Mistakes to Avoid When Buying New Kiteboarding Gear
If you are reading this article, chances are you are new to the sport of kitesurfing, and trying to sort out what kiteboarding gear is the right fit for you. It can be a difficult decision, complicated by myriad brands, kite shapes and sizing considerations, diverse kiteboard designs, styles of harnesses, and foreign terminology. My best advice is to break down each part of the sport and spend some time researching each different facet. Our knowledge center is gushing with information on everything kiteboarding related, and we only continue to add to it. Still, there are some rather simple generalizations that are appropriate to consider when buying new kiteboarding equipment.
My first piece of advice is to shop for you. Within kiteboarding exists a slew of different riding disciplines. What somebody else is riding is likely tailored to their kitesurfing skill and ambitions. Certainly stray away from what the professionals are riding, as it is designed to satisfy an advanced niche. Many times, those kites and kiteboards lack the all-around performance of many mainstream kites, instead catering to high-performance tricks. With recommendations, be sure to understand the person's particular bias.
Second, don't buy before you have done your research. All too frequently we receive a call from someone who has already bought their kiteboarding gear before taking a kitesurfing lesson, or even before determining what size kite is appropriate for their local wind conditions. A 9 meter may be the right fit for the Gorge, but your local winds (say Lake Michigan) may require a 12 meter. Many lesson spots allow you to use their kitesurfing gear. Take that opportunity to really feel out the kite, and make a list of what you like and don't like. Shops that carry a sizeable and diverse selection of equipment will be able to use that information to help match you to the kite you are looking for.
Third, don't budget on your safety equipment or harness. After spending a considerable amount on a kite, it can be tough to shell out even more money on a wetsuit, floatation vest, or helmet. Why skimp on protection when it could result in you having to forfeit a session, or putting you in the way of danger or injury? Your new kitesurfing equipment doesn't do you much good if you injure yourself or get scared because you weren't adequately prepared on the water, and instead leave it sitting gathering dust. Likewise, invest in a good harness. The difference between a budget harness and high end harness is usually only around $100. With the harness being the buffer between your body and the kite, make sure to splurge on something more comfortable - it is a direct investment into your time and enjoyment on the water.
Finally, your old equipment won't make the cut. Forgoing a kite-specific board in favor of an old wakeboard is only going to make the learning process more difficult (due to the larger weight, boots, and rocker). A kitesurfing harness is going to be different than your old windsurfing harness. While they may look very similar, the harnesses are both designed to handle different forces and directions of tow. You may have scooped up an old kite or inherited one; either way, upgrade to a modern kite. The safety systems, relaunch, stability, and wind range have all improved momentously over earlier iterations. After all, you got into kiteboarding for your enjoyment, right? Make sure to always keep that in mind, as that same attitude reflects onto so many different facets of the sport.
Remember, kitesurfing is a lifestyle, not just a hobby. Focus on building a relationship with a shop, and shy away from those that just treat you like another puzzle piece that fits into their bottom line. Parts will break on your kite, you may need warranty services, lose a kiteboard, forget a bar at the beach - when those unfortunate situations do happen, having a relationship with a shop will help to keep these mishaps minor, and get you back on the water sooner.
Year kiteboarding - 3
Number of the above rules broken when learning - 4/4