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Guide for Purchasing Kiteboarding Gear

Kite
Currently, we operate as the importer for Eleveight and PLKB inflatable and foil kites. Our goal is to ensure every enthusiast gets the right gear and gets the most out of the experience.

How many kites?

As you’ve probably heard, you can’t kiteboard endlessly with just one kite. Of course, you can start with one and manage quite well for a reasonable period, but at some point, when the kite bug bites, the number of kites tends to grow. When buying the first kite, it’s essential to consider how many kites might be feasible for your setup over the next 1-2 years

The Size of the First Kite?
The size of the first kite largely depends on the location of the hobby, the size of the practitioner, and the potential to acquire multiple kites in the future. Generally, the first kite is reasonably large (10m^2 – 15m^2). At this stage, many wonder if a larger kite isn’t dangerous. In wind sports, it’s the wind that makes the activity risky. Starting with a larger kite allows practicing in lighter winds, making it safer. Additionally, larger kites are slower and thus less likely to react sharply to control errors.

Here’s an example for a man weighing around 80kg starting the hobby:
If the aim is to start with as few kites as possible, consider building a collection of 1-2 kites. In this case, the size of the first kite would be around 14m. Later, a 7-10m kite will be added. With these two kites, most of Finland’s wind areas can be covered. Of course, a combo like 14m + 7m leaves a gap where the larger kite is slightly oversized and the smaller one isn’t at its best, but it’s manageable. If you aim to build a collection where each kite suits every condition optimally, even then you won’t need more than three kites. In this setup, the larger kite is 16-18m, the middle one around 12m, and the smaller one 7-9m. Starting with the middle-sized kite, which is 12m.

Example for a beginner weighing around 65kg:

  • 1-2 kite setup: 12m & 8m
  • 3 kite setup: 14-16m, 10-12m, 7-9m

The kite sizes are influenced by the brand, model, and age. The best way is always to contact us, so we can go through the different models in more detail.

New or Used?
Almost always, our selection includes both new and used kites. Buying used is not necessarily a bad choice, but caution is advised. Kiteboarding and kite skiing are relatively young sports, and equipment development has been rapid. For instance, if someone buys a 10-year-old board as their first snowboard, it might suffice for starters, but in kite-related activities, such gear can be risky! Read our blog to understand why it’s not advisable to buy your first kite independently!

When offering used kites to beginners, they are always suitable. We don’t offer or sell dangerous equipment to beginners! If you come across a cheap used kite online, we recommend contacting us, and we’ll honestly inform you if it’s suitable for you!

Foils vs. Inflatable Kites
Often, newcomers express their preference for foil kites, assuming they are safer than inflatable ones. This perception is entirely incorrect and a “legend” that persists from older times. In reality, controlling and adjusting the power of inflatable kites is more stable and better than foils.

Another concern raised is whether inflatable kites break during winter use. Personally, I have used inflatable kites for years in winter conditions, and nothing has broken. Of course, valves and other plastic/rubber parts need caution in freezing temperatures, but with careful use, they don’t pose a problem.

The choice of equipment is mostly influenced by where the sport is practiced and the riding style one prefers the kite to serve best.

So, who should use foil kites?
The undeniable advantages of foil kites are their lightness, compactness (as a pump isn’t needed), and lack of plastic parts, ensuring reliability. Based on these aspects, foil kites are an excellent choice for kite trekking and those moving around with kites in remote areas.

Apart from trekking, foil kites offer a relaxed riding feel. Their power delivery is calmer, making leisurely cruising easier. The riding style is generally more relaxed. Foil kites are well-suited for those who only kite in winter, seeking a comfortable and leisurely outdoor activity. Additionally, larger closed-cell foil kites are unbeatable for light wind conditions.

It’s also important to note that closed-cell foil kites work well for summer activities too!

C-Kite, Open-C, Delta, Hybrid, BOW, SLE – whaaat?
There are kite models for every preference and style. In this sport, the “best” kite for a professional might not be the best for you. Many kites used by competitive riders, such as freestyle kites, are designed to generate extreme power without much consideration for user comfort.

