If you’ve seen YouTube videos of professional kitesurfers performing wild tricks and dazzling the crowds, you may have thought to yourself, “That could never be me.” But hold your horses, there, Debbie Downer! Even those pros had to start somewhere. After all, there was a dark time not too long ago when no one was a kitesurfing expert.
With a little practice and a few pieces of gear, we’ll have you flying through the air in no time! Read on to learn how to pick the right kitesurfing equipment for you, whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or advanced kitesurfer.
What Is Kitesurfing?
Since you’ve found this article, we’re betting you have at least a passing understanding of kitesurfing. However, to make sure everyone is on the same page and provide some useful background information, we want to go over what kitesurfing is. Kitesurfing is a lot like flying a kite on land—except that it’s cooler in every way.
Instead of letting the wind take your kite and then yanking it this way and that by running, your kite will pull you along the surface of the water as you balance on a snowboard-shaped apparatus. This requires a significantly bigger kite than you may have flown at the park with your grandfather, and you’re also much more likely to get wet. Unless, of course, your grandfather spat when he talked. Spitting grandparents aside, kitesurfing is a continuously evolving sport that’s a lot of fun for all ages!
Determine Your Level
Now that you know why kitesurfing is such a fun time, we’re ready to get into the nitty-gritty. The first step to finding your gear is determining your level.
If you’ve never kitesurfed before and have no equipment, then you probably already know you’re a beginner. If you’ve taken some kitesurfing lessons before but don’t have a ton of experience in the way of purchasing gear, you’re probably at an intermediate level. Finally, if you know your board and kite like the back of your hand but want to find new tools to hone your skills further, you’re advanced.
Below, we’ve compiled information on the best gear for every skill level!
Choose a Kite
The three main types of kites are bow, hybrid, and C-kites.
Bow kites are ideal for beginners because you can fully depower them. It’s easy to relaunch these kites from the water, and they’re also extremely safe!
C-kites are the ones that the pros use, as you can do unhooked tricks with them. They’re difficult to relaunch and have a smaller wind range than bow kites. C-kites are far from ideal for beginners, and intermediate kitesurfers should be wary of attempting a session with one.
Finally, hybrid kites are—you guessed it—right in between c-kites and bows, making them ideal for intermediate surfers.
Picking a Size
Wind range and kiteboarder weight are the two key factors to consider when choosing the right size for your kite. Generally, you should choose a smaller kite when you expect strong winds and a larger kite when you expect tamer winds.
When just starting out in the world of kitesurfing, we suggest choosing a kite that won’t give you too much trouble—it’s a lot better to experience slightly slower first trips on the water than to get yanked all over the place by a strong kite. A 12-meter kite is a good starting place for most riders, as it accommodates the average wind speed and kiteboarder weight.
To get more detailed, here are some guidelines for kite sizes:
- Wind speeds of 8–15 miles per hour: choose a larger kite, around 14–17 meters in length.
- Wind speeds of 15–20 miles per hour: choose a medium kite, around 10–13 meters in length.
- Wind speeds of 20–25 miles per hour: choose a smaller kite, around 5–9 meters in length.
When you’re ready to graduate to a bigger challenge, try out the extremes on both ends. Small kites and high winds offer a different experience than big kites and low winds. You can mix and match to find the perfect combination for your skill and thrill level.
Choose a Board
Next, you need to choose a board. As a general rule, you should choose a larger board if you’re a beginner or you want a more low-key experience. Conversely, you should choose a shorter board if you want to try doing tricks on the water. The universal board for beginners is the twin-tip board, while a hydrofoil might be better for a more advanced kiter.
Your weight is also a factor when choosing a board as a beginner. For people under 150 pounds, you should opt for a smaller board—from 133 to 140 centimeters. If you weigh between 150 and 200 pounds, choose a board between 140 to 152 centimeters. Finally, if you weigh over 200 pounds, we suggest choosing a board between 152 and 165 centimeters.
Find Your Accessories
Finally, you can’t forget about a few essential odds and ends. While your wetsuit choice comes down to personal preference, water temperature, and your particular size, picking a harness is a bit more in-depth. The two main types of kitesurfing harnesses are the waist harness and the seat harness.
The seat harness may look a bit like a diaper, but it’s still the best choice for many beginners to advanced kitesurfers who want to have fun racing at high speeds. Plus, no one will even notice the look if you’re going fast enough!
Waist harnesses, on the other hand, are a bit more comfortable to wear. If you think you’d rather focus on tricks and sharp maneuvers than speed, the waist harness is probably for you. Give both types a try when taking your lessons, and ask your instructor what they prefer, too. In the end, your decision needs to be based off what is comfortable for you! The best harnesses on the market may not support your body properly, so comfort should be your top priority.
Now that you know how to pick the right kitesurfing equipment, slather on some sunscreen and grab your gear—it’s kitesurfin’ time! And remember, Adventure Sports is here to help you get started with everything you need for your kitesurfing adventures. Whether you need a kite for kitesurfing or other accessories, Adventure Sports is the place to look! We have a wide selection of high-quality kites and gear for every skill level. Browse our selection today!