12 Jun Skydiving vs Bungee Jumping: Which One is For You?
Fear, adrenaline, falling from heights… essential elements of both skydiving and bungee jumping. But which one is scarier? Which one is more dangerous? Here we compare similarities and differences between these two extreme experiences to help you work out which of these thrill rides is for you!
The most important feature these two extreme activities share is that they both produce a thrilling adrenaline rush. Yes, you will be free falling from a height. Yes, you will feel weightless as you plummet towards the earth. Yes, there are risks. Both of these experiences require you to look fear directly in the face and put your trust in your equipment and your (and/or your instructor’s) use of correct technique. However, both of these sports have also had years of research, development, and ongoing safety testing go into them to make them as safe as possible. That’s about where the similarities end.
What Are Skydiving and Bungee Jumping, Actually?
With skydiving, you are taken up to heights of 10,000-13,500 feet in an airplane or helicopter and then jump (strapped to an instructor if skydiving tandem-style) for a minute or so of freefall before activating a parachute and gracefully gliding down to the ground over spectacular views. There is a spare parachute in the pack as a backup, so apart from a disastrous airplane ascent or two bung parachutes (gotta hate that), the things that can go wrong are related to technique and are completely within your, or your instructor’s, control.
With bungee jumping, you start at a height of 100-1,000 feet while attached to a strong, elastic rope with a harness. At some point, you decide to jump, and dive head first towards the ground to jerk around on an elastic cord for a bit before coming to a stop. As far as safety, it’s all dependent on the equipment and is mostly out of your control. However, there is very little chance of the cord breaking if it’s the correct strength for your weight interval and if it is still within its lifespan (usually 200 jumps per cord). Some centers will attach a backup sling to the cord just in case something goes wrong and it does happen to snap while you’re harnessed to it.
So, in short, both bungee jumping and skydiving are safe if the equipment is up to scratch and if you follow the correct procedures, and there’s usually a back up if something goes wrong.
Finding Your Perfect Match
Now, let’s get to some differences that can help you decide whether you’re more of a skydiver or more of a bungee jumper…
If you like to take leaps of faith all by yourself and plunge into the unknown without anyone holding your hand, then bungee jumping is the one for you. Once you’re up on top of that bridge, building, or sheer cliff, the timing of the jump is up to you, and no one is there to help you make that decision or tell you that everything is going to be ok once you’ve started to fall.
On the flip side, if you have a much better time when you’ve got company and reassurance that you’re in good hands, you’ll probably have a much better time with skydiving. Experienced skydivers can fly solo and make all the decisions about when to jump, but beginners usually do a tandem jump, where you’re strapped to an instructor who makes the jump and deploys the parachute for you at exactly the right moment. You still get the exhilaration of a free fall, but the worry and stress of the experience is taken away.
Enjoying the view
Next up for comparison is the view. Both bungee jumping and skydiving can be incredibly scenic, but there are a few differences.
Bungee jumping is usually done from a bridge, tower, or dam, from heights ranging between 100 and 1,000 feet. Obviously, the higher the drop, the more aerial your view is going to be before you take the plunge. A tower jump will give you an urban view, with bridges and dams providing natural scenery of mountains, forests, and the water below. Once you jump, however, there is no more admiring your spectacular surroundings. It’s all adrenaline and exhilaration as you plummet straight down! The entire freefall experience is over in seconds and you finish by jerking upside-down on the end of the cord.
Skydiving gives you a bird’s-eye view of a larger area, due to the heights of 10,000-13,500 feet reached by the airplane or helicopter before you jump. Depending on the location, you could be taking in a view of ocean, coastline, forests, mountains, and rivers, as well as tall city buildings. A big difference from bungee jumping is that you have more time to enjoy the view. The ride up to altitude takes around 10-12 minutes, followed by about 50 seconds of freefall and 4-5 minutes of parachute descent. You can jump in a standing position, belly-to-earth, or head first. The stable belly-to-earth posture will give you the best angle for enjoying the view and is the most common for skydiving in tandem.
The final point is whether you see jumping from heights as a once-in-a-lifetime bucket list experience, or whether you might be interested in trying it out multiple times. According to some, bungee jumping is like a party trick that’s impressive the first time but then it loses its appeal or thrill-value when you keep doing it over and over again. You can always mix it up by trying different locations, but the result is essentially the same. Skydiving has more to it after you make the jump—with options for parachute deployment, descent speed, “swooping,” and landing. This makes skydiving more of a sport, and it can get really addictive!
Taking the Leap
Now, over to you. Do you like to leap solo, or are you more of a team player who enjoys sharing an experience with others? Are you in it for the thrill, or do you also enjoy a good view? Is it going to be a one-time experience, or are you interested in jumping as a sport?
The best way to find out is to book a bungee jumping or skydiving experience (or even both), and try it out for yourself!
Jordan McDowell is a freelance writer and content strategist. With a love for adventure and the great outdoors, he spends much of his time writing outside. He enjoys traveling to new places and is working to earn a UPT Sigma Vector Tandem certification with Skydive Taft.