However, perhaps the most common misunderstanding revolves around ‘beginner kites’. Many kites possess features that are particularly beneficial for beginners. This might leave both more experienced and new riders wondering if they’ll need to upgrade to something more high-performance as they progress. Very few kites are exclusively for beginners. There are specific characteristics that make a kite suitable for beginners, yet these kites are often designed for experienced riders and cater exceptionally well to them, depending on riding preferences. The most crucial aspect is aligning the model with one’s riding style, whether it’s leisurely cruising, lofty jumps, aggressive freestyle, wave riding, racing, or a blend of these. For example, the Eleveight RS is an ideal first kite, yet it remains the best-selling kite model among experienced riders in Finland.

So, let’s consider the best option for you based on these factors.

After pondering the answers to the above questions, get in touch, and let’s determine which gear suits you best. Remember, our range includes not only new but also last-year models and used equipment, catering to every budget!

Control bars
Especially for beginners, the control bar is a crucial safety component. Despite certain standardizations in safety mechanisms over the past few years, there is quite a variety of gear available, particularly in used kites.

Our strong recommendation is to opt for a new control bar, even if the kite is used. However, when choosing a used control bar, ensure it has a ‘push away’ safety feature that leaves one front line intact.

In addition to the emergency release, here are a few differences you might find in control bars:

4 or 5 lines?
Traditional C-kites commonly used 5 lines, where the center fifth line served the emergency release and relaunch of the kite. These bars DO NOT function with modern 4-line kites!

Primarily, 5-line bars work only with kites designed for them. Apart from C-kites, 5-line bars are also found in open cell foil kites and single-skin foil kites.

Bar width?
Many brands offer bars of various widths. Using bars of different sizes with kites of different sizes affects the kite’s feel. Generally, larger kites are flown with wider bars for increased speed, while smaller kites with narrower bars for a calmer experience. However, this guideline doesn’t need to be strictly followed based on riding preferences. Riders focused on unhooked freestyle might use narrower bars even with larger kites to prevent accidental steering in the air. On the other hand, riders performing big hooked jumps might prefer slightly wider bars to maximize kite speed.

Power Adjustment
In control bars, there are essentially two different types of power adjustments: the Clam Cleat or the Pull-Pull system. Preferences vary, but both are effective solutions. Currently, at least 90% of new bars use the Clam Cleat for power adjustment.

Does the emergency release leave one or two lines?

This is a crucial factor in selecting a control bar! If the kite is left hanging by one line after an emergency release, it can be safely packed down in the water/ice (Emergency packdown). If the bar’s emergency release leaves two lines, the bar should have Oh Shit handles in the corners to bring the kite down to one line. If there are no “Oh Shit” handles and the emergency release leaves two lines, the kite cannot be safely packed down in water/ice!

Cold Weather Durability
Many manufacturers encase the lines passing through the bar in plastic tubes to protect them from wear caused by sand and saltwater. However, in Finnish winter conditions, these protective tubes can become quite rigid and prone to breaking. This largely depends on the type of plastic used, and there are highly cold-resistant options available on the market. For example, the Eleveight CS Vary V4 has proven to be effective even in temperatures close to -30°C.

Do different brands of control bars work interchangeably?
In principle, the kite doesn’t know what’s written on the side of the control bar. Most modern kites have equal-length lines, so steering the kite works well. However, there might be a couple of problematic areas. The lines are attached to the kite on the bridle, where one end has a knot and the other a loop. These may be oriented differently in some kites and control bars, requiring an adapter.

Additionally, the power adjustment range on the control bar might be different for some kites for various reasons, causing the kite not to perform as desired with different bars.

In the kite packages purchased from us, we always ensure that the control bar and kite are compatible.

Harnesses
In short, there are two types of harnesses available: seat and waist harnesses.

Waist Harness
The waist harness is clearly the most commonly used model. Most beginners using a seat harness eventually switch to this style sooner or later. When getting a waist harness, finding the right size is more critical than with a seat harness because the waist harness needs to be fairly tight. Based on years of experience, we default to offering waist harnesses to everyone.

Seat Harness
Generally considered the best option, especially for beginners, the seat harness has straps that go between the legs, resembling pants in some models. The advantage of a seat harness is that it won’t ride up, even if it’s a bit loose, and it’s easier to lean back into.

However, the downside is that the seat harness limits lateral movement and some find it less comfortable.

There are a million models, but which one is for me?

There isn’t a single correct answer to this because everyone has their own preference and body structure. When getting your first harness, it’s good to feel that the harness doesn’t press on anything as you move your hips back and forth. Later on, trial and error is the best way to find the harness that fits you best. Features and details come second after fit.

