Whats the difference betweem a paragliding rescue chute and a parachute and could I use a parachute as a paragliding rescue chute and what would be a disadvantage/advantage?

At least these points are imortant: Stablity, descent rate, manoeuvrability, opening speed, reliablity.

I'm asking because I've found articles (in german) which make the argument that the current rescue systems for paragliders are a mistake and that "BASE systems" are starting to beeing used in the acro scene. However I could not find details.

Paragliding rescue chutes are typicly round canopies but there are also other special forms.

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Military troop parachutes are also round canopies.

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So are chutes used for space exploration.

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While parachutes are rectangular.


And also paragliders are rectangular.

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Round canopies are said to have a slower descent rate, are more stable then other forms, are simple and open faster and are small but they are not feasible to manoeuvre but I could not find references to back up those claims.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Paragliding chutes (and the rectangular chute) have a distinct feature, they move forward. Circular chutes have limited maneuverability in that they can turn a little bit, but they are mostly at the mercy of the wind and drop (relatively) straight down. Which one you need depends on what you need it to do, if you need to glide/steer to a specific landing area you need a "gliding chute", if you just want to cushion the touch down, a circular one is fine. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Oct 28, 2019 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ @RonBeyer Thanks for your comment. I've heard that paragliding rescue chutes can't handle opening loads as big as parachutes. If one would cut he's paraglider and reaches terminal velocity a paragliding rescue chute would tear itself apart when opening. Do you know something about this issue? $\endgroup$
    – NtFreX
    Oct 28, 2019 at 15:11
  • $\begingroup$ @NtFreX I don't think the paraglider reserve would tear itself apart, I think the weaker paraglider reserve lines would exceed their breaking strain and would snap $\endgroup$ Oct 28, 2019 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ and open faster I doubt that. Round canopies generally have a larger volume. If that is not a clue that it takes longer to open then I don't know what. Round canopies have less room for changing the opening speed, where as a square BASE canopy has loads of ways to speed up the opening process. $\endgroup$
    – Andreas
    Dec 14, 2019 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ Paragliders are not rectangular in the way that skydiving canopies are. There is a very noticeable taper towards the wingtips. $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2022 at 18:36

1 Answer 1


Drawbacks of a skydiving emergency reserve parachute compared to a paragliding emergency parachute would likely include excess bulk and weight, and possibly a longer time to complete the opening sequence-- though perhaps the latter point would not apply to a parachute intended for BASE jumping. If one has room for the skydiving emergency reserve parachute in their harness, and one is engaged in a high-risk style of flying such as aerobatics, it might make some sense to consider flying with it rather than a purpose-designed paragliding emergency parachute.

For more see related answer Can a paraglider rescue chute and its pilot handle terminal velocity?

It sounds like you have a more than merely academic interest in this topic; if so I'm sure you'll do further research, and we'll look forward to seeing a detailed self-answer to one or both of these questions in the future.

  • $\begingroup$ Am I right in thinking that a skydiving reserve relies on airflow to deploy, whereas a paragliding reserve is thrown by the pilot and this action inflates the canopy? $\endgroup$ Oct 28, 2019 at 16:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ No the paraglider reserve deployment is very similar to the old "throw out" reserves that were used during the round parachute skydiving days. Those reserves were thrown out (from a chest pack) while still connected to the main following a malfunction, then the main was cut away. They didn't use a pilot chute because the jumper did the extraction by hand, but were still inflated by the airflow. Paraglider reserves are more or less deployed the same way except you just grab the container and toss it and airflow does the rest. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Oct 28, 2019 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ @John K - Thanks for that, the only time I've thrown a paraglider reserve is at a repack. I don't know anything about skydiving reserves. Or hangie reserves for that matter $\endgroup$ Oct 29, 2019 at 9:50
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DaveGremlin most skydiving reserves have a spring-loaded pilot chute. So they are firstly relying on the spring to deploy then the airflow catching the pilot chute. $\endgroup$ Feb 4, 2022 at 18:38

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