How Does Bungee Jumping Work? 

You’ve always been interested in the idea of bungee jumping, as falling freely through the sky sounds amazing, but you don’t really know how the whole thing works. What does the process of bungee jumping entail?

When bungee jumping, here are the steps:

  • You’re transported to a jumping location
  • You’re provided equipment 
  • You’re instructed on how to jump
  • You jump and begin freefalling
  • The bungee cord stretches to its max length
  • You rebound 
  • You slowly come to a stop

In a nutshell, that’s how bungee jumping works, but there are a lot of factors at play such as the harness, how you jump, the type of cord, and your weight that affect your jumping experience. Keep reading to learn more!

What is Bungee Jumping Like?

I recently went on a bungee jumping excursion in Southern California with some work friends, and was able to catch it all on video. It was an experience of a lifetime, let me tell you. Check out the video below for yourself.

This Is How Bungee Jumping Works

Step 1 – You’re Transported to a Jumping Location

Your jumping location can be all sorts of places when bungee jumping, which is what keeps it so exciting.

You could jump from a cable car, a helicopter, a hot air balloon, a tower, any building with a platform, a bridge, or a crane. 

No matter which location you selected, the first step of the process is transporting you to your location. 

Expect to be weighed before you’re suited up and jump. You’re sometimes weighed twice before you jump. 

The reason that bungee jumping companies are so obsessed with weight is that your weight dictates how much bungee cord you need, so the staff needs to know your number on the scale. 

Step 2 – You’re Provided with All the Equipment You Need for a Safe Jump

The next part of the process is getting suited up for your bungee jump. 

You will be given your equipment before you’re brought to the jumping location.

One must-have piece of equipment is a helmet. You’re not likely to hit your head on anything when bungee jumping, but you can never say never, so you should be equipped with a helmet.

The harness is also critically important. Let’s go over the various harness types now, as you have a bunch to choose from.

If you’re wondering how safe bungee jumping is, click here.

  1. Body Harness

The most common type of harness for bungee jumping is the body harness. 

A body harness covers most of your body, as the name implies, but still allows for leg and arm freedom if you want to open your limbs skyward when jumping. 

This style of harness attaches on the body closer to your stomach, which keeps the attachment point nearer your center of gravity. 

More experienced bungee jumpers can use the advantage of a body harness’s attachment point to pull off flips, spins, and other cool tricks. 

  1. Arm Harness

Arm harnesses are an option, but not one that you will come across very often and certainly not one that we’d recommend for beginners. Even for more experienced bungee jumpers, we’d encourage you to rethink an arm harness.

Why is that? Arm harnesses cannot support the entirety of your body weight. Once you’re flying through the sky, the G forces could dislocate your shoulder(s), which would be incredibly painful once you land.  

  1. Leg Harness

The third type of harness you can select from is a leg harness. Some leg harnesses use buckles while others have clubs. You can harness one leg or both, with the latter more highly recommended for safety.

You usually won’t use just a leg harness when bungee jumping but a sit harness as well, which we’ll talk more about in just a moment. 

Leg harnesses increase the freefalling feeling that bungee jumping is known for, increasing your adrenaline rush.

However, you have to be especially prudent when rebounding and watch the cord tightness to avoid dislocated or broken ankles. 

  1. Chest Harness

You might also wear a chest harness when bungee jumping, which wraps around your stomach and chest. If you’re using a chest harness, it’s usually in conjunction with an arm harness or a leg harness. 

  1. Sit Harness 

Finally, there’s the sit harness, which is also known as a seat harness. 

As you could have guessed from the name, a sit harness supports your sit bones, including the buttocks, thighs, and waist. 

Like you wear a chest harness with a leg or arm harness, the same goes for a sit harness. If you have a full-body harness, there’s no need for either chest or sit harnesses. 

Step 3 – You’re Instructed on How to Jump

In pre-jump mode, your gravitational energy is at its highest. 

That said, you can’t stand around forever, and you won’t really want to. The longer you gaze upon your view and realize how high up you are, the more you might want to go back to ground level.

You will, as we talked about in our post on whether bungee jumping hurts, jump with an instructor (in most instances) who can guide your jumps. 

You have a variety of jumping techniques you can use, some that are better for beginners and others that are ideal for intermediates. Let’s go over your jumping options now. 

  1. Swallow Dive

The first jump is the most beginner-friendly and may be the type of jump you stick with the entire time you go bungee jumping (there’s nothing wrong with that!). It’s known as a swallow dive.

A swallow dive entails you jumping off the platform away from it, outstretching your arms as your body falls downward. You will be aimed toward the earth below you and facing head-down once the bungee cord stretches.

A body harness allows for more rotation when doing a swallow dive.  

