)
  • weight is only 74 grams (2.6 ounces)

The Atech 3-Sensor Altimeter Watch is described as a 'cross sport watch' by the manufacturers, but would easily double as a paragliding altimeter. It's currently priced at $100. Here's the relevant specs.

  • all-digital display, includes compass, air temperature, date/time
  • altitude range of -490 to 9000 meters (-1,600 to +29,500 feet)
  • mount on your wrist of course :-)
  • altitude viewable in meters or feet
  • resolution of 0.5 meters or 1 foot, bet it's not that accurate though!
  • mineral glass crystal lens protects the face of the hard plastic body

The Silva Digital Altimeter Compass is described as a 'handheld outdoor data center' by it's manufacturer. :-) However, it does represent a handy little paragliding altimeter for about $100. It's designed for athletes and hikers it seems, see the features below.

  • altitude range of -702 to 8940 meters (-2300 to +29,300 feet) AMSL (for underground paragliding?)
  • altimeter resolution of 3 meters (10 feet)
  • designed to be carried in your hand, so you'll have to figure out how to attach it
  • size is 10.2 x 5.7 x 2.5 cm (4 x 2.25 x 1 inches)
  • has some other usable features like digital compass, stopwatch, time and altitude alarm
  • quite a few other features not so relevant for in-flight use

From Brunton comes the Brunton V2 Pro Altimeter for $120.

  • all-digital display, includes compass, air temperature, date/time
  • altitude in feet, up to 29,000 feet
  • designed to be hand held, but might be ok on a flight deck with Velcro
  • size is 8.9 x 5.8 x 1.8 cm (3.5 x 2.3 x 0.7 inches)
  • weight is 100 grams (3.7 ounces)
  • has a few other features not really relevant to paragliding

The High Gear Arial Altimeter Watch is not designed for pilots as the name suggests. Rather, it has a lot of functions for skiers. But at $130 or so it's still worth considering as a paragliding altimeter. Actually, High Gear seem to have a few different variations of this altimeter, all worth a look. Again, here are just the most relevant specs.

  • all-digital display, includes air temperature, calendar/date/time
  • rather odd altitude range of -702m to 9,164 meters (-2,303ft to 30,058 feet)
  • mount on your wrist of course :-)
  • altitude viewable in meters or feet
  • altitude resolution of 1 meter or 3 feet
  • records maximum altitude, handy for interest sake
  • water resistant to 50 meters (160 feet), anyone for some acro over the bay?
  • mineral glass lens, stainless steel back
  • weight is 48 grams (1.7 ounces)
  • low battery indicator, for the single battery (CR2032)

There is the Wayfinder V7500 Car Compass Altimeter for $130.

  • all-digital display, includes compass, atomic clock and barometer
  • altitude in feet, range unspecified, but should be fine for most paragliding flights
  • designed to mount flat on a windshield, so should be ok on a flight deck with Velcro
  • size, excluding mount, is 9.7 x 7.6 x 3.0 cm (3.8 x 3.0 x 1.2 inches)
  • weight, set up and working, is 149 grams (5.5 ounces)
  • mount and lithium battery supplied, but I wouldn't trust those suction cups in the air!

From Viplo comes the FT50 Viplo Altimeter made for skydiving. Have seen it advertised for £95.00. Not a lot of info available, here's what I could find on this potential paragliding altimeter.

  • clip-on scale for 0 to 4000 meters or 0 to 12000 feet
  • matt-white dial plate with the usual colored sectors
  • supplied hand mount probably not much use, Velcro's the way to go
  • AU4G housing, if that means anything to you, I'm not a mechanical engineer!
  • available in aluminum, black, blue, red, turquoise, purple, orange or green

From Parasport Italia comes the SkyMeter 2000 skydiving altimeter. Last advertised price I saw was $145. Here's the details.

  • altitude range of 0 to 5000 meters for the Metric version
  • altitude range of 0 to 16,500 feet for the Imperial version
  • supplied hand mount probably not much use, Velcro's the way to go
  • wide dial with 'great readability', fair comment judging by the pics
  • dial has white background with red/yellow warning sectors and black numerals
  • weight, excluding mount, is 157 grams (5.8 ounces)
  • available in black, royal blue, red and silver
  • 'rubber feel finish'
  • 3 year factory warranty - great!

The Altimaster name is very well known in skydiving circles. Their Altimaster III Galaxy currently costs just over $150.00. Actually, the older Altimaster IIs are still around after 50 years. Still going strong apparently, so if you find one it would be quite handy as a paragliding altimeter. Here's some details on the III.

  • altitude range of 0 to 5500 meters (18,000 feet) AMSL (can exceed max without damage)
  • supplied with hand mount, but a wrist mount is available
  • size, excluding mount, is 6.4 x 6.4 x 2.5 cm (2.5 x 2.5 x 1 inches)
  • weight, excluding mount, is 157 grams (5.8 ounces)
  • available in silver, black and blue
  • 3660 meters (12,000 feet) per revolution
  • aluminum outer casing
  • dial face is 5 cm (2 inches) in diameter
  • dial has white background with red/yellow warning sectors and black numerals
  • no back lighting, but then you weren't considering flying at night were you?
  • operating temperature: -40 to +80 degrees C sheesh what about your body's operating temperature?
  • mechanism is made from temperature compensating metals to minimize friction and improve accuracy
  • 10 year warranty if bought new


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