If you once took a control bar and flew a kite on the wind window edge, you’ve got only two ways. The first one – you didn’t understand what it is, took the harness off and forgot about the kite forever. The second one – you are dreaming about getting into the power zone and flying like a bird along the watery and snowy waste. Here you should be prepared: it won’t be about a couple kiteschool lessons. You’ll spend all of your free time riding and looking for the closest spots for it, you’ll spend a ton of money on trips to kitesurfing strongholds and on buying the gear.
So, you flew a kite for the first time and it got to you. You realize that from now on you can’t get kiteboarding out of your mind and you’re longing to look deeper into its mysteries and spend your budget on your new hobby.
The first thing you should do – understand if you really want to ride because it’s not a cheap sport. If the answer is yes, it’s a straight ticket to buying the apparel.
It’s probably the first thing you buy and the most non-secondhand one. You’ll need apparel for three or four weather types (depends on the destination), and you’ll have to get used to the idea that from now on your tan will never be even. Let’s see all the factors:
1. Heat. It’s when the temperature outside is +25 С° at least, the water – not cooler than that – then you can ride in a rashguard and boardshorts. The rashguard has to be long sleeve, the boardshorts – of any length. For women, long sleeve surfing swimsuit is a great match. You’d better apply water resistant sunscreen at least SPF 50 on all the body parts that are not covered.
2. It’s still warm but the water is already cool (what it feels like to the riders). In that case you’ll need a 2mm wetsuit. They may be short-legged and short sleeve, long-legged and long sleeve, short-legged and long sleeve etc. Those who pay special attention to what they look like usually prefer long-legged and long sleeve wetsuits – they guarantee you’ll be warm and there’ll be no tan lines on the edges of your kit.
3. Cold. When the water is cold for a 2mm wetsuit (usually it’s spring and fall) it’s time to wear a warm wetsuit. Here a 5mm will save you. Some producers combine neoprene of different thickness. A 3-4mm neoprene is used for moving body parts that need maximum freedom (arms and legs) and a 5mm – for the back and the chest.
4. Freezing cold. If you’ve already became a maniac kiter and are ready to ride in any weather, you’ll need a 5-6mm with a hat and wetsuit boots or a drysuit with thermals under it. Drysuits are waterproof and are made out of a water rezistant membrane. It’s often styled like snowboarding apparel. It lets you wear the harness under the jacket. It even has a drop seat for special human needs.
Wetsuits as well as sports footwear have to be tried on and you’d better choose those with comfortable designs. Because of a technology race, almost all producers use super stretchy neoprene, make soft, glued through stitches and various tricks that “no one else has”. But in general the wetsuit should be comfortable once you try it on – that’s the main criterion on the basis of which you should choose your first wetsuit.
The main kitesurfing hygiene rule – the wetsuit, like the underwear, has to be new and only yours.
The harness is the basis of comfortable riding. All producers make different models for different kiteboardig disciplines. But in reality, you always ride in the one that’s comfortable for you. There are two types of harnesses – the seat harness and the waist harness. The seat ones look like climbing harnesses, they’re put on through the feet and you’ll need them while making the first steps. When you get more confident, you’ll need a waist harness (put on the waist). It can be of different width, with different features, thermoformed or not, with different fasteners for the hook, etc – catering for every taste and budget. It can be second hand. The only recommendation – if you have back injuries, use the one which is softer and larger in height – it’ll imitate a corset. If you have no injuries, any harness will do. But you should remember that harnesses tend to wear loose, so that they should be a close fit.
So, you’ve made the first step – spend money for your first gear. It means there’s no way back now. You go to a kite school, learn till you are confident while riding. While you learn you try various equipment and understand what you like more.
There’s a huge number of kites and boards for different styles and riding conditions.
Parafoil kites, inflatable kites, freestyle, wave kites, race kites. One can easily get lost in all the equipment forms and purposes.
At start you can limit your choice to a universal inflatable delta kite – they are offered by almost all producers. You can ride it both in winter and in summer, learn freestyle, ride waves, gain experience. Some time later you’ll understand what fits you more and will probably change the kite, choosing one for a particular riding style. Choose a twintip board designed for freeride. Such a kiteboard will go upwind better.
If you’re going to ride a lot and in different places, you’ll need at least 3 kites to cover the whole wind range. On average it’s a 5-7 m2 for strong wind, 8-10 for moderate to strong, 11-14 for moderate to low, large kites – for very low winds when you’ll choose chill rather then riding. The kite is chosen according to your weight. Lightweight guys and ladies can choose 5/8/11, middleweight riders - 6/9/12, heavyweights - 7/10/13-14.
If they’re the same brand, one control bar with steering lines will do, particularly because most of the producers already make length adjusting bars (the larger is the kite, the wider the bar has to be).
If you’re going to ride in one place with stable wind conditions, buy one kite of the most frequently used size and extend the canopy range as required.
At the beginning only one board will do – start with a twintip. It is suitable for freestyle, half wind kiting, even wavekiting. If you’re a lady or a lightweight man, choose 130-135cm boards, for middleweight men – 134-138cm, for heavyweights – 137cm and more. There’s no point in buying large “doors” – you’ll outgrow such a board quickly.
As far as brands are concerned, it’s all about comfort again. Talk to those who use the gear you like. Learn about the quality, the endurance. Google reviews on the kite/board you like. And buy.
If it’s about economy – the first kite can be second hand. You’ve chosen a brand and a model. Open your browser. And go – “buy second hand kite”. There’s also a huge number of thrift shops where kiters sell their own kites and boards, stores’ websites with second hand sections (usually they sell rental gear there).
Try to choose gear no older than 1 year. Such a kite will be in condition and also more advanced (remember the tech race). It’s safer to buy older equipment from riders who really haven’t used the kiteboard a lot. Pay attention to the canopy – it has to be sound, without breaches and scuffs, the fabric has to be like new, the bar – with an intact, unbroken soft coat, the sling ropes – without nods and not torn, the board – with no cracks, chips and reparations, the stickers shouldn’t be rundown. If you see damages – look for other gear or ask for a discount if the price is unrealistically high.
If you have a bit more money, look at new previous seasons’ equipment that’s on sale. Usually when new kite models arrive, last year’s gear is sold with good discounts and you can snatch new equipment for an attractive price.
And be ready. Not only your tan – your whole life will never be the same. Buying a surf car is ahead. And, at best, a garage storage. At worst for your relatives – you’ll rent out your flat and go riding to the ocean…
Just keep in mind where you can find the most accurate weather forecast! ;-)
Yours, WINDY APP