  1. Bat Drop

The bat drop is for the more experienced bungee jumper who’s looking to change up their experience. During a bat drop, you kind of hang like a bat.

Someone will hold onto your feet while you’re upside down. When you’re ready, they’ll let you go and you’ll plummet through the air upside down and head-first. 

  1. Railing Jump

If your launching platform is a bridge with a railing, then congrats, you can pull off the railing jump! 

You don’t put yourself over the railing when doing a railing jump, but rather, you jump from the railing.

You’ll need two other people involved to hold you and keep you balanced until you’re ready to fall. Then it’s time to do it! 

  1. Elevator 

The elevator is another unique way of bungee jumping. You stand on a platform, aim your feet down, and then jump in that position.

As your cord becomes taut, you’ll find yourself flipping. You will need a nice, pliable cord to prevent the elevator from being too painful to pull off again. 

  1. Back Dive 

The last bungee jumping technique at your disposal is the back dive. During a back dive, you fall backward. 

You can’t just tip backward or it won’t really work the way it’s supposed to. 

Step 4 – You Jump and Begin Freefalling

Once you’ve chosen your technique and cleared it with your instructor, it’s time to jump. 

Even if you go for a basic swallow dive, bungee jumping is such an incredible experience that it never gets boring. The rush you feel is indescribable, as being in freefall is at once both terrifying and exhilarating. 

Your average speed of travel as you freefall is about 43 miles per hour, which is some truly incredible stuff. 

However, the moment won’t last forever, so try to enjoy it as much as you can while it’s happening! 

Related Reading: What Does Bungee Jumping Feel Like?

Step 5 – The Bungee Cord Stretches to Its Max Length

We recently discussed the various kinds of bungee cords, which are categorized into three unique types. 

Type I and Type II are shock-absorbing double-braided cords whereas Type III is a single-braided exerciser cord that’s not shock-absorbing.

For a greater degree of stretch and more stability, you’re better off with a Type I or Type II bungee cord. 

That said, regardless of which type you select, here’s what happens once you’re freefalling through the sky. 

As we said before, you can only freefall so much. The bungee cord that you’re attached to will stretch to its limits, and that’s where you stop, or thereabouts. 

The stretchier the cord, the more you get out of the freefall, as you can pull on the cord more with your body weight than on a cord that doesn’t stretch. 

It’s a combination of cord tension and gravity that will stretch the bungee cord to its fullest degree, but don’t worry. The cord won’t over-stretch and risk snapping. 

Step 6 – The Cord Rebounds

The bungee cord is now pulled as taut as it can be. Think of the bungee cord as a rubber band that you’ve stretched out. It’s got to bounce back, right? Indeed, it does!

The same degree of tension that allowed the bungee cord to stretch beyond its normal degree will also force it to recoil. 

You’ll begin bouncing during rebound. The suddenness of the recoil can be surprising to first-time bungee jumpers, oh, and quite painful too. 

Step 7 – You Slowly Come to a Stop

The bungee cord will continually bounce until its tension has been eliminated. Air resistance will also help the cord eventually stop. 

At that point, you’ll remark to yourself about how incredible the bungee jumping experience was. You’ll also likely be incredibly proud because you achieved an amazing thing! 

Step 8 – You’re Pulled Back Up to Where You Started (Or to the Ground)

Your bungee cord will then be raised back up to the platform or you’ll be lowered to the ground. If you’re closer to the ground than you are the platform, then it makes more sense to lower you. 

With your instructor in tow, you’ll have your equipment removed and be guided back down the platform (as applicable) and to your car. 

Your bungee jumping experience is now officially over, and you’re free to head home at your leisure.

Standing on level ground after the incredible experience that was bungee jumping is certainly going to feel strange. 

If you did end up hurting yourself while bungee jumping, don’t expect to feel anything right away. 

As we discussed in our article about whether bungee jumping is painful (you really should give it a read if you missed it), your adrenaline levels are sky-high right now.

You’ll need a few hours for your adrenaline to calm down, and then you can accurately assess your pain levels. Most bungee jumping pain is treatable with over-the-counter pain medication, hot and cold treatments, and rest. 

Once you’re feeling up for it again, you can schedule your next bungee jump! 

Final Thoughts

Bungee jumping is a truly incredible experience. Even our words can’t do it justice!

The entire process involves suiting up, reaching a platform for jumping, planning your jump, and then the best part: freefalling! 

Don’t be nervous if the bungee cord stretches a lot during freefall and expect a lot of recoil as well as plenty more bouncing as the cord returns to a tauter position. 

We hope this post motivates you to go bungee jumping!  

For the highest bungee jumps in the US, click here.

Geoff Southworth

I am a California native and I enjoy all the outdoors has to offer. My latest adventures have been taking the family camping, hiking and surfing.

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