As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
I was watching television the other day with some of my friends and I saw a scene in some movie while we were flipping through channels where the characters go parasailing.
One of my pals, who is about 5’3″ and 225 pounds, looked down at his stomach and said, “I’ve always wanted to go parasailing, but I don’t think they’d let me.”
Another friend, a little taller and a little heavier, nodded and said, “Yeah, there are so few outdoor activities for people our size. I hate it.”
My third friend, 6’1″, 240 pounds, and an eternal optimist, seemed confused by the conversation and said, “Oh, I don’t know why the weight limit would be that low. You’d be wearing a harness and those things can support a ton of weight.”
Then, like a scene out of a movie, they all turned to me to get my opinion on the subject. I shrugged and said, “I’m afraid of heights, what would I know about parasailing?”
We then agreed to find out the answer in case we all decide to go on a vacation to the lake together someday.
So, which one of us was right? Can fat people go parasailing? Is there a weight limit for these water-based excursions that must be strictly followed?
What is Parasailing?
You may already know what parasailing is but since I always confuse it with paragliding, I’ll explain the difference.
Parasailing is a water activity that involves a person being connected to a large parachute that’s being pulled by a boat and sailing over the water. Naturally, the name is a combination of “parachute” and “sailing.”
Paragliding, on the other hand, is pretty much the same thing but it’s on land this time and the device isn’t connected to anything. You would be gliding, or “falling with style” like Buzz Lightyear in the first Toy Story.
Both activities are also different from hang gliding, which is similar to paragliding but involves a more rigid frame and is a little more expensive, although it is safer.
Parasailing is also known as parakiting, paraskiing, or parascending. I just think of it as “the thing where someone in a parachute gets pulled by a boat” but that’s not as catchy.
Is There a Weight Limit on Parasailing?
There are actually two weight limits on parasailing at most places: a lower limit and an upper limit.
On the lower end, most places require that the parasailer weigh at least 90 or 100 pounds because a child who weighs less is not likely to fit the harness, which would be dangerous to everyone involved.
The upper limit depends on the parasailing company you’re using but is usually about 250-300 pounds. Some support up to 500, but those are intended for two or three riders only and not just one person.
The limit is there to protect the riders, as that much weight can cause the line to snap and result in serious injury.
That’s one of the many reasons I don’t recommend lying about your weight to the clerk at the paragliding tour, as not all of them will have scales and it can be tempting to try to get away with it.
Two or three riders would be able to support a greater weight, however, as the weight is more evenly distributed throughout the device.
The weight limits can also vary from day to day based on wind conditions, so if you’re at or near the limit, you should call ahead to make sure you’ll be able to go out that day.
Can Fat People Go Parasailing?
Much like most weight restrictions and classifications, your ability to go parasailing depends on how fat you are and how tall you are.
Someone who is 5’8 and 215 pounds is medically obese but would be able to go parasailing with almost every company around the world.
If you’re 6’5″ and weigh 251 pounds, you would not be considered obese by current medical standards, but some companies may not let you go because you’re still over the weight limit.
Even people who aren’t fat and have a lot of muscle wouldn’t be able to go on a parasail due to their weight.
During his wrestling days, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was billed at 6’5″, 260 pounds. He would be over a 250-pound weight limit for paragliding and you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would call him fat!
The weight limits exist for our protection as well, since it’s an inherently dangerous activity and people have been critically injured or killed by malfunctioning or broken harnesses.
If you’ve always wanted to go parasailing but are over the weight limit, there are alternatives you can try without having to lose weight. Most of these are water-based instead of through the air, though.
Jetskiing is a fun water-based activity, although it doesn’t allow you to fly through the air. Many luxury models can support over 900 pounds of weight.
Surfing is a great activity that has no weight limit at all, although it’s important to make sure you’re using the right equipment.
Bodyboarding is another great activity that supports people of my size and I personally prefer the idea over surfing. I think laying down on top of a board floating over the water sounds very relaxing.
If you just want to relax and have a great time in the water, I highly recommend finding a pool float that supports larger riders. My girlfriend and I once bought pool floats, drove to the lake, and just relaxed in the sun for hours.
For aerial activities, there are some zip lines, including those in Las Vegas, that can support riders of up to 300 pounds.
Many have limits between 250 and 275 pounds, however, so I recommend calling ahead to make sure you can ride.
Paragliding, which I mentioned previously, can also be a fun alternative if you’re under 265 pounds, although I’d recommend a tandem paraglide because solo rides have the added danger of crash landings for people of my size.
I think the best option for air travel for fat people like me is definitely a hot air balloon ride.
It depends on the company and its policies, but most allow riders up to about 300 pounds, although it may cost extra if it’s just you and the pilot instead of a group of two or three.
Summary and Final Thoughts
If you are fat and want to go parasailing, you might have a chance, depending on your weight and the sailing company you’ve chosen.
If you’re over the weight limit, there are many great water-based activities that you can enjoy without having to lose weight if you don’t want to! I will never recommend that anyone lose weight if they don’t want to and it isn’t medically necessary.
As a fat person, I understand that there are sometimes limits to what I can do when it comes to entertainment and recreational activity.
Instead of letting it get me down, I try to focus on the positives and find an alternative activity that’s just as fun!
You may even like the alternative activity better than you would the original. I once lost a few pounds so I could go waterskiing with some friends of mine in college. It was kind of fun, but I enjoyed my time in that pool float a whole lot more.