BUYING YOUR FIRST KITESURFING GEAR
It is quite a typical scenario that the first thought about buying kitesurfing gear appears more or less at the stage of first water starts. Usually, this involves catching a bug and an immediate desire to have your own kite.
That is quite soon, not to say too soon to choose a kite. After achieving full independence on the water and some riding practice (to the extent that we are able to notice differences between kites, bars and boards, which fortunately comes quickly), it is worth creating circumstances to try different brands of equipment.
Kites not only differ in the quality, performance and use, but also in technical solutions that are often equally good, but different for each brand. It’s good to check what suits us best. For example, each brand creates its own patents for the construction of the bar – its adjustment system, connection method, quick release, depower etc.
Of course, there is no need to go too much into details but sometimes a solution in a particular bar can disturb us and another can perfectly respond to us.
BEFORE YOU BUY YOUR FIRST GEAR, PLAY WITH DIFFERENT KITES
In order to compare the equipment of different brands, it’s worth to open up for kite renting – not only for riding, but also for testing. While renting gear, we not only get what we exactly need at the moment, but also the entire assortment of a kite school opens up. This means that during the day of rental we can change models, sizes, and sometimes kite brands (if that school has several). The ability to change equipment during one rental is a standard practice, although it’s good to make sure on this matter earlier.
And so we work on Duotone and Cabrinha gear, you can pay a visit to the Germans when you’re after Core or F-One, to Italians if you want to check Eleveight or RRD, or to our dear polish competitors in the case you look for Slingshot or Airrush.
This way, a lot of gear bases open for us, and at the same time we spend holidays by riding consciously and by learning about kites.
It’s hard to say which brand is the best. We assume that in order to provide lessons at the highest level, we need to aim the best equipment and hence such and no other choice in our kite school. But to be honest, there are many good kites, bars and boards of brands that we don’t represent.
SIZE DOES MATTER
As it comes to size and number of kites – two or three kites, one bar and one board for a holiday kitesurfer should be enough.
It’s our subjective opinion that it’s worth staying consequent with the brand when choosing kites and a compatible bar.
If you buy Cabrinha kites size 9 and 12 m, it’s good to buy a Cabrinha bar. If you later buy a light wind kite 15 or 17 m by Slingshot, you should consider another bar, designed for this kite.
Bar sizes are generally universal regardless of the size of the kite, apart from the smallest and biggest kites. For example, the Cabrinha bar with regulation (48-56 cm) is perfect for kites from 8 to 15 m. A large bar (60 cm) is recommended for a 17-meter kite, and for the smallest kites (5-7 m) there is a short bar (44 cm). Naturally, nothing bad will happen if you hook up a 7-meter kite to an adjustable bar with 48 cm setting.
When buying kitesurfing gear, it’s good to consider in what kind of places we will ride. If most often we end up in places where the major wind is light wind, it’s worth starting with a 12-meter kite and considering as the second a 15-meter (or 11 and 14 for smaller riders, or 13 and 17 for bigger ones). If we visit Sicily kite spot, other southern European spots, or more exotic places, it would be nice to add to our 12m a 9m (or 11 + 8 or 10 + 13).
The most common set of three kites is 9/12/15, although a smaller person will choose 8/11/13, and a larger one could have 10/13/17
YOUR PERFECT TYPE OF KITE
We also choose the type of kite regarding to our skills and the place where we will most often ride. Continuing on the example of Cabrinha – if we work on mastering our position, riding upwind and transitions, it would be more harm than good if we purchase the extremely freestyle Chaos. In this case a good choice would be an easy, allround Moto, Radar or responsive and versatile Switchblade (also good for jumping).
If we know that in the near future we will spend more time in the air than in the water, we can consider the freestyle FX, and if we live somewhere by the turbulent wild Scandinavian sea and we are going to struggle with the waves, then Drifter would be the choice. As a light wind kite (13, 15 or 17 m), we choose Contra, with which we can successfully cruise while others walk out of the water with a kite in their hand. This is of course the Cabrinha typology, but each brand has its own. The point is to choose a perfect model for your skills and conditions.
BRAND NEW OR USED KITE?
If money doesn’t matter, then there is nothing to talk about. In any other case, it’s really worth looking around for good used gear. With kites it’s a bit like with cars – you leave the salon and it loses a big part of value.
Especially when you’re planning to practice your first jumps, consider buying a good kite (with which you will actually learn something), but used, so you don’t worry about giving it some hard moments.
It will take some time to clarify what gear or what solutions are best for you.
Quite still not exploited kites are generally 1-3 years old, the material is at least a little bit crispy (not too soft) and colors are not faded.
Before the purchase, it’s best to test your future kite. Besides having a ride, also pump it, leave it for a couple of hours and make sure that the kite doesn’t loose air (and if that’s not possible, at least ask the seller about it). Also check the canopy for micro damages.
As for repairs, a kite well repaired in principle doesn’t change the way it works, but sells cheaper. We’re talking about sewing and patches. Each case is different here. If the kite is sewn and patched everywhere, it means that the material might be not strong enough anymore. However, one sewing often results from unnoticed micro damage that ripped the canopy at some point, and that is not bad yet. So when you’re buying a repaired kite, it’s worth paying more attention to the texture of the material. Also ask about the valve, bladder repairs and take a look at the leading edge stitches – if they’re not broken at any point, especially at the central part.
All in all, buying kitesurfing gear is a good idea at the level of full independence, when you know more less which kites and which solutions you like (preferably from autopsy!), and when you take into account the places where you will ride and the way you will use your kites.
And one more thing – if you’re kiting for a week or two in a year, consider renting!
The costs of renting for such a period are comparable to the costs of purchasing gear (loss of value) and transporting it.
When you rent, you always have new gear, perfectly chosen for the current conditions and your skills. And you don’t have to travel with anything but your boardshorts. In this case just pay attention to your insurance package 😉