In 2020, the name North Kiteboarding is coming back. While this is a completely new brand, they have assembled top players from across the industry and created a new lineup. In a time when products have become ridiculously over-complicated with a multitude of options, North has taken an elegant, simple, yet masterful approach to every facet of their brand, from form to function. In a way, they are like the Apple of kiteboarding.
Now before we go any further, we wanted to clear some things up. This is not one of our reviews. This is an overview of the lineup. We pride ourselves on producing the most in-depth reviews online. Having spent only a week on the gear ourselves, it wouldn’t be fair to you or North if we came out of the gate with reviews. Stand by and those will be released in the coming months.
We’ll break this blog down into a handful of key points:
- Build quality and construction
- The kite lineup
- Control bar
North Kiteboarding has some exciting kites for 2020
Build quality and construction
In regards to construction, North is using a tried-and-true canopy material known as Teijin Technoforce D2. While they are not reinventing the wheel, you can rest easy knowing there will be no surprises with the canopy. A reinforced Dacron Exo-Skeleton helps transition between heavier and lighter material. It prevents elongation and deformation and keeps the kite dynamic. Strut connection points to LE are reinforced with Kevlar.
The kite also features extremely low-stretch bridle lines with no pulleys. Another point of interest is the preventative measures used in producing the bridle lines. The biggest issue with kite lines is actually shrinkage over time. These have been factory pre-stretched before cutting. There is also more splicing in the bridle, which leads to less shrinkage or elongation.
All 2020 North kites have:
- Teijin Technoforce D2
- Extremely low-stretch bridle lines with no pulleys.
- Bridle lines are factory pre-stretched before cutting
- More splicing in the bridle leads to less shrinkage or elongation.
- 2-Stage Arc (efficient in the central part, straighter wingtip for more responsive steering)
- Profile transition panels for more aerodynamic efficiency
- Reinforced Dacron Exo-Skeleton helps transition between heavier and lighter material. Prevents elongation and deformation, keeps the kite dynamic.
- Strut connection points to LE are reinforced with Kevlar
- One knot on connection points
Unique points of design
The world-famous designer Pat Goodman is bringing some new ideas into this fresh lineup as well. All of the kites are built with a 2-Stage Arc. Essentially, the center of the kite is flat for lift power and glide, while the wingtips are curved for more responsive steering. On paper this doesn’t sound too exciting, however, this was actually one of the stand-out points on the gear. This is a huge part of what makes North's gear stand out from all the other designs out there right now. You get the benefits of a lofty, powerful, big air freeride kite paired with the explosive responsiveness of a freestyle kite.
Less exciting, yet still important, they have implemented Profile Transition Panels for more aerodynamic efficiency. We’ve seen similar designs on other brands like Cabrinha and it does make a difference. Something else we appreciated was the sheer highly-refined simplicity in design. These kites have only one knot option on connection points.
The North Orbit has the best of both worlds. Lofty jumps and amazing kiteloops.
The kite lineup
North is producing three kites this year. A big air kite, an all-around surf kite, and a freestyle kite.
- Orbit - Power, hangtime, great upwind drive. Freerider's dream kite.
- Carve - Easy-to-fly wave kite. Stable, powerful, and instant relaunch.
- Pulse - Fast, responsive freestyle and wakestyle kite.
The all-new 2020 North Orbit is a freerider's dream kite. With the unique design points that Pat Goodman has implemented, this is potentially the most exciting big air kite of 2020. High aspect. 5 strut. 2-Stage Arc. Efficiency in the central part, straighter wingtip for more responsive steering. (This is huge!)
- Jumps huge and with lots of hangtime, loops powerfully, has a massive wind range (10m in 35+ knots), excellent upwind performance.
- Intuitive kite - great for beginners and advanced freeriders alike
- Moderate to light bar pressure, but really great bar feedback. You can really tell where this kite is.
- Steers smooth, but not too twitchy or fast. Very stable kite in the sky.
