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The Cost of Extreme Sports: From Pricey Gear to High Life Insurance Rates


If extreme sports aren’t enough to get your heart pumping, the dent they can put in your wallet should do the trick.

A host of underlying costs come with seeking an adrenaline rush, including for equipment, memberships, certification courses and — possibly — higher life insurance rates.

To get a picture of how expensive each extreme sport can be, NerdWallet asked experts about some of the common costs associated with these activities. We found, for example, that the casual scuba diver might spend around a thousand dollars for gear and training. That cost jumped past $6, 000 for the extreme diver seeking advanced certification. A casual climber might spend a few hundred dollars on gear and a gym membership, but an extreme climber seeking higher peaks could easily fork over several grand.

How life insurance rates are affected

The disparity in costs was also found in life insurance. Hallett Financial Group, an independent insurance brokerage in Minneapolis, ran rates for different scenarios for a healthy 40-year-old man seeking a 20-year policy worth $1 million. Rates reflect a buyer’s risk level based on criteria such as age, gender, health and hobbies.

Our study found that many casual hobbies, such as rock climbing, won’t affect your rate at all if you’re buying life insurance. But if you take that hobby to extreme ends, your rate will likely be higher.

We found an insurance bargain among the extreme sports we included: Heli-skiing came in with the lowest life insurance rate for enthusiasts. Extreme rock climbing delivered the biggest hike to the price.

Of course, the actual costs of participating in extreme sports will vary widely, depending on where you live and your preference for gear, training and other factors. But here are some of the costs to consider when deciding whether that thrill is worth the bill.

The cost of extreme sports

The following table provides an overview of the costs of gear and other sport-related expenses, as well as the median monthly life insurance rates for sports enthusiasts for a 20-year, $1 million policy.


Estimated activity-related costs: Starting around $400 for the casual climber and $3, 000-plus for the extreme enthusiast.

Casual climber

Expenses won’t be high for someone who climbs at an indoor rock-climbing wall twice per week. According to Ed Crothers, director of the climbing instructor program and accreditation for the American Mountain Guides Association in Boulder, Colorado, here are the main costs a casual climber could expect:

  • Climbing harness: $50 to $150
  • Chalk bag: $15 to $20
  • Belay device: $15 to $100
  • Locking carabiner: $12 to $20
  • Gym membership annual rates can range from $300 to $600. Daily rates can be anywhere from $10 to $25, depending on the facility.

Life insurance rate:

  • Because the casual climber’s hobby isn’t very risky, it won’t affect his life insurance rates. A 20-year term policy of $1 million would cost about $67.38 per month.

Extreme climber

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