Intermediate to Advanced Kiteboarding Gear Guide
Time of an Upgrade?
So you’ve been riding for a year or two, and you tried a friend’s kite the other day. You suddenly realize it might be time for an upgrade. Selecting the proper Intermediate or Advanced Kite gear is different because now you know how kites feel. Now you’re a knowledgeable, discerning kiter who knows what you want, and one kite and board for all types of riding just doesn’t cut it anymore.
Whats your Riding Style?
Ask yourself “What style (or styles) of riding am I going to focus on for the next year or two? Is my goal to boost big, kill waves, cruise easily in light wind, or have explosive unhooked pop?” With this you can explore gear options with us to dial in specific characteristics that are best for you. Forget the ad hype; this is the real scoop.
A seat harness is ideal for beginners because so much time is spent with the kite overhead, plus it offers great back support and no chafed ribs. If you like a seat harness’ mobility or really need the back support, stick with it but make sure it has adequate padding for longer sessions. The majority of intermediate and advanced riders find a waist harness has mobility in tricks and allows spinning for toeside or surf riding. Try several on and compare if possible. If you’re trying one on for the first time, be sure it sits on your hips at your waist when getting fit for size, not up around your ribs.
TWIN TIP KITEBOARDS
This will help you decide what you should look for in a twin top kiteboard for performance applications
The kind of riding do you do: Twin-tips are most common for beginners, but it may be time to consider surf boards, skim boards, mutants, or tuned-down race boards if you’re looking to expand your horizons.
Your main riding conditions: Big waves or even heavy chop will require a different board than might do well in flat water, and wind speeds and your weight will determine the size range you need.
The size of the kiteboard: If your winds are usually 15-25 knots or more, you’ll likely be somewhere between a 127 and 135cm size if you’re between 140 and 200 lbs. Heavier guys around 200-240 may still be on a 137-140 size board. In light winds 9-15 knots, stick with your longer wider light wind sizes, 144x44 or bigger typically.
The rocker line of the kiteboard: Most twin-tips have a 3-stage rocker which allows a flat center rail for stability and edging while letting the tips curl up to varying degrees. If the tip rocker is flatter, the board is generally suited to flatter water but will be very stable, while very aggressively curved tip rockers and continuous rockers generally cut through chop very well and provide a looser feel to the board.
The amount of flex in board: Flex in a board will give you happier knees in chop and hard landings, but a board that’s too flexible for your weight feels mushy and lacks pop. Most experienced riders like a board with good pop that still has some forgiveness in it, but freestyle and wakestyle riders typically want a stiffer board for maximum pop off the water.
The Amount of concave in the kiteboard design: Many upper level boards have either single- or double-concave (or more) on the bottom. Compared to a flat-bottomed board, this means less cavitation in the water for smoother, faster riding with less drag. Double-concave boards can also help direct spray out, provide softer landings, and give a “stickier” more stable feel on the water.
The Overall construction: Most twin-tips now have a wood core, allowing it to be much thinner yet stronger, and have better pop than foam. Most are laid up with just fiberglass, but some boards use small areas or X-plys of carbon fiber or even Kevlar under the fiberglass. Many top-of-the-line boards are fully covered in carbon fiber top and bottom as well as a thinner layer of fiberglass for a lighter board and a responsiveness and strength you don’t get with fiberglass alone. If you’re looking for the carbon fiber difference, make sure your board actually is fully-covered in carbon because many boards have “carbon-weave” graphics or textures, but don’t actually have carbon.
When picking a kite for performance have even more aspects to what makes them perform differently, but here are some key things to consider:
Performance: Turning speed, turning style (pivotal or sweeping turns), how well a kite holds power through turns and loops, how tight and smooth the loops are, and it’s ability to boost well (vertical motion) and loft well (horizontal motion or hangtime), are all things to notice when testing or picking new gear. Faster turning speed and constant power through loops is something advanced riders need, whether freestyle, surfing, freeriding, or wakestyle.
Convenience: One-pump setups are almost standard in the industry now, and most brands that have been around at least a few years will have quality construction. Two less things to worry about. While easy relaunch was something you enjoyed about your beginner kite, it’s very nice for any rider, especially wave riding.
Specific Style and Shaping Attributes: Shaping matters. True bow shapes (which are lower aspect) typically have more stability and low-end grunt than hybrid shapes, but slower turning speed. Delta-shaped tips often mean easier relaunch. A hybrid shaping (cross between bow and C-shapes) is designed to have attributes of both Bow and C-shapes. The majority of kites are considered “hybrid” now, so pay attention to the actual characteristics; some may look the same but have very different turning speed, grunt, and stability. High-aspect, more symmetrical kites like C-kites and race kites generally have very good upwind speed and long lofty gliding jumps.