Selecting the Right Kiteboarding Kite Size and Type
There are many factors to consider when selecting the proper kiteboarding gear. Each kiteboarding kite is designed to fly in a particular wind range. This range is affected by the pilots weight, the size and type of the board, and even the skill of the pilot. Other things to consider are how aggressive you want to kiteboard. Putting up a smaller kite in any given wind speed makes it more manageable and is great for "soul riding" or freestyle riding. Rigging a bigger kite for the wind speed makes it more extreme and physically demanding.
Freeride kiteboarders should choose a kite one to two sq. meters smaller and aggressive freestyle kiteboarders should choose a kite one to two sq. meters larger.
If you don't know your kiteboarding style, check out my page on selecting the proper gear for your kiteboarding style!Sizing
It is very helpful to first understand a few things about the sizing of kiteboarding kites. Kites are rated by their sail area, in square meters. This is the sail area, not the wingspan.Wind Range
No one kite will cover the entire wind range, Ideally, you will have three kites to cover the different wind speeds. Newer kites will have more usable wind range than older kites.
Generally speaking, you may kiteboard in winds as light at 8mph and winds in excess of 25mph. In order to do this, you will ideally need three different sizes of kites.Large kite for lighter winds
- 8-15mph. 14.0 to 16 sq. meters
Medium kite for medium winds
- 15-20mph 11.0 to 13.0 sq. meters
Small kite for higer winds
- 20-25 mph 6.0 to 10.0 sq. meters
You should always start with a medium size kite and a very large kiteboard. This is the easiest and safest combination. Medium size kites are much easier to water re-launch than big kites. Medium kites combined with a large board works great in the widest possible wind range! This is the fastest way to advance your skills!
Try to get around 3.0 sq. meters between your kite sizes. For example: A quiver for a 180lbs person:
6.0, 9.0, 12.0 - medium to high wind area
8.0, 11.0, & 14.0 - light to medium wind area
The best all around medium sized kite to start with is an 11.0 or 12.0 square meter kite if you are between 140-190 lbs in body weight. We have put together the best possible packages for you with 11.0 & 12.0 square meter kites and a board complete for the lowest possible price. Check out some of the complete packages below!!
Types of Kites
Today, there are three types of kiteboarding kites available, the newest "hybrid" or "Super Leading Edge", then "Bow or Flat" Kiteboarding Kites.
Hybrid or SLE(Super Leading Edge Kiteboarding Kites
100% de-power for the ultimate in safety and confidence.
More upwind drive than "bow" kites, which makes it easier to get pulled upwind by the kite rather than edging the board hard to go upwind.
Less stable than bow kites since they fly further upwind. You need to be aware of the kites position relative to your position and be actively flying the kite more than a bow kite.
Generally a faster turn than a bow kite. A more consistant and positive feel when turning the kite aggressively.
Typically less bar pressure than the "bow" kite.
Generally not as easy to water re-launch as a "bow" kite.
Bow or Flat Kiteboarding Kites
Bow kites have the easiest water relaunch because of their super flat shape!
The Widest range because their flat shape allows more wind to dump off the kite aiding in de-powering.
They will not go upwind as easy as "Hybrid/SLE" kites as they tend to fly further back in the wind window.
More stable in flight so you can park and ride easily and not have to be as aware of the kite and you don't need to micro manage the kite.
High bar pressure as they fly further back in the wind window and take a lot of pressure to turn the kite, it can feel like harder work to fly these kites.
Bow kites tend to pivot turn which can cause them to "slide" through turns causing it to be more work for the pilot with increaded bar pressure and slower turning speeds. This is usually due to the kite slightly stalling during the pivoting turns due to its super flat shape.
"C" Shaped Kites
The traditional super curved leading edge kite with no bridle, lines attach directly to the kite. Traditional C kites are dangerous and should be avoided! They have not been made in the past 4 years, but can still be found in used markets at very low prices.
Newer hybrid "C" kites mentioned above have replaced traditional C kites by offering a bridle and therefore more de-power and better water relaunch than the older kites. I do not suggest buying any kite older than 2007.
New "C" kites are much more upright in flight and usually have less power for there size. They are prefered for kite looping and aggressive advanced style tricks since they maintain consistent power in kite loops.
Extremely poor de-power and therefore is very unsafe for beginners
Poor water relaunching especially in larger sizes. Expect to work more on re-launching the kite from the water.
Very small wind range so you need more kites to cover the wind range.
Super cheap since they are inferior to modern designs made in the past year.