Rygo's first impressions from Dakhla
The Orbit is North’s big air kite. It seems like it could be an all-around kite, but I’m not sure if the Orbit falls into this category. What I can say with certainty is that I’ve never flown a kite quite like this. It seems to be the ideal design for a big air. It didn’t feel heavy, slow or bulky like traditional 5-strut kites. It actually felt fast, snappy and aggressive, similar to a freestyle kite, but different. The takeoffs were powerful and the airs were lofty. Really lofty!
With the snappy takeoff and the feel in the bar, I almost expected to drop down quickly like I would on a 3-strut crossover kite. I can see Nick Jacobson's influence on this kite. I’m going to boldly say, Pat Goodman and North are breaking the mold with this new design.
On top of that, the kite felt like it wanted to be worked in the air, almost as if it was asking to be heli-looped, kitelooped or, at the least, worked back and forth. Even though I rarely glanced up during a jump I felt a strong sense of connection with the kite.
I spent a good deal of time testing the smaller sizes and something else that stood out was how controlled the 7m size felt. Riding in winds gusting up to 40 on such a small kite can be hectic, to say the least. With the controlled, snappy feel to this kite, I found myself feeling confident doing rotations with one hand on the bar. Redirecting the kite was intuitive and I always knew exactly where my kite was in the wind window. Normally when I ride 7 meter kites, I often throw in an accidental loop or random crash due to their speed and my lack of riding time on kites smaller than a 9. With no more than a handful of sessions on the 7, there were no nasty surprises.
Nathan testing the Carve in medium waves
The all-new 2020 North Carve is built for riders looking to push their limits in waves. It has a medium aspect, 3-strut design with a large leading edge diameter. Like the other kites, it has a 2-Stage Arc. Unique to a wave kite, the Carve will also have efficiency in the central part and a straighter wingtip for more responsive steering. Pat Goodman wanted this to be a stand-out design from the other wave kites. This is going to give you an edge while riding strapless freestyle, or if you just want to use it with a twintip. Like a wave kite should, the Carve has on and off depower, slack line drift, and performs well in all wave conditions.
- Predictable and easy-to-fly feel. You don't have to pay attention to the kite.
- Smooth yet has the on/off feel in power delivery.
- Big wind range (good low end).
- Super quick relaunch.
- Also an excellent foil kite. Plenty of power to ride small, drifts well, very stable.
Rygo's first impressions from Dakhla
I was able to test to Carve for three hours in medium waist to chest high waves that lacked power. It drifted along well and it never fell out of the sky on me. On my first take, I found the kite liked to be flown more actively in the waves. It had a faster speed and, with a flick of the wrist, the kite kept up with me. It seemed to prefer to be downlooped and actively flown in the waves. I suspect this had to do with the lack of power in the waves. I did drop in a few times to test out the drift ability and, as expected, the kite does drift along with you.
It wasn’t an overly grunty kite; it did have some power to it, however. Moving on to strapless riding, I found the kite to be an intuitive friend, much like the Orbit. With a consistent pull and feel I enjoyed jumping with the kite. There is something to the 2-stage arc design.
On a twintip, the Carve was, as I suspected, a good all-around kite. However, I’ll admit it was shadowed by the Orbit. Taking that out of consideration, if you’re a wave rider who likes to occasionally use a twintip, the Carve was fun. I only spent a little time testing it with a twintip so I’ll have more input later this year.
The North Pulse is a solid freestyle kite
The Pulse is North's unhooked / hooked freestyle kite. This falls into the same category as the Duotone Dice, the Cabrinha FX, the Naish Dash and the Liquid Force NV V9. Fast, powerful, and designed for riders who like to ride unhooked or kite loop.
- The all-new 2020 North Pulse is designed to excel in all freestyle avenues, from wakestyle, old-school freestyle and loops.
- Medium/high aspect. 3 strut. 2-Stage Arc. Efficiency in the central part, straighter wingtip for more responsive steering.
- Fast and responsive. Likes to ride powered up. Does very well in higher winds. Unhooks well (in the same category as RPM, FX, Dice, etc.), loops well.
Rygo's First Impressions
I only had one brief session on this kite. I’m not going to draft anything up until I get a good deal of time in on the kite. Stand by. That said, it looks promising. I honestly don’t know how this stacks up to the other freestyle kites at the moment.
