2018 North Evo Vs the 2017
We’ve had a lot of requests for a solid review on the 2018 North Evo and how it compares to the 2017. I can’t say I’m surprised there is very little content beyond the basic brand notes on the 2018 Evo. I’ve been really curious to compare these two kites myself, but it definitely took me some time, to say the least!
The reality is that this kite has become a completely different animal designed to meet the same end, yet with a new approach. It’s rare for a kite to undergo this much redesign, and even more rare for it to succeed. So how does the new Evo stack up?
Now, I have to admit, before testing this kite I had a lot of assumptions; some proved true while others were way off base.
Let’s start with the obvious.
Struts and Stability
The 2018 Evo, as we all know, is three struts while the 2017 Evo was a 5-strut all-around freeride kite with some freestyle and wave kitesurfing applications. The first assumption that I made was that the 2018 Evo would be less stable than the 2017 as there are fewer struts. I was dead wrong. The true test of this kite came when I pushed the 12 meter on a 24 to 30 plus mile per hour day.
It was 35 degrees F, so air was gusty and dense. Pretty much a back breaker of a day as far as wind conditions go.There were a few gusts that were a bit much, but nothing that was sustained. At one point, the bar actually ripped out of my hand but the kite handled very well.
It had very little flutter, in fact, it only seemed to flutter a little when I fully de-powered it.
Aside from that, the intensity of the wind never translated back into my harness. And that is the true test of any freeride kite. It needs to be comfortable when you’re a little overpowered.
Compared to the 2017
This is a trait shared by both kites. So if stability is on your radar, don’t sweat the new design.
2017 and 2018 are even on this point. The 2018 actually seems to perform better on the high end of the wind range. And just like the 2017, it will power through holes in the wind like a freeride kite should. After putting more thought into this blog after my video, I do think the 2017 might have a touch more low end, but with the new speed of the 2018, you can sine the kite to compensate, keeping the bottom end even. This is a point I would like to test further. Expect my update later this summer.
So, an interesting point, I’ve always found the 2017 Evo to be a great jumper. It’s very much a kite that requires very little skill on the rider's part as far as edging and timing. In 2018, the kite might have actually gotten a little more beginner-friendly, if that’s possible. More or less, no matter how sloppy my timing was when I pulled the bar in, the kite took me up. I actually have to admit that I really love the feel of the 2018 in contrast to the 2017. It seems to jump with a little more power and it's very easy to control while in the air.
Jake M from the shop getting lofted with the 2018 North Evo
The 9m felt more in control than many 9’s. It has a very springy feel to the jump and it caught me off guard how smooth the take-offs were. Now, along with jumping comes hangtime. The wider, more open canopy should lend itself to more hangtime and this seems to be the case. Granted, this is a point we're going to test a little further this year.
Compared to the 2017
The feel is different in this regard. The 2018 seems to be a bit smoother on the take-off, the loft feels similar, and the descent might be a bit faster than 2017. The kite is faster, so in the air it's easy to adjust as necessary. I've yet to see any real advantage between the two years. The 2018 is simply more responsive and fun to fly in the air. While it has been redesigned, you can expect the same kind of all-around freeride performance the Evo has always delivered. If you've been flying the older iteration of the Evo, it will simply feel a little different. Personally, I've come to enjoy the 2018 more after a few sessions.
This kite, like all freeride kites, definitely works for freestyle, but like all kites in this category you can’t expect it to fly like a freestyle kite. So when you unhook, it does take a little more strength to pull the bar to your hip. This is more or less what you can expect from both years. If you’re riding the kite on the standard setting it seems bogged down, so definitely move the bridle to the hard setting and be sure to trim the kite appropriately.
This wouldn’t be my first choice for unhooking on the larger sizes like the 12m, but admittedly this is only because I prefer the North Dice in this category. I might consider adding the 9m 2018 Evo to my personal quiver for those hectic days. The 9m is very nimble, responsive and controlled. The 12 flies just a little more like the 2017, meaning it has just a little more delayed feel like you would expect from a freeride kite.
Don't mistake the Evo for a bad freestyle kite. The Dice will outperform but the Evo is still quite good.
I'm not going to talk too much about this category as it is an all-around kite so it goes without saying that the North Dice will outperform the Evo in freestyle, but keep in mind that you can do most anything on most any kite. So, if this category is on your radar, this kite is great for most riders. It just doesn't have the same pop and slack capabilities of the Dice. It's also somewhat subjective. Some riders prefer the more consistent pull out of their kite that the Evo offers and don't care to make the trade-offs associated with freestyle kites like the Dice, such as the reduced wind range.
North says the new Evos are faster, and this is true.