Wetsuits and Drysuits

https://www.youtube.co/watch?v=xDL1z7XI_y8&t

When getting a wetsuit, the right size is everything!! For this reason, we aim to send customers two different-sized suits whenever possible, ensuring the right fit.

Size charts found online tend to be somewhat accurate, and often, if you buy a suit that matches the size chart, it might be too big.

What thickness is best?
In choosing thickness, the quality of the suit matters a lot. In high-quality suits, even a 3mm thickness can be warmer than a lower-quality 5mm suit. As a general rule, if you want to manage with one suit in Finland, a quality 5mm suit is a good choice.

Front or Back Zip?
In recent years, wetsuits with front zippers have gained popularity. Thanks to the material and zipper placement, these suits offer excellent flexibility and once they’re on, they feel very comfortable. Often, the suit feels thinner than it actually is.

A downside to front-zip wetsuits is the difficulty of putting them on and taking them off. A snug-fitting suit doesn’t tend to come off by itself when it’s new, but with use and technique, it becomes easier.

Traditional back-zip suits are much easier to put on and take off. Apart from flexibility, the weakness of back-zip suits lies in the collar, where water might get in a bit more compared to front-zip suits. However, these differences aren’t day-and-night discrepancies. The materials in both types of suits are similar, and most of the water that enters through the collar area can be directed out of the suit.

Why is fit so important?
The warmth of neoprene relies on preventing water from sloshing inside the suit. If there’s any looseness in the suit, it will fill with water, reducing its warmth. A suit that fits like a second skin works best. With a high-quality wetsuit, slightly too small is better than too big.

What determines the cost of a suit?
The primary factor in wetsuit pricing is the quality of the neoprene. Simply put, the more expensive the suit, the more flexible the material it’s made of. The manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) is a reasonably good reference point for comparing different suits.

Dry Suits vs. Extremely Thick Wetsuits?
When wanting to engage in the sport regardless of weather conditions, a 5mm suit can become chilly at some point. As an alternative for added warmth, a thicker wetsuit or a dry suit is considered.

In extremely cold weather, wind chill becomes a significant issue. Initially in the water, a thick wetsuit works well, but when coming out for a break, the wind starts piercing through the suit. This is where the first advantage of a dry suit comes in. With dry clothes underneath, the wind doesn’t chill the wet and cold suit.

The second aspect in favor of a dry suit is safety. If an accident happens on the water and you end up in the water for a longer time, a wetsuit can quickly become very cold. With the right amount of clothing underneath a dry suit, you can endure extremely cold waters for a long time.

For regular enthusiasts, a dry suit brings comfort in extreme weather conditions.

What kind of drysuit?
A rising trend in drysuits, especially for wind sports, has been neoprene suits. Many enthusiasts using bag-type suits have been concerned about tearing, which poses a reasonable risk, especially around sharp fins. A tear in a bag-type suit can lead to an extremely dangerous situation. Neoprene drysuits are significantly more durable, especially against punctures and cuts. Of course, neoprene drysuits are heavier, but this is balanced by the fact that you don’t need as much clothing underneath compared to bag-type suits.

We constantly stock a wide range of wetsuits and drysuits.

Get in touch, and we’ll discuss which suit would best suit you.

Other neoprene gear
Unfortunately, we don’t live on the equator, and during certain parts of the season, you need to prepare a bit warmer. Good gloves and boots, however, can make cold-weather activities as comfortable as possible.

Gloves
In kiteboarding, windsurfing, and wakeboarding, gloves are always a compromise between warmth and feel. If gloves are too thick, it becomes difficult to grip the boom, leading to tired hands or even pain.

Usually, cold-weather gloves range from 3-5mm, and in wind sports, attention is especially given to the flexibility and feel of the gloves. The materials of the gloves also significantly affect their warmth. For colder weather, it’s good to have gloves with glued seams to prevent water from seeping in.

Boots
Good boots should provide good feel. Nobody wants to surf with rubber boots. In Finland’s conditions, 5-6mm boots are typically used for really cold waters. Boots that are too warm generally aren’t an issue, but some enthusiasts use ~3mm boots for intermediate seasons when it’s not yet cold enough for thicker ones but 5-6mm might feel too heavy. In some locations, due to rocks or other sharp objects, boots are necessary throughout the summer. Coral boots of approximately 1mm are also available for this purpose. Especially in the boots we represent, sizes often don’t match the usual shoe size, so if there’s any uncertainty, we try to send multiple sizes for testing.