This is the most refined, yet simple control system we've ever seen
Navigator Control System
Simple and intuitive, the new 2020 North Navigator control system is the bar we've all been waiting for. Hugh Pinfold put some serious time and thought into this design. To be frank, this bar sets the bar for what a control bar should be, from the uncomplicated design to how the quick release reconnects. The biggest highlight is the toolless system for swapping your chicken loop. Best of all, this bar will be compatible with all brands.
This is available in two sizes: 45-50 and 50-55cm
Stand out points:
- Reconnect with one hand using the new North Connect Quick Release.
- Cleat System with over-molded trim handle and stopper ball. Very refined.
- Toolless change between different loops in seconds:
- Short Freeride Loop
- Standard Loop
- Large Freestyle Loop
- Sliding Surf Loop
- Custom TPU tubing profile on the center lines - prevents knots from getting caught, increased diameter of interior without making the OD too large.
- Easily the line connects to accommodate pigtail configurations from any brand.
- Offset bar, slightly oval so you can feel when the bar is reversed.
- Two sizes - 45-50 and 50-55cm
2020 North Twintips
Like the kites, North is keeping their twintips simple. They have four models:
- Atmos - Big air / Performance Freeride
- Focus Freestyle / Wakestyle
- Prime Freeride
- Flare Parkstyle / Wakestyle
The 2020 North Atmos comes in two constructions, the hybrid series and the carbon series. It's a truly dedicated big air board designed to excel and hold down an edge at excessive speeds or when overpowered, yet playful and poppy even in lighter winds. The release is powerful and controlled. If big air and power are your thing, the Atmos is the board you should go with. The Carbon model has an increased response, it's lighter, and it has more pop and more power.
The Focus has everything you should expect from a quality freestyle board: flatter outline, channels to control board speed and edge, and a good balance of stiffness and flex in the right places. Like any good freestyle board, it has softer tips and tails to make those landings a bit softer without sacrificing pop. With the carbon construction, you get a lighter board, increased response, and more pop and more power.
The Prime is an easy-to-use all-around board. A round outline makes edging easier.
This is a true wakestyle / park board. We even had the opportunity to ride cable with it. The board performed great behind the Pulse and, not surprisingly, quite well as a cableboard. North is clearly paying attention to every detail as the board comes in the larger sizes wakestyle / parkstyle riders are gravitating towards like the 151.
North surf and hydrofoil boards
In order to keep this blog a little shorter, I’ll leave some bullet points regarding the rest of the lineup. We’ll go into detail about the the surf and hydrofoil lineup in our Versus and Foil Fridays series.
- Futurelite Technology - carbon Innegra wireframe. Ultimate in strength, yet keeps its flex and feel.
- EVA inserts pad impact area and help dampen hits. Charge, Cross, and Comp. FCS
- Scoop 120cm 15L
- Sense 135 Composite w Paulownia wood core
- Chase - 5'2 Comp with inserts for foil
- Composite wings, aluminum mast and fuselage
- 1650 for surf, wake, SUP
- 1150 for freeride kite, surf, wake
- 850 for performance kite freeride
- Geolock connection between mast and fuselage
- All compatible with one another, different size masts
All in all, we are excited about North’s new lineup. While they are technically a new brand, their attention to detail, their build quality, and their team of elite veteran industry designers have not disappointed. Their gear is not groundbreaking or reinventing the wheel. It is, however, bringing a high-quality, much needed, masterfully minimalist approach to their gear. All of the kites seem to have their own unique approach to the disciplines they are aimed at and we are excited to put more time in on the gear to produce in-depth reviews and comparisons later on.
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. A few years into a postal career, he decided to change everything and travel as a kiteboarder, freelance videographer & writer. His mission is to help people and share the stoke. Get out there and kite!
Producer of: Ride with Blake I Sessions I Versus I Destinations I Foil Fridays
An avid kiteboarder and mountain biker, Nathan Patterson is a staple on the phones here at MACkite. He joined the team in 2012 and with him came a wealth of kiteboarding knowledge and experience. Since then, Nathan has been helping customers on the phone day in and day out. Most recently, he has led the charge here in electric bike and electric skateboard knowledge. If you have questions, Nathan probably has the answers and if he doesn't, you can bet he'll find them.