Which Extreme Sport Is Statistically The Most Dangerous?

which extreme sport is statistically the most dangerous?

Some people love extreme sports. For others, it is a terrifying idea that will never become a reality as long as they live. However, that poses the question, which extreme sport is statistically the most dangerous?

Humans are an incredibly strange species if you think about it. Which other species on the planet can you think of that will actively try to get as close to death as possible without actually dying? To top it off, they then call it a sport.

Most sports are dangerous by nature. If they are physically demanding sports, which most are, then you always run the risk of getting injured. You are pushing your body to the peak of its performance in every aspect. Not to mention that, so are your competitors.

Which Extreme Sport Is Statistically The Most Dangerous?

We need to decide what is meant by the word dangerous before we get into the statistics of which extreme sport is the most dangerous. In most cases, we can group it into two sections within sports:

  • Injury
  • Death

Due to the enormous amount of injuries that can occur during sports in general, such as a stubbed toe in the least dangerous sport, professional pool swimming, we will only be looking at the odds of dying to judge which extreme sport is the most dangerous. And no, that doesn’t mean playing it until you’re old and pass away.

One of the largest issues that we have encountered while compiling the data for this article is that many factors go into what you class as a sportsperson. For example, mountain climbing has three mortality statistics:

Expert – 1 in 167

Recreational climbing – 1 in 1,750

Mountain hiking as a total – 1 in 15,700

Therefore, in this example, we added the three totals and divided them by three to give an overall risk of the death rate.

8. Bungee Jumping

Death Rate 1/500,000

Of all of the extreme sports featured on this list, bungee jumping is one of the lowest risks. Although there are a lot of risks when you are throwing yourself off something high and hoping that something will catch you, bungee jumping has become one of the safest extreme sports in the world.

bungee jumping

The safety of the sport is so high because of strict safety guidelines that are involved with every jump. Not only that, unlike some of the other sports on this list, you will find it pretty impossible to bungee jump on your own, or with only a friend.

Almost all, if not every single death caused by bungee jumping, has been down to a human error of some kind; either not checking equipment properly, or words being misheard.

That is why Bungee Jumping is only number 8 on the Statistically Most Dangerous Extreme Sports list.

7. Skydiving

Death Rate 1/142,857


Skydiving has long been seen as one of the most dangerous sports there are. However, looking at the statistics, that is not true. The fear of jumping out of an aircraft while it is 13,000 feet above the ground may be what causes there to be so much stigma surrounding the sport.

Again, guidelines on skydiving are so rigorous that there are only certain people who are allowed to pack reserve chutes. Furthermore, it is going to be pretty hard to do a skydive without an instructor with many jumps under their belts.

While there are some incidents of equipment failure, that is very rare. Even the backup parachutes have automated computer systems so that they open if no one does a single thing.

The most likely scenario of death is if the parachute opens in an incorrect configuration, and the operator was not taking the proper corrective steps.

Skydiving making it to number 7 on the Statistically Most Dangerous Extreme Sports list was a bit of a surprise to me!

6. Hang-Gliding

Death Rate 1/116,000


There is a majority when it comes to the reasoning behind deaths due to hang-gliding. That is human error. However, there have been cases where the pilot has been “too light” for the aircraft. Therefore, they were unable to control it.

Not being strapped into the aircraft proved to be another cause of death. Therefore, I would like to think that if safety measures increased, there would be a lot fewer fatalities.

I was surprised to find that it would make it onto the most dangerous extreme sports list at all, let alone at number 6.

However, bear in mind, hang-gliders are the lightest, human-crewed aircraft in the sky.

Which Extreme Sport Is Statistically The Most Dangerous? Top 5

Now we are getting into the top 5 dangerous extreme sports by death rate statistics.

5. Horseback Riding

Death Rate 1/30,476

horseback riding

Horses are animals, and no matter how much training they receive, they can still effectively do what they like. Often with devastating consequences. Horses are prey to many creatures, and therefore they act on instinct.