Hoods and Beanies
In chilly winds, the head can easily get cold in the water. Often, a hood or beanie is used even well into the summer for comfort reasons. In extremely cold weather, a hood is undoubtedly the best option for warming the head and neck. For slightly warmer weather, neoprene beanies are highly recommended. Beanies don’t bother as much as hoods but still offer good additional warmth. Plus, beanies look cool.

Neoprene tops and shorts
Other neoprene accessories are more about enhancing comfort than being mandatory.

Neoprene tops are very effective as additional warmth in very cold weather but also work well in borderline conditions during summers when wearing a wetsuit is too hot but being without a suit isn’t warm enough. Similar options are available in the form of neoprene shorts.

Boards
The right kiteboard assists in the sport and progression.

Choosing the right kiteboard in the summer is very important. A board that’s too challenging can make starting almost impossible, whereas the right model helps in progressing rapidly.

For example, this Eleveight Process is an excellent first board.

https://www.youtube.co/watch?v=14kTDvuphJQ

Length and width?
The most common inquiry we receive about kiteboards is something like ‘I want to buy a kiteboard that’s at least 140cm long and 40cm wide.’

However, the length and width of the board are only part of the truth, and the board’s shape is more important.

Rocker
Rocker significantly affects the behavior of the board. The more rocker a kiteboard has, the deeper it rides, requiring more power and speed to stay planing. The advantage of more rocker is softer landings and better pop, especially in unhooked tricks.

When looking for an easier board, less rocker allows the board to plane in lighter winds, making starting easier.

However, it’s essential to remember that boards with zero rocker are more challenging to control, especially in stronger winds.

Sidecut, nose, and tail
The next factor affecting the kiteboard’s behavior is the sidecut, meaning the shape of the edge and, thus, the width of the nose and tail.

Especially in light wind boards, the edge is very straight. Roughly speaking, the straighter the edge and the less rocker, the better the board moves in very light wind. A completely straight edge significantly affects the board’s controllability.

I own a wakeboard, can I start with that?

This question is also very common, and although a wakeboard looks similar on the surface, unfortunately, it doesn’t work well for kiteboarding. Almost always, wakeboards have too much rocker to make them work sensibly with a kite (though there are exceptions, especially for experienced kiters).

Wake boots or straps?
Wake boots have become prevalent in kiteboarding, and for more experienced riders, they can work well. However, for beginner enthusiasts, they bring more trouble and not much benefit.

It’s almost impossible to put on wake boots in deep water, and they are not quick to remove if necessary. Traditional kiteboarding straps allow you to walk into the water with the board under your arm and easily put it on. When falling, the board comes off the feet, significantly reducing the risk of injury.

During winter?
During winter activities, snowboards or skis don’t have significant requirements, especially initially. A snowboard allows the bindings to be set up as twin tips, but if your board isn’t precisely a twin tip, this isn’t a reason to rush to a board shop. Skis don’t really matter at all and even straight-edged Fischers from the back of the shed would do for a start :).

Kitesurf boards
When kiteboarding begins to flow and you want a bit of challenge and a different feel, slightly different boards are great for that.

Kitesurf boards are often the same shape as regular surfboards but built tougher (basic surfboards aren’t designed to withstand the strain of kiteboarding). When choosing a kiteboard, it’s crucial to consider the conditions of use. Are you looking for a board for relaxed cruising or for wave riding, which in Finland often means very strong winds? When riding in strong winds, it’s important for the board to ‘handle the weather,’ while seeking a relaxed strapless board for light weather requires slightly different models.

Hydrofoils
The latest addition to the board side has been hydrofoils, which have revolutionized the sport. These wing-shaped solutions are extremely efficient, especially in light winds. In skilled hands, they work when there’s enough wind to keep the kite in the air. However, it’s essential to note that a hydrofoil requires a reasonable basic level and a good deal of patience :).

Skimboards and Wakeskates
These are great games for tricks. Riding requires much more skill, but it pays off when you get the hang of it. Generally, skimboards work well in light winds, and wakeskates require slightly more wind than normal twin tips.

From our range, there are boards for every taste, and we represent Eleveight’s and Brunotti’s kiteboards. Additionally, we almost always have used kiteboards available.

If you need help choosing the right equipment, feel free to contact us through the inquiry form below

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