The most stand-out point to me on the new Evo is that the 12 meter kite is not as fast as I would have expected from a three-strut kite. This isn’t so much a bad thing as just an assumption that I was incorrect on. On top of that, I’ve been riding a lot of crossover kites, so at the moment I’m used to a more nimble-feeling kite. Moving back to the 9m, I loved the feel and response of this size. It felt reminiscent of a crossover kite but with the control and consistent power of a freeride kite.
Now don't get the wrong idea. The new 2018 is faster and more responsive than the 2017. In moderate wind, this is very noticeable. On the bottom end of the kite's wind range, it will take on a more delayed feel that is reminiscent of the 2017.
Compared to the 2017
If you loved the 2017 Evo, the 2018 is faster and more fun to fly but somehow manages not to sacrifice the consistent power and feel of the 2017. The 2018 delivery is smoother, and while it doesn't lack in low end performance, it doesn't quite have the same grunt. This is more just a difference in the bar pressure than actual low end power, albeit, some people do like that grunty feel as psychologically there is a sense of more power with additional bar pressure. With the 2018 being lighter-feeling and faster, it's easier to work the kite when you need a little extra power.
Now, I need to lead in here. Aside from incorporating downloops into different transitions, kiteloops haven't been on my radar until this year so I don’t have a lot of firsthand experience looping the previous iterations of the Evo. The good news is that I know a lot of people who do!
After my session on the 9 I had a conversation with my buddy Lorne Hale. He’s a savage when it comes to kiteloops and he was throwing a lot of them on the 10m Evo that day.
Lorne Hale is a kiteloop savage
So the long and short of it is that the 2018 is a little faster and has a little less grunt, making it a great entry level kite for riders looking to learn kiteloops without getting yanked as aggressively as the 2017. The kite is still a great option for throwing loops; it just doesn’t have the same grunt. I did notice this on some downloop transitions. It had a more gentle, smooth feel which I really enjoyed.
The takeaway here is that the 2018 is going to feel more gentle. This is a good thing or a bad thing depending on what you want out of the kite here. Granted, if you have a penchant for power, you always have the option to go a little bigger for more power.
Having ridden the 12 m in around 11 miles per hour, I found no real difference between the 2017 and 2018 on the low end. Both kites feel slow in light wind like this, they both power though with a delayed feel and maintain smooth, albeit not huge, jumps on their respective bottom ends. Admittedly, I came into this expecting the 2018 to have less low end and more high end. It actually does have incrementally more high end. It goes without saying that the kite becomes more responsive when you have good power, yet in the lighter winds both the 9 and the 12 felt more akin to the 2017 with a slightly delayed feel. Not a bad thing, just more familiar-feeling.
Like I addressed earlier, neither of these kites have the same grunty feel of the 2017. There is an advantage in performance with the faster turning speed. So while it won't feel as powerful, you're not really giving up low end here. While it lacks the same grunt, the faster turning speed and lighter canopy keep these two kites even in this regard.
Bringing it all together
The first time I encountered this kite, I spoke with a tester who just got off the water and I asked him what the new kite felt like. His response was that it's still the Evo. It took me a few months to fully understand what he meant by this, but now I get it.
So in summary, the Evo has undergone a massive redesign to basically achieve the same end. The kite has a lot of the same characteristics and benefits of its predecessor. It’s just a leaner, lighter, slightly faster, more playful iteration. If you come into this expecting the kite to fly like a Dice, you’ll be disappointed. If you come into this expecting a more high-performance, all-around freeride kite, you’re going to be really happy.
Just like an all-around snowboard, the Evo's going to do everything well but will not be maxed out for all the disciplines, making it the right choice for 90% of riders who honestly will never outgrow this kite's capabilities. If you’re looking for a kite that jumps very easily, rocks upwind, works well in the waves, and works well for freestyle, this is your kite.
If you’re looking for something a little more niche, check out some of the other options in North's 2018 kiteboarding line-up.The Neo for waves, the Rebel for big air, and the Dice for unhooked freestyle. If you’re looking to upgrade your older Evo but are concerned about the redesign, don’t worry. It’s a little different, but I urge you to give it a few sessions and you won’t look back. I know I’m not.
Ryan (Rygo) Goloversic
Just a dude from a kite shop testing all the gear one session at a time.
Many people dream of quitting their job, traveling the world and pursuing their passions. Rygo is one of those people who pulled the trigger. About eight years into a postal career, he decided to change everything and travel as a freelance videographer & writer. This took him from coast to coast and a variety of countries. Nowadays you can catch him on the phones, doing lessons, or working on videos. Of course, he still makes a point to travel as often as possible. His mission is to help people and share the stoke with his customers and students alike. Get out there and kiteboard.
Producer of: Ride with Blake I Sessions I Versus I Destinations I Foil Fridays