The inherent risk of horses has driven all but four states of the United States to have a statute stating that: “If equine participants hurt himself while engaged in equine pursuits, they will be deemed to have assumed the risk of that injury and may not sue the equine sponsor. – Queryhorse.com.”

Being trampled or kicked by a 2000lb horse is no joke, and the statistics prove it. I was slightly surprised to find that horseback riding would be number 5 on the most dangerous extreme sports by death rate statistics. However, I was hardly surprised to see that it made it onto the list.

4. Canoeing/Kayaking

Death Rate 1/10,000


No matter how calm a sea or river looks, water is a hazardous element that you should never underestimate. Sadly, an underestimation is often what leads to accidents and deaths. A report by the U.S. Coast Guard for 2015 showed 626 fatalities in that one year.

However, if you think that number is high, you may be surprised to find that 2015 held the third-lowest number of boating fatalities on record.

Water is much more powerful than any person. Anything from hitting stationary objects and capsizing, to storms, hypothermia, and even crocodiles can mean the end of your boating career for good.

Which Extreme Sport Is Statistically The Most Dangerous? Top 3

3. Mountain Climbing

Death Rate 1/5,872

mountain climbing

Number 3 on the list is mountain climbing. Remember my comment at the beginning of the article; well, this rate includes everyone who climbs mountains.

There are a lot more reasons for tragic endings while mountain climbing. That is possible because there are a lot fewer predictable elements. Furthermore, it is also possible that it is because climbers can never tell if they are prepared for specific climbs before they attempt them.

While there are a lot of deaths on the mountain that you may expect, Mt Everest (over 300 since 1922), you find a lot of amateur mountain climbers dying trying to conquer smaller mountains.

However, the increased number of permits to climb Mount Everest in 2019 has, so far, lead to 11 deaths this year alone!

2. Cave Diving

Death Rate 1/3,286

statistically the second most dangerous extreme sport cave diving

As you know, water is a dangerous place, and so are caves. So, mix the two, and what have you got? That’s right, the second most dangerous extreme sports by death rate statistics, cave diving.

Experience is the primary key to staying alive while cave diving, with the death rate increasing to 1/1003 for inexperienced divers. Equipment failure and training are rarely an issue for experienced divers, while insufficient training is the most common cause of mortality.

The risk of getting stuck in an underwater cave with no chance of escape is certainly not for the faint-hearted. That is why cave diving is statistically the second most dangerous extreme sport in the world.

Which Extreme Sport Is Statistically The Most Dangerous? Number 1

1. BASE Jumping

Death Rate 1/2,317

statistically the most dangerous extreme sport BASE Jumping

Probably as hugely unsurprising as the sport is extreme, BASE jumping is the number one most dangerous sport in the world, both statistically and realistically. The first BASE jump, a spin-off of skydiving was on January 31st, 1972.

The sport has grown in popularity since then, however, so has the death rate. There have been more than 260 deaths in base jumping since the year 2000. While that may seem like a pretty low number for the number of years, you have to take into account how many people are crazy enough to do BASE jumping in the first place.

With a fatality rate 43 times higher than parachuting from an aircraft, it is undoubtedly a sport for only the bravest people in the world!


While some of these activities may seem tame, they have incredibly high-risk rates. I found other sports that I could have added in, while I was researching this article, one of which was swimming.

However, the statistics would have to show everyone who had died from swimming in general. I did not want to have such a broad scope of a sport that is so safe if done with the right supervision. Also, I do not want to put anyone off swimming, as it is a life-saving skill to have.

I tried to keep the list to sports that could be considered extreme. Before you assume that horseback riding is not extreme, consider this. You will have many people challenge you on the fact of riding something that weighs as much as a small car, and a mind of its own is, in fact, very extreme.

Perhaps try it before you say it’s not!


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