Essential Ballooning Equipment

Written by Brett Watson on February 5, 2016

Hot Air Ballooning is actually a science. There are a lot of Physics involved, especially when it comes to buoyancy, and Chemistry take a major role.

In reality we are dealing with some very dangerous elements including fire, gas and the power of the wind. Not to mention vehicles, ropes, carabiners etc. The bonus is we have developed tried and true methods to control these forces and harness them to take to the sky.

There are some basic, and in many cases mandatory, balloon equipment that every budding pilot and crew member should have. We have a special page for Pilot Gear here. Lets run through these and see some example that we have chosen through Amazon which fit the need for the job.

** Please note – we make some recommendations below on different products. These recommendations are based on my personal experience (qualified Commercial Hot Air Balloon Pilot) but there are other products out there that can do similar jobs. Reviews and feedback on the gear we are listing would be much appreciated.


Ballooning Gloves

In most countries through out the world if you a balloonist proper gloves are mandatory. That is why they are on the top of our list.

Liquid Gas from the propane tanks can inflict burns, ropes sliding through hands as a wind gust drags the envelope you are holding are two of the biggest reasons a great pair of gloves can save you a lot of harm and pain.

The right gloves help grip rope better, they protect from cold and heat, and as ballooning is normally carried out on a cold crisp morning, are great to just keep your hands warm.

These gloves have a special rope channel that protect the hands when a rope slides through.

Click here for further information on the Ergodyne ProFlex 740 Fire & Rescue Rope Gloves



UHF Radio

OK we all have mobile phones but nothing is better than a good UHF Radio when it come to ballooning.

A pilot needs to be able to communicate with their crew every step of the journey. Hand held radios are the best way to do this.

The pilot will inform the retrieve vehicle about where he intends to land, the direction and even what conditions are ahead on the road.

The crew will let the pilot know about hazards such as power lines or animals on take off and landing and whilst this can be done from a radio built into the retrieve vehicle nothing beats the ability to walk clear of the road into a paddock to talk about the landing conditions.

We highly recommend a water resistant radio as morning dew will kill a radio if dropped. Also the pilot often likes a radio with head set facilities so they can be “hands free” to operate the balloon. A five watt set like Retevis RT-5R Walkie Talkie 5W 128CH VHF/UHF  is a great option.


Ballooning Boots

Honestly I have tried normal boots, in fact I have tried many different types of boots for ballooning and most just don’t cut it.

The number of times I ended up with saturated feet when I first started ballooning was just too many to count. The wet grass just soaked through within minutes of setting up.

The problem is you need a boot that breaths, is waterproof and offers protection.

It is not mandatory to have buts that have a steel cap but I have had a basket fall on my foot. I have had gas bottles also dropped on my toes but with a boot that had a safety cap I was OK.

What ever you do don’t buy cheap boots!! These Timberland PRO Men’s Hyperion Waterproof Boot are the type of boot I would recommend.




A compass is a relatively cheap item but is an essential bit of kit for both pilot and crew. Whilst many mobile phones have built in compasses they just do not compare to the real thing.

You will need a compass that you can place on a map and plot a course. Ballooning is all about using maps to chart where the pilot and crew think they will fly. Calculating wind directions and using a good map and compass will ensure the balloon does not head out over an ocean or forest!!

This Suunto MC-2DLIN Compass, or one like it really is mandatory.



Waterproof Clear Map Bag

Pilots and crew alike are constantly referencing their maps before and during the flight. It is a great idea to look after your maps and a see through cover is a great idea.

These covers also allow marking that can be wiped off. A great idea when determining where the wind will take the balloon and working out potential flight paths.

The covers come with lanyards and can be even worn around the neck or hung inside the balloon basket.

Check out these Waterproof Map Case Transparent Dry Bag.




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